Can someone direct me to a forum where I can read other people's experiences and advice for this specific tour before I take my first tour this Sept? Thanks
Here was one that I read earlier this year. I found it helpful.
Here is a link that I started asking about Add-ons for this trip.
This is an interesting and varied tour! I loved it particularly the 2 full days in Switzerland.
My experience was in 2016 and the itinerary has changed slightly from then as there is a different starting point. Much is similar, so here is a link to my older trip report. You may be able to glean something helpful from it!
Thank you Pam, that was excellent. I'm also going solo on the tour and feel encouraged with your comments about comradarie and "no grumps". ;-)
Susan, is this your first RS tour? I'll tell you I've never had any problems on an RS tour being a solo traveler. There are times when you might need to say..."that sounds fun, can I join you?" But otherwise no issues.
I had been to the Lauterbrunnen area before (on the 21 day Best of Europe) so I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I'm a fairly capable hiker but was probably most concerned about those 2 days. The first day when we went up to the Schilthorn and then hiked afterward worked great. Two other solo gals went with me and it worked out great. We got back to Muerren and it started raining as we had drinks out on a terrace overlooking the Monck, Eiger and Jungfrau. The next day we more or less went in a loosely associated group. I knew how to get to where we wanted to hike as did some of the others so we all started the hike together. Very much a community effort with no one being left on their own unless they wanted to be.
Are you going to Cologne early?
Yes it is my first RS tour. Been a dream for years and booked a year ago as soon as the 2023 tours came out. 👏. Murren will be my highlight for sure. I appreciate your tips on hiking and having choices. Yes I’m be a day early in cologne, have not made any plans as don’t want to preempt what’s covered in the tour. I’ll be flying from Vienna to London for three nights on my own. Have my walking all planned. A brave venture for me. But exciting.
You can also go to Tours --> Scrapbooks on this website to see travelers' submitted scrapbooks of RS tours for photos and ideas about the tour experience (most travelers also include their free time and pre/post travels too)!
Thank you. I’ll find my way.
That sounds like an excellent plan! The early arrival will take away any anxiety about travel delays. You can decompress in London and have a wonderful post tour adventure. London is such an easy place to be for a solo woman traveler!
You are going to be so happy you are doing this!
Even if you don't usually journal, I'd recommend you jot a few things down daily from your tour. I have started using google docs for this so I don't have to carry a paper journal. You will see so many things it will be hard to remember afterward. Unless, then, you do a trip report and can re-read it every now and then and relive your trip, hahaha!!
Thanks again. I have a nice thin journal specially for the trip so I can look back and reflect on each leg of the journey. And I did just go through the 2022 scrapbook from the traveling trio. Beautiful.
This was my first Rick Steves tour as well back in 2019. Happy to answer any questions you may have!
What month did you travel, Jill?
My tour was in the fall. September 28th through October 11th.
Well you’re the person I was hoping to connect with. I’m also going in September and was wondering if it would still be warm enough anywhere that I’d need a pair or capris and t-shirt. Not bringing any sandals. I have layers planned for the mountains. Also wondering which option most people use for their phone? I could rely on wifi to communicate with home but I’d feel more comfortable exploring the cities if I have data. And lastly any special spots you’d recommend on this tour that are off the beaten track? Thanks Jill. Btw I’m 67, pretty fit and very excited. 😎
It depends on when in September you will be going, but it was pretty cool when I went, especially in Switzerland. Dress in layers and be prepared for rain, maybe even light snow in Switzerland like we had, which was awesome. Your idea for layers along the way is key and you're smart not to wear sandals. I wore my Allbirds with Merino wool socks (ok for all temps) from Costco throughout the trip, along with rain booties when needed (Allbirds get stinky when they get wet.) I'm also glad I brought a knit hat because it was chilly throughout the trip, especially in the mountains.
As for communication, I'm on Android and rarely use Wi-Fi because public networks can be unsafe. If I have to use public Wi-Fi, I have Norton Mobile Security, so my VPN will automatically kick in. Even hotel wi-fi, which is public, can be dicey. I had no issues with mobile data connectivity and speed on this trip. I had Sprint at the time, which is now T-Mobile. Each time I entered a new country, I got a text message asking if I wanted to upgrade to a faster speed, which was $25 a week at the time. Totally worth it for the two weeks I was there. Mobile data is key for me because I use Google Maps quite a bit during free time. I also listened to Pandora a lot during the long bus rides.
As for off the beaten path things, not sure on that. Personally, I like just wandering around and exploring on my own during free times bc I often discover cool stuff that way. Life is already so scheduled out, so it's fun to be a bit spontaneous! However for my upcoming Best of Eastern Europe tour, I've found a few quirky things that I plan to check out when I arrive in each city. These are things that Rick Steves wouldn't likely include in his books, like a naughty Waffle Shop in Prague and a bunny cafe in Krakow. 😆
Thanks Jill. That’s all helpful. I’m prepared for cold just wasn’t sure if I’d regret not having something for warmer temps. I’ll check with my phone carrier. I’m in Canada so might be different. Like you, I want to wander and discover. Love the idea of a “naughty waffle shop” 😂
Another question to the general audience. What should I order instead of beer (seeing as I’ll be surrounded by it and don’t like it 😉). Also is it really gauche to ask for decaf coffee/espresso?
Nobody judges what you drink. I did enjoy a Radler (AKA shandy) or two, which is lemon soda + beer....and i am not really a beer fan.
Order whatever you want...coffee, wine, etc.
I agree with Jill. I'm also not a beer drinker. I will order wine or a soda or a sparkling water. No one actually cares and no server is going to blink at what you want.
Wardrobe-wise, I'd be prepared for a cooler wardrobe and a warmer one and then pick and choose at the last minute. Since you are in Canada you probably have lightweight glove liners and I usually take them unless I'm going to Italy. I was several weeks earlier than your time frame and my year we were in the midst of a heat wave. I think I might even have hiked in a short sleeve tee in Muerren but I don't actually have pictures of that. I had on a lightweight wool sweater at the top of the Schilthorn over a SS tee. And yes....I just looked back thru my pictures and relived my trip, lol!!
It’s the last two weeks of September and yes, you’re right, Pam. I can check the weather the week ahead. Going to do a practice pack this week with my Ravenna roller and pack back.
I’ve been to your beautiful town in Idaho (during a heat wave) and driven through a few times. Gorgeous scenery. Thanks for the tips on beverages.
Yes I brought gloves and I'm glad I did because of the cool weather. They weren't heavy duty mittens or anything, just the little knit gloves, but still helpful. Scarf as well!
Thanks for starting this interesting thread! We are doing this tour after you. Really looking forward to it! BTW, we did our first RS tour last year and it was amazing. There was one gentleman that was solo. Everyone was happy to have him join them when we were off on our own. He had plenty of offers when he wanted company. He was also a non-drinking vegetarian. No one thought anything of it and the guides always made sure he was accommodated. Have a great time!
Thank you for those comments. Very encouraging. Some days I feel really intimidated but I’m full steam ahead. I live in a very flat city so have started some hill training in a local park to be ready for those beautiful hikes in Murren and Grimmelwald. Getting excited now that I’ve had some of my questions answered. Thanks everyone.
I wanted to establish a connection with. I was wondering if it would still be warm enough somewhere in September for me to require a t-shirt and capris. I'm going there too. You should write down a few items from your tour each day, in my opinion.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/so-you-re-going-on-the-best-of-turkey-or-best-of-istanbul-tour- snake io