Our Journeys


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

What distinguishes Customized Journeys from other tour companies?

When you travel with Customized Journeys, we take you off the beaten path and away from the masses and motor coaches. We only work with small groups, and we travel to lesser-known places just a few times a year. Giant companies that organize frequent small groups aren't welcome in many villages because a large number of small groups still means an overwhelming volume of people. Spectacular local restaurants and little-known attractions, regardless of the country, do not welcome having lots of people or being listed on a tour itinerary. Our philosophy of limited group size allows for unique and refreshing itineraries.

Does Customized Journeys support sustainable tourism? If so, what does this mean?

We at Customized Journeys believe it is our duty to preserve the character of each and every destination that we introduce to our clients. It is our policy to use local guides, dine at local restaurants and find new ways for our friends in fragile locales to receive immediate economic benefits from tourism. We believe that properly managed tourism is a viable alternative to the exploitation of both human labor and natural resources.

Where can I go with Customized Journeys?

We have fixed departure dates each year to destinations worldwide including Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, and Central America. BUT 80% of our travelers come with us on customized trips. If you want to go somewhere unusual, we have the knowledge and connections to take you there.

What kinds of groups travel with Customized Journeys?

Customized Journeys has already been chosen by many social organizations and travel clubs across North America. Washington State's Boeing Travel Club, the prestigious Multnomah Athletic Club of Portland, San Francisco's Metropolitan Club, the Museo Italo-Americano, and the Commonwealth Club of California are just a few of the organizations that have traveled off the beaten path with Customized Journeys. The Sierra Club has chosen Customized Journeys to organize hiking trips all over Italy and Southern Europe since 2007, and four generations of one American family are going on an adventure in Chilean Patagonia.

What can I hope to see while traveling with Customized Journeys?

Though you will always receive a thorough introduction to the most important attractions, it isn't just about what you will see when you travel with Customized Journeys. We will take you to off-the-beaten-path places so that you can meet interesting local people. This is the only way to become a true participant in a foreign culture.

Before travel

Does your tour price include flight costs?

Unless specified on your day-to-day itinerary, our tour prices do not include international airfare. Do call us if you would like us to recommend a trustworthy travel agent. We will also be more than happy to give you guidance with these travel arrangements.

Do you have age restrictions for your tours?

Children under the age of twelve are not permitted except with private and pre-formed groups. Any individual under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult unless otherwise approved by Customized Journeys management. Customized Journeys expeditions are created for active travelers who are capable of walking unassisted at least four miles a day at a leisurely pace. All Customized Journeys travelers must also be able to handle their own luggage over short distances and climb staircases without railings.

Do I need to have a visa before going on tour?

You will be instructed by a Customized Journeys travel advisor before your trip about whether or not you will need a visa. For instance, American citizens do not need visas to visit Italy, but all Americans are required to have a single-entry visa for China.

Do I need travel insurance before going on a tour?

We believe travel insurance should be considered a mandatory expense in present-day travel. We have made arrangements with Arch Insurance Solutions for you to add a basic post-departure travel insurance plan, covering medical or delay mishaps that occur while on the road, and/or trip cancellation and interruption coverage at an affordable price. We understand that your trip can take a year to plan, but only a second to ruin, and while you can't do anything to prevent unforeseen illness, injury or even job termination before or during travel, you can take action to protect your investment by paying an additional amount for trip cancellation and interruption coverage. To qualify for the pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver for trip cancellation, you must purchase the trip cancellation/interruption insurance within 21 days of your initial deposit and be medically able to travel when you pay the final balance.

What are you deposit requirements?

An initial non-refundable deposit of $700 per person is required to reserve space unless otherwise specified. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Our cancellation penalties are industry standard (please see our terms and conditions for more info).

Can I form my own private tour?

We encourage interested travelers to form their own private tour group. There are few things that are more rewarding than setting up a perfect holiday for your friends and family.

What is the size of your groups?

Customized Journeys’ fixed-date expeditions have an average group size of 14 travelers with a minimum of either 8, 10 or 12 - and a maximum of 20. Private groups can be as small as two and as large as 250 (in the case of a recent wedding held in Customized Journeys' Umbrian palace).

What forms of payment to you accept?

Customized Journeys accepts payment by Visa, Mastercard, American Express, check, money order and bank wire. There is no processing fee for credit card deposits; however, we add a processing fee of 2.5% for balance payments by credit card.

While on the road

What form of transportation will the group be using?

The type of vehicle depends on group size and tour geography. Customized Journeys' Central Italian outings travel in air-conditioned motor coaches and mini busses, but in the case of the Tibetan portion of Customized Journeys' China expedition and our African outings - four-wheel drive vehicles are used.

Who will be leading the tour?

Customized Journeys believes that tour leaders can make or break a tour. For this reason, we seek the very best tour leaders in the business for all of our trips.

Do I have to participate in all of the planned activities?

Although a fair amount of free time has been built into every Customized Journeys itinerary, there are always a few travelers who wish to have more time on their own. If this is you, just let your Customized Journeys guide know when you plan to break away and the exact time that you will return!

Can you help me arrange my pre and post-date tour plans?

We encourage all of our travelers to explore a country on their own before and/or after a tour, and we are more than happy to make pre or post trip hotel arrangements at the same hotels used on any given tour.

What type of accommodations can I expect during a tour?

We believe a comfortable and clean hotel is a vital element to a successful tour. For this reason, we put a great deal of effort into the hotel selection process. Many Customized Journeys properties used in Europe, such as ancient castles and country inns, are family-run, quaint establishments. All rooms have a private bath, but some may be smaller than what is usually found in North America. In Asia, Africa and South America, Customized Journeys always uses the best available accommodations.

What kind of meals can I hope to experience while on a tour?

You will enjoy the best food available in each country. No cutting corners and absolutely no tour food! We believe that dining out is a key to experiencing a foreign culture in the right way. We take great care in choosing cuisine that reflects the regions you visit.

Do you set up airport transfers before and after the tour?

Airport transfers are included in many countries where it is too complicated for our guests to easily travel from the airport to our selected hotel. Your itinerary should specify which airport transfers are included and which are not. If an airport transfer is not included, upon request one can be arranged by Customized Journeys staff upon request for a fee.

Are gratuities included in Customized Journeys travel programs?

Tips are included for hotel/restaurant staff. Gratuities are not included for the Customized Journeys Tour Director or for the trip's main driver. Gratuities are at the traveler's discretion and should be based on the level of satisfaction with the service received. Recommended guidelines for each area visited are provided in Customized Journeys' pre-tour documentation.

Can I do these trips on my own and (presumably) save money?

You might be able to do a few of our tours on your own if you have a lot of time, patience, money, and good contacts, and you're willing to compromise on safety. However, will you be able to find that charming little restaurant in the hills of Liguria, the one that Alessandra's aunt recommended after calling a village-wide meeting to pick the best restaurant for Alessandra’s group? Will you be able to explore a private palace that is an historical landmark in a charming medieval village and learn about the people who have lived there for hundreds of years? Will you be able to treat Tibetan orphans to dinner, discuss Buddhism with a Senior Tibetan monk, or ask a Chinese dissident about how she is fighting for new environmental laws in her country? Will you be able to cross the Andes with a legendary Patagonian who is friends with the most important contemporary poets and writers in South America? We at Customized Journeys believe that travel is not just about hotels and transportation... it is about getting to know the real life and real people of a country.