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Best RS tours for Spring and Fall

After years of being a teacher and having to travel during the Summer, I have retired and am now an unemployed bum, err.... man of small but independent means. I spent years travelng in the hot summer months and while I enjoyed it, I figure I no longer have to do that. Instead I will spoend the Summer with the children and grand children locally.

What Spring and Fall RS trips do you recommend? For the sake of discussion let's say Summer starts on May 15 and ends on Sept. 15.

Yes, I would even consider a Winter RS tour if I don't have to deal with ice and snow.

Posted by
362 posts

First of all, congratulations on your new status and travel availability!

I have yet to do a RS tour (our first one is later this year - a winter tour, in fact), but I have traveled with other tour companies prior to this. Going anywhere outside of the US school holidays can be wonderful. I love Italy in early May. I loved Costa Rica in February. I've done the UK and Ireland over Halloween. I've done Europe in the middle of the summer, too, but I think I prefer late spring and early fall to mid summer.

Of course, it's not just American tourists making things crowded, but I find the flights are better in late spring/early fall. It also just feels less hectic to me, but that could be a personal thing.

Where do you want to go? What have you already seen? I love talking about tour plans - anyone's tour plans - but you must have something on your wish list that you want to see first?

Posted by
936 posts

Barnstormer - Congratz on your retirement. From now on you can enjoy your Sunday knowing you don't have to go to work Monday!
Our one and only RS tour - 21 day BOE began on October 11 and ran to Halloween. We landed in Amsterdam October 1st to daily temps in the low to mid 60's - awesome for walking around and viewing the sights. I was never uncomfortably warm but did get uncomfortably cold when a cold front came through. My fault, as I had a sweater but no fleece undershirt or jacket other than a thin rain jacket.
Not on tour we spent five weeks in Amsterdam and the Netherlands from early December to mid January. It snowed only one night and I stayed up late watching for it to begin. At midnight I was in Dam Square filming the beauty of the snowfall and by 1:00 a.m. was having a lively snowball fight with hubby. The snow lasted through one day and then it was gone.
I would do a fall or winter trip again in a heartbeat! In fact I will be in Europe for the month of October and part of November this fall.
I refuse to do the heat and crowds of summer.

Posted by
14323 posts

Welcome to the club! I love to travel to southern Europe in February, been to Spain and Italy multiple times independently. So I clicked on "Our Tours", then on the blue Search link in the "Find a Tour" box, then on the last option "See Tour Departures by Date". For February, Sicily sounds great, so does Madrid/Barcelona, though I'd wait and choose one of the longer Spain tours in March or April, though they don't seem to be published yet. I also would not rule out a Christmas market tour in December, even if it means some icy cold and snowy weather. This year, Wray took the Greece tour at the end of March and I took it at the end of April and both were great.

I looked at the October tours and wouldn't rule out any of them.

Posted by
816 posts

woot woot Barnstormer - I know what you mean. I retired from public school December 2014 (support staff). I went on 14 best of Ireland in August 2014. Aug 2 -16 ish. That return year to school, my schedule was changed to report back to school earlier than usual but I did not know this when I book my RS trip. I told my principal that I would not be back until 3 days after my report date (due to a new computer system, but I catch on quickly). The reply I got was "that is why we do not schedule our vacations so close to the return date and ending date, but we can work it out". Arrggh after that I new it was time to go, plus other stuff. So it is nice not to have to travel during the summers now. Sorry....just had to get that out. HA HA!

Your question..... I loved the Holland/Belgium mid April-1st week of May tour we did in 2016.

End of April, first week of May will probably be my travel now . Just don't like the heat!

Posted by
38 posts

When I retired from teaching a few years ago, I found out it's great to travel in spring and fall. My retirement gift to myself was two tours in a row, starting about May 5. I had a wonderful time on Belgium and the Netherlands, and My Way Europe. Since it rained almost everyday, I tried September tours. The weather has been great every time! (I hope my luck continues into this September in France).
Of course, weather is a matter of chance... but I like sunny days. The other thing I found about the non-summer tours is that the groups are a little different. There are more retired people and those with grown up children. On one tour, there was an eighty year old couple who could hike all day and party all night. I aspire to their fitness level.
I think any tour would be great in September. It's still nice and warm, but not as hot as summer (usually).
Happy Travels!

Posted by
366 posts

Hi barnstormer: yeah for retirement.

I have taken 8 rs tours in the spring. Usually starting in late May or early June. The GAS, Eastern France and Switzerland tours had rain for at least half the days. Paris and southern France had beautiful weather cool in Paris and warm in the south of France.

I took the best of Italy when it included Sorrento and Naples. The running joke was when we arrived in a town it rained. For the most part the weather was cool to warm. We had snow in the Dolomites and rain in Venice.

In general the weather is cooler and you will get more rain. I would take all but the Switzerland tours in the spring again. I don't mind rain. However I think the chance of seeing the mountains might be better in late June. However any tour that has mountains run the risk of cloudy days regardless of when you go.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
1937 posts

Congratulation! You'll love off season travel! Twice in Sicily, off season tours- once in February and one over Easter at the end of March. Perfect timing for visiting Sicily (no crowds and great weather) and the trips were both fabulous. They were Rick Steves Winter tours-two slightly different itineraries.

Posted by
1014 posts

Congratulations on your retirement. I recently retired, and while I was working we went on the following tours: Paris (early May), Barcelona-Madrid (February) and Sicily (April). It was nice visiting these locations during the so-called shoulder season. Air travel from the US in February was a little dicey, so we will probably avoid that month for future travel. Spain and Italy get hot in the summer, so it was nice to enjoy pleasant weather and fewer crowds. We also visited Italy independently in February, March and late November-early December. November tends to be a rainy month in Italy, but late winter-early spring weather conditions are better. In early May 2017 we went on the Village of South England tour as a retirement celebration. The weather in early May in the UK was pleasant, especially for walking.

Posted by
3474 posts

We've found Italy in April to be great. Southern England and Scotland are also good during May. France is good in October. Congrats on retirement. A bad day of retirement is better than a good day at work. And the best part of retirement is Sunday night. Think about it.

Posted by
2721 posts

Welcome to your graduation from employment. It's great! As Chani indicated, I took a March-April RS Greece tour as my first RS tour. It was lovely spring weather with ubiquitous spring flowers, although for me, a New Englander, the 75 degree mid-day temp was just a bit warm, but I believe everyone else thought it was perfect. LOL. I took the Greece tour because I thought I'd start with the locations that are more difficult to get to on one's own; ie, the Peloponnese locales. Also, I'm starting with the trips that might be the most strenuous, as there are no promises in life regarding the length of one's health. Greece was a perfect start for a tour. My other travels have been off season independent travel, many in the dead of winter and they were great. The closest I ever came to summer travel was the latter half of June in the Yorkshire Dales when all the flowers were blooming but the crowds, if any up there, hadn't begun. I am a huge proponent of late autumn, winter and early spring tours. Weather be d-----.

I'll also add that I was so impressed with this tour, I can imagine taking one to easy locales as well now. Next trip? Maybe Sicily...maybe Berlin...maybe... Have great fun choosing.

Posted by
350 posts

Thanks for the advice. I should add I hagve taken a number of RS tours but most of them from very late Spring to Summer.

I am doing a Portugal tour in the Fall this year, but I am also thinking of RS tours not in the Summer, Even the Winter is starting to sound good for some of the warmer places on the Mediterranean. But, it's always good to get ideas from other people since I often don't know what I don't know. :-)

Posted by
3 posts

Best of Italy in September. Fantastic weather and great group of travelers

Posted by
117 posts

First, congratulations and welcome to the club!
We did back to back tours of Sicily and South Italy this spring (April 9-19 and April 22-May 4). We got to see the Easter festivities which was great. Overall the weather was cooler than I expected (no swimming, just dipping toes) but a light sweater, scarf and my down vest was plenty. We went to Spain in April and had great weather. Have gone on several trips in September and early October and had great weather. And I might add: never had a bad time.

Posted by
117 posts

First, congratulations and welcome to the club!
We did back to back tours of Sicily and South Italy this spring (April 9-19 and April 22-May 4). We got to see the Easter festivities which was great. Overall the weather was cooler than I expected (no swimming, just dipping toes) but a light sweater, scarf and my down vest was plenty. We went to Spain in April and had great weather. Have gone on several trips in September and early October and had great weather. And I might add: never had a bad time.

Posted by
65 posts

Congratulations ! We've enjoyed Best of Italy and Eastern France beginning in September and ending in October. And we enjoyed Belgium/Netherlands in April with Spring flowers. Consider if you would be affected by seasonal allergies in late Spring, we went to Ireland the last week of April and it was cool the first week then gorgeous the first week of May but allergies hit. Also suffered from allergies in May in England last year. Enjoy your travels and your retirement.

Posted by
219 posts

I retired a year ago and have LOVED the ability to travel outside the summer months. For something a bit different, and fabulous, I would recommend the Bulgaria tour in May. We had an amazing time with an awesome guide.

Posted by
697 posts

I must say, going to Keukenoff Gardens while the tulips were in bloom was a highlight of our European travel! Also, we thoroughly enjoyed Late November/early December in the Christmas markets in Germany, Austria, and the Alsace. I personally believe that anytime in spring or fall is a great time to visit any city in Europe!