Looking for traveler from the greater Houston area

A friend recommended Road Scholar to me. I have never joined any travel tours as a solo traveler before, but I am willing to try. I wonder if there are anyone else going solo in the Houston area. Just curious. If there isn't any, it doesn't mean I won't join a tour. I find that reading the discussions on the solo traveler forum helps. 

  • I'd say the chances of someone booking the same tour as you're interested in from the area where you live are slim.

    For the record, I'll tell you I've done 10 Road Scholar tours and always traveled solo. I've had a terrific time on all of them.

    When I started going on tours I decided that I did not want to wait for someone to travel with. I wanted to go and that meant traveling solo. I always get the solo supplement because I need some time alone but that's just me.

    What programs are catching your eye?

    ~Pam
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    I am not really depending on someone from my area to go with me. I was just curious if there's anyone in Houston who may go on some RS tours. I had always wanted to find a group where I feel comfortable as a solo traveler, and it seems that RS may fit the bill. Currently I am most interested in the Nordic countries, and a place called Wurzburg where my sister recently visited. Also interested in Iceland, British Isles, and South America, a continent I had not been to. As for the U.S., probably Santa Fe.
  • In reply to mabely_yin102942:

    Oh, I see! Yes, fun to talk with others about their experiences and better if you can do it over a cup of coffee!

    I've done several in UK and enjoyed them thoroughly. You've got some neat places picked out. I will tell you that the programs are slightly addicting once you go on a few. Hard to stop, hahaha! I might suggest you start with the one in Santa Fe to get your courage up. It's not quite as intimidating for me to travel domestically as to travel internationally.

    I also do solo travel on Rick Steves Europe tours which I enjoy as well.
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    I have done a lot of traveling abroad, which doesn't frighten me, as long as somebody is guiding me. How do you compare Rick Steves Europe with RS Europe? A lot of people seem to stick with one travel company once they find the right one. I am fascinated that you travel with RS and Rick Steves. I don't mind if the program is addicting!
  • In reply to mabely_yin102942:

    Well, Rick has some of the same things that are attractive to me about Road Scholar - smaller groups, NO tipping, excellent guides, city center accommodations, interesting itineraries.

    On the Rick tours you have to manage your own bag (so packing light is essential), some of the hotels don't have elevators so you may have to walk up stairs, he makes you sign a "No Grumps" clause which I think is good! His system for managing groups is to assign everyone a "Buddy" (well, you pick your own after the introductory meeting). This is someone who is not traveling with you and who you won't hang out with. When the group meets up, the guide calls out "Buddy Check". You make eye contact with your buddy to make sure they are there and the guide doesn't have to continuously count noses. Very easy way to do things. There is no airport meet-up so you do have to get yourself to the first tour hotel. The guide usually organizes taxis to the airport at the end for those that want to share a ride but you're responsible for the cost.

    I find Rick's tour guides are excellent but so are the Road Scholar guides I've had. There is more free time on Rick's tours and fewer meals so you can get off on your own or just eat gelato for dinner if you want, hahaha.

    Rick's tours are more generalist, some of Road Scholar tours are but they also have quite a few that go deeply into an area or topic. Rick runs fewer tours but many more dates, Road Scholar more tours, fewer travel dates for each one.

    Both emphasize educational components. Rick does a better job of "teaching" you how to travel independently, particularly in using local transport. For instance, on tours in London, Rick's groups will use the Tube while the Road Scholar tours will often have a private coach for transport (at least we did on the London tour I took with Road Scholar).

    One huge plus with Rick is that for each tour you take, you get $50 off for the next year. I've got a $500 discount for next year's tour! My goal is to do enough of them that I get a "free" single supplement, lol!

    Road Scholar will arrange plane flights for you altho I always do my own because I want to arrive a few days early. Rick's company doesn't do that but they will refer you to a travel agent if needed.

    At this point, I will choose either company based on itinerary. So, next spring I'm doing Rick's Belgium and Holland trip (generalist) and in the Fall I'm doing Road Scholar's Art History in Belgium and Holland. The Fall date was the earliest I could get a single supplement when I booked this summer.

    Both companies charge extra for a single supplement. Rick seems to have more single supplements available. On the Road Scholar Belgium trip, I'd swear there are only 2 or 3 solo spots open and yes, I've asked the office and they said NO they could not add more.

    As you can see, I'm happy to talk about either tour company!

    ~Pam
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    My goodness, I so appreciate the information. I am 72 and don't enjoy eating by myself in a strange place. I do not want to navigate the public transport system on my own ( I bet I can since I am in Hong Kong several times a year, and HK has the best subway system in the world) while I am traveling, I can conclude that RS may be more my cup of tea. I fly alone all the time, but unless I am in a place I am very familiar with, I do want airport pick ups. Thanks for telling me your next trips. I will look into them. Keep me posted in the future, cause I may just join one of your tours one of these days. I can either have a room by myself or share one with another traveler. Either way is OK with me. You have been a great wealth of information and you are so kind to share with me. Thanks.
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    Thank you, Pam, for such a clear and detailed comparison. I have only traveled with RS because I have, in general, been very pleased with my RS trips but have heard good things about Rick Stevens, Overseas Adventure Travel, and Grand European Travel. Has anyone taken trips with the latter two organizations and can comment on the differences?
  • In reply to zen021519:

    I'm glad it was helpful! BTW, you can order the Rick Steves tour book and can ask for the Rick Steves tour experience DVD which is fun to watch. (OK, just did a youtube search and yes, it's available on there as well. www.youtube.com/watch )

    I've not done OAT or Grand European Travel (haven't heard of that one) but on the Senior Travel forum on Trip Advisor there is a very long thread about OAT experiences. Some good, some posting very disappointing stories. You can change the sorting on the responses to start with newest responses rather than oldest if you want to get to the recent opinions quicker.

    www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i13626-Senior_Travel.html

    I did a search on the Senior Forum over there for Grand European Travel and only got one hit - no one with actual tour experience so that didn't help much, lol!
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    I looked through some RS tours and am interested in:
    The Best of Portugal, 3/2-11/2019
    Cuba Today, Feb 2019
    Comments welcome.
  • Just found this discussion group. I live in Austin, am going to Santa Fe in March, and going solo. Just thought i’d check with you and see if by any chance, you were going to SF then- a long shot, I know. Thanks - Ginny