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Make a Case for A Rick Steves Tour

Our family have been independently traveling throughout Europe since 1999. Our boys would drag their little colorful Keds suitcases behind us from Stockholm to Rome. Fast forward to 2017 when our now adult kids bought me a Rick Steves Sicily Tour for Fathers Day. I included the tour in a four week trip while my wife was still working.
I thought the itinerary was great and some of my bus mates were a blast. It really complimented a solo European vacation but I noticed the group format puts a layer between us and the locals. Our tour guide was “meh” and I understand she is no longer leading tours with Rick and ETBD.
My wife, now retired, has recently expressed interest in someday taking a RS Tour. She was surprised to learn last night that Rick has sold twenty thousand tours next year.
We spend quite a bit of time visiting her sister near Rome so a tour could occur before or after. I’ll probably make it happen but need to get a little more enthusiastic.
I would love to hear some motivating comments from fellow forum members and “Tour Veterans”.

Posted by
1792 posts

I took the 17 Days Best of Italy tour which covers Northern Italy from Varenna on Lake Como to Bolzano, Verona to the Dolomites. On to Venice, Florence & hill towns in Umbria, Cinque Terre on to the grand finale, Rome! It’s a fantastic highlights tour. I made friends I still keep in touch with on this Italian journey. I loved Rome so much I immediately signed up for the 7 Days Rome tour when I returned home. RS outlines what is included in the itinerary but there are many surprise experiences that will delight you. I recommend this tour even though you are familiar with Rome.

Posted by
1091 posts

My husband and I have taken three RS tours and, like you, have also traveled independently a lot. I am sorry your Sicily guide was “meh”. We have loved our three RS a guides but know that sometimes one, of course, can be less than stellar. While it is true that the group insulates you a bit from interacting with the locals, you have free time on the tour, pre tour and post tour where you can get out on your own and mingle with the locals. Even during a group activity, you can make the effort to make contact with someone other than the group. But you have to make the effort. Our guide on the Eastern France tour knew that I wanted to practice my French and facilitated a lovely conversation with a hotel owner. You will be having half your meals on your own. It is another opportunity to mingle. Plus you will have experiences on the tour that you might not have if you were on your own. We have had many memorable moments on the tours. Plus we have loved our groups and have developed life long friendships with some of them.

Posted by
373 posts

We did only solo travel for many years. Our first RS tour was to St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Tallinn. We chose this because we thought it would be easier than doing it on our own. We didn’t want to just visit during the day from a ship.
We learned a lot about things we knew little of before. We were hooked.
Since then we do RS tours for locations where transport for the same itinerary would require us to rent/drive a car.
( Not our idea of fun when only one of us can appreciate the sights while the other navigates a vehicle. )
I would recommend choosing a location you have never been to before. Maybe never even considered. It might surprise you how much more you learn about a place when seen through the eyes of your local guide/ tour leader. Almost all tour leaders for RS are natives of the area they guide, and most of them are natural teachers who really love sharing their country with others.
Most important to us going forward is to support business models like RS. Mindful, socially responsible and responsive, and focused on our global commonalities.

Posted by
1885 posts

I've always traveled independently to Europe. Last year I had signed up for 1 RS tour and in 2022 I've signed up for 2. While I love being responsible for my own travels, I didn't want to be responsible for the travels of my friend who will be joining me. She hasn't traveled as much and I didn't want to be "in charge of everything." I've used the Rick Steves guidebooks for years, and of course watched the shows, so I already trusted the Rick Steves brand. It was easy to "turn over" all the logistics to the tour so that I can just enjoy it along with my friend.

I'm adding time on the front and back of each tour for some independent travels.

Posted by
558 posts

We have taken 2 RS tours, and done other traveling on our own. The Eastern Europe RS tours was good for us because we did not know as much history in those areas. Our guide, and all the local guides were very good. It was also helpful to have a guide explain the various currencies and help us know how much money we might want to exchange in each country. We also did the Alpine My Way tour; that was amazing. It was great to be on a tour, so I didn't have to figure out transportation to all these remote, gorgeous sites. Also my husband and brother-in-law did not have to drive! I highly recommend a My Way tour; you get the experience of a guide, but the time and space to go where you want at each location.

Posted by
5735 posts

I’ll take a couple of shots at it. I have traveled in Europe independently, so not inexperienced with that. But in recent years (yes, as we’ve gotten older and less money conscious), we have decided that the RSE tour experience suits us very well, as we have come to the point where quality of experience is more important than quantity or the dollar costs. Many people rightly point out that you can do it all yourself for less money that the RS tours, but that’s only if you look at just the cost. The intangibles (like efficiency of time management, knowledgable guides) are hard to quantify. I’ve likened it to the difference between cooking dinner yourself at home (planning/shopping/cooking serving/cleaning up) versus going to eat in a restaurant. Sure its cheaper to do it yourself, but nicer if someone else is doing the hard parts, leaving you with the fun parts.

Another point in favor of tours is that because there is a set plan and schedule, you don’t have to negotiate with your travel partners. The bus leaves at ….. . Not such a big deal if you and your companions are 100% in sync all the time, but that seems to be rare. Then, the tours still offer a lot of independent free time in the schedule to do other things that appeal to you. Some people chafe at being on someone else’s schedule, having to interact with strangers, or just get up early and get going. A tour might not be for you if thats the case.

Another negative stereotype that comes up is that these tours are for newbies, too timid to travel without handholding and insulation from those unfamiliar foreign customs. Maybe thats true of some of the big bus tours but not with RS. A show of hands at the orientation meetings on the four tours we’ve been on, shows that more than half of participants have a lot of independent foreign travel experience, and the high rate of repeat travelers says a lot. They do really push people into having a broader experience.

Posted by
96 posts

I've traveled solo many times, including to Europe, and the Germany Austria Switzerland tour was my first guided tour (2019). While I would have liked to stay in some destinations a bit longer, and the constant hustle was annoying at times, it was nice to have someone make all the arrangements and enable us to get to destinations I would not have been able to get to unless I rented a car. And in that case, I would be driving and wouldn't be able to enjoy the sights as much since I would be alone. I saw more than I would have seen on my own, including some off the beaten path sights, and it was so much easier. My tour guide wasn't great, very dry sense of humor in a bit of a turd, but I made the best of it and had a great time. Awesome memories and am looking forward to my second Rick Steves tour next year! Will be joined by a couple of gals from my last tour.

**TIP: be sure to take the post tour survey and provide candid feedback!

Posted by
5549 posts

I prefer to travel independently but have done 2 RS Tours; Florence and Istanbul. Throughly enjoyed both tours. Great guides, comfortable hotels, well laid out itineraries and pleasant travel mates. The tours were 7 days.

My response to your challenge is to say there is NOTHING more impressive than getting to see Michelangelo’s David without the hordes. You, your tour mates, your guide and a art historian.

Remains an “oh my, I have chills” travel moment.

Posted by
637 posts

you've been on a tour so you know the drill. Sounds like your guide was disappointing, most have a better one. But other than that, I wouldn't expect it to be that much different than what you did the last time.

Posted by
733 posts

Travel Junkie: Like many above I have done both, tour and independent. At times I go solo when my wife is tied up with other matters thus the tours provide folks to talk to. I know Rome. I go to Rome without a map, don't need it. My first RS tour was the week in Rome City Tour. My logic was simple: if I didn't like the "tour" I would fire the tour/guide and do it on my own, just keeping the hotel room.

I had a great time, lots of interesting people to talk to, learned new things, and I didn't fire the tour- oh, when we went to the Vatican Museums I went in with the group and then split off (guide having full knowledge of my plan) to see my favorite parts* of the museum (the Vatican Museum is huge and 80% empty of tourists if you step away from the main line everyone follows to the Sistine Chapel). I have take several RS tours since and enjoyed every one of them.

  • one of my best Museum memories (something a tour group will never get to nor will most independents) was a beautiful decorated mosaic headstone that was dedicated to (In Latin): "My beautiful wife of 3 years and 4 months"....she passed away at age 19 almost 2000 years ago. Her young husband didn't know it but he insured the memory of his beautiful young wife would last through the centuries.

And just where was that stunning piece hidden in one of the vast number of rooms in the Vatican Museum? Sorry, but that is my secret...but take a full day inside that place, step off and away from the beaten path, go exploring, and you just might find it.

Posted by
9324 posts

*TIP: be sure to take the post tour survey and provide candid feedback!

Be careful with that......I took three RS tours. I was honest with my feedback about what was good and what was disappointing. Now I'm banned from taking their tours.

Posted by
296 posts

We owe Rick a debt we can never repay, by introducing us to the possibility of travel. However we will never take one of his tours. Nothing against it. Its just not for us. Half of the fun for us is in the preparation and anticipation of our trip.

Posted by
22 posts

We have been on two Rick Steves tours and enjoyed them immensely. If you enjoy travelling with a group, Rick's tours would be my first choice. The tour guides we had were great and we made some life long friends with a number of tour group members.
That said, we have also taken many independent trips and hired private guides (most of them liisted in Rick's books) for a few days along the way to provide both touring of local sites and for transportaion between locations. If you enjoy travelling with a group and prefer someone else to cover all logistics of your trip, and provide (normally) high quality tour guides, then Rick's tours are hard to beat. If you prefer the flexibility of independent travel, and are willing to devote some time to trip research and planning, you can get a similar, and less structured, experience travelling independently by hiring private guides in strategic locations along the way. The overall cost probably ends up about the same as one of Rick's tours if you plan carefully.

Posted by
54 posts

After at least 7 independent trips to Europe, we're doing our first RS tour next year. The Alps My Way. We'll be in Europe to visit family and this will be part of our trip, I'm really looking forward to NOT having to plan transportation. I love finding places to stay and things to do and even places to eat, but I hate planning any kind of transportation, even car rental. This will be such a treat.

I've done 2 other guided tours in my lifetime. One was to the USSR in the early 80s. The other was to Egypt in the 80s. Both times I was worried about being in a group, but I loved both of those trips and met some wonderful people. I was, unfortunately, quite ill the last 3 days of my Egypt trip. It was great being on a tour where I felt like someone was taking care of me. Otherwise, I think I would have curled up in the fetal position in the Valley of Kings and just cried.

But all that is neither here nor there. Your wife wants to do it. Enough said! :)

Posted by
168 posts

I credit my first and only RS tour, BOE in 2006, with giving me the confidence to travel independently, which I have done ever since. Next year, though, I've signed up for one of the My Way tours. They seem a good balance between my independent self and the ease of having someone else arrange lodging and transport.

Posted by
4573 posts

The big differences between a RS tour and most other kinds are the amount of free time and the absence of scheduled shopping. Those matter a lot to me. As long as I can get around OK I'll stick with Rick when it comes to tours. Sorry about your "meh" guide, that doesn't seem to be a common experience and certainly hasn't been mine.

Independent travel is something else, with its own pros and cons. You have plenty of experience with it. I guess the way to help you "get a little more enthusiastic" about the RS tour is to invite comparisons with other tours. Be glad your wife is looking at RS instead of other tour companies.

Posted by
4483 posts

Frank II: Interesting. I have certainly made negative comments about some aspects of some tours, and know other folks who have, as well.

Travel Junkie: Our RS history is fairly typical. We had traveled on our own; in fact, we had lived in Europe for several years, for a job. But one year my sister and her business partner paid for housing and plane fare to Italy for a number of their friends, including my husband and me. In that 10 days, we fell in love with Italy and knew we wanted more. (All our previous experiences had been in Eastern Europe.)

So we decided we'd take a tour, just to get our feet wet, even though we knew we'd hate the tour. So I hit the internet, looking for a tour that went to Florence; that stayed in a small hotel in the center of the city; that had relatively few tour members; that had a lot of free time; that emphasized history and art. My searches led me to "Europe Through the Back Door," an earlier avatar of Rick Steves Europe.

I knew who Rick Steves was, because we were public television junkies, but I had no idea he offered tours.

Well, we signed up for the Best of Florence tour in 2009, and much to our surprise, we loved every minute of it. We loved the guide, the food, the hotel, the museums, the day trip to a wine and olive oil outlet, which served us an amazing lunch, and opened my eyes (and taste buds) to what olive oil could be. And having someone else handle the reservations, the museum visits was priceless. Claudia posted above about seeing the David without all the crowds: one of the great experiences of my life.

We had wonderful local guides, and learned so much. And an amazing amount of free time, where we could apply the lessons our guide (Cecilia Bottai) had taught us.

You probably know what happened next: since then, we've taken another 13 RS tours, and have seldom been disappointed. (I must add that the most disappointing guide we've ever had was in Sicily. When I asked one of the other guides in England if that particular guide was still working for RS, she grumped "Yes," and immediately changed the subject. I suspect you know who it is.)

We love that the guides are primarily teachers. We've learned how to get around, how to use public transportation, how to cross the street in Rome, and to loosen up and try foods (like raw herring) that we previously would have avoided. We've learned how to enter a store or interact with vendors at the market, politely and respectfully. We've learned how to represent our country by showing respect as visitors to other countries.

We still treasure our free time, both on the tour, as well as before and after. Next year we're booked on two RS tours - one each in France and Italy. But we've added about 4 days pre-tour, 10 days between the tours, and another 10 days or so after the second tour. One of the reasons we have the confidence to do this is because of what we've learned on RS tours.

Posted by
1733 posts

I've only been on one, but there will be others in the future. Hoping for Sicily in April 2023. My biggest worry after we booked was the length of time we would be on the bus each day, but those turned out to be my WOW moments of the trip. Our guide took the time on the bus to explain French culture to us and it gave me such a broad understanding of the country and it's people. These were daily immersions into French life that I wouldn't have got on my own or even with a private guide.

For my wife, she is an extrovert who loves to be with other people and so the group travel and the friendships she made were priceless. This gave me the opportunity to strike out on my own to see things that were of no interest to her and I didn't need to worry that she was by herself.

Posted by
4483 posts

Allan makes a good point about friendships made on these tours. We're still in touch with a number of folks with whom we've traveled, and in some cases have made a point of sharing tours again.

Posted by
207 posts

Take a tour that gets you to see a part of Europe or the world that is hard to access or more exotic to experience. Turkey, Eastern Europe or St. Petersburg Russia are samples. The My Way Alpine tour also sounded good.

Posted by
3659 posts

We have traveled independently a lot in Europe (and North America). In addition, we've taken one Viking River cruise and one Rick Steves tour. We enjoyed both very much. We wanted to "try" them in our 50s so we'd have an idea what to expect when we are older and might not be able to travel as much independently. For the RS tour, we did Rome. It was in the middle of a much longer trip to Italy. We thought that would be a good tour because Rome is a city in which logistics, especially tickets to the sites can be a problem. Also, if we went independently, we would like hire local guides anyway. On other travels, we felt like we had enough background and did enough research such that guides were less necessary. We liked our tour group and guide. We especially liked the local guides--Francesco Couriso (?sp) and the guides that took us to the Borghese and the Vatican. Although they did not take us to a pope audience, they had tickets for those who wanted to go. The structure was such that every day we had some free time to do some exploring on our own. It was relaxing in that there were 7 days in our trip, where we were not having to actively manage things like transportation, tickets, etc. We have two RS that we'd like to do in the next few years. London for the same reasons that we did the Rome tour and Sicily, because the itinerary seems well planned.

Just quickly on the Viking tour (Rhine). We liked that as well. We did independent travel before and after. My husband commented that it was nice going back to work a little more rested than when we drove around countries, changing accommodations every 2-4 days. We will do more Viking cruises in a few years.

Obviously, tours are more expensive than independent travel. We look at some of the Viking and RS options and we feel like we could easily do that on our own. But, some like Sicily, Russia (Viking), London and a few others just seem like it would be a lot easier than doing it on our own.

Posted by
3446 posts

We lived in Europe, have traveled back independently a number of times after returning to the states, and have taken nine or so RS Tours. When we were younger, the planning involved in arranging transportation, accomodations, and reserving times for certain things was fun. Now that we are older we'd rather let someone else handle all those nitty gritty details. Not that we can't do it; just prefer to have it done by others. And we still have plenty of free time to do our own thing.

Posted by
581 posts

You just show up and almost everything else is the hands of professional guides who have decades of experience and access to extensive backstage resources. They are fully capable of coping with anything that can possibly go wrong. And you will be in the company of 15-25 un-grumpy folks who are on the same relaxed journey. There may be alternative touring companies but I can think of no better reasons to use RS.

Posted by
224 posts

We have taken 6 RS tours and think they are worth every penny. Our very first tour had a tour guide that I thought could be much more educating and interesting. Luckily the sights we saw were so bombshell great that it more than made up for it and he no longer works for the company. Since then our guides have been stellar. As others have said, not having to arrange every part of the journey as independent travel insists makes the tours so fabulous.

Posted by
50 posts

I’m really impressed with the quality of the responses. Thank you and keep them coming. I’m seeing some common advantages which I experienced during my one RS Tour - Sicily 2017:
Commradery amongst tour mates
Quality of the local guides
Local wine tastings, farmhouse meals and cooking demonstrations not found in independent travel
Free time to explore on our own
Planning and logistics included
Etc.
Perhaps I need to get past the fact that our guide was not up to ETBD standards. I get the impression his guides as a whole are outstanding! More importantly, my wife gets what she wants. Right?

Posted by
4573 posts

You just said the magic words, Travel Junkie!

Jane's first post noted that she'd been watching RS shows for years without realizing that he did tours. That's a tribute to his ethics and professionalism. As I think about it, I've never heard him refer to his own tours, except indirectly by identifying someone local as a "fellow tour guide." And of course there's mention of his website at the end.

Posted by
7391 posts

"My wife, now retired, has recently expressed interest in someday taking a RS Tour."

Happy wife, happy life--is my motivating comment. You got to go to Sicily while she was still working. Do this one for her now that she's retired, and she does the next one for you.

Posted by
27 posts

I've used RS books for independent travel since 2003. Before that, I used other guide books. I recall writing on onion paper to Bed and Breakfast places in London to see if they had openings!
If you are going to a city like London, Paris or Rome, where public transportation is great and sites are close, even walking distance, then maybe a guided tour is not for you.
If you are planning to drive to see sights, like in Sicily, do you really want the hassle of renting a car, driving and then parking it?
My first RS tour was in Sicily a few years back. it was great. Plenty of free time to see places on your own.
In 2022, I'm taking RS 4 tours, adding a few days before and after for "independent" travel.

Posted by
1552 posts

What is it about RS Tours that appeal to your wife? Is it the chance to let someone else handle the logistics? Would she like to have knowledgeable guides enhance what you’re seeing? Does the opportunity to experience it with a group of people who are comfortable with a certain amount of travel independence interest her?

Clearly you’ve found a group of posters who are pretty committed to RS Tours and they’ve said why. Many of us mix it up and/or have tried other tour options. We’ve done 5 RS Tours, 2 river cruises and 1 Odysseys Unlimited tour. But, within an RS Tour format you might find some options to bring it closer to what you personally are looking for. You can stick with the tours as presented, you can look at areas where you’re interested in something else and schedule on your thing (as long as you let the guide and tour buddy know) or try a My Way tour where RS takes care of the lodging and transportation and you schedule the days to suit yourself. There is a guide along to help and suggest. From reading reviews, it looks like those people may chose to gather, but by choice. That might eliminate the feeling you had of being separated from the locals, but still get the camaraderie of a group. It looks like we may be trying that option this year with a My Way Italy.

Posted by
113 posts

Wow, what a great thread! Thanks for the question Travel Junkie. My wife and I have done both our own travel in Europe and 3 RS tours with two in April next year. My favorite was Villages of Italy. We have also done the Best of Scandinavia, and Best of Eastern Europe. We did a self guided trip through Lyon and Marseille. We also did a Danube River cruise. We are totally sold on the RS experience. The ability to turn over the reins to your tour guide and know for the next few day or weeks you don’t have to worry about plans and get to enjoy the new sites, sounds, food and friends. We have meet several new friends across our tours and have started calling our selves the snowballs, as we keep gathering new friends and traveling companions. We have totally enjoyed our tour guides, each had a different approach to running the tour and the interaction with the group. Good luck and I hope you take the plunge again.

Posted by
1091 posts

One more thing to add - there are days on the tours where you are entirely on your own as well as some afternoons and evenings. If you are going to be somewhere for a day, you can opt out of the group activity and do your own thing as long as you let the guide and your buddy know that you won’t be joining them. We had a couple on the Adriatic tour, for example, who decided that they wanted to kayak instead of doing the city tour of Dubrovnik. You don’t need to be joined at the hip with the group for the entire tour.

Posted by
1910 posts

I have been on quite a few Rick Steves tours and also traveled quite a bit without a tour. To be fair, the only tours I have taken have been with this company but I was hooked from the start. On the tours, I always feel like I am treated like an adult capable of planning and carrying through an activity not planned by the tour and never made to feel that if I skip a scheduled activity or even an entire day, I couldn’t possibly manage on my own. Spoon fed information? No, it’s there for the learning, your choice. The only time you are “required” to show up is when the bus leaves for the next place and even then, if you should miss the bus, it is made clear from the first day that you can get yourself to the next place. Again, your choice. I love meeting and getting to know new people and hearing their stories (everybody has one!), I love the learning (I’m a retired teacher), I love the free time when I don’t have to do anything at all if I don’t want to. I love the Rick Steves tours. I also really love traveling on my own! But give one a try. You might really, really like it!

Posted by
3446 posts

As as after thought, if the structure of a regular tour cramps your style, you might want to consider one of his "My Way" tours. All the transportation & accomodations are handled for you, but you are really free to do your own thing.

Posted by
50 posts

@ Bets - your answer nailed it! Perfect.
@ Patty - I think you raise two excellent points that others have also mentioned. She always talks about the wonderful local guides we hire when traveling independently. One that always comes up is Rick’s recommended Sarka in Prague. She likes to hear a local’s perspective and take a break from me reading from a guidebook. Most importantly, she is outgoing a would much rather hang out with other tour members while experiencing Europe, instead of just me all the time.
@ Mark G. - your “snowball” analogy is great. We are empty nest travelers now and would welcome new travel buddies. What better way than a RS tour. We always laugh about how we could never travel with our current friend group for various reasons. You know what I’m saying.
Thanks

Posted by
1007 posts

We have really enjoyed our six RS tours, and have scheduled two tours for 2022. We especially enjoy interacting with our tour mates. It is fun to run into people you know as you are exploring a city.

We take RS tours to learn about foreign cultures, but end up also learning new things about America from our fellow travelers.

Retirement has resulted in a lot more spousal togetherness, so the camaraderie of the RS tours is very special. On our last tour we met a couple with whom we are going on the Best of England tour in 2022.

Posted by
2236 posts

I was honest with my feedback about what was good and what was disappointing. Now I'm banned from taking their tours.

Thanks, Frank II, for the best laugh of the day. You owe me a gin and tonic to make up for the one you made me snort out my nose!

Posted by
9324 posts

Well, Estimated Prophet, it's true. Don't see what's so funny about it.

Posted by
12 posts

I'm sorry you didn't have a great time on your RS tour. As you can tell from this group, that's not the normal experience. But I think you might let your wife have a shot at trying one with you. It sounds like your tour guide wasn't that great, and I'm glad she's not with RS anymore!

Here's some of the things that I appreciate the most about these tours (we've done three). I hate planning. I really hate planning. They do all of the work for you, figure out the best places to visit, the best times to go where you don't have to wait or deal with crowds, they hire the best local guides, and they make it so easy. Sure, most people are fairly well traveled and could do it themselves, but why go through all the trouble to figure every last thing out unless you really enjoy doing that? Personally, I don't.

I have traveled a lot around Europe because of my job (I'm an airline pilot), and I've realized that I get so much more out of having a guide there to talk about the things that are interesting and important, the little details that I'd never get on my own. I always thought art was kind of boring, but after my first RS tour that started in Florence, I realized that it was fascinating, they made it come alive. I'm more of an engineering type, not artistic, but the guides turn the experiences into magic. I think I could just spend my entire retirement doing RS tours in the future!

The guides that we have had have been fantastic. Funny, caring, interesting. Some of the most enjoyable experiences we've had were on long bus rides seeing the sights and listening to the guides talk about local history. Extremely talented, brilliant people. I marvel at how they can remember so much. But I do recommend that you take a tour to a place that you aren't familiar with. Don't repeat places you've already been to because it's convenient.

The best part, though, is the other people on the tour. Educated, interesting, low key, funny, sincerely nice people. For some reason, these tours seem to attract people who aren't prima donnas, but pleasant, happy, positive people. We've made lifelong friends, and we are going on our fourth RS tour with people we met on #1, and went on #3 with. I have laughed so hard that I've cried on these tours, which is something that doesn't happen often anymore.

Posted by
1091 posts

As others have mentioned, we have loved the groups we have traveled with. We took the Eastern France tour and then immediately thereafter toured southern France on our own for two weeks. I love my husband to bits and he is wonderful company but I missed being with our new friends and our wonderful guide Daniela. You will find the people on the tour to be well educated, well traveled and truly fun people. We also laughed a lot on the tours. Wonderful memories.

Posted by
5735 posts

I've mentioned this before, but one of our bus drivers told me that he loves driving Rick Steves tours, because "the people are above average . . . for Americans".

Posted by
408 posts

So your wife who hasn’t been on a tour wants to go but you are not sure?
We have gone on 7 tours. Mostly with our kids and mostly city tours. We haven’t made lifelong friends but really enjoyed our tour mates. I do still have contact with a few. I think the city tours you are less likely to make hard friendships since you are not on a bus & lots of free time.
What I love about RS that half the time you have your day planned & have wonderful guides & the other half you can do your own thing. The best of both worlds. I like the small hotels , the small groups and not having to worry about getting into the big sites. I also like having time to do our own thing. Any travel is a good thing and RS has taught us so much about how to be respectful and enjoy how different a culture can be.

Posted by
142 posts

RS Tour Guides Tina Hiti, Ben Cameron and Nina Dierckx. Fantastic 3 of my 11 RS tours.

Posted by
30 posts

I still travel independently (and solo), but my first RS tour was to Paris - I was concerned about being on my own in a country where I didn't speak the language. So I did a week with RS for a Best Of to get oriented and figure out how things worked, and then added an additional week on my own. It was perfect. And I enjoyed having a guide for part of it to inform me of things I wasn't aware of and hadn't come across in my research. I've signed up for a Best of England for 2022 not because I can't get around in England, but because of all the travel we'll do. The tour guide expertise and the arranged hotels/transportation/entry fees makes it so easy. And I'll add some days before in Bath, and after in London. Should be great!

Posted by
9 posts

I've traveled independently to 32 countries, across 5 continents, so I certainly don't "need" the tour to get me where I want to go. I love to plan and execute (it's almost more fun than going!) Back in 2015, my sister wanted me to put an Italy tour together. She'd never been and the places she picked were not the easiest to get to without renting a car (which I didn't want to do...we're not the best navigation team and it causes more hate and discontent than should be allowed on vacations). It just so happened that Rick's Italy tour ticked all the boxes, got us to where we wanted with no effort from us, and allowed us plenty of free time without the group, which we used to see and do things not on the itinerary. Oh yeah, and that the tour price is really good helps too!

Bonuses for us were seeing Michelangelo's David alone and also being in the Medici Chapels alone with all the Michelangelos. Heavenly. Also, the added activities like the wine tasting, alabaster carving, pesto making demonstration were things we would not get to do alone without some effort.

So when my sister then said she'd like to go to Turkey and had an itinerary, I knew for certain I'd look to Rick's tours again first, and his Turkey in 13 days tour ticks all the boxes again, so off we go next year!

Our first experience with him was really an un-tour tour. It had none of the drawbacks that I normally think of when I think of tours. The no-grumps rule helps, I think!!

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11 posts

It is great that you already travel! I recommend RS tours to everyone I know who expresses any interest in European travel. For many of us, one of his tours has been our first foray into travel to Europe. Every single person I know who has taken a tour, books another tour or ten. That should give you a clue about how enjoyable these tours are! I have made friends on tour, and keep in touch with some of them online. A group of us are planning a tour reunion in Turkey this November, joining a tour of Western Turkey that will be led by Mert Taner, one of Rick's guides, and the best tour guide most of us have ever experienced. I have used RS tours to introduce many of my family members to Europe. I have been on tours with two of my adult daughters, and with my oldest granddaughter. I am booked for a 2022 "Best of Europe in 21 Days" with my oldest grandson. He is graduating from High School in June, and we are both looking forward to spending this special time together. I find it to be pretty relaxing to not have to worry about logistics for a part of each trip, and I find that our pre and post tour travel, as well as free time on tour, allows us all the independent travel we could possibly want. Additionally, the tours include experiences that we would never have on our own. We meet local familes carrying on their family business, and learn about the traditional practices they still engage in. The best meals on tour are those we eat as guests of these family enterprises. Go for it!