When we landed, does your travel company take care of where you are?
In the absence of experience, rely on the experience of others as a guide for decision making. Not knowing what the trip to France really brought with it my wife and I listened to the friends who made the trip and advised us that the best way to travel is to engage a travel company that takes care of all the daily activities for an inexperienced traveler
We provided ourselves with a highly recommended travel agency in the USA for a trip to France. For seven nights from Monte Carlo to Paris, we paid $12,000 six months in advance, including plane costs and insurance in case something goes wrong before or during the trip. As experienced travellers with our local university, we were accustomed to a well-managed commitment to food, accommodation, travel, entertainment, culture, history, and customer service with the utmost care. We also expected the extravagant cost of $1700 per day to be at least equal to the inconvenience of lack of knowledge and experience in a foreign environment for about 8 days. In this case, the additional costs would cover the fact that we were a stranger in a foreign country and because of this we lacked the resources that we could take with us to a new country, as in the case of our university travel group. Our first taste of foreign land displaced our reasoning and assumptions: we were trapped when we landed!
Case study of the Uncaring Tour Company
Orphaned at the airport
Imagine that for 8 hours at night you will be stuck in the plane and will not be able to sleep because you are not sleeping upright normally. To aggravate the situation when you arrive at your destination on foreign soil, no one is there to pick you up. Not only is there nobody there, but nobody at the airport has heard of the travel company responsible for pick-up. When you finally reach the tour manager, he tells you that the car will pick you up within half an hour. After about an hour when no car arrives, another American traveler will tell you that they are on a similar route with the same tour operator and are waiting for their journey. Their journey arrives, but they don’t have your name on it. After all, the driver arranges transport to the hotel. The tour operator is surprised and apologizes, noting that the pick-up service never makes mistakes by making mistakes on the traveller. I think I should have called from the plane to make sure we have a transfer from the airport to the hotel? The first day of $1700 is lost without even a $3 cheaper bottle of French wine offered as an apology.
Hotel in Monte Carlo – The first day of breakfast was good, the second day we received coffee and our own breakfast. No second cup of coffee, no juice, no waiter, no tour manager. The first day of lunch was a disaster. The restaurant had not been used before and the members of the trip were the subject of a new experiment in the restaurant. It started with a quarrel between the restaurant owner and the tour manager, and then the food slowly came out with questions about where the wine is?
The hotel in St. Rem – perfect!
Hotel de Louvre – Even though we were sitting as a member of the excursion team waiting for the first attempt was to bill us for the meal. They managed to charge us for wine which, as we were told, was not included in the meal. We paid for it after leaving and not arguing with the official. The official replied that the wines we had chosen had not been taken into account. The waiter said that it did not include wines. The tour manager at this point went to “manage” the next tour. (45 euros)
In general, the food was typical, except for the meal at the olive grower’s home. This meal was the best of the whole journey. Surprisingly, many meals were not included. One might think that a tour manager would know where the best and worst places to eat are, and would not have members eating in a bad restaurant.
In general, it was excellent. The tour leader got lost trying to get out of the train station.
We were given headphones while the tour leader or lecturer spoke into the microphone. We were told that the travel company was experimenting with new technologies. I don’t remember to register as a topic in the experiment. Usually the topics are paid for. The technology failed miserably.
Language of culture
You might think that the tour leader will be fluent in the language of culture. It seems that she did not speak the language as well as expected.