Costsaver European Cavalcade Tour–an overview and some tips

I went to Europe and did an 18-day bus tour with Trafalgar. As things in my life have finally settled down (loads of laundry done, sleeping pattern back to normal, etc) I can start writing about the trip.
If you are thinking of relaxing in a resort’s pool with your favorite book and sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it, then what you are after is HOLIDAY not a tour. A TOUR is cramming as much activity that is humanly possible in a day! It is fast paced and there is a schedule to keep which can be tiring.
It is good to know the difference before signing up.

Swiss countryside

Some terms to know
COSTSAVER means that it is slightly lower cost compared to the first class tour – you visit the same places, and the only big difference is the quality of the hotel, usually its 3-4 stars for the costsaver, whereas the first class tour has 4-5 star hotels and some sightseeing inclusions.
BUS TOUR means that we spent about 4-6 hours a day travelling in a 50-seater bus/coach. We travel for 2 hours then have a mandatory half hour rest stop. The tour has 1 tour director and the driver. The tour I did there were about 32 of us from various parts of the world and we got to know one another as we are together the whole trip.
OPTIONAL TOURS as the name suggests are tours that you can join if you want, but you have to pay extra, so you have to include it in your budget. It is good to join the optional tours if this is your first time to visit the place. It can be costly though, budget at least A$1500-2000 (US$1300-1700) for all the optionals in this tour.
When you read the brochure, the term view means you are looking at the sight from in the bus; it can be right in front of you or at some distance. Visit means that you step-off the bus and go into the place.
Let me give you a snapshot of one day in a tour. Not all days are the same though this is one of those typical days.
We have a wakeup call at 6am, we get ready and have our bags packed and outside our hotel door before we go to breakfast at 7am, then be on the bus before the 8am departure. We then travel for 2 hours, and the tour director tells us some interesting bits of history about the places we are passing. We then have a stop, go for a toilet break, then we’re off to visit the place of interest in the area. We spend 30 minutes to an hour visiting the place, then back on the coach and travel some more.
Our first lunch stop

The next stop is lunch which can be a quick lunch (30-45 minutes if we are pressed for time), or if lunch is combined with a visit to a place it can be for 2 hours. Then back in the bus for some more travelling, a toilet stop in between travelling, and then we arrive at our hotel for the night. If we are staying 2 nights in a hotel, the next day will be spent exploring the area, by joining the optional tour or going solo.
Here’s a quick look at the countries we went with the tour.
Map of the tour

England – London (start and finish, but no sightseeing included)
The Netherlands -Amsterdam
Germany – Rhineland, Heidelberg, Schaffhausen
Switzerland – Lucerne, Engelberg
Liechtenstein – Vaduz (the capital)
Austria – Innsbruck
Italy – Verona, Venice, Rome, Pompeii, Bay of Naples, Florence, Pisa
Monaco – visit to see the city
France – Nice, Avignon, Lyon, Versailles, Paris
Some tour participants planned to stay a few days in London before the tour started, and stayed a few days in Paris after the tour finished and flew out from Paris. This enabled them to see more of these cities than was included in the tour.
Watch out for more posts about the tour.
Text & Photos by Alicia Davis

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