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Bringing RS tour guidebooks on trips

Hi all, Rick recommends bringing the big Germany Austria Switzerland tour guidebook with us on the trip, but that sucker weighs almost a pound! Given I'm using a backpack, and space and weight are precious, is leaving this behind going to make my trip less enjoyable? Has anyone left their tour guidebook behind and regretted it? I wish these were available on Kindle or pdf, but they aren't.

I already have several regular RS books in Kindle format: Vienna (pocket), Munich & Salzburg (pocket), Germany, Germany phrasebook and Europe through the Back Door. Also downloaded his Audioguide app and a few walking tours for the GAS trip.

Guessing I'll be okay? :)

Posted by
446 posts

Can't you get the big guidebook on kindle? We never take the hard copy any longer.

Posted by
67 posts

Nope. Per the GAS 2019 thread where someone contacted the RS office about this "At this time we do not offer our guidebooks to tour members in e-book format because the books come from us and not from the outside retailers who sell the e-book format. Unfortunately since we do not own the rights, you cannot use your tour kit to substitute the e-version."

Maybe someday? :)

Posted by
1026 posts

I find that on the RS tours the guides will often refer to things in the guidebook. Sometimes when discussing free time activities or restaurants. Sometimes it’s refer to an explanation of a sight or the history of it. I find it helps to have it. Some people cut up the book and take the relevant sections.

Posted by
6038 posts

I have seen Rick suggest tearing out chapters and tossing them once it is 'history'.

At least doing that will lighten the load as you go.

Posted by
7606 posts

The GAS guidebook is put together from the three country guidebooks so I understood that was why it was not available as an e-guide if you wanted to buy it separately.

As long as you can manage in Munich, Salzburg and Vienna with the guides you have, I think you’ll be fine. That is where you’ll have the most free time to figure out museums and sights. In Switzerland the hotel will give you a trail map and your guide may offer some activities for your free day and other free time.

If you arrive early to Trier, I used the Trier TI website to figure out my time before the tour started.

Sometimes the guides refer to pages in the book but there is no test and if you need to look at something surely a group member will let you look!!

I’m pretty sure I left this one at home for my GAS tour. The paper is heavier than some of the guides as well so that was a consideration. I’ve actually gotten to the point that I get the paper one for planning but then download an e-version if available.

This is a wonderful tour!

Posted by
175 posts

I think you should bring the guidebook. Tear out the sections that don’t apply to you to save weight but the guidebook is essential when on the tour. You’ll have free time every day and it will give explanations or advice that’s invaluable. Restaurants, attractions, directions - all important when on the tour!

Posted by
4865 posts

I agree with Luv2Travel. Cut out the sections you dont need, and then discard sections as you go along. The tour leaders are always hoping you'll read up on the places things you're going to see, and use the references for your free time rather than everyone asking them for recommendations every day.

Posted by
297 posts

I've only been on one RS Tour - Scotland. I took just the pages of the guidebook that had to do with the cities we were visiting. I also did a lot of studying before hand so I had good ideas on what I wanted to do with my free time. I did not depend on the pages I brought as much as I thought I would. I think a book weighing a pound is a lot, especially when you're trying to travel light. I also did research on the internet in the evening for any next-day planning.

Posted by
2281 posts

Having the guidebook is an essential part of taking a RS tour. There are portions of the book which are not relevant to the tour, so, you can tear out those sections.

Posted by
67 posts

Doug, thank you so much for your suggestions!

Posted by
4435 posts

I either rip out the chapters of the places I am visiting or get an ebook.

Posted by
67 posts

Again, there are no electronic versions of the tour guidebooks that you get after booking a tour--this was already confirmed with Rick Steves headquarters. The only Kindle/ebooks available are for other Rick Steves travel books.

Posted by
126 posts

Here's one of my favorite travel stories - when I got on the plane, I realized I had left my 2015 Italy guidebook in my car. Arrived in Venice on Oct 12 - the next day I found a 2013 Italy guidebook dropped directly in the street in front of the apartment I was renting! Not kidding - it was amazing. I feel sorry for whomever lost it, but what are the odds? Love it!

Posted by
13 posts

Great story about the guidebook being lost and then found. We take pictures of the important things in the heavier books. I prefer to read ahead of the trip— it’s not fun for me to do anything other than pretend I live where I’m visiting & so spend time watching, listening, and smelling the air (OK so I avoid Venice in the high summer),
Everyone is different so ask yourself “what has worked for me before when I travel? “ Is the book and reading a necessary comfort and retreat? Take it. If not, you’ll be fine.

Posted by
2281 posts

You’ll get the equivalent statement when you get your final tour information:
IMPORTANT PACKING REMINDERS: We recommend bringing the Rick Steves London guidebook as your guide will be referring to it throughout your tour.

Posted by
67 posts

Alan, yup, hence the initial post at the top--that's why I started this topic. :)

Posted by
3120 posts

I have used the Kindle version for the books for the RS tours the last 5 or more years.

Yes, the tour guidebooks are not offered as an option to replace the paper version directly from RS, but you can buy them separately from Amazon.

Just went and looked. The GAS book is one of them that is completely missing from Amazon -- no paper version, no Kindle. Not just missing for the 2019 or 2020 versions, just missing except the 2002 version in paper offered more as a collector's item. The statement from the RS group about not owning the rights is weird. Strange.

Posted by
67 posts

Mark, per the note I pasted above from HQ, tour guidebooks are not available on Amazon/Kindle--you can only find the standard guidebooks there. Also see the separate thread about 'GAS 2019' where we discussed this.

For those who have been on the official RS tours, you know to which books I'm referring. :)

Posted by
3120 posts

Been on 10 RS tours. In the past 5 years never had any issue finding the Kindle version of the "official" tour books for the tours I took.

You just usually don't find the extra books -- language reference, and so on.

Posted by
67 posts

Can someone share a link to one (or more) of the official tour guidebooks on Amazon / Kindle? I haven't found any myself. Would like to send it to headquarters to ask why there isn't one for the Germany Austria Switzerland tour. I get the whole issue with permission and copywriting, but at least send us a PDF.

Here's what I'm referencing. Sorry for not sharing an image sooner!

Cover of book I received after booking a tour: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eQCZCIXQT5qJwpszHsLWA9zQOpjX5FcL/view?usp=sharing

Inside front cover: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AYhs8ItgDyqvrgfTyCdM0YCxZs3em5iK/view?usp=sharing

To Pam's earlier point though, I think I will be okay since these tour guidebooks are said to be a compilation of the other guidebooks they sell on Amazon (per the note on the inside front cover) which I already have.

Posted by
3120 posts

Ah! I see now!

They are producing Tour specific books which cover only the tour stops. This is different than before (and on the last RS tour I took) where they just used the same book as you find on Amazon. I guess they were losing too many book sales to the e book formats and this is how they combat that.

Apologies.

Posted by
67 posts

Good point. They risk others sharing it and taking away from sales of the ones that 'are' available on Amazon. :)

Posted by
23258 posts

I actually think that having a special book which gives all the detail on exactly where you are going and in the order you are going there is a great idea. Yes, probably not as light as a feather.

But what a great idea! I can see it turning into a great souvenir. Autographs of other tour-mates, maybe the guide, perhaps a special person you meet along the way, maybe even the bus driver and a waiter?

Notes in the margins. Don't forget highlighters.

Posted by
2281 posts

They are producing Tour specific books which cover only the tour stops. This is different than before (and on the last RS tour I took) where they just used the same book as you find on Amazon. I guess they were losing too many book sales to the e book formats and this is how they combat that.

I’m not sure that is the reason. I think for this tour (GAS) they’ve done this as they have a large Germany book, a Switzerland book, but not one for Austria. I think this is a good idea. I’ve not seen it for any other of the many RS tours I have taken where the standard RS books were used.

Posted by
7606 posts

I agree with Alan. The GAS tour book is a compilation and I think it is the only one that is that way, which is why it's not an e-book. All of the other guide books are the standard ones.

For my Belgium and Holland tour this year I received both the Belgium and Netherlands guide books for free. I used them for planning and then bookmarked stuff from regular TI sights I thought I might need to look up in Ghent and Amsterdam. I did not take either of those books with me because I had my free time plotted out.

I am vegan so rarely use Rick's restaurant recommendations.

Posted by
16745 posts

Alan and Pam are correct. This special tour edition guidebook was produced so you don't "have to" bring three different books. My Way Alpine Europe is another tour that gets this style of book. All of the content is relevant, but you can of course discard chapters when done.

If you wish to follow along on your Kindle books instead, then of course page numbers won't match, the pocket books are written a bit differently to start with, and it sounds like you don't have a Kindle version for your stop in Switzerland.

Posted by
30893 posts

Jill,

I also travel with a backpack and on multi-country trips, despite the weight I often haul around the RS guidebook for the country I'm spending the most time in. I find that the hard copy version is easier to use than the E-book version, especially when using maps. I haven't been on a tour in a few years, so wasn't aware they were producing a tour-specific version of the books.

Aside from downloading the full guidebooks to your Kindle and using that in place of the tour book, I'm not sure there's a solution to the weight issue. I don't know whether it would be feasible for RS to produce a PDF version of the tour-specific books and offer that to tour members? With the technology available today, that should be fairly easy. Lonely Planet offers many of their guidebooks and individual chapters of those books as PDF downloads, so that could be one solution.

Enjoy your tour!

Posted by
760 posts

Maybe I am not grasping this. The tour guides that are sent for areas that span multiple books are not available in e-fashion - but they are cobbled together, for the most part, from existing publications. You should be able to locate them in the various print and online versions... No? Can they not be copied, downloaded or scanned even if not in the handy handout format that RS sends you? That has been the case for me. In any case, I do not always bring my books and just trust that what I have downloaded or what I learn on-route will work. It has so far.

Posted by
13904 posts

When I took the My Way Alpine tour, the tour package had a "guidebook" that was cobbled together using excerpts from the RS guide books and was in a spiral binding with clear plastic covers. It was pretty awkward to turn the pages and I ended up just ripping out the spiral binding and stapled together the pages for each stop, photocopied single sides where necessary.

Posted by
13904 posts

BTW I just noticed that RS has gone back to a tour kit (book + money belt) instead of the store coupon. When did that happen?

Posted by
7606 posts

Chani, they changed back to the tour kit model last year (2018).

Posted by
133 posts

For the longest time, I thought those little binders RS sells for containing small chapters of the guide books were silly. Then I bought a few (on sale; they ridiculously priced otherwise, IMO). What a difference! I tried just stapling the pages together for one trip, but that wasn't sufficient; the regular staples weren't really strong enough and I kept catching my fingers on the back of them. I also cut label tags into smaller segments and write the country/chapter on them so I'm not opening every book to see what's what. Now, time will tell if they are sturdy enough to reuse.

Posted by
1436 posts

My set of those little RS binders have made 3 tours and are still holding up. I usually slip what I need for a day in them and they have worked great.

Posted by
67 posts

I'm glad I didn't lug the big heavy book on my recent Germany Austria Switzerland tour, didn't even use the pages I tore out. Had enough on my Kindle if I needed to reference it or I could have looked things up online or asked my tour guide.

Posted by
554 posts

I photograph the pages of guidebooks with my phone --- sort of time-consuming, but I find it handy. For my latest trip, I even put a large orange caption on each photo so I could see what's on each page without enlarging the photo.

Posted by
24 posts

A bit of a thread jack. But doesn't seem like it deserves a new thread posting. I just signed on for Paris in 6 days. As part of the welcome e mail they mention a tour kit. And in the tour kit there is reference to a security device. As a noob my mind goes many places with that reference. Bodyguard? Num chucks? James Bond is my roomie?

Here is the wording
Free Tour Kit: In about 30 days we'll send an email letting you know your free tour guidebook, security device, and ear plugs are ready to order via your customer account.

Posted by
24 posts

Probably your choice of money belt--- no James Bond or meat mallets :-)

that sounds about right.

there goes my chance at fame & fortune as JB's wingman

Posted by
19 posts

We always follow Rick's advice...
It was not easy "customizing" his books, but it is the BEST idea. We rip out and take ONLY the sections on our tour. If there is something else we want to reference along the way, the world has the internet:) So much lighter!

Posted by
16 posts

I photocopy the relevant pages, and cut them down from the 8.5x11 paper size. I usually staple them and throw away the pages as I leave the area. I tried using the binder slips, but maybe I got a bad batch, but they did not work--perhaps it is user error.

Posted by
139 posts

As a veteran of 15 RS tours, here's my two cents worth of advice. Tear out the pages you think you will need and take those along. RS sells a page size binder that we use to put the relevant pages each day. Then at night, we switch to the next day's sights, etc. I generally don't throw away those pages each day so that I have pages to refer to when we are home and sorting through photos and completing our trip journal. It's a great memory jogger! The page size binder is often on sale on the RS website in accessories and costs maybe a dollar. It is fairly durable and can be slipped into a coat pocket or daypack. It's good to have the info for free time exploring and picking restaurants. Also, we usually read the guide book a couple of months before the trip and then refresh by reading each day's sights the night before on the tour. Have you considered scanning the relevant sections to either your phone or tablet? Enjoy your travels!!

Posted by
362 posts

One more thing about the RS slip cover/spine
I've been using a PacSafe SlingSafe 100 (?) for the last several trips. It's very thin but the right width to hold one sleeve combo for a day.
I just purchased the PacSafe LS100 because it's thicker so I can carry a water bottle (or umbrella) in it without warping the bag and making it hard to pull out the guidebook portion.

Also, any walking map I have (from TI, pre-printed, hotel) can slide in the pocket also.

Posted by
69 posts

I have purchased one RS guidebook on kindle but the maps were hard to read. So, we now download maps on the Avenza app and carry the small RS pocket guide books for individual cities. Avenza maps work even if you don't have access to WIFI. We also download the RS audio tours which are really informative. The St. Marks Square audio tour was great!