What are the risks of booking a package tour?

What are the risks of booking a package tour?

Package tours can be a great deal — except when it isn’t. I explain the pitfalls.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Google Plus

  • VoR61

    You breezed through the “if you tour operator is self insured it (your own insurance) may be worthless”. Would like to have seen more detail on that one …

  • bodega3

    This would be an excellent place to mention the Seller of Travel Laws. You mentioned bankruptcy. If the tour company has paid into sell in the State of CA and is current on their payment, then as a CA resident, your funds are protected. Also, it would have been good to mention paying for the tour with your credit card. This also gives you various levels of protection on your purchase.

  • VoR61

    Good information. Thanks bodega …

  • bodega3

    Not sure why consumer advocates don’t wish to address this important piece of consumer protection. Check your state to see if it has a Seller of Travel Law. Many do, but many do not. CA’s has been tested and those who paid with cash/check on travel arrangements when a tour company closed their doors, got their money back as there is a restitution fund for just this purpose.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe because the state itself is already bankrupt or going under?

  • bodega3

    Don’t think so.

  • bodega3

    I just booked a package for us and I bought the vendors waiver. It was over $300 per person less than a 3rd party’s coverage. A concern with vendors waiver is that it doesn’t cover for default. A travel company can not insure themselves for that with their coverage. However, I live in a state that has a seller of travel law that will protect me on this, as the vendor is registered and I am a resident of the state. A detail that never gets mentioned by travel writers.

  • Pocahontas

    Just to underscore the above on the risk of problems with travel plans booked as part of a tour: We bought a trip to Italy through a huge US operator last fall. The travel agent of which booked us only an hour to layover through Paris’ Charles du Gaulle – an enormous airport, which requires shuttle buses to travel from one side to the other. US travelers are required to clear customs when entering the EU – not at their final destination, which this tour company should have known, and should have allowed for.

    Long story short, we barely made our layovers after literally running probably a half mile through the airport – including several sets of stairs – not an option for older people or those traveling with children. We certainly wouldn’t have made our flights without the kindness of three or four Air France employees who gave us special treatment and let us cut the lines.

    At booking the tour company offered only a very limited menu of flight options – I asked repeatedly whether the tight connection would be a problem and was told only that the other gate was close by (it wasn’t), and the tour operator’s bookers denied we’d be required to clear customs despite information I saw online and specifically asked about. We only got 25% of the miles we’d earned from the airline, to add insult to injury.

    No way I book a tour ever again without making my own flight arrangements. The other aspects of this particular tour were first-rate, which just goes to show you airline problems can happen when you least expect them.