We created a collection of our most frequently asked questions to help you find the answers.
Before the Tour FAQ
FAQs specific to preparing for and booking a tour
Registration, Billing and Payments
How far in advance do I need to reserve my vacation?
The farther in advance you book, the greater your chance of getting the vacation you want. We keep our groups small, and the number of tours we do is limited. Because of this, our guest list can fill up quickly. We usually sell out well in advance of departure.
We recommend reserving as soon as you know you’d like to travel with us.
How do I request to join a tour?
On every tour page on our website you will find a Booking button for a specific tour. To register, first select the button for the tour you’d like to join. Next you will be taken to a Registration Request form. You may fill out this form and submit your request without any obligation. Then we will process your request. Finally, once availability is confirmed, an invoice will be created and emailed to you.
Let's do it. How do I reserve a place on a tour?
Your place on a tour is secured once we have received and confirmed your deposit payment. Before the final payment date, a deposit of $500 for walking vacations and $750 for art vacation workshops is required. After the final payment date, the entire tour amount must be received to hold a space on a program.
How do I make a payment to The Blue Walk?
We send out all our invoices through email. The invoice will have a secure link to make an online payment with a credit or bank debit card. You may also send a check through the mail. You can make incremental online payments as long as final payment is received by the due date.
When is the final payment due?
With the possible exception of private or custom tours, final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
How can I contact The Blue Walk?
We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text or voice at (551) 258.3955. (Texting will receive the fastest response. Please include your name with the text so we know who we are talking to!). We try to answer all communications in a timely manner, usually within 24 hours or less.
I am registered for a tour, but I am not receiving emails. What’s up with that?
It is unusual to not hear from us as expected. However, sometimes it happens. For our tour guests, all group communications are sent by email. There are several steps you can take to troubleshoot if you have not heard from us:
First, check your spam folder. (To be sure our email doesn’t get caught in a spam filter, please add our email addresses to your approved contact list: email@example.com for invoicing, firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations, and email@example.com all other communications.)
Second, if the spam filter is clear, double check the email address given on your tour registration form. It is easy to mistype! Also, if you have multiple addresses, be sure the address you are expecting us to respond to is the one we have.
Third, if your email has changed you must notify us immediately so we may send to the correct address.
Lastly, if you still cannot find the issue, please contact us. We will get the communications flowing.
Can I get a detailed itinerary?
Our small group tours are intentionally flexible. Each day is customized to provide the best guest experience possible. Schedules may change due to festivals, weather, strikes, and any number of other factors. A detailed itinerary will be provided on the first day at our orientation gathering. That being said, prior to departure we will send out trip documents with hotel information, arrival and departure advice, and other useful information for your tour.
When/where does the tour start?
Usually our tours begin at 4:00pm on the program start date, and we meet in the breakfast area of our hotel. Programs that begin in Milan, Italy or Zurich, Switzerland are the exception. Specifics for those tours is only moderately different and will be provided well in advance of departure.
When planning flights, try to give yourself time to travel from the airport and arrive at your destination with some time to rest. We do know this is not always possible.
When/where does the tour end?
Our programs end at the hotel after breakfast on the final day. There are no group activities planned for this day, and you may depart at your convenience. The hotel will hold your luggage if you plan to leave after checkout time.
If you have a departing flight on the final day, take transfer time between the ending city and departure airport into consideration. For flights with a destination outside of Europe we recommend arriving at the airport at least 3 hours prior to departure.
Do you book air travel?
Do you book air travel?
The Blue Walk is a land-only company. We do not book air travel. We are happy to make referrals to a partnering agency who is familiar with our tours and can handle airfare. We receive no commission for our referrals. You receive great service from an agent that knows our product.
Which airport should I fly into / out of?
Airport recommendations for your tour may be found in the Where in the World section of the tour page on our website.
Do I need travel insurance?
The Blue Walk requires all participants on our vacations to carry overseas emergency medical coverage while with us and provide contact details for this coverage. It is possible your existing medical policy includes this coverage. If so, please forward your proof of insurance to us. If you don’t have this type of coverage, you can purchase a travel insurance policy that includes emergency medical.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have travel insurance that is suitable for your needs. For complete information on our insurance policies and a link to our preferred carrier, please see our insurance page.
What is the difference between travel insurance and overseas medical insurance?
Travel insurance is designed to cover you for trips of limited duration. It is intended for vacations and short term trips abroad. Travel insurance offers protection against travel related issues such as: Cancellations, trip interruption, loss of luggage, loss of personal belongings, and overseas emergency medical treatment.
We strongly recommend travel protection insurance in case of unexpected cancellations. If desired, you can invest in your insurance policy incrementally to cover your deposit first and then the balance of your tour cost on final payment. For more information, please see our travel insurance page.
Overseas Medical Coverage
Overseas medical coverage may be included as part or all of your travel insurance policy. It is intended to provide coverage for short-term emergency medical treatment during your travel out of the country. It is designed to pick up where your primary domestic health plan leaves off, and fill in coverage gaps.
Many emergency medical plans will include coverage for big-ticket items such as hospitalizations, surgeries and medically necessary evacuations. Additionally, services like physician office visits, ambulance services, prescription medication and more may be included. Usually, premier plans will offer benefits for injury or sickness due to terrorist events and treatment related to pre-existing conditions.
What about my passport?
Passengers must hold a valid passport. It is your responsibility to ensure you have a passport. Please note certain destinations insist on at least 6 months validity from the return date. Also, some countries want to see at least 2 blank pages in your passport. For US residents, the State Department travel website is a good starting point to familiarize yourself with foreign country requirements.
Heath-wise, is there anything I can do to prepare for my trip?
Travel is fun, but it can also be tiring. Especially your first day or two after arrival. As much as you are able, get your immune system ready to hit the road. We recommend getting plenty of rest before departure. Keep up on your vitamin C intake – or whatever method you may have to ward off colds. Also, staying hydrated will help keep you healthy and bounce back from any jet lag more quickly.
The word “walk” is in our name. Our programs are not boot camp, but they are active vacations. At a minimum you should feel comfortable walking and being on your feet for an hour at a time. It is your responsibility to know your own physical and medical condition with respect to the advisability of participating in your chosen trip. We suggest you prepare by doing some longer walks that include stairs prior to arrival. As with any exercise program, we recommend you consult with your physician prior to your arrival regarding the suitability of a walking tour.
Moreover, do whatever you can to plan on feeling great while you are on your vacation.
What is a single supplement?
All our rates are based on two guests sharing a room. This is called double occupancy. Guests who prefer to have their own accommodations pay a single supplement that covers the additional cost of a private room.
Importantly, whenever possible our private rooms are the same size and class as our rooms for two guests. Some tour companies place singles in very small rooms with one twin bed.
If I am traveling alone, will you find a roommate for me?
The Blue Walk will match guests (of the same gender) who would like to share a room. Roomshares offer additional camaradrie for the trip and save you the additional cost of a private room. Matches are made as received. The further in advance you reserve and request a roomshare, the greater your chances of being paired.
90 Days Before Departure
If you sign up more than 90 days in advance of your trip and no roomshare is available, 50% of the single supplement will be due at final payment. However, if a roommate is found before your trip departs, the single supplement will be refunded.
Less Than 90 Days Before Departure
Conversely, if you sign up less than 90 days in advance of departure and a roomshare is not available, the full single supplement fee will apply. In the meantime, if a roommate is found before departure, the single supplement will be refunded.
I am on an Art Walk. Will we receive a supplies list?
Your Art Walk teacher will send out a supply list well before departure.
About the Tour FAQ
FAQs specific to being on the tour
Who travels on your tours?
About 2/3 of the people who travel with us are between the ages of 50 and 70. Generally, both younger and older adults are also well represented. As a rule, all guests must be at least 18 years old to attend our public tours.
Our guests have a wonderful diversity of interests and occupations. Depending on your trip, you may meet solo travelers, couples, family members, and friends. Importantly, they share a love of active travel and the outdoors. Moreover, about 75% of our travelers are return guests or were referred by a friend.
What are tour accommodations like?
We choose our hotels based on location, service, amenities, and style. We have been working with most of our properties for years. Guests love them, and we are greeted like family. Generally, our accommodations are 4-star with a couple of 5-star resorts and a couple of select, 3-star properties.
Usually our hotels are centrally located in, or adjacent to, historic centers or within walking distance of smaller village centers. These properties offer the opportunity to step outside the door to find local sites, shops, and restaurants.
Standard amenities may occasionally have idosyncrasies. For instance, free WiFi is offered at all properties, but the signal may vary or be generally slow. All hotels have air conditioning, but in the early spring or late fall it may not be working. We consider this part of the charm and challenge of travel. The exchange is unique, family run properties in great locations.
What is the group size on your tour?
We like to keep our groups small and intimate so it feels more like traveling with a group of good friends. Typically, we have a maximum of 12 guests on our walking tours. Similarly, Greece has a maximum of 14 guests.
On our art vacations, groups may be between 10-18 participants depending on location, program, and teacher. There is a maximum listed in each art program’s description.
What time does the tour start?
The first day of the tour is the first advertised date. Some guests choose to arrive prior to this date. Our program begins at 4:00pm unless otherwise stated in the tour literature provided after final payment.
After a meet-and-greet and program overview there will be a short orientation walk so you can get to know the neighborhood. You should plan to arrive with time to rest before the orientation begins. Generally, our welcome dinner will be the following evening, on day 2, unless otherwise stated.
What time does the tour end?
The last advertised date of the tour is departure day. Breakfast is always provided on departure day. Usually, the final group activity will be the farewell dinner on the evening prior to departures.
What if I don't speak the language of the country we are visiting?
Usually, most people in the hospitality industry do speak English and are able to provide you with needed information. More often than not, any difficulties experienced provide a good story rather than travel stress. Importantly, your Blue Walk guides are English-speaking. They will be with you throughout the trip. You will be able to communicate with them without problem.
Do I have to carry my own bags?
Part of our philosophy at The Blue Walk is to move about areas in ways the locals do, and with the locals, rather than in private buses. Sometimes this means making use of trains and ferries that do not have porters. You should be able to roll or carry your luggage for up to 15 minutes and lift your luggage up several stairs if boarding a train. Guests are expected to manage their own bags always and without exception.
What about tipping?
For our tours, tipping for program meals, drivers, and local guides is included. Read on to find more general information on tipping in Europe.
Here’s a tip: Don’t stress over tipping.
While tips are appreciated no matter where you travel, tipping in Europe isn’t as automatic nor as generous as it is in the United States. In many countries, tipping is not expected at all. The proper amount depends not only on the country you’re in, but, just as in the US, on your resources, tipping philosophy, and the circumstances.
Restaurant tips are more modest in Europe than in the US. At restaurants, check the menu or bill to see if service is included; if it isn’t, a tip of 5–10 percent is normal. In most places, 10 percent is a big tip. As a matter of principle, if not economy, the local price should prevail. Tipping 15 or 20 percent in Europe is unnecessary, if not culturally ignorant.
Tipping is an issue only at restaurants that have waiters and waitresses. If you order your food at a counter (in a pub, for example), don’t tip.
At table-service restaurants, the tipping etiquette and procedure vary slightly from country to country. But in general, European servers are well paid, and tips are considered a small “bonus” — to reward great service or for simplicity in rounding the total bill to a convenient number.
In Mediterranean countries, the “service charge” (servizio in Italian, service in French, servicio in Spanish) can be handled in different ways. Sometimes the menu will note that the service is included (“servizio incluso”), meaning that the prices listed on the menu already have this charge built in. When the service is not included (“servizio non incluso”), the service charge might show up as a separate line item at the end of your bill. Fixed-price tourist deals (a.k.a. menu) include service.
Tip Like a Local
Virtually anywhere in Europe, you can do as the Europeans do and (if you’re pleased with the service) add a euro or two for each person in your party. In very touristy areas, some servers have noticed the American obsession with overtipping — and might hope for a Yankee-size tip. But the good news is that European servers and diners are far more laid-back about all this than we are. Any tip is appreciated, the stakes are low, and it’s no big deal if you choose the “wrong” amount.
Cash in Hand
Typically, it’s better to hand the tip to the waiter when you’re paying your bill than to leave it on the table, particularly in busy places where the wrong party might pocket the change. Servers prefer to be tipped in cash even if you pay with your credit card (otherwise the tip may never reach your server); in many cases, there isn’t even a line on the credit-card receipt for a tip.
For taxis, just round up to the next euro on the fare (to pay a €13 fare, give €14); for a long ride, to the nearest 10 (for a €76 fare, give €80). If the cabbie hauls your bags and zips you to the airport to help you catch your flight, you might want to toss in a little more. But if you feel like you’re being driven in circles or otherwise ripped off, skip the tip.
At hotels with porters, pay the porter a euro for each bag he carries; it’s nice (but not required) to leave a small tip in your room for the housekeeping staff when you depart.
Tipping your guide is always appreciated if you feel they have provided you with a good experience.
About the Walks FAQ
FAQs specific to the walks and activity levels of the tours
How strenuous are the walks? How far will we be walking?
For our walking tours, guests should be prepared to walk between 3-5 miles per day (5-8km) for scheduled walks. Occasionally we will offer an optional longer walk or hike for those who are interested. Keep in mind that exploring on your own and shopping can easily tack on a few more miles.
Walks range from flat sidewalk strolls to moderate hikes on hilly and uneven terrain. Generally our tours will have two guides. This allows us to accomodate a range of guests. Some will want to walk at a fitness pace, others more leisurely. Please review our walk level ratings for more information about our walks and their suitability.
More strenuous hikes are available as options on most tours. A private guide can be hired for those that want longer and more challenging hikes.
How much walking is there on an Art Walk?
Generally speaking, to allow for class time art vacations have less walking than our walking vacations. In addition to a lighter walking schedule, we typically suggest or incorporate alternatives that require little or no walking (although a taxi, bus, or similar may be enlisted).
The amount of walking for each art vacation will vary according to program, teacher, and location. Each trip will have a description of the amount of walking that is anticipated. Our walks are generally classified and described in our walk level ratings. If you still have questions about how active the program is, please contact us.
What kind of shape do I need to be in to enjoy my trip?
Blue Walk vacations can be successfully enjoyed by people of most levels of fitness. We offer suggestions and alternatives for guests who would like to do more or less walking. Most of our walks are optional so guests may even choose to take days off. That said, this is a walking tour so you should be prepared to walk.
To experience everything we have to offer, we do recommend you be comfortable walking for at least one hour at a time, climbing up and down (uneven) stairs, and getting on and off ferries, trains, and buses.
You don’t exercise regularly?
Don’t sweat it! But to get the most out of your travel we recommend you get some preparatory walking in before departure. Even walking 30-60 minutes per day, 4-5 days per week, in the few weeks before travel will make a big difference.
If you have medical conditions that are of concern (recent surgery, injury, etc.) please consult with your doctor regarding taking a walking tour.
If you still have questions about the requirements of our tour – please contact us!
What kind of footwear should I bring?
One of the great things about a Blue Walk is that no special equipment is required. Usually, a good pair of trainers or gym shoes should be all you need. Of course if you have a pair of hiking boots you love, you can certainly bring them along. Especially if you’d like to do some hiking in your free time.