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Daily Activity Key - Strenuous? Moderate?

hi folks
I have enjoyed reading the reviews about the experiences people have had on the Italy tours... The issue is what does moderate mean? what does strenuous mean?
Me - just turned 50 and active, play softball and golf though one of my knees and right ankle have been a bit dodgey in recent years...wife also 50. can suffer shortness of breath if pace of walking gets a bit fast as she is shorter than me....
We have walking tours in Europe and Asia. We Can handle it. But do the tour guides respect the participants enough to recognize when they need to slow it down in the interest of participant enjoyment?
I look forward to reading candid responses (be honest - don't sugar it) about the specific tour guides. Each is different and has a different approach and I can appreciate and respect that.....
thank you for your time and perspectives!
David, Pleasant Hill, CA

Posted by
16883 posts

Hi, David. It looks like you have deleted the earlier posting where I answered that question. Did you see it? See the details of the terminology for each tour described at the top of the Itinerary section and also under Activity Level.

Posted by
88 posts

Speaking as a 60-ish female with some knee & ankle issues, who has done 3 RS tours: "moderate" days are not a problem, and I doubt that they would be for anyone who is in the habit of frequently walking 2 or 3 miles at home. "Strenuous" has generally been do-able if it's flat walking but if it involves lots of stairs, I'm likely to opt out of that particular activity. Sometimes "strenuous" days have just been lots of city walking, which isn't too bad for me; but I've seen some older participants who weren't prepared for being on their feet that much and were pretty uncomfortable. My standard walking speed is one mile in 20 minutes, and if the guide isn't too tall that seems to work out fine. But if you get a really tall guide they can walk faster without realizing it. In that case they might need to be reminded that some of us shorter folks would have to trot to keep up with them! (but then, I occasionally have to remind my tall DH of that, too)

Posted by
2051 posts

Frankly, I find it more of an issue just "standing around" during some the museum tours. Not sure whether that's a function of my latent ADD or age related-or maybe both. I am also "of a certain age" and have yet to find any of these tours difficult; I have been on many with the Rick Steves folks. You always have the option of not participating in the day's activities if they seem too strenuous for either of you. Just let your tour guide and, if possible, your travel buddy know you will not be there.

Posted by
9914 posts

I agree with both Kathy and Andi. I did prepare for my travel on Ricks tours last fall by increasing my walk distance. I should have added in stairs. The guides pace was always pretty good. The best advice from my 21 Day BOE guide? If you find yourself not being able to keep up stay right beside the guide. His pace is good and the further back in the pack you are the more you will have to scramble to keep up. He was 100% right!

Editing to add: I've had the pleasure of traveling with 4 guides....one twice. My take is that it is not really the guide but the itinerary that sets the pace. The BOE was the most strenuous tour I've done.

Posted by
1068 posts

I've been on 4 RS tours. I generally had no major problems keeping up (although I agree that "standing around" is harder-for me anyway.) One guide said she walked as fast as the fastest walkers in the group so they didn't get bored and she maintained that throughout the group. I do walk for exercise at home, and could keep up, but it was difficult to get pictures as well. Otherwise, I have not had a huge problem with even the "strenuous" days. However, I can't say the tour guides will all slow down because a few people are having trouble keeping up. On the flip side, I was also on a RS tour where several people were significantly out of shape. Yes, they did opt out of some of the harder "voluntary" activities, but they did to make everything a bit difficult for everyone else because that guide did slow down and wait for them. My guess is that if you did other tours you will do okay.

Posted by
2788 posts

I am a 69 y/o male with a pacemaker and back problems who has taken 12 RS tours who does not exercise like I should. I have never had a problem keeping up on any of the tours. I do pay attention to the little symbols at the bottom of each day that show how many hours on the bus, walking, etc. and when they indicate "strenuous" I try to stay up front of the group to keep ahead of others so that I do not find myself falling behind. Seldom, have the tours I have been on had any members who really should have taken another tour
finding themselves always falling behind. Any perspective tour members should be sure to read all of the find print related to RS tours as well as any specific tours they may be considering. Some tours have much more walking than others. Happy travels

Posted by
1810 posts

The "strenuous" days are not forced marches. My husband, bad knees and all, has never had trouble keeping up. His much-shorter wife (me) has never had trouble keeping up, either. The guides seem to strike a balance between wanting to get the most out of our time and making sure the group is having a good time. We did Greece last year because it is supposed to be one of the more strenous tours. There were things we didn't climb, but most of those were optional and the guide suggested lots of other possibilities. I was apprehensive about climbing the Acropolis, but the guide knew how to approach it so gradually that it wasn't an issue.

Posted by
1176 posts

I understand your concern, but I do think you both will be fine to handle it. I am 54 yrs old and not nearly as active as you and have been on 12 tours. It is a lot of walking and standing, but you have group activity ( going to museum and walking tours the walking tours with a private guide are very easy, etc in the morning) and then free time in afternoon. If there is something you cannot do then you can opt out of it. I hate stairs, going up is ok, but I don't like going down, so in the Colosseum several of us told the guide we were worried about going down the stairs and he went with us on the elevator. Yes, the Colosseum has an elevator and we took it. The bus tours I find are a bit easier to do than the week long tours and I have done both. You are able to rest your body on the bus tours. The week long tours you are out and about all day and evening! There are many, many people that go that are in their 60's and 70's and they manage very well. My last tour some people had knee problems and it was a bit tough for them, so they rested more in their free time. The guides do walk fast, but they do make sure everyone is there before they take a bus or train or move on. Keep exercising, bring meds for the pain, I don't know you, but in the end I really think it will be fine. I have read that many people ( on the tour reviews) were worried that they would not be able to keep up and found the tour was not nearly as strenuous has it was stated in the tour. I think Rick wants people to be fairly fit, able to walk and stand so that they can do the tour.

Posted by
210 posts

As you have already stated……..read the itinerary, read the reviews, and look at the possible scrapbook postings. Do your "homework" prior to getting on that plane. Know where there might be an issue with a walking tour, optional excursion, etc. Ask the guide(s) privately about "more" details, if that makes you feel more comfortable. They care.

RS does provide you ample "warning". You do need to respect the others in the group….it is their tour, too. The guide/guides certainly want you to have a great experience, but they also have responsibility to the itinerary/group at large. As mentioned previously, the itinerary "drives" the day. I was on a tour where a lady had a severe knee problem. She opted out a lot…..but also slowed us down and led to a few itinerary changes. If she was not such a grump (ugh….yes!), I would have had more compassion.

With that being said…..I have been on six tours since having bilateral hip replacements. It has been a blessing in disguise. I am active in a local gym….just keeping my "wheels" moving. I do lots of itinerary "homework" as I mentioned earlier. I know long before I zip up my suitcase, where…if any…..issues might arise. I am VERY attentive to the guide's information about walks, hikes, etc. I ask if I am not sure. FYI….I have rarely opted out of optional excursions or suggested free time activities. My trip this year has one optional event that I KNOW I will not be doing. Might could……just won't! Plan B is already in place. I also bring a small assortment of pain killers….just in case. Don't overlook the fact that the local wines and/or beer make everything good after a day of stairs and museum standing.

Know your limitations. Know your options as to other activities, so you are not thinking about what the others might be doing should you have to opt out. It is YOUR trip.

I am booked for post surgery (x 2) trip #7 this year. Anxious to get there. Gym work continues. Homework is on-going.