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My Way Tours: what's it like?

I guess my primary question is, for example, we get to some town and some major attraction is 30 miles away...do you contact a local company before you leave home or can the tour director assist on the spot with information and organization? What does the tour director do? What does he/she not do? Is he/she available to solve issues or if you have a problem you are on your own?

What does a typical day involve? Do you have a meeting everyday?

I am trying to figure out if this kind of tour would work for me and if there is any value above just doing everything myself.

Posted by
12 posts

Try searching this website using "My Way tours" in the search box at the top of the page. There have been other threads about the My Way tour experience, and the RS organization also has some basic information, which perhaps you've already seen.

I've never taken a My Way tour myself, although I've considered it. Most of my travel has been independent, except for one RS tour to Turkey (fabulous experience BTW!) My impression, and I hope others will correct me if I'm wrong, is that with a My Way tour, it is expected that you've done some research beforehand and have a good idea of what sights you're interested in seeing and at least a general idea of how to get to them from the cities you'll be staying in. The tour director can help point you in the right direction, but they won't take you there or give you a guided tour themselves like the guides on a regular RS tour. I'm pretty sure you would see the tour director at least once a day at breakfast, and on days when you're traveling between locations he/she would be on the bus with you so there should be time to talk to him/her about your plans and any concerns.

If there's a major attraction where you need to make reservations in advance, before you leave home, the tour description will tell you that. For example, the My Way Spain tour description tells you that if you want to see the Alhambra while in Granada, you need to make reservations before leaving home. If there's something you're really interested in that the tour description doesn't mention and you're concerned about being able to get there, you should probably ask the RS staff how feasible it is to do it on the My Way tour before you sign up.

To me it seems that the main values of a My Way tour over independent travel are 1) it saves you the trouble of researching your own ground transportation and hotels (which can be quite a project if you're planning a trip to several locations); 2) when you arrive in a new location the tour director can help you get oriented which will save some time and frustration; and 3) you'll meet the other people on your tour at breakfast every day and on the bus between locations, which could be an opportunity to plan to join others for some of your sightseeing or meals if that interests you. The main similarity between a My Way tour and independent travel is that you're responsible for planning (and paying for) all your sightseeing and meals except breakfast, with the tour director available only to help you do what you've planned yourself.

Hope this helps, have a good trip whatever you decide!

Posted by
31435 posts

grisbust,

On the My Way Tours, the tour escort is always available in the morning to assist group members in planning their touring for the day and again in the late afternoon to assist group members in planning their evening activities. With some sights (especially those that require reservations), it's usually better to arrange those early, and the applicable websites will have instructions on how to do that.

Two examples from the My Way Spain tour....

  • La Sagrada Familia - while it's possible to make reservations online a short time before you'll be visiting, it's better to have these arranged in advance.
  • Alhambra - same as above.

Having said that, I should add that I was able to make reservations "on the fly", but I only needed one ticket so it was easier.

Since each group member is responsible for making their own sightseeing arrangements, the typical day involves.....

  • Breakfast at the hotel (all the hotels provide a buffet European-style breakfast)
  • Meet with the tour escort if you need advice or information. If you have your own touring planned, carry on as soon as breakfast is finished.
  • You're on your own for lunch and supper.
  • Return to hotel in the late afternoon and meet with tour escort if you need to. Some members of the group will often get together for drinks before dinner or whatever.
  • In some cities, the tour escort may arrange an excellent local guide for specific tours, however that's extra cost.
  • the tour escort may in some cases also arrange a group farewell dinner (again, extra cost) and those tend to be a spectacular affair like the farewell dinners on the fully guided tours.

A couple of the benefits of this type of tour over making the arrangements yourself.....

  • All hotels are arranged and these are usually really nice hotels located in central part of the city, and within easy walking distance to main sights and to transportation.
  • All transportation is arranged, whether by Bus or train. Especially in areas where public transit is somewhat "limited", that saves a lot of time and aggravation. The RS Bus drivers are exceptional, and it's great to just sit down in an air conditioned coach and be taken from one place to another.
  • A tour escort is available every day, to provide both sightseeing information as well as help with any minor problems.
  • It's more enjoyable to have a small group to travel with.

All of my trips for the last few years have included both a tour as well as about an equal amount of time on my own, so I'm used to both types of travel.

Posted by
14777 posts

I signed up for my first My Way tour (and second RS tour). I haven't done it yet, but I'll share my reasons with you and hope it helps.

I am an independent traveler. I enjoy the company of others but I don't need it. I like to go at my own pace, usually lingering, sometimes breezing through. I have taken several organized tours to places that would only be possible for me with a group: Georgia/Armenia, Ireland and Devon/Cornwall (can't imagine driving in Ireland or the UK), Turkey (RS).

The tour I chose is the My Way Alpine tour. It's well-paced for me, not too much bus time, and I really like that I'll cover so much ground efficiently. On my own, I'd probably have to add 1/3 to 1/2 as many days to allow for getting to/from hotels, trains and buses (and schlepping the suitcase) and getting oriented. I look forward to getting to know my travel companions on the bus and having new friends to share the views, the sights, drinks and meals with, while being able to go at my own pace.

I will probably do my own research (part of the joy of travel for me) and have some plans for each day. I'm hoping the tour "escort" will be there to give me advice and directions.

I can see that the efficiency of the travel (pretty much door-to-door tour bus) on the other My Way tours can be especially good for someone who has limited time.

Lastly, take a look at the scrapbooks from previous My Way tours http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/scrapbooks/tour-alum-scrapbooks They are usually very enjoyable to browse and will give you a lot of information on what the tour was like.

Posted by
102 posts

Taken many RS tours but the My Way option seems very likely a possible next tour and I value the good advice above which helps make a decision.
Elsewhere this traveler wrote of his changed mobility and difficulty keeping up with RS normal tour walks, standing to listen, and general steady pace of the wonderful regular tours. Loved them all before and always stayed moving or standing next to the guides asking questions along the way, perhaps even asking to many at times. My tireless interest, curiosity and travel joy are great memories. I want to make more memories at a pace good and possible for me and not slow down the rest of a tour's members. This topic is most helpful and I'll check on related My Way questions in forum topics with helpful information by studying this site's many nooks and crannies. Grateful as always for the deep and wide travel knowledge of you travelers which is so evident in these questions and replies, thank you.

Posted by
959 posts

Hi. I took part in the MyWay Alpine in summer 2013. At the time, I was particularly interested in searching out parts of the Way of St. James that might intersect with the tour locations. Plus, I had a few other "must-sees". I was determined to fill up my days "my way". Once I met the group, I got a sense that there would be a lot of similarity to the organized tours in terms of camaraderie, group meals, etc. For example, in Salzburg, folks seemed to match up who wanted to bike ride vs take a Sound of Music tour. The guide was always there for input.

By Bolzano, I realized my Way of St. James ambitions were perhaps too ambitious. I had located the local office in Salzburg, but the Way was out on a highway. In Bolzano, the Way was in OberBozen and a longer hike than I chose to take (I did take a photo of a sign post!). I had a bit of an lightbulb realization in Hallstatt that perhaps a woman of a certain age with arthritis and no cell phone might not be best served by taking a hike alone on the opposite shore along steep gravelly paths just to reach a nice-sounding restaurant.

By Fussen, I decided that searching for the Way was counter to relaxation and chose to join others in pursuit of some well-known attractions like Hohenschwangau. Yep, we made the arrangements ourselves, and it was not too difficult. By Lauterbrunnen, I realized that it was taking me about twice as long to walk certain paths than the amount of time noted. My companions - met on the trip - did not seem to mind. We were relaxed and relaxing.

For me, some lessons were: enjoy companions in the wonderful settings you find yourselves; be intrepid, but remember this is also a vacation; I can do this at a speed right for me; I can return.

PS, I overcame my fear of (most) cable cars on this trip, something I did not anticipate, and my favorite evening was spent in Fussen in a fantastic Greek restaurant with a fellow tour member. And, I still look for signs of the Way, (shells in a window on Mt. Ste. Michel), I just don't work it so hard.

Happy travels. Debbie

Posted by
102 posts

I am narrowing down choices here thanks to great posts. Thank you for allowing my interest to fit in to the initiating post. Alpine or Best of Europe both are clamoring for my attention. Already figuring how to see the many things never seen before, or needing a slower paced approach (my only style now). Will ask advice from guides, travelers or anyone interested at Edmonds in mid-January meetings.
Time to travel again. Well, there is my hip/knee replacement issue and how to pay for it and other uninteresting but "please pay attention" factors. As I recall you put important stuff like travel first, and work out the rest, right?

Posted by
361 posts

I can't help but notice that two My Way: Europe in 14 Days tour (May 18 and May 25) are now on sale with a $300 discount. That would offset a number of meals and admissions during that tour.

Or......

That's also $1400 less than the guided Best of Europe in 14 days. The major geographic difference is that the My Way tour goes to the Cinque Terre while the other goes to Florence. One strategy would be to use the $300 discount to make a trip to Florence after being done with Rome.

Posted by
16 posts

I am going on 13 tours with ETTBD. I went on the very first My way Alpine in 2013 and also did My Way Italy in 2013. They are geared for independent travelers who know what they want to do and use Rick's guidebooks to know how to book things in advance. since I have been on so many tours I liked revisiting some areas I had already been to and like having the transportation and hotels already figured out for the places I hadn't been. The key is to use the guide book, figure out in advance what you want to do and use the tips in the guidebook to make reservations in advance. Too many people on both tours did not plan in advance. Or read the guidebook. the tour assistant is always available and ready to help you. You also must realize they are not there to give you the history of the areas you visit. Too many people complained about that. We had experienced guides who would tell us about the areas but if you want all that you either need to read the book or book a guided tour. And yes.. I experienced a lot of comraderie even on the My Way Tours. Would I do another? heck yes!

Posted by
361 posts

The discount on the early BOE My Way tours is gone. Hopefully the tour is filling up with fun and happy people.

Posted by
361 posts

I think gremlincat2 is giving some good advice, especially to be prepared when you arrive in a city. There is not enough time to check into a hotel, visit a caffè, leisurely flip through a tour book to decide what you want to do with your day, and then return to your room to pick out you dinner outfit for the evening meal. And get that all done before you head out to do what your really traveled there to do. If nothing else, know the business hours of any place you might visit. That alone will save you one disappointment on any trip.

I am going with a relative who has never been to Europe before and thus I figured this would be a great introduction. I have an idea of what we will do, and the only real problem will be that if we do it all we will be totally exhausted by day 6 of the tour. :-)

Posted by
1 posts

We are looking at the Alpine MyWay Tour, and curious what the 'average' extras might cost, like dinners. I know the sight seeing has its own expense and of course that's a huge variable too.
Doug

Posted by
16883 posts

These are not cheap countries, but you have a variety of dining options, including supermarkets with prepared foods. For instance, Rick's top two restaurant listings in Chamonix have a 3-course menu for €30; this is one of them: http://www.restaurant-caleche.com/en. He also lists options with main courses around €15, and the same applies in Salzburg, at the other end.

Posted by
361 posts

Most Eurozone countries are not 'cheap', but you can find smaller restaurants on side streets that don't charge as much as those in the 'Tourist Zone'. High cost monsters prowl the TZ seeking out tourists with money to devour. Sometimes it's worth it - for example, enjoying wine with a friend on a warm evening at one of the big touristy piazzas in Rome.

I remember paying 2.5 euros for one shot of espresso near the center of Florence. Later that afternoon, walking into the Oltrano area, we paid 3 euros for two very good iced coffees. And a nice chat with the barrista who kindly listened to my pathetic Italian. :-)

In Prague there were tourist dinners advertised at about $30 each person. Our happy group found a restaurant about 3 blocks away, approaching a residential area, where we got a two large pizzas, two pitchers of beer, dessert and coffee for about $15 a person.

Posted by
361 posts

One of the Best of Europe 14 day My Way tours is still offered $300 discount as of today. Unlike the guided tours the My Way tour skips Florence and hits the Cinqua Terre instead. However, one could use the $300 savings to make a nice two day trip to Florence after the tour is over thus taking in both the Cinqua Terra and Florence. Just a thought.

Posted by
16 posts

You need to decide what you want to do and make your own reservations. I have been on 12 tours going on 13 this year 2015. I did two my way tours in 2013. The guide is there for advice . You need to decide what you want to do and use the guide book to help you plan. I did the alpine and my way Italy tours so there were things I had already been to and planned on other activities. Breakfast is always included as well as the hotels.. And the bus. If you want all the history given to you.. You must take the fully guided tours. The guides are simply escorts.. You must read the book from Rick Steves and users tips for planning on your own. Loved the concept.. We still had lots of together time with the group and every one was open to traveling to similar places together.Just know the guide isn't required to help you with this