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First family trip to Europe - 14 Day Best of Europe - alumni question

I am in the final stages of committing to the RS Best of Europe 14 day tour starting June 22, 2015....for my husband and I, with our daughter who will be 18 then, and our son who will be 13. We're so very excited - the trip is a long-awaited high school graduation present for our daughter. This will be our kids first trip to Europe and our first RS Tour. My husband and I have only been to Europe 17 years ago - and this was just to London.

I have really enjoyed reading the posts to this forum. I have a few questions that I'd greatly appreciate this group's input.

First, our teens would really love to have other teens on the tour, so I'd love to hear from others who have attended this tour in the mid-to-late-June timeframe....were there other teens on the tour? How did the tour go? Has anyone else reading this signed up for this specific tour/date? We selected this date because of our schedules and are hoping since the majority of the US should be out of school by then, there will be older kids/teens on this date. The places visited on this tour is more preferable than the family tours (my daughter's favorites as well), and since our kids are older, we think this tour would be better for us than the family tour.

Secondly, I've read several posts about arranging for special activities during the free time during the tour....we've already begun reading the RS Best of Europe guide for ideas. Are there other ways to research and decide on what activities to do in our free time? I understand the tours can be subject to change, so it is wise to book anything in advance? We are planning to fly into London a few days early to see family and tour the key sites; as such, we'll arrive in Paris a day early and will plan to tour the Eiffel Tower then (since this is not part of the RS tour). I see that the Vatican Museum is now listed as part of this tour, which is fantastic and something we really want to see. Any other "must sees/dos" during the tour free time, or afterwards in Rome for things not included in the tour? We're planning to stay over an extra day in the backend in Rome as well.

Lastly, how far in advance should we start seriously looking for our flights? I have been hoarding my Delta miles for years, so I think I will have enough to pay for 3 of our 4 tickets with miles if I can get a somewhat decent fare. We are planning to fly into London, take the train from London to Paris, then fly back home from Rome.

Thanks so much for the feedback.

Posted by
3528 posts

I wanted to respond to the question about Miles/flights. I recently used miles to purchase round trip tickets for my sister and myself to Europe for next summer. I talked to a reservation agent at length (Alaska Airlines) and this is what she told me.
1. Look early- See what is available as soon as possible. If it matches what you want, snap it up! There is no guarantee it will be there in the future.
2. Look often- Flights are added into the mix at different times through the year. Keep looking frequently so you don't miss the one you want.
3. Don't forget partner airlines- We used Alaska Miles, but will be flying American Airlines to Frankfurt and returning from Paris on Air France. I noticed that Delta was one of the partners we could have flown on as well.
A word of warning: be prepared for a shock when you see what the airport fees are at Heathrow. You have family you are visiting so it will probably be worth it to you, but the cost of flying into London with miles and the cost of flying into Paris with miles can be a difference in the hundreds of dollars.

It sounds like this will be a wonderful trip for your family and one that you will always remember.

Posted by
1624 posts

Hi, I've taken 5 RS tours and found that there is a very limited amount of free time, most of the activities are included as part of the tour and you are moving pretty quickly. If you have a free evening, you can arrange for concert tickets or an extra sightseeing tour by speaking with your guide or the folks at the front desk at the hotel. Bottom line, I would not book too many things in advance.

Posted by
5688 posts

Re flight miles -- for our holiday trip in mid-December I started checking the United site a year ahead and booked almost as soon as dates opened up. Start checking now so you can get a feel for the miles you will need ... and tradeoff between nonstops and flights with connections. I understand that Delta 2015 rules have some changes.

Posted by
72 posts

Thank you for all the replies thus far...very helpful! I would love to hear from anyone who did this tour last year regarding how you spent their free time (e.g., the day in the Swiss Apps, the free afternoons listed)...what did you do that was great, not so good, etc. I will start researching Delta airline partners now and begin monitoring airfares.