Experience Is Good Travel

10/19/2016 04:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Every time I huddle with my guides, exploring ways to improve Rick Steves Europe Tours, our goal is the same: "How do we maximize the experience?" There are many clever ways to pack each day with lifelong memories and cultural lessons. While standard-issue tour guides often don't go beyond the basic sightseeing schedule, a Rick Steves guide is constantly finding creative ways to carbonate the experience with fun little extras.

So many towns in Europe have classic carousels on their main squares. Why not buy tickets for the gang and enjoy a chance to be kids again...and another rich travel memory.

 

A good guide steers tour members away from the tired sandwich for lunch, and into a characteristic local bar where you'll enjoy a plate like this: At my favorite bar in Venice (Osteria al Mascaron), just ask for the mixed seafood antipasto plate. It's €16 and -- unless you're squiddish about fish -- a delightful lunch.

 

You can't travel through France without a good wine-tasting. Here in Burgundy, we enjoy sharpening our wine-tasting skills in a classic cellar under our favorite hotel with a local wine expert.

 

Anyone who dreams of going to St. Peter's Basilica will consider a chance to go through the Holy Door (open only in Jubilee Years) a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As 2016 happens to be a Jubilee Year, our group got to do that with our Vatican visit. As I see it, it is the responsibility of a professional guide to know when these opportunities present themselves, and not to miss it.

(Follow along on my travel blog and on Facebook as I guide the Rick Steves Europe Tours Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour.)

(This post originally appeared at blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tour-experiences.)