I am not one of those people who likes to keep going on about the recession and the lack of money most people seem to have, but in some ways it allows us to enjoy the simpler things in life. If I was a rich man, I may have turned my nose up at such holidays but now days some of us are 'forced' into looking into cheaper alternatives. A coach holiday for the most part is traveling between a number of different locations on a spacey, air conditioned coach while spending a few days here and there in local hotels. Going on a coach holiday eliminates the expensive travel costs and allows you to visit multiple places within the same visit without worrying about transportation or hotel bookings. Personally when I go on holiday I tend to stick to the same area as I rarely higher cars and paying for taxis to drive you from one end of the country to the other is not practical so a coach holiday is one of the best ways to see the best parts of a country and not just the touristy bits.
There are a number of coach holiday booking websites that makes booking your coach trip a breeze. Not only can you book your travel arrangements but all of your hotels at the same time which is a major time saver as you could be visiting 4 or 5 different places on your trip. Three of the best websites I found was coachholidays.com, Crusader-Holidays.co.uk and Door2Tour.com so lets have a look at each and find out who offers the best service over price. To make my comparison easier I am going search for coach trips to Ireland for a duration of one week in December.
CoachHolidays.com is a great looking website and compares travel feeds to offer you the best deal. It works exactly like booking any other type of holiday, simply select your departure dates, where you want to be picked up from, where you would like to go before clicking on search. After comparing a number of companies you will be presented with your search results which are nicely displayed with top level information to help you decide which trip you want more information on. The two prices I got from my Irish search £832 and £467 both of which had considerable savings from the normal brochure price. After choosing more information on the £467 deal, I was presented with a well designed page with the full itinerary of the trip coupled with fantastic pictures of some of the places we will be visiting along the way. It also displays extras such as a coach upgrades (more leg room and a DVD player for example) and hotel room upgrades if you want a little more luxury on your trip. By clicking on the hotel name you get a full breakdown of their services again coupled with pictures so there are no nasty surprises when you get there. Once you are happy with your choice you can simply click request holiday and you will be presented with a short webform. Simply fill out your information and click submit and a representative will call you to confirm your booking and take your payment information. From what I can tell you cannot pay for your holiday online which is a bit of a drag but it always helps to talk to someone, especially when booking holidays.
The next website I will be looking at is Crusader-holidays.co.uk which upon first inspection looks fantastic but what is it like under the bonnet? The initial search form is not as easy to use as CoachHolidays.com although I do like the choice of Holiday Types. For instance you can search between battlefield tours, Christmas Tours, short breaks etc... When I tried to search for coach trips to Ireland in December I did not get a single result. In fact, I had to try several times to get results for anything. For the purpose of this review I selected France as my destination while sticking to December of which I got 6 results ranging from £189 (4 days) to £289 (again 4 days). The results page gave you some time line information but not enough for my liking. When you select a tour for more information you get very limited info and pictures which annoyed me so much I am going to stop there for this one. Crusader-Holidays.co.uk only promotes crusander coaches so the results are limited and nothing in comparison to CoachHolidays.co.uk. I would personally stay away from this one.
Door2Tour.com is the last website on review and although it doesn't look as fancy as the previous two, i think they way it is set out and the information they displays helps you decide where to go if you haven't already made up your mind. The search form takes the best bits from the previous two and leaves out the worst bits. Although it took some time for my results to show up, I did get 5 results for 7 days in Ireland in December which is on par with CoachHolidays.com. The results displayed were nothing special, slightly better than Crusander-Holidays but my favorite bit is the ability to change your dates and see the price change in real time. The individual trip information pages were by far the best out of the three, with all the information nicely held in their own sections and included full itinerary, FAQ's, Tour Gallery's and Travel Guides. Once you have decided on a destination you can quickly and easily book your coach trip by filling out their webform before moving onto the online payments system.
To summarise, coachholidays.co.uk provided the most amount of results as they are considered to be an aggregator (think moneysupermarket.com for coach holidays) rather than an individual service like Crusader-Holidays who only sell their own trips. My favorite website out of the three has to be Door2Tour.com as they have taken all the best bits from the previous two and left out all of the bad bits.