We signed up for a Rick Steves tour in Sept. It was a My Way because we wanted to be on our own. Well, we wanted to be loners but we loved everyone on the trip and spent time with them! This never happened on other trips! We even just drove through Charlotte N.C. on the way to Hilton Head S.C. and planned a lunch with a couple we met on out trip!! It was great! What the heck causes the bonding to happen??? Is it the Ricknic magic??!!!!
Rickniks are a self-selected group of (largely) "non-grumps" so they're easy to hang with
"RickNics" are like minded travelers who pack light, appreciate the local flavor, like history, and enjoy socializing. We're still friends with other tour members and really like having this bond.
I would agree with what was posted above. I also remain friends with a number of former tour companions. Additionally, compared to other tours, I appreciate the more local hotels and restaurants (even though some folks complain about lack of amenities at the hotels!!) Additionally, I enjoy the balance of a RS tour. Takes me to lots of places I want to see and a few that were not on my list (but often turn out fantastic.) Additionally, having some free time in great spots is wonderful. Finally, I have really enjoyed all of my guides..... they are first rate!
I will be taking my 14th RS tour in June having taken the last 13 in the last 14 years. I met RS maybe 20 years ago at a travel show in Seattle. I liked what he had to say and then attended several of his talks at the University of Washington. I also went up to several classes at his Edmonds, WA, headquarters. Everything seemed to click with my way of thinking so I finally signed up for one of his tours - Best of Europe in 21 Days - my first visit to Europe. Well, I was hooked after that first tour which is still one of my favorite as was the guide. I would venture a guess that at least 90% of the tour members I have been with are of "like mind" - no grumps, non-smokers, adventurers, lots of retirees,
socializers, people who you would like to live next door too. In the over 300 tour members I have traveled with, we only have had three who were not cut out to be on RS tours and in all cases the tour guides acknowledged the same and said that they would be counseled. I would invite 99% of those fellow tour members and guides to come and stay with us if they were visiting Seattle. Ricknic charlie
Speaking as one who has drunk the Kool-ade, I would say that people generally like other people. It helps that the RS guides help facilitate the mingling of tour mates. i think people on R S tours are weeded out with the no-grump policy and the rest of us are all eager to learn. Whether it is history, art, geology anthropology, scenery or getting to know someone from a different part of the world, we learn something new each day. In February we spent 2 days with tour mates from our 2015 GAS tour and 3 days with tour mates from our 2013 Best of Italy tour. We had friends who encouraged us to do a trip of England on our own. We would rather spend a little more and get the advantage of awesome guides and the companionship of 20+ new friends. Can't wait to have more "Kool-ade".
I agree with the others! I will add that most seem to be life-long learners as well. Most are eager for new experiences, want to soak up knowledge about history, culture, geography and genuinely enjoy others.
I have found that the longer the tour usually the better the bond. I bonded strongly with my 21BOE tourmates but not so much with the week long tour folks. They were all very nice but I realized we were just getting acquainted by the farewell dinner.
In 2005, I was given two tickets to hear RS talk at our local university. Although my husband and I knew that we were not "tour people," we thought the event might be interesting. We came home with a catalog and, within days, we had signed up for his GAS tour. We're looking forward to our 23rd tour (My Way Italy) this fall. So, yes, we think that there's something very special about his tours. For the most part, our guides have been extraordinary. Time after time, we've marveled about the ability he has to find (and keep) these people. And, then, there are the tour members themselves. Somehow he consistently draws amazing people on his tours, many of whom have become friends. I think that the "no grumps" policy helps, but I believe that having to carry our own bags has even more impact. It pretty much eliminates high maintenance types. I think his ties with public television also affect his customer base. Whatever it is, the magic certainly has worked for us!
Everyone's comments hit the mark. I like Pam's thoughts about life-long learners, and Nancy's mention of having to carry one's own luggage. Add to that the stress on active tours, hotels without elevators, and no emphasis on shopping. Oh, and lest we forget, great food and good wine. We took our first RS tour in 2009 (Best of Florence - RIP), and will take our 10th next month. So many tours, so little time...
Two more things: the smaller groups, and lots of free time. Okay, three more things: the guides teach us how to get around and cope on our own. This is a big plus. We're taught how to use public transport, how to comport ourselves in public, how museums and restaurants work; we even had a lesson in Rome on how to cross the street! (Thanks, Cecilia!)
My DH was talking to a friend of his who had recently taken a trip to Europe on a non-RS tour. They were shuttled around everywhere, the group always stayed together, there was lots of shopping, and they stayed in luxury hotels, never having to lift a finger. DH's reaction? "Where's the fun in that?"
I believe a large number of people find Rick on the local PBS station and just watch his shows. That is the way I found out about him and his company. I ordered his tour catalogue and DVD. Just liked his down to earth approach on travel and his keep on travelling slogan. After finding this site, and getting lots of help from others who post, I was sort of addicted. Only been able to take one of his tours so far, but 2017 is in the plan now. Would not travel with any other tour company after the experience I had on my first Rick Steve's tour. His tours really do bring out the best in people, and you just want to take another tour as often as you can. Just keep on travelling with Rick.
YES! To all the above!!
Wholeheartedly agree with everything previous posters have said, but especially this statement by Tony:
" His tours really do bring out the best in people, and you just want to take another tour as often as you can".
I take the tours because I personally like the fact that I am treated like a thinking adult. I never feel as if I am "shepherded" from place to place by the guides and independence is encouraged. I have met and made lifelong friends with wonderful travelers and guides with wonderful stories to share on Rick Steves tours and like Tony, I just want to take another tour as often as I can.
I think "packing light" and "backdoor experiences" appeal to the life values of a segment of the population. I love staying in mom & pop hotels and eating where the locals eat so I am drawn to Rick's ideas, also he makes you feel comfortable traveling by yourself in Europe because he teaches you to be self reliant. I am amazed at the number of Americans who are terrified of traveling to another country, even family members think I am crazy going to Europe with all the stuff in the news. I think there are those who love to learn and be exposed to other cultures and those who are always afraid of anything different, I find that travel not only enriches my life but it also enlarges and enlightens my concepts of other people and their countries. I hope to "keep on traveling" till I leave this earth!!!!
Wow! All these replies are making me excited!
My attraction - I've travelled Europe twice for 3 weeks each time with his travel books. Those books are the greatest! We're going on Village Italy in June . . . because that is a backdoor trip that I would not do on my own because we don't drive in Europe. So, we love Europe and anticipate the backdoor experience with a great guide.
I would also add that he comes off as a really nice, unassuming, helpful friend ready to get people over their fears of travel with no judgment or intimidation involved. His writing style and personality is very accessible and approachable. I always recommend his books (and this website) to new or hesitant travelers.
He's probably really an ax murderer! =P =P said with great jest.
I took my first two RS tours last year and I was apprehensive at first. I'd never done an organized tour of any sort, and while I liked the itinerary and stated philosophy, I was having nightmares of being trapped with awful people for two weeks. Truthfully, it was the "carry your own luggage" bit that swayed me! I figured that would go a long way toward cutting down on the prima donnas. I had a great time on both tours and am taking another in June.
To me it is the total package. I learned of Rick Steves through his PBS shows and dreamed along with so many other viewers. We took our first European trip on our own with a lot of help from the Rick Steves guidebooks. I have a wonderful library of them and enjoy just reading them even when not planning a trip. We thought of ourselves as being too independent for group travel, not wanting to be tied to a strict itinerary. Also we felt that bus tours were something that we would consider when we were "too old" to manage on our own. But last year we took our first trip with Rick Steves just because we liked his whole philosophy, and thought that it would probably be our last trip to Europe and we wanted to experience it while we could. The whole trip was filled with "wow moments" partly because we had a wonderful guide, partly because we had a great group to travel with, partly because of the stress free transportation, partly because some of the places we visited were way off our radar but turned out to be highlights, and the accommodations were just quirky, clean, comfortable well staffed memorable places that we probably would not have found on our own. His website has been a great wealth of information from his expert team as well as from the seasoned travelers that we have found on this forum. We have used not only his guidebooks, but also his audio walking tours. Like I first said, it is the total package. What we thought would be our first Rick Steves tour and last European trip only opened the door to another this fall. We looked at the Eastern European tours that were offered as that was where we wanted to visit. But were disappointed that although the itinerary looked amazing, it did not work with our timeline, nor did it include places that we sorely wanted to see. We found a tour with another tour group that met all our requirements but for some reason did not book it for some time. at one point we realized that although it seemed perfect, we could not get excited. Realizing that a trip of this kind should definitely create excitement, we took a step back and again looked at the RS offerings. We decided to do the 8 day Prague and Budapest tour and add to it on our own. Now we are excited as we should be and feel that this trip will be the best of both worlds. After all, isn't that what Rick Steves teaches us, to be confident, independent travelers that enjoy the company of others? Thanks to Rick for a job well done!
All of the above ten times over ! Just getting back to normal after the 7 Day Rome Tour . I not only walked with the group during the times we were together but on our free time we paired up with 2 or 3 . We would be talking about what we wanted to see , or shop for and someone would say " I want to do that " , and so welcome whom ever to join. Each day you might be in a different group or alone if you choose. It all worked out wonderful but I think I am inches shorter with all the walking day and evening ! A few wanted to go back to the hotel and relax, that's ok too . Our tour guide was very professional , informative ,showing us how to get around the city but one night she had to be somewhere so we all went back to the hotel in cabs! The two extra guides were used at the Vatican , Colosseum & Borghese Gallery and so professional. Franchescia was so passionate about the Colosseum & Borghese Gallery and "St. Clementine , not sure but I think that is right" , she made such an impact on learning about Rome. I came home and have been reading much more about Rome. R S guide for our group was great , you can tell she loves to show off her city . This was my first tour and it could not have been better.
I'm curious now if your family is considering a ' full' tour now, rather than a My Way tour? If not, would you do another My Way tour in the future?
Usually, once a convert......
Hi Gretchen! Well, my husband and I have really gone round and round about My Way vs. the guided version. As of now, we would stick to the My Way. Heck, if we could, I'd go on the same tour again tomorrow!! I do sometimes think, am I missing something?, but I'm still not a fan of traveling in a group. We started out on our tour as "loners" but everyone was so nice that we ended up doing a lot together( BUT, the things we did were our choice) We are hooked! We are going to see my son who lives in Tacoma this summer and we have planned a trip to Edmund(s?) to visit our "escort"from our trip last Sept.
I have been on 2 Cosmos tours, Band of Brothers tour, and last year a Best of Europe in 14 days with Rick Steves. The major difference was the location and smaller "family type" hotels. You pay a bit more with RS tours, but to me it is worth it. The RS group that I was with was NOT what I expected. Not saying that you can spot a trend off of one group, but they were the least friendly and "older" than the other 3 days.
I did like the Steves trip enough to sign up for a My Way Alpine tour in Sept.
Donald, I love your thoughts on traveling and others thinking your crazy. When people say stuff like that to me it just makes me want to travel more to make up for them. To me, they are the ones crazy for being so scared of everything and not traveling.
Cannot wait to go for another tour, our Greece trip in 2014 was so wonderful, maybe Best of Eastern Europe?
We've been on three, and found a surprisingly high number of participants had never seen RS shows or read any of his books prior to signing up. They hear of the tour company through word of mouth. So, there are a lot of people on the tours who are not familiar with his ETBD principles. Maybe its this Forum that drags them in.