My 21 year old son would like to travel to Italy as a college graduation gift next year. He doesn't want to travel alone so I will accompany him. We're deciding between do-it-yourself and a tour. We've never done a tour, but like the idea of doing it this way and the RS Venice/Florence/Rome tour looks to be exactly what he's looking for. My concern is that the average age of a tour may be a few decades north of my son's and leave him feeling a bit out of place. Is my perception correct that the average age will be closer to my age than his? Any 20-somethings here done a tour, or toured with 20-somethings and care to comment? I don't doubt I would enjoy a tour, but this is supposed to be for him more than for me.
Jeff - Are you planning on a summer tour? I have had 20 somethings on two summer tours and they fit right in with the rest of the group. One summer tour to France had four in their 20s and two teens, and a Barcelona Madrid summer tour had six participants in their 20s. Most were in college or recent grads, one was a teacher traveling with her mother. I haven't had any 20 year olds on the three non-summer tours. The tours are well worth while, I hope you try a tour and that you both enjoy it. You'll learn a lot, meet some terrific people, and have time to do stuff on your own too.
Grier - Interesting point about the difference between Summer and non-Summer demographics. Wouldn't have expected that, but it makes sense. Yes, it would be in May, June, or July 2015, so your comments help make the case. Thanks!
I did the Heart of Italy in May 2013 with my brother, SIL, and their 2 sons, who were 25 & 20 at the time. We went mid-May as soon as the younger one finished his finals. There was another family group with a 21 yr old daughter. Next up was a couple in their late 20s/early 30s. The oldest of the 25 of us was 69. Everyone seemed to get along fine. The nephews hung with others on the tour at times and wound up spending time with most everyone. It was a great experience! The guys felt like it was a lifetime memory.
The great thing for my brother and me is that it was pretty much no stress as far as planning for hotels and activities.
I've done three tours so far and my fourth us coming up in two weeks. I do all summer tours (I'm a teacher). The first was Village Italy and I did have a family of four (two college-age sisters and parents) on it. I think my upcoming tour has a few mother/daughter groups and another family of four, but I'm not sure of the ages.
However, what I would suggest is when you narrow down your time frame for next summer, you can call and ask the RS office "who" is signed up for the tour. They can't give you specifics, but they can say, for instance: a few people in their 20s, lots of people I'm their 50s-60s, one person on his/her 40s (that's me!) and then you can go from there. You could ask about one or two of the tour dates and see if one tour has different tour members ages' than others (I.e., maybe June 1 has no 20-somethings, but the June 10 tour does). I suspect that Italy is very popular with families, so you may get more of a chance of some 20-somethings on those tours. However, there is no guarantee. I would just call next winter (Jan/Feb at the latest) and see how they are filling up. That would still give you time to plan something on your own if you want to.
Also, I would just mention it to your son and see what he thinks. Do you think he would really mind hanging out with a bunch of 50-60 year olds for two weeks if he's in Italy? He might just deal with it. Or, he might not (different strokes for different folks). Just check with him. :)
Enjoy your trip!
Well Jeff, if you do a DIY trip, there will still only be one 20-something in your group! We did this tour in 2012, and yes most people were 40+ but there were three mother-daughter pairs. You don't have to stay with the group if you don't want to. Its a great way to avoid the dealing with logistics, and you will see more of everything with the guides. Suggest you plan at least a couple of days on your own before tour and maybe after, and you'll get to enjoy the alone time too.
Pam - Sounds like a much more diverse group than I would have expected.
Gretchen - Good idea to check the demographics when booking time comes. My son says it wouldn't bother him, but given the choice I'm sure he'd be more comfortable having a few people closer to his own age.
stan - Good thoughts. Packing days on before or after makes a lot of sense.
Thanks all for the tips and advice!
I will also add that I am currently on a RS Ireland tour and there is not much diversity in this group. I am guessing at ages (always dangerous lol), but would say it's a range of mid 50s to mid 70s.
I think Gretchen has a great idea. Get the tour book when it comes out in Aug or so. I noticed a number of dates seemed to sell out after the tour reunion in Jan. Rick usually offers a discount for booking on that Sat too.
Hi Jeff, you've gotten some good advice already. I'm sure that traveling in late May through August will give you a better chance of finding tour members in your son's age range. I also think it has something to do with the tour you choose. I've taken 5 RS tours and in my experience the city tours attract more single, younger people (versus married couples). I think Venice/Florence/Rome in summer has a good chance of meeting your needs. Honestly, it doesn't really matter. The people who take the RS tours are all very nice, on vacation, and looking to have a good time. I've traveled solo on 3 of the 5 tours and didn't feel out of place. I'm sure you and your son will have a great time in Italy!
I agree with many of the comments so far - time of trip is obviously important. On the various R. Steves trip I've done they were mostly older folks with a few mother/daughter and father/daughter combos. A couple of honeymooners in the 20's on one tour, a few (very few) folks in their thirties. On the May-June and Sept-Nov tours I've taken, age skews quite old though. I have really enjoyed those tours with more age variety (and I'm not young!)
I understand that your son wants to go to Italy and the Venice/Florence/Rome tour is what he is looking for, but if you are concerned about the age issue, what about the Family 14 day Europe tour. It hits the three cities and you do go to Paris and other places. It may be what you are both looking for as far as families and young people. Just a thought since the tour does go to Italy. But if not, summer is a good time where you may have young people traveling with their families on the Italy tour. I do think that whatever tour you wind up doing, you both will enjoy it and be a special bonding time for both of you. Have a great time!
Jeff, I did the Venice/Florence/Rome tour and it is wonderful with plenty of time to explore on your own. We had two young men, one just graduated from high school and the other from college travelling with the mother. They fit in right away from day one and became a special part of the tour. Also most of the tour members were professionals in their mid 30s to 40s. I took the tour in June, while other tour I have take in winter and spring consisted of older forks with their ages between mid 50s and 60s. I am 70 and love having younger people on the tour. This tour has more down time and less travel, you will spent 3 night each in the three cites, arrive a couple days early in Venice and stay 3 to 4 days after the tour ends in Rome. It will give you lots of time to pre and post tour bonding with your son. Happy Travels.
We've been on five RS tours and I think they all had at least two or three people in the late teens and early twenties. None of them seemed to feel out of place. After a day or so they just fit right in. One thing we've observed on the RS tours is that everyone seems to assimilate into one really good group regardless of the ages. Hope this helps.
Rick's "My Way" tour might have more younger people on it. I went on My Way Europe last May and it was probably 40% 20 to 25 year olds - mostly girls. Maybe the office could give you better statistics. Family trips always have some teens and twenties as we'll.
Jeff, no worries! We just returned from the Venice/Florence/Rome tour and there were several twentysomethings in our group. I was with my wife and 22 year old daughter, and there was a family of three and a mother-daughter pair. There was also a family of four with two very well-behaved children: a teenager and an 11-year-old! Of course there were older couples in the group too, but everyone got along real well. Because the groups are small, it is easy to make friends. And Rick Steves tours are active, so all tour members are in good physical shape. Your son should not feel out of place!
My husband and I are in our 20's (He was in college when we went) and we went in May (off season) and we are going again!!! We were not the youngest person in our May group, we had a few mother/daughter, mother/son groups! We had a great time, and age didn't really play into our experience! We enjoyed all of our tour mates,
Just check out our tour scrapbook!!
Thanks all for all of the helpful comments and suggestions. We've decided the tour is definitely the way to go. My son and I were just discussing our plans last weekend and he mentioned he'd like to pack on some days up front in Paris and the Swiss Alps. Thank you Nicole for posting the beautiful album of your tour that covers exactly those sights as well as Italy. Lots of helpful information for us to digest. Thanks!