Loving Escorted Travel for 14 Years
Bob and Bonnie Bunger decided they wanted to see Europe in 1998. After shopping around, they booked GET’s Leisure Europe tour and have relied on GET ever since. The retired Oregon school teachers have joined 22 tours, typically traveling in the spring and fall.
“First, we did Leisure Europe and we went through about 10 different countries,” Bob recalls.
“That really got us interested and we decided we wanted to go back to explore the countries more,” Bonnie says.
Before discovering escorted travel, the Bungers had traveled independently to Norway and around the United States. But their Leisure Europe experience convinced them that a tour was an easier, more enriching way to travel.
“If you go on your own, you have to plan out everything,” Bob says. “And you have to know some of the language and tote your own luggage around. In some of the train stations, that’s not the easiest thing to do.”
“We like the fact that we are taken care of, where everything is done,” Bonnie says. “We like being told when to have our suitcase out, when to be down for breakfast. That’s our biggest selling point. We like the idea that somebody’s telling us where we’re going and they’re doing the driving.”
“And if we traveled on our own, my co-pilot wouldn’t be that great as far as reading maps,” Bob adds with a laugh. “We also enjoy having the historical background of the areas we’re going through as we’re driving along on the bus. And the Tour Directors have been extremely knowledgeable, very warm and helpful.”
Discovering the World Together
Married 45 years, the Bungers share a mutual love of travel, lifelong learning and making new friends that certainly plays a part in their happy marriage. In the last 14 years, they’ve traveled together throughout Europe and beyond, including trips to South Africa, Egypt and China, which are among their favorite destinations.
“I really enjoyed the South Africa tour with the safari,” Bonnie recalls. “We just had a ball. They got you up early and took you out to see the animals. Then while we were out there, they’d set up a table and we’d have coffee in the morning. In the afternoon when we went out, we’d have cocktails out in the bush. It was just a totally different type of thing to do.”
“I liked Egypt – going through the pyramids and all the stuff that was 5,000 years old, and the history part of that,” Bob says. “Also going to China and doing the Great Wall and seeing the Terra Cotta soldiers was a highlight.”
For the Bungers, robust itineraries are one of the reasons they continue to travel with GET. “We like to be doing something and moving all the time,” Bob says. “We prefer to go sightseeing and doing things other than shopping.”
“But there’s plenty of time to shop, even with all the other things,” Bonnie adds. “We always do the optionals because we like to be busy all day long.”
Making Friends on Every Trip
Meeting new people – from fellow travelers to their Tour Directors – is another draw for the Bungers. “Seems like on every tour, we pick up with one other couple and chum with them,” Bonnie says. “But one of the things we decided when we first started traveling is that we’d prefer to start the tour without knowing anyone as that way we get to know everybody in the group.”
The Bungers often stay in touch with people they’ve met on their travels. And in the fall, they’ve booked a tour to Ireland and Scotland with a couple they met on a tour of Turkey.
They’ve also enjoyed getting to know their Tour Directors. “We’ve had wonderful Tour Directors,” Bonnie says. “They’ve just been so friendly. In fact, we got an email just this Christmas from the Tour Director we had in Turkey.”
After the Bungers return from Ireland and Scotland in the fall, they plan to shift their travel focus to the United States and are looking at the new tours GET has added for 2012. But regardless of where they travel next, they’re convinced escorted travel is a great value.
“We met a couple on one tour, and he had priced out what it would cost to do it on his own,” Bonnie says. “ To stay in the same hotels, eat at the same type of restaurants and cover the transportation, ended up being more expensive to do on his own. So that’s a plus for traveling on a tour. But even if it was more, it’s worth it for us!”