Answers to some of the questions we get asked most
We have a strong aversion to fees, but as in most industries, sometimes they’re unavoidable.
Planning fees are fully waived for returning clients. For new clients, we charge a conditionally refundable planning fee if we go beyond two (2) working versions of a trip design. The condition? That we finish out the whole trip design process and send you off on your adventure! As soon as your final payment is due, you’ll have a choice of of either being refunded, or we’ll be happy to apply your fee amount towards your final payment.
There may at times be fees for certain other itineraries or types of travel which your travel designer will communicate to you in advance.
Should you decide not to work with us (perish the thought!) and either cancel your trip or do the bookings your own, you will be responsible for any cancellation fees that may be charged by any of the suppliers, tour operators, cruise lines, etc. that may be in force after deposits have been made.
Generally, cancellation policies are in effect from tour operators, cruise lines, and other service providers once deposits are submitted and increase as we move closer to departure. These policies can change based on the time of year and are typically more strict during high-season travel periods.
Be sure to read through all the Terms & Conditions documentation you’ll receive and familiarize yourself with any cancellation policies relative to your trip.
While it’s true that we have a particular fondness for itineraries that pull you off the beaten track and are experiential in nature, taking you “away from the things of man” and maybe outside of your comfort zone, in the end, our focus is truly in relationships than just certain types of itineraries.
We’ve been known to plan all kinds of travel – honeymoons, family vacations, individuals, weekends away, retreats, cruises, golf journeys, safaris, ski trips…
We encourage our clients to call us anytime they’re thinking of doing anything where you wouldn’t be sleeping at home – if we can’t help, or don’t think we can add value, we’ll let you know!
We are a full-service travel agency so, depending on the type of trip, airfare is sometimes included.
When it’s not a part of your trip package, our internal air department can still research and issue your tickets, but note that there are ticketing fees between $75-100 per person for most itineraries.
To avoid the ticketing fee, we will often just advise on air schedules and let you book your own flights – this ends up being more cost effective, but we’re happy to do whatever helps you most!
We are unable to book flights with points or miles, but we can still help research which flight itineraries would best fit with your trip design.
Payment schedules vary greatly depending on the policies of the various services, tour operators, cruise lines, and other suppliers who may be involved in planning your adventure.
Generally speaking, a deposit will be due upon finalization of the itinerary to secure any hotels, cruises, tours, or other services. This amount varies by supplier and/or country, but is typically anywhere from $100 per person to 50% of the total trip cost.
Final payment for your trip will usually be due prior to departure and also varies by supplier and/or country. Most final payments are due 30, 45, 60, or 90 days prior to departure. Some operators require full payment within 180 days, although this is not common. Separately held hotel reservations which may not be part of a priced package are typically payable at check-out.
We will always let you know what the deposit and final payment schedule is for your specific itinerary.
We would love to meet in person with all our clients, but unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day! In addition, we are often on the road ourselves, so instead, we make the most of this digital age we live and work in.
During your trip design process, we will primarily use email for communicating. We’re working on a client portal for future rollout which we think will make providing information and keeping things organized even better for both our team, overseas partners, and our clients.
If you would prefer to chat via Skype or phone, you can schedule an appointment with us at any available time using our online meeting scheduler. As an existing client, make sure you select Existing Client Trip Design Discussion for the Quick 15-Minute Follow-Up.
Scheduling calls allows us to focus on our travel design work ad take care of our clients currently on the road without interruption.
Our regular main office hours for normal business inquiries are Monday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm and Friday, 9am to 4pm (all times Pacific).
We do our best to reply to all communications with clients actively planning a trip the same business day, but we ask our clients to all be understanding that we may have some itineraries that take priority because they are departing in the immediate future, or times when unexpected travel emergencies pop up (you know, like hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions) which may delay our ability to respond.
Many people today think that, since the advent of the Internet and DIY travel sites, agents have become obsolete. Honestly, we thought that ourselves before discovering that, while the old business model of the traditional travel agent has all but disappeared, agents themselves evolved from the order takers and human booking engines of yesteryear into true advisors and experience designers – focused on human relationships and connection while offering value, benefits, with personalized service and care.
Over the last few years, these types of service and relationship oriented advisors have seen growth and expansion as more people are coming to understand the value travel advisors can bring to not just the planning process, but the execution of the trip as well.
We are an accredited agency through IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network), a member of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), and a member of ASTA (American Association of Travel Agents).
We are also registered with all States that require Seller of Travel registrations:
- California – CST #2116049-40
- Florida – Seller of Travel License #ST41301
- Iowa – Travel Agency #1458
- Hawaii – Certificate of Authority
- Washington – UBI #603 388 563
Our owner/founder, Deborah Miller, is also a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) which is an industry-recognized accreditation given through The Travel Institute.
IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network) is a department of IATA and has been servicing all aspects of the US Travel and Tourism industry for more than 20 years.
IATAN’s accreditation recognizes the diversified and versatile U.S. travel professional, Meeting Planners and Event Planners who can and will continue to meet universally recognized requirements and who sell travel and travel related services.
Every trip is a little different, but here’s a pretty standard overview of how we work:
- First, we gather initial information so we can assign your trip to a Travel Designer and then they will begin working on an initial itinerary & proposal for your review.
- Once you receive this initial proposal, they will look for your feedback on anything you’d like to add, remove, change, or have questions about. They will incorporate your feedback and answer any questions before providing an updated proposal and the process repeats until you’re happy with the itinerary and are ready to move forward with booking!
- Booking typically requires a deposit to be submitted to confirm all services and accommodations with final payment due anywhere from 30-90 days prior to departure (depending on the country and policies in place for the services being purchased).
Most everything we do is customized based on each client’s needs (with the exception of any pre-packaged tours or cruises that may be booked), but what this means also is that the local partners we work with price everything as a package. This is so they can leverage their confidential, negotiated contract rates, discounts for bundling services, accommodations, etc.). This is how most professional travel arrangements are priced when not done a la carte – kind of like a private, personalized version of a group packaged tour. This also gives you a better handle on the cost of the trip because your out-of-pocket expenses will then be limited to things like food, tips, and any other extras – nearly everything else will be fully prepaid making it easier for you to budget your trip!
A lot of people think that as long as you have medical insurance in the US, you’re covered if you’re traveling overseas. However, our US policies may or may not actually cover everything that could arise while you’re in a foreign country if you run into any issues.
We’ve seen on more than one occasion medical needs come up while traveling (for instance, you or one of your traveling companions gets sick or seriously injured) and suddenly you find yourself operating outside of your originally planned itinerary.
Most US medical plans will cover some, but not all, of the medical costs. But even doctors visits and medication aside, the real lifesaver is often the additional expenses you don’t even think about until they’re staring you in the face! Travel insurance will step in and not only take care of any expenses not covered by your US medical policy (up to your coverage amount), but will then also cover things that may need to be changed, adjusted, or cancelled. The can include things like changed or cancelled flights, extra nights in hotels, and even meals up to your coverage limits.
Be sure to call your insurance company beforehand to ask if your plan includes overseas health insurance. And if it does, what exactly does it cover?
The US State Department suggests some questions to ask your insurer, including:
- Does my plan cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me to the United States for treatment if I become seriously ill?
- Do you require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin?
- Do you guarantee medical payments abroad?
While we can’t speak to what your specific insurance policy will cover overseas, here are the general policies of a few major insurers.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield does offer travel coverage, but draws a line between “urgent care” and “emergency care.” Emergency care, Anthem says, is requires by an injury or condition severe enough to result in “placing the Member’s physical and or mental health in serious jeopardy; serious impairment to bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.”
“Urgent care,” on the other hand, “may not be covered to the same extent as emergency care.” For example, Anthem says, a fever not higher than 104° is considered urgent, not emergency care.
Aetna states that “emergency care is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week – anywhere in the world.” An emergency, Aetna says, “is a situation in which you could reasonably expect that the absence of immediate medical attention could result in serious jeopardy to your health, or if you are a pregnant woman, to the health of your unborn child.” Cigna advises members to check their policies: “Outside of the U.S., coverage is limited to emergency services as defined in the policy.”
In short, your definition of “emergency” may differ from your insurer’s definition, and you may find yourself on the hook for medical expenses you thought were covered. That’s why buying travel insurance is so important as it “can help fill any gaps in domestic health insurance coverage.” (Source: U.S. News & World Report)
Sources: Allianz Global Assistance, US News & World Report, Aetna, Cigna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, US Department of State
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It depends… We have very close partnerships with certain tour operators as well as cruise lines whose quality and level of service are at the same level that we also strive for in taking care of our clients. This includes small ship cruise lines we love and trust (such as Windstar or Uncruise) and small group tour companies that we likewise know to be amazing (such as Natural Habitat Adventures or Butterfield & Robinson).
What’s fun and what many people don’t realize is that booking tours or cruises with our partners through us won’t cost you more, and in fact, we often have value-add amenities or additional perks/upgrades we can extend to our clients due to the relationships we have with these partners. So in essence, you get even more for your investment!
Naturally this depends on the kind of trip you’re designing, but for most holidays over a few days in length, everything is bundled together and priced as a package. This is how most professional travel arrangements internationally are priced (when not done a la carte) which usually results in being able to negotiate much better overall rates behind the scenes.
Cruise pricing is typically inclusive of a lot of things like meals, accommodation on board, port fees, and taxes so the cost just sort of “is what it is”. We’ll always let you know if we’re able to apply other discounts or extra amenities to your reservation, but the pricing is largely preset by the cruise line.
The same is true of small group experiences such as polar safaris or active adventures like biking, kayaking, skiing, or hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – the cost is set by the tour operator/supplier and inclusive of things like accommodations, some or all meals, guides, transfers, and taxes.
Our trip designs are structured in the same way and typically include all accommodations, transfers, tickets, meals (on occasion), taxes, etc. and therefore are priced as a bundled, custom package so that we can leverage our partners and their confidential, negotiated contracted rates, discounts for bundling services, bulk rates, accommodations, etc. so you’ll know what your trip is going to cost upfront which helps manage the overall budget and you’ll only have to take with you what you intend to spend while traveling on incidentals like extra meals, souvenirs, and gratuities.
You’ll also have the piece of mind while you’re traveling knowing that there are multiple people monitoring all the moving pieces of your itinerary and are there to support you locally when and if you need it!
Travel is the largest industry in the world…and also one of the most complicated. There are so many countries, currencies, regulations, and cultural differences out there – not to mention the unquietness of your own adventure!
This all makes it difficult to say exactly what will be included in your trip, but these are the things that are pretty standard across the board:
Custom-crafted itinerary based on your specific requests and personal vision.
A dedicated Edge of Wonder Travels Unlimited Travel Designer, looking out for you and your best interests at every stage of your journey.
Most travel designs include accommodations, transfers, and tours/activities in the pricing.
Final delivery of your itinerary outlining all of your travel arrangements, emergency contact information, and any tickets or confirmations.
Meals, taxes, and other local charges such as service fees, VAT, etc. may also be included.
A destination guide constructed through the personal experiences of over 120 global correspondents who are not only experts on their geographic areas, but also share a passion for creating extraordinary experiences for travelers.
Note that in assisting in the planning and booking of your adventure, we may act as agent/intermediary with our local partners, suppliers, tour companies, hotels, cruise lines, and other professionals in the industry making local accommodation and logistical arrangements for travel services in your itinerary.
This is one that gets people! Nearly all of us have cards that carry “travel insurance” as one of the included benefits. Yay. But we still pick up a separate policy specifically for the trip. Why? Because what the credit cards offer is pretty much the lowest benefit options possible.
This isn’t surprising because, let’s face it, they’re a credit card company – they’re not going to pay for premiums that are going to give the best coverage. That’s not their fault – it’s just good business for them. It’s nice to have for domestic trips (you know, in case your luggage gets stolen or your flight is delayed) but it’s not going to be much help when you’re in another country where automatically the costs of any sort of disruption or interruption of your plans will be greater than you might expect. We’ve learned this from experience!
In addition, there are a number of things that is usually hidden in the fine print (that dang fine print!) that would be good to keep in mind or read through.
- You may be required to purchase the ENTIRE trip on the same card to qualify
- Many policies only the primary cardholder (not all travelers)
- Pre-existing condition look back periods are usually a lot longer (up to 6 months)
- “Covered conditions” can be greatly limited and often doesn’t include things like supplier financial default
It’s a good question and, while we do play favorites with some of the destinations and types of travel that we personally enjoy, what we usually say is that we really specialize in our clients. Building relationships and then working on not just one trip, but MANY over years is what we enjoy most.
Honeymoon to babymoon to family vacations to anniversary trips… A full lifecycle of experiences and all of the beautiful getaways and life-events in-between!
Below is a current map of places our clients have explored…