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Basic prep for the RS Germany/Austria/Switz Tour

Not too much experience traveling, especially on a trip that will include considerable walking/hiking, but I will be on the RS GAS tour. It sounds awesome, but need some prep advice.

First off, given the hiking part, I'm seeing I should have some kind of low cut hiking shoe - going to an outdoor place to check some out. Then, should I just have another pair of regular Rockport-type casual shoes as my "other shoe". Are those 2 shoe types enough?

Second, what about wearing shorts - temps won't be too hot, see that shorts are not too common in Europe, so leaning towards no shorts, but then what would be the best pants to wear for the hikes and walks? Will docker type pants cover all my needs for the entire trip?

Third, as we travel through the 3 countries, when will I be "taxed" the most in carrying my luggage? Besides airports, I guess the travel from the train in Trier to the hotel could be a distance, but beside that, won't the rest of the trip be going from the tour bus to the hotel with your luggage, which I assume won't be too far, or am I wrong? I'm thinking of getting a backpack as my main piece, and wondering exactly where that would come in handy compared to a wheeled piece.

All advice appreciated!

Posted by
5981 posts

Yanksteve, you don't say when you are going. It makes a difference as far as shorts.
Don't overthink the hiking. It can be as difficult or easy as you want, and optional anyway. There are trails in Mürren for all comfort levels, and not worth taking a pair of hiking shoes just for that one day. I only had one pair of shoes for the whole trip. Dockers work as well as any other pants. Everyone has at least one opinion on backpack vs roller. Pros & cons to either. I prefer backpack because it leaves both hands free, but most people seem to prefer rollers. Yes rail station to Trier hotel was longest walk, but the hardest part is going up and down stairs with a bag, not walking long distances.

Posted by
2525 posts

Shoes that are comfortable, broken-in and with lug soles work well for me. I use either something akin to a trail running shoe or low-cut day hiker boots. Any good walking shoe would suffice for the trails most people experience on this trip. I always take one combination nylon hiking/swim shorts regardless of the expected weather. The debate about which bag to select is endless with devotees on all sides. Me? A backpack of many years and until I can't manage such.

Posted by
2788 posts

I have taken the GAS tour a couple of years ago. I have also taken another 11 RS tours, one each summer when I spend about a month in Europe. I have always taken one pair of Clark's Air Movers shoes (no longer made) and they have always work just fine on that GAS tour. I also take a pair of good quality sandals. I also take a pair of traveling slippers for use in the rooms. I also take a pair of zip-off pants (ExOfficio) which allow me to convert long pants to shorts which I often do. These shorts also act as a swim suit for me. I have taken a RS 21" roller bag on all of my trips since they first came out. I have never had a problem using that bag and I chose that type since I have a back problem that precludes me wearing a back pack. When I encounter stairs, I merely pick up the suitcase by its handle. No problems. GAS is one of our favorite RS tours. Hope you enjoy it.

Posted by
266 posts

You are going to love this tour! The hubby and I did it two years ago, leaving late June and coming home early July. The weather was somewhat iffy. It rained a few days, and was sunny a few. Definitely pack a small umbrella and a rain jacket. A fleece layer works well underneath, especially since you're going to the Schilthorn.

Don't over think the shoes too much. One pair of tennis shoes or walking Merrills will be fine. Murren hiking is on trails, and unless it poured for days before, the trails will be fairly nice. We also took a pair of Teva sandals for the nicer weather days. I think you will find a lot of walking, stopping, then waiting. If you don't want to walk up to Neuschwanstein or Berg Eltz Castles there are buses for a small fee.

The hubby took zip off pants, although I don't recall him ever wearing them as shorts. He did wear jeans and cargo shorts, although Dockers will work well enough. Take a pair of shorts, just in case. Also, take swim trunks because the Caracalla therme water park and sauna in Baden Baden is a MUST DO!!! This is not the Roman baths where they put mud on you and scrape it off (it was closed), but a swimming/spa environment with jacuzzis, saunas, and swimming pools. Some people may be scared off because of the clothing optional part, but that's upstairs and out of the way, completely isolated, and totally separate.

We had backpacks as well, and were very happy we had them. It was much easier to walk up the stairs with our packs than to wait for the elevator with everyone else. Besides the walk from the train station in Trier, the walk from the gondola in Murren to the hotel is through town, and packs will be easier. Plus you don't have to worry about rolling the wheels into any one or anything. Go to REI and have them fit you. We are so happy we did, plus we practiced carrying them and filling them. In fact, we'll be taking them on the Athens and the Heart of Greece tour in June.

Handy tips: Plan for a concert while in Salzburg. You can scout this ahead of time, but there are so many the guide will be able to help you. We went to the Mirabel palace, and it was lovely. Also do the bike ride along the river, out the SOM gazebo. Even if you're not a fan of the movie, the bike ride is wonderful and the scenery is stunning!
If you have a chance, go to the bone-church in Halstatt, although that could interfere with the salt mines. We skipped the mines in favor of a lingering lunch over the beautiful lake and a meandering walk through the town. I think that was the only down time we took.
Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is beautiful, and very easy to find using the subway. We bought our tickets when we got there, then took the time to walk up to the Gloriette for the most stunning views.

Posted by
93 posts

Yanksteve, You will just love the GAS tour. We were on the GAS tour last fall starting Sept 29. My husband and I walk on a regular basis with weather permitting. We average three four miles daily and tried to add extra hills leading up to the trip. We never found the walking an issue any day. We wore our regular walking shoes daily on tour. Whatever gives you good sport. We each took an wonderful wonderful pair of older shoes with us and did wear those on the North Face hike in Murren. We did that because the ground was a little damp that day. Our shoes got just a little bit damp and dirty. We had planned to wear the shoes if we ran into rain any day. Once we were done with Switzerland and the hiking there we left the old shoes behind. We made the space for gifts. We stayed at the at hotel Jungfrau. in Murren. The cowbells out the windows were wonderful. I recored them on my iphone and use it as my alarm wake up call. Its great...Our tour guide offered the choice of going on the North Face hike or plan B. I don't even remember what plan B was if we were in Switzerland we were going hiking.. About 7 of us went. It was Oct 3 and the weather was outstanding we were all down to long sleeve t-shirts half way through the hike. Someone on the hike suggested we rent hiking poles I had not even considered that but it turned out the hotel owner had ski poles in a closet that he allowed us to borrow. Several of us each took one. I don't think it was needed but was handy to have and made for outstanding photos.. Rolinka, our tour guide suggested we pack lunch and water and showed us where to find supplies... Most packed sandwiches we packed just fruit and water and did just fine with that. Remember sunscreen..Everyday of the tour got better than the day before. I would go to bed at night wonder how life could be any better than today..but tomorrow was always just as exciting if not better. The only thing that wasn't our WOW was Octoberfest.. It was the last weekend of Octoberfest and the crowds were unbelievable. It was still worth seeing and now we can say been there done that..... Pack light and then take out a few items out. We did do laundry every few days in the rooms. It was so easy. We both took small 21 inch rolling bag. We thought it was easier to pull it rather than carrying on our shoulders. Either way works and by the end of the trip you will be glad to put it way until the next trip.. The stairs in the hotels were the worst time for bags..Another reason to pack light.
Enjoy everyday..
Sue

Posted by
99 posts

Thanks for all the comments.

Will be touring the end of May/early June.

So what about dinner clothes? How many "nice clothes" should I bring while keeping the packing light?

Also, are these day packs pretty useful while walking around the towns to keep some basics stuff in and any things you might buy.

Speaking of buying stuff - are these towns/villages set up to Fedex things back home?

Posted by
5981 posts

Y-S, the dinners are informal. Most people wear what they wore during the day.

As far as daypacks, well, how else will you carry a bottle of water, camera, guidebook, etc., as you are walking around? A plastic bag will work too, but day packs make sense. Sure all the cities on the tour will have post offices, but it will be expensive to send things home. Very expensive from Switzerland. Bring an empty duffel in your carryon, and fill it up with your souvenirs, check it on the flight home.

Posted by
96 posts

Great advice from everyone! Thank you. My wife & I will be taking the GAS tour (our 1st RS tour) May 19 -- June 1. All you suggestions will help greatly.

Posted by
91 posts

Yanksteve,

I am a 6 time RS traveler including GAS in 2012.
Have always used a Merrell Vibram walking shoe (not a boot) for the trips which has worked well in both city walks and outdoor hikes. 2nd shoe is a very lightweight closed toe sandal from Keen. Comfortable and easy to pack.

Started with Dockers but have changed to the zip-off style pants (Kuhl or Eddie Bauer brands) on more recent trips as they are lighter weight and I could decide day by day what to wear, or convert during the day. We did GAS in August, but I think I was in long pants most, maybe all, of the trip.

Yes, you want a day pack to carry an umbrella, windbreaker jacket, guidebook pages, local city map, water bottle, etc., and have some space for those "in the moment" purchases.

We have used the RS 21 inch roller bag that has straps to convert it to a pack back. Honestly, I have used it as a back pack only a handful of times. I will carry them up stairs or over rougher cobblestone walks when we are not rolling them, but most of the trips we rolled them the majority of the time. As others have said, it is more of a personal choice.

"Nice clothes" are definitely not needed or advised. Comfortable is the key. Golf / Polo collared shirts are fine for eating out.

Hope you have a great trip. We loved the various activities and locations. If you are OK with heights, paragliding off of the cliff near Murren was a highlight for me personally! Your guide or hotel staff can arrange it for you.

Posted by
99 posts

Thanks for great detailed responses.

What about accumulating purchased stuff? (The dollar is strong , lol)

I think someone said just bring a duffle bag to fill that you can then check on return flight. I was thinking of a cuckoo clock, but will I be dragging that around the rest of the day while seeing the sights - just wanting to figure out the mechanics of being out and about and the best way to buy things without getting weighed down. Maybe go back to make the purchase on my own later?

Posted by
5981 posts

Yanksteve, most shops will ship a cuckoo clock to your home and save you the hassle of carrying it with you. Not inexpensive, but may be worth the peace of mind. You'll want to fill your duffle with wine and chocolate.

Posted by
33 posts

Any large purchases can be stored in the bus for the length of the tour.

I found the steepest climb was from the Murren gondola terminal up the steep inclines to the hotel..,
the trails were no problem!

Posted by
33 posts

Any large purchases can be stored in the bus for the length of the tour.

I found the steepest climb was from the Murren gondola terminal up the steep inclines to the hotel..,
the trails were no problem!