Whether you’re just starting the process of finding a tour company for an upcoming trip, or you’ve already booked yours, here are 5 vital questions you should be asking your tour company before going on the tour. Some of these are common sense, and some are just to keep you safe. When travelling, the last thing you want to do is miss out on a tour, especially if you’ve paid for it beforehand, so take these questions into consideration!
1. Where are you located? Where do we meet for the tour?
Sometimes the address given on a tour phamphlet or even on a tour company’s website is the wrong address. This address may be their head office, or the location of their sales person, but may not be the actual starting location of a tour. Ask for all addresses needed such as the main tour office, and not just the tour starting point, in case you need to contact them in person before. You also then have a backup address in case no one shows up at the tour starting location. This is especially crucial when the address given is a post office box, obviously used only for mailing.
2. What is your refund policy?
This should be asked before paying anything for a tour! Make sure you get it in writing too, to safeguard yourself. Ask about weather cancellations or delays, and about personal emergency cancellations, as these may be seen as different for the company. Ensure that if your tour is planned on one of the last days of your vacation that if a weather situation comes up and you can’t reschedule due to your vacation ending, that you’re covered. Also find out, if paying in advance, how a refund will be given if needed (ie: back on your credit card). Finally, make sure you know the advanced cancellation timing required, as most companies have a 48 hour-before policy that denies you any refund if cancelling within 48 hours of your tour.
3. What brand of SUP Boards do you use on the tours?
This may be getting a bit more in depth than you want, but if you are a researcher, knowing that your chosen tour company uses a high end board instead of a cheap, inflatable board could make your trip go from “just ok” to “amazing”. The better boards can carry more weight and are more stable than the cheaper boards, and if the tour company carries the cheapest brand, you could assume that other parts of the tour may be cheapened as well.
4. Are there any additional fees that aren’t included in the tour price?
Most companies will be good about this, but sometimes a tour company will tack on extra fees like travel charges, or may not include the lunch that the tour stops for. If you know about these extra fees, you know what you’re getting into. And having extra fees is not always bad, as it may let you choose what kind of lunch you want, or what photo package you’d like to get. But you never want to be ready to take a tour and suddenly have $200 in extra charges that they ‘forgot’ to mention, so do your homework on this!
Note: Normally tour companies will send out a photographer or videographer with the tour to capture the day and sell it later as a package. If you want some memorable photos/videos then make sure you bring some cash with you for the tour, as they won’t always have a credit card machine.
5. What should I bring on the tour?
You want to ask this up front, because some tours may take you off the beaten path to get to their tour starting point, and you don’t want to be bogged down with things that could either get damaged or lost. An example would be a backpack of water/snacks/camera/wallet. If you meet your tour group and then find out that water is provided, and they don’t have anywhere to store your bag, it may become a burden, especially if your starting point is different than your end point. Valuables should be left at your hotel room, and only bring what is essential.
Asking this may also let you know if bringing things like a waterproof camera or your own towel is recommended, or if they tell you to bring your own water, then it is important to know.
Overall, just make sure you are fully informed before your tour, and you’ll have the best time Stand Up Paddle Boarding!