As the 2022 tour season fast approaches, all of us at Rick Steves' Europe are busy preparing for our tour buses to starting rolling — safely and responsibly — through Europe again. And that has me thinking about my family's summer vacations when I was a kid.
Each summer, my family would board our little boat and head north on Puget Sound. If it was windy and the waves were too high, my dad would duck into the last protected harbor, and we'd wait for it to be what he called "calm as a millpond." We'd nose out each morning to check the waves, and if it was too windy, we'd go back. After a few days, Dad would realize that if we waited for perfectly calm seas, we'd miss our vacation. And he knew that, if you're smart and careful, you can still handle some waves…even if that means you need to endure a choppy ride. So, when he felt things were safe enough, we'd put on our life jackets and cruise safely north. The ride wasn't as smooth as we might have liked, but even so, eventually we'd reach the island vacation of our dreams.
For our guided bus tours, I've come to the conclusion that we can't keep waiting for waters "as smooth as a millpond." And I do believe we're very close to being able to travel safely and smartly through the choppy waters of this pandemic. With Rick Steves' Europe focused on responsible travel, we have an excellent crew and a strong and seaworthy boat. And I'm determined to be a captain who — like my dad — puts safety first.
To figure out how to travel smartly with a tour group, we ran a couple of "pilot" tours in recent months (I led a Heart of Italy tour through my favorite country, and a bus full of happy travelers enjoyed one of our Turkey tours). We learned that we can mitigate our risk by being vaccinated and boosted, and by following health and safety protocols (such as masking and testing as needed). Based on those trips, we've clarified our pandemic protocols, which we'll fine-tune as things develop. Sure, it involves a few extra hassles, but those are minor compared to the joy of traveling again.
For those ready to experience an abundance of travel joy in 2022, we still have seats available on a few of our most popular itineraries including Athens & the Heart of Greece, Best of Portugal, Best of the Adriatic, Best of Sicily, and Best of Spain. Not sure where to go? In this month's Tour News, get inspired with day-by-day slideshows of our Greece, Sicily, and Portugal tours, meet a handful of our great guides and sample tour member raves for each of these best-selling tours, and tag along on a tasty video tour of Taormina, Sicily.
On behalf of all hundred of us here at Rick Steves' Europe, and our wonderful guides awaiting your arrival in Europe, we look forward to turning your European travel dreams into smooth, affordable, and safe reality in 2022.