Would it be inappropriate to email the guide in advance of a tour? I imagine most are busy on a tour or preparing for the next one. They might not appreciate being inundated with questions from eager or anxious soon-to-be participants. I've not done it and will soon be starting my 4th RS tour. I'm curious what others think.
Personally, I wouldn't. I would try to reach out indirectly through the RS office.
Nope, would not do that. Any questions I have would be asked of the RS office.
Is it something that can’t wait until you’re there?
I'll take the opposite view. If their contact information is in the public domain then you're doing nothing wrong. They may ignore you or tell you to call the RS office, or maybe they'll be happy to answer questions. My understanding is that most of these guides are independent contractors. If that's the case they may be be looking for referrals for their private businesses before and after the tours and happy to help. I wouldn't abuse the privilege though.
I would guess it depends on your questions. Are they guide questions or tour questions? Not sure why RS would give you their email address if you were not allowed to email them.
As someone who has worked as a tour director--what RS calls "guides"--all tour related questions should go to the RS office.
More than likely, your "guide" is busy with another tour. He/she has little if no information on your exact tour. But everything they do is known by the tour office so they can answer all of you questions.
Quite often, the tour company would schedule me and all I would know is which tour I'm leading. Most of the time, tour information--names of passengers, hotels, restaurants, itinerary changes-- would arrive a day or two before the tour began. (This was before email and the internet so quite often an envelope would be waiting for me when I arrived at the last hotel of one tour. Inside was information for the next tour.)
And in the days of Covid, your guide could be changed at the last minute.
Guess it depends on the situation. We had to in July. We got to our starting city and got a call from home. We had to go back home for my FIL in hospital and he was not going to survive. This was after hours for RS office to be notified. I got her email from the hotel to let her we had to leave. Not fun trip!!
Like others, I would say “it depends”. I think questions about the tour itself should be addressed to the RS office, not the guide. I have taken 11 RS tours, and only remember contacting a guide in advance one time. I was going to spend several days in-country before the tour began, in a little-known country, and was seeking guidance on how to best spend those days, The guide was very responsive and provided me with some excellent ideas and at least one very valuable contact.
I have only emailed the guide once. It was to let him know that I was scheduled to arrive from an intraeuropean flight about an hour prior to the orientation meeting. I let him know that I had been on several tours and to proceed without me. As it turned out I arrived right on schedule.
If it can wait then wait..