Before You Go
From money matters to packing tips, we’ve got all the information you need to prepare for your upcoming Vantage journey. Just click on an item below to read more about it.
Passports & Visas
Planning your trip
Your trip will be here before you know it! Here's some information specific to the destinations you'll be visiting to help you prepare for your adventure.
A passport is required for this trip. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the scheduled return date of your vacation. Bring with you a photocopy of the pages of your passport that contain your personal information and extra passport photographs. These are useful in the event of loss.
Passport and Visa
The following information applies to U.S. citizens only. Those traveling on other than a U.S. passport must contact the embassies or consulates of the countries to be visited for further information and special requirements.
Should the above requirements change, you will be notified in a mailing prior to departure. All visa, entry requirements, and fees are subject to change without advance notification by action of the government and port authorities. Vantage is not responsible for any additional charges resulting from such changes.
For up-to-date information, please visit Generations Visa at http://www.genvisa.com/vantage
U.S. Customs Information
If you are traveling internationally, it is important to understand U.S. Customs regulations including required documents that are valid at least six months following your departure date, rules for bringing back items, and duty-free exemption. Please click the link below to visit the U.S. Customs website and read their helpful info, "Know Before You Go."
View "Know Before You Go"
(Link opens new browser window.)
We realize that tipping can be confusing on a group tour, so we've included the following recommended guidelines for gratuities:
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers now included!
- Included Meals: Gratuities are included
- Outside Dining: Varies according to local customs; your Adventure Leader will advise
- Vantage Adventure Leader on base program: $10-$12 per person per day, cash only
- Vantage Adventure Leader or City Host on extensions: $10-$12 per person per day, cash only
- Porterage: Included except in Customs areas
Please note: Gratuities on this trip can be made in cash only, in U.S. dollars.
Gratuities for Train Personnel
VIA RAIL'S THE CANADIAN:
We are sure you will agree that tipping is a personal matter and should be commensurate with services provided. The following are recommended guidelines:
- On Board Attendant: CAD $3.00 per person per night
- Dining Room Staff:
- Breakfast CAD $1.50 per person per day
- Lunch CAD $3.00 per person per day
- Dinner CAD $4.00 per person per day
We are sure you will agree that tipping is a personal matter and should be commensurate with services provided. That being said, in response to our passenger’s request for recommendations, a gratuity of $30.00 (Canadian) in Gold Leaf and $25.00 (Canadian) in Silver Leaf per guest to be shared among the attendants in your coach is generally considered appropriate for the two-day onboard experience.
Ship to Shore: The Vantage Safe Travel Initiative
We’ve planned our journeys around memorable destinations and experiences with your health, safety, and security always in mind. Following guidance from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, local foreign governments, and our partners from around the world, we’re taking it to the next level. We've implemented vital health & safety assurances on all our journeys. Learn more about Vantage's Safe Travel Initiative.
All travelers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — including a booster shot — at least 14 days prior to the departure of their journey. Travelers will be required to show proof of vaccination displaying their name, date of doses, and vaccine type to embark. Travelers who cannot produce proof of vaccination will have to return home at their own expense.
Specific entry requirements for your chosen destination
To ensure that you have a smooth travel experience, you will need to know the requirements for both your specific airline carrier and the country you’ll arrive in prior to your departure. We’ve listed some considerations below to help you plan.
- For country-specific information about entry requirements and COVID-19 status, visit the U.S. Department’s COVID-19 Country Specific Information page
- The use of face masks is no longer mandatory on our tours, unless required by local regulations
- Vantage will facilitate onsite tests for border crossings if required. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of testing.
- We encourage our travelers to complete a self-test before flying to the destination and to wear a mask during travel time (on flights and in airports)
- We highly recommend that you contact your air carrier prior to departure to confirm what their requirements are for take-off and landing
- Please note: Negative COVID-19 tests are no longer required for return travel back into the U.S.
At this time, additional vaccinations are not required for your tour; however, we advise that you check with your personal physician to verify your particular needs. For more information on health related issues while travelling overseas, contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/travel or calling toll free 1 (800) 232-4636.
Eastern Time & Atlantic Time (depending upon location)
Use the chart below to get an overview of the average temperatures at your destination.
Average High/Low Temperature (Fahrenheit)
What to Pack
You may find the packing information below helpful as you begin to prepare for your upcoming journey.
Bring your iPad, Kindles, and/or smart phones. This way you will have access to city guides, post trip survey and trip information while on tour. This will also allow you to take pictures and communicate with friends and family easier.
To help make your travel experience as smooth and simple as possible, Vantage suggests you limit your luggage to one large suitcase and one small carry-on bag per person. Although airlines will generally allow more luggage, the transportation on your Vantage tour may have stricter space limitations. Domestic carriers currently restrict weight limitations to 50 pounds per bag. Due to limitations on motorcoaches, only one luggage bag plus carry-on allowed.
Please note: You will not have access to your large suitcase while aboard VIA Rail's The Canadian. It is recommended that you keep all necessary items — clothing, toiletries, medication, etc. — for those two days in your carry on.
Most travelers pack much more than they really need. We recommend that you start packing a few days before your trip, so you have time to remember everything that you need — and to decide what is essential and what is not. And don't forget to leave room for souvenirs and gifts you may purchase during your trip.
Besides the basic necessities and the items covered below, you'll want to pack sunglasses, a hat or visor, and sunscreen for daytime use. You might also want to bring a small alarm clock, pocket tissues, travel pack of soap powder, needle, thread, safety pins, and personal face cloth. In many countries, your washcloth is considered to be of intimate usage and is not provided by hotels.
Depending on your destination, you may also want to bring insect repellent (we recommend repellent with a high "deet" content). Binoculars are also handy when travelling to areas where flora and fauna may be observed.
Some tours may also require an overnight bag for optional overnight excursions.
Dress on tour is generally casual and smart casual. Gentlemen may wish to bring a sport jacket. Formal clothing is not necessary. Your travel wardrobe should be planned according to the climate of the areas you will be visiting and the length of your stay. Average high and low temperatures for the destinations visited on each Vantage Tour are listed under "Climate".
Weather is never predictable so be sure to be prepared for just about anything. You'll want to take along a sweater or jacket for cool evenings. It's a good idea to dress in layers, which will allow you to adjust to changes in temperature.
We suggest a practical raincoat or waterproof shell with a hood, and/or a fold-up umbrella. The shell could also be worn with other layers in lower temperatures.
Good Walking Shoes
We suggest a practical raincoat or waterproof shell with a hood, and/or a fold-up umbrella. The shell could also be worn with other layers in lower temperatures.
Cameras and Film
Be sure to test the working order of your camera before you leave home, and to insure your equipment against loss and damage. It is also important to take along an ample supply of film. Film can be expensive and specific kinds of film may not be available in certain areas. Some airport x-ray equipment may harm valuable film. For utmost protection, film should be packed separately in hand luggage. Also, be sure to bring at least one extra battery for your camera.
If you are using a digital camera, check on how many images you can take on your memory card at the resolution you are using. You may wish to bring along an extra memory card so you will not run out of memory half way through the trip. Bring along the battery charger, but remember you may need a voltage converter. The alternative is to carry a spare charged battery with you.
Please remember that it is not wise to bring valuables with you when you travel. If you decide to do so, please carry them on your person when flying. Make sure to use hotel safe deposit boxes or safes to ensure the safety of possessions that you may want to have with you.
What to Leave Behind
Do not pack aerosol cans; they tend to leak during air travel. Also avoid packing glass bottles; use plastic containers instead. Leave at home any credit cards and checkbooks that you don't anticipate using on your trip; valuable jewelry; brand-new shoes (instead pack your most comfortable walking shoes); and, in general, anything that you would hate to lose.
The frequency for Canada is the same as the U.S.A.
When planning your flights, Vantage considers each airline's reputation for quality, service, and routing options to the estination. Vantage selects flights that both serve our groups' needs
and ensure the best balance of quality and cost. Our flight team members will do their utmost to select flights that will get you to your destination as quickly and easily as possible.
First and Business Class Airfare Upgrades
Many of our programs offer first and/or Business Class upgrades, for more information, please visit our FlightChoice page.
Vantage encourages you to check current airport security regulations well in advance of travel, as rules may have changed since your last trip. For the latest information on airline security guidelines and boarding procedures, please visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) web site.
While on Tour
While on Tour
The information below applies in general to Vantage escorted land tours. To learn more about our full line of escorted land tours,
At the beginning of your tour, a Vantage Tour Director will conduct an informative briefing concerning the daily schedule, local customs, and the included features of your tour. It is strongly advised that you attend this briefing.
Pace of the Tour
Vantage Tours are planned to provide a well-balanced mix of activities and free time. Certain tours, however, may prove to be more challenging than others, particularly for passengers with physical limitations.
Passengers with physical difficulties or concerns about the pace of the tour should contact their Vantage Customer Relations Representative for tips on which tours best suit their individual needs and abilities. See also Medical Issues, below.
Click here to read important information about travelers with a physical, emotional, or mental condition that may require professional attention or the use of special equipment. "Medical Issues" information also appears in the "Tour Participation Agreement - Terms and Conditions" bound into Vantage catalogs and printed on the back of your invoice.
How We Rate Our Hotels
While some tour companies devise their own ratings systems (based on their particular
standards), Vantage ranks hotels based on the industry-accepted classifications
published by the Hotel & Travel Index
- the travel industry standard.
Deluxe/Moderate Deluxe ***** Outstanding accommodations in every way, offering superior
service, facilities, and location.
Superior First-Class ****+ Above average accommodations, with many special amenities,
including more restaurants, shops, and usually a fitness center.
First-Class/Moderate First-Class **** Comfortable, well-equipped standard rooms
with private bath, attractive public areas, and amenities.
Please Note: In some areas where the hotels aren't rated, it's often due to the
fact that the hotel may be too new, too remote, or too small. However, the hotel
where you stay has been inspected and approved by Vantage personnel.
At Vantage, we count individuals from all walks of life and all religious denominations among our customers. Although we do not offer religious services on our travel programs, services may be available in the cities and towns you visit while on tour. Your Vantage Tour Director can advise you when religious services are available. Please keep in mind that not all religious denominations have a presence in every travel destination. We cannot guarantee the availability of religious services.
Shopping for local merchandise is always a part of the travel experience. We are aware that local guides do recommend shops on their tours. Always keep in mind that a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. Always keep receipts and credit card copies. Shipping should always include insurance in the event of breakage. Iit is best to check with your credit card issuer for any insurance that may be included when you use your card.
Sightseeing & Cultural Connections
Vantage offers a variety of included sightseeing tours and special cultural events
to enrich your travel experience and bring you "closer to the world." Our tours
are specially designed for Vantage travelers. They let you feel the atmosphere,
gain a cultural understanding, and become a part of the area you are visiting. They
include all transportation and the services of expert local guides.
All hotel taxes and hotel service charges are included in the tour price. If airport
arrival and departure taxes apply, they are payable in cash at the airports and
are not included.
All transfers between airport and hotel/pier are included in conjunction with Vantage
air and tour packages and will be via private transportation. Travelers purchasing
their own airline tickets will be responsible for their own transfers to and from
the airport/hotel/pier based on the itinerary.
Each Vantage Escorted Land Tour is planned with two criteria in mind: It must be
to an interesting destination and the tour must offer good quality at an exceptional
Although everything is planned well in advance of your departure, our ultimate goal
is to ensure that each departure is enjoyable, interesting, and safe. Therefore,
the day-by-day itinerary provided for each travel destination is subject to change
depending upon local conditions. If any significant changes occur in advance of
your departure, Vantage will notify you by phone or by mail. If changes occur while
on tour, your Vantage Tour Director or local representative will notify you.
Your Vantage Tour Director/Local Representative
During your tour you'll be accompanied on tour by an experienced Vantage Program Manager. You will also benefit from the insights of expert Local Representatives and tour guides. Both your Tour Director and Local Representative can provide suggestions on the best restaurants, shops, and local sights; will help coordinate optional tours and excursions; and assist in any manner possible.
We include tipping for all meals that are included in your package, all porterage and tips for local guides and drivers. Tips are not included for your Vantage Tour Director, your driver if he does the entire trip or any maids or other personnel in hotels, ships or trains.
What does my Reservation Deposit Guarantee?
Payment of your initial deposit holds your spot on your journey. However, it does
not guarantee the price of your trip. Participation in our Smart Pay Discount Plan can save you up to 10% on your Vantage
trip AND it ensures that the land, cruise, and international airfare portions of
your trip will not increase. This includes 100% guaranteed protection against most
additional taxes (does not include entry fees or arrival taxes), fuel surcharges,
and currency fluctuations, from the moment you pay in full under the terms of Vantage's
SmartPay Discount Plan. If you do not participate in our SmartPay Discount Plan,
all prices are subject to change.
When is my Final Payment due?
Final payments are due 90-120 days prior to departure, depending upon the program.
Can I extend my final payment due date?
Unfortunately, we are unable to extend any final payment due dates because of our
vendor contractual obligations.
What is an E-Check?
ECheck is a commonly used term to refer to an online payment method via electronic
check from your bank account.
What are the benefits of paying via E-Check?
Paying by E-Check
is fast, easy and 100% secure – and there is no fee involved. Plus, paying by E-Check
with our SmartPay Discount Program, you can realize hundreds of dollars in savings
right away. When you compare those savings to the frequent flyer miles you might
earn when you pay by credit card, you come out on top for two reasons: first, you
enjoy your savings right away, whereas frequent flyer miles need to be accumulated
over time before you cash them in; second, frequent flyer miles have restrictions
How do I make payments via an E-Check?
It's easy to set up E-Checking on My Account. Have your checkbook handy and simply
go to the Make a Payment screen and follow the instructions provided. Please note
that E-Check payments appear on your invoice immediately but take 2-3 business days
for your bank to process.
What is the SmartPay Discount Plan?
The SmartPay Discount PlanSM
allows our travelers to receive a discount by paying for their trip in full before
their final payment due date. The further in advance of the final payment date you
pay, the greater the discount. Just as important, you’ll guarantee your price against
price increases resulting from currency fluctuations, fuel costs, and other unanticipated
How can I take advantage of your SmartPay Discount Plan?
You can only take advantage of our SmartPay Discount PlanSM when paying by E-Check.
Paying by E-Check
is fast, easy and 100% secure – and there is no fee involved. All you need is your
checking account number and bank routing number, both of which are printed on your
checks. 50% of your trip’s total cost must be paid by check. Payments made inside
of 60 days prior to departure will not qualify.
Can I pay by credit card and still take advantage of your SmartPay Discount
While we do accept credit card payments, you can only take advantage of our SmartPay
Discount PlanSM when paying by E-Check, unless part of your payment is made by credit
card and at least 50% of your total payment is paid by E-Check.
How do I redeem my Vantage Credit Voucher?
Vantage credit vouchers should be mailed once you receive your first invoice. Any
overpayment that results from the credit voucher will be refunded to you, if applicable.
How do I cancel my trip and how long will it take for me to receive a refund?
If you must cancel your trip, you should contact our Customer Concierge Staff department.
Refund requests must be made in writing – indicating the reason for cancellation
– and received by the respective final payment due date to avoid additional cancellation
Vantage realizes that most people who cancel their reservations do so out of real
necessity. Nevertheless, there is a non-refundable administrative fee of $300 per
person for each program you cancel. This low fee covers only our costs of reservation
maintenance or cancellation.
Payments made to your credit card will be refunded as a credit to that card. Payments
made by check will be refunded by check. Payments paid by electronic check will
be refunded electronically. Please allow 35 days for refunds to be manually verified
and processed by our accounting department. Please refer to the Tour Participation
Agreement for your program's cancellation fee schedule.
Why does it take just one day to charge my credit card at the time of booking
but 30 days to refund it in the event of cancellation?
After you book a trip with us, we process charges within 24 hours in order to hold
and confirm your reservation quickly for you. Because refunds are processed manually
by our accounting department, we require a 30-day processing period to assure utmost
I was just reviewing my invoice online and noticed a discrepancy. What should
Please contact us
and we will
attempt to resolve the situation as soon as possible. To help expedite matters,
you should print out your invoice and have it handy when you contact us.