For more than 30 years now, I've been organizing tours, taking thousands of travelers to Europe's most thrilling destinations. I am passionate about Rick Steves tours being the best value and experience around, and can sum it all up in my 10 commitments.
1. These are Rick's babies.
I design these tours, I go on them — and I love them all.
Since the very beginning, my recipe for great tours has been simple and firm: small, energetic groups; great guides; maximum thrills per mile, minute and dollar; and business ethics that give you real peace of mind.
2. The best value in travel.
I love tapping into the efficiency that comes with a smartly designed tour — a finely crafted, low-stress, maximum-experience trip for about the same price you'd pay to go on your own.
Remember, the savings that an independent traveler may start with can be quickly eaten away by time-consuming hotel and transportation hassles, and inevitable mistakes.
My goal is for you to end up more relaxed on a tour, and at least 30% ahead in rewarding-experiences-per-day.
3. Unique experiences and memorable meals.
Our prices include all group sightseeing, all your breakfasts and other meals as specified on the tour's webpage*. If there's a great sight along your route, an interesting cultural activity, or a tasty local dish, believe me…you'll experience it!
At the same time, we design in plenty of free time. It's a sensible balance that protects your budget and gives you the freedom to make delightful discoveries on your own, with the help of your guide's advice.
*My Way "un-guided" vacations do not include guided sightseeing or dinners.
4. Educational and ethical.
The quality of your tour guide can make — or break — your travel experience. This is something I take personally. I hire guides I know and trust, and who share my love for Europe and my passion for teaching.
I also pay them full salaries. Tips and kickbacks are not allowed. This means your guide is motivated to give you the best travel experience possible — not to earn extra income on the side.
My guides are hand-picked — and passionate about teaching.
5. 100% small groups.
Since the beginning, we've built our tours around small groups to maximize our ability to sightsee, dine and sleep where mainstream groups can only dream. Our itineraries have a maximum group size of 24-28. Small groups are great and they give our tours a friendlier, family atmosphere. For us, it's the only way to go.
6. These tours are very active.
Our tours are not for everyone. They are very active — physically and socially. They're designed for energetic and curious people who are ready for the experience of a lifetime.
Museum tours, guided neighborhood walks and occasional hikes all add up to lots of time on our feet during the day. Afterward, we relax at dinner with lively conversations.
7. Centrally located hotels.
To help you feel settled for a good night's sleep, most of our stops are for two nights in a row. On a city tour you'll settle into your hotel for an entire week.
Keeping our groups small gets us into quaint, centrally located hotels in the historic heart of each city, within walking distance of the major sights. Full of personality and often family-run, our hotels are a memorable part of your trip.
So are the stairs. Many of the places we stay don't have elevators, so pack light, because you'll carry your own bags from the bus to your room.
8. Guaranteed prices.
In case the dollar weakens or the price of fuel goes up, most tour companies reserve the right to tack extra fees onto your final payment. We won't do that. Once you book your Rick Steves tour, your price will not change. While our advertised prices may change during the year, the moment you make your deposit, your personal tour price is guaranteed.
Committing to a European vacation should be a joy, not a gamble. That's why, if your plans should change, we're happy to help you switch to a new date or destination.
You'll find all the details in our Tour Conditions document. If the tour date you want is already full, you can get on a waitlist with no deposit — and no obligation. There's a very good chance you'll eventually get on that tour, or that we'll schedule a new departure within a few days of it.
10. Rick listens to you.
My favorite bedtime reading is…post-tour evaluations from our tour members. Seriously. My staff and I read each one, taking careful notes. I also keep our tours in mind every time I'm in Europe doing my guidebook research.
To translate your thoughts and my research into action, I huddle with my guides every year to update each tour itinerary so it's the best it can possibly be.