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TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Hemsedal, Norway
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TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Hi, has anyone been on the Western Discovery or similar ATI tour via Tours USA? Can not find mutch info on them. We are couple in our 30' ies and would really appreciate anyone's thoughts/comments on this tour. Really keen to know what the actual coach looks like....anyone have any pics? V

San Francisco...
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1. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

You may want to search the ca forum but in general TA is for self planned trips where you get to see the place instead of the inside of a coach

We can help you plan a great vacation

San Diego
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2. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

I found this interesting report by using Google and searching for Western Discovery ATI

…wordpress.com/2013/…

It seems that many folks from Europe are used to taking guided coach tours while most 30year olds in the USA seem to plan their own trips.

Trip Advisor is a great place to get help in planning a trip of your own which might include day tours but not just using a bus(USA for "coach")to get everywhere.

IF you plan your own trip you can decide how many days to spend in each place instead of being dragged around on a bus not having much time to see/do anything.

haines, alaska
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3. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Given that you are younger, I would agree.....rent a car and go to the same places that any tour bus goes on your own schedule.......many of the bus tours that I have seen in California are filled with older people and I think you would have a far better trip by first planning those activities that you want to do, second find out the areas which offer them, third book your own accommodations and activities directly with the owner/operator.......

Come back to this post during your planning with specific questions along the way and you will have a wonderful trip customized just for you.......

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

The link provided by Riff M should set up some warning flags for you.

We have found that in most of these tours your hotel is not in the supposed destination, but miles away, and you are carried around in the bus in the city until you are taken to your out-of-the way hotel.

Before booking, do read the itinerary and pay attention to where you will be sleeping.

For example on one tour I looked at the hotel for the destination of San Francisco was in Union City, a smallish city, almost 40 miles south and east of San Francisco.

You wouldn't be popping out for a coffee or stroll at night. In addition the AAA recommendations for restaurants in this city are two...a chain called Fresh Choice and a pasta place.

Another where the destination was Los Angeles put its tour members in a suburb far south of the main sights.

Buyer beware. This forum is a good place to go to help plan your OWN tour.

Liverpool, United...
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5. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Somewhat belated, but I feel I have to defend ATI having taken their Western Discovery tour in September 2010. We were a little dubious, we wanted time to walk and explore San Francisco, Vegas and the National Parks but we were surprised we had time to do most of what we wanted, in fact we had a great time.

I must disagree about the location of accommodation, the hotels were all central (other than Los Angeles which were at the airport which suited us fine as we explored Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach) and we had an overnight in Modesto, which isn't the centre of the universe but we had spent the day in Yosemite so it was just an overnight stop which I think has now changed. All the other hotels were well placed and enabled us to explore the area. A couple of lunches were taken at some out of the way places but that's the thing we were sometimes miles from anywhere. We were given lots of information including a map, I expect a lot depends on your tour director and it's up to you to research where you are going.

To us Brits, a road trip on this scale is very daunting due to the vast distances covered and I was so glad to be driven and be able to look out of the window at the fabulous scenery and given information on the way. Our travelling companions varied in age from early 20's to pensioners and I heard very few complaints. I would certainly consider another trip.

ADELAIDE
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6. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Recently completed the 8 day Western Panorama tour.

We have been on 4 bus tours (2 in less developed nations) and this was the worst organised tour of the lot, and a frustrating tour experience.

NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL

Good bits -

1. Isaac our bus driver - An excellent driver and a great patient guy .. he made tour much more pleasant. Hey ATI, please pay him more, and/or make HIM the tour guide/escort.

2. Tour sights and events ultimately very good. The US we saw was a great place with some amazing locations, generally lovely people, great food etc.

3. Seat rotation on the bus - this is essential on any bus tour.

Bad bits -

1. Tour Brochure all gloss which gives minimal information - almost useless.

2. No meet and greet on Day One. A lady named Madeline? who met us individually (not as a group) in hotel lobby for 10 minutes, had little idea of aspects of the tour, and provided hardly any information apart from an envelope with the "wrong" tour brochure. We did the shorter tour, got the longer tour brochure, no explanation that we were doing 2nd half of the longer tour and how people would be joining / leaving the tour hither and thither.

3. Day One? what a joke. Actually, the first and last days of this tour are hang-around-hotel-lobby days - non tour days. The glossy blurb mis-represents the tour.

4. On the real Day One (blurb’s day 2), we had a driver-only experience on a “tour-truck”.. Los Angeles to Las Vegas; no tour guide, no proper tour bus. The driver was adequate but certainly not a great ambassador for either the tour, nor the USA..... Not a good introduction to the tour.

5. From there organisation got worse. Harland Crow, our tour escort was a very poor communicator from an organisational point of view.

6. He failed to introduce and/or farewell different groups/people when joining or leaving tour, indeed never mentioned this was an attribute of the tour. We wouldn't have minded had this been explained. People on tour would just appear and/or vanish.

7. Harland Crow rarely gave a coherent version of the days' events and timing - while these things sort-of occurred they were mostly incoherent, confused or jumbled with details from other days of the tour.

Ideally our experience should have been more like this - in the morning.. PRIOR to the distractions of departure and sightseeing, Harland should have provided a rundown of that day's events in their order and timing. Each evening as we arrived at hotel, and PRIOR to egress from the bus, (not while on sightseeing tour), provide a rundown of the following day's boarding instructions, bag loading times, breakfast, events, critical issues, people arriving/leaving etc. Provide decent facility and time for us tourists to absorb/record these things.

8. A bus ride sightseeing around a city when we are on the bus already should not be an extra cost option, nor be a selling point for the tour. We were effectively each paying about $40 for a gallon or so of petrol and some commentary.

9. Poor and inflexible planning - this led to -

a) No Mammoth Mountain arial tram ride, a selling point in the tour brochure. It was almost pointless going to Mammoth Mountain apart from sleeping at a nice hotel and a few nice sights along the way. This was a big disappointment for other fellow travellers we spoke to (many were too polite to complain). Harland's response that there was no time gave inadequate reasons or justification or context as usual. As it happened we became even more disgruntled when we discovered during the ensuing day that a couple of tour stops were time-wasters of about the same time it would have taken to do the arial tram, and we COULD have had enough time to do the arial tram tour. eg, we did not need to stop for an hour for bad coffee/toilet at remote outpost the same day.

b) Friends who were unable to do San Francisco Golden Gate bridge walk for physical reasons were not given the option to stay on the bus and meet the group at end of the bridge walk and accompany the group on harbor ferry to Sausalito, which as it turned out, was a real trip highlight. They would still have been prepared to pay the trip option cost and we did not realise this was a viable option because of minimal information (again) provided by Harland. Very inflexible/obtuse arrangements.

OK - Harland Crow has good historical and anecdotal knowledge of trip highlights and was occasionally entertaining. We totally understand he has a difficult job, however, however his organisation of the tour daily basics was very, very poor.

Combined with minimal information from the brochure and often sporadic, sparse, confused or jumbled information from tour escort Harland Crow, this tour was therefore a frustrating experience.

A number of others on tour felt the same, however, if they are too polite to complain, we will advise ATI for them. Unfortunately ATI did not provide feedback facility on their website for this tour, we have to provide pen and paper feedback ......

Manhattan Beach...
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7. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

I'm ecstatic that people that have first hand experience with the bus tour are available to offer guidance.

I've only done bus tour day trips, but a number of family members and several friends have done bus trips of the Western USA and they have found them worthwhile. I don't know what companies that they used. The good thing is that you don't have to drive the two thousand miles that may be involved to visit the national parks. This morning I talked to a friend who just came back from a bus trip and she and her girlfriend enjoyed it. In summer you get a wide spread on ages taking the tour. I suspect that in winter the ages of the tourists gets older. The tours are regimented out of necessity in order to make schedule. Surprisingly, my friend had a similar experience as my sister, the tour was conducted in both Chinese and English. My sister's tour was conducted in English, but the overwhelming majority of the patrons were native Chinese speakers. The only complaints that I have heard about the hotels is that in one case you could not get a decent breakfast before the bus had to leave. My parents enjoyed the fact that the company thought to show the movie "Dances With Wolves", which was very relevant to their next stop, while driving across a boring section of prairie. In most cases the companies that are competent take you to the important places that you want to go. My parents though went with an established company, but they visited a new city that they previously hadn't had as a stop, and the bus driver and guide did not know basics, like where to park.

Uden, The...
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8. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

The OP never came back after his first post jan 2014.

Pori, Finland
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9. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

We are a retired couple from Finland. We just came home from the tour Western Discovery by ATI. It was an in English guided tour and the group consisted of people of all ages and from many countries.

We booked the tour from TOURS-USA via internet and we got a very good and quick service from them. Only a little problem we had first with the payment. They offered an option to split the rest of amount in pieces but I chose to pay all at ones. So, I had to raise both the limit of the credit and the limit of the security of my bank account before I managed to pay the whole amount.

About the tour we can say that it was better than we could imagine. We usually make self planned trips by a rented car but this trip should absolutely have been too long to drive yourself in two weeks. In the bus we could just sit and relax. There were many stops for restroom, coffee, lunch and sceneries. The tour was very good organized. The guide Joan and the driver Mike were real professionals. In the bus the sitting order rotated every day. Hotels were good and centrally located. All other hotels had free wi-fi in the room but Park 55 Hilton in San Francisco had it free only in the lobby. Hotels in Modesto and Pismo Beach had even a free breakfast.

According to our experience we can warmly recommend this tour.

Walnut Grove...
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10. Re: TOURS USA any info on Western Discovery tour?

Not that easy getting from one place to another when the USA is so huge and if you aren't American you will not be terribly familiar with everything. Also, some people have more difficulty in communication for various reasons and feel more comfortable knowing that they will what they seek to see (i.e. nature) whilst not having to worry on how to get from one place to the other, where to stay. a tour puts everything in a a nice neat package... not to mention security in numbers as their are areas in the USA, that aren't that great, and a non local might not be aware of them and therefor wander into them by mistake...