Please sign in to post.

Tour group age related question

My husband and I are planning a trip to England and I love the BoE 14 day tour. We are in our early 40's, not retired, and far from able to casually drop this kind of money or time on a vacation, but it's my dream (Austen & Heyer fan) and I want to do the trip my mom was never able to (died 49, heart attack). My concern is how we fit into a group that, from what I've read, has more retired jet setters on it then working folks. Has anyone gone on this length of a tour and were the only person/couple in your age group? How did you feel? Really and truly I can get along with almost anybody but I hate to feel like the odd man out. This is big part of our families budget and I'd hate to think that not fitting in with a group for 2 weeks could dampen it. Just wanting some candid insight from those who have experienced it! Many thanks.

Posted by
6609 posts

I think that particular tour may have a wider age distribution, and it also depends on the tour date (summer tours draw more people with kids/young adults due to school schedules). I only took one RS tour and, at your age, was the youngest one (except for the junior tour guide). Because the RS tour participants are a self-selected group that more or less follow the RS "no grumps" policy, they are likely to be really easy to get along with and fun, no matter what age. Unfortunately, there are no tours out there that really "age select" except indirectly by physical ability and physical activity (e.g., REI groups, trekking/multi-sport tours, etc.), so European "bus tours" all tend to skew toward retired (or soon to be retired) folks who have time and money on their hands to travel. There's no real market for 40-year olds as far as tours go (that's why I prefer independent travel). But it's OK. I don't think you need to worry much about "clicking" or "feeling like an odd man out" since a lot of that is really based on your own openness and attitude. The RS groups are generally very nice, friendly, good to travel with, and will reciprocate your good will...you can see this in most reviews. There will be some exceptions, but they seem to be outliers.

Posted by
5730 posts

Jet-setters? No, I think we met more school teachers, civil servants, and real estate agents than any jet-setters. Three tours, and we've seen all ages from teens to 80s. Like Agnes said, older retired adults are more likely to have the time, money and interest to travel this way. But its been active groups of adventurous people who's ages didn't seem to matter. You can mix or not - its not forced socializing - and still see the same sights.

Posted by
3449 posts

Even though the age does tend to be higher and closer to the retirement range than you (and I) are on these tours, don't think this is a bunch of retirement home bound seniors who just talk about their latest ailments -- because that is not what you find on these tours at all!

Many of the 60+ year olds on these tours still do things like white water raft, hike dozens of miles per day just for fun, and can stay up past midnight finishing that last bottle of wine and still be the first on the bus in the morning. If you are taking the tour during school breaks, you will find family groups with any age children from mid teen to adult.

The majority of the people going on a RS tour are accepting of everyone else on those tours and for the most part will be happy to include you with them in the free time activities and meals on your own so you are not left alone unless you want to be (I have been on 10 so far and always find someone to hang with and have actually made several friends my age I still connect with on a regular basis).

Posted by
342 posts

We started going on RS tours before we retired. I think what you will find in general are the members have a love of travel, are educated and want travel out of their travel dollar. While the cost of a tour is not cheap, I view it as well worth it for what you receive. You get informative guides, safe transportation, accomodations that are clean and centrally located, and unforgettable experiences one may not get if doing it on your own. We've learned a lot from others on the tours which we have used to enhance our travels whether on a RS tour or on our own.

Posted by
3444 posts

"...more retired jet setters on it then working folks..." Nope, not on eight RS tours has that ever been the case. Some retirees, some teachers on summer break and a variety of "working folks" just on regular vacation time. All ages from teens to seventies. Some singles, some married couples, some with siblings, and some parent / offspring pairs. With rare exceptions everyone gets along quite well because of the diversity. Trust me, you will have to work extra hard to be "the odd man out." Go with an open mind and just let the trip "come to you".

Posted by
7247 posts

NOT "jet-setters"
Tours I have been on had age range of 13- to almost 70. And everything in between.

You would not be "odd man out" . Age really irrelevant, as those on the tour have the commonality of being focused on travel. That transcends any 'age difference'

Posted by
57 posts

I have been on 3 tours, and all 3 had a variety of ages and professions. No jet setters. The last tour I was on (to Germany) - had the following: 1 family 2 60 year olds and 1 40, 2 couples in their late 40s, 6 couples in their mid to late 60s (retired), 2 singles 45-55, us ( a family with 2 early 50s and one 26 year old,

The Paris tour was mostly teachers 45-55. But also had a few younger people.

The Italy tour, had a few more family groups.

Posted by
1044 posts

I've done 6 RS tours now, 5 of them at the end of June into July time frame. I was teaching and many of the participants were teachers, interesting and engaged in the travel experience. Ages ranged, as I recall, from about 25 to 70+, with most folks probably in their 50s or 60s.
My last tour this past April into May was off season so there were no teachers and all but about 3 or 4 were retired. However, there was a single 40ish year old physician and she fit in wonderfully with everyone (and had in fact been on some tours with other participants in our group.) Everyone was active, fit, and great fun! Age didn't seem to matter.
These tours don't select for age but they do self-select for active and non-grumpy and flexible people.
When I signed up for my first tour in 1997 (and as a solo), it really was a leap of faith, so I understand your concern. But all the others have been easy, the only question being "which one" to take.
If you fit the profile of active, fit, flexible, and friendly, I encourage you to give it a try.
At the very least, you will gain valuable travel skills in case you want to venture out on your own in the future, as many of us tour participants do as well.

Posted by
277 posts

This is a great tour. It is a good way to experience Europe because you speak the language. Yes, there are a few more retirees and 60+ aged people, but you will find that you have a lot in common with most of the people on your tour. You will be traveling and learning something totally new to you. You might be surprised that the person you enjoy most might be 60 or 70 years old. Jump in, put a smile on your face and have a wonderful time. I bet you turn into a "Rick-nic" and will be trying to figure out which trip you want to take next!

Posted by
888 posts

Please take this tour! Sign up tomorrow!
It's a great itinerary, and as others have said, RS tours have a mix of ages. Heck, many iof the oldest tour members I've traveled with have been more fit, social, and fun than some of the younger tour members. I'm about your age and have been on 5 RS tours --the first one was a 2-week tour when I was 31. There were two 30-something aged couples on that trip and some 40-somethings and thst was a late August/early September departure. I say go for it!

Posted by
135 posts

You'll likely find a breakdown of fellow tour members in two camps, those who are on their xx tour and those experiencing their first. I have found it really fun meeting others on the 6 RS tours I've been on since 2008, 5 with my daughter and one with a sister (that was Best of London, a smashing and brilliant tour). While my daughter has always been among the youngest on a tour, I found fun and personality-packed folks of all ages who invariably made the experience even better. Not all types were my own personal cup of tea but then I likely didn't move their meter much, either. Vive la difference and it all works out pretty wonderfully with happy and positive people with the means and interest in a more immersive and educational style of touring. I am confident you will have a great trip on your first RS tour. Happy travels!

Posted by
762 posts

I have been on 6 tours, my first at age 45-ish and my last at 55. Ages ranging from teens with a parent/s or grandparent to those over 80. On my Best of Spain tour, the youngest were a couple I guess could have been 30 and the oldest over 80. The young couple had a great time; we had a fantastic guide so that contributed a lot! There were some very fit retirees who were so interesting to talk to, their minds were young too. I have not felt out of place. I am a social person though. I never considered tourmates as jet setters, as this tour requires lugging your own bags and walking a fair bit, possibly a hotel with no elevator, the population is different. Yes, many tour members might have a bigger bank account than me, but their love of travel and learning about countries and it's culture keeps them humble. That is my 0.02 cents.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for all your insight guys! I appreciate it all, and respect everyone's opinion. Clearly, I need to reread the definition of a 'jet setter'!😁 I definitely feel more confident and if the stars continue to align for us, we will be in England June 2018!!! I really was struck by the idea that I will be with like minded folks (this is my passion and not hubbies)!

Posted by
298 posts

I wouldn't necessarily consider an early 60's retiree to be a "jet setter". Some may be managing their finances as carefully as younger people considering fixed incomes, health insurance, etc. In their favor....they may have more time to prepare for the tours in advance and may be a good resource for deciding free time activities or for choosing restaurants. I know many 60-somethings who have as much if not more energy than 40-somethings. Remember too that they are actually the ultimate "working folks" considering they worked twice as long as 40-somethings. You may have more in common with retirees than you suspect. I was actually more nonplussed by a 40-something on my last tour who chose to whine at length about the in-depth nature of the guide's discussion in the Orangerie (yeah...really odd...). Also, young people were succumbing to colds while older folk persevered in great health. I have to remind myself not to be "ageist" in reverse....

Posted by
408 posts

To add to others replies. Been on 5 RS tours spanning 10 years. I think the shorter the tour more likely to have younger people since they usually have less vacation time.

Our first tour VFR we were early '40s and our tour had at least 10 people younger than us. We have taken 3 tours with our kids starting when our daughter was 10 to last year when she was 15. Never a family tour. Last year on BOE there were 6 teens on our tour.

Because you have to walk a lot, climb stairs to your room often, maybe not have air in your room the crowd tends to be a fit and fun bunch. Not yet setters. On most of our tours most people still worked and were not retired.

Enjoy!

Posted by
31 posts

I figure hanging out with 23 other people that might be 20 years older than me, will be better than when I went with my friend to Paris some years ago. There might be places I haven't gone that they might lead me too. And I know a few places I'd like to check out as well as other things. I'm looking forward to taking my first rick tour next year. I've been to Europe twice by myself and it would be nice to hang out with like minded folks. Maybe I'll see some of you in 2018 in Paris!

Posted by
91 posts

8 RS tours thus far. Started when we were in our 40's. Never had a trip where we were they youngest. Most recent tour had 2 in their 20's, 4 in their 40's, several of us in our 50's and the rest were very active retirees. I think half the group was still working. Our experience is that the only way you won't fit in is if you choose not to. We have enjoyed the group experiences and remain in touch with several fellow travelers from previous trips. Personally, we have found the RS guides, including city or museum guides that are already arranged for you, to always make a good itinerary into a great trip. Not dealing with the details of transportation and hotels ( which are always well located in the cities) just adds to the value of what you are going to spend.

Posted by
4481 posts

We just finished our 11th RS tour. On this tour the age range was 16 to 76, with people in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60, and 70s. On other tours we've had tour mates ranging from 12 to 80-something. We've only been on one tour where everyone "looked like us" - retirement age.

And very few, if any, of the folks we've traveled with can "casually drop this kind of money". Time is a bigger issue, and is probably why many of the trips skew toward the retired. But all the summer tours we have taken seemed to have a bigger share of teachers. We've also shared tours with doctors, dentists, lawyers, hairdressers, grocery store clerks, students, young marrieds, families with teens and tweens ...

Fear not. You'll fit in. And most folks who take these tours are great travel companions, regardless of age or income.

Posted by
637 posts

Having been on 3 tours I'd say that you'd be on the younger end of the participants, but I agree with previous posters that people who go on RS tours are a self-selecting group and tend to be friendly.

This is big part of our families budget

I want to add a comment on this aspect. RS tours are a decent deal. With one reservation you get lodging, transportation, and some meals arranged for 14 days (well, 12 real days, but that's tour math and all companies quote tours this way). Not only that but you get a guide for the group plus they often arrange for a local guide to show you around museums or town, and you get reserved entry times at museums. Overall your time is used more efficiently than you could do on your own.

The downside is cost. You could do these 12 full days for significantly less than the $8,000 you'll pay as a couple with RS. You won't get exactly the same RS tour experience, but you can find walking tours in London and its museums, probably some of the other ares, and even splurge for a private guide in a place or two and still have it add up to less. It's always a tradeoff; you'll need to book all arrangements, do the research, etc. But it's worth spending a few days before booking any tour looking into doing it on your own.

Posted by
4481 posts

Our experience is that the only way you won't fit in is if you choose not to.

Exactly what I was thinking, but I couldn't think of a way to say it that didn't sound snarky. Come join the fun!

Posted by
882 posts

I have only been on one tour so far, Greece, but there were about 5 of us in our 30's, several middle agers who were working, and retirees. All were wonderful to travel with no matter their age group!

Posted by
1 posts

I have gone on 5 RS tours and intend to go on more in the future. Started in my early 40s and I was a "single" traveling by myself on three of the five. On the other two, my mother was with me. I agree with the others who have piped up. The groups have always been a mix of demographics, including age (youngest child on one of my tours was around 10 and oldest person I recall was probably close to 80 on one tour, but a very spry 80), sex, marital status and employment status - the common denominator (with the exception of 1 person on 1 tour) was that they were interested in and excited about what we were doing and were able to go with the flow when things did not work out exactly as hoped. I have met a lot of really interesting people who have contributed to the enjoyment of the tours, and particularly when I was traveling by myself, I always had other tour members taking me under their wing and having me join them for non-group meals etc. Take to heart RS's "no whiners" policy and you will have a lot of fun no matter who is on the trip - guaranteed!

Posted by
35 posts

My wife and I do a combination of guided tours and self-guided tours. We are active Australians in our early 60s. The other interesting diversity aspect of guided tours is having a range of nationalities present, mainly Americans. I find the dinner-table conversations with Americans just as interesting as had with the locals on our tours whether that be Europe, Asia etc. It is just like being exposed to 2 new different cultures in the same holiday. Viva la difference!

Posted by
14 posts

Agree with the others. The two tours we went on (as a couple) had a very nice mix of ages. Several were singles. Everyone was interesting and fun--thinking of professions represented there were lawyers, medical doctors, university professors, tech business people in every field, including broadcast media, a few retired people with all sorts of gumption, writers, musicians, Half the fun was getting to know people...something that isn't always that easy once the work world takes hold and college is over.
We've also done England on our own and it's not that hard if you follow Rick's book, but the upside of the tour is you have no worries about where you will stay or if you are missing something you really owe it to yourself to see.

Posted by
4 posts

27 years ago my wife and I took our first trip to Europe - a big bus tour with 40 retirees. At 30, we were younger than some of their children. They kind of adopted us and looked at us as "young protectors".. In Amsterdam we led an impromptu Red Light District tour of 15 because they were curious but didn't want to go by themselves. Similar thing happened elsewhere going to restaurants or just wandering around. "What are you guys doing? Can we come along?". We were usually happy to oblige and really enjoyed getting to know them. Got along great with all of them.

We also took a RS tour later. Everyone was just like us - working people, similar age, same concerns and wants from the tour,etc. No "jet setters". In fact, that type of travelers will probably pick a different tour where they carry your bags and have expensive American hotels with elevators, not a RS tour. My recommendation from both tours is to bond with people you like, avoid/ignore people you don't and above all have a great time!

Posted by
1 posts

My daughter and I took the "Best of Italy" tour when she was in her mid 20's and I in my 60's and had a wonderful experience. My concerns were that she would be the only young person and the group would be mostly retired folks and also that a guided tour was not really her type of travel. As it turned out our January tour had another mother-daughter combo the same ages as us and three other young single girls in their 20's who had each come alone. The rest of the group were couples of all ages. Some evenings the young girls went out alone and had lots of fun after I was ready to call it a day. There is no guarantee what your group will be like but you are sure to connect with some in the group! After all, they are all up for a great adventure or they wouldn't be on a Rick Steve's Tour! We have both traveled extensively using Rick's books but this was our only guided tour. There is a lot to be said for turning a lot of the decisions and worries over to someone else! They take very good care of you and I would definitely do it again.

Posted by
1 posts

Apologies in advance for what might seem like a contrary response compared to the other advice you've received from Rick Steves alum. I'm a solo traveler in my 50s and have been on 3 RS tours over a 6-7 year period. I've noticed a marked change in the group demographics. On my first tour, the entire group was active and still working...a like minded group of adventure loving souls...I think we had two retired couple on that trip and they were soooo cool. Fast forward two years and my second trip was about 50-50 (retired vs. still working). Still fun but a decidedly slower pace to accommodate the group. Just this past year, I was the only person on the tour who hadn't been retired for a very long time. It was a bit awkward and we really had to adjust the tour (painlessly and with consummate professionalism I might add) to accommodate the needs of the group (walking difficulties, easy fatigue, etc.). Make no mistake, the people were delightful (not the snooty jet setter type at all) but the character of the RS model was clearly in a state of evolutionary flux. I came home telling myself I needed to find a new tour company...which absolutely breaks my heart because I DO love the itineraries, tour guides and value of a RS tour. But, alas, I'm not ready to slow it down just yet and I feel the RS tours really are attracting a different demographic these days. Obviously, who you get on your tour is "luck of the draw" at best. Know that they will likely be delightful people BUT you may find yourself peeling off on your own when the rest of the group needs their afternoon nap 😉.

Posted by
154 posts

By all means, go and have a great time! It is natural as a first time tour goer to worry about fitting in - that is human nature. My husband and I took our first tour (My Way Europe in 14 Days) in September of 2015. There were 12 couples ranging in age from 30 to 73, a set of siblings in their 60's, and a solo female in her 50's. The ice was broken immediately at our "introduction gathering" due to everyone going out of their way to make the solo traveler feel included. From then on, it was just a given that we would all get along. Some couples went off on their own that first night in Paris, and some looked at each other and said "Let's go to dinner." Everyone has their own pace and need for space. Since it was a My Way tour we all chose our own activities during the day, but we really bonded on the bus, reading to each other from the guidebooks and giggling about our spouses' snoring, gawking at the scenery in the Berner Oberland and just getting to know each other. We have kept in contact through our Facebook Group - being in touch two years later is really something. We will be joining the My Way Alpine Tour in late September and I just can't wait to experience the scenery and the camraderie. Just go!

Posted by
1 posts

Our 14 Days in Ireland last summer was a range from a young lady who was heading to her Freshman year at Yale to someone around 80 - with a mix of retired and working people thrown in. We got to be such good traveling partners, our "Yalie" developed a private Facebook page, and the majority of our group have remained active and in regular contact. Of course, all that Guinness and Irish whiskey really helped us bond. The closest thing we had to a "jetsetter" was college prof who had acted on television for a number of years. Like you see in many other replies, a lot of former and present teachers.

Posted by
2786 posts

I have taken 14 RS tours in the last 16 years and will be taking #15 in 2018. Ages have run the range from 20s to 70s
(I am 71) and an occasional 80. I do not remember any "jet setters" on any of those tours, unless they were real quiet about it. Occupations run from lots of retirees to "still working" types and some academics. On those 14 tours, I can remember only one person who was a problem (grump) and he apologized later as a recent recovering alcoholic.

We have had no trouble finding individuals, couples, or groups to bond with. Singles are absorbed into the group if they so choose. We still communicate with a deft tour mate from more than 10 years ago. We are "rick-nicks".

Posted by
48 posts

My husband and I were in our forties when we took our first trip to Europe. It was England and Scotland. We were on a tour (not one of Rick's) and the age group included people in their mid-twenties to their sixties. The best aspect of that tour was the hassle-free part of the event. Our fellow tour members were grand! If you have not been to Europe before, the sheer magnitude of its historical significance can bowl you over. So, having that wonderful itinerary, a comfortable and lovely place to lay our heads at night, and for England? Not having to drive on the wrong side of the road is worth every penny you pay. We go back to Europe every year or so, having now made friends in three countries, and we travel on our own. However, our next trip with be with Rick on one of his "My Way" tours. Independent travel can only go so far, and for us, the luxury of having Rick's bus, and hotel accommodations are the best combination we know of.

Posted by
5 posts

The BoE 14 day tour was our first trip with Rick in 2010. We were in our early 50's and found the group to be very age diverse. There was a mother traveling with her 16 year old son and a range of other ages. Our 2011 Scotland tour had several 30 somethings. Our 2012 Paris in 7-days trip had a family with their college age kids.

The time of year and length of the trip has a lot to do with the mix of ages. It really doesn't matter, though. You'll find that people want to be on the trip and are eager to learn and enjoy. We just finished our 8th trip and are planning our 9th for next year. What we have found is that Rick's tour members bond pretty fast, no matter the age ranges. And people who have traveled a lot are willing to help new people with ideas and suggestions. We've altered plans in real time because we got a great suggestion from a tour member.

The mix of group time and alone time gives you the opportunity to plan things you want to do away from the group. Tour guides are very flexible and will help with your plans. We had 3 people who wanted to visit Dove cottage while in the Lake District and our guide arranged a taxi for them. We didn't want to go to the sheep farm, but wanted to spend more time in Caernarfon so our guide (Roy Nicholls!!) helped us figure out the public transportation so we could get back to Conwy at the end of the day. We had a great time on our own and have some special memories of that day.

We've traveled with two other tour companies and Rick's tours are our favorites. They are also the best value for money because of the quality of the guides and experiences. With other companies, the "guides" are facilitators who make sure you get where you're going but don't add a lot to the daily experience. Rick's guides know the countries they lead tours in and you'll learn at lot from them. We have been awestruck by many of the guides and the depth of their knowledge. In Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, and France our guides gave us mini-language lessons so we could handle some basic conversations. That won't be a problem in England - although some of the accents will take you a minute to figure out!

Take the trip, you won't regret it. If you can afford it, spend a few extra days in London. There is so much to see.

Posted by
1007 posts

We have been on four RS tours. The age ranges have been from the early 20s to the mid 70s. Most of the group has been in the 50s and 60s with most still working. I expect the demographics to gradually shift to retirees as the baby boom generation ages. People on the tours place a high priority on budgeting for travel, and most people appear to be comfortable financially. Since I retired we have been going on longer tours. The nice thing about the longer tours is that you have time to get to know all the tour members.

Posted by
1 posts

Honestly, you will not feel out of place. I recently got back from the BoLondon Tour, and the average age was about 40-60. Most of people on there were on the older end, but we even had two teens. From what I heard everyone on the tour really enjoyed it, even the teens. I am in my early twenties, and was the only person in their twenties on the tour. My experience was that even though I was a lot younger than most of the other tour members, everyone was really nice and we all got along really well. The tour was well worth it, and going with the people on the tour really helped with the experience! I never felt like the old man out. Several times when we went on excursions some of us would go out in groups, and talk with each other. I am glad I went, and don't let the age factor deter you from going on a Rick Steves tour.

Posted by
34 posts

I did the same itinerary in 2015 when I was 27. Why? Because I was (and remain) a single guy and solo traveler that does not have a whole lot of time to arrange logistics of such a trip. I was the youngest, sure, but we had 2 couples in their late 30s/early 40s, and another mid-40s couple. The rest were comprised largely of retirement-age folks, but I have to say that everyone was energetic and I never felt like the pace of the tour was slowed at all.

So you being in your early 40s, I think you will do just fine. Keep in mind that someone willing to drop $5k+ for this trip is probably truly interested in the sights, sounds, and culture - and if you and your husband make that same investment, I believe you'll find plenty of folks to get along with, and if not, so what?? You're in Europe!

It's an outstanding trip, well-planned, and I look back upon it with highly positive memories.