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EUR051020 Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour

Hello,
I have booked this tour and am very exited for my first European trip. Has anyone else booked this trip?

Thank you,
barb

Posted by
8009 posts

You are in for a treat! I did this one in 2014 and it still stands as one of my favorites!

Here is a link to my trip report. I just re-read it and even though it is 5 years old I believe the comments and advice are still mostly relevant.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14

  • If you can I'd try to arrive in Haarlem at least the day before if not 2 days before. My biggest mistake was not giving myself a full day for things in Haarlem. I could have used another day in Amsterdam as well....but live and learn! There was one couple who had a travel delay so missed the first night.

  • DO plan to pack light. There is a wealth of information on the forum about packing light. I would pack way less today than what I packed for this trip. I love packing cubes. With lots of hotel stays they will help you stay organized. Some of the best advice I ever got on this forum was to "pack on paper first". I do have a packing list and do a capsule wardrobe. Every pair of pants goes with every shirt goes with every sweater or LS layer. From this trip report I've changed to a 22# roller bag as the RS convertible was too heavy for me at the end of this trip. If you want ideas on capsule wardrobes go to the wonderful blog The Vivienne Files at www.theviviennefiles.com She has some wonderful ideas. Many of her clothes are too formal and too expensive for my retired rural lifestyle but I can use the colors and ideas and usually find something comparable that works for me.

  • Plan to have a "bus bag" - either a small day pack or tote and use this for the 2 nights you go in to Venice. I was advised ahead of time to pack my stuff for the 2 nights into a smaller tote and leave my regular suitcase on the bus. I was SO glad I did this! The bridges in Venice are actually steps so you are up and down several of them and if you have a rolling bag you'll have to lift and carry every time.

  • Work on fitness including stairs! Yikes - lots of stairs in Rome!

What a fun time you are going to have planning over the next few months!

Posted by
710 posts

You are going to have the trtip of a lifetime!!!! Even better, your going to mke friends that last for many years.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much, Pam, Jane and Donald. This is definitely a little outside my comfort zone, going solo because I feel I need a life quest. I have printed out and bookmarked all of your information. Cannot tell you how much I appreciate your information.
Travel well,
barb

Posted by
8009 posts

Barb, I think this is one of the best tours for a solo first-time Europe traveler and perfect for a life quest! I found the bonding very different on this tour than on any of the others I've been on. That's a total of 11 Rick Steves tours and 11 Road Scholar tours, lol. I think it's because you are with the group for the 3 weeks and experience so much.

I do recommend you start out trying to spend time with everyone on the tour - either eating breakfast or sitting with different folks at the group meals. You'll learn everyone's name and over the 3 weeks make some lifetime memories. I am not kidding about this.

When you are on a bus transit day, pick up something at one of the Autogrill's you'll stop at for lunch or breaks and share it when you get back on the bus. Some kind of weird potato chip flavor, candy, cookies, just something small and inexpensive that gives you an excuse to stop to talk to everyone. This works really well if one tends to be a bit shy.

Be in the best physical shape you can be in - you'll thank yourself for that.

Make sure you can handle your own luggage - both your suitcase and any bus bag/day pack you might have. I travel solo and while I'm sure someone would help me if I needed it, I want to be completely independent and able to manage my stuff on my own. Make sure your bag is light enough for you to carry up a flight or 2 (or maybe more) of stairs.

IF you hear someone talking about something interesting ask if you can go along (unless it's a totally romantic event). In Venice I heard one group member saying she wanted to go hear a Vivaldi concert. I said me too, as did another person. We purchased tickets from the hotel, I figured out our route, one of the others figured out a restaurant and we headed out to dinner and the concert together. What a fun time.

Also, be ready to take the guide up on any extras they offer. Ours offered an extra group meal in Rome and maybe somewhere else, plus some activities on the "free" day in Switzerland. In general he paid for them then told us what our share was (always reasonable).

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Barb --
I did this trip in 2015 as a solo traveler. It ranks as one of my best adventures ever. I still have my trip journal website up. Take a look..you should get some got ideas of what your trip will be like. https://www.roserenaissance.com/
Enjoy every moment! ....... Nancy

Posted by
56 posts

Hi Barb,
I did my first solo trip on the RS Best of Ireland back in October. I have never traveled solo (always with husband or friends), so this was a huge step for me and way out of my comfort zone. You will enjoy your trip the most if you make it a point to get to know everyone on the tour past the first night of introductions. I circulated sitting with different people for breakfast, lunch and dinner the first few days, as well as, would make it a point to talk to different people when we were walking around to find out more about them, where they were from, had they been on a RS tour before, where have they traveled, etc. This helped me remember people's names. I also sat in a different area of the bus whenever we traveled. I knew everybody within the first few days and felt like I was traveling with 28 friends (my tour guide included, he was so awesome). I had a wonderful group of people on my tour. Very interesting and all well-traveled. They were all very kind to include me during the time we were on our own and had meals on our own. I had the time of my life! I loved it so much I have booked Best of Europe 14 Days in September with two women I met on the Ireland tour!

Posted by
1678 posts

I'm excited for you. I'm not on the tour , nor have I taken it, but we did our first RS tour last May-Loire Valley to the South of France. I know it's a 21 day trip so packing light could be challenging, but heed the advice of the one poster who suggested it. To reinforce her advice, here's a paragraph I pulled out of my own trip report;

I have to post a story about the Rick Steves warning about packing light, and also his warnings that you may have to haul your suitcase a distance and up stairs. Our hotel was right beside the Roman Arena but well away from the main street where our bus dropped us off. There is a warning on these tours that you may be expected to haul your luggage over cobblestones a fair distance and the hotel may not have an elevator. This warning was tailor made for Arles. About 1/2km walk, cobblestones, uphill. We had one couple in their mid-70’s on the tour who are in good shape for their age, but the wife was struggling with her suitcase and needed help from one of our tour members. I sought her out on the morning we were heading back to the bus and carried her suitcase for her. By this time, we were a close-knit group and help like this would be automatic for some of our older members. Back to the day we arrived at the hotel though, to get to our 2nd floor room meant a climb up a steep, narrow set of stairs, we got to the top, made a sharp right and down a hall, down 3 stairs and then up 3 stairs. Along the way we ran into a solo traveler in our group-early 60’s who didn’t pack light. She’s a very nice woman-a librarian, but today she was dropping f-bombs about stairs and suitcases. I couldn’t help but laugh, but also took her suitcase and got it to her room. I believe I learned a few new words that day and she swore she’d learned her packing lesson.

Posted by
189 posts

I see you live in the PAC NW if there is any chance you can make it to Edmonds WA January 25th there is Rick’s “Test Drive a Tour Guide” event. Lots of free lectures about European travel you can get a preview of what the tour is like and meet some of the guides. It’s a lot of fun!