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Family or Adult tour?

Hi everyone.
Myself and my partner, both in our 40's, will be treating/accompanying our 19yr old niece to/on a European vacation as a graduation present. This may sound a bit strange but I was wondering if we should book a family tour or an adult tour? We certainly welcome the opportunity to immerse ourselves in culture and we don't mind being in a group with varying ages, but we don't want her to become bored or feel as though she is on a school field trip. I love the destinations offered on the family tour, London to Florence. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
1352 posts

I would think the adult tour, but I agree you should talk to your niece about it.

Posted by
3478 posts

On many of our RS Tours there have been young ladies in their late teens. They all seemed to adapt well to the "adult" environment without any problems of feeling left out. One thing for sure, a "family" tour will have many younger kids (not necessarily teens) than a regular tour and your niece may relish the chance to operate in the adult world without the younger kids. Or not. As mentioned before, discussing the matter with her and getting her views will go a long way toward making the decision. Gosh, wish I had Aunts & Uncles willing and able to do this for me when I was 19 years old.

Posted by
2778 posts

On the other hand, wouldn’t the average of the adults on the family tour be closer to the OPs age?

Posted by
469 posts

I suspect a 19 year old would be much more interested in an adult tour! If you go on a family tour, the vast majority of the children are likely to be much younger than your niece. Our daughter was 15 when we did the adult BOE tour, and loved it. At 19, she will be accompanying us on the Best of Eastern Europe tour next.

If you are traveling during the summer months, there are likely to be teens on your tour. You could try calling the RS office to see whether any families are signed up for the tours/dates you are interested in. We booked our BOE way in advance. When I called the RS office, they told me there was no way to guarantee anything, but it would be likely there would be at least one other high school or college aged student on our tour, given the time of year. When we arrived at the first group meeting, imagine our surprise to discover that 10 of the 28 people on the tour were between ages 14-19! My daughter made some wonderful friends on that trip....both adults and kids.

Posted by
4595 posts

We've taken 11 RS tours, and on the various "adult" tours we have had tour mates who were 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, and early 20s. They all fit in well, and were a pleasure to travel with.

And in the summer, a mixed age group is likely. My guess is, unless she likes hanging out with much younger people, the regular (non-family) tour would be the better choice.

Posted by
137 posts

It is an excellent way to choose a tour, by loving the destinations of a particular itinerary. In my experience with 7 RSTs since 2008, summer dates included more younger tour members and 'off-season' dates have skewed to fewer non-youthfully challenged. (!) Consider any RST's day-to-day itinerary description closely, note how many stops and overnights, track the length and incidence of bus time and maybe take that more into your internal debate on which tour to choose. I am a huge fan of the style, methods, guides and philosophy of RST and think you are making an exceptionally wonderful and generous choice of gift for your niece. Ages of members certainly does not adversely dictate or otherwise negatively impact the exciting, fun and informational nature of a Rick Steves tour. I will say, if there would have been a school field trip anything like any of the RS tours I have been on, I would have been a very, very lucky and completely ecstatic student.


Posted by
2465 posts

Many of the 7 RS tours we have been on had younger people, but not all. We had two of our children in their 20's with us on the Adriatic tour and they were the youngest by many decades and aside from us, had no peers to hang out with. On our Greece tour we lucked out with 3 other young folks and it was a great time for our daughter. We have not done the family tour, but if having young folks along is important to your niece, than I would err on the side of choosing one of those. Otherwise you are banking on having a younger demographic on a tour which clearly attracts those age 50++. See what she says.

Posted by
5971 posts

When I was 19, I would have much preferred being counted as an adult. I keep thinking of having to sit at the kids table at a wedding. But its all about the itinerary, for your enjoyment as much as her education.

Posted by
920 posts

Another vote for adult. I have been on 10 tours, many with children, most with young adults. The Family Tour selection is limited as to itinerary and time of year. I would let your niece look at the options. Maybe one tour over another appeals to her.

Posted by
3768 posts

What a wonderful graduation gift! Another vote for the adult RS tour since she’s just graduating and feeling more mature.

Posted by
1939 posts

Along with the majority of posters, I would say adult but do ask which she thinks she would prefer. At the same time, have her look at some of the tour scrapbooks posted elsewhere on this RSE site. My personal experience (4 tours with my adult "children" and our grandchildren at the following ages: tour#1-7&8, tour#2-9&11, tour#3- ages 11&13 and last tour 2 years ago #4-ages 12&14. Now they are 16 and 18 and we're choosing tour #5 (with them-I've been on many more w/o them!) which is generating lots of discussion. All but the first tour were "regular" tours. Other children/teens/young adults of varying ages on all of them but the family tour (#1) skewed very much to the younger side, which worked just wonderfully for them at the time. It seems to me as if tours held during the summer months are more likely to have a variety of ages. Whatever you decide, kudos to your for offering her this fantastic opportunity and you all will have a wonderful time together!

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for taking the time to share your experiences and suggestions. It sounds like there isn’t a “bad” choice one way or the other:) My intention was to take the lead on the travel plans but after reading all of the responses, I think that thoroughly involving my niece in the process would be the best way to go. She is an extremely grateful young lady and I am sure that she would be ok either way but I just want her to have the experience of a lifetime. Knowing my niece, the destination will be the main decision making point. I think from there, a detailed look at the excursions on each itinerary will help her narrow it down. Thanks again!

Posted by
1544 posts

A good friend took her daughter (18) on a graduation trip and they selected the RS Venice-Florence-Rome tour in early September (her college didn't start until late September). There was another mother-daughter set was on the same tour and they all got along great. The rest of the tour group was much, much older but all treated the "youngsters" with respect and made them feel welcome. My friend's daughter is an art fanatic and was a hit with her knowledge. One note: depending on the country, your niece will be old enough to consume alcohol in Europe. Though she's technically an adult, it is probably a good idea to talk with her parents before she indulges.

Posted by
1879 posts

First, WOW...what a generous and lovely graduation gift that will not only bring a lifetime of memories/experiences but will be educational as well!!

I agree with the suggestion to ask her preference, unless you want to surprise her with the trip.

When I was 19, I was married and we purchased our first house about a week after I turned 20....very much an adult. If someone had provided a trip to Europe at that stage in my life, I would have been turning cartwheels and been sooooo very appreciative. I probably would have preferred traveling with adults vs. very young kids.

Posted by
408 posts

If you go in summer probably you will
Have some young adults on a BOE tour. Like others have said when we went Aug 2016 we had three families on our tour. Two ( including our own) had 15 year olds and then up to 23 year olds. About seven teens/ young adults in the mix. .

Honestly though my kids were comfortable sitting & hanging with all ages and especially enjoyed being with both of our excellent tour guides. We do these vacations for family time with an added bonus of meeting new people while on tour not to find my teens people to hang with all day.

Know that if you go on the family tour you could have kids as young as I think 8. I would ask before you book if other families have signed up for your time. They told us as we were booking.

What a lucky niece!