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Family group of 3 feeling unwelcome on tour

We just returned from a Rick Steves tour where I traveled with my two young adult daughters. There were 2 singles on the tour and everyone else came as couples. Everyone was retired or near to retirement except us. One of our fellow tour members stopped me after a few days and told me he thought they shouldn't allow adults under age 45 on the tour. I was very hurt by this and tried to ignore it, but we've had several instances on our 2 tours with the company where we've felt a little bit like misfits. On another tour, one of my daughters was asked to move on the bus ( by a fellow tour member) so all of the couples could sit somewhat close to each other even though many of them weren't sharing the same row. She replied that she deserved to sit near her family too. Seating at mealtimes somehow provided problems as well as 3 is an odd number. I wondered if anyone else has had instances like this where others made them feel unwelcome and how they dealt with it.

Posted by
6609 posts

One of our fellow tour members stopped me after a few days and told me
he thought they shouldn't allow adults under age 45 on the tour.

Can you provide more info/context on this particular statement? I'm wondering where it came from...it doesn't sound like something that someone would say out of the blue. Of all your experiences, this is the only one that strikes me as genuinely "unwelcome". It's hard to say that asking to move on the bus constitutes anything nefarious (since I wasn't there, it's really hard to visualize this unless it was executed particularly rudely), and the 3's a crowd is always a little awkward no matter what. It's always a possibility that, after a first uncomfortable encounter, there's a tendency to see things with a bit more suspicion. Whatever the case, I'm really sorry that you and your daughters experienced this on the tour...it's very unfortunate. It seems limited only to a few tour members, not the guide (that would be really "off", if that was the case).

I've only been on one RS tour and I was in your position demographics-wise (except I was a solo traveler) - most people were much older and retired. But I didn't experience feeling unwelcome (quite the contrary, since there were several single people on the tour - and everyone was really great and easy going), so I cannot comment on that aspect. In other instances in my life where I felt uncomfortable, I actually doubled down on trying my best to make connections with people since it was the best option, after all. Whenever I feel uncomfortable, I tend to push through it and do anything to "normalize" the situation - that may mean letting something go (that someone said or did) and trying to find commonalities with others while avoiding a tendency to retreat. When things get really bad, I just say to myself "this too shall pass" and it always does (rather quickly).

Posted by
7247 posts

I have been on 2 RS tours totaling 31 days and have not witnessed what you describe. ( travel mates being unfriendly)

You seem to have had some uncommon bad luck in your travel mates.

Posted by
728 posts

I'm surprised at your experience, one of the reasons I love the Rick Steves tours is that the groups as a whole have always been friendly and caring about each other. I'm on the the Greece tour right now and everyone (young & old) are having a great time. It always surprises me how singles are integrated into the group and made to feel welcome. I hope you give another tour a try in the future because your experience is not the norm.

Posted by
541 posts

My sister and I went on an Ireland tour over a decade ago, NOT ON AN RS TOUR!, and had a similar experience. It was a big bus tour of probably 30+ people. We were twenty somethings and shunned by most but quickly made friends with the singles, oddly all 3 women were teachers in their 50-60s. Had a great time. Our small breakout group went to many live music sessions while the cliques ate lousy food. Our pictures were better :). Cliques happen to the best of groups just like most people's neighborhoods. We were asked to move more than once at dinners, bus travel, etc. We did. Made them happy and I really didn't care. I just chalked it up to people enjoying being with people they have stuff in common with. I'm reviewing some solo RS trips now of places I'd rather go with a group as there's some destinations I think a guided trip would be more valuable to me than a solo trip. I hope it didn't jade you. Never been on a RS tour but pretty sure I'd only use them in Western Europe.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Agnes! Thanks for your kind reply. The context of his comment was totally out of the blue which was why it stunned me. I tried to think of how I might have misinterpreted it, but my oldest daughter overheard it as well and she was also hurt by it. It kind of made us wonder if others in the group felt this way which was probably an overreaction. During our farewell dinner, one of the group members commented on how much they enjoyed my daughters which made me feel much better. Most people were kind but I think it is human nature to remember the hurtful things. Anyhow, we are going to do our next trip on our own, but we will be back on another RS tour someday which is why I asked for help in preventing things from festering in the first place.

Posted by
6609 posts

I think you made a good point - we do tend to focus on things that stand out (in a negative way). If you were to think about the total number of people on both tours, I bet most were just fine and maybe there were a few bad apples that (unfortunately) disproportionately affected your experience. When you have groups that have many people (relatively speaking, as opposed to the very small number on my tour), there is more of a chance that some folks don't play nice because they can easily "hide"...the smaller groups tend to be very cohesive because any bad behavior will be seen by others (and you're much more likely to be in closer contact in a smaller group, whether on the bus or at the table during meals). And then there's the cliquish behavior - it's unavoidable. I think the best antidote is to try to reach out to people who seem open to a more friendly interaction - surely there are some of those in a large(ish) group.

If this helps, there was one guy who wrote to this forum about how he thought singles/solo travelers should only mingle with other singles because couples just wanted to be on their own undisturbed. He basically lectured solo travelers how to properly behave on an RS tour and imposed his own hierarchy and norms. You should see what incredible pushback he received, and rightly so. What he said doesn't align with the values of posters here or the RS tour philosophy. He was a total outlier for sure.

Posted by
79 posts

Last summmer on our RS tour there were a variety of different aged tour members. There were 4 high school/college aged students with their parents from 3 different families plus 5 families that had a family member who were a school employee. Maybe in the summer there are more of a variety of ages of tour members because schools are on break. The comment about no one should be allowed under 45 years on a Rick Steves tour was just plain rude. I really think I would of spoken to the tour guide about the comment. Hopefully your memories of the time you spent with your daughters will outweigh any rudeness.

There were times we thought the togetherness of the tour was a bit much so we decided to do a My Way tour for our next Rick Steves tour though no one really was rude and we got along.

Posted by
796 posts

The man who said he thought people under shouldn't be on the tour was rude. If he had said that to me or if my husband and I had been there and heard him say it to you or out loud, I would told him that he was rude and reminded him that Rick's tour are for ages 18 and up except for family tours where kids can come too. If he doesn't like that, he needs to find a senior citizens tour to take. I am 58 and my husband is 62. We love traveling with all ages. These aren't geriatric tours. They are for all adults. Your daughter was right not to give up her seat on the bus. Next time, speak to the tour leader immediately when someone is rude to you. They need to deal with that.

Posted by
888 posts

I'm really surprised by what you've described and a comment like that--about under 45--is truly bizarre. One of the great things about RS tours is that a variety of ages are welcome!

One thing I will say...you and your daughters are all adults, and I hope thet you were willing, if necessary, to sit apart periodically at breakfast or dinner. Just as couples might need to periodically share a table in the breakfast room or in the case of a couple on one of my RS tours, they were actually willing to split up at breakfast and eat the meal with a fellow tour mate who wasn't a spouse. I realize that's a rare situation, but I applaud them for their flexibility.

As others have said, I hope your experience is more positive on future tours!

Posted by
342 posts

So sorry to hear of your experience. We travelled on a RS tour with our son when he was in his 20s. He was the youngest by at least 30 years and the group was very inclusive. Couples were not glued to each other and people mixed it up even though there were a few groups traveling with each other. I have heard from a friend on one tour she was on there was a large group traveling together and being rather cliquish.

I think it would be instructive to bring this to the attention of RS office and include it in your review. The leader should have some skills to deal with the situation. Sometimes people need to be reminded to be open to new people. Those tour members lost out on an opportunity to learn things from your daughters.

Posted by
2353 posts

I probably would have replied "they shouldn't allow a$$holes on the tour - but here we are"!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks to everyone on your comments. We actually did bring it up with our tour guide the next day and she didn't seem totally surprised and suggested we give him the benefit of doubt and assume he meant it in an innocent way. At the time, I couldn't actually think of a response to him that wasn't rude, so I kept quiet but It did cause the three of us to pull back from the group. Our guide, who was wonderful, had a different style than our first one. To our delight, we didn't play the dreaded name game and we also didn't do buddy introductions to the group. She also didn't insist on bus rotations so it almost seemed there was an invisible seating chart for the entire tour. Being an introvert, I was happy to avoid the group speaking situations, but I have to say I think they do serve to integrate and personalize the group and I had a much harder time learning names and really didn't get to know some of my fellow tour members. I take responsibility for much of that because there were others who got to know everyone because they were very social. Perhaps a group tour isn't meant for people who tend to be quiet and introverted. Just an observation. Once again, thanks for the comments! We did have a wonderful tour even though I felt the group didn't click as well as our first tour!

Posted by
440 posts

Sorry to hear this, I have not been on an RS tour myself. I agree with Christis comment maybe that would of been a better reply but sometimes the shock of somebody saying nasty stuff takes you back a bit. Hopefully his is a one of incident and didn't spoil your trip to much

Posted by
1791 posts

I have been on 4 RS tours and have been a single on 3 of them so I can share my experience. The first one I did feel left out and I then realized that it was up to me to change the situation. I started reaching out to the people who seemed most approachable and my "left out" feeling went away. By taking action I felt better about myself and connected with my tour mates and had a wonderful time. No one said anything rude to me - the advice to talk to the tour guide is wise and as someone said, let it roll off your back.

I happen to like the name game because you get to know everyone's name and I think it creates energy and helps the group members to bond. I'm still friends and in touch with my buddy from the RS 17 Days Best of Italy tour. I think people who travel with their family would also enjoy themselves more if they mingle with others on the tour and not just stick together.
Every group is different so I would give it another try.
Sorry for your experience.

Posted by
3193 posts

First a disclaimer. I have never been on a Rick Steves Tour. I do think that there is another discussion point that could be asked here. "What could tour members do to make sure that no one feels left of the group?" I'm curious. If you have been on a tour, what actions have you taken or seen taken that really seemed to make the group more inclusive?

Posted by
2231 posts

I have offered to switch seats on a bus so someone could sit next to young child or elderly relative, but I think it's rude to ask someone to move away from her family so another group could sit together. I'm glad the OP's daughter stood up for herself.

I'm in my late 60's so I can say this - Sometimes older folks can be a bit "imperious" with young adults. It sounds like some of that was going on.

Posted by
5730 posts

We've been on three, and I'd say each time the younger folks were the most fun and popular in the group. I suppose some curmudgeon might not like the younger folks reminding him that he's not young, but that's his problem. I must say, I do appreciate Christi's quick thinking.

Posted by
2426 posts

I'd like to think your two negative experiences are the exception rather than the rule. But twice..whew. We have traveled on multiple RS tours and on all but one had our daughter in her 20's. We felt welcome, but I should say she is very social with older folks and makes an effort to get to know them. On two tours there were groups and they can be hard to crack, so we stopped trying. On one tour there was a couple who hogged the front seats on the bus. I mentioned it to the guide in private and it stopped. I think in general these tours attract nice folks, but, despite the no grumps policy, you're bound to get a clunker once in a while. Roll with it. I was much more disturbed on our last trip by a single guy who never washed his hands after using the restroom. We avoided him, especially at group dinners and once when he tried to tag along with us for tapas!

Posted by
84 posts

We've not experienced young adults on our tours, but have been joined by several singles. I'm one of "those people" who make an effort at reaching out, not in pity, but in genuine interest. Being so ordinary myself, I seek the newness of others. My overtness has so far been mostly well received. If it isn't in future, I'll politely back off.. And have done so, but only once. We don't drink---no attitude, just don't like the taste. This has automatically excluded us from what seem to be fun tables. Ask someone(s) to join You and if they accept, skip the family talk until later. As for boorish old jerk, ignore him. He is not representative of RSE guests.

Posted by
1599 posts

Hi mtsusanne, I'm sorry that this happened to you and I hope it doesn't cloud the memory of what was otherwise a wonderful trip with your daughters. I've done 7 Rick Steves tours (4 solo) and the vast majority of the people have been very friendly and welcoming.

On almost all the tours there was a mix of couples, singles, young and older people. One tour (Southern France) was all couples, which the tour guide mentioned was unusual. That tour had four couples traveling together and they did not want to socialize with the other tour members. They sat together on the bus, ate together, and went off on their free time together. It was weird and made the tour feel like it was only a group of 14 people (the rest of us). Twice they asked my BF and I to move so they could sit together at the group dinners. The first time we moved, the second time we didn't. I think they should have done a private tour.

Some groups jell better than others. It's unfortunate that this happened but I hope it doesn't stop you from traveling again on another RS tour.

Posted by
21031 posts

I think there are some other dynamics going on here that we simply are not aware. But you may have given us a clue when you stated, "group tour isn't meant for people who tend to be quiet and introverted." If you quiet and introverted that might also be interpreted as "Stand offiish, Leave me alone, Not interested, etc." You seem to imply that it was the group's responsible to incorporate you into the group. It is a two way street. I have been with other tours groups where we have encountered family groups, couple, even some singles where the body language and initial response said, "Leave me alone." So we did. Both of us are out of professions that often required us to make the first move so it is common for us to walk through a crowd introducing ourselves. But we are human - reject our initial advance and we will be more reluctant to engage with you in the future.

When we come down for breakfast we seldom come down together because the other one is finishing up in the bath room and I am generally eager for my first latte. So I grab the first open seat even if it is with another couple. "Can I join you?" No one has ever said "No" to me. When the wife shows up she may join me if a seat is open or she goes somewhere else. But if you are sitting there, head down, not making eye contact, I am probably not going to ask you.

You indicted that you didn't like the name games but I think they are important to break the ice. We carry family cards that we freely give to people we meet. Also, as discretely as possible we try to write down the names of all the people we meet with some id mark - pink glasses, from New York, etc. so we make an effort to know everyone's first name. So if someone said to me that no one under 45 should be allow on the tour, I could say, "Sam, why do you say that?" or "Sam, how would that improve the group?"

Obviously if you are introverted and shy, this isn't your approach but you do need to recognized that you may have contributed a little bit to the situation. Unfortunately if you going on group tours it is hard to avoid the group.

I can understand how your experience could have dampened your enjoyment of the tour and, maybe, you are correct in that group tours are not a good fit for you. We don't all have the same travel style. Hopefully you next trip will be more positive for you.

Posted by
11450 posts

wow.. that man was rude.. and a grumpy old fart.

I have only been on one RS tour.. it was the RS 14 day Family Tour.. and at that time my daughter was 11. There was 26-27 of us.. and 14 of them were children between 8-17 . There were mostly family groups of four.. or three.. and there were two other ladies like myself, traveling solo with their child.

We also had one SINGLE MALE , about 23 or so.. how did that happen.. ? Well it turns out his mom wanted to buy him a tour for his graduation gift, but left it to the last moment and the only tour RS had that fit his dates before he had to start work was the Family tour.. Poor guy.. 14 children with various parents and grandparents.

Guess what, he had a blast. We all liked him and he was included in all the activities.. in fact he was sought after ! So we didnt have any grumpy old farts on our tour.. and he was able to roll with the punches. If anyone had said something rude to him I think there would have been a lynching.. lol

sorry that happened to your family, but agree that we all tend to hyper focus on the negative sometimes.. because it hurts of course!

Posted by
4481 posts

Mtsuzanne, please don't assume that these experiences are typical of RS tours. Yes, some grumps do slip through - but not many. And some groups tend to stick together and avoid fraternizing.

We've never heard negative comments about younger people on our tours, and only once have we been on a tour where all of us were in the same age rang (within a 10- 15 year range.)

Some of the groups traveling together can be difficult. On our 21 Day BOE some years ago, there was a group of several related couples, who stuck together the whole time. On the Rhine cruise there were empty places at their table. As DH and I approached them, I smiled and said "May we join you?" One of them said "No," and they all turned away from us. Another person on that same tour always sat up front in the bus, even though our guide had asked us to switch around. She mentioned it to him several times, before basically ordering him to move. (It wasn't a car sickness issue - that would have been different.)

We have noticed that the people who seem to socialize the most are the ones who actually put themselves out there and make a special effort. Not glad-handing, hail fellow well met, but inviting other folks (singles or not) to share their table, or asking to join others at table or on the bus. It doesn't come naturally to me to invite myself into another group, but it does seem to pay off. Usually.

We have found that switching around on the bus does help, as does sitting with or near different folks at meals. Sitting near different people every day is a great opportunity to chat and break the ice.

Please don't brand all of us Rickniks as rude. Most of us are delightful people who love traveling and making new friends. I hope we have a chance to meet you and your family on a tour some day.

Posted by
4481 posts

One more thing: I hope your or the guide reported the fellow who made the comment about under 45 to RSE. His file should be stamped "GRUMP!"

Posted by
600 posts

I'm so sorry to hear about this! We are younger than the average RD travelers, and we have never felt anything other than welcome, so take heart that hopefully these were more isolated instances. On our first tour I was in my 20's and it was an older group on average than our other tours, and everyone thought it was kind of novel that we were there. We were the token "young couple," and we had people lining up to be our buddies and to talk to us. They said it would be easier to remember us since we stuck out. Everyone was always kind to us. Hopefully you will have a better experience in the future.

Posted by
21031 posts

Without understanding the total circumstances, I would be very reluctant to stamp the questioner as a Grump or even rude. Perhaps a little inappropriate but there could be a background story. I agree with Agnes's first posting. Is there a reason behind the question?

Posted by
1068 posts

Hi, I've been on 7 RS tours and numerous others with different companies. While I have not experienced the degree of rudeness you report, I have definitely felt like an outsider on some tours. Perhaps I am wrong, but there seem to be fairly few single men traveling on tours. Of the 7 tours I took, only 2 others had single men on them. As I learned (for me) the single supplement is worth it, I only shared a room once. On some tours I felt totally welcomed: couples invited me to dinner with them, a group of friends going to a sight on their free time asked if I wanted to come along as it was "more fun in a group", and I could sit at any open chair when dining with the group. Other groups were much more closed. For example, there was a table with 6 seats and 2 seats were empty. I moved to one seat and was told "That seat is saved for X." Okay, so I found another seat, then noted X had moved to a different table. So X's wife felt she had to sit with her husband for every meal and a stranger could not occupy a seat. On another tour I asked several times, early on, if singles or couples (who I talked to as we were on the bus or walking and thought we got along well) were interested in dining or going to see certain things. On that particular tour, I never hooked up with anyone so stopped asking. That being said, on all tours, people were polite enough and pleasant enough, however, on some tours I was just never included in "optional" activities etc. It seems like the experience of someone saying young adults shouldn't be allowed was "Beyond the Pale." I have been on 2 RS tours that had numerous younger adults (my last had 5 from age 20-24) and they were well accepted and liked by the group. Too bad you had such a negative experience. I must say, even when I was an "outsider" no one was rude and it isn't their job to entertain me to spend time with me so I never felt insulted. I still enjoyed the tours and continue to take them. For me, it is just more fun when there is more than the bare minimum of camaraderie.

Posted by
3449 posts

I have been on 10 RS tours, always as a solo traveler. The other people on the tours ranged from very senior citizens to family groups with 16 yr old children (not a family tour, but they were welcome). Also lots of other solo travelers.

I am not an extrovert, but have never felt excluded by the group. Sure, there have been a few couples or other singles that wanted to be left alone, but they were the exception. One tour had a couple where she really wanted to do the tour but he wanted to be anywhere else except on the tour. It was miserable sitting next to them at dinner. Avoiding those few was not difficult and there have always been other tour members I could hang out with and have meals with if I wanted. The group of Canadians on the Italy tour I was on even took me in and treated me like part of their family.

With all that said, I am disappointed you felt unwelcome on the tours. That really is unusual from my experiences.

Posted by
644 posts

I've been on 9 tours, mostly as a solo. I've never experienced anything like what the OP states.

I would give the posting more credibility if it wasn't their third post on the forum. It may be a totally legitimate post, but maybe not.

Posted by
21031 posts

Actually it was her first posting with a couple of responses.

Posted by
6609 posts

I think it's a legitimate posting, but "feelings" are always very subjective and no one really has the full story except the OP, so it's hard to really know what to say exactly about a few isolated events. Personally, I wouldn't even go to the tour guide to report someone was rude in one instance. It is a minor infraction in my book, too easy to shrug off...I mean, everyone is an adult here (and can take care of themselves), right? Like Frank said, I would simply challenge the person making the unfriendly statement or to ask them to clarify their intentions - no need for a third party to get involved (it's a really odd place to put them in, anyway, to get in the middle of something like that when it can be resolved directly with the person). As far as moving a seat on the bus, I don't see a big deal doing that either if it's more important to someone else than me.

On my one tour, I was actually "mothered" because I was the youngest one, which I took very kindly to. A couple of people were very sweet, and I appreciated their efforts (another person could in theory find it as "too much" or even condescending...not me). I can relate also to small groups/cliques which are harder to penetrate, but that's also OK...as long as everyone is friendly, it works for me.

Posted by
225 posts

I too, am a solo traveler. I have only been on one RS tour but am scheduled to leave for my second in a few weeks. I must say, that as much as I loved the tour, the guide, the places, the food (oh, the food!), but the tour members... not so much. They outwardly said all the politically correct things, but they were incredibly passive-aggressive. We had a few singles, both male and female. I saw other singles struggle a bit too. It was a phenomenally homogenous group. All but two of us were retired from the same profession. It was not a good combination - no fault of RS tours, but not good. Did it take some of the joy/fun out of the trip? Yes. But clearly not enough to stop me from trying again. Would a nicer group of people made the trip better? Yes. But I didn't book with RS tours for the tourmates, I booked for the tour.
In addition, this is also a manifestation of being solo (at home or on vacation). Things are sweeter when you do them with someone you love, but if you are on your own and your friends can't afford to travel, then you travel alone or not at all.

All that being said, some people are just not nice (or thoughtless or just oblivious). And some of them go on tours.

Posted by
6609 posts

I have to say I'm a little surprised by some of the comments...I thought the tour members were one of the big pluses of taking RS trips. Granted I only took one tour, but the people were wonderful. You see this sentiment in almost all the reviews across different tours and across time. The "no grumps" policy tends to self-select certain people, so I'd be surprised if things suddenly changed. I can have as much fun traveling with strangers as anyone else, sometimes more :-) I hope some of the comments are outliers, but I don't question that not everyone loves everything the same or that their feelings aren't truthful (or that some "grumps" don't manage to sneak in under the radar).

Posted by
7752 posts

Bilezmom, I was touched by what you wrote... your honesty and insights. Thank you.

Just because a majority of people had a wonderful tour it does not negate that some are not wonderful.

Posted by
267 posts

Wow, this has brought out quite a few responses! Most of them on the same theme. I too am sorry that you had a negative experience when it should have been so much fun. I have been on two RS tours and scheduled the first with a lot of the same concerns that come with a first time tour traveler. The first was so much fun that I had no qualms about planning a second one. Each of the tours included both solo travelers and couples traveling together as well as family groups. There was a mixture of ages on both tours as well. Even though there were cliques that were traveling together and wanted to share experiences, they never excluded anyone that wanted to join them, either singles or couples. We may have just been lucky, but I don't think so. I feel that our experiences were more the norm, at least I hope so. I know for myself the diversity that makes up the group weaves a tapestry that enhances the overall experience. I hope that next time you will enjoy an experience similar to mine.

Posted by
1231 posts

Yup, Susan said it best. I've not been on an Rs tour, but several other tours. I can identify with some sense of being excluded by cliques. This was most frustrating on a longish tour of 17 days. There were about 41 of us on a 49 passenger bus, 3 of which were staff who each were keeping an empty seat next to them. and rotation of seats was strictly enforced except for one couple who decided after a few days to "camp out" in the back w the staff and each occupy a pair of seats, meaning the rest of us always had to sit next to our partners. This was a trip w a lot of time spent on the bus, so it was an issue for me to never have a chance to stretch out. One family group of 8 did not mix w anyone else, and also demanded wait staff to always create an 8 top table for them at each meal (so the rest of us were frequently waiting for the 4 or 5 waiters it took to reset their table to get free before we were able to place drink orders, etc. ) (as if they couldn't eat ONE meal at two 4 tops?)
I love Christi's suggested response to the old grump above. Something that i sometimes do (when I am on my A game) when something so outlandish is said that I can't believe the person would say something that innapropriate is to pretend that my hearing or command of English has left me and say something like " i was impressed with the fresh melon" or "our shower drips also". This gives the speaker the choice of repeating their bizarre words or give up and stomp away. folks who say things only to antagozize the listener are completely stopped cold this way.

Posted by
2353 posts

My other favorite one is "Did you just say that out loud?"

OP - I am so sorry you fellow tour members were not very welcoming. Even if you are somewhat an introvert it sounds like your group was still somewhat cliquey.

I have never been on a group tour but I have conducted a few thousand breakfasts with a table full of strangers. I always felt responsible to help draw out the more shy guests at the table and encourage their participation in the conversation. I guess I would think the same of a tour leader - they should take the lead in creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone. I suppose that is how/why those seemingly silly name games & buddy intros were developed.

Hopefully your next experience will be better - you might consider stepping a bit out of your own comfort zone too.

Posted by
7752 posts

"pretend that my hearing or command of English has left me and say something like " i was impressed with the fresh melon" or "our shower drips also"."

doricB... Hilarious!! 😂😂😂

Posted by
3491 posts

I'm also sorry to hear about what happened to you and your family. I'm struck by the number of responses that center on situations involving some kind of territoriality. It's odd how we show that in so many ways, not only spatially. There have been lots of good and often funny ways to deal with people who think they own where they are and that others don't belong.

I do remember the guy some time ago who thought singles should "know their place" and not interact with couples. I must admit, being over 70 and having grown up in Texas, that phrase set off some bells and whistles for me. The same goes for the guy who thought the RS tours should be limited to people over 45. It's hard to ignore them, but comments like that are more about the person who says them than anything or anybody else.

On a more positive note, this guy gave himself a real challenge and learned a lot on several back-to-back tours.

Posted by
1551 posts

I try to go with the adage that when someone says something out of step, it says more about them than it does about me.

Your post had me reflecting on our RS tours. We've always come away feeling like we had a great trip, which is why we're signed up for #4 in August. On trip #1, a clique formed of about 8-10 and they made it clear they didn't want to include more. That was fine with us as we didn't have any expectations, but I can see how that might have bothered some. Most of them had been on RS trips before. On trip#3, the guide went out of his way to approach a large family group about making sure they interacted with the whole tour. Most of us didn't care, but appreciated his willingness to tackle something that might have made people feel isolated. We had 2 young adult males on that tour and I think they felt we all enjoyed having them along. There is a fine line between wanting to be friendly and being intrusive, so I think most of us err towards the more formal.

We you on a short tour or a longer one? As one person's experience, we found the groups bonded better on the longer tours than the shorter ones.

Posted by
366 posts

I am so sorry that someone was that insensitive to you on your tour. One of the things I love about the tours is the range of people you meet. It sounds like this was not the correct tour for the that person.

I have been on 9 rs tours as a solo traveler. All were wonderful, but the groups on each were very different in how they gelled. One trip when the group had free time everyone went into their own groups and there was very little interaction. However on an eastern France tour I was the only single traveler and was only alone when I wanted to be. I do make the effort to interact with other tour members without being intrusive. Though I have to admit if someone said that to me my response probably would have been rather ummm impolite...

Posted by
373 posts

mtsuzanne, Thank you for sharing your honest reaction. Clearly there is no context that makes that tour member's response appropriate. It was hurtful and " unfiltered", as seems to now be normalized in our current society as modeled by everyone from our president on down. I applaud your courage to share openly. I know from personal experience that "calling out" anything inappropriate about a RS tour is not easy. It can result in being "flamed" or result in opposing opinions that are hyperbolically positive. Travel time, money and itinerary for most of us is of limited quantity , and we want to a make the most of every minute, dollar and experience. There is an embedded expectation that RS tour members will somehow be kinder and more gracious than is typical. In reality, there just as many " grumps" as in the rest of the world. Perhaps they just have better filters. Perhaps they are just less honest. In our multiple RS tours we have heard multiple private complaints from fellow tour members that get obfuscated in glowing reviews after the fact. Rick himself models compassionate courage in voicing his honest opinions and reactions, and tour members should be equally bold. The RS philosophy and the man behind it all seeks comprehensive perspective that demands genuine discernment, and I for one will learn and adjust from hearing your story.

Posted by
695 posts

My husband and I have only been on 2 RS tours but we make it a point to mingle with everyone. I think it is human nature to gravitate towards people you have things in common with. On our first tour we did spend more time with a couple of the couples but on our tour last fall we tended to hang around with the singles.

I'm sorry you felt hurt by the tour mate. He was rude. That is not the norm on a RS tour, at least not in our limited experience.

Posted by
2786 posts

I have been on 14 RS tours and have never witnessed anything like anything you described. We have had all ages from teenagers to seniors +on our tours.

Posted by
362 posts

Dear OP -

I'm so sorry that happened to you. While our first RS tour isn't until later this year, I have traveled with several other tour companies. I have LOVED all of the tour experiences, but I have not always loved all of my fellow travelers.

I travel with my other half. We try to go out of our way to speak to everyone, sit near everyone - we try to make a connection of some kind. Especially when there are people traveling solo, we try to strike up conversation so they're not feeling alone. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. You just don't always click with people. I have always figured that that's just how it works when traveling with people you don't know.

I am hopeful, though, that with the RS no grumps policy, we have better odds at having cheerful companions. I hope that your future travels will show you happier faces and a better experience!

Posted by
1313 posts

I agree with those who said you had poor luck of the draw with your tour mates, and I'm floored someone would actually say that to you. I've been on three RS tours and I'm 34 (oops, guess I shouldn't be allowed!); the first one I went as a 25-year old single, and the later two, I went with my dad. The tour I went on as a single was amazing -- I was the youngest by far, and it felt like everyone "adopted" me, going out of their way to invite me to dinner, or include me in their free time activities.

I have found it harder to mingle as part of a 'couple' (even if a dad-daughter couple) because you do generally end up sitting together on the bus, at breakfast, etc. As introverts, it's harder to overcome that inertia, but I tried to make a concerted effort to sit at larger tables and mix up who we sat near at breakfast, etc. On my most recent tour, towards the end, most of the singles grouped together and some of the younger couples (and us) joined in and we all had a blast. That tour also had a family of 3 (mom, dad, daughter) and they seemed to do fine mixing with the group at large.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone for your input! I want to make it clear that the vast majority of my tourmates were kind and interesting people and we are still in contact with several tourmates from our first tour. I didn't feel comfortable during the tour talking with anyone about the comment by the one tour member which is why I decided to put it on the forum to see if others felt it was as rude as I did and how they'd respond. I've decided to just use one of my mother's old adages which is "consider the source". As another person on this forum said, such a comment is more about him than it was about us. When I wrote my initial comment, we had been back from Europe about 1.5 days and I think I was still pretty jet lagged. After a couple days of work, and some good nights of sleep, I'm ready to take on the world again and feeling better. The tour was wonderful and as I said before, we will be back. Yes, I'm an introvert but I try to always be friendly and I feel like I'm very careful to treat others as I want to be treated . I do need to work on taking criticism and letting it go. Nothing is perfect and there is bound to be times where feelings are hurt or things are said. I hope you all have wonderful tours and thanks for your comments!

Posted by
61 posts

I'm sorry you experienced such rude comments. On 2 RS tours and 2 with other touring outfits, people were very pleasant to me as a solo traveler. Re the RS tours, even though some couples came as friends or family groups, they were not exclusive. At breakfast, I was welcome at most tables and was invited to various free time activities. Most people were over 50. Interestingly, in one group we discussed our ages and I was fascinated to observe that almost everyone appeared at least a decade younger than their chronological age. I attributed this to the open-mindedness, curiosity, and fitness level of the RS travelers. Over a year after the Venice/Florence/Rome trip, one couple (in their 30s) sent pictures of their best souvenir: their baby girl!

Posted by
408 posts

HI this was an interesting read. One person mentioned that tours are open to 18 and up. Actually the age I believe is 10 years and up. My kids have been on three tours the first time my daughter was 10 and none were family tours. My husband and I have been on five tours. We found that one does need to make an effort to be social. On our last tour which was our longest 14BOE we made a real effort to not eat together at the group dinners.

I also asked before we went if there were any younger people on the tour. We did have two other families on the trip. The RS office was very good about offering this info. I think if you travel in the summer you are more likely to see different age groups. My kids are now teenagers and travel well with all ages. They actually didn't want to go on the family tour and wanted more diverse ages.

Also how long was your trip? On shorter trips you will see probably younger people since they can't afford longer trips or can't take longer off of work. We have been on a 10 day trip and a 9 day trip and two one week trips. There was a wide range of ages on those trips. Our longest was the BOE14 but that was in the summer.

I am always amazed that people would go on a group trip and not want to meet other people. That is one of our favorite parts of the trip. My children have learned a lot by spending time with many different adults. On our last trip my kids really enjoyed being with our two wonderful guides. They learned so much.

it is too bad your guide did not speak to the very rude person. I would let him know that are tour groups for over 45. He should probably find them.

I am glad you had a good time and hopefully your next trip will be great.

Posted by
11246 posts

I've never taken an escorted tour, from RS or anyone else. But reading all these comments, I'm reminded of the idea that the reason live theater is different every night is that each audience is a unique organism, which comes together and exists for that night and then disappears; the next night, it's like a different organism. It seems a tour group is the same. When you see a play, you never know in advance if you will get a good or bad audience, or a reactive audience or a "dead" one, but these factors will affect the actors, and will affect your impression of the play. Similarly, a standoffish tour group, or one overtly rude member, will affect the tour guide and will influence your tour experience - and these things can't be predicted in advance.

Posted by
263 posts

I agree that the man who said no adults under 45 should be allowed was completely out of line. He does not own the tour company, and frankly the onus should be on him to find a tour company that suits him. If there are none, then it is his own self inflicted problem.

I have actually been on a bus tour which had a family group of 3, two parents and their son. I actually sat with the son on the bus during the tour and we got along well. So I do not think having a group of 3 is an impossible problem. It requires everyone to be flexible.

Tours are like any group situation, whether it is work, school, families etc, there can be cliques, and individuals you do not get along with. I can remember such situations on trips that I have been on, not just commercial tours, but also independent trips with groups of people.

Posted by
7 posts

The guy who made that remark sounds like a real jerk. I'd bet other folks on the tour thought so too. We're leaving soon for our ninth RS tour and nearly everyone we've met so far has been friendly. In fact, I'm still friends on Facebook with several former tour mates. At the very least, most smile and chat with you. Members ranged in age from 15 to 83, including grandparents traveling with grandchildren, etc.

As in life, you do encounter different personalities. We recall a few solitary travelers on past tours who made it clear they were "not here to make friends" so we simply didn't reach out to them. Everyone is looking for their own experience.

There was a group of eight couples from a small town who were all traveling together on our GAS tour. They were all nice but made it clear that they wanted to sit together. That was fine with us; we had lots of other people to hang out with. The only negative was that early on we did have to do the name game. Of course, they all knew each other's names so it wasn't much fun for us.

In any event, we think our fellow "Rick-o-philes" are great! Don't let a bad apple spoil the barrel.

Posted by
124 posts

Kids are welcome on all the RS tours. I've taken 10 RS tours, 6 with my sister and her two daughters (two family, 4 "regular.") The girls were 10 and 12 when we did the first tour. We got a few comments about bringing children on an "adult" tour but I reassured our tour mate that they're housebroken and it would be fine. (Rude comments are either ignored or given an appropriate response. No one under 45? Response: I know what you mean, no one with an IQ under 145 should be allowed either.) There are a lot of idiots on the planet, unfortunately you get to meet them; fortunately you never have to see them again.
By the way we met Rick Steves at a 2017 Travel Show. He chatted with us for a while, asked the girls about their travels and told us that he was 10 years old the first time he went to Europe!

Posted by
263 posts

We've been on two RS tours (GAS and Athens & the Heart of Greece) and didn't see anything like what you described. In fact, on both tours we met high school kids whom we liked better than a few of the adults. There was one couple on the GAS tour that sort of self-segregated, but "the group" still included them during free time (happy hour, dinners out, individual outings), some of which they participated in, and some which they did not.
Being the snarky and sarcastic high school teacher I am, I would probably have said something back (usually does me no good). Just ignore his bad behavior and know that most people who take tours are the kind of people that enjoy interacting with others and appreciate sitting in different rows just for that opportunity.
I hope you and your daughters have happy travels in the future!

Posted by
340 posts

YIKES!

Somehow a real grump managed to sneak onto an RS tour. And he seems to think that he is RS himself since he is making up conditions for others that he has no right to make.

A good response would have been to read him the NO GRUMPS policy. Perhaps you should have volunteered to talk to the guide with him and all three of your could call the RS Tour Office to inquire about age limitations. :-) I bet that would have shut him up. Or maybe not since he seems to be rather narcissistic.

I have taken an number of RS tours and never run into such people except for my 2nd tour. For some reason most of the people on that tour were just into their own group and did not give a hoot about anybody else. Most but not all. At breakfast one morning with the tables mostly full I was told I could not sit at a seat since it was 'saved for somebody else'. I was then told "Don't leave angry, just leave'. However, this behavior is extremely rare. Alas, some people just have to be jerks.

OTOH, I was on an RS tour where 22 of the 28 people were couples. There were six singles - four young women in their late 20's to early 30's, another single guy in his mid 40's, and one oldster about 60 (yours truly). We teamed up and had a great time hitting music events, a fair, and climbing to the top of various monuments, hills, etc. OK, a few times I headed back to the hotel room a bit earlier than the younger folks. Common interests have a way of bringing people together regardless of their age.

Posted by
37 posts

I have only done one RS tour, literally just returned home on Monday from it, and based on my singular experience (and what I've read all throughout these forums), that comment is just shocking and rude.
To put it in better context, I'll tell you our story. We did the Germany, Austria, Switzerland tour beginning May 30. We took our 12 year old daughter. I called the RS offices before I even booked the trip to make sure her age was not going to be a problem. What I was told by them was they generally prefer a minimum age of 13 (except the family tours) but that it was just a recommendation. The lady I spoke with actually encouraged us to go ahead and book. I did explain that our daughter is well traveled and in general, gets along better with people older than her than people her age. I did worry a LOT about the possibility of there not being any other tweens/teens on this trip.....and she was the only kid in the group, but all of my worry was for nothing.
The people on our tour couldn't have been any kinder to her. A few people sought her out each day to talk to her about her day and other people told me they were glad she was there. She gained an "auntie" and an "uncle", an amazing couple who really took time with her (one was her "buddy").
As we were saying goodbye to our tour guide, he even said he loves having kids her age on the tours because he sees their desire to learn and that they see the world with fresh eyes.

I'm so sorry you had that experience. I'm not sure how I would have reacted to that in the interest of staying with Rick's no grump policy. 😳🤣

Posted by
1599 posts

Hi mtsuzanne,

Sorry that this happened to you. I think it's a matter of traveling with a diverse group of people. Some don't filter their comments very well. I just returned from my 8th Rick Steves tour. I was traveling with a female friend and one of the tour members asked if we had two beds or if we were "sharing" a bed. On three tours I traveled with my boyfriend. Every time somebody asked if we were just friends or if we were sleeping together (I'm still working on the proper response). I can't imagine why anyone would presume that it's okay to ask those types of very personal questions but they do.

Posted by
672 posts

Donna, I think my response would be a very surprised look (which would come quite naturally) and just one word, "Really?" How incredible that you were asked these questions!

Posted by
13 posts

Having taken nine RS tours I am surprised that someone would have the audacity to verbalize their feelings the way this person did. We have had young people on tours and only once had a situation where that wasn't the best. A couple had their teen age boy who clearly did not want to be there. He was having extreme withdrawal from McDonalds and his girlfriend back home. It only affected the group because they felt sorry for his parents because they had a really grumpy kid on their hands! Our experience over the years has been that some groups gel very well and some don't. We have occasionally had a group with several couples traveling together when those people's attitude was "we are traveling together and aren't really interested in the rest of you". Fortunately those were the exception. Occasionally a group has had one or two "outliers" that the rest of us had wished those weren't along. As long as someone's behavior isn't disruptive to the group, the best thing to do is ignore it and enjoy the moment. If behavior is disruptive, you can speak to the guide about it.

On the comments about the group name game. Personally I don't like it, mainly because I have a horrible memory for names. However, I have thought the buddy introduction interesting because it was a chance to learn a bit about your fellow travelers backgrounds. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. On one trip when we tried it my buddy had no interest so I was never successful at extracting any information to impart! But, if the buddy introduction isn't done very early in the tour, it is pretty much pointless because most people have mingled enough and learned most of what they will find out at the introductions.