My dad is taking me to Italy for the first time and he is leaning on taking a RS tour which is my worst nightmare. For the seasoned independent traveler such as myself, are they really as bad as they sound? Any input is appreciated. Thanks!
It will only be a nightmare if you make it one. We have been on 3 RS tours (2 to Italy) and they are wonderful. We are going on another this fall. We were anti organized tour also until we took our first RS tour. Go, keep an open mind and have a great time.
I took the RS Rome city tour. It was FANTASTIC. Not sure where the 'as bad as they sound' comes from, unless you are just thinking of tours in general. RS prides itself on being a different sort of tour for a different sort of group.
I would say go with the flow for two reasons:
1) If your dad wants to take a tour, he may not feel comfortable handling the travel logistics independently. The tour will make him feel more secure and he will enjoy himself more.
2) RS tours build a lot of free time in, so you can get away and do it on your own. The tour also is flexible about not forcing you to stay with the group (as long as the tour leader knows in advance and so isn't trying to find you).
I loved the Rome tour so much that I am going back to Florence on another one.
Michelle -- as bad as they sound where -- certainly not on this post!? I've taken 2 RS tours and found them fabulous. The people on the tour are mostly middle aged, but a few younger ones were on them also -- all good sports. There is quite a bit of free time, and I don't think it will be a nightmare unless you are adamant about not wanting to be part of a group at any time. You learn a lot.
Michelle, perhaps you and your dad can compromise - a tour then some independant travel. Have a special time together.
Thanks you guys for your great input! I'm so independent and used to traveling with just one or two friends or exploring on my own. I'm an only child as well and don't like "groups". So the idea of being stuck in one is a nightmare for me! after reading all of the replies I will try to have an open mind since it doesn't sound that bad after all. Thanks you guys! ~Michelle
Have taken 5 RS tours and will take more even though we do a great deal of independent touring. We usually schedule time ahead of or at the end of the tour to explore on our own. The RS Best of Italy tour may very well be the best of the five we've taken.
Hi Michelle, I have not taken one of RS tours but I have heard Rick explain in person why his tours are different. He said there are cheaper tours by far than his. If you want a "bus and hotel" package deal - take one of the cheaper tours. These tours tend to have "deals" with local business so you are taken places to "buy" stuff (Rick's Tours do not operate this way). Rick also says, don't take a tour if you are taking it because you don't think you can travel independently - you can. Lastly, his tours are well planned, with plenty of free time. He hires the best local guides and takes you "off the beaten path" with smaller groups. No more that 25 (instead of the full 40 people capacity in a bus). He also says that tipping is included in his tour prices.
I too am a very independent traveler but do plan to take one of RS tours given his philosophy. I hope you truly enjoy Italy!
Rick posts all the feedback from the tours, uncensored, on his site. Why don't you read what people who've been on the tours have to say?
Oops, I missed that. What's the link? Thanks!
Michelle...we haven't done any RS tours yet (but I'm sure we will)..we've seen a number of his tours in our many travels and the one thing I can say is that they all seem to be having fun. For tour feedback go to:
We've been travelling all over Europe on our own using Rick's books - Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, England, Slovakia, Spain, etc... For this year's trip, I just signed up for the RS Greece tour. I'm a little bummed that the planning is all done and I don't have much to research (call me crazy, but I love that part), but am really looking forward to experiencing one of Rick's tours. I think the other big bus tours sound horrible after having others describe their experiences, but Rick's tours sound fabulous.
If you do happen to go on one of Rick's tours, post a report to let us know what you thought.
Try this link for Tour Member feedback
This is the questionnaire that people fill out after taking a tour.
I really loved my RS Rome tour. I had free time and I had a guide for the times when I might have felt alittle overwhelmed. I am also a seasoned independent traveler, my first international trip in my life was when I was 3 and haven't stopped since, and I would not think twice about whether or not to join an RS tour. I would whole heartedly sign up.
....I'm an only child as well and don't like "groups"...... Only you know how self centered you are and you don't want to subject that on your father or a group tour no matter how loose it is. We have done both and a group tour does require a different mental attitude. If you don't think you can adapt to a group situation, do not go. It is not fair to anyone.
I've been on a few RS tours. You can be "on-your-own" as much as you want. The best parts are that transportation and guides are pre-arranged for you so you don't have to deal with the logistics of travel, and you have a ready-made social group. It can be like a moving party if you are a social person, or it can be a less social tour with the perc of not having to do all the work yourself. I go off on my own frequently for a meal or just to look around. When people get together for a meal or glass of wine, I am often there. The people on RS tours tend to be interesting, well-traveled and considerate--and fun.
Michelle you are young and have many years to travel on your own,, take this trip with your dad, and be nice, (no only child crap), one day, if the natural order is not upset, you will lose your dad, and I promise you will NEVER regret doing this with him, his way.
All prior posts are right on. I loved the RS Italy tour (I am an independent traveler too). In addition to suggesting a combination of tour (maybe a one week city tour?) and independent time, I also suggest you discuss some "ground rules" with your dad before going. Like, there might be some times you would like to do stuff on your own, and that it's ok to split up for part of a day, or a whole one. I love my dad, but would probably kill him after 24/7 time. The best part about the RS tour is that you do have some group time to offset the together time. Everyone on my tour was fantastic - several my age (30s) and most in their 50s. Everyone was interesting, engaged, thoughtful, and darn excited to be there experiencing life.
Thank you so all so much for your feedback and thoughts. The post from Canada really got me thinking too.
Michelle, I have a feeling you and your dad will have a wonderful time no matter what you decide, time together is an investment in memories.
I second the reply from Canada. You have a wonderful opportunity to go with your dad even if every detail is not exactly as you would plan. I promise as the years go by you will be glad you went. Go and enjoy!
Michelle, consider this. Having logistics taken care of and a full tour may give you MORE time on your own. Your dad will have something to do, and you won't have to plan it or navigate your way there. He can go off with the group and you can do your own thing. He can also decide to take it easy and nap for a while and you can go with the tour. I missed out on some "alone" time on a recent trip because I knew I had to keep things going. And my mom kept going sometimes because she felt she couldn't slow us down. I don't regret having that role, but it's nice to disengage sometimes.
Hope you have a great time. My husband and I did the RS Rome City stay. I loved it as I am more out going and a people person than my husband. Even though my husband would have preferred it be just the two of us, he really enjoyed getting to know our tour guides and the restaurants they arranged for us to eat in.
Michelle: I started traveling on my own at the age of 18. When I was 25, my parents invited my brother and I on a group cycling trip in Italy. It was a fabulous trip, and we all (more than 20 years later) have fond memories of the time spent together as a family. It also gave me an opportunity to travel in a more comfortable manner, as it wasn't on the cheap, counting pennies, like I had to do at the time.
With an open mind, I'm sure you can have a great time.
I would LOVE it if my dad were young enough and healthy enough for travel. At 83, he is a WWII veteran who served in France and Germany. If he could take me or my sisters on a trip to Italy, or any other place, for that matter, it would be a memorable and joyous lifetime memory. My husband and I took our grown children on an RS tour in 06. We all loved it. The guides are incredible; the small group of tour folks are fun and adventurous; there is PLENTY of time to do your own thing separate from the tour. All you and your dad will have to do is ENJOY!
If I ever take a tour it would be Ricks. However I think that I can travel with much with less expense by myself and I really enjoy planning the trip. Ricks tours are 200.00 to 300.00 dollars per day plus air fare. I can travel for 350.00 per day for the two of us including air and everything. The guides would add to the trip but his books give most of the same information.