Our Journeys


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

What makes Customized Journeys different than other tour companies?

If you travel with Customized Journeys you will get off the beaten path and away from the masses and motor coaches. We only accept small groups and we travel to lesser-known places only a few times a year. Giant companies with small groups aren't welcome in many small villages because a great number of small groups still constitutes a large volume of people. Spectacular local restaurants and secret local attractions, regardless of the country, do not welcome large numbers of people or the idea of being listed on a tour itinerary. Our intimate group philosophy 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 our clients to. It is our policy to use local guides, eat at local restaurants and find new ways for our friends in fragile places to gain immediate economic benefits from tourism. We believe that properly managed tourism is a viable alternative to resource extraction and the exploitation of human labour.

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 travellers come with us on customized trips. If you want to go somewhere off the map, 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 social organizations and travel clubs across North America. Washington State's Boeing Travel Club, the prestigious Multnomah Athletic Club of Portland, San Franciso's Metropolitan Club and Museo ItaloAmericano, 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 hike all over Italy and Southern Europe since 2007 and one American family is bringing four generations for 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 personalities. 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 airline tickets. Feel free to call us if you would like the name of a trustworthy travel agent. We will also be more than happy to assist you 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 travellers who are capable of walking at least four miles a day at a leisurely and unassisted 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 tourists 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 modern 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 prepare for, 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 cover 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 trip payment and be medically able to travel when you pay the plan cost.

What are you deposit requirements?

An initial non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve space. 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 passengers 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's Umbrian palace).

What forms of payment to you accept?

Customized Journeys accepts payment by Visa, Mastercard, American Express, check, money order and bank wire. Please add a processing fee of 2.5% of total trip cost for credit card transactions.

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's Central Italian outings travel in air-conditioned motor coaches and mini busses but in the case of the Tibetan portion of Customized Journeys's China expedition, or our African outings - four wheel drives are used.

Who will be leading the tour?

Customized Journeys believes that tour leaders can make or break a tour. For this reason, the very best tour leaders in the business have been sought for all trips.

Is it required that I participate in all of the planned activities?

Though 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 own. If this is you, just let your Customized Journeys guide know when you want to break away but be sure to tell your guide 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 after a tour and we are more than happy to make pre or post trip hotel arrangements at the same hotel 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 expected 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 component of experiencing a foreign culture in the right way. Great care is taken in choosing cuisine that reflects the region in which 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 move 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, one can be arranged upon request by Customized Journeys staff 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 traveller'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's 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 large quantities of time, patience, money, good contacts, and you're willing to forgo some measure of safety. However, will you be able to find that charming little restaurant in the hills of Liguria, the one that Alessandra's aunt reccommended after calling a village wide meeting to pick the best restaurant for Alessandra? Will you be able to explore a private historical landmark palace 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 poets and writers of contemporary 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.