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RS Guided Tour vs. My Way Tour

I am looking to travel to Italy again in 2016. I was part of a 20-member fully guided tour of Italy this past summer (arranged by a local travel agency). While I appreciated the transportation and attraction tickets provided, I really disliked not having any free time to enjoy the cities I visited.

I would like to hear from individuals that have taken both the RS Guided Tours and the My Way Tours. I like what looks to be the camaraderie that develops with your fellow travelers on the guided tour, but I'm concerned that there will not be enough free time for me to explore other attractions (ones different from the planned itinerary) of the cities. This is why I'm considering the My Way tour.

For those travelers that have taken both tours--what was your experience??

Thank you in advance.

Posted by
16817 posts

My Way tours give you full flexibility to plan your sightseeing within an organized structure, but if the Italy My Way itinerary duplicates several destinations that you recently visited, then I would choose an itinerary with more destinations that are new to you.

You may find that the Rick Steves Tours already include a better balance of free time than your last experience. As you read through the day-by-day itinerary for any fully Guided tour, you'll get an idea of when you have a morning, afternoon, or evening free. If the group tours a major museum together, for instance, then you often are free after that, to choose to stay longer or not. You also have the choice to skip some arranged activities along the way, as long as you tell your guide and you don't miss the bus leaving town. I hope you'll find one that fits your next priorities.

Posted by
1269 posts

I haven't done a My Way tour but I think the guides are the best part of the guided tours. I have been on five RS tours and the tour guides have been outstanding on all of them. I really enjoy the guides and hearing about the history and culture. I do read up a lot before I travel but the guides always add to what I already know.

The guided tours I've been on have enough free time for my taste, although I have skipped certain group activities if there was something else I wanted to do or if I just wanted a break. And yes, the camaraderie with fellow tour members is also a big plus.

I know you wanted responses from people who have done both RS guided and My Way tours but I just wanted to say how much the guides add to the experience. Rick finds outstanding guides!

Posted by
2258 posts

Robin, I was on the RS My Way Italy tour in Oct 2013 and then on the guided RS Sicily tour in May 2014. Both were excellent. The My Way tour is basically all free time, other than your time traveling from town to town, and a couple times some activity planned as a stop on the road, even then generally up to you what you do at that stop. The "escort" is an experienced guide who is available to provide suggestions and guidance re sites, restaurants, etc. if individual tour members want some. On my tour, when we arrived in a town the escort would sometimes say "I know a good restaurant here and am going there at 7 pm, any of you are welcome to come along if you like," and some of us did. The My Way tour is great for people who like to visit prime sites on their own, or buy a group tour in major cities, or spend their time in nearby towns, cooking classes, strolling aimlessly, painting or whatever. The group dynamic is not as close, and you save some money from not having guided sightseeing, site admissions or group meals included (other than all breakfasts). The guided tour has a busy schedule of planned visits and activities, but also quite a bit of free time built in, the online itinerary basically indicates how much and when. You can create more free time if you want to skip group activities, as long as that does not interfere with the travel schedule. The guide's knowledge and enthusiastic personality, the group meals and activities, and the camaraderie of the group are all highlights of the trip, I have found. You pay some more for that. All in all, I now favor the guided tours, especially when traveling solo. While in both cases I have continued my trip to other places in Italy following the tours. I also now favor guided tours to traveling solo independently, although independent travel certainly gives you more freedom to choose the places you want to visit. Hope that helps.

Posted by
852 posts

We have been on 5 RS guided tours and this makes us not interested in going on a my way tour. We also travel on our own in Europe on some trips. One part of the guided trips that we really like besides the guide that is with you for the trip is the local guides that take you around a city when you first arrive. For example, in Budapest we had two different mornings with the local guide and I'm telling you she was great. My husband had been to Budapest twice on business and he really appreciated the local guide we had on the RS tour. He ended up enjoying Budapest more than he expected to. On a My Way tour you would have to hire a guide with a small group to make it that good, and hope they are good. The dinners that are included are excellent and the camaraderie is a lot of fun. We sometimes have dinner on our own on the free nights and sometimes join another couple or two. We have made close friends from one of the RS tours and have traveled with those couples again. We always add on some days prior to the tour and mostly add on some days after. To each his own.

Happy travelling

Posted by
2525 posts

I've done done RS's guided tours and earlier versions of My Way Tours (BB&B). If you have a previous general exposure to an area and have seen some or all of the major attractions and wish to spend more than allotted time at such or visit "lesser" attractions, then perhaps the My Way Tour would be perfect. Camaraderie develops in both cases to the extent you wish.