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2019 Tour Kit

We just got our confirmation email for Village Italy tour for next year. Can’t wait! But it looks like they’re back to “free tour kits” instead of the $100 store credit.

From the email:
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. We'll also throw in free shipping on the whole order-- in case you need to buy some extra travel gear!

Not a big deal, but I know the $100 credit has been discussed here several times so I thought some might be interested. I have everything I need (including multiple money belts!) but I guess I’ll have one more!

Posted by
3100 posts

I wonder if you couldn't write them and ask for the credit instead.

Posted by
1098 posts

I prefer the flexibility of the credit as sometimes I’ve already purchased the guidebook.

Posted by
933 posts

The way I read it is you MAY order any of the 3 free items, and you can add anything else you would like to pay for, and shipping on the whole order is free.

Posted by
2660 posts

I suspect it is because so many people want more, and complained about the $100.00 credit, as they wanted one for each adult party, etc. RS likely just got tired of people looking a gift horse in the mouth. I would have, if I were RS.

Posted by
3444 posts

Maybe sales of the books were down. Including them in the tour price makes up for that.

Posted by
792 posts

I agree with Wray.
If you look at the "What's Included" section of the 2018 and then 2019 tours the verbage has changed from store credit to tour kit.

There was so much complaining about the the store credit not being fair....etc and I am sure there were a lot of angry phone calls that it probably became so annoying they made this change.

Too bad really.

Posted by
2389 posts

For frequent RS tour participants like us neither the tour kit nor the store credit was ideal. Having gotten multiple tour kits the only thing of value was the guidebook. When the store credit became part of the deal we quickly reaized we struggled to spend it, often buying things we frankly did not need. But, neither of these are a “gift” so that analogy is not correct. Somehow the value is baked into the price of the tour. And, remember, the value of the goods you are getting, whether via a tour kit or a store credit, is really far below what you would pay at retail. If not, RS could just knock $100 off the tour price and be done with it. Here is my solution: have the tour kit as an option, with the other option having RS donate a set value to any one of the many worthwhile charities he supports. That way those that want just the book and don’t need one more money belt or set of earplugs (me) can spend $15-20 bucks additional (pretty painless) and someone who has a need benefits through charity.

Posted by
6236 posts

Whether it's a $ credit or a tour kit, I'm with those who think it should be for each paying party. Whether or not they are part of a 'family' and live at the same address or not, everyone who is paying for the tour should get a perk, whatever it is.

Posted by
2561 posts

Personally, I’d rather have a discount on the tour price. I’ve got sooo many moneybelts and earplugs and I prefer to download the guidebook as an ebook. 14 Tours and counting...

Posted by
79 posts

I'm sure it's just another evolution that will become clearer in time. Remember when they gave you a small bundle of European currency so you could get by until you could exchange your Traveler's Checks? It was always aimed towards getting people into the philosophy: money belt to avoid pickpockets, book so you don't have to be herded around like sheep, phrase book so you could attempt to communicate, ear plugs so you can stay near the action in places without triple paned windows... I bet noise is the number one complaint guides hear, so that is why they still give out ear plugs!

Posted by
3444 posts

Wow, never knew about the starter pack of cash.

I do remember when the books were cut from 1 per person to 1 per address. Lots of people were very annoyed by that. Then they went to the $100 credit per group booking. Maybe they hoped that would calm the masses where each person could get a book. But then everyone (well, many) complained that it should e $100 per person. Guess they just can't win.

Posted by
73 posts

As I said above, it’s no big deal to me. I was already struggling to figure out what I would spend $100 credit for anyway. I have a 2018 Italy book already, and we’ve taken 3 tours in the last 12 months so I have all the packing accessories and other “stuff” I need (including money belts and earplugs!) 😊

Posted by
360 posts

Well, fiddle-dee-dee! I loved getting the $100 store credit for my tour. But I'm sure it was so annoying for the RS office to field tons of complaining calls that they just decided to go back to tour kits. Can't blame them. I enjoyed it while it lasted though!

Posted by
4443 posts

One thing we've noticed since RSE started giving out the $100 credit, is a lot of folks don't bother to buy the guidebook, which I think is a shame. We also had 3 people on our recent tour who didn't have money belts, either. And phrase books? Nope. While We have so many money belts we've been giving them away, and we joke about what we can build with excess earplugs, I do think the guidebook and phrasebook add a lot.

Posted by
73 posts

Well, I may have jumped the gun about the $100 credit. I logged into my tour account and found this info:

A tour kit is included as part of your Rick Steves tour. The kit contains the essential items you'll need for your tour: the required guidebook (or books) with important maps and information about the places you'll visit on your tour, a moneybelt for keeping your valuables safe, and earplugs to help you sleep.
About 35 days after you've booked your tour, we'll notify you to log into your customer account to get your Tour Kit promo code. Your promo code contains a $100 Rick Steves Travel Store credit to cover the purchase of your Tour Kit.

So I guess I’ll just wait and see. ;)

Happy travels!

Posted by
996 posts

So I guess I’ll just wait and see. ;)

Please let us know what you finally receive? I'm curious now!

Posted by
37 posts

We’d like to chime in on the 2019 tour kit discussion. Part of our mission at RSE is to inform and equip travelers. To that end, we want people to have the most up-to-date guidebook relevant to their tour, so our tour members can get the most from their travel experience. For 2019, we are making a change to the tour kit provision. We now supply the essential guidebook(s) for the tour that you have chosen, give flexibility in the choice of a security accessory (another vital component of travel), and include free shipping on any other items from our travel store you may want to add to your tour kit order. The reason for this change is that we learned from the former system that all too often folks were showing up without the correct (or any) book(s) and thus couldn’t optimize their time. Even with a guided tour, we know from years of operating, that a guidebook is an essential part of the travel adventure. By making this change we hope many more of our tour members will arrive at their tours fully prepared and ready for a grand adventure!

Posted by
200 posts

I received my tour kit credit today. On the first page where it describes the kit, it states:

If you already have the required guidebook, feel free to order any other items.

Then, after you click on “view and order tour kit”, you get to a page that again describes the kit and gives you a place to actually order it. At the bottom of this page, it states:

Note: If you already have a moneybelt, you can skip this kit and buy your guidebook separately with your store credit.”

So it seems that they are strongly encouraging people to buy a guidebook and moneybelt, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO. The credit is $100 to be used in one shopping session, and you can buy whatever you like.

Posted by
1891 posts

So really, nothing much has changed since my last tour (Aug 2017). You can still spend your $100 store credit on whatever you like (not gift cards, I suppose) but they are strongly encouraging everyone taking a tour to come to armed with the appropriate guidebook(s) and a way to keep your important stuff safe and hidden away.

Posted by
742 posts

Encouraging people to buy the proper guidebook seems like a sensible strategy. As for the complaints about the inequity of the $100 credit per household (regardless of whether a household is one person or four) I’ve always thought the way to solve that would be to simply make it $50 for every person signed up for a tour. Wouldn’t cost RS that much and would treat every customer equally.

Posted by
9 posts

I just received an email from the tour office confirming that there is no $100 credit for 2019 tours. Bummer as I already have the book and moneybelt.

Posted by
524 posts

I have gotten my store credit. I have plenty of time before my tour, so I am waiting on items to go on sale. Although I have given quite a few money belts away, I am glad I don't have to purchase another. I do plan to buy a guide book.

Posted by
4443 posts

Rats. I've been planning what to get with our tour credit next year. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Much.

Posted by
1891 posts

Copied directly from the my tours section of my RS account for my 2019 Portugal tour:

"Tour Kit A complimentary tour kit is included as part of your Rick Steves tour. The kit contains the essential items you’ll need for your tour: the required guidebook with important maps and information about the places you’ll visit, a moneybelt for keeping your valuables safe, and earplugs to help you sleep." So, it seems official; the company has returned to the original 'tour kit' model. Too many complaints about the $100 credit? I was hoping for the original/original 'tour kit' which included the small day/backpack, which I loved, still have and use. But I could always use another one! I'm happy for the book.

Posted by
6162 posts

Are you required to wear a money belt if you are on a Rick Steve's Tour?

Posted by
1098 posts

no one is going to check to see if you’re wearing a money belt while on tour.

Posted by
4443 posts

Suki, no, money belts are not required. They are, however, recommended. On our most recent tour, our guide lent money belts to several people who didn't have one.

Posted by
4500 posts

I doubt it was complaints; it is probably just a way of cutting costs while making sure new travelers bring a book and moneybelt. It is too bad as I own about 6 moneybelts, prefer to get the RS book on kindle, and always throw away the earplugs and patch. I thought the credit was a nice way of giving people some choice.

Posted by
524 posts

Laura, you are given an option not to order the money belt. You do, however, have no option for the ear plugs and at least one guide book.

Posted by
3151 posts

How does it work if you are a couple or a group of 3 or more on a booking? Do they send earplugs for all persons on the booking or just one set? I'm assuming since they're very inexpensive, each person gets her or his own but maybe I'm wrong? :-)

Posted by
177 posts

Cili thanks for this thread. I was just wondering which Village of Italy tour you are going on because we have signed up for the same tour that starts on April 27th.

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Carole,
My husband and I will be going on the Village Italy tour starting April 27. This will be our ninth RS tour. Our first RS tour was the Village Italy tour in 2007 with Nina Bernardo. The tour was not as popular then and we had only 16 people. We enjoyed that tour so much, we decided to take it again. It sold us on touring with Rick Steves because we had taken tours with three other companies and found the Rick Steves tours to be far and away the best. I now see how the Village Italy tour fills up quickly. That is why we booked it as soon as the 2019 tours opened up. We'll see you next April 27. I know you will absolutely LOVE the tour.

Posted by
2786 posts

Answering Suki's post: I have taken 16 RS tours and have always worn a money belt. I have never read of any one being pick-pocketed while wearing a money belt properly. I have seen fellow tour members get pickpocketed when they were not wearing a money belt. Your choice. I just like the odds of not getting pick-pocketed by wearing a money belt.

Posted by
113 posts

Well, thanks to this post it appears the Michelin maps we were going to buy with our credit is out the window for next year. We are going on our 3rd RS tour next June, and we will get a book and maybe a different MB. Sorry to see this change.