I have sat on the edges of Rick Steves Tours for years. I’ve watched shows on TV, I’ve sent for information, watched the tour videos and I’ve attended over 15 travel classes at the Edmonds office. I read and participate in the travel forum all the time. I’ve never gone on a tour.
A few things put me off. First, I knew that I could travel to the same places independently for less money. I wasn’t sure I wanted to give the control of planning major elements of my trip (such as hotels) up to others. I knew that not everything that was included on the tours would be something that I would put on my “must see” list. Finally, what would the social/group interactions be like?
A few more things kept me wondering if I should go on a tour. I know I am a social person and that part of the fun of traveling is sharing the experience with others. A widow, I frequently travel with my sister. I did wonder, however, if a Rick Steves tour would provide another travel choice for when she can’t go. I’ve learned from traveling with my sister, that going to places that weren’t on my “must see” list is usually a very positive and enriching experience and that being taken a little out of my comfort zone is a good thing. We hired a guide for a day on Hadrian’s Wall last year and the value it added to our trip was exceptional. Perhaps the value of the guides would be worth the extra cost?
I finally decided to conduct what is termed in my mind, “the experiment.” I leave tomorrow for my Rick Steves Tour (Paris and the Heart of France). I know before I go that I am going to have a wonderful time on this tour. It will be interesting, challenging, and probably occasionally a little difficult to participate in this new way of travel. I am up for the adventure! At the end, I think I will probably have a much better idea of how group travel will work for me and if I want to keep including this type of travel in my plans.
I am writing this because I suspect that there are others out there who wonder if group travel is an option for them or not. I plan on sharing my experiences honestly and at the end will give the final report on the outcome of the experiment.
Today, I am savoring my first day of summer vacation (I am a high school math teacher) while attending to the many details of getting ready to go a trip no matter how one is traveling. Checklists abound as I make sure that I leave everything in order at home and pack. The same “butterflies” that I experience before I leave on any long trip are present. Time to finish those preparations.