At 19, Gai Tyrrell set off to explore the world on a gap year, and she hasn't finished yet. Now the managing director Australasia of the Globus family of brands, she has worked across airlines, technology and travel companies, and has Sicily on her list of must-do adventures, globusfamily.com.au
Coach touring is booming and it's a vastly different experience to the cookie-cutter group tours of the 1970s and the no-frills party buses that toured Europe in the 1980s. Touring by coach today offers a wide range of choices, from luxury or value, small or large groups, special-interest touring, fascinating discovery tours off the beaten track or touring of the world's iconic destinations.
Enjoy more than a little advance research about tours on offer and work out what suits you. Are you a "just take me there, surprise me" traveller, or do you like a bit more control to make your own sightseeing choices along the way? Do you want to see iconic locations or to discover off the beaten track cities and regions where tourists seldom go? There are fully escorted, independent and discovery tours that venture to new locations and escape tours.
Know and love your coach, and check out all the little features. These days, coaches are purpose built like VIP lounges on wheels, equipped with extra leg room, bathrooms, Wi-Fi and the services of a driver-tour director. Someone asked me recently how do you make sure you get the best seat – do you shotgun for the front? It's a no: on tour, seating is rotated, which works really well.
Consider touring slightly off-peak, such as in Europe during the northern winter season. Touring off-peak has some real advantages, such as no queues and blue skies, as well as those magical winter landscapes, while travelling in warmth and comfort. Travelling at this time gives another perspective of Europe, and it's half the crowds at half the price.
Pack a great big tote bag for shopping, and have a good shoe strategy. Check your itinerary and choose the right shoes – in my case, great stilettos for the nightlife, cute but comfortable boots, runners or Birkenstocks by day.