For COVID-19 Travel and RS Tours 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.

COVID-19 and RSE Tours

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?

Deposits  are 100% refundable for up to 120 days before the tour departure date or unless otherwise noted in our Tour Conditions.

How do I cancel my tour?

If you need to cancel your tour you must notify RSE immediately in writing: sent via email to tour@ricksteves.com or mailed to 130 4th Ave N, Edmonds, WA 98020. Cancellations become effective on the date received by RSE and are governed by the RSE Tour Credit Terms and Conditions.

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' Europe credit). If we're not able to refund the original form of payment, we'll send a check. For full details see our Tour Conditions.

What are your terms and conditions?

Please see our Tour Conditions. COVID-19 Waiver, and Health and Safety Pledge for the full details.

Where can I find information about entry requirements for Europe?

The entry requirements for Europe vary by country and may change at any time. In the days leading up to your departure, we advise checking with the US Embassy's website in your arrival country. For more country-by-country information see also:

Sherpa 
Re-open EU

Will I need a COVID-19 vaccination to join a tour? And what about boosters?

For our 2022 tours, we require all tour members to be fully vaccinated (received all recommended doses in their primary series) and up to date with booster doses (when eligible). Get more details about staying up to date on COVID vaccines from the CDC. Our current policies for our 2023 tours can be found in our Health and Safety Pledge.

Do children need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to go on a tour?

Yes. As COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children 5 and older, we require that all children traveling on a Rick Steves tour to be fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible).

If I have a medical/religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine, can I join a tour?

No. We can't offer any exceptions to our requirement that all tour members be able to show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate. As so many of Europe's various sights, restaurants, and other venues impose entry restrictions on unvaccinated people, we can't provide the experiences we promise travelers unless they're vaccinated.

If I have documentation showing I've already had COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated?

This would be considered a medical exemption to our vaccination requirement, and we're not able to offer medical exceptions for any reason at this time. Please see above.

Do I need to bring my original vaccination card with me on tour?

Yes, you may be asked to present your original vaccination card so we recommend carrying it with you when you travel. In addition, you should either scan or photograph both sides of your card and keep the digital copy on an easily accessible device, such as your phone.

Will I need a negative COVID-19 test prior to joining a tour?

Yes, for our tours starting May 20, 2022, and later, we're requiring pre-tour testing with a rapid self-test. Each tour member will need to show proof of a negative self-test taken within 24 hours of the first day of the tour, whether or not a test is required for entry into your arrival country. 

What if I've recently had COVID and test positive with my pre-tour test?

If you've had COVID between 14 - 90 days prior to the start of your tour, you may obtain a letter of recovery signed by your doctor that documents your illness and recovery. Bring this letter with you on tour and if your pre-tour test is positive show it to your guide.

Will I need to wear a mask on tour and what kind?

On RSE tours, we require tour members to wear a medical grade (N95, KN95 or KF94) mask while traveling on the bus and when social distancing is not possible. Please pack along medical grade masks and note that you may also need to wear masks outdoors at times.

What happens if I test positive for COVID before, during, or after my tour?

We expect tour members to monitor their health and only travel with us if they're feeling well. If you have a confirmed case of COVID, we'll follow the guidance of the CDC (yielding to local guidelines if those are more strict). You'll need to leave the tour to quarantine for a specified amount of time, usually 5-10 days, and/or until you have a negative test result. It is not possible to rejoin the tour once you have completed your quarantine period.

What if I test positive and I'm on consecutive tours?

You may join a subsequent tour as long as the next tour's start date is at least 10 days after the original symptoms began or the initial positive test result and you can show a negative test result on the first day of the subsequent tour. Tour members may not join or rejoin a tour in progress.

What happens if a member of a tour group tests positive while on tour?

If any member of a group is diagnosed with COVID during a tour, they'll need to leave the tour and follow the protocols of the local health authorities, which likely means isolating at the tour hotel. Those in close contact with the affected tour member will need to be tested, and if positive, follow the same requirements. We'll help source medical assistance, food delivery, and lodging, however the costs associated with testing and quarantining are the responsibility of the tour member.

What if I test positive and am required to quarantine?

We provide complimentary 24/7 emergency assistance to tour members through the Travel Guard Assistance service which includes sourcing medical assistance to help tour members if they become ill and need to leave their tour. Travel Guard Assistance can also help reschedule flights. In addition, we have emergency coordinators on staff who closely work with Travel Guard Assistance to ensure our tour members have the support they need to safely return home. While the cost of finding and coordinating the services is included with your tour, the expenses associated with performing the services are the responsibility of the tour member. Fortunately, these expenses are often covered by travel insurance. We also offer COVID Wellness Refunds on a pro rata basis for the number of days a tour member may miss due to self-isolation, testing and medical visits, and positive test results requiring a person to leave the tour.

What will I need to do before returning to the US?

As of Sunday, June 12, 2022, there's nothing you need to do as a negative COVID test is no longer required for international passengers flying into the US. The CDC will be reassesing this policy after 90 days and may reinstate the negative test requirement. Please be aware if you test positive for COVID while traveling in Europe, some destinations require quarantining.

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

For advice on staying 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.

How do I apply a credit to my tour?

Sign up for your tour online, choose the “Apply Tour Credit” option for paying your deposit, and submit your request. We’ll apply your tour credits when we process your booking.

What is your cancellation policy?

For tours departing in 2022, deposits  are 100% refundable for up to 120 days before the tour departure date or unless otherwise noted in our Tour Conditions.

How do I cancel my tour?

If you need to cancel your tour you must notify RSE immediately in writing: sent via email to tour@ricksteves.com or mailed to 130 4th Ave N, Edmonds, WA 98020. Cancellations become effective on the date received by RSE and are governed by the RSE Tour Credit Terms and Conditions.

How will I receive a refund?

If possible, refunds will be issued against the original form of payment (credit card, ACH, check). If we're not able to refund the original form of payment, we'll send a check. If a tour credit was used for payment, the credit will be re-issued with the original expiration date.For full details see our Tour Conditions.

What are your terms and conditions?

Please see our Tour Conditions for the full details.

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).
How do I know if there are enough seats left on a tour?

We immediately update the number of seats available when a new booking, transfer, or cancellation is submitted. "Sign Up!" means there are six or more seats remaining. "Filling Fast" has less than six seats remaining — and there is a chance it could fill while you're in the booking process (if this happens, we'll call you promptly to discuss your options). If you wish to double-check a departure's "Filling Fast" status, call 425-608-4217.

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.

Do you offer custom itineraries or private tours for large groups?

We don't offer custom itineraries but we can reserve a tour date on one of our existing tour itineraries for a private group. The private group needs to be 25-28 participants and the accomodations are 16 double rooms. If there are less than 25 participants in the private group, the tour price will be adjusted or the tour date will be opened to other non-group participants. To request a private group tour, please contact us at tour@ricksteves.com.

Should I purchase trip insurance?

For information about insurance, 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 Family Tour itinerary.
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. Although, it's difficult to predict when and how many seats might become available, we anticipate more seats may open around 4 months before tour departure dates, when people can cancel and still get their deposits refunded. 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

Check your passport!

Please note that for the time being, the standard wait for a new or renewal passport is about 8–11 weeks. If you need your passport sooner, make an appointment to go in person to the nearest US Passport Agency.

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; you can use our handy Hotel Reservation Form as a guideline. 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 tour account and daily 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.

Where can I find information about entry requirements for my tour?

The entry requirements for Europe vary by country and may change at any time. In the days leading up to your departure, we advise checking with the US Embassy website for your arrival country. For more country-by-country information see

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 also need to bring proof of COVID-19 vaccination (such as a CDC issued vaccine card or equivalent) showing vaccination dates. 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. Due to a post-COVID travel surge, the standard processing time for new and renewal passports is currently about 8-11 weeks. A first-time passport application must be done in person at a designated passport facility.

If you need your passport sooner, make an appointment to go in person to the nearest US Passport Agency. You'll pay an additional expediting fee, plus overnight shipping both ways. In a last-minute emergency, call 877-480-2778 and speak to a customer-service representative. If you can prove that you must travel within two weeks (by showing evidence of a purchased airline ticket), you may be able to receive a passport in 24–72 hours.

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 a COVID-19 vaccination or any other immunizations?

Yes. We require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to participate in any Rick Steves tour. There are currently no other shots 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.

Do children need to be vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. As COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children 5 and older, we require that all children traveling on a Rick Steves tour to be fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible).

If I have a medical/religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine, can I join a tour?

No, we can't provide any exceptions to our requirement that all tour members must be able to show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Due to Europe's restrictions on entry into various sights, restaurants, and other venues for unvaccinated people, we're not able to provide the experiences we promise to travelers who are not vaccinated.

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 money belt to help keep your valuables safe from pickpockets. When your tour kit is ready, we'll email you information on how to order it. 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.