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First RS Tours

My wife and I just signed up for our first RS tours, South England and Best of England. We are long time (pre Rick Steves) independent travelers but have used Rick's books as guidance on many of our trips and have watched all of his television shows. I also haunt these forums for advice. The only previous tours we have taken were to China and Myanmar where we just did not feel comfortable going it alone.

We were going to do an England trip on our own as what could be easier with a "common" language. Yes, I have driven on the left side of the road in Ireland. However, when I checked on car rentals I was told I was too old to rent a car. That was sort of a kick in the gut being told I was "old". Never felt that way. So now we will have a new experience having someone else do most of the planning. Just to keep the independent spirit going we are stopping in Iceland on the way over and then, when we get to England, stay in a castle for a couple of nights before joining the tours. After the tours we will stay on in London for 3 or 4 more days on our own.

Posted by
2235 posts

Bob, I have also traveled independently all over the world, for business and pleasure, and am a recent fan of Rick Steves Tours. In early 2015 I woke up one morning and realized that for all my travels, somehow I had never stepped foot in England. About time, thought I. I looked at the Rick Steves Tours and couldn't decide if I should take the London Tour and add on time in other areas of England, or should take the Best of England Tour, and add on a few days in London. Turns out there were tours that dovetailed (and were both on sale at the time), so I took the London Tour, which ended one morning, then the Best of England Tour that began that same afternoon in Bath. I added a few days in Cambridge and Oxford on to the end. A great experience overall. I must admit that of all my travels, I felt the LEAST culture shock when I returned back home.

Posted by
1118 posts

For two tours to dovetail you just can not beat the South England tour that ends in Bath and the next day the Best of England tour starts in Bath. Talk about convenient.

Posted by
4104 posts

The South of England tour is wonderful. We were skeptical, when we first started taking RS tours, about being on a group tour. But we loved our first one (Best of Florence, RIP) and never looked back. You'll find a lot of discussion on this forum about going alone as opposed to taking a tour, and the answer is, There's no wrong way.

We like to combine a RS tour with independent travel. Best of both worlds. We're taking our 12th RS tour in April.

Have a wonderful time.

Posted by
1118 posts

Bob,
Thank you for the link to your report. Made me wish May was here already.

Posted by
82 posts

Looks like you are all set and I am sure you will enjoy the RS tours.

However, if you don't mind me asking, how old is too old to rent a car in England? I did a brief web check and, while some countries do restrict over 70 or 75 the UK does not. Was this a restriction imposed by the rental agency?

P.S. apropos of nothing in particular one source said that the maximum age in Finland is 97!

Robbie

Posted by
1118 posts

It was the rental car company. They had a maximum age of 75.

Posted by
7762 posts

Hi Bob! I've signed up for the South England tour in May as well.

I did the Best of England a few years ago and really, really enjoyed it! There is a lot of variety on that tour and I think one of the things I liked was spending time in smaller towns as well as getting in to some of the less accessible stately homes/National Trust areas.

You may do this already, but I do suggest you do some research on what you want to do in free time on that tour.

-It's helpful in York to have an idea as there is a lot on offer there.

-In Keswick I had already decided to walk up to Castlerigg stone circle and had directions from someone here on the forum. I also stopped at the Keswick TI in the center of town and got additional directions and a local map. It looks like the Derwent Pencil Museum is open again (was closed for a couple of years due to the catastrophic flood they had in Keswick and the whole area) and even though this sounds bizarre it was a wonderful small museum. Very interesting especially if you have an interest in WWII! If you are looking for gifts or have anyone in the family who is an artist this store had the BEST selection of colored pencils I've ever seen. Well, it is part of the Derwent company that makes them but wow!

-In Conwy, if your dinner on your own night is on a Friday or Saturday you will need reservations. It's a good idea to have an idea about restaurants there. I also enjoyed Plas Mawr, the Elizabethan house just a few doors up from the hotel. I thought this was really interesting as well as walking the city wall.

You'll have a wonderful time!

Posted by
23890 posts

Sounds great, Bob!

You're not old.

My Dad was renting cars in the UK (mostly from local independents and Avis in Naples, Italy) until he was 82. That was a few years back but I am sure it is still possible if you hunt around a bit.

I bet you'll have a great pair of tours. Wish I were going with you....

Posted by
1118 posts

Pam,
My wife and I will be on the South England tour starting May 28th. Which tour will you be on?

Oh, I have already started to plan ahead for the free time. In Canterbury I found out about a place called the Canterbury Tales. Now, I had heard of the Canterbury Tales but had never read them. So, in preparation for the trip, I read them. I did incorporate your suggestions into my list. You may want to check Bob's link above as he has good information on the South England tour.

Posted by
7762 posts

Bob, I'm going on the one the week before! I did read CT Bob's trip report! I'll check out some of the restaurants he mentions for free nights.

Posted by
4104 posts

Bob and Pam, we reread not only the Canterbury tales before our South England tour, but also the Brother Cadfael books. I don't know if the tour still goes to Battle Abbey, but we were delighted to be able to understand the layout there, having read the books. And they're a dandy read anyway.