For decades, part of my winter routine has been lining up my travel plans for that year. (Since I realized it's even more fun to take a Rick Steves tour than to guide one, in recent years that planning has included leafing through our tour catalog and signing up for the tour that best fits my dreams.)
But of course, this year is different. And, while I believe we're finally on a glide path to normalcy for European travel, I'm still being careful and patient (no one wants to be the last person to get COVID). I'm confident that we'll reopen our tour program sometime within the next year…but only when it's safe and smart to do so.
In the meantime, our Rick Steves' Europe team — all 100 of us — is working hard to keep your travel dreams stoked and our tour program ready to kick into gear when that happy day arrives. We've also been focusing on a strategy of "content is king" — creatively keeping us all learning and staying connected with Europe.
I'm loving our Monday Night Travel Zoom parties. I've found that by reliving some of my favorite travel stories while screening my favorite video clips — and sharing those memories with thousands of folks at home — I've been able to scratch that travel itch. We've got some great events coming up, including "Insider's Rome" with my favorite Roman tour guide and good friend Francesca Caruso, "Europe's Top Musical Moments" — with a special guest appearance (me on the piano), "Great Italian Wines" — with that same pianist likely too tipsy to tickle anyone's ivories, a St. Patrick's Ireland bash, and a rollicking evening comparing travel notes and memories with Samantha Brown. It's free, it's fun, and it's the best in virtual travel!
We're also going strong with our Guides' Marketplace, which is packed with fun virtual European travel experiences and cultural insights. Each week, our staff curates a list highlighting the latest offerings, so you can get the most out of all the creative experiences (most free, some with a fee) offered by our amazing Rick Steves guides. These are a fun way to get to know a guide and virtually connect with Europe.
This month's Tour News brings you even more content to help keep those smoldering embers of travel love hot and ready to burst into happy flames of reality the moment we're free to travel safely again. Dive into France as we explore the famous medieval French city of Avignon, take a day-by-day look at our Paris & the Heart of France tour (a collection of my favorite places in and around the City of Light), and get to know France tour guide Linda Benoit-Bealing.
Yes, this has been a long pandemic. Until we end it, we all have more important challenges than booking the trip of our dreams. Let's stay safe, stay healthy, and embrace the science, societal discipline, and good governance that will enable us to beat this thing. And let's be sure to take care of our less privileged neighbors (as we are doing as a company, with our staff dedicating 400 hours each week to community service for the duration of this health crisis).
When we do finally put COVID in our rearview mirror, we'll look ahead as we turn those long-simmering travel dreams into smooth and affordable reality. And of course, at Rick Steves' Europe, we are standing by: ready, willing, and eager to be a part of your future plans. Thanks for including us in your travel dreams.
Happy (virtual for now) travels,