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Solo travel on tours?

Hi! I'm wondering if it's common for people to go on these tours without a travel companion. Since it's a group tour, I wouldn't mind signing up by myself, but I'm wondering if that's typical?

Thanks!

Posted by
6715 posts

Yes, all travelers are welcome on RS tours and you won't feel out of place at all. I only did one tour, but I know all tours have a mix of folks. I was a solo traveler (on my one tour) and had a great experience with the rest of the group (some of who were also solo travelers). I opted to be paired with a roommate (and they actually rotate roommates so that no one is burdened by any one person) and was able to avoid the single supplement. In all, I had two roommates and they were both very easy to get along with and very nice.

Posted by
3551 posts

I have been on a few guided tour grps solo. I never felt excluded. If u wish a roomate they can try to accomodate. Otherwise there is the single supplement.
Btw , OAT tours does not charge xtra for singles.

Posted by
3478 posts

We've been on eight or ten RS tours as a couple, and every one of them had solo travelers. All of the "solos" were welcomed into the group and mixed and mingled with everyone. Please do not let being a "solo" keep your from going. Go and enjoy! You will not regret it!!

Posted by
1068 posts

I have been on 7 RS tours (and some on other companies) as a single traveler. On some RS tours I have "chanced" having a roommate and more recently, have paid the single supplement. Overall, you are welcome as a single on the tour and as a member of the group. That said, tours (IMHO) react differently to solo travelers. When the group is together at a museum or on the bus etc., it has (for me) always been fine. But on a couple of tours when it is time to break off and "do your own thing" some tour members were exclusive. On the 2 tours I am thinking about, it was actually a bit hard to find someone to go to dinner with, or go with to a museum during your free time. If you don't mind being alone at those times there will not been a problem. In fact, on the 2 I am thinking of, it was occasionally a bit difficult to find a seat at some meals as numerous small "cliques" were evident (a family of 4 traveling together or 2 or 3 couples, or inseparable couples etc.) However, that is not a problem on most of the RS tours I have taken. On some, I have been asked to join couples or groups who were doing things and on those tours the traveling companions often sat apart from one another to get more exposure to tour members. But, IMHO, there is the occasional "tougher nut to crack" for the solo travel (although even those 2 tours weren't bad.) I am signed up for 2 more RS tours this year as a solo traveler and am looking forward to them.

Posted by
88 posts

I love to travel and my husband who has issues with flying and also a demanding job has no issues with me traveling on my own. I usually just went by myself (did use Rick Steves books for assistance with planning). I took my first Rick Steves tour to the Adriatric (first tour ever) and loved it! I have since taken 3 more Rick Steves tours all as a single traveler. .Each of the 4 tours had a few other singles but mostly couples or 2 friends traveling together. I always felt included if I wished to be included. Almost all the people on the tours I have taken are very friendly and open and we all have in common an interest in travel and other cultures so realize you have that as a common bond. As I am actually used to traveling alone it did not bother me to do things on my own if it happened that way or if I preferred. In fact on each trip I would at times decline an invitation to dine with a couple as I wanted to make sure to not be that person that others feel they need to invite. I always opt for the single supplement but on each trip there were other singles that did not and seemed just fine with rooming with someone else. Try one you have nothing to lose and alot to gain!!

Posted by
68 posts

I went solo on a RS tour to Italy in July, and there was a mix of folks traveling on their own or with a companion. It was a great group and I felt just as comfortable hanging out with those in pairs as I did with my fellow solo travelers. Though I don't know statistics, my impression is that it's typical for solo travelers to sign up. I loved my experience and highly recommend it to others. My advice is to go for it :)

Posted by
1173 posts

I have been on 14 RS tours, mostly solo and loved them!!! Sometimes you will have several people on a tour that are solo or sometimes, you are the only one that is solo. It really is hit or miss with that, but I will say, it is a great tour company, a great way to travel and it is a lot of fun. I have made friends with other solos and with couples. You can hang with the group or others during your free time, or go off on your own. Up to you. If you really would like a great experience and see wonderful places then, I think you will very much enjoy it.

Posted by
3768 posts

On the trips that we took, there's always been solo travelers, especially if the trip is during the summer when school teachers are available. I took the Paris 1-wk tour a few years ago by myself because my husband couldn't travel that year. There were a lot of solo travelers on that trip (August) - probably because it's an easy tour as a beginner experience.

I roomed with another traveler, and everything worked very well. One single woman was not happy with her pairing, so she ended up paying for the solo supplement since the hotel had an extra room.

I'm very independent and had been to Paris before, so I went off on my own during all of the free time. I did have one person who wanted to come with me one afternoon, and we enjoyed the day. Usually whoever was interested would have lunch together after our group activities each day. I know some of the solo travelers felt more timid about venturing on their own and would go with others; they seemed to not have a plan of what they wanted to do ahead of time. Individuals who had read the RS book and had a good idea of what they wanted to do tended to feel comfortable heading off in the direction of their plans.

So, I've been on both sides of your question and felt like people were always inclusive & kind to solo travelers.

Posted by
2788 posts

I too like Ann have been on 14 RS tours as a couple and on every one of them there has been single folks. I do not remember any times when there was only one single, most ofter at least 2 or 3 or 4. On every tour I have seen other tour members, including us, making sure that the singles are included in any off-tour activities, if they want. I only remember one middle aged single woman having a problem with the young woman she was roomed with. Seems the young woman would go out every night to "clubs" and come back to their room late and waking up the other woman. When I heard the older woman mention this problem, I immediately alerted the tour guide who apparently talked to the younger woman and that ended that situation. Unfortunately, there were no empty rooms for the older woman to move to. I would encourage any tour member that has some type of problem during the tour to immediately notify the tour guide so that they can try to correct the problem no matter how small it may seem to the offended member.

Posted by
333 posts

I went on the 21 BOE as a solo traveler in 2015. I had such a great time! I wasn't afraid to venture out on my own- which helps. I think the key to making friends is being a bit outspoken early on, until your group gets to know you. At our first get together I handed out mini Belgian chocolates to the group during introductions. It was a great ice breaker, as everybody came up to me later to thank me and chat with me. Don't be afraid to ask, "May I join you?" (for lunch, for a walk to explore, whatever). My trip had 3 solo travelers, so often we hung out as a group. After a few days, the other tour members would ask me, "You want to come with us?". They won't know if you choose to be alone and independent or want to make friends and hang out if you don't let them know. I tried to make a point to share a meal with everyone in my group by tours end, and was pretty successful. Friendships do form though, and by the halfway mark I had several new friends that I spent most of my time with. However, most everybody was friendly and social together during group events. They were also great about offering to take pictures of me with my camera so that not every shot was a selfie! As soon as you sign up for your trip, try to seek out a few fellow travelers here on the message board. I did that and met a few of my tour mates ahead of time- which made me feel less strange. I also met a girl who was waitlisted for my tour. She never got off the waitlist, but we hit if off and we're taking a Rick Steves trip together this fall. Going solo can be great!

Posted by
371 posts

The RS office staff are very helpful too. If you tell them which dates you are looking at, they can tell you who is currently booked for that trip--in general terms (families, couples, groups, solos). That might help you choose between possible dates.

Posted by
1616 posts

Hi tkg, I've done seven RS tours and all but one (Paris and the South of France) had solo travelers. Our guide remarked that she thought it was unusual not to have any singles on the tour.

I traveled solo on four of the seven tours and enjoyed them all very much. Rick Steves travelers are primarily active, interesting people who are happy to be on vacation. No grumps allowed!

Posted by
210 posts

11 tours going solo.....solo tour #12 is booked for this fall. There have always been solo travelers on my tours....besides just me. My summer tours have included more solo travelers than my spring/fall tours.

My experience has been tour members in general are very inclusive. I have experienced a few couples or small groups who choose not to let others be apart of their free time plans/meals. Never were they unfriendly to me or others.....they just prefer to not mingle as much. That's fine. It is their tour, too. They are not on the tour to be responsible for taking solo travelers "under their wing" on the trip. Walking tours, group meals, bus time, etc.....are great ways to make connections. Many times by the end of the tour "we" are like on big "travel family" anyway,

I, too, am very independent. I spend a LOT of time planning for the days where there will be free time (usually every day). I create a "bucket list" of museums, concerts, adventures, restaurants, things that interest ME, etc. Some locations on the tour I am VERY obsessed with my "bucket list". In those locations if others want to join me at my pace, they are more than welcome. Places where my list is less of a priority or there are less free time options.....I might hang out with others, if they are open to an "outsider" in their group......and I like what they are doing....lol. Many, many times I have been asked to join groups at meals, museums, concerts, etc. I am always gracious, but I do not feel compelled to join in (bucket list takes priority).

That sounds a little snobby, but to quote RS.....time is like money.....don't waste it. You may never get back to that place again. I ALWAYS enjoy the group meals, walking tours, etc. with my fellow travelers......so I am not a total introvert! Those are great chances to mingle.

I would HIGHLY recommend you going! The RS travelers are great people to travel with. Do your homework so you have a plan of things that YOU enjoy. Not everyone wants to spend all afternoon in a museum or a bar.

Posted by
31289 posts

I've been on eight RS tours as a solo traveller, and there were usually other singles on all the tours. I normally pay the single supplement as I prefer to have my own room. If you don't mind bunking with another tour member of the same gender, you don't have to pay the supplement. Keep in mind that if there's only one other person of the same gender on the tour, you'll be with them for the entire time. If there's more than one, the guides will normally rotate room mates every night or so.

Posted by
1946 posts

I have been on 3 RS tours and was a single on 2 of them, everyone was friendly and inclusive. I am booked as a single for my 4th tour, 7 Days in Rome, 3/26 - 4/01. For this relatively short trip, I did not pay the supplement; the RS office informs me I will have a roommate. For the 17 Days Best of Italy tour, I did pay the supplement, but as it turned out, I was the only single. You just don't know when that may happen. I let the number of days help guide my decision. Everyone has their own criteria as to what will make them comfortable.

Give it a try - you will like it, RS people are friendly and open for the most part. I have read of tours where large groups kept to themselves but I think that is rare. The guides work fairly hard to encourage people to mingle and leave their comfort zone.

Judy B

Posted by
1173 posts

I've been on a number of tours solo. Never been an issue. I'm very comfortable doing things by myself but on every trip I've managed to dine or enjoy free time activities with others.

Posted by
408 posts

Like others have said most tours have singles. We have been on 5 and all but the last tour 14BOE had singles. The last one was in the summer so had three families and one large group. Everyone was friendly. I like singles on the tour because they usually seem more open to do things with others. I have not traveled as a single usually with my family. We split up most meals and try to include others. It is just our way. If we wanted to be just the four of us we would not go on a group tour. Enjoy

Posted by
31289 posts

tkg,

The only way you'll know for sure what it will be like to travel solo on a RS tour, would be to try one. They may still have the $100 discount on tours?

Posted by
2724 posts

Thank you for this post! I'm taking my first RS tour and as a single this year. I'm good totally on my own, but would be nice if people were friendly, etc.

Posted by
21 posts

Wray, which tour are you going on as a solo? And thanks everyone for the great advice!

Posted by
2724 posts

tkg, I'm going on the March 22 Greece tour. Picked that date because I hate hot weather and love spring flowers.

Posted by
21 posts

I would be interested in hearing how you like the Greece tour, Wray! MY boyfriend's family is from Greece and we would both love to be able to go there some day.

Posted by
31289 posts

tkg,

I've taken the Greece tour, and it's fantastic! I'd definitely recommend it.

Posted by
2724 posts

tkg, I will let you know. I notice the tour is actually 3/25, not 3/22 as I indicated. 3/22 is when I'm crossing the pond. Iwill be there early!

Posted by
14 posts

I went solo on a 14 day RS tour last year and had a fantastic time. (My husband and I went together on other tours previously, but he decided not to go this time because of limited time.) I loved being able to have the details all planned and the option to join the group, but do things on my own, just as I wanted sometimes. For example, sometimes I went for a walk instead of sitting down to a meal. Some people in the group were inclusive, and some were not. I think this was to be expected...some are traveling together as couples and are creating memories together, and some are best friends or relatives and this is their trip together. Other people were eager to include me, and were also open to my saying no thanks sometimes, as well. They were generous in offering, though. It was nice to be invited to join someone when it was dark outside or when it felt safer to be with others. After the first few days people made an effort to include me more and more. I plan to do it again as soon as I have saved my pennies!

Posted by
50 posts

After 4 tours with a travel partner (and all four had 'singles') I tried the solo travel last fall on the Best of England tour. There were 5 single women on the tour. Two paid the single supplement. The other 3 of us rotated roommates with each of us having a room to ourselves twice. The group dynamics were such that one could usually find a tour mate for lunch or walks if desired. Overall the experience was good so I've signed up for another solo experience! Granted I am nervous but excited about the all the things I'll be doing and seeing.

Posted by
366 posts

I have just signed up for my 9th RS tour and all have been as a solo. I started before they offered the single supplement. The only time I experienced problems was with the two city tours. One roommate came in very late and also called her boyfriend at midnight. The other snored and played white nose very loudly at night. One trip I was the only single and had my own room, that convinced me to pay for the single supplement. So now I do.

However, that being said there never was a time I felt alone. Other travelers included me in their plans for meals, and when there were a number of singles we all did things together at times.

Posted by
7 posts

Rick's tours comprise both solo and companion travelers. The keys for successfully traveling solo and with a companion are to be relaxed and flexible, look for the silver lining, keep an open mind, and prepare what you want to see and do ahead of time. Oh, and don't forget Rick's "no grumps" policy!

I've done three RS tours, two with my sister and one solo. All three tours rocked, but the solo tour was so much fun. The RS guides are very good about sensing the needs of their charges and being sure that everyone mingles as much as they want to. I hung out with both the solos and couples and everyone was welcoming. I was able to enjoy companionship when I wanted it, but it was wonderful to be able to wander and explore on my own. Just decide what you want to do with your free time and go for it--with or without others. In fact, I enjoyed my solo experience so much that I signed up for the RS Greece tour that begins on May 15!

About the single supplement: I chose it for my last tour and the one upcoming because I personally need my down time to recharge and work on my day's photos and travel journal. That would be difficult for me to do if I was to share space. The single supplement was worth every penny to me, but be aware that some of the single rooms aren't the best ones. Despite that, I felt that I was assigned a great mix of exceptional rooms and less exciting rooms. But everyone is different, so know thyself. If you are energized by being with new people 7-24, then room-sharing might be the right choice for you.

Bottom line: go for it!

Posted by
9 posts

Do it! I am going on my 3rd RS tour this year as a solo traveler. It's good for the mind and soul for the needed "me" time. Everyone so far on all my tours have been welcoming and friendly and have always included/asked to sit with them for group dinners. Going solo also allows you to explore on your during the down times without compromises with your companion. I've taken side trips outside the tour on our down time (via train or bus) to other towns/cities. And also able to connect with friends who are in the same towns/cities and spend time with them if it works out.

Posted by
2 posts

I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about touring solo when I tried it last summer for the first time. I was one of 7 solos on the GAS tour, and I had a fantastic time. I met another solo tour member waiting for the train before I even arrived at the first hotel, and we shared a cab. Our group bonded pretty quickly and proved to be very inclusive. We talked about how we wanted to spend our free afternoons, and then headed out in small groups accordingly. I enjoyed the conversations with other tour members from all parts of the country that I may not have had if I hadn't traveled solo, and I felt that it really added to the experience. I paid the single supplement, since I am a light sleeper, and that worked well for me. My husband doesn't really like to travel, and I am kind of obsessed, so I will definitely do more solo RS tours in the future.

Posted by
34 posts

I think earlier replies from Ray and Ann both summarize solo RS travel nicely. I have only done one RS tour (I was a solo traveler with the supplement) but found the group to be very inclusive. I had a great time. That said, I think it helps to plan - maybe not down to each minute, but have an idea of what you want to do during your free time. If you end up with a group that maybe isn't the easiest to work with, go and enjoy your day! I ate by myself several times; I tended to find places with a bar or smaller tables outside.

Solo travel is great - you have no obligations in your free time, and I loved that freedom.

Posted by
908 posts

I've been on 5 tours, 4 as a solo. All have been good experiences. As dib mentions, I think you need to have a quasi-plan in your head that you want to see a museum or church or attend this small concert or go in these shops on a free evening or afternoon. Someone in your group may want to join you for something you'd like to see or for lunch or dinner or they may invite you to whatever they're doing, but I think you have to go into it realizing that there will be times when you'll be on your own for a meal, a site, or whatever.

I'm not a big diner and am not into spending much on food (it's just not a priority), so some evenings I've cobbled together a meal from grocery snacks or have gone for a walk and had an ice cream for my dinner. I realize this doesn't work for everyone, but that's the type of thing some of us end up doing. In short, be flexible, and I think you'll have a great time!

Posted by
113 posts

There are a lot of good posts on this thread. I took the single supplement on my BOE 21 tour because I'm quite independent and enjoy my alone time. I wanted to be able to go back to my room and hang laundry, spread out in review of the days activities, I didn't want to share a bathroom (they are typically small in Europe), and to be refreshed and ready to go every morning. This was my first tour experience and therefore I had no idea what to expect. I always look forward to meeting new people and having new experiences so I learned some key words and phrases in French and Italian which enhanced my experiences in many wonderful ways. Unfortunately, I didn't relate to some of the group members and that was awkward. Things might happen that taint the relationships, if you're sharing with someone who's not your type, that could dampen the rest of the tour. There was only one other solo traveler and so she won the RS tours lottery of having single accommodations without the additional costs. I have to admit, that did make me feel as if I had been taken advantage of especially when at times her accommodations were notably better than mine. Imagine how you feel when you are told to remember the "no grumps" rule. Our guide was amazing, empathetic and went out of his way to help whenever he could. You know yourself best, if you use your hotel room to unwind and reorganize your thoughts and things, you prefer private toilet time, and/or you are a light sleeper, then I recommend the single supplement.

Posted by
1068 posts

There was only one other solo traveler and so she won the RS tours lottery of having single accommodations without the additional costs.

In the past, I "risked" my privacy by not getting a single room and was amazingly lucky on a number of trips. However, after I did share a room, I swore never to risk it again! Since then, I have been on tours (RS and others) with solo males, but did not know if they had a single supplement or not. I've also been on tours with 2 single men and was extremely glad I paid the solo fee. So, that's how I look at it now.