Find the Best Escorted Vacations
For Traveling in Europe

If you think that merely choosing a pre-planned, pre-packaged escorted vacation to Europe is the way to simplify your Europe travel planning, think again. 

There are warning flags and pitfalls everywhere. And if you don’t know how to spot them, you could wind up loosing your money, your time, and your trip with no one to turn to.

Finding the best escorted tour to Europe involves both time and research to make sure the travel package you choose is not only safe and reliable, but a good value for your travel dollar. 

The success of your escorted Euro-pean tour will be determined by purchasing the best trip you can find, based on its cost, itinerary, inclusions, and amenities, as well as the type of trip to fit your personal travel style.

International tour operators market their escorted vacation tours with beautifully inspired and illustrated glossy brochures. These brochures are like icing on a cake.

They draw you in with seductive sweetness and mentally whisk you to faraway lands.

They're candy for the eyes, enticing you to the further sweetness within.

But, once enthralled with the glories inside, if you ignore due diligence by failing to research the type of tour you're drawn to - as well as the company that offers it - a stomach ache will surely follow.

Coastal Town in Portugal

Finding a reputable and reliable international tour operator offering escorted vacations to Europe is easy, if you follow the rules of engagement.

But before you even begin to size up the tour-hosting company, first you must be sure you find the perfect tour for your way of travel

The rules are basic.

Match the type of trip you choose to your personal travel style.

Choose an Escorted Vacation That Makes the Grade

Determining which escorted tours to Europe are worth your consideration is easily accomplished.

First, check with a reputable independent travel agent for recommendations of overseas tour operators they use for their best clients. Be sure to give them the parameters for your travel budget, your time schedule, and your destination preferences.  

Leisure travel agents receive commissions for selling escorted vacations and tours, so if you purchase your trip from an agent, they should work with you for little or no additional fee.

If the agent is experienced and knowledgeable, they can quickly zero in on which European tours match your travel goals.

Their ability to help you choose the perfect tour is determined by questions they ask you and the information you provide about the kind of traveler you are and the type of trip you're looking for.

Beautiful Cambridge Buildings

Second, choose an escorted tour to Europe only from international tour operators who are members of USTOA [United States Tour Operators Association]. 

This consortium of tour companies requires all members to carry a minimum of $1,000,000 liability insurance.

They adhere to a high standard of professional ethics and financial stability and must provide tour brochures and marketing materials that are clear and accurate for customers.

USTOA has an easy-to-use website, where you can search their directory for information on tour operators to Europe or around the globe.

Look for the red, white, and blue USTOA logo figured prominently on tour brochures for the tour companies you consider. 

Third, look for escorted vacation brochures that have the NTA [National Tour Association] designation.

This organization also requires members to have $1,000,000 of liability insurance, which will protect you from default or failure to perform.

All member companies must have management staff with quantitative experience in the travel industry. [No newbies!]

Before becoming NTA members, tour operating companies must pass a review by their industry peers.  

The NTA website can be a bit more difficult to use, but it provides an extensive database of international tour operators offering programs throughout the world.

You can identify tours you may be interested in by category and country. Look for the blue and white NTA logo on brochures.

Coke And A Castle

If you find an escorted European tour you like, but aren't sure if the company offering it is financially secure, do some research online to see if they have a corporate parent or belong to a family of international tour operators.

When tour operators operate under the umbrella of a parent company, their financial stability is greater than that of a smaller company operating on its own.

Always conduct your own research on international tour operators who offer tours with Europe destinations or itin-eraries you're considering.

Remember, an escorted vacation to Europe is a financial investment.

Then compare any online tours that interest you to those suggested by your travel agent.

A quality travel agent is familiar with both the good and not-so-good travel operators and will steer you to those they know are reliable.

By doing both your own online research and consulting with a qualified travel agent, you'll have more tour options to choose from and gain the knowledge to choose the best escorted vacation for your European trip. 

13 Ways To Protect Your Trip and Your Money

Lastly, follow these common sense rules to make sure you protect yourself when purchasing travel packages, escorted vacations, or group tours to Europe:

  • Book only with established European tour operators.
  • Know what is and is not included in your escorted tour.
  • Understand all terms of cancellation, including dates, deposits, refunds, and fees.
  • Get tour particulars, guarantees, receipts of payment, and confirmations in writing.
  • Make all payments with a credit card only. No checks, debit cards, or cash.
  • If airfare is included, make sure you know the reputation of the airline.
  • Know the quality of hotel service. Overseas hotel ratings differ from those in the U.S.
  • Inquire about the quality, experience, and language capabilities of escorts and guides.
  • Find out under what conditions a substitution of trip components can be made.
  • Make sure you’re informed about any/all restrictions, exclusions, and requirements for your tour.
  • Review, confirm, and re-confirm everything, especially flights. Get written confirmation for special requests.
  • Read, understand, and follow all the Terms and Conditions. If they’re not in the brochure, ask your booking agent for them. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation.
  • Never purchase trip protection plans or any form of overseas travel insurance from a group tour operator. It's not real insurance!

Taking an escorted vacation is a proven way to have an exciting, fulfilling, and memorable trip to Europe.

With proper study, diligent travel research, and educated comparisons when choosing your guided tour to Europe, it will become the trip of a lifetime.

For more information on how to travel Europe, check these articles:

Your Travel Style is a reflection of your lifestyle - how you live, what you like, what makes you tick. The kind of traveler you are determines how to travel Europe and beyond.

The right Europe Guided Tour determines the outcome of your trip. Will it be successful and memorable, or tiresome and tedious?

Europe Travel Packages are made for independent travel. Learn how to travel on your own – but with a safety net.

Independent Travel lets you travel Europe on your own – but not alone. Use European package vacations to take the scary out of traveling Europe without a group.

Return to How To Travel Europe

Travel Tip

There are many reputable and reliable group tour operators offering guided tours to Europe. Yet they may not be associated with the specific industry consortiums we mentioned: USTOA and NTA.

Use these companies judiciously, and only if you fully trust the profes-sional or certified travel agent who recommends them. Or, if you've done your own research and have personal knowledge of the company and it’s financial standing.

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