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Schedules on RS Tours

Hi, about to take our first trip with RS tours and we are very excited. Question is...do the tours always stay together or are their options for breaking the group into 2 different groups? I do see the "free time" options. I usually need a day or two away from my spouse on any trip and especially on a 14 day trip. It keeps our marriage sane, let's just say.

Posted by
2525 posts

Paying for a tour and then disappearing for a couple of days seems an odd way to go about it. But sure, you can choose to wander off from the tour for a couple of days, just alert the guide.

Posted by
6750 posts

You can always "split up" and join others at another table for meals. That's probably a somewhat subtle way of getting some time away and not be joined at the hip all the time...the best other chance is free time (I'm sure the amount of free time varies by tour, as there are very fast-paced tours). The tour group doesn't really split up into two because it's a relatively small group to begin with (as opposed to the 40 people to a bus group). I went on only one tour as a solo traveler, and used the free time as my "alone time". I really relished some of that time.

Posted by
489 posts

that is not what I was asking.. I was wondering if the tour was always together every day all day (except for the free time)? And I have no problem forgoing a tour day if it is not interesting to me or I just need "alone" time.

Posted by
430 posts

We found that we enjoyed spending some of our free times with several other tour members. We made some good friends and a lot of times we ended up with more or less the same group of people shopping, eating dinner, wandering the towns in the evenings. Perhaps you and your husband will gravitate toward different types of people and that will give you some space. On the vacation from the vacation free day you could get away on your own or with someone other than your husband. There's a lot of room on the bus and you could definitely sit apart during drives as well.

Posted by
6750 posts

I was wondering if the tour was always together every day all day

For the most part, yes. I only went on one tour and the "free" day we had, we were all on a boat together for several hours. I don't know what tour you're on but most days, the whole group gets transported somewhere, so yes, everyone is together for at least part of the day. The itinerary will give you some clue as to when you have true free time, but it won't be much (especially on those whirlwind multi-country tours that are typically done in 14 + days).

Posted by
8429 posts

The amount of free time and time away from the group really depends on which tour. City tours are easier to manage more alone time. On other tours any time you are not on a transfer day you can skip any group activity you choose. If the itinerary is one that is heavy on bus time then it's harder to have alone time.

The 2 tours (out of 7 I have completed- currently on #8 right now so no opinion yet, lol) that feel like they had a lot of group time were 21 Best of Europe and the 14 day Ireland tour.

Posted by
1178 posts

A full day may be difficult.
That said, yes, you can split up under certain conditions. Many times the tours start out in a city with an overview tour led by a local guide. Then there are usually a few hours of "do what you like".

Even in the group part you can still split up. Many times you can split up at tour sites, etc. and wander by yourself. Then you join the group in a few hours or so when the bus leaves. The bus is very large so you can actually sit separately on the bus.
I am an introvert and I never felt overwhelmed on the tours.

Posted by
5689 posts

Maybe consider a "my way" tour where they arrange your travel and housing, the sightseeing is individual? Or maybe you take separate tours? At least you can sit and chat with other people on the bus, at meals.
(By the way, if you haven't experienced the 24/7 "togetherness" that can come with retirement -- be warned!)

Posted by
3558 posts

We've only been on one RS tour, the week in Istanbul one, so I don't know if the longer, wider-ranging tours are different, but we had "buddies." We buddies watched out for each other so that no one got left behind. Our buddies were not our spouses by design. That automagically made us not so insular. If either of you decides to go walkabout from the group, your buddy needs to know and the guide needs to know, but maybe not your spouse!

The group didn't eat all meals together, but when we did, my husband and I didn't always sit together. Breakfasts were in the hotel during the same hours, but we often didn't arrive or leave at the same time.

We were only on a bus once. We did sit together then, but when we rode the trams and the ferry, we typically didn't. And when we walked around as a group, we weren't joined at the hip, either. That was largely due to my lagging behind to take pictures.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you don't have to be together all day, every day even if you are in the same group.

We've been married for 28 years, retired for 12, and we typically spend 4-6 months apart with a few visits in the summer while he races in the PNW. Except for the visits, I stay home in AZ. No bodies in shallow graves in the desert yet.

Biggest travel challenge: renting a car and driving in Europe. He's the driver and I'm the navigator. The navigator is always wrong, especially when the driver is not familiar with the local language. It's more fun to argue with a live navigator than an electronic one.

Posted by
524 posts

Of all the tours I have taken, I can only remember one where the group was splint into two separate groups: The Villages of Southern England. This was during the stain glass discussion and the cathedral tour. The stain glass workshop was just too small to accommodate one large group. That said, during museum, cathedral, city, etc tours you could separate yourself from your spouse. Also, during free exploration time, you could explore on your own. On some of the tours I've taken, there have been members that chose not to participate. On a few occasions, members left tour for a few days to explore on their own, and later rejoined the tour. As suggested, if you forgo a group activity, please notify the guide and your tour buddy.
On one tour, a wife could not abide sleeping in the same room as her spouse, they paid the single supplement for him to have his own room.

Posted by
329 posts

Candidate for quote of the week: "I usually need a day or two away from my spouse on any trip and especially on a 14 day trip. " That's true for us even when we aren't on a trip....

Posted by
6076 posts

green, if you decide the plan for the day is not for you, you can always opt out. Just tell the tour leader and your buddy ahead of time so they're not looking for you. On one of our tours, a couple or two had already been the place we were going, and decided to do something else. You can skip the group dinners too, as long as they know you are accounted for. You just can't wander off while the group is moving along, or miss the bus when its leaving for the next destination.

Posted by
489 posts

thanks everyone for the input.

retirement comes Jan 1 and the 24/7 scares me! He travels so much for work that I see him only on weekends so we have both developed a great need for our alone time. I like people and being with people, but in 14 days everyone needs space. I'll make the most of the bus time, seems good, and the free time.

Does every RS tour have this buddy system? I am very comfortable wandering almost any city in Asia or Europe or USA alone (after doing my research).. I spent days alone in Seoul and Beijing ...

Posted by
6076 posts

The buddy system does not mean you have to walk around with your buddy all the time. Its just a way of making sure everyone is accounted for, when the group is gathering to go somewhere. So for example, if the group is supposed to re-assemble after a lunch on your own, your buddy speaks up if you're not there. In the morning, loading the bus to move to next town, you're buddy is supposed to note whether you're there or not. That way the tour leader doesn't have to count heads, or call off names off a checklist. Its really not as obtrusive or childish as it sounds, and it speeds things up. Your buddy is not responsible for anything, but noting whether you're there or not (and vice versa). Your buddy can't be your traveling companion (spouse in your case), since, presumably you might be late together. If you decide to wander off on your own, your buddy just needs to know you're accounted for.

Posted by
489 posts

Stan, that makes a lot of sense! but what if I get a buddy that is not all there and wandering like I might be...

Okay, I'm not that person that is the last one on the bus, but sometimes I am the last one on the bus.... Personally, I usually know exactly how long it will take to get to the bus and I don't see any reason to be sitting on the bus 15 minutes early.

Posted by
2525 posts

Make the group wait because you are late for the bus or a walk to a group dinner, etc., ...well, there are social repercussions that may reform such behavior.

Posted by
489 posts

wow bruce... you are making me not looking forward to this trip. I never said I would be late, but getting to the bus and sitting for 15-20 minutes is stupid.

Posted by
600 posts

Tgreen, I don't think you'll have to worry aboUT sitting around on the bus. On both our tours it seemed like most people were prompt and showed up within the last 5 minutes. No need to be there super early.

Posted by
10049 posts

As someone who has led more tours than I can remember, I agree there is no reason to be back on the coach 15-20 minutes prior to leaving. However, don't try to time it to be there just when it leaves. Things happen. You might be better to aim for five minutes before departure. Unlike airlines and trains, if everyone is on board early, the coach can leave.

Posted by
6076 posts

tgreen, please don't think it will be a rigid, humorless experience, being herded around like third-graders. Its a lot of fun and you'll see that it makes more sense when you meet the leader and the group. They're touchy about being late because often, local guides and tours (like the group ticket to the Colliseum) may be at a very specific reserved time, or the driver's schedule will control your travel stops. Depending on your tour, the only days you will be on bus are the days you are moving from one town to the next. In town, you'll be walking or taking public transit, so not every day starts with a bus trip.

Posted by
764 posts

I have been on 6 previous tours. When doing an activity the group stays together almost all the time; only rarely would the group aplit in 2 and meet up at the end. Free time is yours to do as you like. You can certainly go off on your own then, just be back to meet the group at the assigned time/place. As another said, sometimes during free time the guide suggests an activity and does lead people, giving instructions on how to get back to the hotel. Free time varies greatly; Some tour groups split up in small groups, others have members go off individually with whom they signed up with.

As far as timing to get on the bus, I often get to the bus a bit estly but stand about and visit outside the bus until departure, especially if it a long drive ahead!

Posted by
928 posts

Did you get your answer? There is plenty of time and space on the bus to be alone. Try the back of the bus. Usually, individuals can have a two-seater of their own.

As a 9-time alum who often travels solo, I can say that there have been many, many times I was totally removed from other tour members during free time, which is plentiful, and on the "vacations from your vacation". I abstained from a planned bus tour out of Delft and spent that day on my own. I stayed behind in an agriturismo while others went to Volterra. Turns out, at lunch, I discovered there was a group of us similarly minded. I did not join others in hiking in the CT, but went to the beach in Levanto. In Halstatt, I became concerned that I was so alone hiking that if something occurred, no one would know where I was. Same thing in Bolzano where I was hunting the local connection to the Way of St. James.

You can make time for yourself, IMO. You just have to be present when the bus leaves and make sure the guide knows if you are deviating from planned group activities. That's it. Room arrangement options have been covered in other responses.

If you are really not looking forward to this, perhaps reconsider? Sometimes, tours leave me a bit exhausted, but overall happy to have met kindly travelers and seen a variety of places. A degree of interaction is part of the scenario, but I have found I can attain my alone time sufficiently. Why not try arriving at the tour separately? A few days off on you own beforehand or afterwards might make this more amenable.

Posted by
1624 posts

Hi green, yes, you can have some alone time. An example might be when you a visiting a site in the morning. You will be free to do whatever you want for lunch, the afternoon and possibly dinner. There are some tours where you might get a full day free. On one tour (Paris in 7 Days), a tour member dropped out for 2 days. We were told that she was ill but she later told me that she just needed to get away from her friend/room mate for a bit.

You will have many opportunities to sit with others at breakfast or group dinners. Maybe you'll make a friend or two and join them for lunch or plan an activity (i.e. museum, shopping, concert) during your free time. No problem if you just want to wander on your own.

You're not trapped on a tour. I've done 6 Rick Steves tours. The guide will tell you that it's your vacation. You can opt out of any activity. Just let your guide and your buddy know so they're not looking for you. Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
2265 posts

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy! You are going to have a ball, please do not fret. For alone time, let's run through the day: (1) breakfast, go at the same time and eat together, or -- go at different times, go and sit at different tables, one can go and bring coffee and pastry back to the room, one can go out to a nearby cafe (costs extra!); (2) time on the bus: you can sit together even holding hands or asleep on one another's shoulder, or you can -- sit separately but nearby, sit at opposite ends of the bus, make fast friends with other people and sit with them; one can run behind the bus; (3) during group tours and activities, walk or stand together, or far away, but still in the same group, or one of you can skip a particular visit or activity, and meet the group later on, just make sure your guide and buddy know you will be away; (4) free time, including meals during free time -- the world is your oyster, plan to do things together, or do different things apart, even in a different town, or some of each; (5) overnight: well, you have booked a room together, right? It would be quite costly to make other arrangements for a night mid-trip, but I suppose even that is possible. As for getting on the bus, my experience is that people start to gather maybe 5 to 10 minutes before the stated time, and then get on pretty much together. People are rarely even a couple of minutes late, then usually for an understandable reason, and not usually the same person over and over. And as to buddies, I have had some I never spent any time with except to do the "buddy check" before the group or bus left, and I have had others who became good friends and meal or hiking partners during the tour. Try to latch on to someone you think you might like, right at the beginning. On one tour I specifically chose someone tall, and asked if they would be my buddy, just so it would always be easy to spot them in the group. Your buddy is always someone you did NOT come on the trip with, so it is unlikely you will be lost, or late, together. Happy travels!

Posted by
2525 posts

tgreen099: Why did you choose a tour if you have such reservations? Those of us that have enjoyed RS's Tours, including me, come across as apologists. Tours are not for everyone. As you spent "days alone" traveling in Asia without a worry, why not just plan an independent trip and have more control of your time? No buddy system, no last to the bus issues unless taking public transit (such won't wait), or other nuisances from your perspective. Just saying.

Posted by
10049 posts

Let me add again as a former tour director how much time you can have alone.....as much as you want.

What we care about is the group. As long as you don't hold up the group, you can do whatever you want.

I've had people opt out of all types of things. I've had passengers leave for a couple of days and rejoin (on long tours.)

If you want alone time, and there is a group activity, pull the tour guide aside and ask....what time does the bus leave. If you plan to take the bus, just be on time. There may be times you want to opt out of even the bus ride. That's fine as well. Just as long as you convey that to the guide so he/she doesn't wonder what happened to you and holds up the group waiting.

There will probably be days where there is no bus or they stay in the same city meaning no change of hotels. Those, besides free days, are easy ones to opt out of because you can just go back to the hotel when you are ready. No need to worry about the bus. And if there is a time when the bus goes from one city to another, and there is alternate transportation you want to take, go for it.

On the bus, if you want to be left alone, just sit by yourself. Put some headphones on, whether you are listening to anything or not, and you will probably be left alone. If someone does want to chat, just politely say you need some quiet time.

So, you can have as much free time as you want. There is rarely no alternative but to be with the group.

Posted by
2755 posts

My cousin and his wife use tours for the transportation only. They usually skip the rest of it. They go off with each other. I am sure your husband could stay in the tour activities and you could opt out of them or vice versa.

Posted by
3469 posts

You can have as much "free time" alone on the RS tours as you want. What you choose to do is completely up to you as long as you don't miss the bus, because then you will have lots of alone time. Just let your buddy and tour guide know you will be off somewhere not with the group and all is fine. However, since you have paid for the activities as part of the tour price I would think you would want to see everything included.

I have been on 10 RS tours so far. Other than illness sidelining some of the members a day or two here and there, the groups have been fairly cohesive and stuck together for the scheduled activities. You will find most people are back to the bus during stops around 5 minutes before departure. Morning bus loading may range a few minutes earlier as you are dragging your suitcase to these and trying to get a good seat for the day. Tour members usually scatter for lunches and the scheduled free time and on many of the tours I have taken you don't see any other tour members until the next group activity. You could split up and each of you go your own way during those times.

Occasionally the tour group is housed in 2 or more B&B hotels. But that does not mean the partial groups are not still meeting up for the scheduled activities. With there being exactly one tour guide on most RS tours, nothing else is possible. And couples traveling together always share a room together no matter what the hotel split might be.

And my last RS tour was the Best of Italy in 17 days. At no time did I feel I needed to be alone or separated from the group. And I am a fairly private loner type! There were enough different sub groups within the tour group that I could almost always find someone to hang with when I wanted that was looking to do the same things I was. I also did have a couple days where I went off on my own and had a blast (but only because I wanted to do things the others did not, not because I wanted to be alone).

Posted by
408 posts

Stan, that makes a lot of sense! but what if I get a buddy that is not all there and wandering like I might be...

Interesting quote. Not sure what you mean by a buddy not all there? Wondering which tour you are going on?

Just an FYI you don't need to be anywhere early but you need to be there at the time the guide says. Or they may leave you behind. Our tour that ended last week our guide made it very clear that you could be left if not ready to go when at the right time.

The tours move fast. You need to keep up when you are being guided through museums etc. honestly you can not just stop or go off on your own if on the tour.
Most museums you go in as a group and have to stay together. We did split into two groups at the Louve. You can opt out of everything but then you do not get to see what you paid to see.

I hope you will be happy on a tour. It sounds like maybe a tour is not for you?

Tours are not for everyone & maybe not for you? Are you able to change your plans? From reading your notes not sure you will be happy.

Posted by
1613 posts

We find it's pretty easy to do stuff independently. The majority of people on an RS tour are by nature self-directed. Many people will arrive having things they want to do in their free time, so these are not people that want to stick to one another like glue. But they are social, which may offer both of you a chance to meet like-minded people. Sometimes my husband will want to do something with another tour member and off they go. One of the reasons we do a tour is that we're not joined at the hip the whole trip.

I think RS tour members must have an internal clock, because it seems everyone gathers at the bus about 5 minutes before departure, but not much before that. We've tried a river cruise and another small group tour company between our RS tours, and watching a tour guide miscount and almost leave a couple behind made me a believer in the buddy system. Time is money and it's much faster for the guide to ask for a "buddy check" than have to count heads and figure out whose missing.

Posted by
10049 posts

However, the buddy system is not perfect. Both a passenger and his buddy could be missing.

It is still the responsibility of the tour leader to make sure every one is there. If someone is accidentally left and the guide says, it's not my fault the buddy should have said something, that is an amateur. I think RS is the only tour company that does this.

And don't most RS tours have an assistant guide as well? Between the two of them, they can't count 25 people? How long does that take?

And in my experience, if someone is missing, the entire group will look around and try to figure out who it is. No need to do a roll call. (Except perhaps the first day.)

Posted by
489 posts

After rereading some of my comments, I can see why some think I should not take a tour. I have been on a tour that used bus transport before, but not to the extent that our RS tour will be, so I will see if this is an option for the future.

It is not the bus that I was questioning, but alone time.

Thank you all for your comments. I definitely feel like I have a better grasp of what is expected or what to expect on our tour.

Posted by
408 posts

Hi FrankII,

It sounds like you maybe have not been on a RS tour? Yes it is the guide's responsibility but when you sign up for a tour you should know RS tours are different. It is not just in the start of the day but at every rest stop, after every museum tour that you see if you buddy is there. It is quicker and it is any easy way to make a new friend on the tour. Your buddy can not be family or someone you are traveling with.

We have taken 5 tours. Only one had an assistant. You carry your own bags, walk up stairs many times, and yes make sure your buddy is there. It is one of the reasons we love RS tours. If you need a lot of hand holding etc RS tours might not be someone's best option. The buddy system is really not a big deal but an easy way to check to see if everyone is there. If you aren't going to be we always told our buddy & the guide.

Not sure why the buddy system is upsetting to some

Posted by
524 posts

As to the Buddy System, the buddy should be someone other than travel companion. The guide always takes a quick buddy check, make significant eye contact. Before moving off, they will ask if there is a buddy missing. Believe me, there are plenty of tour members that speak up whenever there is someone missing, not just the buddy, especially after the first couple of days. Of the tours I have taken, there has been an assistant once.

Posted by
1886 posts

May I respectfully suggest that you try a SHORTER (maybe 7-day) group tour before venturing right into a 14-day one?

............and a reminder that RS tours have a "no-grumps" policy.

Also, under the circumstances (needing time away from your spouse), consider paying extra so you can both have your own room. After a long day of touring, when one is exhausted, maybe from too much time on (as you called it) the "stinking bus," it might be good for you to have some total alone time.

Sometimes on tours, it's not your spouse you need away time from, but another tour member.

And, while the topic is not about considering a cruise vs. a land journey, if this is one of your first trips after retirement, maybe consider a cruise, because you can then select different "shore excursions" at each port, where you will both still be with a group from the cruise, but separate.....or you can choose to book thru an independent provider on land or even wander off by yourself.....just need to be back on the ship at your designated time.. And, if one of you just wants to stay on the ship, that's okay, too. And, again, I recommend a 7-day journey for your first experience together post retirement.

If you do decide to stick with a 14-day RS Tour, make sure everyone on the tour does not become aware of the point at which you just get sick of being around your husband (or vice versa) and any aftermath. Hopefully that won't happen on the second day.

Even the long plane trips can be challenging (and tiring), so maybe get seats away from each other on the plane, or better yet spring for Business Class (not next to one another)........or have an entirely separate flight schedule (that would give you time away).

Posted by
6076 posts

tgreen, I had some of the same concerns and issues before my first tour. Completely satisfied that I had plenty of opportunity to recharge away from group. Its not a forced socialization.

Posted by
3469 posts

Yes, both halves of a buddy pair could be missing. But a buddy is always someone who is not traveling with the other buddy (i.e. not a family member, spouse, or roommate). Unless both of them are solo travelers in the group, the missing buddy is bound to be missed by their travel partner. Hopefully that travel partner will realize it and speak up when the tour guide asks if everyone is there.

And tour guides are not blind to the fact that someone is not with the group. Every guide I have had on RS tours can count to at least 30. A guide is not going to blindly have the bus driver take off without making sure everyone is on the bus.

There are rarely assistant guides on RS tours these days. Of the 10 tours I have taken, there have been exactly 2 with assistants and those were within the first few years I toured. Both were guides in training for that tour and were just getting the hang of the process.

The buddy system does save time in most instances and does work better than the roll call method other tour companies seem to be fond of.

Posted by
489 posts

Again thanks for all the comments. This will be our 5th European vacation (all have been at least 14 days). We've done a partial bus/ferry trip in Greece and 2 river cruises and 1 Baltic Cruise. We usually split off and do something on our own 1 or 2 afternoons on each trip. It works for us. It is not so bad that we need separate rooms.
All I was asking was if RS tours ever give options at locations. For instance, on one cruise there was choices of bike tour, walking tour, or food tour. etc.

I am sorry I described the bus that way. Every bus I've road in while in Europe have been amazing vehicles.

And I promise I won't be grumpy (I do get Hangry, but plan on bring snickers along, haha!)
I am looking forward to our trip and can't wait to be in cities for the evenings. This is something that we missed while on ships.

Posted by
25 posts

I was on a tour in Paris and then on to the South of France. There was a couple who would start the walking tours and then drop off to a cafe or something. I saw this on other tours too, especially when we are walking around seeing sites. The one thing I LOVE about the RS tours, is the free time. Enjoy!!!!!!

Posted by
8429 posts

Just adding a comment about the side conversation of tour assistants. I'm on #8 and have never had a tour with an assistant.

Posted by
3469 posts

tgreen,

Of course you can split off on your own for the free time afternoons. That's what free time is - free.

Posted by
524 posts

No options for group activities, only one guide, so therefore only one group. Even with the one assistant guide I have experienced there was only one group, no a and b group. The guide will give suggestions/options for free time.

A RS tour works like this; each evening the guide will post the next day's schedule. It will list the departure time and the day's activities. Let's say, for instance, there is a morning site tour and an afternoon site tour scheduled for the same day with lunch on your own. The entire group will visit the morning site. Afterwards, is lunch on you own, or time to explore if you would rather. The guide will have set the time and location to meet for the afternoon site tour. Once a buddy check has taken place the entire group will participate.

Let's say you opt out of either the morning or afternoon, or even the entire day. You tell the guide and your buddy that you will not be participating. When the group meets up the guide will conduct a buddy check, and will remind the group you have opted out of the activity.

Posted by
310 posts

All I was asking was if RS tours ever give options at locations. For instance, on one cruise there was choices of bike tour, walking tour, or food tour. etc.

In the RS tours that I have taken their was only 1 prepaid option at a given time such as when a tour of a museum was scheduled. The guided tour was included as part of the tour price, although you don't have to go if you don't want to. For free time or a free day, the guide would suggest various things that people could do.

Posted by
16869 posts

The group only splits up for an included activity when a particular site requires it. For instance, the Louvre (mentioned above) requires tour groups to be smaller, so we hire two local guides.

Posted by
2265 posts

About couples having alone time on an RS tour, I don't think there will be any problem finding the time. The only problem I can think of would be one member of a couple feeling like alone time, and the other being in a togetherness kind of mood. Please work through that out of earshot of the group! Maybe that's a corollary of the no gripes policy. LOL

Posted by
1624 posts

Hi tgreen, when I did the 14 day GAS tour in 2010 there was an assistant guide. In Murren, Switzerland they split up and one did a nature walk and the other led a more strenuous hike. That's the only time in 6 tours we had concurrent group activities.

Posted by
2788 posts

My wife and I have taken 14 RS tours in 15 years with none of them being the shorter ones of 7 days. We have never had a problem with anything related to these tours. Sometimes my wife has opted out of a group activity and I did not. Sometimes I have opted out of a group activity and she did not. Seldom we both have opted out of the same group activity. Given the size of the group and the size of the tour bus, almost always there are twice as many seats as tour members. Sometimes we sit together and sometimes we do not.

I see that one earlier replier suggested that you consider the newer "My Way" tour. I would encourage you to research this type of tour more as it provides much more free time and less structured time in the group setting. On one of our tours, a young couple was habitually late for bus departures. The guide soon took them aside and explained the dynamics of causing the rest of the group to wait for them and asked them if they would be happier on a different tour. They were never late again. We are almost always on the bus right around 5 minutes before departure. From reading all of your posts I would encourage you to discuss your plans with your husband as to who will be doing what and when so as not to present any conflicts once the tour starts. I would also suggest that you get a copy of the RS DVD that includes the tour that you are planning on taking as well as a guide book for that area. We arrive at the tour beginning location two or three days before the tour begins to get acclimated. We also book our pre-tour stay at the hotel that is the first one on the tour and sometimes stay over at the last hotel after the tour is over. Send me a PM if you have any other questions I might be able to answer.

Posted by
350 posts

Most people on the RS tours are very friendly, and get together in various groups for the tours and the free time. So, a couple would have to make a very concerted effort, IMHO, to stay together all the time. It is more likely, that a group of women will wander off shopping while the men hang back to check out the local pub scene. (Sorry if that sounds sexist, but that is what I have observed.) Or small groups will form to visit this museum or the other one. In other words, you don't have to spend all the official tour time with your partner/spouse/relative unless you really want to do so.

Now, if you have a clingy or controlling partner that can be a different story. On one tour a poor guy had a wife who was VERY loud and overly assertive. For example, she would stand by the entrance to the Men' Room and listen to the conversations, interrupting/correcting her husband if he said something she did not approve of! We guys got together and started covering for him so he could get away from her for a while. But, that's an extreme that I hope is not an issue for any other travelers.

Posted by
200 posts

Oh that poor man. If I were him I would have paid off my buddy to say I was there and I soon as the bus left started a new life under an assumed name!

Posted by
11450 posts

Tggreen you will have fun , and there is free time almost everyday and all activites are optional.
Plus the hours on the bus you can sit apart ( many couples do)
Dont worry.