As the population of western industrialized countries continues to age and becomes more affluent the travelling urge becomes more tempting.
Older people prefer group travel to solo trips. It is more convenient to travel in an organized group. You know your itinerary, you don’t have to worry about accommodation, meals or city tours, and, if you feel sick, the tour director will make sure to medical help.
Of course, group travel has also shortcomings in the form of very little choice in your accommodation, or menu or sites visited.
Another problem may be the seat in the bus, and frequent delays due to some individuals who habitually arrive late for departures, or simply, individuals with whom you have little in common.
But you can eliminate at least some of the inconveniences of group travel by researching.
First, decide which country you want to visit (several countries in 14 days is not a good idea), and then decide the mode of transportation (terrain, bus, plane).
Once this is done, you can either contact a travel agent or find tour companies operating in
the country of your choice. It is a good idea to ask friends, relatives, and business associates about commendations, and if you have decided to book with a company about the reputation of the company. You don’t want to book with a fly-by-night operator, who may be bankrupt or disappear with your deposit.
Internet can be a great resource for researching, but make sure you know enough about the company to trust payment in full.
Once you have paid, ask for an official receipt that can be invaluable in disputes later on. Some companies are known to promise too much and deliver very little.
Make sure you know about passport and visa requirements.
It is a good idea to obtain cancellation and medical insurance, particularly if there is even a slight chance of you not being able to travel. Ask for time limits about trip cancellation, and also whether your dietary requirements will be met; these can be physical, or based on religion.
In some advanced, western industrialized countries with a well-developed group tour industry, governments insist that all organizers belong to an association that will follow up on complaints. In Ontario TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) looks after complains.
In emergencies (revolution, war, earth quake, flood) contact the nearest embassy or consulate of your country. In some cases there may not be an agency, but another friendly country’s consulate or embassy, by agreement, takes care of citizens of your home country.
Before you lodge a complaint, have all documentation ready i.e what the company promised, what was delivered, quality of transportation, timeliness, quality of food and accommodation, guides, and how they behaved.
Group travel can be enjoyable, but only if you select a company that specializes in subjects of interest to you. It can be archaeology, scuba diving, ecotourism, hiking, gastronomy, wine, beer, museums, art history, to name just a few.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.