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Questions on a possible first-time RS Tour

Looking at 2024 tours.
We've always been independent travelers but we are considering trying a RS tour.

What time of day do tour activities usually begin? Breakfast at 7? 8? Leave hotel at usually what time?
When riding on RS buses, for a motion-sickness sensitive person are the bus rides usually pretty smooth, even in mountainous areas like Switzerland, or just twisty-turny roads anywhere?
if you eat vegan/vegetarian, any comments on accommodation for vegan/vegetarian diet?

Posted by
1723 posts

I have been on 8 R Steves' tours and am scheduled for another in September, I would say on average the hotel breakfast is available by 7 or 7:30 and departure for the days activities is usually around 8:30 or 9. Much of it depends on that day's activities. I suffer from motion sickness and have never been troubled on the bus. Some tours do have twisty, turny roads, but most of the time the bus is traveling the larger roads or motorways. I try to sit in the area from the middle to the front of the bus which is more stable, I think. I am a vegetarian and have never had a problem getting something to eat. You tell them on your tour profile if you have food allergies or diet preferences. I remember on the Sicily tour I got lots of omelettes because for some reason they thought that was preferred for vegetarians. I finally just told the tour guide to skip the main course as the other courses were filling enough, especially if pasta was one of the courses. I would recommend looking over some of the tour scrapbooks. They sometimes include photos of the daily schedule which is always posted the night before. Which tours are you interested in?

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks very much for the info.
Under consideration:

My Way Spain
My Way Alpine

Posted by
13184 posts

I've not been on any of those tours. Of course on the My Way tours on the "non-transit" days your time is your own.

I'll agree that breakfast is usually 7 to 730 and the guides usually give you an hour or so for breakfast before you're set to go. It's generally not before 8A unless there is a special reason for it. In the Lauterbrunnen Valley on a 21 day Best of Europe tour our guide offered an optional trip up to the Schilthorn that left the hotel at 715 to catch the cheaper gondola up to the top. I've got massive FOMO, lolol, and I'm an early riser so that did not bother me at all. We also had an early start in Rome once for a Colosseum visit, I think it was a free admission Sunday (not sure they even do them any more) and he wanted to get us in before the crowd. Both extremely reasonable reasons in my opinion.

I'm vegan. I've done 13 RS tours and 13 with another company. I usually talk with the guide after the first meet up to let them know I'm vegan and ask them to tell me if that choice is not going to work out. The last Rick Steves tour I did, the guide was having difficulty and decided to make me vegetarian so I got a lot of meals with cheese. I just ate what worked for me and filled in with food I had in the room or vegan sorbetto, lol. I've never had issues before this last RS tour so I suspect you will have no problem. I always make sure Ive got some back up food available or am ready to strike out and forage on my own if group meals don't meet my needs. If you are vegetarian you'll have no problem at all.

For motion sickness, talk with the guide after the first meeting. You will probably be encouraged to ride right up front. On another tour company tour one of the tour members did not think she'd be motion sick but on small French back roads she got very ill. The bus had to stop in a layby and she was very sick. EVERYone felt so bad for her and she did ride up front the rest of the time. I'd take medication and if something like SeaBands work for you, I'd have them along as well. I keep the SeaBands with me because I get seasick and they work well for that but I've seen some people say the SeaBands don't work for their motion sickness.

Posted by
1723 posts

Thanks, Pam. I forgot I always tell the guide at our first meeting that I am the vegetarian. They will probably know this already if they have read our profiles, but it is good to confirm it. I am lucky because I eat dairy and eggs so that helps me be very flexible with what I am served. I loved the Ireland trip because in Ireland anyone who serves food to the public is required to have a vegetarian option. Quite often it was vegan so those folks were included, too.

Posted by
8194 posts

Nancy, ask your doctor for a prescription for the anti-nausea drug Zofran. It helps greatly with motion sickness. Dont be surprised if there are more folks in the group who have a problem and want that front seat.

For those My Way tours, where all meals are on your own, take some note cards or something, with the local language terms for vegan, so you dont have to explain each time. Not all servers or cooks speak English.

It's part of the routine SOP for guides to ask at the first meeting, for allergies or dietary preferences, so it's something they know how to deal with.

Posted by
118 posts

We just got back from the RSE Best of Tuscany tour; most days we were on twisting roads through the hills of Tuscany. My wife was concerned about getting motion sickness, brought some dramamine, but never had to take it.

The buses are first-class; we've always been on new buses that are very comfortable, smooth, and driven by excellent bus drivers.

Because there are only about 12 couples on RS tours, you can spread out on the bus if you want; my wife and I like to sit together, but there were a few couples who liked a separate seat for each of them, and there were plenty of empty seats for others who could have if they wished.

Breakfast was always timed so that you could go down for breakfast and have time to freshen up in your room afterwards.

Posted by
372 posts

Re the post above about the number of couples usually on RS tours, there are also single men and women traveling on their own. Plus friends traveling together. It is perhaps more helpful to say that the tour size is 26-28, and yes, there is plenty of room to spread out on the bus.

On my recent Rick Steves Portugal tour, we normally departed around 8:30 each morning. The hotel breakfast is normally available beginning around 7:00.

On the 5 Rick Steves tours I've taken, the practice has been to post the schedule for the following day in the hotel lobby. Tour members take photos of the schedules with their phones.

Posted by
11503 posts

I’ve only been on one Rs tour and absolutely suffer from mirin sickness - and we did go through Swiss mountains etc - but ride in bus was very smooth so I had no problems

Posted by
2101 posts

I found out the hard way on my first RS tour that I still have motion sickness issues. After 8 tours, I find the best spot for me is the middle of the bus. The front of the bus goes up and down too much for me, so I will never ask for the front seat. I use chewable Dramamine for kids and that has always worked so far.

We did the My Way Italy last year and bus days were usually 8:30 departure. Otherwise, your schedule is pretty much your own.

Posted by
78 posts

We did RS Best of Switzerland last September. Had several vegetarians and a couple of vegans in our tour. The vegan couple had special meals prepared for thrm at group dinners. As I recall, your travel info that you fill out electronically about special diets. You can always email RS site and notify them. The info will be passed in to your tour guide.

Posted by
10 posts

We just completed the Best of England this May, which was our 5th RS tour. This year, we usually left the hotel at 8am, but as others have mentioned, there is occasionally an earlier start time to beat crowds.
Every group meal had a vegan/vegetarian option, and it seems that every eating establishment asked if we had any food allergies when we ordered. Last year it seemed like the tours members who were vegan/vegetarian were struggling for non-meat options on the Best of Spain tour.
As a adult, I have experienced motion sickness sometimes when I travel. This year was the first time I started to feel nauseous on the tour bus shortly after getting on the bus. I always carry non-drowsy chewable Bonnine, which has always worked for me. In past years, I’ve gotten a prescription from my physician for Scopolamine patches to use on a South American cruise and for a couple of twisty turny drives, but I now only use the over-the-counter medication, which has been working just fine without any of the side effects from Scopolamine.

Posted by
25 posts

We just completed RS Heart of Italy 9 days tour. The tour activities usually starts 9 or in the afternoon. Only one day around 7:30 to beat the crowd. I'm not motion-sickness but the guide offered any ppl with motion sickness can sit to the front with better view. The ride is pretty smooth in Tuscany. I'm not a vegetarian. One of our group member is. She mentioned it to the guide. Our guide is very helpful and made sure every meal/activities there are vegetarian option for her.