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Non Alcoholic trip?

Love all the content here, so helpful. I'm wondering about the concept of taking a non-alcoholic tour. I'm aware that many people go to Europe for that part of the experience, but that's not something we're interested in. Is the culture of Rick Steves tours open to that? I don't mind other people drinking and enjoying their alcohol, but if that's one of the main activities/purposes I would want to know.

Posted by
2018 posts

No, it isn't one of "one of the main activities/purposes" of a RS tour and I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "culture of Rick Steves tours". No one really cares if you drink alcoholic beverages or not. That's entirely your choice.

Posted by
5187 posts

Before everyone gets all worked up, I totally understand why this question is being asked. I've gone to countless presentations at the Rick Steves Travel Office and alcohol is usually a big topic by the presenters. It would be easy to get the mistaken impression that the tours have a great emphasis on alcohol.

I truly don't think that this type of situation that you are worried about happens on Rick Steves tours. I think that there are those who enjoy their drinks but do so in a responsible and friendly manner. I don't think that there is any great emphasis on drinking, although you can see for yourself if a wine tasting or some similar event is going to be part of the itinerary.

This question has been asked before, and the response has been pretty consistent that while alcohol is around and enjoyed by many during group meals, etc.. it is not an emphasis of the tour. I don't think you would ever be put in a position where you would feel "not part of the group" as a non drinker.

Posted by
6872 posts

We are teetota!ers, and no longer drink at all. Drinking is of no issue to us.
But if we hit Munich, Prague or Budapest, we temporarily revert to our old ways--en mass.
Then we go back to zero alcohol.

Posted by
21724 posts

I like David's attitude. When in Rome .........

Posted by
401 posts

This is one of the more odd questions I've encountered so far. Are you envisioning a tour guide forcing an alcoholic beverage down your unwilling throat? Some kind of ethanol-enriched tour initiation?

Seriously, what is your particular concern here?

The main activity of the Rick Steves tours I've attended has been walking. Not walking while drunk or walking while drinking. Just walking. Cold sober walking.

Posted by
2560 posts

Look at the specific tours you are considering particularly the daily itinerary. You’ll see some that have activities such as a visit to a winery, or a sherry bodega. But most activities do not involve drinking. Alcohol with meals is provided on some tours but not others (more common in Spain, Portugal, Italy where wine is inexpensive). Just know that on those tours you are sort of paying for something you won’t be getting as it’s part of the guides budget, if that bothers you. There have been non-drinkers on most of the 7 RS tours we have taken.

Posted by
5187 posts

Bob, this is not an odd question if you have previously been in uncomfortable situations with heavy drinkers who treated you badly because you were a non drinker or were tipsy most of the time. It may be hard for you to imagine because you have never treated others that way, but believe me, those situations can occur. The OP is just confirming that it would be unlikely on this tour.

I think it is wise to make sure that a tour is a match for a person and ask any question that may be important to making a decision.

Posted by
2914 posts

I don't think this is a strange question at all. This is a topic we have been considering as well. It strikes me that some of the tours might be more interested in wine than others. Because my husband does not have much of a pancreas, he does not drink so as I peruse the tours for the next one I am keeping this under consideration also. For instance, definitely not going on the Bavarian tour during Octoberfest! The one tour that I took, there were a couple of cocktail parties but non-alcoholic drinks were provided. And as the parties were at the hotel, each person could leave whenever they wanted to do so. There was no pressure and it is not necessary to hang around with anyone who is consuming to excess. I might have had one glass of wine the entire trip and I don't think I was out of the norm, necessarily.

Posted by
5034 posts

There were at least two people on our last tour who didn't drink; I don't think either of them ever felt uncomfortable. Certainly neither of them was ridiculed or ostracized for it.

I do know what Carol's talking about, though. I once had to change major professors as a grad student because my first one quit my committee when I didn't drink at a particular party. (Good riddance.)

Posted by
753 posts

We've been on two tours, Paris and VFR. Those who drank, most definitely including us, enjoyed our wine very much. There were also those who didn't drink and seemed to enjoy themselves just as much. And it was certainly a non-issue, as far as I recall. Whether someone was good company (which everyone was, happily) was far more important than whether they drank or not.

Posted by
6871 posts

The Turkey tour will be much, much less focused on (any) alcohol, mostly for cultural/religious reasons. We had a few people who typically drink wine with their dinner almost rebel... :-)

As well as being a fascinating place to visit, I think it would fit the bill of a "non-alcoholic" trip. Not that secular Turks don't drink, mind you, but that it's just not central to their culture and lifestyle as say France or Germany.

Posted by
9718 posts

I agree - not an odd question at all. If you watch the tour DVD there is (or used to be wine shown). I've done a few that had wine tastings but in general I don't drink much and no one has ever said anything to me.

On the GAS tour a number of folks went to the Hofbrauhaus one evening and I skipped just because that was not interesting to me. On the Ireland tour it didn't really click to me before the tour that the Trad music was in pubs after about 10P. No pressure at all to drink but I just can't stay up that late, hahaha!!

If you have any tours in mind let us know and perhaps someone has some direct experience. In general I would tell you on the 8 tours I've done - no problem and I'm pretty sure no one noticed whether anyone else had alcohol or not.

Posted by
503 posts

I've been on 3 RS tours in the last 18 months. On all 3 of them there were people who did not drink. No one cared, and no one pressured them to drink. All 3 tours involved visits to wineries and those who chose not to drink were offered water or pop. It really is no big deal if you do not drink. I would not let it be a concern or a factor in your decision.

Posted by
44 posts

I don’t think that you need to be concerned. On the RS tours that we have taken, learning about and appreciating the history, culture, and art of the area has always been the primary focus. How people enjoy food and dining is part of that experience. For much of Europe, wine (or beer) is considered a regular part of the meal, and, as such, wine is enjoyed in moderation. So, those who appreciate the wines of Europe find it especially enjoyable to go to the places where the wine is produced and taste them in that location.

On the RS tours that we have taken, whether or not anyone drinks wine or beer during wine tastings or with lunch or dinner has not been an issue: some do, some don’t. We have seen no pressure in either direction, and non-alcoholic drinks have always been available.

Posted by
8632 posts

I've gone to countless presentations at the Rick Steves Travel Office and alcohol is usually a big topic by the presenters

Which presentations are those. I seem to have missed them.

The only mention of alcohol I recall was that shipping or packing wine home from Italy was not worth the bother. It is easier to just go to the local wine shop and buy whatever Italian wine you like, was the advice.

As for the tours, most of the group will not even notice what you are drinking and those who do , won't care.

Never was there an occasion where alcoholic beverage was the only choice. Most of the time it was an 'extra' you had to buy if you wanted it. Water or soft drinks was what was the 'default' beverage.

Take the tour and if you do not make an issue of it, no one will.

Posted by
125 posts

I also totally understand this being a concern when you join a group tour. I chose a RS tour precisely to avoid this issue, which seemed to be a much bigger deal with other tour companies I researched. I was in my late 20s when I first looked into doing a group tour and most of the ones that were recommended to me were geared toward young people and had tour itineraries that read "Pub Crawl in London followed by wine tasting in Paris and then visit to a beer hall in Munich." Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but some of the itineraries would list one daily "culture" activity, like a museum, and then one "alcohol" activity and that was it! I very rarely drink and while I'm sure I could have gone on these tours and simply skipped the alcohol related activities, that didn't seem to be the best use of my money to pay for a tour where I would skip half of it.

I chose to do a RS tour instead because I felt it was more important for me to travel with people who had similar interests to mine (history, culture, classical music, etc.) rather than a bunch of people my own age, but whom I had nothing in common with. This was definitely the right decision. I did the Eastern Europe tour and, while there was usually some alcohol around, it was NOT the focus of the trip and no one cared that I didn't really drink. The day we did wine tasting in Hungary I had a sip or two (the first wine I'd ever had!) but the winery also provided apple juice and I had fun hanging out with the group. No one cared. Occasionally at our group dinners we were provided with a free drink and I made friends by giving mine away to my tour mates. No one ever made me feel bad about it and I loved the tour.

All that to say that I agree with previous posters. You can absolutely take a RS tour and not touch a drop of alcohol and still have a great time. It's definitely not the focus of the RS tours. I'll be taking my second tour this year and I'm sure it will not be my last.

Posted by
996 posts

I understand your question, but whether you drink alcohol or do not, it should in no way impinge on your enjoyment on your trip. On our RS tour in Sicily (major wine area) there was always the option for water, coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, etc., at every restaurant we visited. The people in our group were all adults, not adolescents who might tease because one person is doing something differently from the rest of the group.

I found that we bonded over our desire to travel and see new things, not who drank what or that we had people like me (no shellfish) or others who were gluten intolerant.

Posted by
4933 posts

I've never taken any of the Rick Steves tours. However, as a non-drinker myself, I must admit that reading some of the tour descriptions and reading that many include wine tastings doesn't make me want to take a tour - or at least that one. I don't enjoy being around people who have had a few drinks and are obviously feeling it - it's unpleasant and makes me very uncomfortable. I'd worry that too many people who take these tours might wish to enjoy imbibing too much because they don't have to drive - great for them, and more power to them if that's what they enjoy, but I wouldn't want to be there myself.

So I can certainly appreciate wpstowell's great question.

Posted by
8632 posts

The activity level of an RS tour pretty much precludes over imbibing.

Then there is the contractual language that encourages good behavior-

Participation: Although we want everyone to have a good time, it sometimes happens that someone participating in a tour can misbehave or do things that are incompatible with the safety, comfort, or convenience of other members of the tour. In those circumstances we have the exclusive right and discretion to expel someone (even you) from a tour at any time

Posted by
1558 posts

I’ve toured with many tour companies and they all offered wine and maybe beer on a few dinners. They always offered non alcoholic beverages as well.
Most wine tastings didn’t last long and you didn’t have to partake if it wasn’t your thing!
I can guarantee, any restaurant you might choose to eat in outside of a tour, you would most likely be seated next to other customers with their bottles of wine to enjoy.
Reputable tour companies would most likely not take kindly to anyone causing issues due to inebriation.
As far as Turkey goes, every restaurant I went to had wine on the menu. Great tour by the way.
Book a RS tour. You will be happy you did!

Posted by
1179 posts

I totally understand this question.
On one tour I went in the tour guide spoke about some people making drinking a team sport. But even then, it was only a few, they never got drunk, and it wasn’t an issue. That group simply liked to order drinks as their afternoon activity. The rest of us wandered off on our own adventures of touring and hiking. Frankly, I think that group missed out on a lot of neat stuff.
One trip was in Bavaria during Oktoberfest. Even then, there wasn’t a huge amount of drinking.
If there were wine tastings then it was only one activity out of many that day.
In all, I’ve found most Rick Steves trips to contain sensible and friendly adults. There was no pressure to drink. The focus was rarely on any alcohol based products.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for your comments! I've wanted to tour Italy for many years. I'm interested in the culture, landscape, food, history, people, etc.. But wine tasting is just not going to be an activity that we do. I would be very interested in the manufacturing processes and the vineyards care etc. I just wanted to understand what options there were. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by
4933 posts

I'm speaking for myself here and not the OP, who may have different issues with drinking than I do - but I didn't necessarily mean people need to get roaring drunk to make me uncomfortable. One or two drinks is fine - that loosens most people up. But there's some in-between where people can have three or more drinks and get tipsy without getting obnoxiously drunk - and that's what makes me uncomfortable. Some of you above seem to think that unless people are obviously drunk, there shouldn't be any problem.

I'm sure if I went on a Rick Steves tour and a few people were drinking like this, I wouldn't have to hang out with them most of the time - but sometimes you're stuck next to certain people at a restaurant or something. Could be I'm just not the type of person who ought to go on an organized tour (with anyone, not just Rick Steves). Tours aren't for everyone.

Posted by
1056 posts

My wife and I took RS 17 Day Best of Italy Tour. I used to have a glass of wine every now and then and so did my wife on special occasions. In the last ten years, I have had to take medication that should not be taken with alcohol. I never felt uncomfortable not drinking any wine in Italy. I even went to a wine tasting and found it fascinating to hear how much time and effort it took to produce the wine. In the past, I have visited the Hofbrauhaus and that was probably the only time I have been uncomfortable. If that is in your plans, I would probably skip it, otherwise I don’t think you will have any problems.

Posted by
4933 posts

wpstowell:

Thanks for your comments! I've wanted to tour Italy for many years. I'm interested in the culture, landscape, food, history, people, etc.. But wine tasting is just not going to be an activity that we do. I would be very interested in the manufacturing processes and the vineyards care etc. I just wanted to understand what options there were. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I don't want to discourage you from taking a Rick Steves tour - you might love it. But Italy is quite easy to travel to independently yourself, especially in the internet era. You can take individual tours in each town if you want, as you desire, and get from place to place yourself by train in most cases.

Posted by
1176 posts

I can totally understand asking this question. I have been on 15 Rick Steves tours and drinking has never been an issue. Drinks are not included in the dinners or lunches in general. That said, on many of tours a glass of wine on some of the Italy tours and other tours, may be provided at dinner. If you don't want the wine you can either not accept it or take it and give it to another tour member. In any restaurant or bar or pub or cafe there are other things to drink. They are not drinking tours. And everyone knows they must get up early and walk and stand all day. The big question is not about alcohol but can you manage to keep up with the tour and carry your bags and walk and be out and about all day long. It certainly is not a main activitity or purpose of the tours.

No matter what tour you take, no matter what country you go to, you can drink or not drink and it really is up to you and what you want to do. If you do go on the RS tours in England, Scotland and Ireland there are a lot of pubs to go to and some of the dinners are in pubs. But again, you don't have to drink, there are other things to have besides alcohol. No one looks or is concerned what you are drinking. I never found people to over do it and they just may have a glass or two of wine or beer. I personally found that most of the people on the tours are more concerned about how the food will be and what we will all be eating then what there is to drink. And everyone knows they have to get up early in the morning and be prepared for a full day ahead of them.

I think you will find alcohol to be a non issue. I do think you will enjoy the sites, the group tours, the dinners, the walking tours with the private guides, the learning experience, the museums, the activities all to be a wonderful experience and an adventure.

And if there is a wine tasting on the tour you can either go and not have something to drink or not go to that activity and just let your guide know. One person mentioned not going to the beer hall in Munich due to it being a beer hall and drinking. Even the beer halls serve food and other things to drink. It was just a lot of fun to sit at the long tables and meet others and have a nice conversation. You did not have to have beer or anything alcoholic to drink at the beer halls. They are meant for being social and having a good time.

Have a great time no matter what tour you choose. Remember many people don't drink due to meds they take or diet or they just don't like alcohol. Many reasons people don't drink and it does not hinder taking the tours.

Posted by
14917 posts

I've been on 3 tours, including Turkey (where it was often easier to get beer than coffee). There's no peer pressure one way or the other. Only in Greece was wine included with meals, and then only a couple of times. It would have been easy not drink any without anyone even noticing, never mind remarking.

Posted by
2916 posts

I certainly understand where the OP is coming from. I've never taken a RS tour, or any other tour, but if I did, and had a question about whether something was a major aspect of the tour, I'd like to know. I assume the OP is less concerned about whether wine will be served with meals, and more concerned with the prevalence of wine-related events, like wine tastings and visits to wineries.

Posted by
9718 posts

"I'd worry that too many people who take these tours might wish to enjoy imbibing too much because they don't have to drive - great for them, and more power to them if that's what they enjoy, but I wouldn't want to be there myself."

Again, not a problem on any of the tours I've been on. At any of the wine tastings I've been on during a tour the amount of wine you are served is fairly small. Even as someone who rarely drinks it hasn't enough to have an effect on me.

In general the wine tastings would be easy to skip. Some of the tastings were in pretty cool places - Volterra's was in a cellar several flights down dating back to Etruscan times. That was so interesting. The gentlemen who presented that was excellent - was on Heart of Italy with family including nephews ages 20 and 25. They had a great time and we still laugh about looking for parti-seals (particles) in wine. One on the Paris and Heart of France was outside at a chateau in Selles-sur-Cher. The owner of the family chateau and winery was the presenter. He added in stories about the French Resistance during WWII where school age children memorized messages from their parents to the Nuns at the local school which was across the occupied line and the Nuns then passed the messages on thru Resistance Channels. Chilling, really as the kids were often strip searched to make sure messages weren't going back and forth. This is the kind of history I hope to get on my tours.

Really, the only other time there was wine around was at meals or just prior to and no one ever had enough that I noted a change in behavior.

Now, there have been times that people went off after dinner to various places but that had no impact on me at all. I've been invited along, politely declined and did my own thing and met up with everyone at departure time the next AM. As Ann mentioned the tours are active and there is no time for a lie-in after a hard night.

However, it's true that tours are not for everyone and each person has to decide that. Just don't decide it based on a perception about alcohol intake in the group, base it on whether one might feel comfortable in the group dynamic and with someone else setting the pace.

BTW - the bus drivers do stock water on the buses. On the 21 Best of Europe, the driver also stocked small bottles of wine and local beer. Some had them with lunch, I never really noticed but I remember the tally at the end of the trip as it's done on a honor system and you pay up at the end. One couple had a bill of around 40E for water, beer and wine. We all laughed but really, I never noticed them drinking OR acting impaired in the least.

Posted by
3491 posts

I have taken 10 RS tours. Never once was there any comments from anyone in the groups toward anyone who chose not to drink. We are all adults, not college frat boys, and we all respect the choices others make about drinking without question.

Yes, on the tours that cover areas known for their wine, beer, or other alcohol production, there is usually an included tour of at lease one winery, distillery, or whatever. Those do include tastings and opportunities to purchase bottles directly. But if you choose not to taste, or even if you choose to stay on the bus and skip that tour event, no one will question anything about your choice. Some tours do include wine with dinner. On those tours, you can get a soda, tea, coffee, water, whatever if you do not want the wine.

Many of the tour discussions at the RS offices do have a lot to say about alcohol. There are people who take those tours because of the exposure to the locally produced alcohol and the do enjoy the opportunities to sample those products. This is why the alcohol is talked about as a selling point where it makes sense. But even on tours like the Eastern France wine country tour the alcohol plays only a small part overall and is never the core focus of any tour.

Posted by
2560 posts

I've never taken any of the Rick Steves tours. However, as a non-drinker myself, I must admit that reading some of the tour descriptions and reading that many include wine tastings doesn't make me want to take a tour - or at least that one. I don't enjoy being around people who have had a few drinks and are obviously feeling it - it's unpleasant and makes me very uncomfortable. I'd worry that too many people who take these tours might wish to enjoy imbibing too much because they don't have to drive - great for them, and more power to them if that's what they enjoy, but I wouldn't want to be there myself.
So I can certainly appreciate wpstowell's great question.

Andrew H with all due respect you are way off base with this comment. First off, since you have never taken a RS tour how can you possibly opine about how tour participants act? Wine tasting can lead to inebriation if you go from winery to winery drinking at each, as often occurs in the Napa valley. Any winery visited on the RS tours mean a tour of that single establishment, a taste or two, and food. No inappropriate behavior that I’ve seen. The driving part-the bus leaves at 9AM for goodness sakes. I’ve never seen a tour member drink before then. If there is a scheduled lunch stop many, but not all tour members will enjoy a glass of wine or a beer. But drunkenness which is what you are implying? Have never seen it on the 7 RS tours we’ve taken.

Posted by
1893 posts

I want to add grist to some of your mills, especially Andrew-in-Oregon's:

When I'm on vacation I usually drink more alcohol than I do when I'm not on vacation.
IRL, I share a bottle of wine or a cocktail or two and a digestif maybe just on the weekends,
not during a school night,
but when I'm out on holiday, I'm one of those that Andrew has pegged -- I have an extra glass or two
that puts me a little bit beyond convivial, because the whole trip is a special occasion.

So I can understand how some people are tuned in a way that would be a little uncomfortable -- as though they're expected to humor me, or pretend they enjoy a little clowning around, when they don't.

It's a legit concern.

Posted by
2560 posts

Yes Avirismail, you party. But, like Andrew H you too do not go on RS tours, and the OP’s question was regarding alcohol and RS tours.

Posted by
3685 posts

Here's another RS non-alcohol-consuming tour taker. My 2nd RS tour was Village Italy. Wine was provided at all group meals except breakfast, as is typical in Italy. Cold bottled water, both sparkling and still, was also provided, as is also typical in Italy. I'm all about the food and sparkling water, so it was great for me.

That tour did include a visit to the winery with the Etruscan cellar. The group learned about the history of the winery and of those who made wine in the same area back as far as the Etruscans. There was a tasting of about 5 wines accompanied by foods that work with them. There was a 2 liter bottle of peach tea for me. I was the only tea-totaler (couldn't resist it) at that event. And the tea went fine with all the food.

In the case of Italy, wine is a part of the culture and the cuisine, but that doesn't mean you have to drink any. But gelato, now that's another story.

Posted by
14917 posts

I must say, Avi, I wonder if you would "over-imbibe" if you were in a group where that was just not the dynamic? I doubt it. And that's what happens on RS tours, people either "go with the group" or head off on their own.

Posted by
5034 posts

To build on Lo's comment (I was on that tour too; Hi, Lo!), on the RS tours I have taken that included wine tastings, there was always a major educational component. On the Sicily tour, the dinner at the winery begins in the vineyard. We hike up to see the vines, as the growers talk to us about growing and caring for grapes. We visit the historical part of the winery, and learn about the equipment. We also learn about the commercial aspects of making and selling wine. All this before we have a single taste.

On the tours that go to Beaune, the wine tasting is held in ancient cellars, each of us getting a very small serving of each of the featured wines. Again, we are there to learn. We are taught about the different varieties, different growing areas, and modern vs. older agricultural practices. And the presenter takes great pains to teach us how to taste wines carefully and thoughtfully, as did Cecilia in the instance Lo relates.

I haven't seen the movie "Sideways," but I have read the book, and these wine tastings are nothing like those.

Posted by
6642 posts

They are not "party tours". The visits to vineyards, etc., are incidental to the emphasis on culture and history that is the reason most people are on the tours. Yes, there is opportunity to imbibe, but its not the focus of the tour. Some of the restaurants and hotels will offer welcome parties or free drinks with dinner, but that was totally voluntary with no expectation that people would get hammered.

Posted by
2396 posts

I vaguely recall a forum post about a Rick Steves Ireland tour and an allegedly hungover tour guide.

If you're with a tour group and you're offered a free glass of wine or beer that you don't want, why not offer it to the closest drinker?

Posted by
5034 posts

Or just say "No, thank you." It's perfectly acceptable to do so.

Posted by
1893 posts

Chani makes a good point (and I think that when she and I shared a paella in Spain she drank more wine than I did ;P ) :
the context and the tone that are set by the guides and the group have a strong influence on behavior, whether you're inclined towards or away from chemical enhancement. And everyone here makes it clear that the RS group tours are not about getting wasted.

You see this reflected right from the top -- we know that RS himself enjoys getting small (in a Steve Martin sense) but he never brings it up as part of the attraction of a given activity, and only mentions it as a rare aside, like when going to an aquarium in Spain or a local coffee shop in the Netherlands where the atmosphere suits the pastime.

My earlier point was also to say that I am not a partier, usually far from it, but that when I do have a little too much I can see how some people in close quarters might be of a temperament that it would seem discomfiting. It is no one's job (except maybe the leader or the maitre d' ) to handle a drunk guest but I can picture some types of people who would feel some tug to try and 'manage' -- the kind of people who can't help but feel like they need to fix things. I used to be that kind of person, and it still crops up for me sometimes. If you've got the sheepdog genes running through your blood, you feel the need to do some shepherding. That's hard to get over.

Posted by
113 posts

I completely understand this legitimate question.
I was on RS tour of Europe. Half of our group didn't drink and that was comforting to me. Those that did drink, drank everyday. Some drank more than others. It's a vacation after all.
The plus side of my RS tour was there was a lot of personal time to do whatever I wanted. I typically took off by myself so I was able to enjoy the group and solo travel. My solo adventures are my best memories. I appreciated the guide, transportation, lodging, and easy sight seeing entries the tour provided.
Our tour included a winery tour with free samples, a free beer keg at dinner, a beer garden, free wine at a couple of dinners. There was no opting out of the winery as it was on the way to the next town. These surprise free drinks were gleefully accepted, obviously. So, yes, we did have the option to not join in, however, for those of us who didn't drink alcoholic beverages, typically the only "free" beverage option was water which was already offered to everyone. Most people understand the value of free drinks, alcoholic or otherwise, right? Since only half of the group were drinkers, needless to say, the drinkers were getting quite a bit of tour value from the free offerings. Fair? No.
RS tours expect their customers to be 'good sports' and 'no grumps' but I ask you how you would feel after experiencing such obvious disparity? I even had a couple of groupies say to me that it didn't seem fair to the non-drinkers. That at least they should offer us something other than water.
I book tours for places I've never been before especially where I don't speak the language. As a solo traveler, I feel this is the best option for me. I know that group tours aren't the best fit for my traveling style but there's a give and take that I accept.

Posted by
9718 posts

I'm sure the OP has had the answer they were seeking long ago since this thread was from Feb. However since it was bumped up I do want to respond to this statement.

"RS tours expect their customers to be 'good sports' and 'no grumps' but I ask you how you would feel after experiencing such obvious disparity?"

It doesn't bother me at all to have other tour members enjoying free alcohol or food that I don't choose to consume.

On an RS tour sometimes I will have wine with dinner, sometimes not. I just finished the Southern England tour which had a beer tasting and the Scotland tour which had a tour of the Dewars distillery and whisky tasting. I skipped both. The beer tasting was in the afternoon before dinner so no big deal, I just spent more time enjoying Canterbury. The distillery was during the day on a bus day so I stayed outside in the sunshine with my binoculars and birded. I also had my iPad Mini with my Kindle app for back up entertainment.

I've also had occasion on a Road Scholar tour in Brittany/Normandy to tour an oyster packing plant with an oyster tasting. I'm vegan so I skipped. My choice. The guide had also purchased oysters at another place before the plant tour and I passed that up. Doesn't bother me at all - my choice to be vegan, my choice to eat or not.

Ditto with the little goodies the guides sometimes pass out on the bus. 99.9% of the time they are not vegan. It wouldn't occur to me to think there was disparity - my choice not to take an offered treat.

Posted by
5034 posts

Pam is, as usual, right. I have a metabolism problem that limits my sugar intake. Does it bother me when the guide or another tour member passes out candy on the bus? Of course not! When we stop at the rest stops, if I want a snack I'll get a piece of cheese or something. I don't feel like I'm missing out because I can't eat candy! And I would never say on the tour review that it was unfair because everyone else had candy and I didn't.

Yes, I drink alcohol, but I've been on tours with teetotalers who had a wonderful time. Just say "No, thank you." when the bottle is passed. It's okay. Nobody will think the less of you.

Posted by
80 posts

What about a My-Way tour? Do what you want,eat where you want( you can ask the tour advisor where are good places to eat that aren't alcohol oriented). The RS tour I took involved people drinking, the people were responsible and there were no issues that I could see. Most importantly enjoy your trip!!