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Passports Student Travel Company--WARNING

Passports Student Travel Company--WARNING

Old Mar 8th, 2015, 10:46 AM
  #21  
 
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I'm sorry - but everything you have described is typical of student tours since the prices are usually rock bottom. Even budget tours for adults are usually similar to this. I fear that most of the problem here is unrealistic expectations. (when reading a tour brochure you need to remember that it is ADVERTISING - not unvarnished truth.)

To get a tour with better, centrally located hotels, more authentic food (but still probably not great) and more of the "extras" included - you just need to either:

Select a much more upscale - and more more expensive - tour

Plan the trip yourself (if you're willing to do the necessary work)

As with any other significant expenditures - you have to do a lot of research before buying.
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 10:52 AM
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Its really is too bad upset probably won't see/read any of this . . . .
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 11:42 AM
  #23  
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I am reading the replies and I can assure you I'm not a pollyanna. My expectations were based on a friend who took their daughter on a student trip that was almost a thousand dollars less expensive and other than the food didn't report the same problems. There were no sex workers or inappropriate guides, there wasn't a constant attempt to get kids tobuy things from people not on the tour but who they were obviously being compensated. I researched the company before going and I didn't see many complaints, so I thought it was safe. No I realize there weren't many complaints because Passports is a small company. I thought it was a rip off, especially when it was more expensive than other tours. ANd I'm concerned about the boys reaction to seeing women working the streets outside our hotels and to the victimization. Seeing something disgusting doesn't make it educational abd even if it did I should be allowed to decide if my child gets that "experience."
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 12:20 PM
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I understand that tours offer a certain comfort level to inexperienced travelers. Moreover, parents are pressured by their children to allow them to participate because their friends are going. That said, the companies build in a huge amount of profit, and if the price seems attractive, then you can be sure that everything will be pretty basic. That said, a group of parents can together plan a better, less expensive, trip for their students and chaperones to enjoy together without a tour company.
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 01:04 PM
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hello upsetmom.

i'm sorry you were disappointed but bilboburglar has a good suggestion: it's a life lesson.

many european cities have very strict building controls to protect their cores which are often hundreds of years old. hotels big enough for a group are either expensive or away from the centre. not something your tour company could control.

'shop steering' is part of most lower cost tours. i agree it's a bore. to be fair, on the sole tour i took, a lot of my fellow travelers were quite happy to shop in these places (i wasn't, and it sounds like you weren't.)

the presence of prostitutes can be disconcerting but it doesn't mean the areas you were in were unsafe. you can find women working in higher end hotels as well, they just tend to be more discreet and better dressed. either way the tour company has no jurisdiction over this sort of thing. your son can't really help but be curious, and if he found it funny, it might have been his way of coping with the awkwardness of the situation. try to accept that europe isn't all glamour, no matter the hype you may have been given.

if the food didn't make you ill, you are 90 per cent of the way there. at worst it's like hospital food, you eat it strictly for utilitarian purposes. if/when you go traveling on your own, you will have the luxury of eating simply, but simple food of better quality.

tour directors vary and so do groups. the last group your tour director led, might have found his jokes funny. next time bring you ipod, a pair of ear buds, and download audioguides for the places you are visiting.

cheer up, in a few years you and your son will look back and laugh at this.
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 01:17 PM
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aye karumba. just looked up the price for a mar 17 departure tour to italy. that is one expensive tour. what's this about 'tuition surcharge', 'lifetime membership fee' - ??? - i realize this outfit gives away the trip to anyone who can sell three trips - guess who's paying for them. but even still, i agree, this seems overpriced.
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 02:11 PM
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Its really is too bad upset probably won't see/read any of this . . . .>

probably all for the best for her as she don't want to hear most of this!
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Old Mar 8th, 2015, 02:37 PM
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PQ - get w/ the program. She reported back and IS reading.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 05:17 AM
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No I realize there weren't many complaints because Passports is a small company.>

janis is Passports a small company?
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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Well I'm assuming these are high school kids who will be going off to college to live by themselves in a year or so - so the existence of prostitutes is shouldn't be a shock any of them. And as long as they aren;t being harassed to use their services I can't imagine why this is a big problem.

I would think the poor hotel location and bad food would be much more of an irritant - but as mentioned by many people above - this is a function of this type of tour.

If you paid a premium price - then I would have a major problem - but with the person at your end who rounded up the kids and was not transparent about the conditions - not the company - which is not hiding anything that they are doing.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 05:33 AM
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I'm guessing Upsetmom's mostly upset by the streetworkers. She's got a point. If the company is geared towards teenagers, they shouldn't be using hotels in areas where street walkers preside. It will give them a shoddy reputation with time and, subsequently, they'll lose business.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 07:00 AM
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well, i have to say this was an education for me.

upset i did a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

the 9 day tour to italy dep 17 mar is priced at a whopping $3682. this incl a $730 airfare allowance. we'll say $3000 excl airfare.

the party who sells 3 tours (sometimes it has to be 6 but in this case 3) is paid for.

at $2100 pp, plus 33% built in to compensate the lucky referral party for their costs ( $700), is $2800 - close enough to the excluding airfare cost of the tour.

the 9 day tour is 8 nights. the actual pp diem rate is approx 2800/8 is $350/n pp. double occupancy, that's $700 per n.

aye karumba, even after accounting for the 'subsidy' premium. a similar globus tour costs about the same as the 'excluding subsidy' price.

someone upthread nailed it; the desire of the kid to travel with his peers makes proper assessment of the alternatives difficult. the company doesn't even need to hard sell, the kids do it for them. upset, you were in effect a chaperone and should have gotten a deduction for that.

better shopping next time. thanks for telling your story.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 08:18 AM
  #33  
 
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Upset was not in any way a Chaperone unless the group leader had asked her to be one, and she agreed to do it. She was simply an adult participant on a student trip, just the same as she would have been on any other tour with any other tour company such as Globus, so would not have been entitled to any reduction in cost. The fact that her son was also on the tour did not make her a chaperone. Chaperones have responsibilities for more than themselves or their child.

Many adults went on my student tours. A few times there were more adults than kids. They were never chaperones. They were there to sight-see and enjoy themselves, not look after the students. That was my job and the job of other teachers and "selected" chaperones who, yes, did get part of their trip paid because they were working.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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sassafrass, i still think it was a point worth negotiating. unless they were referred by someone claiming the 0 for 3 signup deal, they shouldn't have paid that 'chaperone subsidy'. upset was definitely a chaperone for her own kid.

admittedly this is the first student company i've researched but from what i can tell, upset got cosmos quality for globus prices.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 09:15 AM
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What Sassafras says.

As a group leader using a different company, my comments obviously cannot be about Passports specifically, but...

1.Yes, when I'm a group leader I get my trip "paid for" but I do work for that--I do all the PR work, I recruit, I teach kids about travel and the trip, I do all the emailing and other communications, I do all the paperwork, I have meetings with kids and parents, I am contact with the company, I am main chaperone the entire trip, etc., etc.

2.I have been as a parent, I have been now 3 times as a group leader on trips that included parents. Except for asking parents to maybe "count" kids in crowds or on public transport, parents are not asked to or expected to act as chaperones at all; in fact, I've also taken other faculty members and even they are not expected to have the level of responsibility that I as group leader have.

3. I reiterate that I think it has to do with expectations a lot; and so I try to prepare both students and parents for as many worst case scenarios as I can; if the expectations esp. about accommodations and food are set high, then somebody is always disappointed. I set expectations high for "expect this to be tough and busy and a whirlwind" but we aren't going for the "perks."

4. I don't understand the $730 airfare allowance mentioned above, but I'm not familiar with Passports payments. I just looked; from where I live a trip to Rome 3 months out would cost $1500-$1800 in airfare; now, I know the tour companies don't pay that. But if you are gonna compare tour price with DIY prices, you can't use discounted airfare prices available to tour groups. I have done more DIY tours than the tours with students with a tour company, so I know that yes, it is almost always cheaper to plan my own. But I've also seriously considered how to arrange to take students--and those logistics are just too much for me. I know some teachers do this, but I don't want to. And I am upfront with parents when I "recruit"--yes, if you price out such a tour for you and your child, you will see that the tour costs more than you'd pay if you did it yourself. So the parent can decide if he/she is willing to do that or not, to see how much the work of the tour directors and guides and transporters and itinerary-planners etc. is worth. The parents that sign up their kids with me are well informed, I feel, and have decided that the extra cost is worth it. I even have 2 parents going this year who have traveled to Europe before with families and so know first hand about the comparisons but are still willing to pay the extra to not have to make arrangements and still be able to experience it with the child. Those are the 2 parents I am especially making sure understand that this is a students' tour and geared that way.

Individually, I much prefer planning my own; as a leader of a bunch of students, I much prefer to let some experts handle all the planning. And the people who go with me are made aware of what this looks like as much as I can ahead of time.

I'm not defending Passports--as I have no dealings with them past or present--nor recommending tour travel if independent travel is possible. I just think there are some mis-conceptions about student tours that can maybe be cleared up a little.

(And so much does depend on communication and the people you work with in the company; on the last tour I took with "my" company in 2013, I complained about a late arrival which basically ate up Day 1--and they reimbursed everyone; my tour director elicited feedback about an excursion that she thought didn't meet the companies' expectations and we all got reimbursed; far from "making" us buy things at certain places, my tour director did special things that remained optional like securing tickets to a play, arranging a special stop at a site not-scheduled but historically important, setting up a writing workshop with a professional writer, and making sure the whole bus got to St. Paul's in time for ME to get into a shop because I'd mentioned I wanted to look for a poster there. So---the individual is so important.)
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