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etiquette for bus tours

Etiquette for Bus Tours: Tips for a Pleasant Trip

There’s a reason why I rarely go on guided tours. While I certainly enjoy learning facts about places and attractions from experienced tour guides, what tends to be the issue is other participants who really shouldn’t be on the tour in the first place. There’s an etiquette for bus tours that should be followed, and I’ll tell you why… read on!

I’ll use our recent experience of touring the Scottish Highlands as an example. While the tour itself was excellent and our guide/driver absolutely fantastic, we had a group of eight Southeast Asian young men in their 20s who disrupted the peace and pleasure of the other 25 participants. Sitting in the back of the small tour bus, they proceeded to talk loudly with each other in their native language when the tour guide was speaking. A few pulled out their phones to speak while the tour guide was giving us an explanation of the history of the Highlands.  Of course, this group was also chronically late every time we were ready to move on from our tour stops.

Our first day on the tour was miserable, as Frank and I were sitting just in front of this bunch of uninterested dudes. On the second day we made a point of getting a seat at the front of the bus, away from all the chatter. We had a much better time as a result of this move.

Tour bus etiquette - be nice to your fellow passengers.

Our tour bus guide for the Highland Experience bus tour had the patience of a saint.

Thinking about the experience, we’ve come up with a list of must do’s when it comes to tour bus etiquette:


  • Shut up when the tour guide is talking. Not only are you disrupting somebody else who may be interested in hearing what the guide has to say, you paid for the experience and are wasting it. If you’re having a conversation with your friend or on the phone, you may be missing important information or interesting facts about the sites etc. As well, the rest of the participants will soon hate you. They really won’t feel all too guilty when the bus pulls away from a stop without you on board.
  • Turn your cell phone off. You are on vacation. Unless you are a heart specialist with a patient that may need to get in touch with you in an emergency situation, you don’t need to have your girlfriend or momma calling you during your guided vacation.
  • Pay attention to when the tour guide wants you back at the bus. If you’re late you may jeopardize opportunities to visit sites because your lateness eats into the time needed. Not only do you miss out, but others do too. See point one about people hating you.
  • Be courteous to others and your tour guide. After all, you are stuck with them for hours, so you may as well make friends. In the end everybody will be happy.

If you’re stuck with disruptive fellow passengers, here are a few solutions:

  • See where the loud folks sit and make a point of getting another seat away from them the next day. This may mean being early to the bus on Day 2 to snag a good seat.
  • If you still find yourself disrupted by loud passengers, speak with the tour guide. He/she has the authority to ask loud passengers to be quieter. If they are still unruly, the guide can in most cases ask them to disembark from the ride.
  • Talk with other passengers who are obviously not happy with the situation. If you band together, at least you can all have a good laugh when the noisemakers/chronically late are told to shut up and shape up with their behaviour.

While tours can be a great way to get a taste of the best of the best, without having to deal with driving yourself and figuring out maps, there’s always the downside of other passengers. While we enjoyed the tour of the Scottish Highlands which inspired us to visit again, we would pass on guided tour next time around for a quality trip on our own.

Got any etiquette for bus tour tips? 

I’d love to hear your horror stories of tours gone wrong.  If you’ve got a good one send it to me at suburbantourist@gmail.com, and it may get featured in a guest blog post. Photos are a must!



  1. I love doing tours … you learn so much.

    Luckily I haven’t had too much trouble with others.

  2. My greatest fear, being stuck in a tour with people who don’t respect others. Why I rarely go to the movies now.

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