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14 day EE tour- pajama tour 🤔and other questions

My husband and I are planning to go on the 14 day EE tour in late September 2017. This will be our first RS tour. We have been wary of taking any group tours after taking one years ago with a major, well known company that puts 40-50 folks on a bus, carts them all over the place, frequents the "tourist menu" restaurants, expects separate tips for any guides, bus drivers, etc., and stays in huge hotels. Now I know why these are called "Pajama tours"...we could've just kept our pajamas on for most of the trip!! After this experience , I said no more group tours, but then I heard about the RS tours, the reviews were so favorable, with so many becoming RS return travelers that we decided to give it a try!
We also considered the 8 day, Prague, Budapest, but the dates we prefer are no longer available. We realized that on the 14 day tour, there are a couple of cities with just a one night stay. For those of you that have taken the 14 day tour, did you feel you were sometimes on one of these pajama tours? Did you feel rushed and/ tired because of there were quite a number of different accommodations? Were the accommodations comfortable, and in a central, yet fairly quiet location?
Also, how did you feel about the allotted time on the bus? (I noticed one day there is a 7 hour bus drive)
We are thinking about Flying into Vienna, staying a couple of nights, then taking train to Prague a day or two early since many have said they wished they'd had more time in Prague. Also wondering if anyone stayed in the Croatia area after the trip, and how that was?
Thanks very much for any help/ advice you can render!🙂

Posted by
3981 posts

runningklein, RS tours are nothing like the one you described. Most tours have about 25 people on them, and the bus always has at least twice as many seats as there are people. The tours are busy, but you can opt out of any activity, and there's plenty of free time built in.

I haven't been on the EE tour, but I've been on 10 others, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of them.

The hotels are almost always centrally located; I understand on some tours, including the Village Italy tour that we're signed up for this summer, the group sometimes stays in an agriturismo, located in the countryside.

One night stays are less fun than longer stays, it's true, but rarely will you feel too rushed. The only time we felt rushed on a RS tour was when we were on the very first Villages of South England tour, and the guides were still tweaking the schedule. There was at least one night when we arrived at the hotel shortly before dinner, and left right after breakfast. But that was an aberration.

Bus time can be fun time. The guide will fill you in on local history, politics, and economics; often livening the discussion with appropriate music. Some people use this time to rest, catch up on the journals, read the guidebook, or take the opportunity to sit with someone they don't know well. The last bus we were on even had wifi.

You're going to have a wonderful time.

Posted by
595 posts

I also haven't been on that tour, although it's one I've been considering. The RS tours I have been on have been very well organized, so though we did a lot in a short time, we never really felt too rushed. That being said, I was looking at how much ground is covered on the EE tour, so I was also considering the Budapest and Prague one.
I think when we do travel to that area, I'm actually leaning towards the 12 day Berlin, Prague and Vienna tour with a few days on our own in Budapest at the end. This seems like a good solution because it covers less physical ground, stays for 3 nights in the large cities and still includes stop overs in smaller, scenic towns. Budapest is only 3 hours by train from Vienna. Just thought I would share that idea since you were also looking a t the Budapest and Prague tour. You will have a great time no matter what you do!

Posted by
922 posts

I haven't been on this tour but I did take the RS 21 day tour which also has two one night stays. I never really felt rushed, but we stayed busy, busy, both with the tour and on our own during free time. Being organized is going to make your trip easier. Use packing cubes or ziplocks to keep your clothes organized, looking nice, and easy to throw into your bag in the morning. As we used things out of our 3-1-1 bags they went right back in so no clearing of counters every time we moved. I always packed everything up before going down to breakfast so I wasn't rushing around at the last minute. I sure didn't want to be the one who was late to the bus. In fact, no one was ever late. I made sure to do any sink washing as soon as we hit the hotel before meeting back up to go out touring. Wash, rinse, wring, roll in a towel and twist, then hang up. The bus drivers take a 20 minute break every two or so hours (shopping and potty break for you) so even on the long days the trip felt broken up. I read, talked to others, but mostly enjoyed the scenery. I can't speak for your accommodations but I loved many of ours and only disliked one and that was due to a tiny shower.
Have a great tour, and make sure you come back and give us a trip report of how you liked it!

Posted by
484 posts

We took the Best of the Adriatic last fall (our first RS) that was 14 days long and have been on river cruises and visited Prague and Vienna. I'll be honest with you on my thoughts. We had 29 on our tour. In some locations it was too large of group for all to hear and see what was going on. That being said, 29 is not as bad as over 30. We stayed in smaller hotels that apparently have a vast difference in room configuration. I was traveling with my husband and we indicated that we would like twin beds (although the twin beds are pushed together most of the time) I only did this as I was led to understand that the double/queen beds would be european small. So we were put in some of the worst rooms on the tour, while others who did not ask for separate beds got AMAZING rooms. The meals you get will be good, although not exceptional. They will be in smaller restaurants and you will not get choices at many. I suppose each tour is a bit different. Bus time goes by quickly, but with that large of group we did not get two seats each. Our group met the EE group at Plitvice National Park which was interesting.
Stay extra in Prague and Vienna if you have time and staying in Ljubljana or Bled would be nice. We came in early to Ljubljana (a very lovely city!) We did a separate day tour (booked ahead of time) of one of the famous caves in the area and saw the horse farm and show.
On the bus, scope out the general area of the bus you are most comfortable in, because after day 2 that will be your spot and if you try to change it up -evil eyes will come out. I also want to admit after getting the lousy rooms time after time I was ready to be finished with the tour around day 12. The bus stops every 2 hrs and sometimes some surprise stops for a looksee at a small village were fun or a sampling of local goodies from the guide. RS does a great job with the itinerary of the tours, but the group you find yourself with can be a toss up. I know you will find it much improved from the mega "pajama" tour you've experienced.

Posted by
4354 posts

I haven't been on a 'pajamas tour'; mine was the 'track shoes' tour - Get on the Bus! Get on the Bus! Hurry!

Having said that, and after nearly 20 years of independent travel to Europe and elsewhere, I've strongly considered (to the point of putting down a deposit) taking a couple of RS Tours. They definitely have a different vibe from the typical tour.

If you haven't already seen the RS Tour Experience video, you may find it helpful. The page I linked to has the entire 45-minute video (highly recommended!), plus several much shorter clips from the video.

Also, every year there is a Tour Scrapbook Contest. This link shows the current 2016 winners; you can also view the scrapbooks from past years. You get all kinds of different perspectives on the various tours from all of these blogs and photo albums. You might find them very helpful, also.

Have fun planning your next trip!

Posted by
3981 posts

tgreen's comment about the bus

On the bus, scope out the general area of the bus you are most comfortable in, because after day 2 that will be your spot and if you try to change it up -evil eyes will come out.

surprises me. We've been on several (at least 6) RS tours that used buses, and that never happened. On all the tours we've been on, the guide asked folks to take turns in the different parts of the bus. And everyone - almost - complied. We did have one fellow who refused to relinquish his front row seat, even after the guide asked him nicely several times. She finally told him to move it or else, and he did.

I don't know about the rooms. I have heard that people who request single rooms sometimes get rooms that are not as nice, but that seems to vary. We've never had what we would consider a terrible room, but other folks on some of the tours have been less than delighted with their rooms.

I know the first time we stayed at a certain hotel in Siracusa with a RS tour, we had a magnificent room, huge with a beautiful sea view. The second time, small with no view. But adequate, nonetheless.

Posted by
60 posts

I've been on six RS tours. There is a huge difference between having 45 tour members and only 26 tour members on an RS tour. There are enough seats on the bus for each person to have their own row if they want (with a spouse seating across, in front or behind if they so choose). Group dinners are usually very good and lunches are fine (more likely to be group dinners often on the first evening in a new city with an occasional group lunch where there are limited options for lunch). You definitely don't pay tips on any group activity with RS (not for group lunches, dinners, drivers, guide, local guides, etc.) and no optional excursions.

On a 14 day tour you may find that the group on your tour bonds more which is nice. It is a nice experience to have others to talk to at meals to share the tour experience with, what you did on your free time, other travel experiences that you have had. Moving every two days can get tiring but it allows for seeing lots of highlights - staying in a hotel only one night is not ideal, you won't see much at that location but that likely means there wasn't much worth seeing and it is a way station between two more interesting areas.

Hotels are usually in central locations, that is often the reason that they are chosen. Sometimes they are not quiet because they are in a central location. I have found the hotels to vary, some are exceptionally comfortable and others merely adequate but they usually are centrally located near a town center, near restaurants (or if not they provide group dinners), near sights, near public transportation in cities for use during free time. I think RS gives a lot of thought to selection of accommodations but there is usually a mix of quality. If they are centrally located they may be older and with fewer amenities.

Time on the bus is broken up by stops, definitely rest and food stops and something to see along the way. Many people like down time on the bus to read, see the scenery, chat, listen to the guide talk about history, etc. or to rest. Some tours have more time on the bus than others. I liked that on the Belgium and Holland tour there were only three bus days (between hotels) and we stayed at each location two or three nights.

Two aspects of RS tours set them apart from pajama tours - they don't pick you up at the airport (some tours begin a train ride away from the airport) and you have to carry your own luggage between the bus and your room (sometimes with no elevator). This goes a long way to minimizing grumps on the tour, RS tour members tend to be more flexible/resourceful than pajama tour members.

Posted by
503 posts

I took this tour last September when it was still a 16 day tour and loved every minute of it It is NOT a pajama tour. The times when you are in a place for 1 night are few and really no problem. The long bus rides never seem to be too much. Their are breaks every two hours for pit and snack stops and lovely lunches too, I came to appreciate the bus time as time to catch up on journal, resting, reading up on where we were heading and talking to other group members and getting to know them better. There were always snacks and drinks on the bus. Don't worry, you'll have a great time and it goes by so fast.

I didn't stay in Croatia after the tour but have been there twice before on our own. I love Croatia and there is much to see and do. The countryside is beautiful. Stay a couple of days if you have time

Posted by
688 posts

It is so hard to know for sure if you are going to like something based on the experience of others as our likes and wants are different. Reading between the lines is important. I took a tour with another company that usually has 48 guests but lucked out as there were only 28, and I had a blast. I feel confident that the odds are much greater that a RS tour will be right up my alley. (first RS tour in 1 1/2 weeks!)

I am planning a future trip to "Eastern Europe" and my thoughts at looking at the itineraries is that I would rather do the Prague, Budapest tour, come early, stay late and then venture into Slovakia to places I want to go on my own and then do the Adriatic tour another time. It seems as though you are taking a chance picking the tour based on timing and availability instead of what you would really like to do. If you add the risks of not being sure of being on a tour with not the right itinerary it might be too much.

I am a very private person but enjoy being socially pleasant. I don't expect to have any social difficulties because I can behave in a generous and meek manner but also take up for myself in an authoritative manner when necessary. I just don't take interactions in these situations too personally. I would not hesitate to kindly address a seat hogger or some other such issue.

There is also a lot to say about managed expectations. You pretty well know what type of situations you will be in on a tour. I would never travel on a tour with my husband or my brother-in-law. My Mom and sister would work out great. It is a matter of personality , the likes and wants of the person and how they handle it when things don't go perfectly their way.

Whatever you decide, I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
5397 posts

I've never heard of a pajama tour! I must be missing out, as being in my pajamas is the favorite part of my day!!

Posted by
3 posts

Response to:
" I was traveling with my husband and we indicated that we would like twin beds (although the twin beds are pushed together most of the time) I only did this as I was led to understand that the double/queen beds would be european small. So we were put in some of the worst rooms on the tour, while others who did not ask for separate beds got AMAZING rooms. "

I also requested the 2 twin beds for me and DH. We will be in Switzerland. Should I try and get my preference changed or do you think this was just a coincidence? Any frequent RS tour alumni have any thoughts or experience. Thanks in advance for any insight.

Posted by
3981 posts

runningklein, have you considered one of the RS city tours? We've done Florence (no longer offered,) Rome, Paris, and London. You stay in one hotel the whole time; the only bus time, if any, is for short excursions; and the group is still small. Lots of free time, usually there are extra optional activities. Highly recommended.

Posted by
31 posts

Hello Jane,

Thanks for your reply, and yes, I may think about considering a city tour, or perhaps something like the Portugal tour that doesn't have quite as much traveling around by bus!
Sounds like Ike you definitely liked getting to know one city at a time.
Do you usually go only on RS tours, or have you tried others too?
Thanks for the suggestion! Happy travels on your next tour!

Posted by
3981 posts

When we first decided to start traveling to Europe for fun, rather than work or school, we planned to go to Florence. We wanted to stay in a small, centrally located hotel, we wanted to see lots of museums, we wanted to eat great food, we wanted to spend lots of time walking, and we did not want to spend a lot of money. The next day I went to the library (no internet at home then) and started my research to plan our trip. As I was wandering around Florence (so to speak) I saw something about Rick Steves Tours. I knew who RS was, of course, but I didn't realize he had a tour company. So just out of curiosity I clicked on his site.

And there it was! Just what we wanted, at a price we could afford, and someone else was doing all the work!

Well, I went home and told DH about it, and we were rather reluctant, not seeing ourselves as the kind of people who went on group tours. But we decided we'd take the chance, and if we didn't like it we would know better next time. It seemed a fairly painless introduction to European travel.

Well. That was 8 years and 10 RS tours ago. We absolutely loved it. Loved the guide, our tour mates, the itinerary (including a side trip to San Gimignano and a vineyard/olive farm where I embarrassed myself by over-enjoying the local wine. But I digress...)

And no, we've never taken a tour with another company. We have been on educational tours that were part of longer work or study trips to Europe, and we enjoyed them, as well.

As we mentioned earlier, the groups are small, the bus (if there is one) is large enough (although some are more roomy than others), the itineraries are well-thought out, and the guides are great.

I urge you to try one, but the EE might not be the best introduction. I say that having lived and worked in Poland for several years; but then again, if you're wanting to see Eastern Europe, a non-stressful tour group might be the best introduction.

How I do ramble on!