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.
1. Compare your 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:
- 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?
2. 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. Some things you might want to ask:
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?
3. 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.)
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.