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travel buddies question

Can anyone comment about what is involved when you are assigned a travel buddy on a Rick Steve's tour?
Just wondering if it is done for a head count only, to keep track of people; or - is the travel buddy your new designated "friend" for the trip that you are encouraged or expected to spend time with specifically?

Also, I hear that not all tour guides arrange the buddy system or do the name game. Anyone know if tour guide Cary Walker does this?

Thanks for any info! :)

Posted by
943 posts

The travel buddy is for head count purposes only. It's someone that you're not traveling with and every time you get back on the tour bus you should check for your buddy.

Posted by
21243 posts

Kind of like the old days at church or scout camp when you went swimming in the pond or river. Kind of trying to keep track of one another. Doesn't have to be a pal for life just someone to keep track of in crowd situations or a quick count on the bus.

Posted by
782 posts

The buddy system is just a way to make sure everyone is present for the activity or bus ride. You are not required to do anything extra with that person. Do not get worried about the name game, it just a fun group activity so you get aquatinted with the rest of your tour members. One of the reasons I have gone on multiple Rick Steves tours is the friendships you develop while touring Europe, if you choose to be alone everyone will respect that but the fellowship of the group is what makes these tours special from other tour companies.

Posted by
3469 posts

Buddy system is just to check that everyone is there when boarding the bus or going into various sites. The buddy cannot be anyone you are sharing a room with or traveling with. And as others have mentioned, beyond a head count no other interaction with your buddy is required. The buddy system was done on every one of the 11 RS tours I have been on.

I very much dislike the name game. My brain doesn't work like that. I have only been on 2 RS tours where the name game was done. Thankfully.

Posted by
1952 posts

Right-buddies are for head count and you choose yours at the first get together. It's always someone you aren't traveling with. Ah, the (sometimes/often?) dreaded name game.....sometimes it's been done on the tours I've been on and sometimes not. It's a way of introducing yourself to the group and I know it's meant to be a fun ice breaker but there are times when this game becomes a competition and then it's not at all fun! I've seen it done in a variety of ways-in a circle alphabetically by first names or just a random circle. Once we played the game by providing an identifying adjective starting with the same letter as our first name + our name (that was difficult!). I have seen it done the first night of the tour (much less pressure!) and once in a while three or four days into the tour. I've also done the 2 truths and a lie version, buddy introductions, etc. This activity seems to be at the discretion of the individual guide and always gets mixed reviews when talking with other tour members. I can't speak to your guide's preference for the name game but don't worry about it. It can be lots of fun if not taken too seriously. I am almost positive all RS guides do the buddy system.

Posted by
4645 posts

I think all RS guides have you choose a buddy the first day. We did have one guide who didn't call for a "buddy check" whenever we left the hotel, got of the Metro or train, or gathered to get on public transportation. And we had one instance of 2 people missing from the group for several hours - on a side trip from the town in which we were staying, and two or three times when we almost left the hotel in the morning without the full group.

It pointed up how important the buddy system is. No, you don't have to pal around with them; you just have to look for them, preferably eye to eye contact, whenever the guide (or in our case, a fellow tour member) calls "Buddy check!"

The dreaded name game takes about 10 - 15 minutes. And it does help the people to learn each others' names. Of the 10 RS tours we've been on, we only did the name game twice, and buddy introductions once. The buddy intro in question took place during a "happy hour," so it wasn't horrible.

Posted by
380 posts

On our most recent tour our leader told us that they are no longer doing the Name Game. We got lucky on our first three tours and did not have to do it. We all still managed to learn everyone's name. The Buddy System is much more efficient than the tour leader having to count everyone each time you stop. This was certainly true on our last tour where the leader didn't get the Buddy System going until the third day. On previous tours buddies were picked at the initial meeting.

Posted by
672 posts

I agree that the buddy system is an efficient way to make sure that everyone is present. On a good many of our 23 RS tours, there was one more responsibility. We had to interview our buddies and introduce them to the group, along with giving some basic info about them. To me, this wasted valuable time, both doing the interviewing and listening to everyone's introductions, that I'd rather be using in other ways. I'd far prefer to introduce myself and get to know each other like adults, rather than playing games. Thankfully, I think the buddy introductions may be dying out along with the name game.

Posted by
3492 posts

Buddy system is ok. But the name game, in my opinion, should be discarded. Adults just don't seem to have a problem getting to know each other without it. Why have a solution to a problem that really doesn't exists?

Posted by
940 posts

We were assigned buddies primarily to make sure no one got left behind. There were one or two times where someone would have been left behind were it not done. We also had to quickly interview and introduce our buddy to the group at dinner one night - no biggie. I found the name game invaluable. I was interested in learning about and the names of my travel mates. I didn't want to have to address people as, "Hey you, you in the blue jacket". I guess it was about the third night into the tour that our guide (Martin) had us all group after dinner and say the names together as we went around the group. We started at the first person each time and by the time we had gone through all 22 people we knew everyone's name. No one was ever put on the spot that way and I thought it worked very well.

Posted by
408 posts

5 RS tours only had the name game on the last one & we did it as a group. I think Rick likes it since I think he feels it is important that people are called by their names. At least that is what our guide told us. I really feared it but was not that big of a deal. Buddies on the other hand are much easier than the guide always counting people. I think on all my tours we had to tell a little bit about our buddy. Again it was not a big deal. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6059 posts

There is no punishment if you don't get everyones name right. Really.

Posted by
1173 posts

I have been on 14 tours and the buddy system as everyone already said, is a great way to keep track of everyone and make sure everyone is all accounted for. This way if someone is missing or late the guide knows about it. Keeping track of 28 people is not an easy task and trying to count 28 people standing around or moving around is not easy. Having a buddy you are not traveling with is a great way to make sure every one is safe and accounted for. I had Cary Walker as a guide on my Best of Europe tour and she is a lovely, professional, warm woman and I would love to have her for a guide again!

She does make sure to arrange a buddy system.

Have a great time on your trip.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you to all - appreciate all the information and shared stories!

Posted by
524 posts

As others have mentioned, it is just a quick way to insure everyone is present and ready. I have been on 14 tours an have always had travel buddy. It needs to be someone that you might not hang around with, nor your travel partner. If you are late, you want someone to point that out. If you are with your buddy, then it might not be noticed you are both missing. Name game is something totally different. You stand in circle and and as you point to each to member and state their name. We recently had a tour where the guide used an app on his iPad. He took a group picture, identified each of us, then emailed it to each of us. I must say, this was a first, but hopefully it will become a standard.

Posted by
14404 posts

The buddy system is the most efficient. I've been on other well-organized tours and the head count is a pain in the neck for the guide and delays departures.

I've had two variations on the name game. Both avoided embarrassment. The first was simply everyone repeating the names around the circle in unison 2-3 times. It helped people match names/faces without putting anyone on the spot. The other was on Day 4 of a tour, where each of us was asked to explain how we got our names. Some of the stories were quite unusual, nearly all were memorable for one reason or another, and it was a great memory aid.

Posted by
824 posts

Hmmm..... who will I get today. My tour meeting starts at 5:00 tonight. Getting excited to start in Spain!! It is hot!!

Posted by
99 posts

The name game is a bad idea and I'm glad to hear it sounds like they are getting away from it.