After several great experiences traveling on group tours, Sandra Miller is taking on the role of tour guide with the launch of Miller's Group Travel.
In the past she's driven to nearby cities such as Knoxville to board tour buses, as she was unable to find any that were leaving from the Chattanooga area, she said. Miller is eliminating that hassle for other local travelers with her new business, for which tours will leave from her hometown of Hixson.
"It's just a lot of fun," Miller said of group travel. "You meet some great people and see a lot of the world you haven't seen before at a really great price."
Her first trip is a journey by motorcoach to Northern Michigan scheduled for Sept. 22-28, with full payment due by July 15. It includes a cruise through the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes; a ferry ride to Mackinac Island, which features historic sites and a unique limestone arch; and stops in Sault Sainte Marie, the village of Saint Ignace, Mackinaw City and its famous lighthouse, and Colonial Michilimackinac.
"I thought it would be a place a lot of people would find interesting," Miller said, adding that Mackinac Island is unique in that it does not allow cars — so the group will tour the island by horse-and-buggy. "From what I understand, it's a quaint little town with an old-timey feel."
In addition to the benefit of meeting new people, group tours allow for hotel rooms and activities to be purchased at discounted group rates, resulting in a much less expensive vacation than if traveling individually, she said.
The cost of the seven-day, six-night Michigan trip is $649 per person for double occupancy or $868 for single occupancy, including transportation, lodging, 10 meals and guided tours.
"It's a reasonable price to get there and see some things, and find out if you want to explore it more in-depth or cross it off the bucket list," said Miller.
Following the September tour is a holiday visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, Dec. 2-5. The trip features a Christmas candlelight evening tour of the historic mansion, as well as a daytime visit to the estate and winery, along with a guided tour of Asheville and trips to the Grove Arcade and Blue Ridge Mountain Opry.
The $599-per-person cost for double occupancy ($788 for single occupancy) includes motorcoach transportation from Hixson, lodging, attraction admission, tours, three dinners and two breakfasts, a souvenir gift and more.
Miller, who has been on group tours both alone and with her husband, said traveling either way is enjoyable, though going solo is a bit more expensive.
All ages are welcome on her trips, and she said on past group trips she's taken, several travelers brought their grandchildren. It's also common for groups of friends, church groups and club members to sign up for trips together, she said.
Miller said the buses she'll use are comfortable and have a restroom and a DVD player, and will stop every couple of hours for breaks.
For more information or to sign up, call Miller at 298-3138 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Emily Crisman at email@example.com.