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Independent and Escorted Rail Tours: What is the Difference?

5 December 2019

Take in the natural splendors of America's national parks and the unfathomable history woven into Europe's centuries-old cities. Marvel at the performers of Canada's Calgary Stampede and how Africa and Australia's vast terrain continues to cling to their wild roots. Whether you hope to stay close to home or travel across the globe, the world is your oyster with a rail tour through Vacations By Rail. When you are ready to set off on one of our well-planned expeditions, there are a few things to consider: where, when, and most importantly, how. All of our rail vacations feature travel along some of the world's most incredible railways; however, you have the option to take on the world alone on one of our Independent Tours or with the help of a guide on our Escorted Tours. Before booking, learn which option is right for you.

Similarities Between Independent Tours and Escorted Tours

When you select a rail vacation with Vacations By Rail, a skillfully planned itinerary highlighting some of the best sites and opportunities in each location you visit is provided. These opportunities range from guided tours of cities to excursions to castles, based on where you are traveling. Every tour features an outstanding rail component, whether aboard one of the world's most scenic trains, on a heritage line, or aboard efficient local railways that make getting between destinations comfortable and convenient. Our itineraries also feature comfortable hotel stays and sightseeing in popular locales. Our Rail Specialists are available to answer any questions regarding inclusions, accommodations, upgrades, or anything else you may need. The differences between Independent and Escorted Tours become evident beyond these factors.

Independent Tours

Setting out on an Independent Tour of the United States, Canada, or Europe means a variety of options when it comes to vacation type. Select from tours that connect popular destinations by train or combine train travel with other forms of transportation, including scenic cruises or rental cars. Each choice provides a different perspective on the country.

No matter which option you choose, you will be traveling independently without a group or a Tour Manager. Set your own pace as you follow a well-planned itinerary, seeing and doing what is most important to you in each destination. Your days will be split between included sightseeing excursions and free time to explore however you see fit. Some transfers, such as those to and from the airport or rail station, may be included for your convenience.

Vacations By Rail's Independent Tours always offer the following inclusions:

  • Rail travel on more or more iconic trains.
  • Hotel accommodations in desirable locations.
  • Sightseeing to showcase the best of a destination.

Escorted Tours

Escorted Tours whisk you around the globe alongside like-minded travelers to fantastic regions where immersive culture, centuries of history, and picturesque panoramas come standard. Under the guidance of a professional Tour Manager, you and your fellow travelers can set off through Africa, Asia, Canada, the United States, Eastern or Western Europe, Australia, and just about anywhere else you could think of. Each step of the way is punctuated by the insider's knowledge that only a Tour Manager can bring.

Vacations By Rail's Escorted Tours include travel by train and deluxe motorcoach, hotel accommodations in convenient locations, many meals, and baggage handling. While guided sightseeing is one of the best parts of our Escorted Tours, there are often generous blocks of time, or even entire days, to explore destinations at your leisure. If you need help with suggestions during your free time, your Tour Manager is happy to offer their expertise. Escorted Tours put the world at your fingertips yet give you the comfort of being with familiar faces along the way.

If you think an escorted tour might be the right choice for you, consider that the following are always included:

  • Rail travel on one or more iconic trains.
  • Hotel accommodations in desirable city center locations or within national parks.
  • Many meals, including unique regional experiences.
  • Comprehensive sightseeing excursions, including attraction entrance fees.
  • National park entrance fees.
  • Transportation by deluxe motorcoach.
  • Services of a professional Tour Manager.
  • Baggage handling throughout the tour.

Have you decided which type of tour aligns with your travel desires? Browse our extensive train vacations or contact a Rail Specialist to book your next grand adventure. The world awaits!