THE BLOG
01/26/2016 06:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reconnecting with Last Year's Travel Buddies

The 20th annual Rick Steves Tour Guide Summit was a multifaceted event. Along with our guides' festivities, we have our tour alumni party -- actually six parties of about 400 people each, spread over two days -- when those who took last year's tours gather to share scrapbooks and stories, and reconnect with each other and their guides.

Six times, we filled my old junior high school gym with tour alums who enjoyed reunions in the true sense of the word -- "old friends" from our recent tours getting together with our tour guides.

At each of the parties, we had contests celebrating the group with the best attendance (Gummi Bears for all, as you see here); the tour member who traveled the farthest for the party (lots from the east coast and the deep south, winners generally from Florida); and the tour alum who's taken the most of our tours (winners had enjoyed between 10 and 20 of our tours). Photo: The Travelphile

We also host 20 "Test Drive a Tour Guide" talks, where guides give those dreaming of taking a tour a slideshow explaining why we think our tours offer the best value in the business. With the help of a couple of guides, I enjoyed talking up our Italy tours on the main stage...with an auditorium full of travel dreamers.