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I, umm, booked early

Best of Europe in 21, last departure of 2020. Just 14 months of prepacking. Hey, anyone else going?

Posted by
826 posts

No, I am not signed up, but I applaud you taking action. Good job. I am still struggling with my end of 2019 tour.

Happy packing and planning!

Posted by
360 posts

umm, I booked early too! For September 2020! the new Tuscany tour. Wow, it's so far away. But I'm excited. I'll bet you're excited about the Best of Europe. That's a wonderful tour!

Posted by
3103 posts

Leaving today for my 2019 tour (Best of Switzerland) I also have 2020 tour booked (Best of Adriatic) . I love the anticipation of looking forward to the next trip :)

Posted by
4 posts

I think I enjoy the planning as much as the actual trip. Reading the books, the postings, finding blogs, etc. Good luck and have fun!

Posted by
13 posts

I, ummm, booked early too! Munich, Salzburg, Vienna 11/22/20!! I've always traveled solo but ready to do a tour and would only try this with Rick Steve's kinda travelors!!

Posted by
6535 posts

Just curious ....why do folks book this far in advance? What's the upside?

Posted by
2199 posts

Just curious ....why do folks book this far in advance? What's the upside?

Agnes - I have never taken an escorted multi-day bus tour, but I usually book my flights to Europe 10 months ahead of time. The reason for that is I use American's "MileSaver" option to fly in business, and relatively few of those seats are available.

The upsides for me are flying in business using only half as many miles as the "Anytime" option, and plenty of time to research and book hotels and day-trips. And of course, maybe especially - the anticipation.

Posted by
543 posts

Just curious ....why do folks book this far in advance? What's the upside? <<

For me only, kind of a habit. But practically, the deposit funds are committed and time slots are locked out.

I did this with bicycle touring events for decades. On popular events like Cycle Oregon, two thousand available slots sold out within hours so one learned to book nine months out.

Posted by
700 posts

Upside- Plenty.

RS discount
Locked in date- getting the date YOU want. Dates do sell out.
Time to watch flights and to book when you feel the best price (points options) is available.
Pretty much assured availability of pre and post tour hotels if you chose.
Still working, lots of employer notice for work project planning

Travel Safe!

One Fast Bob

Posted by
216 posts

Another advantage of booking early is that, if you want a single supplement room, you can be assured of one.

Posted by
4448 posts

Agnes, (in my mind I call you Agnieszka), we love to book early. It makes the tour, the vacation real. And yes, I start reading guidebooks, histories, memoirs, and studying the language. When things are tough, it is what I turn to, so I can say "In 243 days we're going to Italy."

Posted by
6535 posts

Shoutout to Jane (yes, that's my real name!)

I guess, in my mind I differentiate between "early" (12 months away) and "really early" (> 12 months away). I figured there were too many unknowns very far in the future for folks to commit "really early", especially given health/age/family issues. When I book airfare too early, I get constant itinerary changes which sometimes work out for the best, and sometimes they're a nuisance.

I was wondering for this particular tour since it's not even close to being waitlisted yet. I've only been on one RS tour (I'm pretty much a DYI traveler) and I booked that one (Turkey) very last minute. It was on sale too because it wasn't too crowded and they needed to fill seats, I got very lucky.

Posted by
4448 posts

Agnes, we lived and worked in Poland for several years in the early 80s. (Yes, the Solidarity and martial law period.) I always loved the name Agnieszka, so when I saw you were Polish, that's what always pops into my mind when I read one of your posts.

Posted by
1730 posts

I love the anticipation and the planning too. Yes, health, family or work issues can intervene but I buy travel insurance which helps to mitigate the risks of booking so far in advance. Travel is very important to me.
I plan to sign up for a tour soon just waiting for news at work before I pull the trigger.
And my RS tour for 2019 is in December, 4 months away!
I’m planning an independent trip to Venice and Florence in April with a friend.
Seems I like to go twice a year. Hmm.

Posted by
1177 posts

We put a deposit down on a trip on January 18th -- on a departure in November 2020. This is the Barcelona to Buenos Aires cruise. Advantages were a $50 deposit promo, and it is refundable. We got a great choice of cabin location, a decent price (and have snagged two price reductions since then), and can start searching airfares as soon as they are released.

Sounds like great planning, but the wait is killing me! We had this year's trip in March/April, so waiting til November 2020 will feel like an eternity. I have a bit of vacation time to enjoy before then, but it just isn't the same if you don't go to the airport. On the flip side, my 2021 trip will come up very fast on the heels of this one!

Posted by
60 posts

I'm about to plunk down my deposit and single supplement for Best of Barcelona-Madrid over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2020. Hehe.

Posted by
700 posts

Another reason: Not everyone who takes a RS Tour is retired nor can they just write $5000 - $7000 in checks for a tour (air fare etc) on a moments notice. Book now and pay the deposit (and single supp). They then have X months before buying air fare followed by X months before the final tour payment is due. Allows them to quickly set a budget of $X going into the tour acct each month.. Savings are savings but for many having a hard and set amount needed and date due helps them stay on track.

Someone at 55 probably doesn’t have the health worry that someone at 70 does in terms of scheduling. Additionally even if cancelled RS is very liberal in allowing you to shift the deposit to a future trip.

Travel safe

One Fast Bob

Posted by
126 posts

I like to book early to have a whole year or year + to plan - love the research - and I do every 2 years so I can save/borrow the $$
and have it paid off either before I go or soon after. Also have to get the single supplement and discounted airfare. I could
never do a "spur of the moment" big trip. When our bus made a surprise stop at Gubbio, Italy in 2015, I was almost angry as I
knew nothing about it - turned out great though.

Posted by
75 posts

We booked the Sicily RS tour for Oct 2020. There will be 5 of us. Originally we were looking at spring 2020...not quite so far in advance, but one of the group wanted to retire first, so we switched to fall. One of us wanted a single room, and we were concerned that they would run out. We also had a wide selection of airbnb properties, so got two that look great. I always like to book at least a few months out, because we have more options and I love the anticipation.

Posted by
86 posts

I book early as well. Waited too long too book Portugal tour and no single rooms left for my dates. Unwilling to share a room with a stranger, I had to go to plan B. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding single space increasingly limited.

Posted by
360 posts

Yes, if you're looking for a single supplement, it's best to book as early as possible. My trip, the new Tuscany tour, is already on a waitlist for September 2020!

Posted by
4448 posts

When our bus made a surprise stop at Gubbio, Italy in 2015, I was almost angry as I
knew nothing about it - turned out great though.

Sarah C, I know what you mean. Our eastern France tour this year had a "surprise" deviation from the itinerary, and I was "Wait, what? ... But we're not ready for that!"

But as you say, it turned out well. We had a pleasant, informative stop, and learned about a community and a Revolutionary period architect of whom we had never heard.

Posted by
64 posts

We booked early too - Paris and HOF. There are 4 of us and we only had one date that worked. Seems a little aggressive to book so far in advance but now we have months of planning to look forward to, and we locked in the date we wanted with the early booking discount.

Posted by
34 posts

I booked early as well. I am taking a leave of absence from work in September, 2020. Village Italy is my jumping off point that fall. It gives me something to look forward to!

Posted by
4448 posts

Amy, we did the same thing for the same reason. We were planning to take Paris and the HOF with a couple of friends. We wanted to go in the fall; that didn't work for them. They wanted to go in April; nope, I couldn't do that. So we sat down with the tour list and our calendars, and came up with a compromise. So we booked early to be sure we got our dates. Then two more friends joined in, and one more got the last available place! It worked out for us, and we had lots of time to plan.

It's a good tour, by the way. Here's a link to my tour report: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/tour-report-paris-and-the-heart-of-france

Kathy, Village Italy is a wonderful tour. It's one I'd happily do again.

Posted by
896 posts

As a family of four, our whole trip basically depends on flight availability and pricing. We cannot afford to go to Europe if we have to pay for the flight so we tend to book right at 331 days in advance when the points flights are released so that we can get the flights we want for “free.” Also planning a trip early allows you to maximize your points strategy if you are a hotel loyalist by using a certain credit card or staying at certain brands for work and gives you time to accumulate points. As others have said with cruises to you get to pick the exact rooms that you want and also some cruise lines just get more expensive the closer to the sail date. That’s not true for all of them but for sure re: lines like Disney that is definitely the case so there is no financial reason to wait because you just put down a small deposit and pay in full months later.

Posted by
64 posts

Jane - I read your tour report and was delighted with all the detail. I may PM you with questions. My sister’s name is the same as yours so I naturally trust your guidance.

Posted by
4448 posts

Amy, feel free! I'm assuming you like your sister....

Posted by
1730 posts

I just booked the Best of Germany tour, yay! I’m considering St. Petersburg Tallinn Helsinki Tour which starts the day after the first tour ends. Should be simple to fly to Tallinn from Berlin. I have to think about it for a few days before I take the plunge.
Anyone have thoughts or opinions or advice about doing back to back tours? I’m all ears.
TIA!

Posted by
4448 posts

If you have the time, back to back tours can be great. The only negative thing I have to say, is it can be hard to keep track of what happened when! We did two France tours back to back this year, and by the time tour number two was over, we couldn't remember much of tour number one.

In fact, at our last local travel group meeting, a friend who was on tour number one with us brought her scrapbook, and I couldn't recognize or remember about half the things we did!

YMMV, of course.

Posted by
1730 posts

Interesting point, Jane. Russia is so different from Germany maybe it won’t be as much a factor. I signed up for the Best of Germany tour last night and am mulling over the St. Petersburg tour. I will have the vacation days to do it but my concern is being gone 24 or 25 days. I’ve been gone for 19 days for the Best of Italy tour and I thought I couldn’t get home fast enough.
I wonder if I just fly to St. Petersburg for 5 days and hire a private guide to see the major sights I’m interested in? That would shave 4 days off the time away.

Posted by
811 posts

Judy - we have done two years in a row back to back tours. 2018 was 8 day heart of Ireland and the Scotland. Both were great , loved Scotland the best. I had no memory issues of what I did. This year was 7 day London and Paris and heart of France with Jane. Hubs and I were both ill in France , so only reason was a blurr because I did not feel well. I think if I did two France tours like Jane, it would be hard to remember some stuff.

Would love to combine the Scandinavian and Baltic tour but that is too much money to do. Can’t save that much in one year.

Posted by
1730 posts

Thanks, Kim. That is what I was thinking - that Russia and Germany are so different. Now I'm thinking of the number of days I will be away from home - 24 or 25. The longest I've been in Europe is 19 days and I was so ready to be home. That was the Best of Italy in 17 Days tour and it was a fantastic tour. I was gone for 18 days when I did the RS Turkey tour.

Posted by
4448 posts

Judy B, that's funny. I think this year we were gone 32 days, and last year 34 (21 Day Best of Europe with plenty of time before and after.) I don't think I've ever been "so ready to be home." But I have elderly parents (both in their 90s, with a range of health issues) and Stan and I both have obligations to other groups with which we volunteer, so we just sigh and go home.

I think the longest I've ever been gone was 10 or 11 months, but that was for work. And no, I wasn't ready to go home!

Posted by
1730 posts

Jane,
I do love traveling but also love being home. A homebody I guess! Maybe it’s easier being gone when you’re with your spouse?
And thanks for the good wishes on my job news. I say “secure” advisedly meaning in the business world things change quickly. I’m fortunate because others are losing their jobs in this merger and I now have a role in the new company.

Posted by
2 posts

Ah, I booked early as well. Best of Europe, September 2020. Lot's of fun planning, anticipation. Plus gives you plenty of time to really think and read the forum. Going to spend a few days in London prior to the Amsterdam start. Oh, and I am using flyer miles so early booking on that is needed for sure.

Posted by
4448 posts

Judy B, I'll give you that. If I were traveling without my spouse, I'd definitely be more eager to return home.

I do have one friend - who posts reglarly on this Forum - who routinely travels for weeks without her spouse. He decided at one point he was done with Europe, so she goes without him! I've often wondered what I would do in those circumstances.

Posted by
33 posts

I find if I don't book trips after my husband and I have discussed them, even if it is just a weekend away, the timelines tend to slip and then we keep "planning" to do things. Just booked the BOE21 day for May 2020. We agreed on when we wanted to see the countries so there was no reason for us to wait to confirm. Since I do all the vacation and itinerary planning usually, it helps me stay focused and organized on where we are in the process. Hubby tends to not engage in the planning.

I just booked Best of Ireland September 2020. My first choice already has a waitlist! I’m retiring in June and want to have a fun trip to shape my first few months of not working. Getting single supplement and saving $100 is good too.

Posted by
468 posts

I've never been on a Rick Steves tour before and I have already signed up for two! The London City Tour next month, and the Best of Tuscany next year. I have spent quite a bit of time in Tuscany, but the tour includes places that I have not visited before so I am pretty excited about it.

Posted by
15 posts

I booked my Eastern Europe May 2020 tour in August and shortly thereafter found a terrific deal on business class on BA for just slightly higher than the price you would normally pay an economy ticket.