When can we contact the Varsity Travel office?
Our office is contactable 24 hours per day every day of the year. Our normal business operating hours are Monday – Friday from 09.00 – 17.00. Outside of these hours, a secretary will take your message and forward it to the relevant department.
Does the date of travel affect the price?
We have a peak season supplement during the periods May Bank Holiday & 14th June – 28th July because we are oversubscribed for this period. For tours outside of these dates, the date of travel has no affect on the price whatsoever. The only factor affecting the price per person is the total group size. Our price bands are divided into 12 – 19, 20 – 25, 25 – 30, 31 – 40 and 41+ paying participants
Can there be a price increase or surcharge for any reason?
The one & only reason that there will be a price increase is if the Euro decreases below 1.1 Euros to £1 at the date of your Final Payment Due Date. In this case there may be an Exchange Rate Supplement of up to 0.08% of the total tour cost. Please note that we very rarely charge the full 0.08% supplement, usually charging up to 0.05% instead. This supplement is permitted by the UK Holiday Package Regulations to protect tour operators from extreme currency fluctuations. We recommend that parents are advised of this supplement so they can budget for it in their tour calculations.
How do your prices compare with the competition?
We are often baffled when we study competitors’ prices to see that a very attractive lead-in price soon becomes inflated after various supplements have been added. Pupils have to pay for admission charges, lunches, insurance, optional excursions etc. In addition, coach drivers often use a ‘hard-sell’ to earn more money – charging £3 each for driving tours of Paris for example. Once these supplements have been added, it becomes very clear that our fully-inclusive prices represent real value. With Varsity Travel, pupils only need to bring pocket money – absolutely everything else is included.
If a pupil withdraws after payment of the deposit payment, how much will he/she lose?
The pupil would lose their deposit payment only.
Will Varsity Travel hold our dates while deposits are collected?
Yes. We will hold your dates while your group is recruited & deposits collected. We will provide an option date for deposits to be received to fully confirm your tour reservation.
Are deposit payments transferable between pupils?
When are our dates fully confirmed?
Dates are fully confirmed upon receipt of your deposit payments (currently £70/student for coach tours & £140/student for air tours).
Can you guarantee that this exact tour will proceed on these exact dates. Can the tour be cancelled by the tour operator at the last minute?
Once you have paid your initial deposit payments, the tour is fully confirmed for the exact dates that you have booked. We guarantee that we will not change the tour or the dates at all.
Will we be asked to change our dates?
Can we pay in instalments?
Yes. We understand the difficulties that many parents go through to send their children on a Study Tour abroad. We can accept payments in installments over a period of months. After each payment has been received, we will forward a receipt along with an updated Statement of Account showing the remaining amount outstanding.
Can we make changes to the Suggested Itinerary that you have sent us?
Yes. Our itineraries are very flexible and are open to change as you require. Please feel free to contact us with any changes that you would like to make. We will make the changes and forward an amended itinerary to you by return.
Is the itinerary flexible once we are abroad?
Yes. One advantage of having an expert tour guide accompany the tour is that plans can be changed at short notice, due to weather conditions for example. If the group leader would like to change the itinerary once abroad, the Tour Director can advise and make the necessary reservations for alternative visits.
Can we travel by Eurotunnel or ferry?
Yes. You can choose between the Eurotunnel from Folkestone or SeaFrance Ferries to cross the Channel. There is no difference in price.
Do you always use the nearest and most convenient airport to school/college?
Yes. We always endeavour to use the most convenient airport for your school/college’s location. However, the choice of flights depends on availability so we do reserve the right to use a different airport where necessary.
Can you guarantee flight timings?
No. The choice of flights depends on availability. We always endeavour to book flights departing mid-morning and returning late on the final day in order to maximise the amount of time spent abroad.
Will your coaches have seat-belts?
Yes. All of the coaches that we use from the UK have seatbelts. Spanish, French and Italian transport law does not legally require coaches to have seatbelts, as in the UK. Therefore, we do not guarantee that coaches used on the Continent will have seatbelts.
Will the coach have a television, video and WC?
All of the 49 seater coaches that we use are fully executive and do have televisions, videos and WC’s. The larger coaches (53, 57 and 72) are standard coaches and so do not have these facilities. If it is essential for your group to have these facilities, you should ensure that your group size does not exceed 49 passengers.
Has the driver signed up to a code of conduct?
Yes. We advise our coach operator partners of the behaviour that is expected from drivers. For example, we ask that drivers discuss any problems they may have with the group leader or Tour Director rather than directly with pupils.
What standard will the hotel be?
We guarantee that the hotel will be of a Tourist Class two or three star standard. The rooms will be comfortable, have adequate ventilation and heating, have secure locks on the doors, have televisions, telephones and en-suite bathroom facilities. We never use hotels with bathrooms in the corridor. If there is little hotel availability, we always upgrade to a higher standard hotel rather than downgrade. Consequently, in the past we have had groups staying in a four star hotel due to limited availability.
How many pupils are accommodated per room?
Depending on the final choice of hotel, pupils will be accommodated in either twin, triple or quadruple rooms.
What rooms will staff have?
Staff will be accommodated in twin rooms based on staff of the same sex sharing. Alternatively, staff may prefer to have single rooms, in which case there is a single room supplement payable (please see price list for current single room supplement rates).
Will there be a meeting or conference room for the group's use?
Yes. There will be a hotel conference room available for the group’s use. (Please request this at time of booking).
Will the group be accommodated on the same corridor?
At the time of booking, we request to the hotel that we require our group to be accommodated on the same corridor as much as possible. However, because we use tourist hotels, we ask pupils and staff to consider that there will be members of the public sharing the hotel with us.
Are all admission costs included?
Yes. We cover the costs of all admissions. Some optional and expensive visits incur a supplement (eg. Disneyland, Port Aventura Themepark etc). These will be included in the Final Invoice so there will be no need for pupils to pay for any admission costs at all while abroad.
Will there be a commentary or guided tour?
Yes. Our expert tour guides are very knowledgable of the city or region. They speak the local language, may be from the same country or have often lived in the country being visited. As we travel around the city, the Tour Director will give an interesting commentary, pointing out sights of historical interest, explaining the local ways and helping participants to gain an understanding of the culture.
Can the expert tour guide organise recreational or evening activities?
Yes. The expert tour guide is on hand 24 hours a day to provide for the requirements of the group. They can organise evening bowling, swimming, a gondola ride in Venice, a Vivaldi Concert in Florence, a driving tour of Paris, mini-golf in Barcelona, sandcastle competitions or a game of beach football in Normandy. Our Tour Directors have plenty of experience of working with pupils and are on hand to advise and organise recreational activities throughout the tour.
Is the expert tour guide on call for your group's sole use 24 hours per day?
Yes. The expert tour guide will meet your group at the airport or ferry port. They stay with your group for the whole tour, staying in the same hotel and accompanying the group on every excursion.
The Museums in Paris have gone on strike. What do we do?!
The expert tour guide will make alternative arrangements with the support of the Varsity Travel office in the UK. Where groups have suffered from wildcat strikes in the past, we have reacted quickly, using our local knowledge to amend the itinerary, reserve alternative excursions and progress as smoothly as possible.
Will the expert tour guide help with the security of the group?
Yes. The expert tour guide will use his/her local knowledge to assist with the group’s security, advising on pickpocket areas, providing metro maps, warning of local tricks, explaining the route, warning of local traffic dangers or translating with local police or doctors on behalf of the group. In this way the Tour Director is a real asset to the security and wellbeing of the group.
What about remote supervision?
When pupils are given ‘free’ time under remote supervision, they will be briefed as to where a member of staff will be at any time. They will be given ‘free’ time in a clearly defined area which is known to be safe. They will be given the mobile telephone number of the group leader as well as the expert tour guide.
What if a pupil gets lost?
Varsity Travel provide all participants with small laminated cards explaining the procedure to follow should they get lost. The card contains the emergency mobile telephone numbers to contact as well as a request in French/Italian/Spanish/German for the reader of the card to help the pupil to contact their teachers. In this way, pupils can show the card to any policeman, shopkeeper or member of authority to gain help.
How much pocket money should students bring?
Because the Varsity Travel package is fully inclusive, pupils need only bring pocket money for drinks, postcards, souvenirs, ice-creams etc. We recommend that a minimum of £10 per day is sufficient.
How much money should accompanying staff bring?
Staff should bring a small float for emergencies, incidentals, telephone calls, taxis, doctor’s call-out fees and first aid provisions (plasters etc). Varsity Travel provide for most staff refreshments, purchasing staff coffees throughout the day, wine with dinners and some evening refreshments in the hotel. We recommend that a float of approximately £100 is sufficient for the group leader’s requirements, depending on the size of the group.
Who pays for doctor's fees?
Where necessary, the Tour Director will organise for the Tourist Doctor to visit a pupil at the hotel. There is a charge to pay, usually in the region of 90 Euros, which should be met by the group leader. The group leader’s costs are reimbursed upon return to the UK, when the full amount is reclaimed through the school/County travel insurance policy.
Do we have a travel insurance policy in force?
Due to changes in the UK Travel Insurance Regulations, Varsity Travel are not allowed to include travel insurance within their tour packages. We can recommend an Essential Travel Insurance Policy for your group with Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd. This policy provides for all the vital cover needed for holiday emergencies such as medical emergencies, loss of luggage, money, passports etc, delays and cancellations as well as legal expenses and personal liability. Full details of the Endsleigh Insurance cover provided are available upon request. The cost of this optional travel insurance is approximately £1.70 per student per day.
What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
An EHIC card provides for reciprocal medical care for UK citizens in any EC country. With this card, participants will receive full medical care without the need for lengthy paperwork, payment or delay in a foreign hospital. An EHIC card is essential for all participants and can be ordered from any Post Office or online at www.ehic.org.uk
Has a risk assessment been completed for the tour?
Yes. Group leaders will be provided with a copy of the Risk Assessment soon after the initial booking has been made.
Is the tour by air ATOL bonded?
Yes. We hold an Air Tours Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority for our tours by air. This protects all payments made for the total value of the package (not just the flight) in the event of the liquidation of your Tour Operator or the scheduled airline. If an ATOL tour operator or scheduled airline stops trading, the Civil Aviation Authority will refund your money. If you are abroad, the CAA will bring your group home as planned. No worry, no expense.
Are our payments safe?
Yes. In accordance with Article 7 of the EC Holiday Package Laws, all of our tours are fully bonded for your protection. Our Escrow Clients Call Account is a managed account that guarantees your financial security. Under the terms of this bonded account, no monies paid to a tour operator may be released to that company until the Trustee, in compliance with the law, releases our clients’ payments to the tour principal and then only 10 days after the successful completion of the tour.
What passports are needed?
It is the responsibility of group leaders to ensure that all participants have the correct, valid documentation for the country being visited. Errors or omissions may result in entry being refused to the destination country. A valid ten year passport is required for travel within the European Community. Group leaders can either inform pupils to ensure that they have their own valid passports or they can organise for a group passport. The advantage of pupils organising their own passports is that the emphasis is on parents to chase up the passports where necessary. The advantage of having a group passport organised is that the group leader is in control of the process and knows that every participant has a valid passport, rather than relying on parents. Whichever passport type is used, we recommend that all passports are collected and kept in the school safe one month prior to departure in order to avoid last-minute problems.
What visas are needed for foreign students?
Pupils originating from outside the European Community will require a visa to enter any European country. It is the responsibility of group leaders to ensure that all participants have the correct, valid documentation and visas for the country being visited. We recommend that visa applications are started as soon as the tour is booked as some foreign Embassies can be slow and unhelpful in processing the application.
Can we sketch or photograph inside the museums?
Each museum has its own policy re: sketching and photography. The Musee d’Orsay permits photography without a flash, as does the Picasso Museum in Barcelona while the Accademia Museum in Florence physically ejects anybody even attempting to photograph Michelangelo’s David. Your expert tour guide will be well aware of each museum’s rules and will advise pupils prior to entry.
Are special dietary requirements catered for?
Yes. All of the restaurants that we use offer a good choice of dishes and are able to cater for special dietary requirements. We usually send those pupils with special dietary requirements ahead of the main group so that the restaurant manager is aware of their needs.
What will we eat for lunch?
For tours by coach, the expert tour guide will provide an excellent picnic including ham, salami, pate, cocktail sausages, local cheeses, salad, cherry tomatoes, smoked salmon, crisps, apples, strawberries and chocolate bars. Freshly baked baguettes are delivered to the hotel every morning by the local boulanger. Orange juice is provided for students and sparkling champagne for staff. When weather permits, we enjoy our picnic outside, in picturesque places such as in a Parisian park, under the Eiffel Tower or on the beach. Our picnic lunches are often a highlight and we are often approached by American tourists asking whether they can purchase a sandwich.
For tours by air, the expert tour guide will distribute some lunch money to students (included in the cost). We break for lunch in a region of the city where there are many good-value sandwich shops and restaurants. This is a good opportunity for students to converse with locals and to sample the local food. Pupils will have enough to purchase a sandwich and a drink. They can choose to pay a little more to enjoy a sit-down meal in a restaurant. We often see our students enjoying a pleasant pasta lunch on a terrace in Florence or tasting tapas dishes in an ancient Barcelonan square. When we meet after lunch, students often tell us, with enthusiasm, of the dishes that they tasted, the deals that they found or their experiences of communicating with a foreign waiter.
What will we eat for dinner?
We use a variety of excellent restaurants for every destination that we offer. We are constantly investigating new possibilities and seeking to add to the variety already on offer. All our tour guides are foodies & we introduce our groups to the regional specialities;
In Spain we can organise a paella evening & a chocolate con churros,
In Germany we use traditional brewery restaurants.
In Italy we use wonderful pizzerias & in Paris we even order escargots in garlic butter for students to sample. Pupils are given a good choice of food and can be as adventurous or unadventurous as they like.
In France we use the restaurant chain ‘Flunch’, which offers a wide choice of meals within a set-meal formula. Typical meals include roast chicken, fish in breadcrumbs or beefburger with a hot vegetable buffet, soft-drink and choice of an ice-cream from 20 different flavours. In Paris we also use the Chez Eugene cabaret restaurant on the Place de Tertre. Pupils may muse while savouring their steak frites that they are sitting in the same seat as Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas or Claude Monet would have sat in over a hundred years ago!
In Italy we use several excellent restaurants and trattorias ranging from a candlelit terrace by the Grand Canal in Venice, a roofless terrace restaurant for al fresco dining in Rome to an ancient Florentine trattoria offering a choice of 23 pizzas hand-cooked in a wood-burning oven. In all of the restaurants, pupils can choose from approximately 18 different pasta dishes and will have the opportunity to try local specialities such as risottos, calzone pizzas, lasagnes and delicious gnocchi’s (potato balls in sauce).
Our restaurants in Spain offer an unlimited choice from an enormous buffet. Pupils eat as much as they like from a salad buffet, a hot buffet and finally the dessert buffet. There are unlimited drinks as well as tea and coffee.
‘La Place’ – our restaurant in Amsterdam – is extremely popular. Housed within a 16th century wooden house, the menu includes a half-chicken roasted in rosemary, a large beefsteak or vegeterian pasta with soft drink and a pastry. We eat in a private room with views over the Amstel Canal below.
The vast majority of dietary requirements can be accommodated in all of our restaurants.
How will we travel around the city?
We always organise the itinerary so as to reduce the amount of travelling and maximise the time spent in museums, galleries etc. On our tours by coach, pupils are collected and dropped off as close to the museums as possible. When the weather is fine, we often leave the coach and walk between visits. For our tours by air, we use hotels in the centre of the city so that the majority of museums are within walking distance. Where necessary, we will use the local metro or bus routes and in Venice we use the public vaporetto boat system. (All travel tickets are included in the cost).
What if we have a problem while abroad?
Even with the best planning and organisation, problems will inevitably occur from time to time. The benefit of travelling with us is that your group is accompanied by an expert tour guide who is present specifically to foresee, avoid and deal with any problems that may occur. In the first instance, the group leader should bring the problem to the attention of the expert tour guide to determine whether the problem can be solved ‘on the ground’. We are active in encouraging group leaders to advise our expert tour guides of any problem that they may have. The expert tour guide may be unaware of a problem and may well be able to solve the problem with ease once they have been made aware of it. Similarly, we would ask pupils to bring any problems to the attention of staff rather than suffering in silence or telephoning home to worry parents. There are very few problems that cannot be solved with the commitment of staff, the expert tour guide and the Varsity Travel office staff in the UK.
What if we have a complaint?
It is the responsibility of the group leader to bring any problems or complaints to the attention of the Tour Director within a reasonable amount of time so that he/she has an opportunity to rectify the situation. We are extremely keen to gather feedback from every group leader so that we can make improvements on a continual basis. On completion of your Study Tour, each party leader receives a questionnaire with opportunity to provide feedback. Varsity Travel will respond to all complaints in writing within ten working days.
How will our groups by air be checked in online?
We will oversee the whole process on your behalf. We will enter all passport information & send you the boarding passes a few days prior to departure
How much luggage is permitted for the tours by air?
We include cabin baggage for our tours by air (Maximum length: 55cm, width: 40cm, depth: 20 cm including wheels, side pockets, handles etc. Maximum permitted weight is 10kg). With careful planning there is no problem to take sufficient clothes & supplies for a Study Tour within this limit. For those pupils that wish to take additional luggage, an airline supplement can be paid to take a hold suitcase in addition to the cabin baggage. Some pupils share a hold suitcase & so halve the airline cost paid. Please note that Varsity Travel do cover the cost for all staff to take checked-in luggage in addition to cabin baggage. The exact supplement to pay for hold luggage depends on the airline used. Full details of airline supplements are available upon request.
‘Thanks for all your work on the Andalusia tour. Everything was perfectly organised from the Hotel Ibis in central Malaga through to the restaurants & the excursions to the Alhambra in Granada & the Mezquita in Cordoba.
Having a tour guide with us made life so much more relaxing than on other tours I have worked on. Seeing the kids use their Spanish talking with the locals was memorable. We would like the same again next year please!’
‘Thanks for organising a very successful tour to Barcelona. The kids really enjoyed the tour & the feedback from parents has been very positive.
The hotel just outside the centre was excellent & the catering was popular, particularly the paella night next to the Sagrada Familia. Can you send Suggested Itineraries for Barcelona & Andalusia for next year?’