Researching BOE tours and neither one is quite perfect. If we go with BOE 14, how/when to add on London, Amsterdam, and/or Vienna? Should we add these on before or after RS tour? Wish London was part of BOE 21. Suggestions? Ideas?
I'd say this depends on what is most important to you. I think it would be quite easy to add London or Amsterdam before the BOE 14. Just fly into one of those cities, and trains can get you to Paris easily for the beginning of the tour. Vienna is probably a different story - I would assume it can be connected to Rome or Paris via train, but is a reasonable distance from either place, so it might be worth checking out a one-way flight.
And if you do the BOE 21, you'll end in Paris, I believe, so London would be an easy add-on at the end of that trip, by taking the train.
Adding to the above reply, to find train schedules (so you'll have an idea of how long a route is), use the Bahn (German Rail) website http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/online-schedules.
To find flight options, use Skyscanner: http://www.skyscanner.com/
From Paris, London and Amsterdam are under 3 hours by train, so that's the way to go. Note that these trains start out affordable if you book non-refundable tickets in advance, and go WAY up closer to travel (and some runs can sell out). To book Paris to London, use http://www.eurostar.com/; to book Paris to Amsterdam, use https://www.thalys.com/be/en
The same is true of flights within Europe - book these as soon as you are sure of your plans. Be sure to do a dummy booking (up to the point where you put in your credit card), to see all the fees and extra charges, and so you see all the rules. Budget airlines make their money from people not knowing their rules, or thinking that an exception will be made for them.
Note that, as far as the airlines are concerned, London has 6 airports and Paris has 3 airports. Some are much less convenient than others. Savings from a cheaper flight can be offset (or even totally lost) if it costs more time, money, and hassle to get to the airport.
If this is your first time traveling to Europe, definitely add cities after rather than before the RS tour. You'll gain loads of useful tips and experience on the tour, which will be immensely helpful navigating places on your own.
Harold, I love your tips! We always do the "dummy booking" thing, with multiple airlines, to see what we're really getting - or not getting.
I also agree that for first-timers, doing add-ons after the tour makes more sense. After 10 RS tours, we still learn things about travel from our guides. But we've also learned it's a good idea to add in a couple of rest days after the tour, before heading on somewhere else. If the time is available, of course. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to cram too much into a journey, ending up tired, frustrated, and perhaps with negative thoughts about travel. As Rick says: Assume you're coming back.
I did the 21 BOE in 2014 and I started out in London. I spent 4 or 5 nights in London, took the Eurostar to Brussels, transferred to a Thalys to Amsterdam, then took the local train out to Haarlem. I planned it so I arrived the day before the tour started in case there were any glitches. A couple on the tour also did London first and flew from London to Amsterdam but their plane was delayed, they wound up having to change airports and missed the first night activities.
I purchased my Eurostar and Thalys tickets as far in advance as I could so I could get the cheap rates on those and I just walked to the ticket counter in Amsterdam for the Haarlem ticket.
I also stayed in Paris longer at the end of the tour which was excellent!
I went on the London week long tour and there is tons of see in London. I also went on the BOE 14 day tour and added a day in Rome. There is also a ton of things to see and do in Rome and I still haven't seen it all and I have been on the week long tour of Rome twice. If it was me, and I was doing the BOE 14 day tour, I would do London first and then go to Paris and meet the tour. I would then stay a few days in Rome since you are there already. Vienna is a too far. You want to make the most of your time and not do too much traveling between places. If it was up to me, I really would spend my time in Paris before the tour and Rome after the tour to make the most of my time. I don't know where you have been to in Europe but if you have not been to any of the places the tour goes to including the cities you are asking about, then go to London, see if you can add at least a full day in Paris and stay a day or more in Rome. Whatever you choose it will be amazing. You just want to make the most of your time and do the least amount of traveling to and from cities, that is why I suggested Paris and Rome, but if not at least London is easy to go from London to Paris. By the time the tour ends, you will be exhausted but have seen and done so much! Have a great time.