Hi from Rick: Bring the Family!

Dear Traveler,

The gift of good travel is always a beautiful thing, and that's especially true when one generation shares the adventure with another. This past year, about 3,000 of our tour members shared the wonders of Europe as a family experience. Parents and grandparents traveled across 40 different Rick Steves tour itineraries with their young-adult children, their teens, and (on our two "Family Europe" tours) pre-teens as young as eight.

Our fun, active, and educational way of touring is designed to engage all ages, and to create shared experiences that are especially rewarding for families. "What is the meaning of this!" isn't comic outrage — it's your guide's mission to explain Europe in ways that spark the imagination of every tour member. Why are there so many castles along the Rhine? How is pasta made? Why does Michelangelo's David matter? What was it like to grow up under fascism or communism? What's the first thing you say as you walk into a French bakery?

To help get you started on planning your multigenerational European adventure, here are the family travel "hot spots" in our tour program.

In terms of sheer numbers, our top tours for families with teens and young-adult children are: #1 Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days; #2 Best of Europe in 14 Days; #3 Heart of Italy in 9 Days; and #4 Best of Paris in 7 Days.

Looking at which itineraries attract the greatest proportion of young travelers (that is, the best chance your kid will meet other kids), the top tours are: #1 Family Europe: Amsterdam to Rome in 14 Days; #2 Family Europe: London to Florence in 13 Days; #3 My Way® Europe in 14 Days; #4 Best of Europe in 14 Days; and #5 My Way® Alpine Europe in 12 Days.

This month's Tour News is devoted to family touring. You'll find colorful slideshows of our Family Europe tours, raves from parents and kids, an interview with a family-focused tour guide, a lively forum discussion on "what type of person takes a Rick Steves tour" — plus discounts on some early spring tours, our January "Test Drive a Tour Guide" event, and how you just might win your next tour through our online scrapbook contest.

If the gift of travel is on your list this season, we can't wait to help you deliver it. All of us here at Rick Steves' Europe wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Happy travels,

Rick