It makes sense to shop around before you put down the money for your next vacation. Just don’t compare apples and oranges.
We all know that it makes sense to comparison shop before making a big purchase. The Internet makes it easier to find various companies that offer similar gay vacation packages — but it’s still difficult to know just how to compare them.
Compare our final costs, not just list prices
What’s included? What’s not?
How much will you pay out during the week for extra charges? Fifty dollars here, a hundred dollars there, and soon the trip that looked $250 cheaper is actually the more expensive one. Some common extra expenses with other tour operators:
Extra lodging: If a trip starts in the morning, or ends in the evening, you may have little realistic choice but to spend the night in the hotel that the operator offers as an add-on option.
Transportation: Will it be expensive to get from the airport or train station to the starting point? Are there transportation costs during the trip for which you’ll be responsible?
Meals: How many breakfasts, how many lunches, and how many dinners are included? What will be the likely cost of those that aren’t included?
Drinks: Is wine (or other alcoholic beverage) included with dinner?
Tips: Rarely do tour companies include tips in their list price. Some have a mandatory add-on for tips; others provide guidelines and leave it to your discretion.
Other mandatory charges: Cruise ships often add “Port taxes” to the list price, an item over which you have no choice.
Activities: If some activities wouldn’t be of interest to everyone on a trip, the tour operator may treat them as extra options, for which you pay a fee. That’s fair enough, but know what those extras are. What activities that you want to do will not be included? How much is the fee?
Personal Expenses: These aren’t included in costs for tour packages, but you should definitely assess your own spending needs and habits, then calculate honestly. These costs will be unique to you and your personality. Some tour clients adore buying souvenirs at every stop. Others are choosier, or aren’t as committed to bringing home collectibles. You’ll need to assess your needs for personal purchases you predict in advance (including prescriptions you might need to refill) plus your taste for collectibles, plus just discretionary fun money for surprises and impulses you’ll never anticipate while traveling!
Talk with people who have been on this trip
If you have friends who took the trip (or even a different trip with the same company), great. You can get a good sense of what to expect from your friends. We are often able to supply you with names of past customers. Businesses’ top priorities now include reputation management and referrals, and tourism is no exception. The Harvard Business Review details how companies deploy laser-sharp focus on calculating customers’ “referral value” as well as their “lifetime value.” They’re two separate, yet related assessments. “Value” for each is measured with a different formula. Combined, customer experience, loyalty and public perception are calculated. A particular customer may not achieve high “lifetime value” status for the company’s repeat business, however, that person could still give an important personal referral or review of the company’s product. Your own experience with any travel company is (or at least should be) paramount. Your experience affects their present and future bottom line, as well as their cultivation of new customers. When reading online reviews, keep your radar alert. Try to detect false praise and overt flattery as well as reviews that just seem to complain for the sake of complaining. When quizzing your own associates or online forums, some things you might want to ask are these:
Did the trip seem well-organized?
Were there many extra, unexpected costs?
Did it include everything the brochure promised?
How were the meals? The accommodations? The guides? The transportation? (These are the big-ticket items, and the answers here will tell you a great deal.)
What did the traveler like best?
What was their biggest disappointment?
Would they travel with that company again?
What should the travel company do differently?
Read testimonies from some of our customers.
Be careful as you compare the length of two trips
Nights, not days, are the simplest yardstick
A 7-night trip generally includes 6 full days, and portions of two days at the beginning and end.
Many companies call this an 8-day trip; some call it a 7-day trip. (Absolutely nobody calls it a 6-day trip.)
In planning your travel, you’ll want to calculate in your own travel time to-and-from airports in your own city, plus time you may gain or lose by crossing international time-zones.
If you choose a tour’s add-on package, what travel must you do then, if any?
Or is that add-on package close enough to your tour destination that more travel time becomes irrelevant? Related to these logistics are questions about how packed with activity your tour is, and what choices you’ll have in managing your own time.
It’s stressful to leave work at 5pm just to race to your airport to catch a flight on the same evening. Ditto for your return. Allow yourself some time to decompress. Sometimes, the whole point of a vacation should be about your choice to simply chill out on your lovely hotel’s veranda or at pool-side, opting out of a day’s busy adventures with other tour members. Will the tour allow it?
How high does the pressure seem?
After you’ve compared, we expect you’ll join many other people who have declared their HE Travel trip to be not only the best they ever had, but also a great value compared with other gay travel packages.
If so, we look forward to having you join other gay men, lesbians, and friends, on one of the many trips we offer.
Our Calendar is a great place to see all of our upcoming trips.
How to Choose a Gay Vacation
So Many Trips, So Little Vacation Time!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the range of gay vacations we offer, here is what we encourage you to start with.
HE Travel offers over 50 different gay trips every year. Sometimes it’s hard enough for us to keep track of them all, so we sympathize with first-time visitors to this site who feel overwhelmed by the choices.
Every gay vacation on our list is there for a reason. They’re all great trips: If we didn’t think one was good, we have plenty of others we could offer in its place. If you have a particular destination or activity or travel date in mind, you can go right from our home page to see what your choices are. If none of our trips meet your needs, consider having us set up custom travel for you.
But if you simply want a memorable vacation, and have no special constraints, we encourage you to consider our Bucket List Destinations page. Whether you’ve dreamed of seeing the Pyramids, or walking through the Sun Gate at Dawn into Machu Picchu, or visiting any other number of amazing world wonders, our Bucket List tours promise to amaze and inspire you.
Take a look at our top menu bar on each page. You can search for tours by destination, type of activity, designation, dates or even pick by names. We’ve provided as many options as we can think of to help you find your dream vacation. If all else fails, give us a call or send us an email, and our team of adventure specialists can even walk you through the process!