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No Grump Policy on RS Tour

The no grump policy on our RS tour worked as advertised. No one complained at all on the tour and we all seemed to have a great time. When I read one of the reviews from our tour, I noticed that at least one tour member did not have as good of a time as I thought she was having. She thought the tour was more strenuous than expected yet she never complained once. I have talked to people that have used other tour companies and they said they had a lot of complainers. One person said that every night before they turned into bed, they attended at meeting with their guide and tour members where they expressed what they liked and what they disliked for that day. How awkward is that? While on our tour I asked our guide, how many people he had to ask to leave the tour and he said there were six. They were just ruining the tour for everyone else. This was over a twenty year period.

I was wondering if there were any people on tours you have been on (either a Rick Steves Tour or some other tour) that have been kicked off the tour and for what reason? Were there any occasions where someone should have been kicked off the tour and weren't?

Posted by
63 posts

I'm a certified grump and no one on six RS tours has ever asked me to leave. However, I am not a complainer, so maybe that's the key.

Posted by
1062 posts

My first RS tour in the mid 1990s was a fabulous 3 week tour around France. Our guide was a wonderful folk singer and there were a number of us who also loved to sing. However, one of the tour members had what could perhaps most charitably be described as an anxiety disorder, and he would have a fit if we tried to sing on the bus. If I remember correctly, he also was often given a single room because the other single man he was paired to room with was having a hard time with him.
Our guide told me later that he seriously considered removing him from the tour but decided against it. It was clear that no one liked this man, and he was a single, but everyone took turns sharing a meal or walking with him. I think that his presence put a damper on some of our fun, but we rose to the challenge and made the best of it.

Posted by
8263 posts

I've been on 7 Rick Steves tours and 4 Road Scholar tours (2 International and 2 domestic activity based).

Ive encountered 1 grump on a Rick tour and she was the kind who would sidle up to you and try and spread discontent quietly. This was her 7 th or maybe 8th tour. I'm not sure why she keeps signing up because she was clearly not happy with the quality/weather/food/sights/guide/bus driver!

On 1 International Road Scholar tour there was a tour member who i thought should be sent home. She was exploiting her slightly naive and slightly vulnerable roommate which another tour member and I both noticed and reported to the Leader. She did intervene but then we noticed the member just covertly borrowed money from the other. We discussed again with the Leader who again tried to intervene but got nowhere. This tour member also was not able to participate in many of the sightseeing activities due to very limited mobility. She also had the expectation that the leader and bus driver would physically assist her off and onto the bus. The Road Scholar staff were very clear from the start that they were not allowed to assist physically.

Posted by
7205 posts

Being a tour leader sounds like a fun job...until you realize you have to deal with the "stupid" people who infiltrate the otherwise fun group of travelers. RS Travel should keep their own "NO FLY" list for future trips. Once you've been kicked out, that's it. No more RS Travel for YOU!

Grumps and whiners and "ankle-biters" and instigators - just stay home and leave the rest of us to have a good time.

Posted by
2525 posts

Grumps stay away. Per Merriam-Webster, a grump is "a person who is often angry or who often complains."

Posted by
260 posts

Question: do these grumps who get sent home get a refund? Not asking because I'm planning to be one, just curious (g).

I've never encountered a truly disruptive tour member on the several RS tours I've been on. I think the most annoying tour group member I've ever encountered was on an Overseas Adventure Travel trip to S.America (fabulous trip - highly recommended - Patagonia). She was anxious about her blood pressure and kept insisting she should be served special foods w/o salt. Whined incessantly. I'm not suggesting everyone with high blood pressure is a whiner, but I can't imagine why she went on this kind of tour expecting her culinary needs to be met so precisely. IActually, I think it would be hard to find a tour anywhere if you really couldn't tolerate any salt at all, but maybe I'm wrong. We all just rolled our eyes and ignored her (and she was fine - didn't have any issues from the perceived ingestion of too much salt!)

There was a couple (mother and daughter) who really dressed down our wonderful tour guide on a RS tour in Sorrento - we stayed in a fairly miserable quasi youth hostel (which really was the worst hotel I think I've ever stayed in on a RS trip, although the location was great). The mother SCREAMED at the guide, who listened thoughtfully. Don't know the outcome, but I thought the guide handled it superbly (and didn't throw them off the trip - I would have!) Guide's name was Nina B - fantastic guide and wonderful diffuser of nasty tourists!

Posted by
524 posts

I have had one official "grump" on the 12 tours I have taken. It was on BoE21. She started out ok, but as tour continued she would stay in the room and drink. This made it difficult for her roommate, this was back in the day when there was no single supplement. Also, she managed to verbally attack just about every female on the tour, myself included. It was made known to the guide only after she went into attack mode on a young (18 year old) girl. The girl had inadvertently sat in this woman's "private seat" on the bus. Until this time, no one wanted to tattle to the guide, but this insistent required attention. Upon being notified, the guide made it known her behavior would not be tolerated. Unfortunately, this occurred just before reaching Paris.

Posted by
8263 posts

By the way...my experience related above proved to me that I need to pay for the single supplement any time I travel. It would have been unbearable having to share a room with that tour member. I will also add she did not bathe for the entire 11 day tour.

Posted by
1132 posts

There are some people that exhibit, or suffer from, what's diagnosed as a borderline personality disorder. They thrive on conflict, create chaos through relentless criticism, and are always at the center of any disagreement or unpleasantness in any group endeavor. Unfortunately, some apparently take tours that we've all experienced. The only time we've seen anyone be denied joining a tour was a young couple with an infant who wanted to join a strenuous hike in the mountains. These same sorts of individuals can often be seen berating airline employees, causing a scene in restaurants, or otherwise engaged in great drama well beyond what is expected over minor slights or inconveniences. On tours it's best just to ignore their diatribes and try to make the best of it.

Posted by
1068 posts

No offense, but I wouldn't call every grumpy and disruptive person a BPD. But as to the original post, I was taking a non-RS tour of Egypt. After touring for a few days, we changed cruise boats in Aswan. Several tours of the same company were combined in Aswan and, on the first day, some of the group opted for one experience while others did something else. Towards evening, both parties were to convene at the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote "Death on the Nile." One of the women from the other group insulted the heck out of me within about 3 minutes of sitting down (I know I tick people off, but it usually takes longer than 3 minutes%).) Later, a member of my tour who had gone with the other group said she had angered everyone. As we were on the same cruise ship from Aswan to Luxor I had a few other brief interactions with her, but observed her with others and listened to others complain about her. I'm pretty sure she was the most annoying and thoughtless person I have ever come across on tour. If it were a tour guide I certainly would have had at least a conversation with her. Otherwise I don't think I've ever been on tour with someone I thought should leave (although one guy was ALWAYS 5 minutes late to every meeting.) Also, IMHO, whether you are a grump, complainer or both..... please skip my tours! Thank you!

Posted by
415 posts

No Grump Policy. Now why didn't I think of that! I took my mom to Hawaii twice. We stayed in very nice Hilton timeshares. Mom complained bitterly about pretty much everything.

Posted by
8263 posts

jehb2, next time you have to add the No Grumps policy to your Terms & Conditions with your Mom!

I agree with Ray that not all grumps can be characterized as BPD. I would not assess either my grump or my disruptive person as Borderline.

Posted by
26 posts

I have only been on one Rick Steves tour. It was the Best of Europe 21 day tour. The person I'm thinking about at least was with her husband so nobody else had to share a room with her. She complained about everything, the hotel rooms, local guides, food. Even when we went for our tour reunion, she was still commenting on how she had wanted another tour guide rather than the one that we had. And listening to her talk about other things while we were on the tour, we came to the conclusion that she was just a very angry and hateful person. Some of us became friends on Facebook after the tour but I eventually unfriended her because of her postings on Facebook that were so negative. I tried to stay as far away from her as I could.

Posted by
3551 posts

While i like the no grump policyitisimpossible to predict or enforce.
Travelers are paying alot for rs tours imo and they r adults and that can be the issue with tour groups.
So i usuallytourslo. Yes more planning but no personality issues.
I have taken 2 rs tours. Ibelieve they r now overpriced for the level of lodging and schepling.

Posted by
2295 posts

I'm curious about the liability of a tour company if it removes a person from a tour for being obnoxious as opposed to being a physical threat to the other people in the group. I wish somebody who had actually been on a tour where a tour member was kicked out would respond to this topic.

Posted by
380 posts

While I agree that is more pleasant to be in group travel with people who are flexible and positive, I think that the No Grumps policy can go too far. I have read recent reviews about RS tours where RS hotels included bed bugs and theft. It is disturbing to think that people would not complain under such circumstances.

Posted by
1049 posts

The way the "grump" policy was explained to me was that it was created so that anyone person would not ruin the experience of the tour for everyone else. It did not prevent you from taking up any concerns with your guide.

Posted by
4637 posts

About bed bugs everybody should complain so the guide of RS Tour can bring the issue to the hotel staff and they can clean it. I was on 3 RS tours. Fortunately no grump issues. I think they go for other tours. I also noticed that for some people complaining is just sport. They don't really mean it. Problem is that other people usually don't know it.

Posted by
3465 posts

Been on 10 RS tours. No grumps. There were a few people who didn't really fit in with the rest of the groups, but they kept to themselves and didn't negatively impact the tour activities. I doubt they will be taking future RS tours. I know of several tour members who had to be talked to by the guides because they were approaching the grump condition. But none have ever been asked to leave any of the tours I have been on.

The no grumps policy does not prevent you from bringing genuine issues to the attention of the tour guide. The guides actually encourage you to let them know if something is not going right. They know that not everyone will be completely happy with everything on every tour and comments about those things may help improve the tour for the next year. However not being a grump means you are not constantly picking at the tour options (why did we eat dinner here instead of there? why did we have to walk while it rained on us? why isn't there wine included with every meal? how could the guide allow this to ruin our perfect trip?) and finding fault with everything. I do know people who would be grumps, probably unintentionally, and in turn would just not be happy on a RS tour.

And it shouldn't matter if the tour is three weeks or three days as to the level of grumpiness -- we are all adults and may get worn out as the tour progresses but should never take out whatever frustrations we may be feeling on the other tour members.

Posted by
1068 posts

I have no trouble with the no grump policy..... it is NOT (IMHO) a no complaint policy. The question is: where do you draw the line at unreasonable and ultimately disruptive complaints vs those that most people would mention. Certainly (with any guide I have ever had including 6 RS tours) none would ever say reporting bed bugs was a problem, or terrible food etc. To me, it is a light hearted way of saying we are all in this tour together lets work a little to make it good for everyone. Of course, there is a certain type of person that would not appeal to.

Posted by
34 posts

Perhaps I'm simplifying too much or missing the point, but I don't think that No Grumps = No Complaints. To "complain" is usually viewed negatively, but constructive complaints are fine, I would think. All of the issues like theft, bed bugs, etc. SHOULD be mentioned - that way the guide can address it at the moment, and RS tours can decide if it's a big enough problem to warrant an itinerary change for future tours.

Grumps in my opinion are people that whine about weather, walking (the site is pretty clear), the sights seen, changes in schedule, hotels not being 4-star (again, well-documented). While I personally would not choose to return to a couple of the hotels we stayed at on tour, they were in line with what RS advertises - safe, clean, and excellent locations.

Otherwise, on the one tour I have been on, I didn't think anyone was grumpy or out of line. Everyone adapted well to the tour and got along, so no complaints there.

Posted by
1064 posts

Grumps are not all bad. My favorite grump is Mark Twain in Innocents Abroad. I imagine he would do great on a Rick Steves tour, keeping everyone in stitches and being named Grand Grump of the tour.

Posted by
31294 posts

The RS tour agreement (which all prospective tour members have to agree to) states....

"No grumps: Travel is all about experiencing things we’re not used to. Tour members are expected to be flexible and open-minded, and to practice considerate social behavior toward one another."
"Participation: Although we want everyone to have a good time, it sometimes happens that someone participating in a tour can misbehave or do things that are incompatible with the safety, comfort or convenience of other members of the tour. In those circumstances we have the exclusive right and discretion, to expel someone (even you) from a tour at any time, without any claims or complaints by you against us."

There are other clauses, but this provides the highlights. As tour members must agree to these terms, I don't believe they have any financial or other recourse if they're ejected from a tour. Perhaps being given the boot will teach them not to misbehave.

Laura (MA),

I've also travelled with NIna on a tour with a few "difficult" tour members, and I agree she handles situations of that type with expertise and diplomacy. She's an exceptional guide and a darn nice person!

Posted by
2788 posts

I have been on 13 RS tours with #14 (Portugal) coming in May. I have experienced only two situations that disrupted the harmony of the group. One was a middle aged man who complained too much about almost everything and at the last dinner stood up an apologized for his behavior. Seems he was a recently recovering alcoholic and still dealing with his own issues. The other situation involved a couple on our Greece Tour in 2014 who did just about everything inappropriately, from dress, putting their dirty shoes up on bus seats, taking dishes out of hotels/restaurants, always being late but not late enough to get left behind, etc, etc. Our excellent RS Guide handled it a best he could short of terminating their tour and leaving them in Greece. He had told me that he had communicated with the RS Home Office and was told not to dump them in Greece but to document all of their shortcomings. I always fill out the questionnaire after the tour is over and I return home. I wrote up a lengthly report on this couple and forwarded it to RS personally in a sealed envelope. I said they should never again be allowed on a RS tour and if I ever encountered them on another tour I would take evasive action. All that said, with 13 RS tours, 99.9% of my tour mates have been the nicest bunch of folks I have ever met and still am in contact with several of them.

Posted by
1616 posts

I've done 6 RS tours and encountered grumps on 2 of them. Nobody was asked to leave the tour.

There were a few issues with the guide on our GAS tour in 2010, ie changing meeting/departure times and posting them after everyone had gone to bed, and not ensuring that the bus driver emptied the toilet. The complainers started and their comments snowballed into an unpleasant situation that made me wish my vacation was over. Too bad.

On the Belgium-Holland tour in 2012, there were several people who weren't prepared for the walking, stairs, or carrying their own suitcases. It's unfortunate they didn't read the tour guidelines and their constant complaining made it very uncomfortable for the rest of us. There were 3 or 4 people who opted out of most of the activities.

I think it's fine to report issues with bed bugs (yuck), but but complaining about the weather or walking up a few flights of stairs to get to your room is out of line.

Posted by
7205 posts

And this is why I personally would never sign up for an organized multiday tour. Being out and about on your own or with a small group of people/family you really like is the best way to go. Organize your own travel and make that part of your trip excitement.

Posted by
437 posts

I was recently on a tour where two people were offered the opportunity to leave for physical reasons. One did, one didn't. The one that did not leave was also a high maintenance, passive complainer. She put a damper on the tour for the entire group. People had to carry her bag, she refused to wear proper shoes, she monopolized the assistant tour director's time. I just found her frustrating. This was our 1st tour, it may also be our last because of her.

I have to say the rest of our group was an easy going group.

Posted by
1049 posts

After reading some of the comments about grumps on their tours, I could see why some people might want to stay away from a tour. I have been to Europe on 6 occasions. The first 5 times, I planned everything and did not go on a tour. This last visit, I signed up for a RS Best of Italy tour. We had no grumps on the tour and everybody got along great. Maybe we were luckily. One of the things I enjoyed most was eating lunch or dinner with different tour members. When I have traveled with my wife or a friend, we didn't have as much to talk about at dinner as we did the same thing. On the tour, it was always fun to learn what everyone did during their free time. Don't let any of the negative comments discourage you from going on a tour if that is what you are leaning on doing. We saw more on our tour in 17 days than I could have seen on my own. It was very relaxing as I didn't have to worry about how I was going to get to my next destination.

Posted by
31294 posts

Tim,

"And this is why I personally would never sign up for an organized multiday tour."

Some of these comments make the problem sound worse than it is. I've also been on tours with "problematic" tour members, and the guides have always done a great job in handling these issues. There's always free time on tours, and that provides an opportunity to spend some time away from the whiners, and also to spend some time enjoying the company of the nice folks in the group. As Charlie mentioned, RS tour members are usually really nice people (often well educated professionals - on my Greece tour, there were as I recall three Physicians in the group, as well as one Archaeologist which was a good fit for Greece).

The greater majority of people I've encountered on tours have been great, and I'd travel with any of them again. I find that tours are sometimes the most efficient way to see an area, and I always learn more about the local history and culture on a tour vs. going on my own. The RS guides and local guides have all been exceptional.

Posted by
5981 posts

These stories are interesting because they are the exceptions not the rule. I was talking to the bus driver on one of our three RS tours, who told me that he loved driving RS tour groups because the people were "above average for Americans".

Posted by
8293 posts

". . . . above average for Americans". Wow! There's a back-handed compliment for you.

Posted by
1049 posts

Ken,
I think we had 5 people in the medical profession including an emergency room physician. I felt safer on the tour than I did at home if anything happened medically.

Posted by
1068 posts

I don't see "above average for Americans" as a backhanded compliment for a number of reasons. Most of the people I meet on tours are fairly affluent, educated, interested, polite and in the case of RS tours, a non-grump. I would say that is "above average."

Posted by
5981 posts

Well, there was more to the conversation - that was just the memorable quote. His english was not good enough for irony and sarcasm. He had bad experiences with other groups of Americans, but nothing like what he had to say about some other nationalities.

Posted by
14335 posts

I was on one 2-week tour, not RS, and the participants were good, some had quirks but no one upset the overall ambiance, except one of our guides (we had 2 or 3 with us all the time plus an escort)! About half of us swore we'd never take another tour that he was leading. The bus driver nearly went over the hill near the end of the tour. He didn't understand anything the guide was saying but the constant lectures in the guide's stentorian voice for hours on end while this great driver was trying to concentrate on difficult driving . . .

Posted by
556 posts

Pndldy,

I hope if you take another RS tour this year, you'll come back and report if/how it was different from your first tour. I'm curious if you will have a different feeling about tours or not. I could see how your first experience would im,pact you in a negative way.

Posted by
1049 posts

I can see why a bad experience on a tour would keep you from doing another tour. I wish the RS tour reviews would allow for a more detailed review where people could post their experience in detail. To save space, there could be a "+" where the reader could expand the section if they wanted to read additional comments. I had the best experience on my tour, but there were things I could have posted that may help a future tour member. As an example, our tour was split between to hotels in the Cinque Terre. One hotel had quite a walk up hill to get to it. The other was on flat ground. If that information was posted in the review, a prospective tour member would probably be able to request the right hotel based on their physical abilities and avoid a bad experience.

Posted by
8263 posts

You know, the tour reunion time is coming up and for the week ahead the tour guides all meet to discuss their tours and other issues. Maybe they need to have a session on handling disruptive people (and who knows...maybe it's already in the works). I am sure there is a policy in place but I'm betting some guides are more adept at intervention than others.

Posted by
138 posts

I've always thought that the Rick Steves tour policy of not meeting tour members at the airport is why most of the people one meets on Rick's tours are cheerful, enterprising people. The fact that you have to find your way, in a foreign country, to the hotel where the group meets, is like a "test" that weeds out the whiners.

Posted by
1049 posts

Not only do they not meet you at the airport, it seems most tours start some distance from the arriving airport. I know a number of my friends won't take an RS Tour because they are not confortable making the travel arrangements to get to the start of the tour. They also want someone to handle all their luggage for them. I know they would be "grumps" if they were on an RS Tour. I don't even bother to recommend one of his tours to them.

Posted by
31294 posts

RS tours is very clear on the conditions of tours and the fact that tour members have to carry their own luggage, possibly climb a few stairs in some hotels, etc. This may eliminate a lot of whiners from the outset, and encourage them to sign up for other tours where they'll be more pampered. The people who do sign up for RS tours are willing to adapt to the RS travel style, and from what I've seen on eight tours no one minds the rules and everyone has a fantastic time.

Posted by
221 posts

Has anyone been on a RS tour where a person was sent home because they couldn't function physically or mentally? For instance: Couldn't walk unassisted, couldn't follow directions, couldn't get to bus on time, couldn't carry luggage etc. Even though not a grump, not being prepared for the RS experience does highly impact other tour members and the guide.

Posted by
8263 posts

Grace, I think you make a good point. The Road Scholar tours, where I've encountered needier tour members, do a lot more handholding including airport transfers and baggage handling. On one trip the bus driver and instructor were very worried because they thought my bag was missing...and were shocked that I had carried it down myself. It was my trusty RS convertible backpack! My thought was, ahhh Rick, you would be so proud of me and what I have learned, lol!!

Posted by
1068 posts

Not only do they not meet you at the airport, it seems most tours start some distance from the arriving airport. I know a number of my friends won't take an RS Tour because they are not comfortable making the travel arrangements to get to the start of the tour. They also want someone to handle all their luggage for them. I know they would be "grumps" if they were on an RS Tour. I don't even bother to recommend one of his tours to them. Good point. When taking a tour from another tour company someone asked about RS. I replied I liked their tours immensely. Almost immediately they said in a snit "don't you have to carry your own luggage?" I answered yes, it makes sure the tour members are fit and able to keep up without being pampered.

Posted by
3465 posts

Lynn,

I have been on a couple RS tours where people got sick on the trip (flu or cold, a couple cases of flare ups of chronic conditions). They were not asked to leave. Most spent what time they needed in their rooms missing group activities and only showing up for the bus ride to the next hotel until they got better. The important thing was they did not expect special treatment (or at least didn't demand it where others would notice) because they were not well.

One tour a couple was simply left when they were repeatedly late for everything. They were 30 minutes late for the morning bus on the 6th morning of the tour after being at least that late every day previous and the tour guide told the driver to leave. They managed to catch up 2 days later and were the first ones on the bus the rest of the tour.

Posted by
1049 posts

Being late was not an option on our tour. We had one couple that was about 5 minutes late for the bus and the guide said that it would not be tolerated again. He said it loud enough for everyone to hear. I think he apologized to them later, but wanted to make a point. It was a point well taken.

We did leave people on a local tour who did not show up after waiting for about 10 minutes. When asked where they were, they mistaken thought they had 45 minutes more time before the departure time. The local guide was very upset about leaving them, but our guide said they knew where we were going next and he knew they could get back to the hotel. I should say this was a walking tour. I don't think he would have ever left someone if it was a bus ride to the next city.

Posted by
31294 posts

"Has anyone been on a RS tour where a person was sent home because they couldn't function physically"

No, but I was on one tour where the guide provided exceptional service to one older couple that had difficulty walking to our tour hotel. He arranged a Taxi for them and luggage, while the rest of us walked.

"I have been on a couple RS tours where people got sick on the trip (flu or cold, a couple cases of flare ups of chronic conditions"

I've never been on a tour where someone had to leave the group because of illness. However, on one of my tours a couple had to leave the group about halfway through the tour due to a death in the family. On another tour, one of the women suffered a broken arm after falling off a chair, but as I recall she was treated in hospital and continued on with the tour.

Posted by
2031 posts

Just curious, Ken, is falling off chairs a typical occurrence on RS tours? I've only been on one tour, the Greece tour, and that never happened to anyone in our great group.

Posted by
7205 posts

There's no excuse for being late when you're part of a group. If you're the person who's late then just be resigned that the group IS leaving without you. Why should a tour guide EVER apologize for telling travelers to NOT be late. Sorry. It's called "you're an adult so suck it up and act like a grown up".

Posted by
654 posts

As far as being on time, I operate on the Vince Lombardi rule. If a meeting is at 9:00 and you arrive at 8:55, you're five minutes late.

However, on my Paris and South of France tour, three of us were having lunch in a small restaurant near Azay-le-Rideau. Apparently we weren't vocal enough about needing to get the check so we could get back to the bus. Needless to say, we were about 10 minutes late and felt badly about it the rest of the trip. Had our guide, Patrick Vidal, not walked by looking for us, we might still be there.

Posted by
1068 posts

Eric, your message goes to show how good RS guides and policies are. People who are late once, after being prompt for a week are given some slack. People who are habitually late by day 3 are dealt with a sterner hand. That is where the common sense, good judgment and training of the RS guides come into focus. The polices give the guides some teeth, the guides use their experience.

Posted by
8263 posts

I agree with Ray's assessment. On my Ireland tour 3 folks were not back to the bus on time. They had always been very prompt. Fortunately they had a phone, called the guide and it turns out they had gotten misdirected when heading thru a wooded area. None of us minded a bit waiting for them, we were just relieved to see them appear! On the other hand, if they had been perpetually late I'm sure most would have felt differently.

Posted by
350 posts

IMHO, the RS guides are extremely patient with some people, more so that I would be. Unless the person is interferring with others, then they will tactfully say something. For example, when in Rome, the group had to constantly wait for two people who stopped to shop while we were on the way to something. After a couple of times they were informed that they had time on their own for shopping, and then advised to carry the hotel address with them in case they continued shopping as the group was going to keep going. It was all put very tactfully, of course. The shoppers reformed and everybody had a great time.