How to pick the right style of Route 66 trip for you- Car Caravan or Bus Tour
Two Lane America is pretty darn proud to offer two types of Route 66 tours: car caravans and bus tours. As we talk to folks, we can often steer our potential guests towards the best style of trip based on just a few minutes of conversation. If you’re curious about the differences between the two trips, look no further. Let’s break the pros and cons down for each trip so you have the best Route 66 experience possible.
(For this article, we’ll be using the Route 66 trips as our example, but most of this info would hold true for any caravan or bus tour we offer)
Defining each type of trip
Let’s start by just defining what a car caravan is and a bus tour is.
Put simply, our car caravan guests physically DRIVE their own vehicle (or a rental). They meet us in Chicago and follow the lead car and guide all the way to Los Angeles. Once the trip ends in LA, guests then go about their own in terms of returning home. Each trip is limited to approximately 12 cars or 25 people.
For the bus tours, guests meet their on-trip guide in Chicago, board a newer, comfortable motor coach and travel all the way to LA. Once in LA, guests typically fly home after the trip ends.
Basic similarities and differences between the two types of Route 66 trips
Overall, both types of Route 66 tours are the same. Each is 13 nights and each includes the same number of meals and roughly the same number of included activities. Both trips makes frequent stops while on the road for museums, photo ops, old gas stations, and bathroom breaks. There are a couple spots where the bus must detour from Route 66 where the car caravan doesn’t. Most notably, instead of going to Oatman, AZ on Day 12, the bus detours to Las Vegas and spends one night in Vegas instead of one night in Barstow. To make up for missing Oatman, bus tour guests get a night in Vegas and an additional museum in Kingman, AZ.
Now let’s chat about picking the right trip for you…
While both trips are 13 days/nights, the car caravans typically involve a larger number of days on the road since guests must drive to Chicago and drive home from LA. For guests with lots of time, the car caravans present an excellent opportunity to continue exploring, particularly out west. Many car caravan guests spend a week or two on their trip home- hitting national parks or other scenic areas of the west.
If you’re pinched for time, the bus is an excellent option as you can just fly in on day 1 and home on day 14. Bus tour guests also frequently book a few extra days in LA before flying home.
For anyone with scheduling restrictions, we highly recommend the bus tour or renting a car for the caravan so you can fly home after the trip ends.
Some people love logging the time behind the wheel or riding shotgun with their partner or friend. Others want to see Route 66, but may find driving the 2,400+ miles tedious. If you love driving, the car caravans are a great option.
If you find you get sleepy on long drives or get sore/stiff when driving multiple days, the bus tour is probably a better option.
The car caravans are a unique opportunity to experience the Mother Road in your own vehicle- a dream for many with sports cars. Keep in mind, it’ll put the miles on your car… at least 2,400 plus mileage before/after the trip. (Unless you ship your car) That being said, it’s a real thrill for many to pose next to their car at the many photo ops along the Route.
For some, however, their car may not be a good fit for such a long trip. Many classics have a hard time completing such a long trip and get rougher gas milage than late model cars.
For some, the sheer milage may be a deterrent if they think it may impact the longevity or value of their car.
We certainly get a fair share of solo travelers on our Route 66 car caravans, and we love it. They make friends within the group and have a great time. Without a co-pilot, however, the trip is more physically daunting for a solo traveler.
Solo travelers on the bus still get freedom and independence but also the safety net of the group all being together on days when we’re on the road. Solo bus travelers also tend to be able to link up with other solo travelers while on the bus and make new connections more quickly.
Whether you’re a car club, community group, or church group, both the caravans and the bus tours are great options. We can do custom dates for just one group on either type of tour if the numbers are there.
For the Route 66 caravans, groups enjoy seeing each other all traveling along in their own vehicles. For the Route 66 bus tours, groups get to enjoy spending time chatting and joking with their fellow group members on the bus each day.
The bus tours are a good option for larger groups, especially if some of the group doesn’t want to drive the long distances of the car caravans.
For starters, both types of tours include an “Info Book” with loads of details and stories about the places we’ll visit.
While on the road with the car caravans, your guide will occasionally give you more information about the places we visit via little meetings or the in-car radios. The car caravan participants also get the thrill of physically driving Route 66.
The bus tour guests may not get the thrill of driving Route 66, but they do get a tour guide giving live commentary throughout the day on the bus. The tour director also has the ability to play movies, short films, and music to enhance the experience while on the road. (and bus tour folks get chances to nap/relax on the less exciting stretches of the drive)
In terms of money, both the car caravans and the bus tours come out about even. The caravans are cheaper, but, of course, you’ll be paying for gas and the mileage on your vehicle. For the bus, the transportation costs are all included. If you do the math, the costs are extremely comparable.
To sum it all up, both the Route 66 car caravans and Route 66 bus tours are great options for people looking to travel the Mother Road with likeminded lovers of vintage filling stations, Americana, and old rusty gold.
The best option for YOU is the one you think you’ll enjoy the most!