WHO IS TOUR GROUP PLANNERS & HOW TO CONTACT?
Owner, Becky Luka has worked in the travel business over 25 years. Judy McElfresh, formerly with Franklin Travel, has worked in the groups-only business since 2007 but in travel since 1964 after moving to Hawaii. Tour Group Planners LLC is an independent contractor working with Rio Grande Travel. We are located in the Decatur Professional Plaza at 363 S Main St, Suite 307, Decatur IL 62523. Our phone number is 217-422-5002.
WHEN DO WE OWE OUR FINAL PAYMENT?
Statements will be sent about 1 month before balance 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, you should send a check by March 17. If you used a credit card to pay your deposit, we will automatically charge it again when the balance is due; if you want to pay your balance by check or a different credit card, sure to contact our office before the due date.
WHAT IF I DON'T PAY BALANCE OWED ON TIME?
You may lose your reservation and deposit.
DOES TOUR GROUP PLANNERS EVER CANCEL TRIPS?
Only in rare circumstances does this happen, if a trip becomes impossible or there is insufficient participation. Most of our trips “go” even if group size is small. If it is necessary to cancel overnight trips, we will make a refund to you plus give you a $25 Gift Certificate toward another trip (day trips, a $10 gift certificate instead). If conditions outside our control require cancellation, we will make all refunds possible after receiving them from travel company(ies) involved. Supplier default & trip cancellation coverage is recommended (see insurance section).
WHAT IF I MUST CANCEL?
The following charges for all trips (except Day Trips and Private Rail Journeys) apply depending on how close to departure date we receive your written request & may be increased if Travel Company penalty is greater. Refunds will be processed as soon as we receive refunds from Travel Company(ies) involved.
Cancellation date to required cost/deposit:
Booking date - 5 months, 15% of trip cost, 50% of deposit
5 months - over 4 months, 50% of trip cost, 100% of deposit
4 months - over 1 month, 50% of trip cost, 50% of trip cost
1 month - Departure date, 100% of trip cost, 100% of trip cost
PRIVATE RAIL CANCELLATIONS:
Due to the high cost of securing private rail cars, all payments for Private Rail Trips are non-refundable; for this reason we highly recommend travel insurance.
IS THERE INSURANCE TO COVER ME IF I GET SICK?
We recommend you buying a trip cancellation/interruption plan to cover unforeseen illness (yours, immediate family members or traveling companion) & cancellation charges. Pre-existing conditions are covered if insurance coverage is purchased within 14 days of your deposit and covering all prepaid non-refundable components. Group travel insurance coverage cost is 7.2% of trip cost and must be paid with your deposit. If a roommate cancels, his refund cannot be “shorted” to cover the remaining traveler’s single supplement; to cover this, each roommate should purchase travel insurance to cover reimbursement for this extra cost. For costs and other detailed information, see our insurance page or www.travelguard.com. Accident/Medical and/or Baggage Loss are part of the insurance package. Note: Medicare does not cover you outside the US. Travel insurance is non-refundable and non-transferrable.
WHAT SORT OF CARRY-ON BAGGAGE MAY I TAKE?
Each person is allowed 1 small carry-on bag and a personal item on our group trips. If you are on and off of motor coaches frequently, we suggest that you keep carry-on sizes small, with total dimensions of no more than 32"*. Remember that your carry-on bag is your responsibility to handle and keep track of. Overhead rack space & floor space is very limited, over-the-shoulder bags are best. If most of your trip is aboard a cruise ship, each traveler is allowed one carry-on bag, total dimension of 45"*. Ladies, your purse is considered your personal bag. Motor coaches cannot be expected to stow carry-on luggage for any or all passengers in its cargo hold and roll-on carry-on bags do not fit in the overhead storage of a motor coach.
*Total dimensions: measure length + width + height = total dimensions.
WHAT SHOULD I CARRY WITH ME?
It is important to carry: medicine, glasses, passport, tickets (& other travel documents as required) and valuable items such as camera in your personal bag. We also suggest a light sweater and reading material.
WHAT IF I HAVE TO CHANGE SOMETHING?
Name corrections, if allowed, may require a change a fee. Name changes involving airline tickets or other reservations are treated as cancellations since names must match the traveler’s government issued ID (due to airport security you may NOT travel on someone else’s ticket). If you are cancelling and have already received tickets and other valuable documents, they must be returned to get credit and/or make the change. Changes from one trip to another are treated as a cancellation (with penalties per above) or a handling fee is charged.
WHAT COMPANY OPERATES MY TRIP?
At the top of your 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 each part of your trip; some travel dates and amounts may not match that shown in their brochure 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.
DO YOU ACCEPT CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS?
Usually the following cards are welcome: American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa for all initial deposits. If paid by a card and you cancel, any applicable refund may only be credited back to your card. If you charge a deposit to your card, we will charge the balance the day it is due unless you send a check or advise to charge a different card before the balance due date. However, please note that due to supplier requirements, we may not be able to accept some cards for some trip’s balance due. Using charge cards may give you some useful but very limited insurance coverages.
HOW MUCH OF DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED TO BOOK THE TRIP?
If trip cost is under $1000, pay in full upon booking. If trip cost is $1000 & over, see the trip flier for the deposit amount which includes recommended group travel insurance premium. If booking within 4 months of departure, full payment is required.
CAN I BOOK AT THE LAST MINUTE?
Yes, as long as space is available. We require a check for full payment (or credit card) before space can be requested. If space is not available, you will not be charged.
WHAT IF I HAVE SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS?
More information about these trips is usually free, so call us with your questions. If special research is necessary we will quote a fee (minimum $100/person) that must be paid before proceeding. See flier for where we itemize what is included in the package price and what’s not included.
WHERE CAN I JOIN THE TRIP?
Departure cities are shown on the flier but our usual pick-up points are Decatur, Urbana and Springfield. We can usually arrange departure from most major airports throughout the US, additional cost may apply. If you choose to join us at an airport, we recommend you meet at the group’s US departure airport. If meeting at the destination, you may need to arrange a taxi or similar transportation to get to the tour's first hotel to meet up with the group. Due to possible flight cancellations or delays we strongly suggest meeting your group at the US departure airport, if at all possible.
HOW MANY BAGS MAY BE CHECKED?
Because of motor coach storage limitations, most tours can only accommodate one bag per person and we include baggage handling for one bag. If you bring 2 bags, you will be responsible for all baggage handling fees for the extra bag. Most airlines charge a checked bag fee (unless traveling internationally, get can check one free) and usually charge more for the second checked bag. See the airline’s website for current bag fees. 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. Travel insurance covers lost or damaged luggage. Baggage handling is primarily for arriving and departing hotels and departure airports; there may be other points (for example, airport arrivals, at customs or at ports) when we may not be able to hire porters. You will have to handle your own luggage or find a cart.
WHAT LIMITATIONS ARE ON CHECKED BAGS?
As general rule, a checked bag can weigh no more than 50 pounds and have total dimensions of 62". Total dimensions means that you measure the following: length + width + height = total dimensions. See the airline website for current bag restrictions.
WHAT MEALS ARE INCLUDED IN PACKAGE PRICE?
These are noted in the itinerary by the letters B, L, D which stand for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, respectively. 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 moderately priced one. Mealtime preference on cruises can only be requested and may not be confirmed. Airline meals, if any, are not shown in itinerary; since they are generally no more than a snack, we recommend purchasing food at the airport or taking something with you.
HOW SHOULD I CARRY TRAVEL FUNDS?
Travelers cheques, while safer than cash, are not widely accepted. We recommend that you carry an ATM or debit card and at least one credit card since they are acceptable (except American Express and Discover Card) in most places around the world. ATM’s dispense local currency; since they involve fees, it's better to withdraw larger amounts ($100-200) than frequent small amounts ($20-50). Credit cards and ATM cards facilitate foreign exchange efficiently and provide better rates than changing US cash at a local hotel or currency exchange. On an international trip, we recommend carrying $100-300/person in foreign money. Small stores & cafes may accept only cash, so always keep some foreign money ready. In our pre-tour documents, we provide more info. No credit card? You can get a loadable credit card at many banks/credit unions and Walmart/Kroger or similar stores.
WHAT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS MUST I OBTAIN?
See trip flier for the latest word on this. All tours require at least a government-issued photo ID. All foreign air travel requires a passport (land/sea border crossings have lesser requirements but a passport is still recommended). Occasionally visas and/or shots must be taken for some international trips. Eventually all foreign travel will require at least a passport so we recommend you get one now. It is your responsibility to obtain and pay for these necessary, personal items. It can take 2-5 months to process a completed Passport Application. A rush passport can cost an additional $300-500. When a passport is required, it usually must be valid 6 months beyond your return date & we usually need one of the following: 1) Call us with the passport number/issue date etc., 2) Send a copy of the inside cover pages with your picture on it, When a passport is not required but proof of citizenship is, you must travel with a certified copy of your birth certificate plus government-issued photo I.D (like Driver’s License). Certified copy has raised seal from county courthouse where you were born, not the original issued by the hospital.
WHAT DOES THE PACKAGE PRICE COVER?
Price is per person based on two persons sharing a room (or cruise cabin) with 2 twin beds or double bed. See trip flier section for details of “What’s Included” and “What’s Not Included” and thus at extra cost. 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. Prices are still subject to increase due to fuel surcharges, tax increases, foreign exchange rate fluctuation and other conditions beyond our control.
*Some deposits to vendors may be non-refundable.
CAN I REQUEST SPECIFIC FLIGHT OR SEAT ASSIGNMENTS?
Flight and seat assignments are not fully in our control. If you prefer to travel (separate from the group) on flights of your choosing, we will be glad to quote to you the additional cost of selecting your flights at the time of booking (which must be purchased right away). 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. Cruise lines particularly prefer that you arrive a day before sailing if on your own, to allow for flight delays. Group seat assignments may not be in our control. We will try our best to get what you request but airlines reserve the right to reassign seats up and through day of departure. It is up to you to request these special services and then decide whether you wish to pay the additional costs involved and if necessary, travel separately from the group.
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, both of you would then pay the double/two-person price. 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? snore? night owl? early riser?) then let us know if you feel you are compatible. Tour Group Planners cannot be held responsible for being unsuitable matches. If we cannot find someone to accommodate your "will-share" request, you must pay the single room rate unless the single price notes that there is a Single Share Guarantee, then even if the travel company cannot find you a roommate, they will give you a single room while paying only the double rate. Once on tour should you or your roommate feel the arrangement is unacceptable, the tour escort will try to arrange for two single rooms at an extra cost to both singles.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT?
This is the additional cost that must be added to the double rate to arrive at the total cost for a single traveler. The reason it is higher is that only one person is paying the cost of the room, unlike a double rate having two people share the cost of the room. Single rooms are often smaller than double rooms and may be in less desirable, remote locations.
MAY I MAKE SPECIAL REQUESTS?
Yes, typically we receiving bedding preference, specific floor, nonsmoking, seat location etc. They 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). 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 who will assist them.
WHAT IS THE 3RD & 4TH PERSON RATE?
"Each Additional Person" rate is the cost for 3rd & 4th person (usually pertains to a cruise) after the first 2 people in cruise cabin who pay the double price. These triple & quad cabins may not be available for all room types and likely require bunk beds. Triple rates for tours are the per person price for 3 people sharing a room & may involve a rollaway bed added to the room or 2 double beds; quad for 4 people is not usually offered on most tours.
WHAT TIPS DO WE OWE FOR PERSONAL SERVICE?
Unless indicated differently in trip description: (1) Tour package price includes tips for driver from Central Illinois, airport skycaps (as available), cruise port handlers, hotel bellmen and included meals on land. (2) Tips are NOT required for our local tour host and/or hostess from Central Illinois. (3) Tips are NOT included for (as applicable) ad hoc personal services, destination tour manager, coach driver, local guides, cruise staff (as noted in ‘What’s Not Included’ section or at pre-trip meeting, we will make suggestions of traditional amounts). Please, no group collections for tipping.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TICKETS & OTHER INCLUSIONS?
Package components, tickets for airline, rail or cruise lines are issued by Rio Grande Travel Centers, Inc. or Atlas Travel of Decatur Inc. acting solely as agents of the carrier. Our responsibility is governed by agency agreement between carrier and the agent including but not limited to the Passenger Sales Agency Agreements on file. Payment of the required deposit or partial or full payment for a reservation on a trip constitutes consent to all provisions of the conditions and general information contained herein and from the disclosed principals. The terms under which you agree to take these trips cannot be changed or amended except in writing, signed by an officer of Rio Grande Travel Centers, Inc.or Tour Group Planners, LLC. Air ticket prices are guaranteed against price increases only after the tickets are purchased and paid for in full, and if reservations are not changed by you (although in some cases as noted in tour description, our group rate air fare will be guaranteed against increase if you pay in full by balance due date or earlier date if advised). Otherwise, making a reservation without purchasing the ticket will not guarantee the price. Government taxes and fuel surcharges are subject to change without notice and may be collected at the airport on arrival or departure. Be sure your plans are firm because changing your flights may result in a price increase. Call first before you change anything.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
See each trip’s pages or www.TourGroupPlanners.com.