For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ.

Tours FAQ

The quickest way to find answers to your questions about our guided tours is to review the most frequently asked questions below. If you can't find the information you're looking for, please contact Tour Sales & Service.

Post-COVID Touring

Can I book a 2021 tour?

If Europe's early reopening goes well, we hope to run some tours in late 2021. For now, we've cancelled all our departures through September and are keeping a close eye on evolving conditions. If we determine we can run any 2021 tours safely and reliably, we'll open any available dates for booking. These tours may need to be flexible on itinerary specifics.

Will you be running tours in 2022?

Yes! We've lined up a full slate of Europe tours for 2022, and they're available to book now. Start browsing — we expect them to fill up quickly.

What happens if I sign up for a 2022 tour, but then a date opens up in 2021 that I prefer?

If a tour you prefer opens in late 2021, as long as a seat is available, you'll be able to apply your 2022 deposit to the new date. (You're responsible for any costs associated with rebooking your flights and/or pre- and post-tour hotels.)

How do I apply a credit to my tour?

You can submit your booking request online and we’ll automatically apply any credits we find attached to your account.

How will tours be different post-COVID?

We're still working out the details, which will be made clear to anyone who signs up for a tour. A few changes are already known: We've always prided ourselves on our small groups (28 travelers maximum) and are considering reducing group sizes even further, where possible. And, of course, we'll strictly adhere to all COVID-19 health guidelines (including vaccination requirements) in any country we travel to.

Will I need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to take a tour?

We strongly recommend all travelers be vaccinated against COVID-19 (and up to date with regular immunizations including the annual flu shot) before joining a tour. You'll need to be able to present one of the following: an authentic COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing date(s) and time(s) of vaccination(s) with the final dose having been given at least 14 days prior to your tour departure date, OR a verifiable negative PCR test result for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of your tour departure date. However, our tours visit a wide variety of destinations where the governments, local authorities, and other entities (hotels, restaurants, sites) may require proof of vaccination. We'll do our best to keep our tour members informed of any requirements prior to traveling with us.

Will I need a negative COVID-19 test prior to departing for my tour?

You'll need to be able to present either an authentic COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a verifiable negative PCR test result for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of your tour departure date. Your airline and/or the countries you're visiting may have other requirements. It's up to you to be aware of the rules where you'll be traveling.

What happens if I get sick on tour?

We expect tour members to monitor their health and only travel if they're feeling well. However, getting sick while on tour can happen to anyone — and it can affect not just your trip, but your fellow tour members' trip, too. If you start to feel sick during your tour, notify your guide right away, so they can direct you to a local clinic or pharmacy for diagnosis and treatment. If anyone has a confirmed case of COVID-19, we'll follow the requirements of the local health authorities.

What's the best way to stay healthy while traveling?

For advice on how to stay healthy while on tour, see Rick's article: Tips for Healthy, Happy Travels.

 

Tour Reservations

How do I sign up for a tour and how much is the deposit?

When our tours are open, bookings can be made on our website with a $400 deposit for each traveler. While we're holding off on restarting our tour program for 2021, we hope to start booking seats for 2022 by early summer.

How do I apply a credit to my tour?

You can submit your booking request online and we’ll automatically apply any credits we find attached to your account.

What is your cancellation policy?

For tours departing in 2022, deposits received before December 2, 2021,  are 100% refundable until December 31, 2021. Deposits received on or after December 2, 2021, are  fully refundable for 30 days from the date  they are  received (or until the final payment due date, whichever comes first).

How will I receive a refund?

If possible, refunds will be issued against the original form of payment (credit card, ACH, check, or re-issued Rick Steves' credit). If we're not able to refund the original form of payment, we'll send a check.

Are prices per person?

Yes: Prices are per person, in US dollars. The price of your tour is guaranteed the moment we receive your deposit.

Are flights included in the tour price?

No, our tour prices don't include airfare. Your flight arrangements are completely up to you.

Are there any age restrictions for tour members?

We have no official upper age restrictions as long as you're physically fit and a strong walker, but we do have some guidelines for children. Teens are welcome on all Rick Steves tours. Kids 8 and older are welcome on our Family Europe tours and My Way® vacation packages. Tour members under 18 must room with a parent or guardian.

What types of rooms are available?
  • Shared Rooms for Solo Travelers: We assign solo travelers of the same gender to shared rooms with two twin beds at no additional charge. If a tour has multiple solo travelers, we'll rotate roommates at each hotel.
  • Private Single Rooms: We have a limited number of extra-cost private single rooms. The single supplement fee guarantees a private single room, which is often the smallest, most basic room type in European hotels. 
  • Rooms for Couples: Couples are usually given rooms with one double bed, but two twin beds are also possible. Queen- and king-size beds generally aren't an option in most of the hotels we stay in.
  • Twin Rooms: Rooms with two twin-size beds tend to be best for friends and siblings rooming together. Some of these twins can be cozy — separate mattresses and bedding placed side-by-side within one bed frame.
  • Triple Rooms: A typical triple room has one double bed plus a single bed, rollaway, or cot. While we can request three twin beds, this configuration isn't common (for this reason, we do not recommend triple rooms for three adults).
What is a “Single Supplement”?

It's an additional fee that guarantees a private single room for a solo traveler. Single supplement costs vary by tour and can be found on each tour's webpage.

When and how should I pay the remainder of my tour balance?

The remaining balance for your tour is due 60 days prior to departure. For your convenience, we offer secure online payment options for both electronic check and credit card. We also accept personal checks (US bank accounts only), bank drafts or money orders in US dollars (US or Canadian banks only), and wire transfers.

Can I transfer a reservation from one tour to another?

Yes: Up to 60 days prior to your original tour's departure date, you can transfer to any other tour in the same calendar year as long as seats are available on the tour you want. Please call us at 425-608-4217 to arrange this. Any changes in the tour price will be reflected on your new invoice.

Should I purchase trip insurance?

For information about insurance, please see Rick's article "Do I need travel insurance?"

What tour discounts does Rick Steves offer?
  • Tour Alum: Tour Alums receive a $50 discount for each tour taken prior to the departure year of a new booking. The discount is valid on one tour per calendar year and it is not transferable, but it is cumulative. For example, if you've traveled with us on two previous tours, you would receive a $100 discount when you book a third tour departing in a new calendar year. During the online booking process, you'll have the opportunity to note if you've traveled with us previously. We will apply the correct Tour Alum discount to your final invoice.
  • Multi-Tour: When you take more than one tour during the same calendar year, you'll receive a $100 per person discount for each additional tour you book. During the online booking process, you'll see your multi-tour discount listed on your order.
  • Cash/Check: Pay your tour balance amount by cash or check, and you'll receive a 2% discount.
  • Kids: Children age 8–17 receive a $200 discount on our two Family Tour itineraries.
Do you offer tour gift certificates?

Yes. To purchase a gift certificate by phone, call 425-608-4220. You can also fax or mail your gift certificate order form to our office.

How do I redeem a gift certificate?

To redeem a gift certificate for a tour, call us at 425-608-4217, or bring your certificate to our office in Edmonds, WA.

Waitlists

What does “Waitlist” mean and how does it work?

A Waitlist departure date means there are currently no seats available. You can submit an order for any waitlisted tour without paying a deposit. If seats open up, we'll send an email to everyone on the Waitlist and the seats will be filled on a first come, first served basis. A deposit of $400 per person is required to secure the seat(s).

How many Waitlists can I be on at the same time?

You may be on up to five Waitlists. To be removed from a list either log into your Tour Account, or contact the Tour Sales & Service at 425-608-4217 or tour@ricksteves.com.

What are the chances of seats opening up on a waitlisted tour?

In previous years, our tours have had about a 10% cancellation rate. However, we’ve adapted our policies for 2022 tours allowing any deposit received before December 2, to be fully refundable, for any reason, through the end of 2021. Although, it's difficult to predict when and how many seats might become available, we anticipate more seats may open toward the end of this year. Openings are never guaranteed.

Can I be on a Waitlist and confirmed on another tour?

Yes, you can be on up to five Waitlists at the same time as you are confirmed on another Rick Steves tour. If you are on a Waitlist, we will contact you if seats become available and you may transfer to your preferred tour. Please note: If you are booked on a tour that starts within 60 days, transfers to another tour are not possible.

How can I be removed from a Waitlist?

To be removed either log into your Tour Account, or contact the Tour Sales & Service at 425-608-4217 or tour@ricksteves.com.

Getting Ready for Your Tour

When will I receive the list of hotels for my tour?

The names and contact information for your tour's first and last hotels will be available in your tour customer account once your reservation is confirmed. The complete list of hotels will be available in your tour customer account about one month prior to your tour's departure.

How do I make pre- or post-tour hotel reservations?

We can't make additional hotel reservations for tour members. We recommend booking additional hotel reservations through email or the hotel site's secure booking portal. As a guideline use our handy Hotel Reservation Form. Email is not a secure way to send credit card information, so if the hotel lacks a secure booking portal, it's smart to call or fax the hotel to finalize your payment.

When should I fly to Europe and back?

Check your confirmation and specific tour itinerary for your tour dates and exact start time of the "Day 1" tour meeting. If traveling from the United States, you must depart at least one day in advance of your tour start date. We recommend that you book flights several months before your departure date — and much earlier if you want to use frequent-flyer miles.

What travel documents are required?

Everyone who joins a tour is required to bring a valid passport and provide passport information to Tour Sales & Service before departure. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your return date and have a minimum of two blank visa pages. You're responsible for obtaining all required travel documents prior to your tour. If you're not a US citizen you'll need to contact your government to determine specific passport and visa requirements for traveling in Europe.

How do I apply for or renew a US passport?

To download a passport application, go to the US Department of State website. The standard processing time is about a 3–6 weeks. A first-time passport purchase must be done in person at a designated passport facility.

Will I need a visa?

Turkey and Russia require visas for US and Canadian travelers:

  • Turkey: US and Canadian citizens can apply for a visa 90 days prior to arriving in Turkey. Visit www.evisa.gov.tr for more information and to obtain your visa.
  • Russia: About three months prior to your tour departure, we'll send you an email with important information explaining how to obtain your visa. For further details, check out our St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki FAQ.
Will I need any immunizations?

Currently no shots are required for travel in Europe, Turkey, or Russia. You should, however, be aware of the rules where you'll be traveling and check with your doctor to see if you're up to date with regular immunizations. For information regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements for joining a tour, please see our COVID-19 FAQ.

What happens if I get sick on tour?

We expect tour members to monitor their health and only travel if they’re feeling well. However, getting sick while on tour can happen to anyone—and it can affect not just your trip, but your fellow tour members’ trip, too. If you start to feel sick during your tour, notify your guide right away, so they can direct you to a local clinic or pharmacy for diagnosis and treatment. If anyone has a confirmed case of COVID-19, we will follow the requirements of the local health authorities.

What’s the best way to stay healthy while traveling?

For advice on how to stay healthy while on tour, see Rick’s article: Tips for Healthy, Happy Travels.

How do I get to the start of the tour?

About a month before your tour departs, easy-to-follow directions to your tour's first hotel will be available in your tour customer account. Once at the hotel, a sign in the lobby will describe where the group will meet on Day 1.

Does my luggage have to measure exactly 9 x 21 x 14 inches?

You must be able to comfortably handle all your luggage by yourself at all times. Therefore, we strongly urge you to limit your luggage to airline carry-on dimensions. Our online Travel Store sells carry-on-size rolling bags and backpacks.

What should I pack?

Packing light is essential! Bring versatile, comfortable clothing that you can layer. Pack for the season in which you'll be travelling, but expect some rain regardless of the time of year. For more ideas on what to bring, check out Rick's Travel Tips: Packing Light, where you can find packing lists for both men and women.

What is a Tour Kit?

A tour kit includes the essential items you'll need for your tour: a guidebook or books (when available) with important maps and information about the places you'll visit on your tour and a moneybelt to help keep your valuables safe from pickpockets. When your tour kit is ready, we'll email you information on how to order it. (If you book a 2022 tour before December 2, 2021, you'll receive your Tour Kit email in January, after that Tour Kits will be available to order about a month after the date you sign up.) For Tour Kit questions, please call Tour Sales & Service at 425-608-4217 during business hours — or leave a detailed message and we'll call you back.

While on Tour

What are the physical demands of your tours?

Our tours are physically active! Expect to be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, and in all weather conditions. You'll also need to carry your own luggage, often up several flights of stairs.

What are your hotels like?

Rick Steves tour hotels are often quaint, sometimes creaky, full of two- and three-star personality, and run by friendly Europeans. Some don't have elevators, no (or weak) air conditioning, and spotty Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi only in common areas. Private bathrooms are the norm, but on a couple of tours a small chance exists that for one or two nights your bathroom may be down the hall.

What will the meals be like on my tour?

While on tour you'll eat like a local. Cuisine is typical of the region and can vary widely from country to country. Local beer and wine are optional at group meals, and at your own expense.

Can I get special meals for my dietary restrictions?

If you require a vegetarian diet, please alert your guide at the start of your tour, so he or she can make arrangements for your upcoming meals. Beyond this, we cannot take responsibility for tour members with special dietary needs or allergies. Tour members with dietary restrictions usually manage fine with a little flexibility and willingness to supplement meals as needed at their own expense. Please discuss all relevant dietary/health issues with your guide at the start of your tour so he or she can assist you when possible.

How will I do laundry on my tour?

Most tour itineraries have accessibility to laundry services once or twice during the tour, and your guide will give you tips on when and where you can do laundry.

Will I need to know the language of the countries I’m visiting?

While it's not necessary to be fluent, it's nice to master a few basic courtesies such as "Please" and "Thank you." You can find a page of helpful phrases in each of Rick's guidebooks.

Is smoking allowed on tour?

No: You're not allowed to smoke or vape on the bus, in the hotel, or where other tour members are present. Nonsmokers, be aware that we can't isolate you from Europeans who smoke in public areas or hotels.

Are tips covered in my tour cost?

Your tour includes tips for the guide, driver, and group meals. Please do not tip beyond this. When you're out on your own it's customary to round up, or add a euro or two, rather than tip a certain percentage.

How much money will I need?

On fully guided tours, plan to spend between $50 and $100 per day for your beverages at group dinners, meals on your own, snacks, souvenirs, and free-time transportation and entrance fees.
For My Way tours you'll be responsible for the cost of all your lunches, dinners, and daily expenses — so your out-of-pocket expenses will likely be higher than on a fully guided tour. Be sure to plan and budget accordingly.

Family Europe Tours

What is the age range of kids on these tours?

Families with kids 8 and older are welcome on our Family Europe: London to Florence in 13 Days tour and on all Rick Steves My Way® vacations. Teens are welcome on all Rick Steves tours.

What documents will I need to bring for my children?

In addition to a passport/visa, any child under 18 who isn't accompanied by BOTH parents must bring a notarized letter, signed by both parents, allowing the child to be taken out of the US and also allowing the adult traveling with the child to seek any necessary medical care. The letter should include the child's legal name, date of birth as shown on his or her passport, plus dates and countries of travel. For details, call the US State Department at 888-407-4747.

What is different about a Family Tour?

The museum visits and lectures are livelier and slightly condensed to better match kids' interests and attention spans. Restaurants will also be family friendly. We encourage families to participate in the activities together — activities for the adults and children are not separated. Your guide and tour assistant are great resources for free-time options, but keep in mind they're not babysitters.

What will the rooming arrangements be like on a Family Tour?

Double-occupancy rooms (doubles and twins) are the standard in Europe. We have limited triple and single supplement rooms available as well. Our tour hotels will try to keep family members near one another as much as possible. In some unavoidable cases, the rooms may be on separate floors. Kids under age 18 must room with a parent or guardian at all times and may never be in a single room alone.

Do you have more advice for traveling in Europe with kids?

Yes! Traveling on a tour with kids can be a rewarding, memorable experience — for you, your child, and for other members of your tour group. To help make the most out of your trip, Rick has some great tips for traveling with kids in Europe.

More questions? Contact Tour Sales & Service at tour@ricksteves.com or 425-608-4217.