Please sign in to post.

Looking for fellow BOE in 21 Days April 23 travelers

Anyone on the Best of Europe in 21 Days, April 23- May 13 here on the Forum? Or, anyone who has taken this tour in the past here that can answer a few questions (I've read every Forum post for the last few years, but still have one or two questions!)

Posted by
3980 posts

Ask away! We're not on your tour, but we took it in 2018. Also in 2011.

Posted by
5 posts

I understand packing light - and have become almost obsessed with that. BUT - I just need a tad more room than my carry on bag gives me. My very favorite bag is one size up, must be checked, but weighs way less than any of our carry on bags. It looks like there's not a RULE about carry on only, it's just strongly advised. Fully packed (yes, I've tested it), my bag will be 18 lbs., (or less), and I can pretty easily carry that. We get into Amsterdam 3 days ahead of the tour, so I'm not worried about the airlines losing my bags (hubby and I split our stuff between two bags for flights anyway). Is it OK to check it, and haul around a slightly bigger bag than everyone else? Looking at photos my bag doesn't look significantly larger than some of the carry ons stuffed full. I've seen conflicting stories about this.

Also, when we arrive at each destination, it looks like it's OK to leave a bag on the bus while we're checked into our hotel. I'm assuming the bus is "gone" for that entire time, and whatever we leave on the bus is out of reach for the time we're at each stop. Correct?

Did you take the tram up the mountain? I'm very concerned about that. I really, really want to do it, a once in a lifetime adventure, but I'm frightened of heights, and it sounds very scary. Anyone on your trip hesitant to do it but did it anyway? And made it without major incident? I just need some success stories, I think! (I did brave parasailing in Hawaii about 10 years ago, and loved it! But this sounds a little more intense.)

Did you take the tour in late April or early May? I have questions about weather, clothing, and shoes, as well.

Thank you for all tips and info you can pass on!

Posted by
3980 posts

Tami, you will see all sizes of bags on your RS tour. Nobody is going to kick you off the tour if you check your bag. Most people try to have carry-on size, even if they check them, but you probably will not have the biggest bag in your group.

Also, when we arrive at each destination, it looks like it's OK to leave a bag on the bus while we're checked into our hotel. I'm assuming the bus is "gone" for that entire time, and whatever we leave on the bus is out of reach for the time we're at each stop. Correct?

Your guide and driver will arrange an area on the bus called "deep storage." This is for things you do not need during the trip itself, or things you buy along the way that you don't care about seeing again until the tour is over. You will be urged to not leave belongings in the main part of the bus. For one thing, you will not have assigned seats, so you will almost certainly not be sitting tomorrow where you leave something today. And the driver cleans the bus daily; leaving things on the bus will hamper this. This is another reason to be sure whatever size or weight bag you have, you can handle it yourself up and down stairs, over cobblestone walks, etc.

You can certainly plan ahead, and have what you need for the night in a smaller bag, and leave your larger bag in the luggage section, but make sure your driver knows what you are doing. In fact, you will be urged to do this in Venice, especially with a roller bag, because the bridges (which have stairs, not ramps) and narrow cobbled sidewalks make pulling bags challenging.

My spouse and I did not go up the mountain in Switzerland; we hiked and explored the valley instead. But a number of folks in our group did, and had a wonderful time.

We actually took this tour twice, once in 2011 - in June, I think, and last year in April. I think our tour started April 15. What specific clothing questions did you have? The only concessions I made to the cooler weather were packing a set of silk long underwear, and taking a pair of corduroy jeans instead of my usual linen blend slacks. I also packed a cheapie (dollar store) pair of gloves, but never actually wore them. The folks who went up the mountain did get snowed on, though.

On our first tour, one of our group actually went parasailing off the mountain, but I understand that that has since been discouraged. :-)

Posted by
141 posts

Hi Tami! Jane is spot on with her comments regarding luggage. My husband and I were on the My Way BOE tour in September/October 2015 and stayed in the Lauterbrunnen Valley for two nights. I also have a fear of heights and was afraid to go to the top of the Schilthorn, but I said to myself "You know, Liz, you can sit at a sidewalk cafe, have a glass of wine and lunch on your own and just people watch, but is that what you really want?" The answer was no. So I did it and was rewarded with one of the most spectacular views I'll ever see in my lifetime. I actually cried, but astounding natural beauty sometimes does that to me. If I can do it so can you! Talk with your guide and be open about your fear of heights - nobody is going to laugh at you and there will probably be others in your group who feel the same.

As far as clothing and shoes are concerned - post your questions on the packing and shoes categories here on the Forum. That way more women travelers will see them and they will be happy to help you by sharing what has worked for them. I have benefited tremendously from their knowledge and try to pass on what I've learned. I have three packing reports on here from 1) 10/09/15 My Way BOE, 2) 10/26/17 My Way Alpine, and 3) 2/27/19 Best of Sicily. We always travel in shoulder season and winter so you may find some helpful information in them. You will have a wonderful time!

Posted by
7630 posts

I agree with Jane and Liz of course. I’ll add I am a huge height chicken.

I did go up to the Schilthorn and depending on where you are staying you may need to go in a gondola to get to your hotel. My hotel was in Stechelberg at the end of the Valley but I understood they were transitioning away from there to have this tour stay in Muerren (breathtaking).

I managed the gondola by either sitting in the seats along the edge of the car and looking down or when it was crowded and I had to stand my tour peeps gathered around me so I didn’t have to look out. I agree to also let your guide know you have some height fear.

The mountains were so breathtaking that I signed up for the GAS tour which had 3 nights in Muerren, lol!!

I can manage being on the ground up high so it’s just the gondola that bothers me. I did fine on the Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg hike (twice) and it is SO worth it. There are no sheer drops on that hike so nothing to worry over if you get the opportunity to do it.

On the GAS tour I came back down from the Schilthorn by myself so I sat and stared at the floor. The gondola operator came over and asked me if I was OK. I laughed and said, yes, just don’t like heights. He smiled and said some people get a bit sick from the elevation and he just wanted to make sure I was OK. It was very sweet of him but it was probably because he thought I might barf in his car!!!

This is such a fun tour! You will love it and yes, unfortunately you will be hooked!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Tami! I will be on your tour BOE April 23-May 13. I went on a previous RS tour to Ireland in 2004. You will love it! I find the luggage guidelines to be just that, guidelines. However, you do need to lug your own bags so if it is too heavy, it can be a challenge. I brought a fold up tote to use for shopping and was able to keep it stored on the bus in the luggage compartment. Afterwards, I shipped my purchases home as I had bought many books and souvenirs for friends and family. It was nice to have the bus storage option. You could also check your bag on the plane home and use your shoppers tote for your carry on bag if you need to as well. I am looking forward to meeting you on the tour! I will be traveling alone so I will be meeting everyone at some point. Europe, here we come!!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for your responses. Good to know I can check my bag, that all that matters really is that I can carry it myself. (I owned a bookstore for 30 years, just retired in November, and regularly carried 50 lb boxes of books up and down stairs, so should be OK with 20 lbs or less in my bag.)

As far as wardrobe, I'm a casual dresser - tees and jeans or cotton pants. Hoping that will work! Shoes are my worry. I have foot issues, so my choices are slim. I am planning to bring a pair of Clark Cloudstepper "sneakers", and my Sketcher walking sandals. Both are very comfy, have tested them extensively, but I'm concerned a bit about rainy days when my Clarks get wet. They dry fairly quickly, but still... My hiking shoes are so heavy, I really don't want to tote them around. At this late date (we leave Saturday!) I guess I just have to go with that I have planned. But should I bring the heavy shoes just in case? Argh!

I am OK on the ground at heights, it will be the gondola ride that might be an issue, but after reading your responses, I am more determined than ever to GO FOR IT!

One more question about the bus - is there phone charging capability while riding? Not life or death, but would be handy.

Jeannie - I am looking forward to meeting you! I'm sure you are just as excited as we are! We actually arrive in Amsterdam the morning of the 21, and plan to do a few things there before meeting in Haarlem on the 23rd.

Posted by
3980 posts

Tami, it may be too late to buy shoes, but maybe you can get another pair of a style you know works for you? I always take two pair in case one gets wet. And I find my feet (and my shoes) appreciate a day off every other day or so.

The buses vary; some have charging ports, most don't. And at least one we were on (in England) had wifi. People were very excited about that. I'd rather look out the window, or visit with new friends.

Posted by
7630 posts

If your main shoes get wet, be sure to pull the insole out overnight and they will dry faster. I’d just go with what you’ve got at this point.

Look at the weather. I’m in Amsterdam right now and temps have been running much cooler than normal. I’d not change your whole packing strategy but you might want to add a layer. I’ve actually worn my glove liners a number of times the last week or so! I like to think I’m pretty cold tolerant but I’ve been chilly a few times recently when we’re out and about.

Posted by
11411 posts

Hi Tami , I’m not on your but tour but took a RS years ago with my then 12 yr old - that hike is SO worth the ride up in gondola ( I don’t like heights so just stood in middle and didn’t look down lol ) my daughter and I also did the whole walk back down - which was awesome but hard on knees . The hike from Mannicheljn is easy and so scenic - don’t miss it !

Posted by
5 posts

Sitting here finishing up a few things before we leave for our tour in the morning. Thank you to everyone who has responded to my questions, or posted on any of the other threads here in the forum. So much helpful info! I hope to have a few things to add once we return from our tour.

Happy travels to you all!

Posted by
3980 posts

Tami, have a wonderful time, and check back in with us from time to time. And be sure to post a trip report!