We'd love to go on a Rick Steves tour but can only spare 10 days or less for travel. Are there any tours that Rick Steves recommends if one cannot be on his tours?
I think in the front of his books he has little planners of where to go in those countries with limited days. I think you can even find this information somwhere on this website. I can't remember where - sorry.
We are open to traveling independently and, in fact, we've made three trips to Europe using only Rick's books. I was just being kinda lazy and thinking Rick's tours look so good. Maybe after retirement! Thanks for the good suggestions.
Rick himself has mused at the shorter times Americans have for vacations....and adjusted some of his tours accordingly. He has many city tours that are 7 days, some that are 10, and if you can eek out a few extra vacation days, a couple of 11 & 12 day tours. I have taken his guided tours and loved them. But I also travel on my own and think his books have excellent suggestions.
I defintely recommend taking one of the city tours. They are only 7 days (6 really because day 7 is 'go home') and run Sun-Sat so you only use 5 days vacation, assuming you fly on both Saturdays.
You can do it on your own of course, but if you are feeling lazy/busy, the tours are really nice and I think they are an excellent value for the money as well. Just the time/hassle-saving factors of not having to make reservations or buy tickets or figure out how to get from A to B was well worth it.
The other nice thing about the city tours in particular is if you go in the off-season (usually Nov/Dec/Feb/March) you get a $200 discount off the tour price.
Yes! take a Rick Steves city tour. I've done 2 of them -- they are packed with sites and activities and you will get a lot out of it.
I think there is a way you can "roll your own" RS tour. A tour has 4 components: lodging, transportation, guides, travel companions. At the top right of this page is a link to set up a session with Rick's travel consultants. You can arrange for 3 out of the 4 (you'll need to supply your own travel companions). But Rick knows the best local guides, and I believe they can set you up with lodging at the places he recommends, and suggest itineraries for each day the same as you'd have on a RS tour. For transportation you'll use trains or a car instead of the tour bus.
RS tours also have the component of 1/2 of your meals are taken care of by going to nice local restaurants. The value of the RS tour guides and companions is significant also.
One other suggestion is that if you're going to use Rick's Travel Consultants to help arrange your trip, get his tour brochure first and read thru it. They have a pretty detailed itinerary for each day so you can be prepared for your appointment. The actual tour does throw in some extras not listed in the booklet, but I bet they can suggest some of these too.
Doing it on your own won't be as efficient as being on the actual tour; for example the guide knows how to use the local transit system, takes you directly from the hotel or transit stop to the attraction your visiting without getting lost, etc.
On the other hand, many travelers will tell you that one of the joys of travel is the unexpected or serendipitous. One favorite moment from travel was on the train in Italy talking with a couple sitting across from us. They didn't speak english, we didn't know much italian, but we had fun trying to talk, showing pics, etc. You won't have that experience on the tour bus.