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What else should travelers keep in mind when choosing a tour supplier? 

I'd just be very realistic about what the companies are promising and the number of travelers on the bus. A large group like 48 or 50 is just too big.

Word of mouth is a good way to get information. You don't want to get stuck in a tour where the day is atomized by lots of mediocre stops. A good tour guide can make even an intensive day seem uncluttered, restful, and a great experience.

By the way, do you still lead tours yourself?

I lead a couple per year. I just led our London tour last month, and I'm going to Scandinavia with a group in May. I'll do Eastern Europe next year. But now, most of my time is spent updating the guidebooks and doing the TV shows.

How do your customers react to having a celebrity tour guide?

Mostly, they can't believe I can walk down a street and have people say "Hey, Rick!" and run up to get my autograph. That astounds groups. But once we're on the bus, I'm just the guy who says "I want you back in 10 minutes, the toilets are over there, have fun!"

Related Web links

Rick Steves' Postcards from Europe
From Europe for Visitors, a review of the lively book that inspired this interview. Includes excerpts and a link to the book's online edition.
Learn about Europe Through the Back Door Tours, order railpasses, and read Rick Steves' tips for European travelers.

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