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Do Some Research - Rick Steves provides LOTS of information

Posted by an unhappy traveler - NOT ME!!
Tour: 04/30/17
Overall rating: rating 1 of 5 (This was apparently a MY WAY tour)
My first and last Rick Steves tour. He hints at the tour experience in the videos but doesn't tell you it will be worse than you imagined. There was way too much trekking to the hotel from the tour bus. Too many 2 star hotels that are considered to have "charm". Venice and Rome were way too crowded. The suggested itinerary failed to list museums that you should reserve in advance.
Favorite "WOW" moment
"The only 4 star hotel we stayed at in Lake Como was the only Wow moment. The lake view was beautiful. The hotel was very nice. We didn't have to trek from the bus to the hotel. We were dropped off at the door, there were not stairs to climb. It made the trip enjoyable for a brief moment"


You can see the general itinerary before you even book your travels. RS has lots of guide books and trip information. RS is not responsible for cities being too crowded...you need to investigate what time of year is best to go. I believe RS guide books indicate museums and which require reservations. RS clearly indicates there can be a lot of walking, stairs, noisy hotels, etc. You need to do your the research, which is easy using the RS website and his guidebooks.

Posted by
1957 posts

chloesgrammy, your advice is particularly applicable if this was, as you suspect, a review of a My Way tour. And your statements are exactly on point. Hard to believe "unhappy traveler" didn't know what to expect in general from initially reading the tour description and before signing the tour agreement. I do feel sad it was a trip mostly not enjoyable except for that one brief moment of "no stairs to climb."

Posted by
865 posts

"... but doesn't tell you it will be worse than you imagined."

From this I infer that s/he already thought the tour might be bad, yet signed up anyway! As you said, Rick's books and this website include all kinds of information about his tours -- guided and unguided -- including reviews from travelers, not to mention the Travel Forum where other travelers will answer questions. Although they do a first-class job (in my opinion), Rick Steves' Europe does not claim to be a first-class tour operator. This person not only didn't do enough research, s/he also sounds like a grump!

Posted by
21327 posts

There is a disconnect here that I am not understanding.

Why is chloesgrammy, as her first posting, re-posting something obviously from another site? That site is not identified. The comments that should be directed to the original poster will only be directed to chloesgrammy.

It is obvious that someone didn't do their homework and didn't understand the Steves' philosophy related to his tours. But, as typical in the political climate of today, blame someone else for your problems instead of looking in the mirror.

I am guessing he/she was the designated grump on the tour. Every tour needs one. And I will bet money that they had more than one bag.

PS Our son and dil were in Venice the same time (last week of April) and they also complained about the size of crowds. They are very experienced European travel but thought the crowds would be lighter in April. Later they were in Rome with the same issue. Maybe off season is no longer off season.

Posted by
8054 posts

"Do Some Research - Rick Steve's provides LOTS of information"

It also applies to a majority of questions posted on this forum.

Posted by
21327 posts

Susan is correct but there are some who think that asking the question here is the research. My wife, who is national recognized school librarian, laments that we are no longer teaching research skills at the same level that we did prior to the internet. And as a retired college professor, I would agree that research skills have gotten sloppy with the internet. But that is another discussion for another day.

Posted by
8054 posts

Agree Frank. But going with the internet route... majority of questions here can be answered using Google. I'd be embarassed to ask a question that I could easily find the answer to myself.

Posted by
4 posts

What I posted was copied from a review on the RS website, but where I could not reply to it. I did not want to identify the original poster and since I have often seen similar types of posts, wanted to bring it up as a reminder to people to take some responsibility for their experiences.

Posted by
244 posts

We went on the Italy My Way tour a few years ago. Once you sign up they send you a My Way Italy booklet that explains everything! We also actually read our RS Italy tour book. Everyone on our tour had their research at hand and had a great trip! We also had our podcasts and each day off we would go! There wasn't that much walking to the hotel, except maybe Venice. The other hotels we were dropped off close to the hotel. Sounds like a classic grump on that tour!

Posted by
3033 posts

I can't help but wonder why "Unhappy Traveler" chose a Rick Steves tour in the first place. There are a myriad of full service escorted European tours available. Look online ( or if you're also as old school as I am, walk into any travel agency and look at the wall full of glossy brochures). Why would she pick that one over all the others?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see AT A GLANCE that RS tours are not suited to people who want a door to door, spoon fed experience, and 4 star business hotels every night. This is the type of person who shouldn't go outside her own city limits without checking with a travel agent first. Because independent PLANNING isn't one of her skill sets.

Posted by
2799 posts

It is in the reviews for the "my Way Italy" tour.

https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/my-way-italy

Apparently they did not bother to read the part under "physical demands" where it says that you need to "happily" carry/roll your luggage several blocks over uneven pavement and up steps to the hotel, then up several more flights of stairs to reach the room.

Posted by
3500 posts

It seems to me chloesgammy is spot on with regard to folks taking responsibility for their own lack of research and planning because in today's world it seems nothing is ever one's own fault. An old military rule is that of the 5 Ps. Prior planning prevents poor performance. A sixth P can be added if desired.

Posted by
21327 posts

Finally found the review. I doubt if anyone will take that review very seriously given all of the extremely positive reviews surrounding it for that particular trip. It is obvious that homework was lacking. She needs to return to the Tauck tours. We are headed this Fall on a Machu Picchu trip thought Odysseys Unlimted and sponsored by my university alumni group. So far I have signed three different documents asserting that my health is good, I will be walking long distances over rough terrain, I will lose 25 lbs prior to the trip, I will encounter wet and dry conditions, MP is at 12,000 feet so breathing can be a problems, etc., etc., etc.

Maybe Rick should do the same thing. But then some people never read what they sign anyway.

One other thing -- Our tour guide is Michael Jackson. That should be interesting.

Posted by
4365 posts

Frank, Michael Jackson? I've heard that he's bad. A little off the wall. If you don't enjoy yourself, I think you should beat it.

It's hard for the bus to drive around Venice and the CT...and dang it, Rick - what's with the crowds in Rome and Venice?!? ;-) Rick has always been pretty clear on his idea of 'charm'; if you've watched his shows (especially from the very beginning!) and carefully read his books, you get a pretty good idea of what 'charm' means to him. It's not the same type of charm according to Martha Stewart, I'm fairly sure...

I'm sorry the person had a bad time. Apparently there was quite the disconnect between expectations and reality. Even the most experienced travelers are pretty unhappy with the massive crowds, but whatareyagonnado? We're part of that problem, too. I don't know if this was a new addition after this person's tour in April, but the itinerary DOES use an ’(r)’ to let you know which museums and sites require you to "reserve a time before you leave the USA". Maybe another extra-critical viewing of the 3-part Tour Experience videos might have helped. This person's tour landed somewhere between preconceived expectations and a lack of preparation. Hopefully they find a better experience elsewhere.

Welcome, chloesgrammy!

Posted by
11613 posts

I have a feeling Unhappy Traveler was attracted by the price, significantly less than the red carpet tours.

Posted by
865 posts

"Frank, Michael Jackson? I've heard that he's bad. A little off the wall. If you don't enjoy yourself, I think you should beat it."

I know it's human nature, but you don't wanna be starting something with him.

Posted by
1809 posts

Americans do not want to do research. I was checking into a hotel in Paris several years ago and the woman in front of me was having a fit because she had a meeting in Nice in two hours and thought it was just a suburb a Paris. I will guarantee she actually blamed the hotel and her review, if she bothered to write one

There are rules you should use when reading reviews. If the reviewer ever says everybody didn't speak English immediately figure it's not worth your time and move on. If the reviewer spent in a normal amount time complaining about the airline or in this case the buses you might want to consider not bothering to read that one either. If you are looking at a two or three star hotel and the reviewer seems to have thought they were staying at the Ritz for a bargain price skip that review also. And it goes without saying if the reviewer complains They couldn't get American beer you should just ignore them completely

Posted by
3476 posts

" it will be worse than you imagined"

Right there is enough to tell me nothing on the tour would have been enough to keep this one happy. They started the tour expecting it to be bad, and with a pre conceived attitude like that they got what they expected. I never would have gone on any tour if I was expecting it to be bad.

Posted by
926 posts

I am an American and I love to do research. So easy to make generalizations. tsk tsk.

Posted by
4 posts

If you are not sure if a museum or other needs a reservation, there is always contact information in the guide books or check online. It's not hard. You can even contact the people at Rick Steves' office to ask questions. I do so much research ahead of time and look at photos, etc., that I feel I know the place before I even arrive...Ha!

Posted by
4 posts

Itinerary Sightseeing notes

(r) = reserve a time before you leave the USA
* = included in Rick's Audio Europe™ app

This is at the top of the Itinerary for the Italy My Way Tour...and next to the museums/etc. where you need to do this.

Posted by
8054 posts

As a generalization, I think a majority of people (not limited to Americans) do not research their trips well.

Obviously, posters on a travel forum are not like the majority.

Although even here, many questions show a total lack of even the simplest research.

Posted by
81 posts

My husband and I are going on our very first RS tour ever in July - Best of Ireland. I have read most of the tour book, researched the towns where we will have "time off" to know our choices of what to do, and read reviews on this forum. But, I have refrained from REALLY digging in and looking at pictures as I want to be surprised at the scenery and what we will see. I don't want to research so much that I already know what everything looks like! I think that's half of the fun of going on a trip!

Posted by
21327 posts

I assure you Linda that the real scenery will far exceed any picture or DVD. I think you can safely look at both.

Posted by
19388 posts

Linda, I agree; I find beautiful towns and vistas all the more beautiful if they're unexpected.

Posted by
440 posts

All Tours are advertised with lots of walking trekking and is pointed out at various points on the itinerary and in guidebooks. perhaps the unhappy traveler did't read properly or just likes to complain in general. RS also states peak times and off peak times so you can work out yourself if you book in peak time it is going to be busy.