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Solo Traveler - Which Tour?

As a solo traveler, which tour do most singles like to take when going on a bus tour? What to hear from solo travelers that have taken the RS bus tours? Did you find there were any other single travelers on your tour or were you the only single traveler on your tour? What tours would you suggest is the best to take as a single traveler? What tour did you think was easy to get around in your free time by yourself if you did not have anyone to be with in the free time? Thanks for your responses.

Posted by
333 posts

I can only partially answer your question. I've not yet taken any RS tours, but I am signed up for the RS 21 Day Best of Europe Tour in early May. I am a single traveler. Part of what made me chose a RS Tour was hearing from others who've taken the tours, that they are very friendly to singles. I can't wait to go! P.S. I.ve read the blogs of two other singles who took the 21 day tour, and they raved about their trips!

I have taken other trips as a single gal and did just fine. I also know several people who travel regularly as singles and they've been very reassuring to me. Part of the fun of travel is meeting new people and sharing adventures with them. If people weren't friendly and inclusive, the tours wouldn't be very much fun for anybody. I think you have nothing to worry about. Pick an itinerary within your tastes and budget and go for it!

Lisa

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Ann, I have taken 6 RS tours, 5 as a solo traveler. In my experience, the city tours attract a greater number of singles so if a particular one interests you, start there. The Germany, Austria, Switzerland tour had 1 other single (a guy), and the South of France had none. I had a great time on all the tours and the groups were friendly and inclusive. I think the RS tours are wonderful, educational and fun. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Posted by
14157 posts

I did 2 Rick Steves tours solo this Fall, the 21 day Best of Europe and the Paris city tour. I have also done 3 Rick Steves tours with my Brother and SIL along with other family members. They were the Heart of Italy, Ireland and Village Italy. Experience-wise I also have done 4 Road Scholar tours solo, 2 international and 2 US.

Here is a link to my report of my 21 Day tour if you are interested. I did make some suggestions on there regarding traveling solo.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14

So...I loved, loved, loved the 21 day tour. I really bonded with those folks and would travel with that group in a heart beat. There were 2 of us who were solo plus 2 sets of 2 single women traveling together. The rest were couples. I found that everyone was engaging, interesting and open to spending time with others. I found it very easy to get around in the free time we had. Sometimes I did things with others, other times I went off on my own. I had been to Florence and Rome before so I knew what I wanted to see on my own there. In Florence I spent the AM with tour members and later in the day I went off on my own. In Rome we had a free afternoon and I knew which museum I wanted to go see. Others wanted to see things I had already seen so I struck out on my own. In ALL the cities I felt comfortable being on my own, especially during the day. Dimitri was our guide and he always had suggestions for free time if people didn't have ideas on what to do.

In the 7-day Paris City tour, the group was smaller. Again there were 2 of us who were solo. There were 2 other single women traveling together and the rest couples. On that tour you basically have a morning activity with the group and free time in the afternoon. There were a couple of evening activities. The guide has suggestions for what to do in your free time in the area where you finish up the group stuff. You get a Metro Pass and a Museum Pass so you basically have the ability to see almost any museum in Paris covered by the pass. On this particular tour there were 6 people traveling together so they usually stuck together. I did my own thing altho the day we went to Versailles, one of the other women was sick and since her travel partner and I wanted to see the same stuff at Versailles we teamed up.

On my other 3 tours there was one solo woman each time and most of the rest were couples. On both of the Italy tours people were pretty open with having people move back and forth with others. On the Ireland tour there was a group of 6 traveling together and 5 others who were sort of associated with them so the group dynamic was a bit different.

In all Rick Steves tours the guides emphasize teaching you to become an independent traveler so you are always oriented to a new city and if there is public transportation you are taught how to use it.

If you have the time and money, I suggest the 21 day tour if you are remotely interested in the itinerary. It is a sampler of Europe and very well done. Some days are spent almost entirely with the group. Some days have part of the day free. A couple of times you have a whole free day. In Switzerland there is a free day but the guide arranges optional activities (definitely go with EVERY optional activity on a tour!!). I found the 21 days together definitely bonded much better than the week, 10 day or 2 week tours thus it felt like people were more open to others.

Otherwise, if that tour does not interest you I would just pick an itinerary that does interest you and go for it! I will travel again with Rick Steves and I will go solo. I have found that the more I do go solo, the more I enjoy it!

Posted by
32244 posts

ann,

Any of the RS tours will be good for a solo traveller. I've taken eight RS tours, and was solo on all of them. To answer your questions.....

  • Yes, there were other single travellers on all of them, both M and F.
  • Any of the tours are good for solo travellers. Pick one that fits your budget and area of interest and sign up!
  • In terms of best ones to "get around in your free time by yourself", again it doesn't matter which tour you choose. The Guide will provide information on using the local transit systems, etc. so you shouldn't have any trouble getting about. Quite often a few people from the group will get together and go out touring, so you'd have some company OR you can also tour on your own.

For the last few years, I've paid the optional single supplement as I prefer to have my own room. If you'd rather not pay that, you'll have to be prepared to share a room with another tour member of the same gender. If there are several singles of the same gender on a particular tour, the Guide will rotate them.

If you have some free time in mid-January, you could take a trip to Seattle for the big tour event and the "Test Drive A Tour Guide" sessions. Many of the Guides (about 120 of them) will be attending, both from Europe and the U.S., and will be giving free presentations of the tours they lead. Between the Guides, the tour department and other travellers, I'm sure you'd be able to get all of your questions answered.

Posted by
559 posts

Hi Ann,

I will echo what may others have stated in that I find the RS groups are very accommodating to solo travelers (both the tour guides as well as the other tour members). I have taken 4 RS tours so far - all as a solo traveler. On the Village Italy, I was one of 4 single women travelers. We rotated roommates at each stop. I did a Scotland tour next and there were two single women other than me, but one had paid the single supplement. Therefore I didn't rotate roommates on that tour ( I had the one that didn't pay the supplement).. Then I did a city Istanbul tour and there were 3 single women on that tour as well. Two of them paid the single supplement, so again, I had just one roommate. On my last tour, Loire/So France this summer, there were actually 5 singles other than me, but they all had done RS tours before with each other (in various groupings), so I was able to join in their group as the 6th member.

I think that in the City tours you will be more likely to find more single people in general (I've noticed that on a lot of the tour scrapbooks - people who have an week's vacation and want a quick jaunt across the pond or a new tour-taker that wants to test the waters in a 7- day trip). Also, the BOE tours will likely have singles too since for many people, it is their first time to Europe. Therefore, if you are single and want to check out Europe, but don't have friends to go with, the BOE tours are probably the way to go get an introduction to "all" of Europe.

In the So. France this summer, I had 5 singles to automatically join in with. However, on the other tours, with many fewer singles, I still found it easy to join in with the couples. I would kind of float from one group to the next, but I also found particular couples to spend time with (even on the So. France where I didn't really "need" to find a couple to hang out with). I think this is possible with the RS tours, because in general, he attracts a very similar clientele from year to year. If you are considering taking a tour, I would take the one you are most interested in, not the one where you think there might be some single people. However, if that is a real concern for you, just call the tour department. Each time I sign up for a tour, I call first and ask about the tour makeup ( e.g., is it mostly people I there 50s-70s? any singles? any single men [ ha ha]? etc., etc). I also find out if I'm the only single female at booking time because if I am, at that time I don't pay the single supplement fee. I will check in periodically to see if any other single women sign up and then I will pay the supplement fee if necessary. The tour department can't give you specifics, but they can give you some general info about the tour makeup.

I hope you decide to try one out. I know you've thought about it on and off while here on the Forum! Go for it!

Enjoy!

Posted by
14157 posts

Wow, Gretchen, I like your idea about calling the tour department to check on single signups, THEN paying for a single supplement. I have always just paid the single supp out of the gate. I do this with the Road Scholar tours as well. On the Village Italy tour the other solo woman took me to dinner since I had paid the single supplement making her the only other solo traveler. She wound up with a single room! I thought that was so very sweet of her! She felt like paying for dinner for me was a bargain compared to the cost of the supplement.

Posted by
16894 posts

The makeup of a group can possibly change right up until departure (in cases of emergency cancellation or last-minute sign-ups for a date that was not already full), but the tour department will do their best to let you know the breakdown at the time that you ask the question. Other singles' experiences described here match what I've seen as a tour assistant or escort on a dozen different itineraries.

Posted by
22 posts

I will be taking my 3rd RS trip this summer as a solo traveler (7th trip to Europe) and I have had great experiences traveling solo with RS tours and I never felt like an oddball out by being by myself, as everyone was welcoming and friendly. There are usually one or two other solo travelers in the group. I have had good luck with random flatmates, too. I decided to pay the single supplement this time because I need extra space to wash clothes in the sink and hang dry all over my little hotel room. I broke the packing rules the first two times, but this time, I plan to follow the recommended carry-on only rule, so I just chose to pay extra so I can take up all the space as needed without infringing on a flatmate's space. You will love it. Go ahead. Book it. You won't regret it.

Posted by
796 posts

Hi Ann. I have been on 2 tours as a solo and 2 tours with freinds or family and am booked for thr Best of Spain this fall solo. The number of solo travellers varied; on the Village Italy tour there was only ine other solo, she was lucky to have her own room as I had paid for a single supplement. I have not been the only single traveller nor have Inbeen on a tour that only had one single.

I found it quite easy to venture off on my own in free time; the guide usually gives a lot of advice on what you might do in free time and will give directions to get there. I usually do some advanced planning on the web and travel books, Ricks and others, to have at least a tentative plan for free time, which I may change at the last minute.

When travelling solo, others on the tour, single or otherwise, have offered to have me tag along with them for a meal, a concert in a church. Sometimes that happens spontaneously, at the start of free time a few people head off in one direction and others join them. I have never been uncomfortable alone. Taking Rick's tours helped me feel more confident travelling on my own, whoch I do frequently.

The guide is very helpful with free time meal suggestions, sights to see, how to get there. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
887 posts

I'm glad you asked this question as I am also wondering which tour would be best for a solo woman. I have travelled to English speaking countries on my own, but I'm a little reluctant to travel to non-English speaking countries on my own as I think it would just get a little lonely. As the cost of travel from Canada is a higher than from the US, I would like to save money by not paying the single supplement, and wasn't sure how that would work out. Some of the replies here have me feeling a little more confident about signing up for a tour as a solo. I take it you don't have to pay the supplement, but have to be willing to accept whomever is assigned as your roommate for the night?

Posted by
14157 posts

Yes, that is how it works Anita. Sometimes there are several solos of the same gender who have not paid the single supplement. The tour guide will swap them around so everyone shares with everyone else. In my instance, I always pay the single supplement so if there is only one other solo woman she will also get a single room without having to pay the upgrade.

Posted by
887 posts

Thanks for the reply, Pam, I'm new to the escorted tour thing, and wasn't sure it would affordable for a single, and someone had told me that singles had to pay the supplement. I think it's great the Rick Steves tours offer this option as it makes it far more likely that I will sign up for a tour instead of trying to go it alone.

Posted by
14157 posts

With other tour companies sometimes you do have to pay the single supplement. While I choose to pay it, I want it to be my choice! You may get lucky and not have any other solo gals on your trip so you get your own room without having to pay the supplement. By the way, I've found traveling solo on RS tours very easy and enjoyable.