My question is for solo travellers who have done a Rick Steves' tour alone. How did it work out to be roomed with a stranger? Any mis-haps, tips, or successes?
I was a solo traveler on a tour last year and found that it worked out pretty well. You just have to get over any apprehension of sharing a room with a stranger. I got along alright with everyone and you just have to get over anyone’s quirks (the woman who talked to herself, the other who had a loud ticking alarm clock, etc). On that tour there were 5 single women, so we all ended up sharing a room at some point and we each had a few nights on our own as well. You just need to communicate with each other in a nice way, when one woman couldn't sleep and turned on the light to read at 1am, I put up with it for a little bit, but when I finally couldn't get myself to go back to sleep, I politely asked her to turn the light off. (I figured it was an ok request to make at 2am! :)).
I love solo traveling. Don't get me wrong, there are times I wouln't mind having a special someone on the trip with me to hold hands or share a special moment - but there is so much more to get out of travel when you are by yourself. Check out my website from 2005 - I was the 2nd place winner - Jen Z - 14 days in Europe. I had a blast with 28 people I had never met before. I alternated roommates with Karen & Jennifer who were both quite a bit older than me (I was 29 at the time) & we all got along great. Every 3rd stay I had my own room. You are not in your room too often, except to sleep & freshen up. The one great thing about Rick Steves tours is, everyone has paid a lot of money to be there & are more than likely very similar to you in their expectation in a roommate. If you have an open mind and positive attitude, it will all work out great. Anyway - don't let single traveling hold you back from taking a Rick Steves tour! I am just about to take my second tour, The Best of Paris & Provence in May! I can not wait! Maybe I will see you there!! :)
I went on a Rick Steeves tour last May to Italy. It was was fantastic. Therewas one other single woman on the tour so we both had rooms to ourselves the whole time. Sometimes they were very small single bed rooms with nothing for a view and sometimes I had a view of the sea from my own balconey. The tour guide was very careful not to short us at every stay. In europe the rooms are quite small when they have two singles so don't expect a lot of room in the baths or closets for your things.
I've been there a few times, and shared rooms with probably 10 different women. Extreme thoughtfulness is what makes it work. However, not everyone minds waking you up in the middle of the night for their own purposes. Also, I like to use my room as a respite from socializing and general togetherness--for napping, reading, etc. My next tour (a city) I will have my own single room. To me, it is worth the extra cost.
I have completely traveled alone several times, and I have also gone on 3 Rick Steves tours as a solo traveler. I find the RS tours attract a very like-minded group of travel enthusiasts, and their company is the main attraction of group travel for me. I like traveling by myself, too, mainly because of the few parts of the group experience I don't like. Most roommates are great, and they become a built-in companion if you are uncomfortable wandering off on your own. But some roommates are not so great. Also, I get tired of the hours on the bus. But in general, I think the fantastic groups that RS attracts will feel like friends to you after the first day.
I was a solo traveller on a Rick Steves city tour of Paris in 2001, and loved every minute of it. I think there was only one or 2 other people who were solo. It's hard to remember because we all pretty much existed as a group. The other people on the tour were interesting and friendly. I paid the single supplement and had a room to myself.
I also went on the RS Venice city tour in 2005, with my sister, and there were a couple of solos too - again they had no trouble finding friendly folks to hang with. I think if you decide to go on a tour, and are even reasonably outgoing, you will have no trouble fitting in.
I took the Best of Italy (17 day) tour solo. There was one other single woman on the trip. We got along fine. Another friend has taken the Ireland trip solo and had rotating roommates with 3 or 4 others. You do spend a lot of the day doing your own thing or with the group, so the "room time" is pretty limited. I highly recommend ear plugs (practice before you go so you're used to them) and Tylenol p.m. As it happened, my roommate had some major personal stuff going on that resulted in her request to pay extra to have her own room for about half the trip (only possible because our group was small and the hotels had space). So I did have my own space for part of the trip - bonus! Everyone on the tour was interesting, engaging, and fun - I was pretty much the youngest at 35, but felt like I had a whole family looking out for me. Planning ahead for things you want to do on your own really helps reduce the 'alone time' anxiety. It was the best trip I have ever taken - go for it!