This seems more up our alley, but still seems rather spendy. What I need is someone to get me the hotels, the transportation (Airport transfers and everything in between). I suppose it would be nice to have that person to check in on a daily basis, but we also know you cannot wait until the day of to book your tours and stuff. I am curious about feedback, I have read some of the forums on this and it's a mixed bag.
Hi Matt -
I guess what it comes down to is that if you're not wanting to do the research and bookings necessary to organize a trip on your own yet want flexibility to spend most of your days as you wish to, a My Way® tour is an option. That there is a price for someone else to handle those details, and offer a tour manager for questions as they arise, is just part-and-parcel of any sort of organized tour.
You understand that they won't be handling arrangements for any of your daily activities (museum reservations, local transport, etc.)? I also don't think they offer transport arrangements between airports and hotels but I'm sure someone else knows.
All of the My Way® tours listed on this website have reviews from people who have taken them. Have you browsed through any of those? For instance, scroll down to "Reviews on "My Way® Italy in 13 Days" linked below. Taking a spin through these posts for any of this sort of tour may help you make a decision?
Taking a tour of any type is very rarely going to be cheaper than independent travel. What you need to decide is the “value” of having transportation and lodging arrangements made worth the extra cost. You will be responsible for all of the other arrangements.
A full tour goes a step further and plans for some activities, makes reservations, provides local guides and about 1/2 your meals. The cost goes up but so do the services delivered.
In any of these you will have a certain amount of free time you will need to plan for.
I dont believe the RS tours provide you with airport transfers.
No airport transfers are included with any RS tour. The MyWay Italy starts in Venice so it's relatively easy to get into the city center from the airport via water transport. RS Europe will give you specific information on what kind of transportation to take and how to get to your hotel but it's on you to do it.
I've done 11 RS tours with #12 coming up, all guided. I've also traveled on 13 tours with another company that does provide airport transportation if you have them book your airfare. I've never done that, I prefer to do my airline reservations on my own and get myself to the starting hotel. I do find that Rick's tours require you to be slightly more independent to get to the start.
For this Italy trip of mine coming up I've done a lot of bookings for things that I want to see. I've done some of the main sights before but am going to branch off the guided portion a time or two and have booked my own museum entries for sights the tour doesn't visit.
To me doing a MyWay will take a good bit of work on your part to research what you want to see in each location, then do the bookings, then figure out transit to the site. Your tour manager will be able to direct you on local transport but you'll need to have booked the museum/church/other sites you want to see mostly before you leave home.
No airport transfers.
I have taken the MyWay Alpine and would not mind doing this tour again. Benefits of the MyWay: 1) camaraderie/community if I want it - I often travel solo. 2) the opportunity to not be focused on lodging and travel when I have only a short time away from my job. I am looking to reduce the decisions in my life when away from work, and this has been helpful. 3) the ability to be as focused or unfocused on how to spend my daily time - even the chance to sleep in! During MyWay Alpine, I began with a fairly planned list of things to see and do in each location. Half way through, I pretty much tossed the list and experienced each day as it came. I think I needed the break! I know I enjoyed it.
I do not have a travel bucket list and know there are things to do and sights to see in each of these locations again. And if I need to accommodate a calendar of other commitments (work, etc.), I can see myself repeating the experience. In fact, I am looking forward to it.
Good luck on deciding if MyWay Italy is for you - and write a trip report if you do!
What I need is someone to get me the hotels, the transportation (Airport transfers and everything in between).
That person is called a travel agent.
I suppose it would be nice to have that person to check in on a daily basis
This is a tour guide.
This seems more up our alley, but still seems rather spendy.
Any tour organized by a third party is going to be more expensive than what you can do yourself.
You have to decide which is most important, money or the ease of effort on your part to travel. If money is important stay away from group tours. If ease of travel is important, do a My Way tour. If you just want to show up and have people do most everything for you, do a group tour.
Unfortunately, all of what you have described in your post does not exist.
Hi Matt, we did the Rick Steves Best of Italy 17-day fully-guided tour back in 2006. It was worth the money to us because it was our first time in Italy, and we experienced so much more than we could have doing it by ourselves. It opened our eyes to places we thought were “less important” which became favorites, too. The tour was a wonderful variety of places - most of them we have returned to on subsequent trips.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have planned numerous independent trips since that time. Yes, I save a lot of money, but my main reason is I like to visit a lot of places that aren’t on any tour company’s itineraries, and I enjoy the 1-on-1 interactions with locals while traveling. But, all of this comes at a cost - Time. I spend vast quantities of time researching.
So, with that preface, decide how much time you are willing to spend to prepare for your trip. If you just don’t have the time or the desire, then a fully-guided tour is money well spent. If you would like some assistance along the way but are willing to be more independent day-to-day, then the My Way tour would be a good option. If you really want everything planned, you might want a different company’s tour, but realize that it probably won’t have the smaller group size and same purpose to give a maximum return on travelers’ time & money.
It partly depends on how committed you are to the itinerary on the tour. If you do fewer destinations, it would be easier to plan on your own. You may not find a travel agent willing to do what you want-your choices may be a fully guided tour or considerable work on your own.
We did the "My Way" Italy tour in 2019. We really enjoyed it and stayed in places we would not necessarily have found ourselves. In Florence, for example, the hotel room windows opened onto a very close up view of Brunelleschi's Duomo. I've taken other trips where we did all the planning ourselves and the time saved with a RS tour was well worth the cost for us. Our guide spoke fluent Italian and English. On the bus she talked to us about things we might want to do in the upcoming destination. Because of her knowledge we found out about a driving tour in a 500 Fiat through the hills of Florence and ending up at a winery. They gave us a ride back into town after the wine tasting. We drove the Fiat through small towns and into the countryside and it was very romantic in the late afternoon light. I doubt I would have found out about this on my own. Yes, we did visit the Uffizi Gallery but the driving tour remains a vivid memory.