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On the Road with Rick Steves Tours

As Rick Steves' Europe starts up its tour program again, we'll be reporting every Friday about what we're learning "on the road" as the pandemic becomes endemic and we "keep on travelin'."

Week 14: May 20, 2022

Tours happily completed: 168
Tours currently on the road: 81
Travelers currently on tour: 1,614
Travelers testing positive this week: 51 (3.1%)
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; My Way Italy; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Basque Country of Spain & France; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France; Best of Eastern France; Loire to the South of France; Best of London; Best of South England; Best of Ireland; Heart of Ireland; Best of Scotland; Heart of Scotland; Best of Europe in 21 Days; Best of Europe in 14 Days; Best of Poland


General News

  • The Basque Country, Loire to the South of France, and Scotland tours had their debuts for the year. And the first ever Best of Poland tour was successfully completed! All guides reported that things went relatively smoothly and that travelers to these areas are in for a fun year ahead!
  • Mid-May marks the start of the traditional high season for European travel and this year is no exception. People from around the world are eagerly heading back to the most popular destinations, and crowds are close to the pre-pandemic levels. Smart planning (including taking a tour) is essential to maximizing your time and overall experience.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • This was our toughest week yet for COVID cases and travelers impacted. Over the past week, we had 51 people test positive (3.1% of all on the road). Two tours were hit especially hard, with over half the tour members testing positive and having to quarantine at some point.
  • Several tour guides also tested positive and were replaced by other members of our team. Again, thankfully all he cases have been relatively mild, with symptoms ranging from none to cold- and flu-like.
  • Based on local regulations, in early May we dropped the requirement for tour members to provide a negative COVID test, prior to joining the tour. We maintained the requirement to mask on the bus and continued to strongly suggest masking elsewhere. But because of the increased number of COVID cases throughout Europe and on our tours, we have reinstated the pre-tour negative test requirement. Before the Welcome meeting, guides check this, and verify that everyone in the group is fully vaccinated and boosted.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"Rick Steves' Tours picked up right where they left off pre COVID. An amazing tour with an exceptional guide (Paul) and fantastic local guides. As in the states some things are still closed or have limited hours due to staffing issues, but that didn't diminish the experience. Ireland is a beautiful, scenic country. Locals are excited to see people again & engage in conversation. Paul added wonderful experiences outside the itinerary with local flavor incorporating food, drink, music & dance. "
— Beth, Best of Ireland tour member

"We toured Central and Southern Europe for two weeks. The Rick Steves tour was well organized. The accommodations were terrific and in good locations. Our guide and bus driver had years of experience working for Rick Steves Tours! Their advice helped make touring safe and fun. Our group learned to safely travel on buses, trains and taxis. Our tour included a nice mix of scheduled activities and free time to explore on our own. Following our tour we traveled in England for two weeks on our own!"
— Vicki, Best of Europe tour member

"This was our first Rick Steves' tour and it did not disappoint! Everything went smoothy from start to finish. From our fun and informed travel guide, Daniela to our amazing bus driver, Roberto to the wonderful people and food of Italy. We covered a lot of territory and packed in a full schedule of amazing sites and experiences. Learned much from Daniela and all of the professional guides along the way! I had a wonderful time and am already planning my next Rick Steves' adventure! Thank you!"
— Daniel, Best of Italy tour member

"Tour was amazing. The tour was well put together with a good balance of site seeing and meeting with locals. The tour guide (Apostolos) was outstanding. We were concerned as we re-enter the touring scene; however, everyone (including the locals) was considerate of each other. This was our 9th trip and I think it was the best one to date."
— Myron, Athens & the Heart of Greece tour member

Week 13: May 13, 2022

Tours happily completed: 146
Tours currently on the road: 51
Travelers currently on tour: 1,182
Travelers testing positive this week: 29 (2.4%)
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; My Way Italy; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France; Best of Eastern France; Best of London; Best of South England; Best of Ireland; Heart of Ireland; Best of Europe in 21 Days; Best of Europe in 14 Days


General News

  • The majority of our tours continue to carry on as planned. Tour members, guides, drivers, hoteliers, and other partners are happy we're back and able to experience the joys of Europe and travel!
  • There was a slight rise in the percentage of travelers testing positive last week (2.4%, up from 1.9%). Most groups have been unscathed, while those hit have had one or two people test positive, with most of those cases showing up at the end of the tour when testing to re-enter the US.
  • A couple of tours have seen a more significant impact: A Best of Ireland group had six people test positive and a 14-day Best of Europe group had 10 travelers quarantine at various times during and after the tour.
  • This week we've also had one guide test positive before a tour and two guides who tested positive while on tour. While they couldn't continue with their groups, we had other guides on standby who were able to carry on with very little impact to the tour.
  • While these situations aren't fun, no one has needed medical attention. With everyone being vaccinated and boosted, the cases have either been asymptomatic or involved cold-like symptoms. Patience and flexibility continue to be paramount.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

Each week, we continue to encounter the same types of pandemic bumps. The most important lesson we've learned is that each group member not only needs to be responsible for their own health but also for the collective health of the group. For the best chance of enjoying a healthy tour, we ask our tour members to follow these basic steps:

  • Be up to date on COVID vaccinations and boosters: For each tour member we require proof of original vaccination series (either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of J&J) and all eligible boosters, in accordance with EU entry requirements. Our guides check CDC cards at the welcome meeting on the first day of the tour.
  • Wear a mask: We currently require medical-grade (N95, KN95, KF94) masks on our buses. We also ask tour members to be proactive about wearing a mask in crowded and indoor spaces whether they're with the group or enjoying free time. When travelers test positive, it's a headache. Being diligent about wearing a mask and other basic COVID hygiene is a must for a successful trip.
  • Review our Health & Safety Pledge: All tour members are required to sign our Health & Safety Pledge in order to participate on our tours. Before joining a tour, please review this agreement. Once on tour, challenging any of our health and safety policies is disruptive for the entire group. We remind tour members that our guides are following protocols set in place by our company to ensure the health and safety of the group — and a successful tour for everyone from beginning to end.
  • Listen to your guide: Our guides continue to be vigilant about asking group members to test when not feeling well and wear masks in crowded spaces. As more people are traveling and COVID cases persist, we've asked our guides to continue to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
  • Be prepared to quarantine: A small percentage of tour members have contracted COVID and needed to quarantine (5–7 days on average). The associated costs (hotel room, food, and flight changes) can get expensive, but these costs may be covered by insurance. We strongly encourage every traveler to consider travel insurance. This has proven to be a worthwhile investment for tour members who have tested positive.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"This was my fourth RS tour and it continued a streak of fantastic adventures in Europe over the last several years. Our tour guide Claudia was ready to go and navigated the COVID-19 requirements and restrictions with ease. I loved Portugal; the people we met were all very happy to see us back visiting their country. The food, if you like seafood, which I do, was fantastic, the group meals were all very good. This is a great tour and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing Portugal."
— Mark, Heart of Portugal tour member

"Our tour guide, Marianna, was the best! She was really in tune with our group and made everyone comfortable on their first trips abroad after the pandemic. The local city guides could not be beat either. I loved the balance of planned activities and free time. Of course the food and scenery couldn't be beat."
— Carol, Heart of Italy tour member

"This was our third Rick Steves tour and it was outstanding, as expected. Other than a positive COVID test the day before the scheduled fly-home day, which resulted in our staying four extra nights until a negative test, the overall experience was amazing and highly educational."
— Anne, Best of Ireland tour member

"The tour guides made the trip! Despite changes in procedures and additional restrictions due to COVID, both Trina and Vanessa handled everything flawlessly and with aplomb. They were gracious and hard working, answering questions, getting information and making the whole trip virtually problem free, easy, and totally enjoyable."
— Camile, Best of Italy tour member

Week 12: May 6, 2022

Tours happily completed: 107
Tours currently on the road: 47
Travelers currently on tour: 1,129
Travelers testing positive this week: 22 (1.9%)
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; My Way Italy; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France; Best of Eastern France; Best of London; Best of South England; Best of Ireland; Heart of Ireland; Best of Europe in 21 Days; Best of Europe in 14 Days


General News

  • The tour season is in full swing with nearly all our itineraries now running. Guides and travelers continue to send similar reports — travel is fairly normal despite COVID precautions and they’re happy to be back enjoying all that Europe offers.
  • COVID restrictions continue to ease but the virus is still present and problematic. While locals mostly carry on as normal, travelers face the reality of quarantine if they test positive. Learn how to mitigate the possibility of catching COVID below.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine tragically continues, and citizens of these two countries continue to flee. The human toll is immense, but it has not significantly impacted travel outside the immediate region. Our first ever Best of Poland tour (with all five guides who will lead the tour this year aboard) is scheduled to start this week.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

Each week, we continue to encounter the same types of pandemic bumps. The most important lesson we’ve learned is that each group member not only needs to be responsible for their own health but also for the collective health of the group. For the best chance of enjoying a healthy tour, we ask our tour members to follow these basic steps:

  • Be up to date on COVID vaccinations and boosters: To participate in an RSE tour, we require proof of original vaccination series (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, one dose of J&J) and all eligible boosters in accordance with EU entry requirements. Our guides check CDC cards at the welcome meeting on the first day of the tour.
  • Wear a mask: We currently require medical grade (N95, KN95, KF94) masks on our buses. We also ask tour members to be proactive about wearing a mask in crowded and indoor spaces whether they’re with the group or enjoying free time. When travelers test positive, it’s a headache. Being diligent about wearing a mask and other basic COVID hygiene is a must for a successful trip.
  • Review our Health & Safety Pledge: All tour members are required to sign our Health & Safety Pledge in order to participate on our tours. Before joining a tour, please review this agreement. Once on tour, challenging any of our health and safety policies is disruptive for the entire group. We remind tour members that our guides are following protocols set in place by our company to ensure the health and safety of the group — and a successful tour for everyone from beginning to end.
  • Listen to your guide: Our guides continue to be vigilant about asking group members to test when not feeling well and wear masks in crowded spaces. As more people are travelling and COVID cases persist, we’ve asked our guides to continue to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
  • Be prepared to quarantine: A small percentage of tour members have contracted COVID and needed to quarantine (5-7 days on average). The associated costs (hotel room, food, and flight changes) can get expensive, but these costs may be covered by insurance. We strongly encourage every traveler to consider travel insurance. This has proven to be a worthwhile investment for tour members who have tested positive.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"This tour was a very good way to experience Greece for the first time, and especially during COVID. We felt very safe the entire time. The tours were good with really good local guides. But the best part about our tour was our guide, Fillipos, who brought the places we visited to life with great stories and personal insight."
— Charles, Athens & the Heart of Greece tour member

"Ron and I thank you for your help and understanding after my fall that beautiful afternoon near Pitigliano during our Rick Steves Tuscany tour. Although we could not continue with you through to Lucca or on to Spain as planned, we have been able to experience other aspects of Italy and the kindness of strangers in Pitigliano and Orbetello. Most of this is due to the ability and ethos of the Rick Steves organization, of his guides and their local connections, and of fellow travelers. This is what keeps us coming back. If you plan more trips, you can be confident that with RS on your side, even an ugly fall can show you a beautiful landing."
— Leilani and Ron, Best of Tuscany tour members

"On about day eight I called Karin and told her I needed to talk with her. She intuited sufficiently to bring along COVID tests. I knew I did not have COVID symptoms but a mere miserable common cold and took the test — negative. But she was helpful and clear through the moment and clearly knew what she was doing."
— Robert, Best of Sicily tour member

Week 11: April 29, 2022

Week 11: April 29, 2022

Tours happily completed: 83
Tours currently on the road: 66
Travelers currently on tour: 1,457
Travelers testing positive this week: 18 (1.2%)
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; My Way Italy; Village Italy; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France; Best of Eastern France; Best of London; Best of South England; Best of Ireland; Heart of Ireland; Best of Europe in 21 Days; Best of Europe in 14 Days.


General News

  • Several itineraries had their 2022 debut this week: Best of Eastern France, Village Italy, My Way Italy, Best of South England, and Best of Europe in 14 Days. The tour season is almost up to full speed!
  • Our Adriatic tour was recently challenged by a 5.8 earthquake in Bosnia, resulting in the guide smartly revising the itinerary so her group could have a touching moment near the Old Town in Mostar, while keeping group safety the priority. A local guide, Edo, spoke about landslide damage caused by the incident and explained how the locals would start planting trees on land recently devastated by forest fires, as a natural barrier to prevent further landslides. As the group was leaving, an unexpected envelope was given to Edo, and more trees will be planted in the name of the TMs who witnessed that day. It was described as unbelievably beautiful. As the group settled into Mostar and sat together for dinner, they received a call from Rick. Tina conveyed the group's feelings best as "it added a bit of special to an already unique day."

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • Our guides continue to be vigilant in asking people to be proactive in the interest of group health: test when not feeling well and wear medical grade masks on our buses. Even though Europe is loosening up restirctions, COVID cases persist and we continue to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
  • Group awareness and respect is part of our ongoing theme in keeping tours on the road and groups safe and healthy. We ask tour members to wear their mask in crowded and indoor spaces whether they're with the group or enjoying free time, and to embrace the idea that staying healthy individually is key to keeping the group healthy.
  • We remind our tour members that while there's less than a 2 percent chance of contracting COVID while on tour, it can happen and a positive test can be expensive as it results in leaving the tour and/or delaying your flight home in order to quarantine. These costs (hotel room, food, and flight changes) can be covered by insurance, so we strongly recommend tour members consider insurance. Coverage, which can be purchased up until the day of departure, has been a worthwhile investment for tour members who've tested positive.
  • Although quarantine and isolation requirements vary by location, we're finding that most often the delay in returning to the US is at least 10 days. For example: If a person tests positive and isolates for five days, they must test negative on the fifth day to re-enter the US. If they continue to test positive, the CDC mandates they complete a minimum total of 10 days in quarantine before they can obtain a recovery letter signed by a doctor which allows them to re-enter the US.
  • Tour members are required to agree to our Health & Safety Pledge, COVID Liability Waiver, and company COVID policies to participate on our tours. We remind tour members that our guides are following protocols set in place by our company to ensure the health and safety of the group and a successful tour for everyone from beginning to end. That's why, so far, 98.8 percent of the travelers who've joined us in 2022 have had no COVID-related problems.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"I have looked forward to this tour since Covid cancelled my 2020 tour. It was everything I hoped for — great guide and local guides, well planned and lots to see and learn."
— Anne Marie, Best of Sicily tour member

"Navigating Covid was a challenge but doable. Love the mask requirement on bus. We wore our masks in every indoor setting and public transportation with exception of breakfast or the group meals. We ate outdoors except for group meals and masked up inside shops."
— Michael, Heart of Belgium & Holland tour member

"This was our first guided tour, but I hope it will not be our last. We were very impressed with our tour guide, Helen (who was endlessly informative and entertaining), the level of organization (especially given the two-year hiatus between tours, with many former businesses no longer in existence), and the flexible attitude of our fellow travelers. The group dinners were fun, we learned a lot, and remarked on how quiet our hotel rooms were (old buildings are the best)."
— Paula, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour member

Week 10: April 22, 2022

Tours happily completed: 65
Tours currently on the road: 57
Travelers currently on tour: 1,026
Travelers testing positive this week: 14 (1.37%)
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France; Best of London; Best of Ireland; Heart of Ireland; Best of Europe in 21 Days


General News

  • The first of our flagship itinerary, Best of Europe in 21 days is underway with veteran guide Dimi and apprentice Matti leading the group from Amsterdam, down to Rome and back up to Paris.  Regardless of how experienced, we like our guides to crosstrain throughout our tour program, so they have a familiarity and understanding of how all Rick Steves tours work. One of our long-time drivers, Richard from Heidebloem, was ecstatic to be back on the road, doing what he loves best — taking care of our travelers and his bus. This lucky tour group is in for a great experience!
  • Our Ireland program also started this week with departures of both the 8-day Heart of Ireland and the 14-day Best of Ireland tours full of happy tour members enjoying the spectacular coastlines, glorious scenery, historical sites, and music-filled pubs of the Emerald Isle.
  • When traveling, whether in a group or on your own, challenges inevitably arise. With patience, flexibility, and a positive attitude, they often make for the best adventures and memories! On a recent Spain tour, one day started cold and rainy with a road closure en route to the next stop. Then (surprise!) it snowed 5 inches! Facing these conditions, our guide Javier went into proactive mode asking for advice from a police officer and the bus was allowed access to an alternative route to the Valley of the Fallen. This gave Javier the opportunity to provide a “bonus” tour and introduction to the Spanish Civil War and the site blanketed in a winter wonderland of snow. Javier said it was one of his most surreal days ever (5 inches of snow in April? Very unexpected). Our tour members later warmed up at our tour hotel and enjoyed a paella feast.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • As preventative measures, our guides continue to be vigilant in asking people to test when not feeling well and require medical grade (N95, KN95, KF94) masks on our buses. Due to increases in positive cases in Europe, guides are raising the bar when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing. Group awareness and respect is part of our ongoing theme in keeping tours viable and tour members healthy. We ask tour members to be proactive about wearing a mask in crowded and indoor spaces whether they're with the group or enjoying free time. Even if the locals aren't so diligent, a responsibility of traveling as part of a group is taking care of our collective health. When travelers test positive, it can be a headache. It's well worth being diligent about wearing a mask and other basic COVID hygiene.
  • It's important to be aware of the reality of contracting COVID while traveling. It can be very expensive for tour members to quarantine because of a positive test result. These costs (hotel room, food, and flight changes) can be covered by insurance, so we strongly encourage every traveler to consider travel insurance. Remember coverage can be purchased up until the day of departure. This has proven to be a worthwhile investment for tour members who have tested positive.
  • Tour members are required to agree to our Health & Safety Pledge, COVID Liability Waiver, and company COVID policies to participate on our tours. Once on tour, challenging any of our safety requests or agreements can lead to disruption for the entire group. We remind tour members that our guides are following protocols set in place by our company to ensure the health and safety of the group and a great tour for everyone from beginning to end.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"This was the trip of a lifetime. We had never taken a tour before and honestly only signed up for a tour this time because we were nervous about the Covid complexities, but were amazed how much richness and depth the guides brought to our trip. Our tour guide was amazing, so skilled and caring, and so much fun! The local guides taught us so much about the history and culture of the places we visited. Absolutely everything about the trip exceeded expectations."
— Roberta, Heart of Italy tour member

"Our trip to Turkey with our guide, Yaren, was the experience of a lifetime. After ten RS tours, we really thought that we had seen the best of the best. Yaren's enthusiasm, knowledge, preparation, and genuine dedication to the care of her travelers was the best we have ever experienced within this or any other travel company. Having a resource that could speak to us on a variety of different levels about history, archaeology, art, religion, and the development of the Republic was great."
— Raeford, Best of Turkey tour member

"Our guide always brought the history together for you as you traveled through the sites. Was fun and shared her love of Greece and its culture. Totally enjoyed “bus talks.” Maria was very helpful when decisions had to be made with Covid exposures. I know it was also difficult for her to have to leave members behind. She made sure we were taken care of."
— Ruth, Best of Greece tour member

"From my perspective, Karin handled the Covid incident extremely well and professional. She shared equal concern for both the impacted Covid tour member and the rest of the tour group. Between Karin and folks following her guidance, no one else was impacted and the tour proceeded just fine. Kudos to everyone involved."
— Robert, Best of Sicily tour member

"Nina was an enthusiastic and very empathetic guide. She worked constantly behind the scenes to make sure in advance that each day came off as smoothly as possible. The local guides were all very good to excellent. Overall we had an excellent time as we always do with RS tours."
— John, Heart of Belgium & Holland tour member

Week 9: April 15, 2022

Week 9: April 15, 2022

Tours happily completed: 50
Tours currently on the road: 25
Travelers currently on tour: 524
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of the Adriatic; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Best of Tuscany; Best of South Italy; Best of Sicily; Best of Venice, Florence & Rome; Best of Italy; Heart of Italy; Best of Rome; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland; Best of Paris; Paris & the Heart of France


General News

  • This week's list of 16 Rick Steves itineraries currently on the road includes the debut of our new Best of Tuscany tour, the first-ever departure for this itinerary, after many years of planning. It was all set to launch in 2020 with eight sold out departures but never ran due to the pandemic. In the fall of 2019, a group of guides who will lead the tour this year along with the office staff who support it, did a trial run, and are now thrilled to get it underway. It was definitely worth the wait! Look for more details next week as we report on the completion of this exciting new tour.
  • Tours continue to run as scheduled and mostly as planned. While we've had several travelers who've tested positive for COVID, none have resulted in any illness that required medical attention. Thankfully, as we require all our tour members and guides to be fully vaccinated and boosted, cases have been mild to asymptomatic.
  • Countries continue to update and relax their COVID protocols with many moving forward as if the most serious part of the pandemic is over. In general, Europe has higher vaccination rates which allows them to be more relaxed than the US. While masking mandates are slowly lifting in Europe, on our tours we require masking on buses and strongly encourage masking indoors and in crowds, for the protection of all. A negative test is still required within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the US which can ground anyone who tests positive, even if asymptomatic. Our policies are intended to protect the group and for all to enjoy a worry-free trip.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • With Europe further easing COVID restrictions and the number of tour members increasing, we've seen a slight increase in our group members testing positive, most often as they test for their return to the US. Thankfully, all who've tested positive have been asymptomatic or have had mild symptoms with no need for medical attention. However, testing positive means they must quarantine in accordance with the specific country's regulations (usually about five days but may be longer if positive tests persist). In total, we've had about 40 cases among the 1000+ travelers that have completed our tours, so far. In other words, about 4 percent of our travelers (one out of 25) have tested positive resulting in quarantines and delayed homecomings.
  • Our guides continue to be vigilant in asking people to test when not feeling well and to wear masks on the bus and when indoors. Because of the positive tests, guides are raising the bar when it comes to mask wearing and social distancing.
  • One lesson we've learned: having to delay your return home because of a positive test can be expensive (room and food for the days you're in quarantine and changing your flight return date). As these costs can be covered by insurance, we strongly encourage every traveler to consider travel insurance. Remember travel insurance can be purchased up until the day of departure. This has proven to be a worthwhile investment for tour members who have tested positive.

A shout out and praise to our European superheroes of the week!

  • In Greece, Panos Angelo at the Hotel Panorama in Monemvasia, along with Greece guide Maria and office staff, assisted in helping a group of COVID-positive travelers with accommodation, food, and post-quarantine transportation back to Athens. (In this case, seven people tested positive on one of our Greece tours and two travel partners stayed with them.) Rumor has it they made the most of their extended vacation, enjoying food, wine, and outdoor (masked) walks. They have been forever dubbed the "Covidteers"!
  • In Sicily, Giacomo at the Hotel Romano House in Catania, was instrumental in helping a quarantined tour member navigate Italian regulations and get home after her isolation period was complete. It's because of our friends in Europe that we can safely and successfully support our tour members as we navigate the inevitable COVID challenges.
  • To make the most of your tour, mask up and take all precautions recommended by RSE and your guide. While breakthrough cases happen, wearing a mask and taking simple precautions are the surest ways to enjoy your trip and return home as planned!

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"Just finished my first Heart of Belgium and Holland tour. We had snow, heavy rain, icy winds, hail, and some sun, but the group was incredibly resilient. Much respect to the tour members who were very flexible and complied with all the mask wearing rules!"
— Nico, Heart of Belgium & Holland tour guide

"I just finished my third tour of the season, and I am on a constant wave of happiness and gratitude to be able to do again what I love. Coming back to the cities and places I have not been to for over two years makes my heart beat a little faster and seeing all my friends fills me with immense joy. Finally, we are reunited again. What makes me the happiest is seeing again the smiling faces and teary eyes of our guests, whose travel dreams finally became a reality. Pure joy!"
— Tina, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour guide

"Very informed, personable guide who helped to keep us all safe from COVID. Great cities with so many wonderful sites. Good balance of planned tours and free time. Being an experienced traveler, but not having traveled for several years, I had some anxiety, especially with COVID. Providing expectations about walking and terrain allowed me to prepare in advance and understand the rigors. Although we were tired, who is not when you pack lots of things into a ten-day vacation?"
— Susan, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour member

"The whole tour experience with RSE far exceeded any expectation I may have had. The rooms were relatively large and comfortable, the staff from hotel owners down to the maids were very friendly, welcoming, and helpful. The breakfasts and dinners were excellent. The tour guides were all friendly, knowledgeable, and patient with all our questions. And finally, the combination of guided tours and free time provided a perfect balance to see all we came to see!"
— Martin, Heart of Italy tour member

Week 8: April 8, 2022

Week 8: April 8, 2022

Tours happily completed: 35
Tours currently on the road: 18
Travelers currently on tour: 414
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of Sicily; Heart of Italy; Best of Turkey; Best of Rome; Venice, Florence & Rome; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland, Best of Paris


General News

  • It was our busiest week yet, with over 400 travelers on tour across the continent. Logistically, we're finding that entry into museums, sights, and restuarants hasn't been a problem. All our travelers are required to be vaccinated and boosted and the CDC vaccination card qualifies for the local equivalent, which provides easy access to venues. Travel is back and getting ever closer to normal!

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • Travel is indeed getting closer to normal but COVID cases continue to pop up with about 15 cases amid 400 travelers. The most common incidence is when people take the required test before flying back to the US and get a positive result. Thankfully most cases have been asymptomatic or extremely mild. So far, no one has required medical attention.

    The bigger issue is local quarantine requirements. In most countries, there's a five-day quarantine once someone tests positive and that time is spent in a hotel. If asymptomatic, they're allowed to go out but masking is required. As soon as they test negative, or when the five-day quarantine (with no symptoms) is completed, they're allowed to move on and continue their travels. Our policy is that they can't rejoin the tour. However, we remain in contact to ensure they're well taken care of and have what they need to manage their quarantine and safely return home. We also offer a generous COVID refund policy if tour days are missed.

    With the potential for the additional costs of extended hotel stays, food services, and airline change fees, we continue to remind tour members they can purchase travel insurance up until the day of departure.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"I was planning my very first trip to Europe and I had always wanted to go to Paris, France! I had watched Rick Steves for years on PBS and he was always so helpful about European travel tips. I decided to book a tour with his company, and I was not disappointed! We hit everything that I had wanted to hit! We even got free time to go and explore on our own. I stayed on an extra week after the tour to do some more sightseeing and my guide was so helpful in answering any questions I had."
— Erika, Best of Paris tour member

"Wonderful, amazing...met and exceeded past experiences with RS. Appreciate the attention paid to Covid related challenges with traveling again. The smaller tour size made things more comfortable in post-Covid times. Alfio excelled in knowledge and ability to share his country."
— Diane, Best of Sicily tour member

"After very difficult years we are back! 12 days In Portugal! Cheers to life!"
— Claudia, Best of Portugal tour guide

Week 7: April 1, 2022

Tours happily completed: 25
Tours currently on the road: 20
Travelers currently on tour: 359
Itineraries in gear: Athens & the Heart of Greece; Best of Sicily; Heart of Italy; Best of Turkey; Best of Rome; Venice, Florence & Rome; Heart of Portugal; Best of Spain; Best of Barcelona & Madrid; Heart of Belgium & Holland, Best of Paris


General News

  • Seven more tours are in the books for the 2022 tour season bringing the total completed to 25. That's two and half times as many that ran in all of 2020! And we're just getting started. This week the Best of Spain and Heart of Belgium & Holland tours made their debuts for the season. While Italy, Greece, and Turkey continue with a variety of itineraries and departures in motion. Generally mild weather makes those destinations favorites during this time of year. Our guides are absolutely thrilled to be back on the road with their Rick Steves tour groups.
  • We continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine and the impact on the neighboring countries. While we don't have any tours currently operating in the area, we've been getting reports from our local guides, keeping us appraised of the situation. Budapest native George Farkas shared this comment from private clients he recently explored his beautiful city with: "We did have concerns about traveling to the region given what we hear about the conflict and refugees. We found the tourist areas of Budapest orderly, clean, and quite easy to navigate by public transportation. Everything was quite normal! We enjoyed our visit and our tours with you!" Our first Eastern European tours get underway next month and are scheduled to run as normal. There's still space available on some departures for intrepid travelers interested in exploring this fascinating part of Europe (offering a closer-yet-still-safe encounter with history).

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • As the number of tours and travelers on the road increase, inevitably so have the incidences of COVID among the tour members. We've had fewer than 10 positive cases among over 500 travelers and never more than 2 on any tour. As all of the participants are fully vaccinated and boosted, the cases have been mild to asymptomatic and no doctor or hospital visits have been required.
  • Per our COVID protocol, if a tour member tests positive, they cannot continue with the tour and must abide by local regulations. The guides, hotel, and home office work together to help make that transition go smoothly and ensure the tour members are well supported. The biggest impact is that some countries still require a quarantine period (about 5 days) to minimize the chance of the virus spreading. While the risk of contacting COVID while traveling is low, and countries are rapidly easing their restrictions, it's very helpful to have travel insurance in case the unexpected happens.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"It was so great to be back traveling! Sicily is an amazing place, worth more than one trip. The hotels and included meals were great, and the sights and activities fascinating. We had a small group — only 12 people — and it was a very compatible, friendly and fun group. I was traveling solo and, by the final day, had shared meals with everyone. Alfio is an exceptional guide — knowledgeable, organized, warm, friendly, with a good sense of humor."
— Esther, Best of Sicily tour member

"This was my first group tour and of course first Rick Steves tour. Our tour guide Nina was great. I felt confident in her hands. Everything was organized, her suggestions were excellent, and everything seemed to go smoothly. From tickets and entry into sightseeing venues, timing, local guides, transportation, and group meals."
— Felice, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour member

"Our guide Helen was fantastic. She shared her knowledge of Spain and was very helpful and made the complete trip fun and exciting. Helen and all the local guides were knowledgeable and shared their passion for their city and the sites of their city. The tour was designed to allow for free time to explore the cities on our own, which was very nice. All the restaurants, the hotels, and planned activities were excellent. I would highly recommend this tour."
— Dennis, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour members

Week 6: March 25, 2022

Tours happily completed: 18
Tours currently on the road: 9
Travelers currently on tour: 165
Itineraries in gear: Greece; Sicily; Heart of Italy; Best of Turkey; Best of Istanbul; Venice, Florence & Rome; Heart of Portugal


General News

  • Last week six more tours were successfully completed, and things continue to go well. Now the tour season is really ramping up and this is our busiest week yet! Several tours (Heart of Italy, Best of Turkey and Istanbul, and the Heart of Portugal) had their debuts for the year. Savvy travelers have found that this a great time of year to travel, with a combination of fewer crowds and mild weather (a small storm in Greece aside).

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • After 15 tours, we finally had our first incidence of COVID within the group. Due to our high standards and protocol, our guide immediately isolated the tour member, worked with our tour hotel, and contacted the RSE home office for further support. The remaining tour members tested negative. We celebrated happy post-tour travel plans for most and wished others a safe return to their family and friends. Our recovering TM continues to be well cared for while waiting for their five-day quarantine to end. We have no doubt that vigilance of our guide and group limited the spread and kept our TMs healthy and safe. It was also a good reminder to strongly consider buying travel insurance for any trips during this time.
  • A couple of other times, TMs had a positive COVID test but thankfully it was the result of a sensitive test, rather than an active case. In addition to being fully vaccinated, they'd also recovered from COVID several months prior and their bodies still carried a high enough viral load to trigger a positive test. This was quickly resolved by calling their family doctor, having a virtual assessment, and receiving a COVID Recovery Certification for their flight home.
  • We've had several tour members report that they had trouble with the automated airline check-in systems not recognizing a valid booster date, which has led to a rejected verification. Thankfully, the situation was easily resolved by calling the airline and speaking to a specialist. The moral continues to be — be prepared and be patient.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"Overall, my favorite wow experience was meeting remarkable people, both those who were on our tour, and the wonderful, kind, caring and friendly citizens of Spain. We were members of the inaugural tour, following two years of pandemic, and we were greeted by our local guides, wait staff, housekeepers, musicians on the streets of Madrid, and fellow human beings as if we were royalty. Muy bueno!"
— Mary, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour member

"It was so great to be back on the road again with RS! I loved the hotels and to be transported effortlessly from one town to another was the perfect vacation. Alfio did a great job of creating a fun and positive atmosphere."
— James, Best of Sicily tour member

"I was extremely impressed with Nina who was our guide on the Venice, Florence, and Rome tour. Due to covid restrictions some of the planned group tours were not possible. She and the extended RS team quickly came up with other activities. I never felt like I missed out on anything."
— Jan, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour members

"Due to the time of the year and Europe just coming out of covid there were fewer crowds and less visitors overall. This lack of heavy crowds and our ability to see so many of the sights without being packed into areas made for a great experience! Don't know if we could ever experience these sights the same again."
— Roney, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour members

Week 5: March 18, 2022

Tours happily completed: 12
Tours on the road: 6
Travelers on tour: 97
Itineraries in gear: Greece; Sicily; Rome; Barcelona & Madrid; Venice, Florence & Rome


General News

  • Restrictions continue to ease across Europe, although there are varying requirements in each country. We prepare our tour members for the latest conditions and continually evaluate and update our protocol. Our goal is to keep all our travelers (and team) healthy, so we continue to enforce our established COVID requirements, regardless of the local situation.
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not impacted any tours that are currently running. Our Eastern European guides, from bordering countries, report there has been great support for the refugees fleeing Ukraine, but otherwise travel conditions and life remain relatively normal. They're helping to support the ongoing humanitarian crisis by housing refugees and working at welcome centers. Our thoughts and well wishes continue to be with the Ukranian people and others directly effected by the invasion.
  • Rick arrives in Europe this week to work on updating guidebooks and filming for upcoming television shows. Rick's co-author Cameron Hewitt has been on the ground for the last few weeks updating guidebooks for London and Rome. Like all our travelers, they're fully vaccinated, have their CDC cards (and a photo-copied backup), and before departing made sure they knew if a negative test was needed for their arrival country (British Air to London, not needed). They also checked about passenger locator forms and found they were no longer needed for London. Rick's thankful for the great guiding done by our wonderful team of guides and thrilled that so many of our travelers are finally enjoying the European trip of their dreams...on a Rick Steves tour bus! (And he's still enjoying telephoning guides and groups when he can during their welcome dinners in Europe.)

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • No pandemic bumps to report this week. Although, we did run into some stormy weather while our Greece tour was on the island of Hydra. To ensure our group would have plenty of time to get to their post-tour flights, guides Filippos and Iris with support from the home office, arranged for the group to get off the island a day early in case the ferry service was disrupted. Although this resulted in a small itinerary change, the group was able to enjoy an extra day in Athens and not worry about missing their flights home.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying This Week

"My wife and I took our 3 adult children and daughter in-law on this trip and all of us had a wonderful time. The tour guide Tom was excellent. Knowledgeable and funny! Adjustments due to Covid i.e. a little more outside stuff and avoiding the tube during peak hours were well coordinated and not an issue. Several of us were very familiar with London and for others a first time visit and this trip worked for all."
— Thomas, Best of London tour member

"What an incredible vacation! As always, the Rick Steves Group delivered! Our tour guide (Tom) was the best! After 28 months of being in "limbo" due to the Virus issues, Rick and his team totally delivered! I am already planning my next trip! Many thanks to Tom and your team!!"
— Ken, Best of London tour member

"It was great! Donald was a great guide and the group of people we had on this journey was outstanding! I am so glad we were one of the first groups to venture out and get reconnected with Italy and Europe."
— Xanic, Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour members

"RSE had everything covered and thought out for us…smoothing the post-Covid way for us and still leaving us plenty of room to explore on our own. The pace and itinerary were just right for our first visit to Sicily."
— Kristin, Best of Sicily tour members

"This was a bucket list trip for me and my first tour experience. My husband and I prided ourselves on not being "tour people" but we have seen the light! Traveling is work but this tour experience made it feel more like a vacation since all the planning and research was done for us and the efficiency on tour made the trip a breeze. Our fabulous guide Nina was icing on the cake. She was fun, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. I wanted to learn about Sicily, not just visit it. Nina made that happen."
— Jeanne, Best of Sicily tour members

Week 4: March 11, 2022

Week 4: March 11, 2022

Tours happily completed: 9
Tours on the road: 4
Travelers on tour: 71
Itineraries in gear: Greece; Sicily; Barcelona & Madrid; Venice, Florence & Rome


General News

  • Our Greek guides Filippos and Iris returned to tour, almost exactly two years after having their previous tour interrupted at the onset of the pandemic. A pleasant surprise awaited them at the welcome meeting, when two travelers from the 2020 tour were back to finish what they started. That’s perseverance!
  • Restrictions continue to ease across Europe, although there are varying requirements in each country. We prepare our tour members for the latest conditions and continually evaluate and update our protocol. Our goal is to keep all our travelers (and team) healthy, so we continue to enforce our established COVID requirements, regardless of the local situation.
  • Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow….in Greece? Indeed, our Greek guide Filippos reported that "Storm Filippos" (yes, that is the name meteorologists have dubbed it) has brought unseasonably low temperatures and snowy conditions. Our ever-supportive staff at Rick Steves' Europe, along with Filippos and Iris, have back-up plans ready and waiting if needed. Most importantly, this is not stopping our hearty, flexible tour members from having fun! We are hoping to see Greek snowmen and snowball fights ensue.
  • Our Turkish guide team recently held their annual guide summit in preparation for the upcoming season. They gathered for several days in Istanbul to discuss the itineraries, updated COVID protocols, and share ideas on great guiding. On the heels of a special Best of Turkey tour, only for Rick Steves guides, they're ready and ecstatic to welcome travelers back to Turkey and to share their dynamic and fascinating country. The fortunate RS guides on that tour last November raved that it was the trip of lifetime! Regular tours begin later this month and there a few seats still available and waiting for adventurous travelers.
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not impacted any tours that are currently  running. Our Eastern European guides, from bordering countries, report that there has been great support for the refugees fleeing Ukraine, but otherwise travel conditions and life remain relatively normal.
  • Rick is flying to Europe next week. Like all our travelers, he is fully-vaccinated, has his CDC card (and a photo-copied backup), made sure he knew if a negative test was needed for the country he is flying into (British Air to London, not needed), and will fill out the passenger locator form before heading out to the airport (as required by BA). He's thankful for the great guiding done by our wonderful team of guides and thrilled that so many of our travelers are finally enjoying the European trip of their dreams ... on a Rick Steves tour bus! (And he's still enjoying telephoning guides and groups when he can during their welcome dinners in Europe.)

     


Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • We continue to wear KN95 masks when on the bus and enclosed areas, however, when outside or uncrowded locations, it hasn't been necessary to wear masks. Restaurants continue to space tables at a safe distance for our tour members. Not only does this keep our groups healthy by balancing Rick Steves expectations and local regulations, but opens the door for thriving social bonding and mixing with the locals.
  • We've learned that while some testing sites, labs, or pharmacies in a city or around the hotel may be closed on Sunday, others remain open and accessible. Our ever savvy, friendly hotel staff have been able to direct tour members to nearby facilities, in order to complete their pre-tour COVID testing. This requirement for all Rick Steves Tours maintains our commitment to traveling wisely, and replacing traveler anxiety with fun- filled memories.
  • Some travelers continue to forget that we require a negative COVID test, taken within 48 hours of the tour start date. Thankfully, these are easy to get from local pharmacies (located near tour hotels; takes about 30 minutes, costs around $25). Our guides are leaving notices at the hotel, so everyone remembers before attending the welcome meeting. We're confirming vaccination status and a negative test for all tour members before the meeting gets underway. Knowing we’re all set; the fun part of the tour begins!

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying

"Outstanding and amazing. I've never done a group tour before and wasn't sure I'd like it, but it's well worth it. All of the guides were personable and well informed. The tours and logistics were well planned and seamless. It was the right mix of guided bits and time on my own. I liked meeting the other people on the tour — they were experienced travelers, and I learned a lot from them also, and they were people I might not have chance to meet at home."
— Kathleen, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour member

"With COVID such a challenge to travel, I so appreciated your valuable updates on what we needed to do and what we could expect abroad. And I'm thrilled to be able to say I was on one of the first Rick Steves Europe tours after the pandemic. Yay!!"
— Linda, Best of Paris tour member

"Staff was very good about responding and helping with any pre-tour questions and preparations. It was very nice to have a backup and knowledgeable staff at hand regarding all the changing Covid climates."
— Carrie, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour members

"We were one of the first tours to travel in the pandemic, so we all were learning. The group was wonderful, the tour guide was great, and the experiences were fantastic."
— Richard, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour members

Week 3: March 4, 2022

Tours happily completed: 8
Tours on the road: 1
Travelers on tour: 9
Itineraries in gear: Sicily


General News

  • Our first multi-city bus tour (Sicily) was just successfully completed. Traveling on our private coach allowed for plenty of room to spread out. The group wore masks as we require in all indoor situations. And everyone enjoyed a healthy trip!
  • Restrictions continue to ease across Europe, although there are varying requirements in each country. We prepare our tour members for the latest conditions and continually evaluate and update our protocol. Our goal is to keep all our travelers (and team) healthy, so we continue to enforce our established COVID requirements, regardless of the local situation.
  • Entering restaurants and sites continues to be easy. As we're all fully vaccinated and boosted, we can just flash our American CDC card, which also qualifies us for the local equivalent.
  • Hoteliers, restauranteurs, local guides, and other long-time collaborators have been ecstatic to welcome travelers back.
  • In a sign that life is returning to normal, our Paris group encountered a public transportation strike. As usual, our guide found an alternative solution and all worked out well. Vive la France!

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • Several travelers have forgotten we require a negative COVID test, taken within 48 hours of the tour start date. Thankfully, tests are easy to get from local pharmacies (located near tour hotels; takes about 30 minutes, costs around $25). Our guides are leaving notices at the hotel, so everyone is reminded before attending the welcome meeting. We confirm vaccination status and a negative test result for all tour members, before the meeting gets underway. Knowing we're all set, the fun part of the tour begins!

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying

"It was a great feeling being on one of the first Rick Steves' tours in nearly two years! We had a great group of travelers paired with a fantastic guide. This was my third Rick Steves' tour, and it has made me look forward to planning my fourth one hopefully in the near future."
— Rebecca, Best of Paris tour member

"We were apprehensive about traveling during the pandemic, but things worked out. We were tested before the tour started, so we knew that everyone in our group was safe. Also, Spain has a higher percentage of people vaccinated than the US. Everyone was masked up indoors, so we felt comfortable wherever we went."
— Terry, Best of Barcelona & Madrid tour member

"My husband and I agreed long ago that we would join one of the very first RSE tours when they became available again, and that's what we did. We just finished the February 20 Best of Rome in 7 Days tour. In a way we felt like pioneers navigating the COVID requirements of the airlines, our Rick Steves tour, and for entering Italy and returning to the US. It was a fabulous, fun, and educational week and we were extremely happy to be traveling again. We felt perfectly safe moving about Rome. Each of us followed the city's rules about showing our CDC cards and wearing masks when required. The trip was easy, fun, and if you can, KEEP ON TRAVELING!"
— Vicky and Tom, Best of Rome tour members

Week 2: February 25, 2022

Tours happily completed: 4
Tours on the road: 4
Travelers on tour: 69
Itineraries in gear: Venice, Florence & Rome, Sicily, London, Rome


General News

  • Entering restaurants and sites has been easier than anticipated. As we're all fully vaccinated, we can just flash our American CDC card.
  • Even with outside mask mandates lifted in Italy, many locals continue to wear them. It's more out of the norm to not wear masks. Our groups are wearing masks when on the bus and when inside (except when eating/drinking or in their hotel rooms).
  • All travelers have been required to show a negative COVID test before flying back to the US and they've found these are easy to get from local pharmacies (located near tour hotels, takes about 30 minutes, costs around $25).
  • Hoteliers, restauranteurs, local guides and other long-time collaborators have been ecstatic to welcome travelers back!
  • Rick continues to telephone groups to wish them well at their welcome dinner.

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • The only COVID-related issues have to do with different degrees of enforcement for proof of vaccination. While a few travelers have had some confusion with their booster dates, ultimately, everyone has been able to get into all the sites and activities, as planned.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying

"It is a blessing to have a vacation here in Italy surrounded with beauty and with our talented tour guide, Tina, who is helping us a lot. We feel very safe during this trip. We also enjoy our time together with our new tour friends."
— Iacinta and Ryan Nielsen, Venice, Florence & Rome tour members

"We are so happy to visit Europe with Rick Steves Best of Venice, Florence, & Rome tour. In these uncertain times we are so happy to say everything has felt very safe and we are having the time of our lives! Plus having an awesome tour guide that is very informed with the 'new normal' has been a major help for any insecurities we may have had. Get out there and travel! You won't regret it!""
— Nick and Kristen Crook, Venice, Florence & Rome tour members

"Italy has lifted restrictions, but a lot of groups are wearing masks. They are required in the Colosseum, even though it is outdoors. Even when outside, individuals are about 50/50 with masks."
— Karin Kibby, Venice, Florence & Rome guide

"Fantastic to be back on the road amongst way more travelers than I anticipated!"
— Patrick Vidal, Paris guide

Week 1: February 18, 2022

Tours on the road: 5
Travelers on tour: 66
Itineraries in gear: Barcelona & Madrid, Paris, Venice, Florence & Rome


General News

  • Rick phoned guides during welcome dinners to virtually clink glasses with "the vanguard" tours.
  • All museums are admitting groups as planned (if fully vaccinated and wearing masks).
  • Tours are running as expected. Crowds are low and tour members ar happy to be in Europe!

Pandemic Bumps — Lessons Learned

  • Airlines are carefully checking vaccination status. You may be denied entry into some countries if you can't prove the full series of vaccines and boosters.
  • Getting tested upon arrival is easy and quick. Tour hotels know the nearest testing locations, usually a nearby pharmacy and tests cost about $20. ​
  • Countries are enforcing their COVID policies to different degrees. France has some of the strictest requirements but having a CDC card with required vaccines and boosters makes for smooth sailing.
  • Travelling with a smartphone is helpful. Some countries prefer an app with a QR code that verifies vaccination status (easily obtainable at pharmacies).
  • Bottom line: If you're fully vaccinated and boosted, it's easy to follow the required procedures once you're in country.

What Guides and Tour Members Are Saying

"This has been a very emotional tour for me too. I have been crying because of happiness couple of times already and I am sure it is not over with the tears yet. It is so nice to be back doing what we love. I still want to pinch myself at times that it is not just a dream."
— Tina, Venice, Florence & Rome guide

"Getting into Spain was easy. Just fill everything out online and breeze on through."
— Carly, Barcelona & Madrid tour member

"Having a great time in Barcelona. I had a Covid test here and it was very easy."
— Julie, Barcelona & Madrid tour member