DUE TO COVID-19 PLEASE CALL 217-422-5002 TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.
WHO IS TOUR GROUP PLANNERS?
Tour Group Planners, LLC started out back in the 70s as the Group Department at locally and family-owned Franklin Travel. After 9/11 happened, Franklin Travel was sold to Rio Grande Travel Centers, Inc of Albuquerque, NM. In 2007, the former Franklin Travel owner formed a new company specializing in group travel. Becky Luka, who previously worked at Franklin Travel, purchased the group company in 2011. Today, Tour Group Planners is an independent contractor with Rio Grande Travel Centers, Inc.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO RESERVE A SEAT ON A GROUP?
Planning your trip begins long before your departure date and many suppliers require payment well in advance, because of this, we charge a deposit which becomes non-refundable 5 months prior to departure. See the trip flier for the deposit amount. Depending on booking date, full payment may be required. Unless indicated otherwise, deposits made on trips with estimated prices are considered tentative bookings & are fully refundable if you decide not to go within 2 weeks of advice of the actual price.
WHEN IS FINAL PAYMENT DUE?
The balance due must be paid no later than 4 months prior to departure unless noted otherwise in trip description. For example, if your trip leaves July 17, your balance is due March 17. Some payments may be due prior to that – see your booking statement for your trip’s due date. Final payment invoices will be sent about 1 month before your balance is due. If booking within 4 months of departure, full payment is required at time of booking. We will try to get in contact with you first. As a last resort, you may lose your reservation and penalties apply (see cancellation section below).
CAN I BOOK AT THE LAST MINUTE?
Yes, as long as space is available. We require full payment before space can be requested. If space is not available, you will not be charged. For trips confirmed within 30 days the trip cost is non-refundable.
IS TRAVEL INSURANCE AVAILABLE?
Yes, and we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. However, you must be medically able to travel when you pay your plan cost. We offer both individual and group insurance from AIG Travel Guard to cover cancellations for covered reasons, sickness or injury during travel, trip interruption, travel delays, baggage coverage and more. The group policy is called Vacation & Cruises Plan (V&C Plan), it does not cover supplier default or offer Cancel for Any Reason Coverage (CFAR); for these coverages you would need an individual plan. Pre-existing coverage is included in the group V&C Plan when insurance is purchased with your deposit. For the individual plans, pre-existing conditions coverage is included if purchased within 14 days of your initial trip deposit; other stipulations apply. Tour Group Planners is not qualified to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of travel protection plans. If you would like additional information regarding coverage, we can send you a plan overview or call Travel Guard at 1-800-826-1300. Most Medicare and personal insurance policies do not cover you outside the US. Travel insurance is non-refundable and non-transferrable.
Adventure activities, such as but not limited to zip lining, scuba diving or rock climbing, requires additional coverage not included in the group V&C Plan.
IF MY ROOMMATE CANCELS DO I HAVE TO CANCEL?
Each roommate should purchase travel insurance. If a roommate cancels and the other traveler still wants to travel, that traveler owes a single supplement amount. You will be required to pay the single supplement then place a claim with insurance for reimbursement, if you purchased travel protection.
WHAT IS A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT?
This is the additional cost that must be added to the double rate to arrive at the cost for a single traveler. The reason a single room is higher - there is only one person in the room therefore cost is not split in half as in a double room. European single rooms may be smaller and in a less desirable hotel location.
MAY I BE ROOMED WITH ANOTHER SINGLE PERSON?
This is sometimes possible. If you would like us to try to match you up with another single, let us know. We will not match you up blindly with another traveler. If we find someone who may be a match for you, it is your responsibility to meet or talk with the person and ask important questions (smoke? night owl? early riser?) then let us know if you feel you are compatible. Tour Group Planners cannot be held responsible for unsuitable matches. If we cannot find someone to accommodate your request, you must pay the single rate. Should a roommate become available, your cost will be reduced to double pricing and we will refund the difference. Once on tour should you or your roommate feel the arrangement is unacceptable, the tour manager will try to arrange for two single rooms (if available) at an extra cost to both singles.
ARE TRIPLE AND QUAD ROOMS OFFERED?
Triple and quad rates for cruises are available for some categories and may require upper beds. Most European hotels do not offer rooms for more than two.
WHO OPERATES MY TRIP?
On the first page of your trip flier the travel company shown operates your trip as a disclosed principal and we act as their agent. You should see this travel company’s terms and conditions for their part of your trip; some dates and amounts may have been changed from that shown in their brochure or website due to their group policies & our costs associated with administrating your booking. We cannot be responsible for conditions beyond our control. We reserve the right to substitute equivalent features where the original becomes unavailable. Purchase an individual (not group) travel insurance policy if you wish to cover supplier default.
WHERE CAN I JOIN THE TRIP?
Departure cities are shown on the flier but our usual pick-up points are Decatur, Springfield and Champaign/Urbana. At times our pick-up points may be limited to one or two places. If you choose to join us at an airport, we strongly suggest meeting your group at the US departure airport, due to possible flight cancellations or delays. If meeting at the destination, you may need to arrange a taxi or other transportation to meet up with the group. If you depart from a different major airport in the US, additional cost may apply.
WHAT DOES THE GROUP PACKAGE PRICE COVER?
Price is per person based on two persons sharing a room or cruise cabin, typically with 2 twin beds or a double bed. See trip flier section for details of “What’s Included” and “What’s Not Included”, this will change with each trip. Prices are subject to increase due to fuel surcharges, tax increases, foreign exchange rate fluctuation and other conditions beyond our control.
We endeavor to ensure that all pricing and other information we provide in our brochures is accurate. However, it is always possible that despite our efforts there may be times when obvious errors occur such as the price or some other detail displayed being incorrect. We retain the right to correct any pricing errors and you will be responsible for any increase in price due to an error.
WHAT MEALS ARE INCLUDED IN THE TRIP PRICE?
These are noted in the itinerary at the end of the day’s description by the letters for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (B,L,D). On tours with big and light breakfasts, FB stands for Full Breakfast, CB a lighter Continental Breakfast & BB buffet breakfast. On tour if a meal is not included, a stop will be made where you may purchase a meal. Mealtime preference on cruises can only be requested and not confirmed. Airline meals, if any, are not shown in itinerary. You may purchase food at the airport or taking something with you.
All special dietary requests regarding food and drink, including allergies, or dietary requirements and restrictions, are the sole responsibility of the traveler. Should you have any dietary restrictions it is your responsibility to inform us at the time of booking. We accept no responsibility for any failure of any supplier to comply with such dietary restriction requests.
CAN I EXTEND MY TRIP?
You are welcome to add to the beginning or end of your trip. Additional accommodations and flights are extra. If special research is necessary, we will quote a fee (minimum $100) that must be paid before proceeding.
WHAT IF I HAVE TO CHANGE MY NAME OR DATES?
Name corrections, if allowed, may require a change a fee. Please verify we have all names spelled correctly (first, middle, last) according to your ID. Name changes involving airline tickets or other reservations may be treated as a cancellation since
names must match the traveler’s government issued ID. Some vendors do not allow name changes within 14 days of departure. Changes from one trip to another are treated as a cancellation (with penalties, see cancellation section) or a $150/person handling fee is charged. It is your responsibility to check names on your statement for accuracy and to notify us immediately of any corrections. We will not be liable for any spelling errors or other inaccuracies in the travel documents. Once travel documents have been issued, there may be a fee for reissuing to make corrections.
ARE SPECIAL REQUESTS ALLOWED?
Yes, you may request a bedding preference, seat type/location, etc. These requests will be passed on to the travel companies involved but these are only a request, cannot be guaranteed. Single, triple & quad rooms are limited (if not available, price will not be shown). Flight and seat assignments are not fully in our control. We will try our best to accommodate requests but airlines reserve the right to reassign seats up to and including day of departure. Some airlines charge for seat assignments or certain seats.
If you prefer to travel on flights of your choosing, we will provide an airfare credit. You may secure your own flights or we will be happy to assist. Also, consider that you will have to provide your own ground transportation to hotel or ship and should allow extra time for delays especially in case of cruise departures; it is best to arrive a day before sailing to allow for flight delays.
Note: when traveling overseas, single hotel rooms are much smaller and double rooms usually have two twins or one double bed; queen and king beds are unusual.
We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance to guests for walking, dining and other personal needs. Persons needing such assistance must be accompanied by an able companion.
WHAT SHOULD I CARRY WITH ME?
It is important to carry: medicine, glasses, travel documents and valuable items such as camera and cell phone with you and not in your luggage. We also suggest a light sweater and reading material. A tote is recommended to carry these items onto the motor coach and/or airplane.
HOW MANY BAGS CAN I BRING?
Baggage handling for one bag per person is included in most trip costs; therefore, we limit our groups to only one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person. Checked luggage is typically restricted to a maximum 62” and 50 pounds. Some airlines may be more restricted and may have size and weight requirements for a carry-on bag. Luggage space on motor coaches is limited. Baggage handling is primarily at arriving and departing hotels. There may be other points (airport arrivals, customs or at cruise ports) when we may not be able to hire porters. If you bring 2 checked bags, you will be responsible for all baggage handling fees for the extra bag. Most airlines charge a checked bag fee and usually charge more for the second checked bag. Checked bag fees are not included in your trip cost. See the airline’s website for current bag fees and allowed sizes and weight. Although we do all we can to see that your luggage is handled properly, we cannot be responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items & luggage; purchase travel insurance for coverage.
Each person is allowed 1 small carry-on bag plus a personal bag (i.e. purse or backpack) except when traveling through London (currently the only point with this restriction) where typically only 1 carry-on bag is allowed (no extra purse, camera bag, etc.). Check the airline’s size and weight restriction for carry-on luggage. Remember that your carry-on bags are your responsibility to handle and keep track of. Overhead rack space & floor space is very limited. Rolling carry-on bags do not fit in the overhead storage of a motor coach, therefore they are stowed underneath. Note: motor coaches may not have room to stow carry-on luggage for many or all passengers in its cargo area.
HOW MUCH AND WHAT MONEY SHOULD I CARRY?
We recommend that you carry a credit card since they are accepted in most places around the world. ATM’s dispense local currency and since they involve fees, it's best to withdraw larger amounts ($100-200) rather than frequent small amounts ($20-50). Debit cards are typically accepted but not recommended. Most credit and debit cards will be charged foreign conversion rates from the bank holder. If you do not have a credit card you can get a loadable one at your bank, credit union or local Wal-Mart/Walgreens. On an international trip, we recommend carrying $100-300/person in foreign money ($20 bills and smaller). Small stores & cafes may accept only cash or have a minimum to charge, so always keep some foreign money ready.
WHAT TIPS ARE SUGGESTED?
Unless indicated differently On group flier: (1) Tips are included for driver from Central Illinois, cruise line porters, hotel bellmen and included meals on land. (2) Tips are not required for our local tour host/hostess from Central Illinois. (3) Tips are not included for destination tour manager, destination coach driver, local guides and cruise staff. Tipping is a personal preference; on tour a suggestion of $3/person per day for driver, $4-5/person per day for tour guide/manager and $1-2/person for local guides. Please, no group collections for tipping!
At Tour Group Planners, we try to provide all the information you will need regarding your upcoming trip but it is your personal responsibility to make sure you know what is required when traveling and what is happening in your destination.
For information regarding travel dangers or travel restrictions visit the State Department travel website at www.travel.state.gov, click on "Find International travel Information” then click on "Country Information", and fill in the name of the destination country. Passport information can also be found on this website.
For medical and health information regarding your travel destination, we recommend going to the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel,then click on “Destinations” and scroll to the name of the destination country.
It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Judy McElfresh. A link to Judy's obituary can be found on our ABOUT US page.
Our office is currently open by appointment only.