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Any advice for indivual traveler going on a RS Tours?

Next month I will be going alone on the Best of Germany tour and just wondering if any previous tour participants have any advice for me. I did not pay the extra supplement for a single room so I know I will be paired with other(s) in my group at each hotel. I'm just wondering what to expect as a individual tour member and how to make things as comfortable and pleasant as possible for everyone. Any advice, hints, or stories would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks ~Charles

Posted by
3460 posts

There is still a chance you may end up in a room alone. It just depends on how many other singles are on the tour, how many didn't pay the supplement, and if they are the same sex as you.

Also, if there are an odd number of singles who could share a room, you will rotate among them so you are not stuck with any one specific person the entire trip. This may allow you to have a room alone also for one or more stops on the trip.

As far as making things more comfortable, just talk over things with your roommate. Like who takes a shower when, letting them know if you have any medical issues which might cause you to be up and about in the room early or late, work out TV watching schedules, agree on a lights out and quiet time for the night and for waking in the morning. Most people can agree on these things to not disturb the other.

Finally, just because you have a roommate doesn't mean you become travel buddies. There is nothing wrong with heading out on your own or even with others from the tour if you find you don't like spending time with the person you end up sharing with.

Posted by
524 posts

This is not advice on how to get along with your roommate, but have you gotten your tour roster? Are there any singles? Also, you could call the tour office and try asking how many singles are on your tour that did not pay the single supplement. Who knows, you might win out and be the only single that didn't pay the supplement.

Posted by
860 posts

Hi Charles,
There have been a few threads on this topic in the past. You can search for those in the search bar at the top of the page.

I have been on two bus tours (one RS, one CIE) and I had so much fun I am going on Best of Italy in September. I do need some alone time so I paid extra for the single supplement. I believe that there are more female solos than males so there is a chance you will get your own room anyways (if no other male solos).

I found that both tour groups were full of friendly and pleasant travelers. Most were interested in meeting and interacting with others on the tour. I shared at least one meal with all of the participants. Many times I was invited to spend free time with another tour member(s). Even family groups traveling together split up at meals to meet and talk with others.

I do advise you to research the sites of your tour and have a list of things that you want to do during your free time. If you want company and the opportunity arises, go for it, but be prepared to do some activities that interest you on your own. My experience was that the least satisfied (but not dissatisfied) tour members were the one's that didn't know anything about the itinerary and didn't have ideas about what they wanted to see or do.

I love going on a tour on my own because I have some structure and pleasant company but also the freedom to make my own choices. At home everyone is used to me taking care of everything.

Have a great trip and come back to the forum afterward and write a trip report!

Posted by
902 posts

As said, this has been covered in various threads over the years, but I think and hope you'll have a great experience. Most tour members--if not all-- are welcoming to chatting with other tour members no matter whether they arrive solo or as couples, friends or family members. Make a point to eat breakfast at different tables in the mornings. Often others will invite you along to join them for lunch, dinner, or free time sightseeing or you can always say, "I'm going to visit X. Anyone else care to join me?" But always be prepared that there will be times you'll be on your own.

I only had a roommate on one tour. Once I lucked out and had my own room, other times paid the supplement, or was traveling with a sibling. I agree with the statement that you may not become best buds with your roommate, but cordiality wins the day, and it's okay if you strike out and do your own thing/take a break from each other by doing different free-time activities. Depending on number of singles you may even rotate roommates. If there are no other solo male travelers, I believe you'll get your own room unless you're paired with a male guide at some point.

I'd love to take this particular Germany tour at some point. Have a good time!

Posted by
1610 posts

Hi Charles, my advice, just do it! I’ve done 9 RS tours, half of them solo, and had a great time on every one. In my experience, the folks on your tour will be in vacation-mode and very welcoming to the others on the tour.

Group meals are no problem, everyone grabs a seat at the table and the conversations just take off. For other meals you can usually join up with others from the tour if you want to or just go off on your own. Not a problem.

I haven’t done Best of Germany yet (sounds wonderful) but on most tours you have limited free time. So, don’t worry about filling hours on your own. If you want time “off” from the tour, no problem. Just let the guide known that you’ll be opting out of an activity.

I love RS tours and am very thankful that he’s made it an option for single people to travel at a reasonable price. Please report back on your adventure!

Posted by
3333 posts

I just finished a tour as a solo traveler. I paid for the single supplement so I can't address roommate issues.

Some of my take aways:

If you want to join others for a meal, don't wait for them to ask you- go ahead and ask them.
If the group dinner has a lot of tables of 4 it gets tricky. I ended up at "the children's" table half the time. I should have just gone ahead and sat down at a table of 4.
Read your itinerary and know when there are blocks of free time. Have some ideas planned in advance of activities that you might want to do. When the tour is in a major city, there is less group going places together than out in the smaller towns and villages.

I have read a few horror stories on roommates and quite a few positive stories about them as well. I do think that you should pack whatever it takes for you to sleep in a noisy situation (snoring, CPAP, whatever) so that you won't be feel like you can't sleep. If you don't need it, fine. If you do need it, you'll be glad you brought it.

I think that you will find that the group of people you are with are very congenial and really enjoy this tour.

Posted by
1925 posts

I've been on 5 RS tours and have had 2 roommates I was assigned on two tours. Both ladies were very pleasant and congenial. We sometimes did things together in our free time and sometimes not. Neither lady snored loudly or had any other bad habits. It worked well for me. It is a toss of the dice and you need to be aware of that. Communicating calmly and clearly if there are any issues is imperative. If things are not resolved, go to the guide in private. I believe the RS guides will do all they can to help.
I agree with the other posters that it's best to ask others if you can join them or if they want to join you at meals. I found meals to be awkward sometimes as a solo at a table for an even number of people. I loved meeting so many people who love to travel and are interested and curious about the world! You will enjoy yourself!

Posted by
3751 posts

Agree with previous comments to have ideas each day of what you would like to do, so you can invite others (or not). When I took the Paris tour as a single traveler, a few of the single travelers didn’t have a plan and sort of continually expected others to help them. Other single travelers had a list and generally were more fun to talk to at the evening dinners, sharing what they did that day.

Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, be outgoing the first evening to meet your fellow travelers and set the tone that you’re there to have a great trip...and you will! The GAS tour was our first RS tour. We’ve returned since to many of the locations in Switzerland and Austria. Enjoy!

Posted by
218 posts

I went on the Munich/Salzburg/Vienna tour in May 2018 as a single paying the single supplement.

I very much agree with Jean's post "Be outgoing the first evening to meet your fellow travelers and set the tone that you’re there to have a great trip...and you will!" I am an introvert, but I made a point at the first meeting to jot down a few notes about each person, and I tried to learn 1-2 names/day.

When there were group dinners, if the tables held 4, it wasn't a big deal. At one dinner, the tour guide was the 4th at my table. At another dinner, one of the couples pulled up another chair so that table seated five.

I got to know both the other 2 single women in our group and the married couples. I did not feel at all left out because I was there on my own.

Posted by
57 posts

We loved the best of Germany tour. We did need an umbrella on occasion so I would pack one if you have one. We took the train to Schwerins castle on our jet Lag day and that was fun. You will have a great time.

Posted by
8203 posts

I agree with Jean and suggest you do some research ahead of time on what you might find interesting to see in your free time. I've had the experience she describes where there were some solo travelers who kind of depended on others to plan their non-group time. I do not mind at all having people join me and in fact will sometimes mention to others what I plan to do. However, I like others to be able to reciprocate and offer suggestions at other times. Sometimes they have turned up more interesting things than I had found!

Do try to spend time with everyone, both at meals, during sightseeing and on bus breaks. At breakfast if you've got the choice, sit at a larger table so others can join you. I've not been on the Germany tour so don't know if there are some breakfasts where the hotel wants to seat you or not.

Also do some research on restaurants for your non-group meal nights. Sometimes this is fruitful, sometimes you'll spot an interesting place either near the tour hotel or get a recommendation from the guide.

I love traveling on Rick Steves tours as a solo!

Posted by
1173 posts

Did you call the Rick Steves tour company and ask them if you will have a roommate. Now that you paid for the tour they will tell you if you do or don't. If you do you will not get the name of the person or persons that will be your roommates on the tour but you will at least know if you have a roommate or not before going on the tour. If there are more than one single male on the tour then you will have different roommates on the tour but if there is only one other male on the tour then, he will be your roommate for the whole tour. If there is a single male on the tour and he paid for the single supplement then you will have your own room too.

Posted by
14 posts

if you're going in a day or more ahead of the tour start, you might want to try to find out if there will be another single male on the tour. when i went to italy, both myself and my future roomie arrived the day before but the tour didn't tell us so we didn't have the chance to split the hotel for that extra night. so if the tour office won't tell you, you can put out another post with your specific tour & date and ask if anyone is arriving early etc.

Posted by
51 posts

I was solo on the Sicily tour in May. It was my first RS tour so I didn’t know what to expect. The group was all couples, me, and another solo. Our tour guide, Virginia, brilliantly requested two tables be set with an odd number of seats wherever we went. I never had to feel awkward about splitting up a couple. Often the other solo and I sat together by choice at breakfast, but we weren’t forced to always be together as we would if tables had only an even number of places.
If your guide doesn’t know this trick, you may want to suggest it.

Posted by
654 posts

I do think that you should pack whatever it takes for you to sleep in a noisy situation (snoring, CPAP, whatever) so that you won't be feel like you can't sleep.

My 1st 2 tours I did not pay the single supplement. On my 3rd tour I had a roommate, nice guy, who must have had sleep apnea. I'm not talking snoring. I'm talking stop breathing and then loud gasps as he tried to stay alive. I was more tired at the end of the tour than at the beginning from jet lag since I could not get a night's sleep. It pretty much ruined the trip for me. Yes, I had earplugs jammed in, they did not help. In the future I will happily pay the single supplement.

Posted by
62 posts

I did my first RS tour in April, Best of Europe 14 days. I paid the single supplement and I'm about to do the Athens and Greece tour in September and paid the single supplement again. My tour group were great and very inclusive of singles, I was lucky and there were 7 solo travellers so we all became friends and did things together but the couples always checked to see if any of us wanted to join them. I hope my next group is like that, it was one of my best vacations ever and my first solo and on a tour!

I would recommend paying the supplement, as a mature adult I really enjoyed getting into my room to chill out after a busy day and relax. Jet lag makes it difficult for a while to sleep so I always needed to read a while with the light on. I am also a light sleeper and the thought of someone keeping me awak snoring all night would have ruined my trip! Everyone has a different level of tolerance though!

Have fun!

Lynn

Posted by
137 posts

I've done 5 RSE trips solo and 6 trips w/people I met on RSE--we enjoyed each other's company and were able to travel together on other tours. One of my roommates and I were so compatible we traveled together independently and w/RSE until cancer ended her life. My reason for choosing RSE trips initially was that there was no single supplement making travel affordable. I once split a single supplement with 2 other travelers and we rotated the single room throughout the trip. Don't try and travel as a triple w/o splitting a single supplement-as I learned from experience (3 adults in a "doll house" requiring you to call out when you were getting up from the bed (dosey-doe your partner) - 2 twins and a cot designed for a short child, luggage needed to be stored, and slept with, on your tiny bed because there was no place to put it - and the bathroom/shower situation was miserable trying to get ready on time).

The courtesy suggestions written by the first person responding to your post are critical when rooming with a stranger. My first trip I had a roommate for the entire trip. I announced at the first group meeting that I would love to share meals with others and even made reservations for our free time. This worked very well. My roommate and I got along, although she was terribly disappointed when she went on her day off with other travelers and never saw the item high on her list because they prioritized their sights higher. Don't be afraid to go off on your own to see what you want to see independently. I have experienced a number of couples with the mindset that singles are a nuisance and you should be prepared to change your seat at a table, in a gathering, at a site, etc., so that the couple can be together. I don't play that game. I pleasantly but firmly stand my ground.

On my second trip, there were 5 singles and we rotated rooms; however, when it was clear that one of the singles was opposed to bathing and smoked in the room, we 4 agreed to give her the single room for the remainder of the trip but had to involve the guide after the guide tried to force one of us to continue to room with her. It was on this trip I met my travel buddy and we traveled together for several years.

My next solo trip I roomed with a very pleasant person; while we did not travel together after or become best friends, we got along just fine.

The next solo trip I had the roommate from H-E-double L. Heavy perfume user. Would not compromise. Ordered me where to put luggage, which bed I could sleep in, what I should wear while criticizing my wardrobe, monopolized (locked herself in) the bathroom every morning from 4:30 am until 7:30 am and only grudgingly let me in to use the toilet after begging, constantly complained about other tour members, the guide, the tour, the activity levels, being responsible for her own luggage, refused to let me open a window or turn on a fan or A/C, and so much more. I'm used to trying to make sure everything is comfortable and pleasant for my roommate and I didn't want to be known as "the grump", so I let it fester, didn't spend time in the room, but finally blew up at her at the end. My bad. When you have a crappy roommate, involve the guide early on. Fortunately I met a wonderful traveler on this trip and we've taken other tours together plus she introduced me to another like minded traveler.

My last solo RSE trip was several years ago and for the first time, I was the only solo traveler. I missed the camaraderie that a roommate can provide. It was a shorter trip and I didn't get a chance to gel with some of the couples until closer to the end. I'd be a bit more extroverted at the beginning if I had to do it over. I'm contemplating another solo trip soon and am considering "chancing" it and not paying the single supplement since it really eats into my budget. I've paid single supplement on other non-RSE tours where there was no choice-hard on the budget. Happy travels!

Posted by
30 posts

I went on my first RS tour last year-I was the only solo traveler-I paid the solo supplement-but, I am still confused-why did I pay extra when most of my hotel rooms were a single narrow bed-room small as a closet? It was a trip to Italy so maybe Italian hotels are like that. The guide was great and many of my fellow travelers were friendly-but most had their own agenda which was mostly exclusive. It was my first trip alone, so I was pretty “green”at asking to be included!
If there’s a next RS tour for me, I might lean on the guide a bit more for advice!

Posted by
21 posts

My first RS was the Heart of Greece and I paid for the solo since I knew I didn't want a roommate by chance. Compared to other tours their single supplement is very inexpensive. It was wonderful! This is a very compatible group of travelers. We all have to sign the no grumps contract, right?! My next was a My Way France with my sister and brother-in-law and I did the single supplement then, too. Also wonderful. Next I am going to do the Best of Paris, as a single. As mentioned a couple times above, plan what you want to do on the free time of the tour. There may be others interested in the same thing or you can go on your own. This aspect is one of the reasons I booked my first tour. The amount of free time and the lack of a lock-step itinerary and the ability to go off on your own is very rewarding.

As for meals, either my memory is poor, or else there wasn't a problem with joining any couple or set of couples or any variation of fellow travelers. There was one other solo in Greece but she really kept to herself completely. The guide also kept aware of who dined with whom and did a great job of mixing us up.

Posted by
85 posts

I went alone on 3 tours and didn't pay the supplement. I ended up with my own room most of the time, but this was 15+ years ago. I had no problems with the roommates when I was sharing.

My experience was that if there's a problem at all, it will be with the other members. As you're alone, people will ask a lot of questions about your personal life. If this bothers you, be prepared to put them off politely.