Just signed up for our first RS tour - My Way Alpine May 25 2020- my husband’s first trip to Europe and my first since 1992! I love this forum and have been helped greatly already- please let me know anything that worked especially well for this tour or really any helpful advice! We are committed to carry on only- even with little experience in doing so. Thank you!
I took this tour about 4 years ago in early June.
- if you aren't veteran hikers, get in shape. You can choose any level of physical activity but you won't enjoy it nearly as much if you skip the scenic hiking, or if you overdo it on your first day of hiking. You need comfortable sturdy hiking shoes and walking poles will be a big help.
- arrive in Europe at least a day before the tour begins. I spent a long weekend in Vienna, then took a midday train to Salzburg on the day of the tour (I'd been to Salzburg before).
- carry-on is an advantage but not a necessity. I traveled with a checked bag and was fine. Things I only needed on the bus, I left overnight on the bus. There's "deep storage" for things you acquire, like souvenirs and gifts, that you won't need until the end of the tour, and you can always leave your suitcase overnight on the bus and just take a smaller bag for a night or two once in a while. The hotel in the Dolomites had a washer and dryer for guests (I think it was coin-op).
- you need gear for cold and wet. Rain is not unusual in the mountains, can be a downpour for a couple hours with sunshine before and after. The peaks you'll go to can be very cold and windy.
The resource I found most useful were the tour alum scrapbooks. One alum included contact information and he was very generous answering questions.
Thanks so much for your very helpful reply! We have increased our walking distance and hills and will continue until we leave. The shoes were a big question- I have Merrill trail runners and was debating about bringing them but now I see they will be necessary. Thanks again!
I don't know what trail runners look like. You do want a sturdy water-resistant shoe with good traction. I had Ecco low cut hiking shoes that were fine for the "easy" hiking paths (there were a couple tricky places where I really could have used poles, but a helping hand got me through them) in the Dolomites, even in the pouring rain. That was the most challenging hiking I did, though there were opportunities for serious hiking at other stops, there was plenty to enjoy without that.
The trail runners are a hybrid shoe between a hiking boot and a running shoe. Think of it as a running shoe with a lot more support and structure. It sounds like it’ll be good for most of the trails. For jackets I have a packable Eddie Bauer waterproof rain jacket, and a packable Patagonia lightweight puffy jacket. I think if it gets super cold I can wear the raincoat over the Patagonia.
It sounds like there are similar to mine and good enough for "amateur" hikers. The rain jacket will be a great windbreaker. You should also consider warm gloves and warm headgear. And maybe thermal underclothes. Can you tell I don't like being cold. Actually, it was never really cold but the wind can be very strong on mountain tops. You'll want sunscreen and sunglasses with good UV protection especially for the high altitudes.
No one told me but take a lot of water to the top of Aiguille de Midi in Chamonix. That's where the altitude really affected me and once you get up there, there's no potable water, only very expensive bottled water at the cafeteria.
Again, very helpful! I may buy warm gloves and hat if I need them there, since I live in Southern California and don’t need them at home! Great ideas and thank you for the tip on the water!
We did this trip about 3 years ago in September; it was fabulous. The tour manager gave us helpful information about which trails we might like, alerting us that one we planned to take would not be much of a challenge for us. On every hike we did, we were lucky to find a "hut" for lunch. Be prepared -- these huts are fabulous full-on restaurants and a wonderful place to gather with others on our trip for beer and local food. We were fortunate that it rained on our bus days, but our hiking days were gorgeous, and we had rain pants and jackets anyway. And have layers available as the weather was much colder at the elevations than it was at the hotels.
Thanks so much! It helps to know that we can get advice about our hikes. We are in Whistler, Canada this week- testing my packing choices and hiking abilities!
I'm considering this tour for next Sept. and I'm grateful to see all this insider information.
I am not a hiker nor super outdoorsy, but I want to see the breathtaking Alps in person and I'm able bodied enough to do easy to moderate walks. Hoping to get more insight as to whether I'll enjoy this tour; while I am perfectly happy reading a book and taking in the scenery, I want to make sure there are a few non hiking things to do along the way.
trip - not only are there non-hiking options, but there are also varying levels of hiking, including easy (really village strolls), in some places. My tour leader went through the bus as we drove from stop to stop and advised each of us individually what the options were and what would be most suitable. My tour had 9 and 10 year old kids, college kids, middle-aged veteran hikers and at least one non-hiker.
I'm doing this tour June 1, 2020 and like you, am very excited! Good incentive to get in better shape. Nice to read all the info.
Hi! We signed up for the June 22nd, 2020 tour! This will be my first trip to Europe and I'm beyond excited. I would love to hear how the trip goes for you since you are going before us, and get any advice/tips you have to offer! Please feel free to message me! I live in Florida, so the type of climate/weather/elevation will be completely new to us too! We also want to do carry on only as well.
We are in for July 27. Very excited to be in the Alps for close to two weeks. We are flying into Venice 4 days early, and going to Verona before meeting up with the tour in Salzburg.
You picked a marvelous one to start with - I just did it in Sept and it was so amazing, I would probably do it again. I did a tremendous amount of research but still wish I had done some harder hikes than the ones I ended up on in the Dolomites and in Switzerland. Rent hiking poles and hit the hard trails! You will love it!
Thanks Sarah! We are really excited. Our son is a choral director and he is bringing his high school groups to Italy so in June we are joining the shadow tour of that trip. We'll be seeing a lot! What were some things you packed that worked well for you? Since we'll be in Alps in May and then in Italy the first part of June, it's a lot to plan!
I did this trip mid-June last year - as excellent as advertised. No one in our group had or used hiking poles, in fact there were very few places they would even be needed for steep climbs / decent seats for first-time visitors wanting to hit the highlight trails and vistas. But in May it’s likely some trails and chairlifts will still be closed for the winter, or open but still muddy - if that’s the case poles might be of use. Rent or buy local for $10 vs checking your own from the US.
I “complied” and used a carry-on and backpack, with packing cubes. Had all I needed plus some. Packed merino wool socks, underwear, shirts and base layers and washed them in sink as needed.