My husband and I are booking with RS for the first time and plan on using air miles to get to Europe. We have been saving air miles for quite some time and would like to do as much touring as we can on the free miles. We are considering doing to back to back tours. Best of Italy is a must for us for one of the tours and we are open on the other tour. Best of Southern Italy looks very attractive since it begins in Rome, which is where the Best of Italy ends. It would be convenient and save on additional travel costs. These are both long tours with one being 17 days and the other 14 days. I was wondering if anyone else has done back to backs and what they thought of it. We are both 60 and in fairly decent shape, but I do worry about it being too much. Any advice or opinions would be appreciated! Thanks!
My wife and I did a 30 day independent trip to Italy (we were both in our early 70's) and did not think it was too much. Doing that length of trip with tours should be even easier, more relaxing as all/most of your needs are taken care of for you. Have fun, Italy is a great place to spend that much time.
We have just signed up for back to back RS tours in England that will take just about the same length of time.
I have been on back to back tours with a four or five day break between. I did this in Asia as I figured once I had flown so far, I should take advatage of the location. I find tours are much more tiring than independent travel. If you feel like taking a day off, just going out for a walk, then you can do that on your own. You make your own schedule and have total control. Pros and cons. Neither is right or wrong, just whatever what works for you.
So that would be just over 30 days plus travel time and any early arrival or staying after tours days you need. If I had that much vacation time available I would do it without hesitation.
As long as you have ways to pay your monthly bills while away and can take enough medication to last that long (if needed), go for it!
All my bills are on auto pay. "All" I have to do is to make sure there is enough money in the bank account to cover them.
We did back to back tours a few years ago, but neither was as long as the ones you are considering. However, for an eye-opening look at grouping RS tours, take a look at Brad. Here's the link to his first one; you can click on his name on that post to find his others. He did FIVE RS tours in a row. Wow!
I did two back to back RS tours last spring with just a weekend off in between. (One being in Italy but neither of the two you mention.) RS tours are packed with stuff and you will be walking quite a bit.
I was exhausted when the two tours were over. My normal trips in Europe are 9-11 weeks with most being independent travel. After those two tours, I took a couple of days off before continuting on my trip.
If you decide to do them, I would suggest not doing those two in the height of summer. Italy gets very hot. If anything, do them either early in the season or late. At some point during the tour you may need a day off. That's fine. As long as it's not a travel day, you can opt out of any planned activities. And, start walking now. Italy is hills and no matter how good a shape you are in, get better. You won't be as exhausted.
Although we haven't done back to back tours, we have added days before and after for a total of 28-30 days. That said, I would agree with Suki that tours can be more exhausting. Even though we are fit and walk upwards of 10 miles a day or more, it can be taxing. I think if you can utilize the down time allotted on tours it can be doable. Before our recent Greece Tour we arrived a couple days early to get over jet lag. Following our tour we went to a couple of Greek Islands to recoup!
There was a gentleman on the forum last summer who I believe may have set some sort of record. I can't remember whether he took 4 or 5 back to back tours, but I know it was a lot. He came on and gave a trip report and evidently really enjoyed himself.
I am one of those folks who needs a vacation from my vacation. In case you turn out to need that too, give yourselves a day or two in between for down time. With the two tours, you will have at least 4 days in Rome, so perhaps that would make time for a break. I did not look to match up the dates so perhaps you will have longer there.
I have done lots of B2B tours, sometimes both RS, sometimes not. Like: Scandinavia/Scotland, Brittany/Portugal, Sicily/Belgium-Holland, Turkey/Greece and this year Southern England/Germany. They can be great and if you want to see Europe and save a buck on getting there, go for it. You will learn your personal limits. While others can stay longer or shorter, I find 5-6 weeks as a good guide for how long I can be gone....although that is moving from place to place...not staying in a city for a long period. So try it. At worst (imho) you may find yourself a bit stretched, but your plan seems pretty doable to me. As an aside, I look at how long there is between tours, the effort to get to the next tour etc. I have had mostly pleasant experiences between tours....such as 4 days on Malta and 3 days in Brussels between the 2017 RS Best of Sicily tour and Belgium/Holland tour.
I think it is a big plus that the Best of Italy ends in Rome where the Best of Southern Italy begins. I don’t think you could spend too many days in Rome. There is so much to see. Fortunately, the two tours do not overlap any sites in Rome. My wife was ready to head back home after the Best of Italy Tour was over, but I could have kept going. A number of our tour members extended their stay by visiting Pompeii or staying longer in Rome, but no one went any further. We loved Italy so much that we are planning to go back and take the Southern Italy tour in the near future.
I have done back-to-back RS tours in each of the past 3 years. Once was 2 tours in England, where the first ended in London in the morning, and the second began the same afternoon in a Bath, just 90 minutes away. Very easy, and worked well. The other times were more complicated, Bulgaria/Adriatic with a few independent days in Istanbul in between, and Portugal/Greece with a few days in each country in between. It’s good to have a little down time in between to sleep in a little, take care of laundry, etc. The only way you’ll know if that much travel is too much of a good thing for you is to try it. Your plan involves more of the same culture, cuisine, language, which makes it easy to continue. When I have changed countries I was amazed how quickly the experiences, and travel group, of the first country became “ancient history” once I was immersed in the second country and travel group. When possible, it is a great way to take the most of your air travel dollars or miles.
My husband and I did back to back tours in 2016 and 2017. The first was Best of Europe and Scotland. We stayed in Paris, then went to Belgium before flying to Edinburgh. The BOE is long and tiring—moving every other day can get that way. The week in between tours was relaxing. Total trip was nearly 7 weeks. This past year we went to Sicily, then South Italy with 3 days in between. Three other couples were on the same double tour! The extra days in Rome were nice as the South Italy tour does not see many of the sights. We actually “acclimated” in Rome then flew to Palermo. Total trip was just over 5 weeks.
Your trip is not too long in my opinion, but I’d take at least 1-2 days off in between if you can.
PS, we are going to Scandinavia followed by Prague and Budapest this fall. We’ll go 3-4 days early and have a week to get from Norway to Prague. ( due to commitments, we are cutting it to just over a month). Oh, and we’re in our 60’s.
We did B2B Tours in 2012 - Paris/GAS, 2013 - Paris to the Loire Valley/Best of Italy, 2014 - Eastern France/Spain and loved them all. We had a day or two in between each of the tours. We never found them too tiring at all and we are both in our 70's! We made scrapbooks of all 3 years and they are linked to Rick's website if you are interested in looking at them (William and Theresa Barr). We had taken 3 of Rick's tours in previous years and knew already that we could have kept going, so that is what decided us. Best of Italy was our favorite and know that you will enjoy it, along with any other that you decide to pair it with. Happy travels, Teri
I say, if you are in decent shape, go for it. Just remember, tours include not only lots of walking, but standing for periods of time. The standing is what can be more tiring. I agree, try not to go during the summer, as it can be very hot. My husband and I did Rome and Southern Italy in the summer. It was terribly hot and while we managed, we both agree we would rather travel April and May, if possible. Sept. and Oct. are both contenders, but can still be hot.
Thank you all for your informative responses. We decided to just do one tour this time, with additional days pre tour and post tour. That way we can either rest up or tour more depending on how we are feeling. Great group on this forum!
We have not done back to back tours, but last year we took our first RS Tour, Best of Italy. Like you we like to get as much "touring" as possible on a roundtrip flight. We loved the tour, but we also like to travel independently. And so, we were in Italy for a month. It was our first trip to Italy.
Since our plane landed in Milan, we spent a couple of nights there to include the Last Supper and the Duomo. We also spent a couple extra days at Varenna before the tour started. I especially loved Varenna, and could have spent more time there.
After the tour ended, we added a couple of extra nights in Rome. So much to see and do. We then took the train to Florence, switching to the regional train to Lucca, where we relaxed for several days.
Regrets: I wish we had spent several additional nights in Florence after the tour ended because that city deserves more than 2 nights.
The tour was a wonderful mix of large cities, small towns, and gorgeous scenic places. Although we enjoyed the tour, we were glad to be on our own after the tour, and just enjoy the ambience and essence of Italy.
Carol thanks for you reply. After you left the tour, how was the price on the hotels? We are still working out our itinerary as far as extra days and wondered if you felt the hotel costs were reasonable. Thanks!
It's hard to answer your question about cost of lodging. Two of the five hotels/B & Bs in which we stayed, were the ones used by the tour, so "convenience" was more important than price. The most expensive was the hotel in Varenna, where the tour originated. In Lucca, the cash rate was 100 euro/day. We knew where we wanted to go, so our itinerary was more important than price of lodging.