We received a call from Rick Steves office last night telling us our tour in April was cancelled due to a low number on the tour. We were offered 2 others tours. Rescheduling airline was major expense and now just waiting to hear from hotels we had reservations at before and after the tour. Wondering if we should just forget trying to get to Europe this Spring. Thoughts anyone?
Did they tell you how many people were signed up? Or how many they need to make a tour?
Regarding whether this spring will be good for traveling, Rick said last night on his Monday Night Travel show they haven’t made a final decision about whether tours will run in the next few months. I took his remarks to mean March, April and maybe even May. I have booked two tours back to back in May. Now I’m hesitant to book hotels and sights too early. Uncertainty reigns. Sigh!
They said there were only 7 , which surprises me because we were on the waitlist for this tour back in the Fall. He said if the bus was half full they would go so now we wondering if we should go ahead and sign up for the May 1st tour they offered us. So glad we hadn’t booked additional train tickets, and tickets to other things we had planned to attend.
I am so sorry to hear this. Sorry for you and sorry for the tour company. Only you can make the decision about rescheduling, but I think I would be willing to try it if I had good trip insurance for the flight changes.
Uh-oh. We're booked for two tours in May.
I'm sorry your tour was cancelled; how disappointing! If I were you, I'd go ahead and book the May 1 tour. We've had to change hotel reservations for the coming year, and every hotel was willing to work with us. We also had to change one flight, and had no trouble.
It may be that right now multi-country tours like the BOE are a bit too iffy right now with the differing rules in different countries to deal with. I would venture to say that single country tours or city stays would probably be ok.
There's a drumbeat of recommendations to avoid planning multi-country tours right on this forum. Obviously, many travelers who signed up for the BOE21 tour--which traverses six countries--have similar concerns. The company may be willing to wait before pulling the plug (and it may be pretty confident there will be no major impediments to running the BOE21 tour), but that doesn't matter if most of those signed up decide to cancel now.
Trying to keep up with the changes one country might impose is challenging; doing that for six different countries, isn't my idea of leisure travel.
Will probably be cancelling our BOE/21 set for May. Have until mid-March to 'pay or pass'.
Having just completed a multi-country trip (3 + 1 that was transit only) I concur with the advice to limit trips to fewer countries for now unless you don't mind completing forms and uploading vaccine info:). It's not that the forms are difficult (well, not for the most part). It's that each country is different and that this task requires time that you would normally spend enjoying your travels. Most cannot be completed until 24-48 hours prior to arrival. Also, I don't travel with a laptop and keyboard-and I sure missed that keyboard!
With that said, it is likely that this type of documentation won't go away any time soon. So, if you really do want to visit multiple countries, research what is required and check for updates as rules change quickly. I hope you can find a tour that will help fulfill your travel dreams!
Yeah, my main reason to avoid multi country trips is the testing requirements - if you need a test within 48 hours of entry to every country and visit 6 countries…that’s 7 tests counting the one to return home. That’s a heck of a lot of time spent in pharmacies or otherwise managing tests and figuring out how to show results, and depending on how long it takes to get results back could be impossible on a fast itinerary. Granted not every country will require tests, but the rules of who needs one/coming from where/what time frame keep changing. I imagine this would be an especially big nightmare when running a tour for 20+ people.
So yes, I think it’s easier to pick one country for a 1-2 week trip. Maybe 2 countries on 3 week. If you can do that I think spring is likely to be a fine time to go. But things will be in flux. And obviously could change in an instant.
Things are changing, and probably will continue to change frequently for some time ahead (/understatement). This is part of travel now, it's not going to change anytime soon, so make your peace with it.
That said...I think we will have a much clearer picture of what things will be like in the spring and summer in just a few weeks.
Let's look back into the dim mists of time, before Omicron roared up out of nowhere, back in the Fall (say, October of 2021). Back then, things generally appeared to be slowly and steadily getting better (at least that was my read of things). Several European countries had dialed down (and a few had all but eliminated) the most intrusive COVID restrictions. I experienced this personally, in Portugal and Denmark, back in September -- it was weird and delightful to walk around Copenhagen and see exactly zero people masked, everyone going about life after the pandemic (not because they were anti-vaxx loons, but because the country had to a great extent beaten the pandemic, or so everyone thought at the time). Then Omicron blew up big, and one by one, countries dialed up the restrictions (some of which may have been misguided, but were perfectly understandable, given its astonishing spread). But we now know that, yes Omicron spreads like lightning, but it's not quite the monster that Delta was, and there is evidence to suggest it might wane (almost) as quickly. It's still too early to declare that as a solid, reliable fact -- and it's complicated because different places have their "peaks" at different times because the spread was not uniform -- but that (a rapid decline after its rapid rise) does appear to be evident in early data from many places. The point being that in another few weeks, the trend lines may (hopefully will) look quite different.
The big question is, "What happens after Omicron?" (The other big question is, "when does after Omicron" start?"). I would bet my lunch money that these two questions are the focus of a lot of news gathering, tea-leaf-reading, informed speculation (and nervous oiuja board questions) among RSE planning staff.
My own reading of the tea leaves and my oiuja board tells me that, if things go well, this coming spring, summer and fall will probably look something like last spring, summer and fall: pandemic numbers will fall, things will open up a bit and restrictions will be rolled back/dialed down. Except last spring/summer/fall, there was a major scramble to vaccinate populations. Some (though not all) of that has been accomplished. So we will be starting this year's "travel season" from a better baseline. As long as you are fully vaccinated, and you are willing to play by the rules (admittedly, both moving targets), then I actually think the prospects for careful and responsible international travel are quite good, starting in the Spring of this year. There will be scares, there will be bumps and twists in the road, maybe a setback or two, possibly major obstacles. But this is not the winter of 2020. We have arrived at a much better place than that.
I suspect RSE is expecting something similar. They may end up canceling some of the earliest Spring trips, but I have a feeling they are betting things will improve enough to allow them to fire up the bus this season and turn the crank on their business. Personally, I do not have any Rick Steves tours booked. But my spouse and I do have flights booked to Turkey, Malta, Egypt, Thailand, Fiji and Mexico (all of which can be cancelled at no cost if I decide I can't/I choose not to go). I won't be going to all those places this year (I never expected to), but I am betting I make at least ONE of those trips. If I had a Rick Steves Tour booked, I would feel fairly confident it'll still go (maybe less confident in April and more confident in August, but we will have to see).
Don't give up hope. Brighter days are coming, and not that far ahead.