"Every tourist destination has its milk run. In order to survive, tour operators will have to offer holidays where visitors get away from their fellow travelers. This needs imagination and commitment, and currently many tour operators prefer to keep on with the milk run as the easy option"

I don't understand the meaning of the phrase "milk run" in the above paragraph. Could you explain it and give me some more sentences for example?

3 Answers 3


In WWII pilots referred to a routine mission without particular danger—a transport or supply flight, for instance, not a combat flight—as a ‘milk run’, referring to the milk delivery routine which EnglishLearner describes.

This sense of ‘routine’ or ‘unexceptional’ appears to be what’s in play in your example. The ‘milk run’ is a routine group tour where everybody goes to the same places at the same time. This involves tour operators in a minimum of complexity and invention: they’re mostly just doing again what they’ve done many times before, and probably dealing mostly with the same establishments they’ve dealt with many times before.


Can you please provide more contexts to your sentence?

From Wikipedia

The phrase "milk run" originates in American culture, with the distribution of milk bottles by the milkman. On his daily route, the milkman simultaneously distributes the full bottles and collects the empty bottles. After the completion of round trip, he returned with the empties back to the starting point.

On the round trips are either goods collected from several suppliers and transported to one customer, or goods collected from one supplier an transported to several customers. In contrast to the groupage traffic, there is no handling, except to transport the goods.

I’m speculating here.

The tour operators are taking/busing the tourists to their destinations. While dropping off this group of visitors at A, the operators are picking up another group of travelers and taking them to destination B.


A milk run is a routine journey.

The tour operators that keep to the milk runs, in your extract, are not doing anything new, not taking the tourists off the beaten track.

Other examples of milk run:

  • [A parent] Can you do the milk run with the kids this morning? I'm running late for work.

  • [a driver looking at his assigned route] Excellent! I have the milk run. I can relax.

  • [Someone being questioned by police] Where was I this morning? On the standard milk run to work.

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