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Average age of Rick Steves' tour members

Hello all.

My wife and I have been on two different Rick Steves' Tours, the Best of Europe in 14 Days Tour in 2013, and the Best of the Adriatic in 14 Days Tour. Both were fantastic, and I have no complaints at all, in fact, they are highlights of my life so far.

I'm 46, and found that I was the very nearly the youngest member of both tour groups, and nearly everyone else was at retirement age. Some of this is easily explained by socio-economic factors. Retired people have more time, and sometimes more money, and the tours are not exactly budget travel.

I want to make sure that I'm clear - everyone on our tours were great, and we had a wonderful time. I was just a little bit surprised by this. I don't have any issues hanging out with people older or younger than myself. But it did make me curious.

Was my experience typical? What is the average age of Rick Steves' tour participants? Does it vary by destination or between "standard" tours and My Way tours?

What have your experiences been?

Posted by
7268 posts

On the 2 tours I have done, your age probably would have been nearer the median, rather than the youngest.

Money and time availability definitely are factors.

Would likely be a bit time consuming for RS staff to track all their tours and produce a mean and median age for all the tours. Would not surprise me if they do for marketing purposes.

If RS has that info, its a question of if they want to share it or if they consider it proprietary and do not want their competitors to have it. So its unlikely we will ever get an accurate answer. from RS

The forum can have fun offering opinions and observations of the tours one has taken.

Posted by
4526 posts

malcolmpdx, Your experience matches mine. I typically travel in May. I suspect the summer tours have a younger average age,

Posted by
373 posts

Our 4 tours have been a good mix. We've had teen somethings, 30 somethings, 40 somethings, 50, somethings, 60 somethings, and 70 somethings. I'd say, though, because of the nature of RS tours, there's always been a young at heart vibe, no matter the "age." And the tours attract an independent and active group.

Posted by
8080 posts

I agree that the summer tours and perhaps the more strenuous tours mght have a younger group.

I’ve done 8 and the youngest overall group was late May -Heart of Italy - but that was slightly skewed since 2 of the younger folks were my nephews, ages 20and 25!

Next youngest was GAS which started the end of August. That one is a bit more difficult to get to the starting point so I expect this puts some people off.

Oldest and least active group I’ve encountered was 7-day Heart of Paris. I was shocked because some people took days off and apparently just stayed around the hotel. I never want to miss a minute so I do everything that is offered on the tour! Plus that one is just 7 days - 5 really once you take out the partial day on Day 1 and nothing but breakfast on the last day.

Posted by
6554 posts

Don't take a Holland America cruise. On our Ft. Lauderdale to Rome trip a year ago, the average age was around 85. Go to dinner, and there is a sea of wheelchairs and walkers at the door. One couple even brought "Daddy" with them.

Posted by
33 posts

My husband and I are the same age as you, and we've only been on one RS tour so far - back in May 2016. But as far as age goes, we were about middle of the pack. There were several others about our age, many older, and a few in their late teens/early twenties. Great bunch!

Posted by
2259 posts

I have taken 9 RS tours so far, mostly in the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. On all there have been some younger people, often younger relatives of upper middle-age or older travelers, such as teenage or twenties kids or grandkids. Some middle-aged couples, friends or siblings/cousins. On my last tour, RS Greece in early June 2016, there were 7 tour members under 40, younger adults, of about 25 total. I imagine that summer tours have more still-working teachers and students of various ages, and of course the family tours have, well, families.

Posted by
2246 posts

Don't take a Holland America cruise. On our Ft. Lauderdale to Rome trip a year ago, the average age was around 85. Go to dinner, and there is a sea of wheelchairs and walkers at the door. One couple even brought "Daddy" with them.

Yes. Old people and the mobility-impaired should be avoided at all costs.

I hope I am physically able to go on a cruise when I'm around 85 - and I won't apologize for my walker or wheelchair. My daddy struggled to walk when he was in his 90's - don't care if it put you out.

Posted by
4495 posts

We've been on 11 RS tours, and the age range has been from 12 to 80+. (We're late 60s, early 70s.) I'd say the average age on the tours we've taken has been 40-something. We've never been the oldest on our tours, and certainly never the youngest. We were on one tour years ago where everyone "looked like us," but that was the exception. There are almost always folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s, .... And we've been on tours with at least 6 teens and their parents. Our last tour, Village Italy last summer, there were 4 people in their 70's, maybe 3 in their 60s, and the rest ranged from 16 to 50 or so. Most in their 40s.

We prefer tours with a good mix of ages. Makes for interesting interactions and conversations.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the replies everyone. It seems as if my experiences were atypical. We traveled in September and May, just for completeness.

Posted by
2601 posts

Like others have mentioned their is a mix of age groups and a multitude of variables that attracts people to a particular tour. We always enjoy the variety of ages. We can learn & benefit from each other.

I recently asked at RS headquarters "what is the average age on the tours?" I was told age 60. "This could be skewed due to an active tour like Greece." Hmmm, we were the oldest on that tour! Loved it.

Posted by
2428 posts

Your experience is probably closer to average. We’ve been on 7 RS tours and while many had folks your age and younger they were in the minority. Many over 50, most over 60, and a smattering north of 70.

Posted by
815 posts

I have only been on three RS tours....two more back to back in about 3-4 weeks. (8 day Ireland & 10 day Scotland).

My first RS tour was in August 2014 14day Ireland..... I celebrated my 56 birthday on the Aran Islands. I was the youngest on the trip. no kids. all couples except a few singles who traveled with someone, (me & my sister) or totally as a single. We had about 26ish mates.

My second with my Husband (his first) in April 2016 to Holland and Belgium. 18 tour members due to the Belgium bombing some cancelled out..... ages ranged from 50 to 70.

My third was Barcelona and madrid June 2017... about 26 tour members. One family with two young daughters, family with grown kids, couples and 4 women who traveled together, 2 who traveled together. Ages were 10 to 70.

My next two tours upcoming both have 27 tour members and one other couple besides us are doing both tours.

Posted by
1200 posts

Looks like my wife and I will be among the oldest couples when we go on back to back RS tours this spring (our first, we are normally independent travelers) as we are both well north of 70. However, I think it will the younger ones trying to keep up with us. We both walk about 8 miles every day, and I do mean EVERY day. On a flat, indoor track I can do a 13 min 40 sec mile. Oh, by the way there is a 90 year old woman at the gym that I have a hard time keeping up with.

Posted by
27 posts

“David, we actually like the Holland America company because they have nice libraries and great enrichment programs. In the evenings we enjoy having the entire ship to ourselves! Great star gazing.”

We have been on 3 cruises with them and are taking another one in August. We have been to Europe 7 times, some trips with RS and some on our own. Every once in awhile we like the luxury of a cruise. I hope when I am 90 I can still get around with a walker and continue to travel with the cruise industry!

Posted by
79 posts

I would think in the summer there would be younger members on the tour because they are not in school. I took a tour in July and there were 4 high school students plus 3 teachers also on summer break.

Posted by
4495 posts

Shawn, I love this:

I'd say, though, because of the nature of RS tours, there's always been a young at heart vibe, no matter the "age." And the tours attract an independent and active group.

I definitely agree. We were on an active RS tour with a woman who was in her 80s, and kept up with the rest, ahead of some who were probably 40 years younger than she.

Posted by
6630 posts

I'm a bit younger than you and that was my experience too on the one tour I took. Except for the two guides, the next oldest person was at least 10 years older and then it really took off from there. For what it's worth, I don't think Rick feels any special urge to reach out to younger folks - he has his niche and it will keep the tours going (it's quite amazing how much of a share of his tours are repeat customers as opposed to brand new ones).

As others have written, I think you would see a different distribution of folks based on season (when kids are in school vs. not in school). It would be more useful too look at median age across all tours and stratified by season (the average will get really skewed, so median is better). My experience is that people my age just don't go on guided tours (even though many travel a lot) and the "why" depends on their situation. If they have kids, they they are tied to vacations while kids are not in school and they tend to be family-oriented vacations (which could include tours, but it would be a stretch to have so much vacation as to see two sets of families and then allow for a 2 week tour). Of course, the price and cultural interests self-selects some people on RS tours. Then single people probably travel off-season (if on a tour), travel independently, or with a significant other. Often, building up a career and availability of vacation time are barriers. For me at this point in my life, I'm more interested in more outdoor, nature, or physically active travel while my body can still take it. I love hiking/trekking and other things that require some stamina. Those types of tours are a totally different market segment from cultural tours like Rick Steves. My family lives in Europe and I feel like I can easily see Europe on my own, so I reserve tours for places where I feel I could not navigate anywhere as easily or where I'd like company (it's not a good idea to do multi-day hiking alone).

Posted by
3704 posts

Our first RS tour was during Summer, so we had some younger school teachers and a few college students. The rest were 45 - 70 years old. The next trip which was during a September had 40- 75 year olds. One of the oldest participants was in superb physical shape, swimming at Cinque Terre and hiking all over. The RS Paris trip was during an August and was a mix of all ages.

Personally, I really don’t pay attention to age. It’s very similar to my work environment where I’m working with other engineers who span several generations, and we have interests in common. In the case of the RS tours, it’s an interest in travel and learning new culture experiences, photography, food, etc.

Posted by
299 posts

My spouse is 60 and I am 62 but often we feel that we are the most energetic and enthusiastic on RS tours. Don't stereotype those of retirement age because we can be healthier and more physically fit than younger participants. A 30-something woman on our Best of Paris tour spent half of the tour in the hotel suffering the sniffles. Some of the 50-something participants were dragged onto the tour by their adult children and didn't really want to be there. A 40-something woman whined about the guide's detailed discussion of Monet's work at the Orangerie(!). Age is not the best assessment of those on tours. Many retired people are pursuing what interests them the most and will be the most engaged.

Posted by
3453 posts

I have been on 10 RS tours. Some have had nothing but people older than I was, some have a mix of all ages. I do believe that the time of year does influence the makeup of the group. And since Rick is getting to be retirement age as well, why not have people of that age on the tours?

The mid summer tours I have taken (Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland) had in some cases multiple family group with teen age children and parents in their 40's. The others were during school and did have an older bunch. My very first tour had a 20 ish couple on the honeymoon trip (they had a blast!). But it didn't matter. All tour members were used to being active, enjoyed the walking, had a lot of interesting things to talk about, and were just overall fun people. OK, there were a scattered few that verged on being grumps (the husband who was on the tour because his wife forced him, the heavy drinker who just couldn't understand why he couldn't smoke in museums, the nice older woman who would literally run over you to be at the front of the line for any alcohol tastings, to name a few) but they all kept up and were never late.

Posted by
2787 posts

I have taken 14 RS tours over the last 16 years and will be taking two more in May/June. We started in 2001 when I was 55 and I remember being in the middle of the age group. Now at 70s I find myself in the top tier. We have seen very few tour members younger than 40 in our last few tours. I would imagine that the age group is younger in the summer when school is out but we choose to travel in May or September, except for one tour to the Scandinavian area which we took in the summer. I now see more and more retired folks in the middle to higher income levels. Regardless of age, I can only remember two times when any tour members did not fit the RS typical mode. One middle aged couple did not read the fine print of RS tours and due to their behavior will not be taking any more RS tours. The other time was when one fellow acted like a real jerk for most of the tour and was thus avoided by other tour members. He announced at the final dinner that he was a very recent recovering alcoholic and apologized for
behavior. We have made lasting friendships on most all of our tours and look forward to our next two.

Posted by
113 posts

I have been on 2 RS tours. I am now 50 and will going on my third tour in a month. I travel as a single and have never been the youngest. I would say the age groups were 30s to late 70s. I don't usually have any issue getting along with any age group. Everyone did everything unless they were sick. My first RS tour, we had several get quick stomach flu and one had blisters so bad it was hard to walk the mountain trails on my GAS tour. I am good to do things with group of by myself. Don't let an age thing keep you from traveling. Safe travels and have fun.

Posted by
408 posts

Seems like someone asks this every month or so. We have been on 5 RS tours. Two without our kids and three with our kids. We have done shorter trips (week long or 10 days) with the one exception of 14BOE. On each tour there have been people of all ages. My kids have been the only kids except the BOE14 when there were three families on the tour. (Teens) this was not a family tour. We are now planning our next tour. We will bring our kids too who are now a young adult and older teen. We love the mix of ages. If you would like a younger tour group there are groups that cater to that demographic. I have had friends go on those trips and they enjoyed them. We have gone on the trips either in the summer, fall, or over Thanksgiving.

Posted by
762 posts

I have taken 6 tours. Age ranges 13-83-ish; none were family tours. Each tour is so different and I find many times retirees more than 10years older than me are 10 times fitter than me.

Posted by
21043 posts

Give David a break. He was just being a little dramatic. While Holland Am does have a bit of a reputation for older travelers but they are all nice. We have been on seven HA cruises in Europe and never saw more than hand full of walkers or wheel chairs. About half the time had our teenage sons with us and they always someone to talk to. In fact one summer the college age son found a year long relationship after the cruises. If the time comes, we will take our walker if necessary. Please don't fall over it.

Posted by
11450 posts

Only been on one RS tour , average age would be about 30 !! Reason being it was a Family Europe tour. There were 14 kids under 17 , and most parents were between 35- 45, so you can see how it would average out !

Posted by
3168 posts

I just read a Boston Globe interview with Andy Steves that was done last year as a means of promoting Andy Steves' "on the side" business (his words). When asked how his business differs from his father's, Andy Steves mentioned the target age of his father's business which he defined at "45 plus". The interview was quite informative.

Q. You recently expanded your tours to include the post-college
market. Does this mean you’ll be competing with your father?

A. My dad does excellent tours, but he’s going for the 45-plus market. A 27-year-old doesn’t really identify with Rick’s tours or our
students tours. So I feel like there’s an opportunity for budget tours
for people in their 20s and 30s.

**

Q. What do you think is the biggest difference between travel in your
father’s era and now?

A. Technology. You can search for cheap flights, meet locals, keep in
touch with other travelers. I find all my lodging at Airbnb and
Hostelworld.

Q. Is it intimidating to be compared to your father?

A. There is no comparison. He’s an internationally known brand and I’m
doing my thing on the side.

Posted by
5 posts

“Don't take a Holland America cruise. On our Ft. Lauderdale to Rome trip a year ago, the average age was around 85. Go to dinner, and there is a sea of wheelchairs and walkers at the door. One couple even brought "Daddy" with them.*

Yes. Old people and the mobility-impaired should be avoided at all costsemphasized text.
I hope I am physically able to go on a cruise. I'm around 85 - and I won't apologize for my walker or wheelchair. My daddy struggled to walk when he was in his 90's - don't care if it put you ou
t.

My husband and I are in our middle and upper 70s. We’re saving cruising for when we can no longer walk and still have money left -haha.

Posted by
21 posts

Having read all the comments on the Best of Paris tour, I am wondering if I made a good choice. This will be my 3rd RS tour and the age range was never a concern to me. I have been to Paris many times but chose to do a tour #1 love RS tours and #2 the itinerary would give me a more in depth view of parts of Paris I have only wandered in on previous visits without really understanding the areas. Also, the way the tour is structured I can continue to flaneur on my own.

Posted by
887 posts

On our Greece tour there were 5 of us in our late 20s to 30s. For our upcoming GAS tour I'm guessing my husband and I will be the youngest in our mid-30s.

Posted by
8080 posts

"Having read all the comments on the Best of Paris tour, I am wondering if I made a good choice."

@mllager, one of the comments was likely mine. I should not have judged those people for taking days off but it just shocked me that people would do that on a tour that just lasted a week. Maybe they were the spouse who didn't really want to come to Paris and were trying to please someone else?? I will say their staying at the hotel did not impact me at all! This tour was active and can be made more active based on what you choose to do in your free time. It gave me a wonderful understanding of Paris and now I can't get enough! My guide was Rolinka who is just fabulous and energetic! You also have quite a bit of free time to use sightseeing.

On your Versailles day, I'd encourage you to spend the whole day there. Many went back to Paris mid-afternoon but another tour member and I stayed on and came back home about 6PM. The guide gives you your train tickets so after the group tour of the Palace you are on your own anyway.

We have done 2 tours, heart of Italy and Best of Spain, both in September and while generally an older crowd like us mid sixtys, there were certainly younger people along, both groups were terrific, the tours are designed around lots of walking so everyone is fit and all have great attitudes, everyone feels welcome, no whiners, no grumps, everyone worked to be good companions which made for great trips. the tours are designed to appeal to inquiring minds, and to the sheer delight of discovery. there was a lady on our last tour who used a walking stick and she outpaced many, with never a complaint.

Posted by
1 posts

"Having read all the comments on the Best of Paris tour, I am wondering if I made a good choice."

@mllager.

I went on the Best of Paris tour and loved it! I'm 46, the group was diverse in age. I would say majority older than me but I was not the youngest. There were some people in their 30s. Everyone participated in everything except one family had a daughter who was living there so they missed one event and there was one older couple who had been to Paris WITH RS before so they didn't do a few things - but it was a friendly, enthusiastic bunch. It's a shorter tour, but add a day on the end and the beginning and do some other things on your own. For full disclosure I've done one other tour - 9 Day Best of Rome, Florence, Venice. Again it was a diverse age group. I was 45 and on the younger end but there were at least 4 people definitely in their 30s and people not much older then me. And all very young at heart. Shorter tours may have more non-retirees because they can get a week off of work but maybe not two weeks. That's just a guess.

Posted by
4495 posts

I haven't been keeping up with this thread, since we've been on a 21 Day BOE tour, but I wanted to jump in. Our tour (which just ended a couple of days ago,) had 28 people, with an age range of 45 to 81. Young at heart was the order of the day! A few people had trouble keeping up ( mobility issues), but the older folks did fine, often leading the group in enthusiasm.

I'll post more about our tour later; DH and I are still in Europe, enjoying amazing weather in Leiden.

Posted by
7 posts

My experiences have been that the groups fall into the 50 to 70 age group, although two of our trips were shoulder and one, Best of Paris was in the winter so we wouldn't feel guilty about spending so much time indoors. While I'm past 70, the older members know their limits and are up for the trips.

What distinguishes the groups is the high educational level and 'loose' attitudes about everything. Nothing bothers them. The Paris trip was at a very high level, with the following guides building on the preceding guides; it was more mentally than physically tiring.

Posted by
3503 posts

Ted made a significant, but often overlooked point when he said, "The Paris trip was at a very high level...; it was more mentally than physically tiring."

Taking in what you see and hear can be exhausting for anyone of any age. That's why some people have an aversion to visiting museums. They simply get worn out from all the sensory input.

Posted by
3 posts

I have gone on 3 RS tours and going on my 4th. I am a few years younger than you are, and in all my trips there have either been families with college age young adults, couples my age, a mother/daughter pair with the daughter in her late 20s/early 30s, and also a 10yr old kid. I think it also depends on when you take the trips. I always take my RS trips end of August. So still considered 'summer time'. I've taken the Paris tour, VFR tour, and Barca/Madrid tour. This August I am taking the Basque Country Tour and I will be assuming I will be the youngest on that one.

Posted by
889 posts

You’ll be fine with the Paris tour. I’m in my 40s and have mostly taken the city RS tours. It’s been a true mix of ages. I work in a project-based field and it’s tough to take more than a week to a week and a half of vacation at a time. I would guess many of my working age peers are in the same boat.