A Great Bus Driver Enhances a Tour

10/17/2016 07:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

If you've ever been on a bus tour, you know what an important part of the mix your driver is. And if you've ever been a tour guide, you know that the driver can be your best friend...or a real obstacle to a smooth tour. We love our bus drivers and consider them part of our traveling family. (While we can't promise this, several of our drivers have actually fallen in love with and married our tour members.)

Bus driver Richard plays tour guide, and lets me imagine driving his wonderful coach.

 

Each year we give our tour members a patch as a memento of their tour. About 40 percent of the more than 20,000 travelers who joined us this year were return travelers. Here, Mike -- a proud six-time tour alum -- shows off the six patches he's collected over his many years of touring with us.

 

Travelers on our tours are limited to a carry-on-sized bag. While we don't strictly enforce that limit, our tour members are expected to carry their own bags from the bus to the hotel, and then to their rooms. And, because we strive to have centrally located hotels in delightfully traffic-free towns and old city centers, there are many times when getting to or from the bus involves a bit of a hike. Here's our group leaving our Florence hotel (in another newly pedestrian-friendly, traffic-free center), and ready for Rome.

(Follow along on my travel blog and on Facebook as I guide the Rick Steves Europe Tours Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour.)

(This post originally appeared at blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tour-bus-driver.)