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Rick Steves Tours

Hello all,

Just looking for a little information about the age range and distribution on these tours, in particular the 14-day best of europe trip preferably on any of the trips departing in May. I'm 23 years old and am looking to travel in a small group with my sister who's 22 years old. We've been looking for a long time now about contiki, top deck, and other large group guided tours and have decided that we wouldn't fit in very well with that crowd, as the partying/drinking is not the sole reason we're trying to see some of europe. It will be our first time traveling outside of the country, and traveling withOUT a guided tour is not an option (first time travelers, parents want safety/security of group and pre-planned itineraries, etc) and the medium group size (24-28 people) seems to fit what we're looking for. One of my only concerns on a tour like this is the age group. I'm not sure how spread out the group is, and we don't know if we'll be the youngest people on the group and could possibly be very awkward if a huge majority of the group is so much older than us. If anyone has been on these tours and noticed that it doesn't seem to matter about the age differences or anything of importance, please feel free to let us know! I would hate to leave my vacation up to chance with a huge group tour because I didn't really know if we would fit in with Rick Steves tours. That seems to be our only concern, the rest of the trips' details seem to suit all of our needs. If anyone has any input it would be greatly appreciated!

Also please refrain from the "Just DIY" comments. That's not an option for us, so we're trying to find a group-tour that's more focused on art and culture while still within our budget instead of breezing through europe and going to clubs and bars every single night. Thanks!

Posted by
359 posts

I think you will like the RS tours. As long as your interests align, which it sounds like they do, who cares about the ages. Rick's tours are very informative and art and culture focused. You will have some time alone to do things with just your sister too for some dinners, evenings, etc.

Posted by
5512 posts

I think it is fair to say that Rick Steves Tours generally have an older demographic, BUT- it is more important the type of individuals that go on these tours than age. I've certainly seen comments and remarks on the forums from individuals in your age group, and younger, that went on the tours and had a great time. I don't think anyone would think any less of you because of your age, so I would suggest trying that in return as well. If you are looking for a tour that is welcoming and full of interesting people of various ages, than I don't think you need to worry about fitting in on Rick Steves tour.

Posted by
168 posts

I took the 14-day RS Best of Europe tour some years ago, and our group had people in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's in it! Everyone got along great (actually, there turned out to be quite a bit of partying/drinking on the tour, but no one was compelled to participate).

Posted by
31521 posts

rob,

I've found a variety of ages on the RS tours, ranging in age from about 17 to 70. Despite the age differences, everyone seems to get along really well, and that seems to be enhanced with the smaller group size. The pace of the tours is good, with some free afternoons and evenings as well as one free day to explore on your own.

My suggestion would be to try the RS BOE tour. The guides are excellent and you'll be well looked after. One of the other benefits is that you'll also learn some travel skills, which will allow you to travel more independently in future.

Posted by
558 posts

Hi Rob,

I have been on 4 RS tours and on each one there has been a wide age-range, from teenagers -70s. I started in my late-30s (I'm early 40s now) on The Village Italy tour and there was a family of 4, with both daughters being college-aged. On my second tour, I and one other woman were the youngest (Best of Scotland). On the third tour (city Istanbul), again, there was a family with kids in their 20s. On my last tour (Loire/So.France), there was a family with teenagers. As you can see, there are usually some younger people on each tour. However, none of them are Best of Europe tours, which I think actually often tend to have more younger people on it for the reasons you're doing it- many are first-timers and want a quick overview of Europe. Then, as they get older or more experienced, they can plan on their own. If you have a look at some of the tour scrapbook archives, you'll also see some younger people on those tours.

Here's my best suggestion though: you can call the tour department directly and ask about each of the tour dates you are looking at. I do this on each trip, as I also like knowing if they'll be anyone close to my age on tour. They can't give specifics, but they'll often say, "a few people in their 20s, a 30-something, many in their 40s-50s, etc., etc. I will say that I travel in late June/early July (I'm a teacher), so I think you're likely to find younger people at that time of year, just because of school schedules. I'm not as sure about mid-May.

By the way, I took a Contiki tour in my mid20s and it definitely was a party tour. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you want to focus a little more on art and culture I agree RS is a good choice. Again, these tours tend to attract like-minded people, so I often find age is not as much of an issue as you might think.

Please come back here and let us know what you decide! Have fun!

Posted by
796 posts

The tours seem to have a mix of people and guides of different ages. Even if others are older than you, age is just a number and the older ones are interested in the same thing you are- seeing Europe- and also will be active since the tours are active. Never worry about age. There are so many misconceptions that people have to stay locked in with people born the same year or close to it. I am 55 and travel with friends and relatives from babies to 90's and love making new friends of all ages. Your age won't matter to anyone, only your friendly company as you explore Europe together. It's a good idea for you and your sister to go with a group. You can DIY later when you feel more confident. The RS tours most definitely focus on art and culture.

Posted by
88 posts

Don't know about BOE, but I was on the RS Venice-Florence-Rome tour last spring and there were two brothers in their early 20s as well as a guy and his girlfriend also in early/mid twenties. Also a family with teenagers, as well as older folks in their 30s to 60s. Everyone got along really well and in fact made a point of being inclusive to the younger ones.

Posted by
6788 posts

We've not been on that tour, but two others. Yes the group skews older, but a very active, educated, and adventurous group of folks. Younger people have fit right in and were welcomed. There's also plenty of time on your own, and nothing stodgy about the core attractions you will see as a group. The guides have also been very helpful in suggesting things that suit your interests for your free time, and if the scheduled day's events don't suit you, you can always skip them. I've done my share of independent travel at your age, and wish RS tours had been available at that time.

Posted by
646 posts

while we haven't been on a RS Tour before either . . . our 1st one is in October (Venice, Florence, Rome) . . . I say GO FOR IT!! You are going to see & experience Europe & you will get that with a RS tour. There is too much to see, do, and learn . . . a tour is the best way to go. There is NO WAY you can go into some of these magnificant Cathedrals & Museums on your own & get an understanding of what you are seeing/the history/the art . . with a RS tour- you will understand and learn so much . . . plus, they take care of transportation, hotels, and most meals. One suggestion I do have is to read RICK STEVES EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR 2015 before you go. We have been to Europe before (Austria & Germany) & we are currently reading this book and we really wish we had read it before we went to Europe for the 1st time.

Posted by
2051 posts

My experiences with Rick Steves tours is as everyone else has said-lovely mix of ages and I personally think you will be (pleasantly) surprised by the "youth" of some of the older tour participants! The summer BofEurope tours are good choices for you for the reasons stated earlier.

Posted by
3655 posts

We've been on half a dozen RS tours. Ages ranged from late teens to 70s. Had some brother / brother combos, single males and females, and newly weds all in their early to mid 20s and 30s. You answered one of your questions yourself when you typed "...it doesn't seem to matter about the age differences or anything of importance." Everyone blends in regardless of age. Based on our experiences you have nothing to worry about. It will be a great introduction to Europe. Go and enjoy!! TC

Posted by
9914 posts

I'll add my experience as well. I've not done the 14 day BOE, but did the 21 day. The youngest on that tour was a 30 yr old woman traveling solo. We had a wonderful time with her, and I think she had a wonderful time with the rest of us!

My first RS tour was Heart of Italy and I traveled with my brother, SIL and their 2 sons, ages 20 and 25. There was another 21 yr old on the tour with her parents. The nephews had a wonderful time and still talk about it. They did hang out with other tour members. They hiked the trails in Cinque Terre with others, went to some bars at night with others, and learned so much. The guide (Trina ++++!!) was excellent at making sure they saw things they were interested in. At the introduction meet up she asked if anyone had any particular interests. The younger said he was interested in the Medici family. A number of times, particularly in museums with a local guide, I would look around to locate everyone and I would see that Trina had Marshall by the arm taking him to another part of the room to show him something Medici related. It was really neat and made some awesome family memories!

On Rick's tours there is also a good amount of free time so you will also have time away from the group. As others have said one of the goals of the guides is to teach you to travel independently. That will start in Paris when your guide orients you to the Paris Metro. On any tour most of us encourage you to arrive a day or 2 early to get your feet on the ground and recover from jet lag. You can usually get a reservation at the hotel where the tour starts or somewhere nearby.

So...I would encourage you to go! Any chance your parents would want to join in on the fun? Or would that make it less fun for you all?

Posted by
1994 posts

One other option to consider – Rick Steve's son does tours specifically for college-age people. I don't know the name of the company, but I bet the folks at the Rick Steve's tour office could give it to you.

Posted by
20 posts

Rob,
Haven't been on a RS tour, but my wife and I are booked for the BOE 14-day starting 5/25/2015. Given what we have seen on this site (forums, scrapbooks), it looks to us like the range of ages is generally pretty wide. Also, it appears that the "self-selection" that the RS approach tends to produce brings together groups of folks who are interested in art, history, and sampling all the great food, drink, & culture Europe offers. I know that we are certainly counting on being part of such a group, and that age makes little difference to us. We are recent empty-nesters and have a couple of daughters right in your age group. We love spending time with them and their friends and never think twice about the age difference. Frankly, meeting and interacting with people from different areas of the U.S. and different ages, backgrounds, etc. is one of the things that attracted us to a tour.

Posted by
55 posts

Just popping in to respond to Sherry's point about Andy Steves' company, Weekend Student Adventures. His company provides weekend tours for college students who are studying abroad.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks to everyone who has shared their knowledge with us! We decided to do the 21 day best of Europe tour with RS from May 12-June 1st. We're so excited to go!

Posted by
9914 posts

What fun! The 21 BOE is such a wonderful time. I think about my trip Every. Single. Day. Really!

Do plan to do everything optional your guide offers. On mine, the guide set up a couple of extra dinners, a gondola ride in Venice (yes, even all us solo gals went along and it was great!) and organized cable car/cog train transportation along with hiking on our free day in Switzerland. When I went, the price on that was 120 Swiss Francs which was the actual cost of the transportation. The guide will stop at ATMs in Switzerland and will discuss on the bus how much each person should get in Swiss Francs.

I am glad you all have chosen this trip. Do plan to arrive in Amsterdam a couple of days early to give yourselves time to adjust. You will be so comfortable with European travel after this experience!

If you are interested, here is my Trip Report from my BOE last August/Sept.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14

Posted by
31521 posts

rob,

It's great to hear that you've decided on a tour! You're in for a treat, I'm sure you'll both have a fantastic and memorable time. Be sure to take lots of memory cards for your camera as well as spare batteries!

Bon Voyage!

Posted by
6788 posts

On our last RS tour, the bus driver told me that he loved driving for Rick Steves Tours, because in his experience, the travelers were "above average".

Posted by
86 posts

check out rick Steve's my way tour.. you might like that. you have the freedom to do your own sightseeing on your own terms, with the ease of mind of not having to worry about planning the logistics of the trip transportation and rooms are included and with an export on hand. That., might be more flexible for you just in case you don't want to get stuck with a bunch of old farts you could bounce do your thing and meet up later with your group lol.,
p.s. its also a little cheaper than the full tour package

Posted by
333 posts

rob,

I hope you already had your passports ready!
I'll be on the 21 day BOE tour leaving a week before yours. I've already "met" a couple of gals on my tour who are college age, sisters traveling with their mother. It's gonna be a great tour for all of us.

Have a great time!
Lisa

Posted by
5 posts

Rankster,

Just got our passports in a few days ago! We're so excited about the trip! Can't wait till may. Hope your trip is awesome!

Posted by
147 posts

Hey, I wanted to add my two-cents. My husband and I went on our first Rick Steves Tour when were 24. and we just went on another tour at the age of 26. Our first tour we were not the youngest, a mom and daughter were with us and she was 19. But the rest of the tour were 40 and above. Age wasn't really an issue and we loved our tour group members. We were all there to travel and have fun!!! And on our second tour, our youngest tour member was 7, then three high schoolers, one 20 year old and then us, so we weren't the youngest either and that was the Best of Eastern Europe!!
Age isn't a huge factor, if you want to have a great time you will!!!!! You will LOVE your tour, and I bet you and your sister make some great friends!
Nicole

Posted by
17 posts

If you book for the summertime, the average age of the fellow travellers is much younger. If you travel on the shoulder seasons and earlier/later the average age goes up because people with school age children (who are younger) cannot usually travel at that time. We are now in our 60's and took our first Rick Steves' Tour when we were barely 50. On those times that we have had younger people on our trip, I think that had a great time, too. Remember that you are not joined at the hip to all of the other travellers and the guides tend to be younger, too! So I would go for it! I really don't think it will be the obstacle that you think it might be. These are VERY active tours: a lot of walking and often times opportunities to climb to the top of bell towers and hike up mountainsides. I do not do everything that is offered! AND remember that you do not have to do everything with the group either! If you decide that there is some off of the way thing that you want to do, the guide will help you figure out a way to do it while the group does something else! I really don't think that you will regret it. I have been on other small-group tours and RS groups tend to have a lower average and mean age.

Our first tour was Berlin/Prague/Vienna. We knew that we were on the right tour when the second day in Berlin, the guide turned us loose with a list of alternate activities (from parks to art museums to city walks). We chose to go to the art museum to see a Rembrandt exhibition while everybody else did their thing! I LOVE these tours! I think you would too!

Posted by
371 posts

Yes, the average age is probably older than you.

On a recent BOE, My Way tour, we had 5 people in the 20to30-something age group.

Even the older folks tend to be young at heart on these tours, though they might go to bed earlier. :-)