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Which tour to begin with?

I am going to England, Wales and Scotland next spring through other tour companies. Since then I've found Rick's tours, and as with my books, I want to read all of them, I want to go on all the tours. I'm thinking to start I'm thinking of the Best of Europe 21 days. That would give me a taste of the majors and I can then pick up a German, Switzerland, Austria or an Italy or Ireland....Is this a sound plan? I'm thinking a broader itinerary to start then drill down where I liked. As always, I'm here to listen and learn.

Posted by
5019 posts

If you've never been to Europe and want a tour, the Best of Europe 21 days plan would be a good sampler.

I want to read all of them, I want to go on all the tours.

Rick's going to love you... ;)

Posted by
1843 posts

Absolutely agree with your plan; 21 Day Best of Europe will give you a great overview of Western Europe. And don't leave out the Adriatic or Eastern Europe, Bulgaria or Turkey tours.......😉!

Posted by
945 posts

Another alternative is to pick the country that is most interesting to you and do a deep dive instead of sampling of many countries.

Posted by
2284 posts

I haven’t done the tours but the general idea of getting an overview of several countries then getting more specific makes sense. That’s what I did on my own - a trip where i went lots of places for a shorter time, then focusing more on subsequent trips. You may love your time in one area on the BOE and find another area a bit less interesting. You will enjoy all the areas, but one may stand out. Next tour you could dig into that city or country.

Of course if you read about the tours and decide that a more specific tour is calling your name...go for it. There’s no rule saying you have to have seen Florence before going to Sicily If it’s Sicily that draws you. But if you don’t feel pulled strongly to one specific place then an overview makes the most sense!

Posted by
1029 posts

I’ve done a number of the RS tours but not the BOE 21 day. Please do understand that this tour covers lots of territory. You’re going from Amsterdam down to Rome and then back up to Paris. As such there is a lot of time on the bus. It’s a full size comfortable bus and many if not most folks will be able to get 2 seats for themselves.

When the itinerary says 6 hours on the bus there are stops along the way. Generally every two hours or so and often a stop to see something and or lunch. Often the guide will fill you in on the history of the art or city you’re about to visit. Or play music specific to the region. Language lessons are provided....ok more like vocabulary. Also a good time to nap, fill in travel diary, read etc.

I’m not trying to talk you out of the BOE tour, just wanted you to know what to expect.

Posted by
44 posts

As a recently retired 62 year old, getting more fit is in the plans so that I can do this. My sister, 18 yrs my senior, died last year and I vowed, when I can, I would get out there and travel. I love to read and love to travel. All the tours look good to some extent. I may cut back to 14 days but want to get an overall view then do the deep dive on Italy or Germany or Eastern Europe and Turkey. I do research all of the trips to ensure, Is this what I want....I'm solo at this point and do not feel comfortable going it alone, unless I have been there and feel more confident. Yes, David, Rick is likely to love me......

Posted by
102 posts

So, I'm going to be the contrarian here. I think, from reading your posts, that you travel already. What I couldn't tell, is whether you usually travel independently, or with tours (although I see that you are joining tours for your GB tour). I'd start with a short tour to see if group tours are for you.

I'm of a similar age - although not retired, and have traveled to a number of places in Europe, either alone or with a friend or two. I'd always wanted to try one of Rick's tours, and I use his guidebooks all the time. So, since I'd been to France a couple of times, but not Paris, I decided to take the 7 day Best of Paris Tour. I didn't love it. Now, saying that, there is nothing to fault on the tour. The hotel was better than I expected, my fellow travelers were great, the group meals were good, and the guides knowledgeable (although it was the last tour of the year for our main guide, and you could tell that a bit).

But, it just wasn't for me. At the end, I realized that I spent so much time worrying about keeping up with the group, and wanting a different pace for things (eg. more time in Sacre Coeur, less at the back wall of Renoir's garden), that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped, and thank goodness for pictures or I'd be hard pressed to remember some of it - even with notes. I had a better day on my extra day on my own.

I'll keep using Rick's guidebooks, and I might even consider a "My Way" tour, but I doubt I'll take another tour.

Posted by
2759 posts

I have gone on 16 RS tours, soon to be 17, in the last 18 years, and my first one was his Best Of Europe 21 Days. I took that one the first year I went to Europe and it is still one of my favorite. You do move around a lot but you get a great overview of so many places in Europe. After taking that tour I figured out where I wanted to return to to spend more time. Well, one more tour lead to another and I am still going on his tours.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes, I've taken tours before, to South America with my sister and I've traveled independently with my sister to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. She was the planner and I was the enjoy-er....however she has passed now and can no longer can assist with the planning and I don't feel confident going on my own. I want to make her proud that I'm getting out there in the big wide world. Unfortunately, I don't have friends that like to travel or who will have the means to travel. I do feel that once I'm familiar with a place, I can go back on my own, safely (Scotland and England). I'm a solo travel, don't like traveling alone and would love to share experiences with like minded individuals. I will be using another firm for travels outside of Europe but I think Rick's tours will be best for Europe. Also, one goal is to go to various places my ancestors lived and in Germany and Switzerland, they seem to travel right through the area. I love seeing what's around the next corner and like the fun, wacky and strange. Going to the less beaten track is fine with me... Thanks for the encouragement. I think the Best of, either 21 or 14 days, is going to be a great starter!

Posted by
2933 posts

First of all, let me share my condolences on your loss of your sister. I am sorry ! I had to learn how to travel in a new way after the death of my husband and it does take some adjustments.

I took my first Rick Steves Tour last year as an experiment. (Paris and the Heart of France). I really enjoyed it. I liked how much I learned and I liked having people around to share the experience with. I also liked having the single supplement so I had a place of "my own" to retreat to when I needed some alone time.

I liked it enough that I am taking the Best of Switzerland Tour this summer. I also tried my first completely solo trip to London this spring and had an excellent time. I think a variety of travel methods can be a great deal of fun and increase your travel skils.

Posted by
44 posts

oh Carol, a woman after my own heart. Yes, we have to venture out on our own and once I get a few miles under my belt, I hope to be more adventurous.

Posted by
7628 posts

The 21 day BOE stands out as one of my favorites of the 11 RS tours I’ve done. Another RS guide said he did this one as an assistant and he loved that you see blockbuster sights every day! He was SO right!

TBH , the bus time didn’t seem like too much. You stop several times, about every hour and a half to 2 hours. I told myself I would not nap on the bus but really, you need some downtime to recharge! You will want to boost your walking for this one. We did 10-12 miles on the days in Rome and Amsterdam.

If you have the time and money I recommend this tour. I also suggest you arrive a couple of days before to Haarlem and if you can, spend some time after in Paris. I followed the 21 BOE with the 7-day Best of Paris which was fun. It was nice to be in one hotel and to have later starts. Both of these guides made me love Paris so much I’ve been back 6 more times on my own!!

I also found there is a different group dynamic with the 3 week tour. We developed a tighter bond than on the shorter tours. It was a really supportive and friendly group snd excellent travel companions.

Have fun choosing!

Pam

Posted by
1507 posts

I haven't been on the BOE tour, but I have taken 4 RS tours and agree you can't go wrong. I love traveling (love, love it) but after three weeks on the road, I do need a rest from the moving around and from the people. No offense to tourmates, they've been mostly delightful, but group dynamics take a lot of energy for this solo traveler. So if you're planning to do two long-ish trips back to back, give yourself a day or two in between tours to recharge, do laundry, reflect. If you did the 14 day BOE and then the 15 day Best of Eastern Europe, you'd get a taste of the entire continent (it looks like from tour dates that might be possible).

Posted by
2404 posts

I took a different approach when picking my first tour. At 63, after more than one year of my husband being severely ill (including 131 days in hospital and 12+ trips to the ER during a 6 month period), he provided me with something to keep my mind excited for the rest of his recovery: an RS trip (I love to plan travel). We had traveled independently regularly before that, but a tour would keep him from worrying about me. (I'd done my first international solo trip to Sweden the year before and while I was gone he read the Millennium Series--so he worried. LOL) OK, that's enough background and likely TMI. I decided I hopefully had many years to travel, but that I should start with a tour that was the most active and the hardest to do on my own, but that was also on my bucket list. I picked Greece as a result of that. SO just a thought, you might want to start working off the most active tours first so you can travel for years with RS should you choose to do so. My husband is fine now. He is a miracle. However, he is more tired of travel (he's 77 and well traveled) so I foresee mostly solo or solo with a tour in my future.

Posted by
34 posts

I think you'll enjoy whatever tour you choose. The big overview seems like a great start. I've loved all the tours that I've taken (9). All had women traveling alone and I've done that 3 times. Once I did the shared roommate thing and it worked well. On that tour there were 5 single women. The group bonding is best on the longer tours but you will meet some incredible fascinating people on any tour. I've kept up with many past tour mates over the years. I have not done the BOE in 21 or 14 days but did the Eastern Europe one when it was 16 days. That one is still my favorite although all have been fabulous. I've also taken a couple of tours by Road Scholar. They go everywhere! I'll definitely consider them for Australia or South America or Asia but stick with Rick for Europe.

Happy travels to you! And I just noticed that there are some of the 14 day and 21 day tours on sale!