Take the SCENIC ROUTE

Back-Roads Tour­ing can take the worry out of your next hol­i­day ad­ven­ture.

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Travel has never been more af­ford­able or of­fered more choice, but the thou­sands of hol­i­day op­tions avail­able to­day can be over­whelm­ing. Try­ing to piece to­gether a mem­o­rable itin­er­ary, en­sur­ing you have all your con­nec­tions, room book­ings and sched­ules aligned, can be nerve-wrack­ing.

In­creas­ingly, trav­ellers are turn­ing to small group tour­ing that com­bines the ease of hav­ing ev­ery­thing or­gan­ised for you by travel ex­perts, with the in­ti­macy of dis­cov­er­ing lit­tle-known places.

Small group tour spe­cial­ists Back-Roads Tour­ing take that mode of travel one step fur­ther. True to its name, the 25-year-old com­pany’s ap­proach is to take the scenic routes right into the heart of lo­cal vil­lages, show­cas­ing points of in­ter­est of­ten missed by large bus groups be­cause of ac­cess re­stric­tions.

With a max­i­mum of 18 guests on each tour and trans­ported in lux­u­ri­ous Mercedes mini-coaches, these care­fully curated ex­pe­ri­ences are ex­pressly de­signed to en­able trav­ellers to in­dulge in au­then­tic lo­cal in­ter­ac­tions.

That also means the bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion is hand-picked to com­ple­ment the essence of each jour­ney, and fam­ily or lo­cally owned res­tau­rants that spe­cialise in the flavours of the re­gion are also be­spoke ad­di­tions to each tour.

These tours fo­cus on hands-on in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. Like the idea of join­ing a truf­fle hunt in France, learn­ing how to fla­menco dance in Spain, or a cel­lar door tour in Italy? Per­haps a meal at Rick Stein’s restau­rant in Wales or a cook­ing class in Viet­nam?

Trav­el­ling with small groups is an en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and steadily gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

Beyond des­ti­na­tion-based trips, you can also choose from a range of theme-based itin­er­ar­ies such as bat­tle­fields or food-fo­cused tours.

For pas­sion­ate green thumbs, Back-Roads’ Chelsea Flower Show tour is a real show­stop­per. Trav­el­ling through the south­east of Eng­land, the seven-day trip in­cludes en­try to Wad­des­don Manor, Hever Cas­tle, Ightham Mote, Siss­inghurst Cas­tle Gar­den, Great Dix­ter, Kew Gar­dens, Scot­ney Cas­tle and more. On day six, en­try to the world-fa­mous Chelsea Flower Show is a bucket list day out.

Fan of the monar­chy? The Royal Tour of Bri­tain vis­its Bal­moral and Kens­ing­ton Cas­tles as well as the Royal Yacht Bri­tan­nia. The eight-day itin­er­ary also takes in Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle and the Golden Mile, St An­drews Univer­sity and golf course, Wind­sor Cas­tle, Hamp­ton Court Palace, the Princess Diana and Al­bert Memo­ri­als as well as Buck­ing­ham Palace.

These theme-based tours nat­u­rally en­sure you will be trav­el­ling with a group that shares your pas­sion, en­hanc­ing your en­joy­ment even fur­ther.

Back-Roads Tour­ing ex­tends its off-the-beaten path phi­los­o­phy to the wa­ter­ways with barge tour­ing in France a par­tic­u­larly unique ad­ven­ture. Lux­u­ri­ous, pur­pose-built ves­sels of­fer a cosy jour­ney through the hid­den pock­ets of France, travers­ing canals and nar­row rivers in­ac­ces­si­ble by larger ships.

Guest num­bers typ­i­cally range from as few as four to up to 20 pas­sen­gers. But while a smaller ship means fewer pas­sen­gers, it doesn’t mean you skimp on space. Even three-star barges fea­ture spa­cious in­door and out­door ar­eas to re­lax. Take in the sights on the al­fresco deck, have a drink in a sa­lon-style bar or just kick back while the coun­try­side rolls past.

Cruises gen­er­ally range from two to seven days and cover about 50 kilo­me­tres each day. The ves­sels main­tain a com­fort­able pace that, if you wish, en­ables you to jump ashore with one of the on-board bi­cy­cles to ride along­side the barge.

Guided sight­see­ing takes place ev­ery day and usu­ally in­cludes cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences like wine­tast­ings, lo­cal mar­ket vis­its or his­toric church tours.

Back-Roads re­cently added Asia to its global pro­gram with eight tai­lor-made tours of Thai­land, Cam­bo­dia and Viet­nam. A fo­cus on lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences is again a fea­ture of the new itin­er­ar­ies. On the five-day Bangkok and The River Kwai tour for ex­am­ple, guests en­joy a long-tailed boat trip along Bangkok’s canals, take a street eats tour by tuk-tuk and spend a night in a float­ing ho­tel in the jun­gle.

En­try is in­cluded to the Golden Bud­dha, Tem­ple of Wat Arun, JEATH War Museum and a Thai pup­pet show at Kh­long Bang Luang Artist House.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www. back­road­s­tour­ing.com.au.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT Re­lax­ing in the Chan­nel Is­lands; dis­cover beau­ti­ful Bavar­ian build­ings; din­ing cel­lar at Hofkeller; en­joy lo­cal cui­sine. OP­PO­SITE PAGE Ex­plore out-ofthe-way places .

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