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Expert Advice, News, Tour Resources & More - Traveling by Train - Tips and Advice

Vacations By Rail's Expert Advice, News, Tour Resources & More keeps you up to date with all the latest exciting train vacation and train tour options available throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Beyond.

Independent and Escorted Rail Tours: What is the Difference?

You have the option to take 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.


Take in the natural splendor of America’s national parks. Marvel at the performers of Canada’s Calgary Stampede. Travel through centuries-old cities in Europe. See the vast terrain of Africa or Australia. 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, you will be provided a skillfully planned itinerary that highlights some of the very best sites and opportunities in each location you are to visit. These opportunities could range from guided tours of cities to visits to castles, based on where you are traveling. Every rail tour features an outstanding rail component aboard one of the world’s trains, comfortable hotel stays, and sightseeing in popular destinations. Our Rail Specialists are available to answer any questions you may have regarding inclusions, accommodations, upgrades or anything else you may need. It is beyond these factors that the differences between Independent and Escorted Tours become evident.

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 scenic cruises or a rental car for a different perspective of the country. No matter which of these options you choose, you will be traveling on your own 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. Some transfers, such as those to and from the airport or rail station, may be included for your convenience. Once you arrive at each destination, your time is split between included sightseeing and free time to explore however you see fit.

Escorted Tours

Escorted Tours feature travel to destinations around the globe with a larger group of like-minded travelers. With the help of a professional Tour Manager, you and your group set off through Africa, Asia, Canada, the United States, Eastern or Western Europe, Australia and just about anywhere else you could think of. Vacation By Rail Escorted Tours include travel by train and deluxe motorcoach, accommodations, guided sightseeing, many meals and baggage handling. There is often generous blocks of time, or even full days, to explore destinations at your leisure while on an Escorted Tour. If you need help with suggestions during your free time, your Tour Manager will be happy to offer their expertise. Escorted Tours put the world at your fingertips, yet give you the comfort of being with familiar faces all along the way.

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

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