Hi from Rick: "Best of Europe" Bound

Dear Traveler,

One of the great perks of my job is I get to hop on a Rick Steves tour every year. Not as the boss, but as a tour member, just like you. Which tour will I take in 2014? Keep reading, because first I want to tell you about the week I’ve had.

I’ve just wrapped up nine whirlwind days of tour planning, promotion and celebration with more than 100 tour guides along with many hundreds of past and future tour members. The guides, my staff and I worked and played together as a team for more than a week to fine-tune our tour itineraries, sharpen our teaching skills, renew old friendships, and dive into a deep pool of shared knowledge and experience. It’s this kind of collaboration that keeps the quality of our tours so high across the board, no matter where we take you or who your guide is. It’s become an annual tradition that always leaves me immensely proud to be part of this tour program.

If that’s not enough, nearly 2,000 tour alums traveled to Edmonds for our “class of 2013” reunion parties on January 18, where they spent the day reuniting with their tour buddies and guides. To keep everyone entertained before and after their parties, my staff, guides and I put on 20 “Test Drive a Tour Guide” presentations across three different venues in Edmonds, to which the public was invited as well. This has become such a popular way to shop for a tour that we also web-streamed the largest classes to a worldwide audience, live throughout the day. The energy and enthusiasm that our tour alums brought to that day was contagious. It made me think of how much fun it would be to travel with a gang of “rookie” tour members as they experience the thrills of Europe — and our tour program — for the first time.

So, this year I’ll be a tour member on the first itinerary I ever designed: our classic Best of Europe in 21 Days tour. We’ll travel together from Amsterdam to the Rhine, Rothenburg, Munich, Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Swiss Alps, Burgundy and Paris. The departure date (and the name I’ve registered under) is a secret. My fellow tour members will find out when I show up at our hotel in the Netherlands on day one That will be fun.

In keeping with this theme, we can’t help but feature our Best of Europe tours in this month’s Tour News:

You’ll find a collection of tour members’ "wow" moments, interviews with our great “Best of Europe” guides, articles on some of the wonderful places these tours visit, and more.

When I settle into one of our tours, I like the contented sigh that sweeps across my traveling soul on about day three: I'm relaxed. We're driving and I'm not paying attention to the road. I may not know exactly what we're doing after lunch, but I'm confident it'll create a life-long memory, a few laughs, and a better understanding of where I am. At the end of the day, there's a good hotel waiting for me. For dinner, along with good local food, I'll be enjoying the company of a gang of new friends who are sharing this experience with me.

In 2014, I hope you’ll be able to share those tour experiences as well.

Happy travels,