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Would 4 RS tours in a row, with 5-8 days off between tours, be too many to appreciate?

The worst part of touring Europe for me has been the flights over and back. In 2019 our Germany, Austria and Switzerland tour in 14 days ended the very same day our Eastern Europe in 15 days tour began. I think we checked into the hotel 15 minutes before the meet and greet for the second tour began. We enjoyed both tours, but it was a lot for us and I wonder if we would have appreciated both tours more had we been able to process the first tour and decompress before the second. Being tour deprived for 2 years, we are eager to do several tours in 2022.

One plan we are considering is to take 4 tours in a row on one trip to Europe in the Spring. This time we would have 5-8 days off between tours. Has anyone who has done something like that wish to comment?

Alternatively, we take two tours in the Spring and fly back to Europe a second time for 2 tours in the Fall.

What do you think?

Posted by
7881 posts

Someone on this forum did 5, I believe, in a row about 2 or so years ago and posted here all along his experience. He enjoyed it. But he’s the only one I’ve heard of doing more than 2 back-to-back. If you can find his posts in the Search bar it might be helpful, he had a lit of tips and feedback on doing that many.

Posted by
25583 posts

you'll need to watch out that you don't add up to 90 days in Schengen countries...

Posted by
1535 posts

Here is the post that Susan mentioned https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/my-first-rs-tour

Agree with Nigel about counting your days, that may answer the question about whether to break it up into two separate trips. For myself, I'd max out after two tours even with a break between them. But if you have the money, time, energy, and don't mind living out of your suitcase for that long, go for it - life is short :)

Posted by
6699 posts

If you had some regret with 2 back-to-back tours, then I would not do 4 back-to-back tours. Everything will be a blur, and you probably will get more overall satisfaction with some anticipation and pause built in. There is all sorts of research out there that supports the idea that anticipation is a huge part of the traveling experience, so it makes sense to maximize opportunities to get excited between trips. Plus, I think you need downtime to let it all marinade and sink in and savor.

Posted by
1277 posts

Regarding the flights-
Do you have a fear of flying, or is it the discomfort of coach seats? If it's the latter, would you consider Business Class?
Wishing you safe travels!

Posted by
248 posts

I can't answer you question about taking 4 tours in a row, but it seems to me that it would be hard to appreciate each tour. That's a lot of days living out of a suitcase since 2 nights for each location seems the norm on RS Tours. Since we live on the west coast, I agree that the worst part of touring Europe are the flights over and back; for us it is a difference of 9 hours. Also, I personally do not enjoy flying, even though I grew up in Hawaii, and the only way to get anywhere was by plane.
Anyway, we usually take 2 tours, with 4-6 days in-between. Often the tours are with 2 different companies. We've "decompressed" and revisited Florence, Prague, Paris, and Edinburgh, where we can walk to most sites and revisit favorites in each city. Our trips to Europe generally last from 3-5 weeks, so that means we'll visit other locations on our own, between and after the tours.
With 2 tours back to back, you might choose a couple of locations to go back to after the tours, or head to somewhere else where it would be relaxing to navigate on your own.

Posted by
2769 posts

It might depend on what tours you're thinking of taking and how long they are. 4 tours of 7-10 days each would be different than 4 tours where each is 14 days in length. How strenuous they are also might make a difference.

Posted by
628 posts

I have contemplated linking the 21 day Best of Europe with one other 10-14 day RS tour. I don't mind living on the road for a a month myself but the wife would get a bit crazy and that's not a pretty picture.

How about slipping a long Rhine cruise in between RS adventures? Much less hassle with only the one hotel room. Or float the canals of France or Scotland. Any of several Mediterranean cruises.

Whatever you decide, consider posting a long narrative to the forum.

Posted by
815 posts

We have done 2 RS tours back to back in 2018 and 2019. River cruise and RS tour in 2017 . They were perfect.

I hate that I missed out in 2020 and 2021 for Europe travel.

2022 - we are going to be gone whole month of June. 1 tour in Scotland Hebrides, Iceland, Scotland Orkney and Shetland.

Back home for three weeks (because work requirement) then off to RS Scandinavian tour.

Then December for RS MSV tour to celebrate 40th anniversary.

This will be the most we have traveled in a year But we are ready to head out.

Our Scotland tours will be more relaxed and cool weather on the islands

Kim

It was Brad in pine top Arizona that did those back to back tours.

Posted by
1177 posts

Maybe 2 traveling tours with 2 city stay tours interspersed could be less exhausting. A week in Paris with one or more France tours would be fun for French immersion. A week in Rome with one or more Italian tours! Some of the popular tours are already wait listed. But 2022 September has some openings that could make linked tours workable.

Posted by
361 posts

I think taking 4 tours in a row, even with rest days in between, would be way too much. If you must take four tours in one year, I think your idea of two tours in the spring and two tours in the fall is much better.

Posted by
18746 posts

It's the large number of very short hotel stays that would get me. I regularly spend 4-1/2 months in Europe, but I travel independently and rarely stay fewer than 3 nights in one place; I prefer to stick with 4+ nights, and 7 nights isn't an uncommon stay for me. I don't have any problem traveling for months at a time at my pace. I wouldn't want to attempt Rick's, even for 2 weeks.

Posted by
4574 posts

I don't think I would do four. We've done two tours two or three times, and even with two tours they blur together in our memory.

That said, we're signed up for two tours next spring, but we have about 10 days in between the two.

Posted by
8203 posts

I’ve done 3 back to back to back. I was traveling for just under 8 weeks and it was fantastic.

I did a few days in London on my own, then the 21 Day Best of Europe, then Best of Paris with another week there with a friend and finished with Village Italy. The almost 2 weeks in Paris without moving every other day was key for me although I didn’t realize it at the time. I think it also helped that I had the huge general overview first then had more focused time in Paris and a deeper look at culture with the Village Italy tour.

The only time I’ve gotten weary on back to backs was when I didn’t switch “cultures”, lol. I’d not recommend 2 or more in one country at a time whether it is UK, Italy or France.

Which ones are you considering?

Posted by
745 posts

Here are four RS tours I would gladly do in a row.
In this order:
Best of Barcelona and Madrid
Best of Andalucia
Heart of Portugal
Best of Basque Country

It's not so much that I dislike air travel - but living on the west coast does make any European adventure a long first and last day. When I get to Europe - I want to stay there.

If I was more interested in Italy, it would be easy to craft a similar series of RS tours.

Either way, the cost would be considerable. Well over $10,000 per person for approximately 40 days of RS tours + in between travel time and expense.

Posted by
7400 posts

One plan we are considering is to take 4 tours in a row on one trip to Europe in the Spring. This time we would have 5-8 days off between tours. Has anyone who has done something like that wish to comment?

Not knowing which tours and what order you are contemplating, its hard to make salient comments.

With 5-8 days between each one, if you have the time and money, do it. As Nigel noted, keep track of the total number of days in the Schengen zone.

Posted by
97 posts

If you’re considering this (4 in a row) to avoid another round trip flight (and I get that) why not consider a transatlantic cruise over in the Spring, tour, fly home and/or fly over in the Fall, tour, cruise home.

Posted by
4 posts

Personally, I would take a 2-3 day vacation from your vacation between the tours.

Find a nice quiet mid sized or small city to hang out in. Get up late and be the last person into the hotel's breakfast room. Then, wander to a local park or stroll down a quaint old town street. Enjoy an hour in a local cafè reading a book or trying to read the local newspaper if you know a bit of the language. People watch. For a few hours, let life come to you. If it's Sunday you might attend Mass at a local church or the local Cathedral as a believer or simply for the cultural experience. Finish updating any notes you took on your recent tour experience. Clear out the out of focus, or just plain boring photos in your camera to make room for photos of your next great adventure. Write postcards to friends, buy stamps at the PO and mail them. You might consider what RS did, send postcards to yourself with detailed notes of your latest adventure. Write a review of your tour and post it on this site. (Now there's a radical thought!!!) :-)

Posted by
5905 posts

Its really not about the tours themselves or the idea. Its about you and your personal comfort and stamina. I'd get homesick after two weeks, and start to think of it as an ordeal. But if you (both of you) feel like you can handle it, why not? Getting a lot done on one trip is efficient.

Posted by
756 posts

Four tours in a row would be quite expensive considering you could cover the same areas at your own pace with mini-breaks (2-3 days every 2 weeks) for at least 40% less than the tours price. If you plan it right, it would be much more enjoyable by train. Look at each tour and add up the amount of time on the bus for each tour. IMO that much bus travel (4 tours) can't be as comfortable as a train. Remember, one of the major restrictions of a tour is the freedom to change on the fly and see exactly what you want, when you want.

Of course, if you are not a planner, than you are kind of stuck with tours. Either way, Enjoy!

Posted by
1171 posts

I also find the economy flight experience to be a factor holding me back from long haul travel. Several years ago I had an overall bad experience coming back via Frankfurt. Nothing terrible in isolation but all the little things combined to make it memorable in a bad way. The next year I decided to upgrade to premium economy. Much nicer experience. More room. Both legroom and shoulder room. Better service and food. So perhaps premium economy could work for you. I have flown PE on Virgin Atlantic. I can’t say what it is like on other airlines.

I do agree with the thought that 2 back to back tours sound like a better idea.

Posted by
1925 posts

Wow, this is a difficult question, to consider 4 tours all in one trip! I have difficulty thinking of 2 tours back to back. I do have limited vacation days but take that away, I have thought of following the Scandinavia tour with a week in Paris as others have suggested. With 2 or 3 days between them. Another thought is pairing Scandinavia followed by a My Way(r) tour, My Way Alpine, where you could design each day in your own way and take things at your own pace. This would be 14 plus 12 days, a long time to be away from home for me. Not including the days before and after each tour and flights, etc. I start longing for home and missing my cats and my bed.

I think you have to assess if you like being away from home that long. 4 tours sounds like a good idea on paper but in practice, could be a different story.

Posted by
1010 posts

One of the great pleasures of RS tours is the camaraderie with your fellow travelers. It seems like it would be challenging to deal with meeting around 100 people over the course of four tours and keeping them all straight. We have found that we enjoy the longer tours (13 days +) partly because they enable us to get to know our tour mates better. We met some people on our 2018 France tour who were on the second of two tours in a row; they admitted that their brains were fried by the middle of the second tour.

We will probably not consider doing back to back RS tours. In 2022, we are taking two tours: one in May and the other in September.

Posted by
9 posts

I took the Loire to the south of France and Best of Italy back to back in 2018 with a train ride from Nice to Milan, then another short train ride to Verona. Both tours are about two weeks long, and did get challenging to have such busy itineraries each day. Both tours focused heavily on art galleries and cathedrals/duomos as they should for learning about culture & history of that particular country, but it did get a little monotonous. Having a few days in between might be the ticket, or tours with different cultural focus from each other. I loved both tours, but remembering names did become challenging! Ideally I think padding a few days at the beginning and end with a few in between might be the best you can do if you're set on four tours; but that's a lot of touring!

Posted by
3789 posts

No offense, and not trying to question you travel method, but do you only travel on tours? Can't you be your own tour guide? If time is unlimited (well to 90 days), why not take 2 and stay longer picking up local tour guides of you like their contributions. I would call that the best of both worlds.

Posted by
1610 posts

Hi Cathy & Jim, I’ve done 9 RS tours but none back-to-back. I always add time on pre and post tour to do some independent travel. Consider flying “open jaw”, into one country/location and returning from another. Europe’s transportation system is excellent and you can get to most places pretty efficiently. I think 2 consecutive tours would be enough for me. Which tours are you thinking about?

Posted by
8 posts

We appreciate all of the comments my original post generated. We still have not decided if we will do all 4 tours, but feel better able to make that decision thanks to your insights that we may not have considered. We agree that what is best for us won't be best for everyone. But reading your thoughts will help us think through what is best for us.

We enjoyed 4 previous RS tours, but also have and are not opposed to traveling on our own. We are leaning toward doing all 4 tours listed below.

I welcome additional comments to my original question and would appreciate suggestions for places to go on our own between tours.

Athens & the Heart of Greece in 14 Days Tour
Mon, March 14, 2022 — Sun, March 27, 2022

Sicily in 11 Days Tour
Tue, April 5, 2022 — Fri, April 15, 2022

Spain in 14 Days Tour
Mon, April 18, 2022 — Sun, May 1, 2022

Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days Tour
Tue, May 17, 2022 — Fri, May 27, 2022

Thank you again for your comments.

Jim and Cathy

Posted by
2769 posts

I like the timing of your trips-you don't want to do the first 3 in the summer!

Posted by
7400 posts

Looks like a great plan.

Hopefully by next year crossing borders will not require being an Olympic level contortionist to satisfy all an ever changing array of requirements.

What are you doing between the last 2 tours?

Posted by
8 posts

joe32F,

I invited my adult children to join us on the Isle of Man for part of the time (May 7-15) between our last two tours. I wanted to rent the sea side cottage my great-grandmother lived in, but settled for one nearby when it was already booked. We will be there for the Manx National Rally (car), which my son is looking forward to probably more than if we went for the TT races. The Manx National does not draw a lot of tourist like the TT races and it will be a relaxing and slow paced respite compared to our tours. As a bonus we get to see our Manx relatives.

This still leaves us with 5 full days between when our Spain tour ends in Sevilla and we leave for IOM that we are looking for ideas for.

Jim

Posted by
8203 posts

To me that looks like a wonderful collection of tours especially with Isle of Man thrown in there. You'll have different cultures and languages although Paris and HOF will be the most different with it not having a Mediterranean focus.

The only tour I've done of all of those was Paris and HOF which I did back to back with Best of England. I think having that one in the mix is excellent! I would try to arrive in Paris 2 days before the tour starts and if that won't work, I'd at least be there the day before.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
244 posts

I have done 3 tours over a three month period on one trip. It was great. They were almost back to back basically one big loop Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Another time I did Jordan, Israel and Turkey on three different tours. The first two were almost back to back and I had a week in Istanbul before the Turkey tour. I spent a week in Paris at the end.
fall 2022 I am looking at something like this
Best of Bulgaria Rick Steve's 12 days
a three day break
Sicily with a different company 14 days
5 day break Italy Food tour 7 days
12 day break
Heart of Portugal Tour
Then a week or so in London. I usually cannot travel during the school year so I take advantage of the opportunity not to travel in the summer.
I have found that I am usually good for about 9-10 weeks.

Posted by
8 posts

Wendy,

You apparently don't think we would be taking on too much with our 80 day plan, right?

Jim

Posted by
244 posts

Jim
It is a personal decision but I find it works for me. I am a teacher so I can only usually travel July and August. I do not like to travel at Christmas break or March Break for me it will be too fast paced.

Even when I do not go on tours I usually travel in Europe for 7-10 weeks at a time. In the past I was moving often. I now tend to spend more time in one place usually no less than 3 days usually more like 5-7. I build in time to to laundry and just relax and do nothing for a day or two.

I hope to do a total of 3 trips in the 2022-2023 school year each about 9-11 weeks. Two in Europe and one in Asia.

Posted by
1535 posts

Just chiming in to note that three of the four tour dates you've noted in your recent post are waitlisted (I was checking on one of the same tour dates for a friend, a lot is full). Hopefully you're already reserved or on a wait list.

Posted by
2091 posts

This sounds way too fast paced for me, but that is just a matter of personal preference. You know your travel style better and how you like it. And if the pace works for you, it can be a great trip. But if you go ahead with this plan make sure to plan some time to really relax between the tours.

Posted by
1763 posts

I would totally do 5 tours back to back! But, I can’t speak for you, I am just thinking I would love it and hope to do it myself someday! Jealous!

Posted by
1925 posts

I’m debating doing 2 tours back to back next year - Scandinavia and then St. Petersburg Tallinn Helsinki separated by 2 days. Fly from Bergen Norway to Tallinn. I have not signed up yet because a Russian Visa is required and you have to wait until 60 days before you step foot in Russia. I understand from a friend and the RS office I can ask for expedited handling which I will do.

The other reason I haven’t done it is I will be away from home for 25 days which is more than usual for me. I get homesick for my home and life there after 19 days. I have to change my mindset that it will be fun and therefore worth the extra days away from home.
As much as I love travel, I also love being home.

I think your plan is wonderful, you have chosen several tours I’m interested in.. Have you booked the tours yet?
Enjoy yourselves, 2022 appears to be a banner year for travel adventures!

Posted by
8 posts

To address some recent comments:

First, we are confirmed for the tours I listed.

Our ambition may be informed by weathering the pandemic and three recent deaths in my family. We aren't getting any younger. If we want to enjoy our money while we are still physically able to, we need to pick up the pace.

Second, Cathy and I won't get homesick. We are used to communicating by email, social media, phone, and now Zoom, with family and friends. We have been traveling around N. America in an RV year round since 2014. Our overseas tours are a vacation from our routine traveling.

We pull our 40 ft 5th wheel with a semi truck tractor with full size sleeper fridge, microwave and dinette booth that converts to one of two twin size beds. We also put our smart car up on the back of the truck between the sleeper and the 5th wheel trailer. We often stay in an a campground for a month and explore the area in the smart car without moving the truck. We don't feel rushed, or need to see sights like our National Parks during peak hours or inclimate weather. We put a lot more miles on the smart car than our truck.

While we were in Europe last time on a RS tour, a retired electrician friend who volunteered to keep an eye on our RV contacted me to say an Arizona dust storm had covered our solar panels and we lost power. He cleaned them off for us and thought everything was fine because the lights (12 volt) were back on. Unfortunately, he didn't restart the inverter for the 120 volts the fridge needed. We had to buy a new fridge and lost the food. Luckily our freezer which was filled with Alaskan Halibut I caught was on 12volt and we didn't loose. Next time we plan to empty the fridge and freezer before we go.

Another issue we have is that many campgrounds want us ready to evacuate our RV in a weather emergency. It would be harder to find someone to do that for us due to the size and uniqueness of our RV.

Repositioning the RV to Ohio in late winter, where we have family and property, for tours we prefer to take in March has complications too, such as getting caught in a snow storm and "winterizing" the RV so plumbing doesn't freeze and break.

There are more such complications I won't go that make multiple trips overseas harder for us.

In my mind, the issue comes down to which is better: 1) Reduce our logistical RV issues by taking one trip with more tours. Or 2) Enjoying the individual tours more, by doing fewer in each overseas trip, such as two tours on a spring trip and two on a fall trip.

Everyones thoughts ar appreciated, but hearing thoughts from others who took multiple tours in the same trip really helps.

Thank you all.

Jim

Posted by
56 posts

I have done 2 tours back to back but had a few days in between to decompress--not RS tours but long ago--TWA tours (am I dating myself??) the first tour--Scandinavia 14 days----great tour--horrible group, many left in tears. And 2nd tour was Germany-Austria-Switzerland 14 days---fabulous group--left with a smile
Now RS tours have fabulous folks so that will probably not be a problem BUT i did need a few days in between to chill and not be around anyone.
I have booked 2 RS tours back to back for 2022--Paris --(1 week in same place) and Eastern France. I think this will be ok as its all the same country--i have 1 day in between and always take a day off during tours to stay sane.
I really prefer staying 4-5 days per city but those tours are hard to find.

Not sure i could do 5 tours back to back as i like solo travel too and to be on my own schedule and not changing hotels every few days. But we are all different so it might be perfect for y'all. Have a great time!

Posted by
74 posts

You listed your 3rd tour ends in Seville Spain on May 1, and your 4th tour starts in Paris on May 17. What to do with those 16 days (besides laundry) could include Portugal, the Basque country / Pyrenees, or traveling North by plane, or trains, and seeing parts of France or Belgium not covered by the RS tour, such as Normandy. I think you might want to keep what you have confirmed in your pocket for now, and continue to do research with respect to your planned travels after May 1, 2022. Maybe you can accomplish what you want to see on your own and cut the 4th tour. But it looks like a great tour so Good Luck!

Posted by
2 posts

Wow, what a great thread. This would be a dream trip. We are doing our first back to back next April,. Starting with Heart of Portugal followed by the Best of Turkey. I really wanted 3-5 days between but we only were able to get 3 days.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and especially how it turns out.

Posted by
10 posts

One consideration to note for those who are looking at travel to multiple countries (like I am) - especially including countries that are not part of EU or Schengen zone. We are signed up for Sicily followed by the Best of Adriatic tour (followed by a few days in Rome before flying home). Bosnia (part of the Adriatic tour) is not part of EU or Schengen countries. Currently, Italy will not allow anyone to enter Italy who has traveled thru Bosnia within the preceding 14 days. With the current rules, we would not be allowed to go to Rome after the Adriatic tour. If this requirement does not change, I will have to make some itinerary changes. Not too concerned right now - but it is something to watch and consider when planning travel between countries - even if it is just transferring thru an airport.

Posted by
8 posts

Good point, Denise. Perhaps naively, I am hopeful the virus threat in Europe will have diminished by next spring. With virus mutations it could go the other way. We are appreciative that RS is offering full refunds through the end of 2021 for our 2022 tours. We plan to evaluate the threat and policies in December and adjust our plans if warranted.

BTW - After reading replies to date on this post, and considering our own personalities, we are now more inclined to cancel our first 1st tour request (Greece), even though we really look forward to that tour. We miss traveling so much! Four tours may be more reactionary to that than really what we would most enjoy. The remaining 3 RS tours in one trip would still be more than we ever did before.

Posted by
8203 posts

"After reading replies to date on this post, and considering our own personalities, we are now more inclined to cancel our first 1st tour request (Greece)"

Well, you've still got a few months before you need to make the decision unless you are firm. Still, Sicily, Spain and Paris and Heart of France along with Isle of Man will be wonderful and varied!

Posted by
31 posts

Your 4 trips sound fantastic, image the stories you can tell when you are unable to travel anymore.
I've signed up for 2, back to backs next year, 2022.
Turkey and Greece in the spring, Portugal and Spain in the fall.
Why... because Covid has ruined my 2020 travel plans, so am doubling up, while my legs can still carry me.
I just hope Covid does not cause cancellation in 2022, as variants continue to overwhelm.

Posted by
50 posts

Covid has now stolen 2 years of time. Your question depends on your age and health.

I personally think booking back to back tours would create diminishing returns of the experience. It may be worth it to book a tour in various seasons and places if you have the time. Not all back to back. Even with a 5-8 day gap--that seems to be alot of down time.

Posted by
15 posts

My husband and I did two tours back to back a few years ago-GAS and Prague & Budapest. We had a few days between tours for travel and rest. I would do it again however I did not take into account having to learn phrases in multiple languages and many different currencies. Definitely not a deal breaker just something to keep in mind. Whatever trips you decide on enjoy your travels!

Posted by
1 posts

Instead of two RS tours in a row we’ve tacked on a self planned tour of 4-5 days before each RS tour. Paris before an Eastern France tour, pretty easy to plan and book, and Norway before Scotland, a short plane ride from Oslo to Edinburgh. We’re always happy to meet others on the tour and relax after our self planned travel! Personal preference of course but 21 days is our outer limit for hotel life and being on a tight schedule, becomes tiring beyond.

Posted by
1213 posts

"but 21 days is our outer limit for hotel life and being on a tight schedule, becomes tiring beyond."

You can tell not many people on this forum have been in the military. Being gone and on schedule for 9 months was not uncommon.

Posted by
3 posts

To me, it's not the number of tours, but the total length of time I'd be away that sets the limit for me. I personally find 3 to 4 weeks to be satisfying for travel. The longest I've ever done is 6 weeks. But given your particular experience with RV travelling, I'd say that 10 weeks would be no problem for you.

Posted by
904 posts

That looks like a fantastic trip and I would totally do it if my husband didn't have to be back for work and of course our school age children 😊. If you have the time and money, go for it!