Would you rather travel with a group of 48...or 28? A different hotel every night...or 2-night stays? When comparing Rick Steves' tours with other companies, take a close look at what's included, and how many extra-cost "sightseeing options" and tips you'll be expected to pay for once you're in Europe.
Here's a "what's included" summary from a typical Rick Steves tour (in this case, the Heart of Italy in 9 Days) — and why it matters!
|WHAT WE INCLUDE...||WHY IT MATTERS...|
|Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Italy come alive for you.||Guides from most tour companies make their income from tips and merchant kickbacks. Our guides are carefully selected by Rick and paid a full salary — tips are not allowed — so his or her focus is on teaching, not shopping.|
|All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 17 group sightseeing events • Ancient Rome walking tour • Colosseum tour • Roman Forum tour • Pantheon • Evening walk through Rome's piazzas including Trevi Fountain • St. Peter's Basilica • Vatican Museum tour • Sistine Chapel • Volterra walking tour • Guarnacci Etruscan Museum tour • Alabaster workshop • Wine tasting • Lucca walking tour • Orientation for "vacation" day on Italian Riviera • Renaissance Florence walking tour • Florence's Accademia (Michelangelo's David) • Uffizi Gallery tour...and more.||Many companies charge $50 to $100 extra for each sightseeing excursion. This adds up fast. We include all group sightseeing and admissions in your tour price.|
|All group transportation from Rome to Florence.||We'll get you around in the most efficient and resourceful ways we know, to help you get the most out of every minute of your trip.|
|8 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels.||Beware of frequent, one-night hotel stops — they can really wear you out! Our tours nearly always stop for two restful nights in each location.|
|All breakfasts and half your dinners.||We'll give you a generous taste of the best local dishes, protect your budget, and give you the freedom to make your own yummy discoveries.|
|A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups.||The goal of most tour companies is to fill every seat of a 50-seat bus. Our small (24-28 max.) groups feel less like a mob, and more like a family.|
|All tips for guides and driver.||Most companies expect you to pay out-of-pocket for guide and driver tips. This can add up to several hundred dollars!|
|Free stuff including Rick Steves' Italy guidebook, Italy Sightseeing Supplement, Italian phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs.||We equip you with up-to-date information to help you get the most out of your free time — and moneybelt security to guard against pickpocket theft.|
|Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit.||Many tour companies reserve the right to increase your price after you've signed up. We guarantee it will not change.|
|Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee.||On all our tours, extra-cost single supplements are a choice — not a requirement.|
|Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014.||Every year, about 1/3 of our tour members are repeat customers. With our uniquely "cumulative" discount, the more you travel with us, the more you'll save.|
|50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans.||Our expert travel advisors also guide our tours. They'll be happy to assist you with your pre- and post- tour travel plans.|
|Flexibility should you need to transfer or cancel/interrupt your tour.||All our tours include Tour Cancellation/ Interruption coverage. You can even switch to a different 2014 date or destination — with no charge or penalty — up to 60 days before your departure date.|
Compare what's included: many "budget" tours expect you to shell out extra cash during your trip.