Please sign in to post.

Covid free tour - Portugal

Happy to report that our whole group of 27 members, were COVID free(!!) May 1 - May 12. Lots of sensible masking and common sense awareness among the group.

Posted by
1875 posts

Thanks, Lois, it is so good to hear this. I think "sensible masking & common sense awareness among the group" contributed to being covid free. It IS still out there.

Posted by
1 posts

This is the kind of report I like reading. With reasonable measures and simple respect for others around you, we’ll see more satisfied customers. If you can’t handle reasonableness, stay home (please😉)

Posted by
7453 posts

Yeah! I was just repackaging my home Covid tests this morning that I picked up at the pharmacy this week. Getting ready for a RS trip! : )

Posted by
5687 posts

My friend just got back for her first RS tour (Italy). No one got Covid on her tour either. I forget whether she said people were masking or not.

Posted by
327 posts

I finished a Rick Steves tour on April 23. I could say it was covid free, but three days later I tested positive. Obviously I was exposed during the tour times, but whether by tour mates or elsewhere, I don't know. I just want to point out that just because no one was obviously ill, it doesn't mean covid was not present. We all go our separate ways after breakfast of the last day. There is no follow up in regard to knowing a tour being unscathed.

Posted by
2112 posts

That’s great! Our two tours weren’t as lucky this past fall.
It’s also nice to hear people were sensible with masking at times.

Posted by
8637 posts

Here is the current RS policy regarding masking.

“Am I required to wear a face mask during my tour?
No — wearing a face mask while on tour is optional. However, at any time the situation with Covid may change, and your guide may instruct you to wear a mask while on the tour bus or in other public settings.”

Note, they reserve the right to request masking if guide decides it is necessary. Honestly, I am still quite surprised that there is any discussion on this. As long as people follow tour policy and the health and safety pledge they signed, no one will care one way or another what you do. Feel like masking is your best choice? Do it! Feel like it is unnecessary for you? No problem!

Let’s focus on travel.

Posted by
256 posts

Just finished back to back tours. Of 57 total people, none were booted due to Covid and only 3 occasionally wore masks. Good to see focus on traveling rather than Covid.

Posted by
494 posts

Hate to be the exception to the rule but my husband and I just had to leave our May 8 Greece tour after 3 nights when he tested positive. We were among about 30% of folks masking on the bus and in museums. We spent 3 nights in Athens before the tour also masking inside so at least we can console ourselves that we had been careful and just got very unlucky. We’re hoping no one else on our tour is affected.

Posted by
764 posts

Mixed results on our tours....

We had a couple who were dropped from the Holland/Belgium tour the 2nd day. We were quite nervous as they were the first people we had met in advance of the tour and had spent time with in the cramped Ghent belfry. The remaining 26 stayed civid free.

No one tested positive on the B-P-V tour that ended recently. However one person did appear quite ill for several days but being tiny she could keep a low profile while coughing on the bus. Eventually she refrained from tour activities for a day. The other 25 appeared not to succumb to any viruses.

Posted by
2112 posts

It is the luck of the draw. Covid is not over as some seem to think. Four tour mates tested positive on our back to back tours in September. So, all I can say and do is mask up in crowded circumstances. Eating inside is always a problem. We are debating on wether to sign up for a 2024 tour.
Always have plan B and good insurance.

Posted by
5450 posts

I live in Vienna and I can’t think of a single person since Christmas who knowingly had COVID. That said, there is no masking and no testing anymore. As long as you don’t have symptoms you can still go to school and work. We live in a post-COVID place now in Austria. Sorry for those with bad luck on these tours.

Posted by
67 posts

Like Lyndash, we are also the exception. On day 5 of the Basque Tour, we both tested positive. We had finished walking a segment of the Camino and I was congested with a noticeable loss of smell. We were about to have a group lunch at a winery, and I knew I had to isolate from the group to eat, out of consideration for others. I told Francisco, our exceptional tour guide, who went outside with me to test, which was immediately positive. My hubby then also tested positive. We ate lunch separately to protect others. Since we were in between locations, we were allowed on the bus to get to the next hotel, this time double masked (per protocol), sitting in the back of bus. Others were told we tested positive and everyone was advised to mask, the only time I EVER saw full masking on the bus, even though others before us had tested positive and had left the tour. When we got off the bus in San Sebastián, knowing we would leave the tour, I said “goodbye everyone,” and only one person bothered to acknowledge us! We are still utterly stunned and disappointed by their lack of concern. Not even a wave goodbye. No one even looked in our direction. David, the only person to speak to us, kindly asked “are you going to be OK?”

David also tested positive later that night.

Here’s the cruel irony: David and the 2 of us were the ONLY ones who consistently wore masks, on the bus, while inside, even outdoors. All the time, except while eating. (And yes, we are both fully vaxxed, including bivalent booster.)

Prior to the 3 of us testing positive, 2 other couples had to leave the tour because a spouse in each couple had tested positive. I never saw them mask. Tour is not over yet, but so far, 7 people out of 22 have exited the tour.

(Bad) Luck of the draw, of course. I now see that the weak link in the group tour is the group meals. This was our first RS tour, and sadly our last. We booked the tour last fall, booked flights last Nov, then the RS Tour masking policy changed from required to optional. I had a bad feeling about that, but by then we were committed. And yes, I recognize that masks were required on the tour bus last year (unlike now), and people still got COVID, so masking does not solve everything.

Unlike Lois’ experience, regrettably we found “Lots of sensible masking and common sense awareness among the group” to be sorely lacking. Instead we found what I consider to be reckless behavior.

To illustrate, earlier in the morning (before I tested positive), a man whose wife had just tested positive came to the breakfast area to talk to the tour guide one more time. He was unmasked, even though he almost certainly had COVID! I simply do not understand how, 3 years into this pandemic, people can be so cavalier. We sat near one or both of them at meals just before she started feeling ill, so that is almost certainly how we became infected.

So while many of us want to “get back to travel again,” COVID is still here. And we were indeed focused on travel, which is why we thought it safest to mask rather than throw caution to the wind.

Posted by
1103 posts

I have been tracking forum posts describing COVID situations that resulted in people leaving a tour. As of 5/23/23 18 such reports have been made pertaining to 2023 tours. As of this date in 2022 there were no posts noting similar problems with 2022 tours. The first posting related to 2022 issues appeared in June 2022. There have been 35 posts related to 2022 tours.

Posted by
27417 posts

I think tours got sort of a slow start in 2022, didn't they? I'm not sure the number of reports about people needing to leave a tour this year is indicative of anything.

As others have pointed out, it's impossible to avoid the risk involved with group meals when you take a tour. I travel independently, and I was quaking in my boots last summer when I saw how crowded hotel breakfast rooms were. I opted out of breakfast any time I could, but I'm too cheap to forego it when it's already baked into my hotel rate (and I was in Scandinavia, where I was paying a lot more than usual for hotels).

Posted by
5687 posts

What kind of masks are people wearing??? I keep reading people say they were "all masked up" and still got Covid. But were they wearing a respirator like an N95 (and wearing it properly)? Or were they merely wearing "procedure" (aka "surgical" masks)?

Posted by
42 posts

Hope they keep posting the numbers, even if it's every couple of weeks instead of weekly. To answer Andrew above, those on my tour were mostly wearing KN95 masks.

Posted by
27417 posts

I wore tight-fitting K95s indoors throughout my long trip last summer (except when eating, when in my own hotel room and when I forgot--which did happen). I emerged COVID-free, but I'm [corrected >>] not [<<corrected] attributing that solely to my choice to go with a maximally protective mask. I think one's personal immune system must play a role. I've heard of too many people who had COVID but didn't spread it to people they shared a household (or even a hotel room) with before they knew they were ill. There's luck involved on multiple dimensions. Still, I'd rather do as much as I can--at least when I'm traveling--so if I do get sick, I'll figure I did everything I reasonably could to avoid it.

Posted by
494 posts

Andrew, my husband and I wore the k95 masks, not the lightweight paper surgical masks. Not while we walked around outside or eating but on the plane, the metro, in museums, on the bus etc. And we ate outside or takeaway as often as possible. My daughter pointed out the new variants aren’t as serious but are very contagious. Haven’t looked this up to verify but she works for a state fire service so I took her word for it. We’ve been careful for 3 years but sometimes you get unlucky anyway.

Posted by
5450 posts

It remains interesting to me that while many in the US remain obsessed about COVID, I haven’t heard anyone even say the word COVID in Austria for months. No one over here cares about it anymore.

Posted by
67 posts

We wore mostly KN 95 masks (the ones with ear loops), so easier to wear, but still offering good protection and a snug fit. We’ve worn this type since the Omicron variant surfaced late 2021. On the plane and on TGV, we wore our super duper N95 masks (made by 3M), the very tight fitting ones with 2 straps that fit over the head.

But one cannot eat and mask at the same time, which is why group meals are the biggest risk, even for those who mask. Even our tour guide commented, “but you guys were so careful…” We went above and beyond what others are doing, both tour members and locals.

Posted by
8637 posts

@Emily When you are in danger of having your dream vacation that you have spent big bucks for suddenly end, Covid becomes much more important than when you are at home living your day to day life. People do, and should, pick up their efforts to stay Covid free under those circumstances. It is completely understandable.

Posted by
42 posts

@Emily - also, for those who have had Covid, and, for them, it was particularly bad - way worse than the "flu", getting it again is something to avoid, especially far away from home.

Posted by
67 posts

Thank you Carol & Lois for your support! This “obsessive American” feels completely vindicated! After staying in one place to recover (and mask in public) for the last 5 days, we are ready to move on to Bilbao tomorrow AM, where our next flight departs for CDG the following day. We are still likely contagious, which is why we will continue to (obsessively) mask. We will also need to cancel our planned D-Day group tour (with Bayeux Tours) because we do not wish to be in a van all day while imperiling the health of others. Just trying to live by the golden rule. Fortunately, we have a car rental in Normandy so we can go at our own pace.

Posted by
5450 posts

@carol and @Lois - I’m just making an observation. Of course I understand why travelers might choose to wear a mask.

Posted by
494 posts

Good luck to you Lynne with an e, (I’m actually Lynda with a y 😉) I’m glad you are able to move on. My husband and I are back to feeling normal and testing negative. We were lucky in that our symptoms were fairly mild but we were very, very tired for a couple of days. I’m now planning for a tour (solo) in October in Prague and Budapest and will be cautiously hopeful that the travel gods couldn’t do it to me again but I will be masking again as well.

Posted by
1695 posts

Sorry you got sick, in spite of being so careful, Lynne with an E.

My mother-in-law has Stage 4 cancer and had a heart attack 2 days after learning of her diagnosis. My dad had a pacemaker inserted today. My sister-in-law also has incurable cancer. A dear friend of mine has an autoimmune disease. My brother-in-law (former military guy, athletic (jogger)) has Long Covid.

I have not had Covid, and I hope I never get it, if I can help it, so, like you, I am very careful.

I wear N95s on any flights and in all public, indoor spaces, and so far, touch wood [raps myself on the head], I've managed to avoid Covid, even though I've taken several trips since the start of the pandemic (Amsterdam, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, Colorado, Michigan, Mexico). I don't eat on flights--even on long ones, and I avoid eating in restaurants for the most part. I understand that would be a lot harder to avoid on a tour, though.

With so many people acting like it's all over, even those of us who take precautions are at risk. I'm so glad to hear you were being so careful about exposing others. I wish everyone was as considerate.

Posted by
600 posts

We returned today from our 3 weeks in France; Normandy and Paris. We travelled twice last year, once to France and once to Italy. We have been exceedingly careful, wearing well fitted N95 masks inside and not eating inside in restaurants. I came down with Covid last Tuesday. I believe my vulnerable point was a very crowded train from Caen to Paris. We made a mistake with our train car and I walked up and down a few cars figuring out where our seats were and moving our luggage; it was difficult to keep my mask perfectly in place while doing this. I would say about 3-5% of riders had masks on. I would also say that as I moved between the train cars I heard non stop nasty coughing and nose blowing. Obviously some likely had colds but some % certainly had Covid. I tried to do outdoor activities back in Paris for 2 days and then I became too sick to do much. Most of the Paris days were lost and at great expense. Over 50 years of regular travel to Europe, this was my second worst experience of unwellness; the worst was 10 days of norovirus that ruined my time in Budapest. I have powered through colds on previous trips. It is unfortunate that after 3.5 years, not quite enough folks appreciate that Covid isn’t a cold. Yes most have moved on as Emily mentions. Unfortunately the average citizen doesn’t yet know how multiple Covid infections may affect us over time; we will eventually find out. (This is now my 2nd infection as my first was after a trip to London in December 2019 before the world knew what was coming. It wasn’t fun.)

Posted by
256 posts

Emily, very few in the US are obsessed with Covid, but many on this Forum are apparently still masking. I recently finished 2 RS tours including a total of 57 travelers and only 3 occasionally wore masks and no one left the tour due to illness. This post is not representative of the many RS travelers I have met.

Posted by
600 posts

Simpgolf, one doesn’t have to be ‘obsessed with Covid’ to nevertheless prefer to not get sick while on an expensive trip. Wearing an appropriate mask reduces some of the risk of a ruined vacation. It would have been much nicer to enjoy Paris last week rather than be unwell. None of us knows what version of a respiratory virus we will get until it arrives; I would love to have signed up for the mild, ‘no big deal’ version last week but evidently it wasn’t available on my particular train journey.

Posted by
256 posts

Claire, “obsessed with Covid” was Emily’s comment to which I was merely responding. But I am amazed by the numerous posts by people who diligently mask, dine outdoors and avoid crowds but still get sick. Perhaps these efforts are not as effective as some believe.

Posted by
1695 posts

Oh, Claire. I'm so sorry your trip was spoiled. Hope you are feeling better and get another opportunity to visit Paris soon.

Posted by
5687 posts

I think it's time we stop living like it's 2020 - but not necessarily live like it's 2019, either. The Covid global emergency may be over, but the virus is here to stay. It is still killing hundreds of Americans every day. The seasonal flu is not.

Even if Covid disappeared tomorrow, it has still taught me how risky it is to get sick while traveling, and from here on I plan to be more careful when I travel than before 2020. Wearing an N95 on a crowded plane seems sensible - I don't want to catch any other respiratory virus either, especially while on vacation! Wearing one outside while I'm not in close contact with anyone seems completely pointless.

Everyone has their theories about how they caught Covid. (As far as I know, I haven't.) My belief is that the biggest risk is close contact with others - whether indoors or outdoors. It seems some people believe that if they mask everywhere indoors they are safe, but there is no need to wear a mask at all outside. But I know more than one person who caught Covid outdoors e.g. at a sporting event or concert where people were in close contact, maybe cheering or yelling, for hours. Walking outside huddled with my tour group, where people are talking at close distances to each other, seems pretty risky to me - so I'd wear a mask. Walking by myself seems safe - no need to wear one.

In any case, this is the protocol I've been following for a while, and either it's worked or I've just been very lucky. E.g. I went to Croatia and Slovenia last fall for a short vacation, and it's hard for me to imagine I didn't encounter numerous people who were infected with and contagious with Covid. I wore my N95 on the crowded planes that took me to Europe and in the airports, but on the nearly empty 737 taking me to Split, with no one close to me, I didn't see the need to. (Planes have good HEPA filters and air circulation systems at each row, but they don't protect you from water droplets from the person sitting directly next to you.) I wore it on the semi-crowded airport bus. Once I got to Split, I rarely wore my N95 at all except in a few instances. I took long ferry rides and just sat outside (beautiful weather!) most of the time...or made sure to sit quite a ways from anyone else. I ate either outdoors or far from other diners indoors - and if a restaurant was crowded or a tiny indoor space, I just didn't eat inside. On the very crowded train to Zagreb I wore my N95 the entire time, unless I was taking a break standing between train cars with no one near me. I mostly didn't wear it on other trains and buses unless they were crowded or there were people next to me..

When ordering food or buying something at a grocery store, I kept my distance from others and didn't linger long but didn't wear my N95. To me, the risk seemed not zero but low.

And so far, this has worked for me.

Posted by
5450 posts

I’ve been on vacation in Israel, Crete, Andalucia and the US (twice) in the past 9 months (going to Croatia next week). I haven’t worn masks on the many buses, planes, trains or in the many restaurants/buffets I’ve eaten as it is not required. I also ride public transport 4 times every work day on crowded subways, trains and buses. The only time I’ve worn a mask is when required in doctor’s offices (since March no longer required). No COVID. I guess some people are just unlucky. And, yes, even though I do live in Europe I still take expensive trips which financially impact me like anyone traveling from the US. I just continue to find it interesting that I haven’t known anyone here who has had COVID for months, but someone eats at one breakfast buffet or takes one train and gets COVID. That is exceptionally bad luck and highly inconvenient.

Posted by
600 posts

BB, thank you!

Simpgolf and Emily, I have said here at other times and elsewhere, that getting Covid is indeed a matter of luck, especially the past 18 months; there is no rhyme or reason. And as few are testing themselves anymore, and with lots of obvious ‘colds’ in evidence, I would grant that many folks who feel unwell, even for a couple of days, won’t actually know what they have. So it’s easy to not talk about something you don’t think has occurred:)

Simpgolf, precautions have never provided 100% guarantees; they have always been about minimizing risk. It is truly not fun to be sick (of any kind) while on vacation….the logistics alone can be challenging if you are unwell and need to move on to your next destination. Been there, done that. I will continue to travel and I will continue to try and avoid respiratory viruses AND that sneaky devil, norovirus.

Posted by
1695 posts

I think it's time we stop living like it's 2020 - but not necessarily live like it's 2019, either. The Covid global emergency may be over, but the virus is here to stay. It is still killing hundreds of Americans every day. The seasonal flu is not.
Even if Covid disappeared tomorrow, it has still taught me how risky it is to get sick while traveling, and from here on I plan to be more careful when I travel than before 2020. Wearing an N95 on a crowded plane seems sensible - I don't want to catch any other respiratory virus either, especially while on vacation!

It is truly not fun to be sick (of any kind) while on vacation….the logistics alone can be challenging if you are unwell and need to move on to your next destination. Been there, done that. I will continue to travel and I will continue to try and avoid respiratory viruses AND that sneaky devil, norovirus.

This and this, although my stepsister died in 1991 of complications from the flu--31 years old, no preexisting conditions. So, I've long since taken real influenza seriously, too.

My family has had many trips when one or more of us has become ill, usually after sitting near some cougher on the plane or train. So, from now on, I will always mask on crowded public transportation, pandemic or no pandemic. If others don't like it or think it's overkill----shrug. I'd rather not have my travels spoiled by illness.