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Best of Europe 21 Day Tour Solo

Has anyone ever done this tour solo? Did you pay the $925 single supplement or were you required to share a room with another tour member? What were the accommodations like where you stayed? I am a 73 year old man who is 6'1" and 220 pounds and anything less than a double bed is not comfortable. I also snore (or so I am told) and don't want to disturb another traveler. I figured that with the cost of the tour, the single supplement, the meals, entrance cost to attractions not included in the tour, and my airfare it will end up costing me close to $9,000-10,000. For those of you who have taken this tour is it worth the expense? I have taken my family traveling independently on three two week trips to Europe in the past 10 years, but this one will be solo. Thanks.

Jim

Posted by
116 posts

Jim - I've taken 5 of my RS tours solo, including Best of Europe 14 days (not the 21 day). I didn't pay the single supplement on the first two solo tours and luckily had a private room the first time as I was the only solo male that tour, but I had to share a room (but separate beds) with another solo traveler the second time. The only way to ensure a private room when travelling solo is with the supplement. The cost of the single supplement is high but worth it to me to have the convenience of getting up and going to sleep undisturbed when I choose.
All the hotels were fine with me (safe, clean, and with good bathroom facilities) and all the beds were full size/double, including in the room I shared.
One thing to do when you first check in to each of your rooms, go into the bathroom and get in and out of the shower. I had one bathroom in Rome that was a tight squeeze for me to get in and out of as it was an add-on private bath, and I weighed less than you do now. If you get such a room, go immediately to your guide and request one with a larger entrance to the bath/shower. That was the only bathroom in all my travels in Europe (with or without RS, solo or not) that had a tight entrance.
It should be a great trip; I'm considering it for the future, just to see some different places, and of course, every guide is different. Happy travels!

Posted by
16832 posts

Hi, Jim. I think Goodman got lucky to usually have double beds. It's not something we can promise. In older, less cookie-cutter hotels that have some "true single" rooms, they're often smaller rooms with one twin bed. Did you experience this in your solo travels? And if you choose the option to share with another single male (if there is one on the tour), those rooms will also usually have twin beds, although you might get a triple with one large bed and one small or some other shape of family room. Some of our guides are taller than you and make do with the small single rooms (but not without posting a hilarious photo on facebook, of course ;-). Guides will try to balance out who gets the best views, biggest rooms, etc., at various stops, but they don't always have a lot of options for the singles.

Posted by
1015 posts

Jim, having been to Europe at least a couple dozen times, staying almost always in moderately priced hotels, many (perhaps a majority) of which were in the Rick Steves guides, and at least two of which had his tour groups staying in them at the time, I would guess that you would never (or almost never) have a bed larger than a twin while on this tour, if staying in a single or double room. Even couples find that the "doubles" in many moderately-priced (Rick Steves recommended) hotels are two twins pushed together and sheeted separately. Just something to think about. You've traveled to Europe before, but (if your room didn't have twin beds) it sounds like you were able to choose a different kind of hotel than those that may be chosen for this tour. You may want to call the Rick Steves office and inquire about the beds in the hotels on the specific tour dates in which you are interested.

Posted by
964 posts

I've done 5 Rick Steves tours as a single, and paid the single supplement. I think only about a third or less of the rooms have had "twin" size beds, the rest had beds which were larger, but I don't recall them being 2 twins pushed together. So it definitely varies, but I've never been unhappy/uncomfortably.

Posted by
733 posts

Jim, I owe you a debt of gratitude. I had not seriously considered the RS "Best of Europe in 21 Days" tour until I read your posting and began to investigate your concerns as a solo traveler. You are correct in presuming this tour would be expensive, but it is also remarkably comprehensive.
In reading the detailed description of the tour, I also came to a peculiar realization - my six European adventures (one on a RS Tour) have somehow managed to miss the major sites of western Europe. With the exception of the beginning point (Amsterdam) and the ending point (Paris), I haven't been to any of these locations. This tour would be a very good one for me to consider.
The tour's beginning airport (AMS) and ending airport (CDG) promote ease of air travel. If New Orleans is your "home airport", I'm guessing flights to AMS and CDG are one-stop, and probably with many airline options.
I also noted the April 2019 dates include a visit to the famed Keukenhof Tulip Gardens (replacing the otherwise scheduled Arnhem Open Air Museum). If you haven't been to the Netherlands during "Tulip Time", I encourage you to consider it - although it is not without drawbacks - namely that it is very crowded, and not only at the gardens. It is, however, truly spectacular.
My only RS tour included several solo travelers who found their individual accommodations to be fine. Several remarks, here, have suggested your tour guide could be of help should something not please you.
I'm going to Edmonds, Washington for the 2019 RS Travel Expo in January, so I'll ask around regarding this tour and solo travel.

Posted by
3198 posts

I did the Paris and Heart of France Tour last summer as a solo traveler. I paid the single supplement and was quite happy that I did. I did not have any hotel room that had a bed smaller than double sized, but I am sure the experience varies by tour and hotel. I don't think you should assume that the solo traveler always gets a small room or a small bed. That certainly wasn't my experience.

You will end up paying about $46 a night to have a room by yourself. I think that this is worth it! I found that I liked having my own space where I could just relax for a few minutes and keep my own sleep/wake schedule without concern for another person's schedule that might be different. You will have invested quite a bit in this tour, I encourage to invest that last little bit for the single room to make sure that the tour is enjoyable both day and night.

RS tours are not inexpensive, but I learned that they provide good value. I had never been on a tour before and discovered what a great resource the guide is in terms of background knowledge and simple "how tos." The logistics of the tour were highly efficient and we did not wait in lines at places. I also travel independently with my sister, but I learned far more on the Rick Steves Tour.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to travel with other people. I could always go off on my own during free time if I chose, but I was also invited to go places or to meals with others which I found extremely enjoyable. It was nice to experience the places we went with others.

If the itinerary matches with your interests, I say go for it! Buy the single supplement and go enjoy the tour. As my sweet, but sometimes tactless son says, "If not now, when? You aren't getting any younger......."

Posted by
8065 posts

I did the 21 Best of Europe solo in 2014. Even now with 10 tours under my belt, this is probably my favorite. As another RS guide told me there are blockbuster sights every single day. He was right!

I do always pay for the single supplement. I don't know if I snore - probably do, lol, but I just need some alone time after a day with the group.

As far as bed size, let me see what I can remember:

Haarlem - Ambassador - double (or maybe queen?) bed
Bacharach - Hotel Kranenturm - single
Reutte - Hotel Maximilian - single
Venice - Hotel Mercuris - I ~think~ this was a double but not 100% sure
Florence - Hotel California (hahaha) - double or maybe a queen
Rome - Hotel Nardizzi Americana - double
Monterosso al Mare - Hotel Punta Mesca - double or queen
Stechelberg, Lauterbrunnen Valley - single (I think the tour group may not use this location? I heard they were going to move the tour group up to Muerren. This hotel was a shared bath hotel for many of us.)
Beaune - I can't remember the name of this hotel. I do remember I had a double bed here
Paris - Hotel Beaugency - double

**editing to add: The RS tours don't always use the same hotels, so I really just gave you the names so you would have an idea of what they were like.

I felt like every penny I spent on this tour was worth it. I also stayed extra time in Paris and added the Best of Paris on after. I WISH I had spent more time ahead in Haarlem. I did not allow myself but one night ahead here and spent that day in Amsterdam. I regret not spending at least a full day in Haarlem.

I did not spend that much extra on meals and other costs. I think my daily average was maybe 20-25E. Rick often says to plan on 50E per day for extras but I just didn't spend that much. I did not rein in my spending either, lol! I did the gondola ride in Venice (about 25E each), went to a concert in Venice, spent money on gondola/cog train in Switzerland, did all the extra meals Dimitri arranged, did an extra wine tasting, etc.

Here is a Trip Report I did on this tour.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14