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Rick Steves Basque Tour

My husband and I are interested in the Rick Steves' Northern Spain/Basque tour. We are in our 70s, but quite active. That said, we would have a difficult time carrying luggage up several flights of stairs. I know the logical response is "pack light," but we are long-time travelers, and have never been successful in packing light.

Has anyone gone on that tour? Did many of the hotels require carrying luggage up stairs? In general, what were the hotels like? I noticed that most other tour companies list the hotels guests will be staying at, but I did not see that information for the RS tours.


Posted by
1002 posts

As I recall, all 4 hotels had elevators, but the same hotels are not necessarily used on each tour.

As with all RS tours, hotels, and the rooms within, vary. They are rarely cookie cutter. All are comfortable and well located. The hotel in Palermo was basically a palace (!)

Posted by
3209 posts

Worst case scenario is you ask someone from the hotel to carry them up. I’m sure it wouldn’t a bother, but my guess is that all the hotels will have elevators. The only pensions I’ve been to without elevators were in really small towns along the Camino de Santiago.

Posted by
1616 posts

Hi masjeb, you will get the best info by calling the RS office (425-608-4217). I have not been on this tour but have done 10 RS tours. Honestly, if you can't handle your luggage, you might want to re-think this. In addition to carrying your bags up stairs at the hotel, you will likely encounter situations where the bus is parked some distance away and you'll need to "carry or roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel". I wouldn't count on other tour members to help you, not that they're not nice people, but they have their own stuff to attend to. I have traveled twice on RS tours with a friend in her 60s who can't pack light and can't carry her luggage. She realized that she prefers a company that picks up and delivers her bags and that's how she travels now.

Posted by
1290 posts

You won’t get all hotels used on tour until a month before departure.

Posted by
3525 posts

When you say, "we are long-time travelers, and have never been successful in packing light," do you mean you've traveled a lot or that your trips tend to be for many nights? Or both?

Most on the forums are committed to light packing, but many are not. As has been mentioned, the basic RS philosophy is something along the lines of "you schlep what you bring." This is not so important if you take a city tour and stay in the same hotel the whole time. But then, most of those tours are so short, a person doesn't need much anyway.

I've been on 5 RS tours so far and am considering pairing the Basque Country of Spain & France in 9 Days tour with Best of Ireland in 14 Days next year. I'll be 74 when I do that.

I travel solo, and have been offered help of various kinds on the tours. I always appreciate it, and sometimes accept it, but being a stubborn sort, I believe I should be able to manage on my own. Packing light is one way I maximize the probability of not often being dependent on others.

Many people, whether on RS tours or not, pack lighter than I do. Packing for a week and doing laundry along the way make it possible for me to pack light and still have lots of wardrobe combinations so long as the major garments coordinate with each other and I take a little jewelry and a scarf.

Since this is your first post here, I'm going to list some links on this website that might be helpful for you to learn about ways to lighten the load and make it more likely for you to seriously consider an RS tour.

Packing Light. All the basics with more links.

Sarah Murdoch's Packing Light & Right. A travel talk well worth watching in its entirety.

Packing Forum. Lots of advice and opinion on what to pack, how to pack, what luggage to use -- you get the idea.

Posted by
3 posts

I went on the Basque tour August 2018 and recommended it to my parents who are late 69/70. They just came back from the Basque tour last week. Their tour used 3 of the same hotels I had, all 3 had elevators. Their Bilbao hotel (which was different than where I stayed) also had an elevator. Hotels were modern with their own unique charm. You travel via bus to each City and for the most part are dropped off right in front of the hotels, so it's not like you need to roll/drag your luggage long distance.

Posted by
745 posts

We have just returned from this tour (last week). I will send you a Private Message with a few thoughts and details that might be of interest. Check your email.

Posted by
5 posts

Blue439 -- Did you send the email yet? I did not receive it. I am eager to hear your thoughts.

Posted by
18888 posts

Masjeb, look at the top right corner of your computer screen for a notification about an "unread message" and click on it.

Posted by
1002 posts


Look for My Account here on the Rick Steves site and scroll down to find messages.