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