faqs

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's

faqs

QDoes the company have an office in any other country than the UK?
A

Yes. We have a sales office in Australia and sales teams in North America who are able to help with your bookings and enquiries., Our main office is based in London.
 
In addition we work with a number of accredited travel across the globe. If you would like us to recommend a travel agent close to where you live/work, let us know.

QWho goes on a Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd tour?
A

They are mainly English-speaking and in the main come from Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong. We do have other nationalities join occasionally but all tour commentaries are in English.

We believe that our tours appeal to individuals who enjoy culture, good food, meeting like-minded people, exploring local regions and want a more relaxing style of travel. We welcome first time travellers, however, also find that many of our passengers have travelled with us before and continue to do so.

QAre Back-Roads tours always guaranteed to run?
A

As a general rule we will run our tours with a minimum of four people*, at which point we will usually guarantee the departure. Guaranteed tours are identified on our website, and your travel agent will be able to advise you of the on-going status. If we are forced to cancel a tour, you will be advised at least 6 weeks in advance. You will then have a choice of a full refund of the amount paid for the tour, or an alternative tour.

 

*An exception to this is our Charming Waterways programme, which operates with a minimum of 8 people (our French Waterways tours operate with a minimum of 12) as well as Norway: Fjords & Glaciers, which operates with a minimum of 8 people. 

QWhat level of mobility do I need on a Back-Roads tour?
A

You need to be fit enough to get on and off the vehicle on a regular basis, walk to attractions, around towns and villages, for this we would also suggest good walking shoes. You need to able to walk up and downstairs in some of the hotels and use a showers over the bath. We frequently use traditional style hotels and many will not have lifts or groundfloor rooms. If you are in any doubt as to whether our tours are suitable for you, please check with us. 

QCan we get triple room accommodation?
A

We can request these on your behalf, however, there is limited triple availability and often a triple room contains a double bed and one single. There is little, if any, cost saving to be made in booking a triple room unless it is to save a 'single supplement' charge.

QI have some health issues. Will this be a problem?
A

If your health problem is managed without the need for additional care, special facilities, or does not present a risk to any other passengers then we should be able to accept you on a Back-Roads Tour. It is always best to check if you are unsure. We draw your attention to clause 30 in the terms and conditions.

QDo you only offer scheduled departures or can we plan a customised tour?
A

We are delighted to design and operate special customised tours for families, friends wanting to travel together, or any other group. See the our Private Tour page on this site for further details or visit www.tailoryourtours.com.

QDo the rooms have bathtubs or showers?
A

All hotel rooms are private ensuite. In historic hotels bathroom facilities can vary and you may find that some rooms will have a tub, some showers, some both.

QCan we get a ground floor room?
A

Approximately 60% of the places we use will have limited ground floor accommodation available, but we will only be able to provide for one room per tour. When a ground floor room is requested but not available, we will allocate the lowest, most easily reached alternative room available.

QDo accommodations have elevators (lifts)?
A

Whilst most properties will have a lift, we also use hotels which do not have one. In these instances our guides or the hotel will assist with the carrying of your bags to your room. Some hotels are in very old buildings and there may be stairs between the levels in the corridors. For this reason we suggest you be in reasonable physical health.

QDo we dine at the hotels?
A

All breakfasts are taken in the accommodations. We have a minimum of a two-course cooked evening meal at many of them but on occasion, to add variety to your tour experience, we also dine out at local pubs and restaurants. When we dine out it is understandably to a budget but in the rare circumstance of a client wanting something special you are able to contribute to, and supplement, the budget. Wines and other alcoholic drinks are not included but tea/coffee is included.

QHow much luggage can I bring?
A

We travel in mini-coaches and so boot space is limited. You are only entitled to one piece of main luggage of a standard size of no more than 158cm (when the length, width and height is added together) and not weighing more than 20kg. In addition you may bring one small carry-on bag per person. If you have more luggage please make arrangements to store it while you are out on tour as we will not be able to carry this on the coach.

QCan you describe a typical day out on tour?
A

Generally our touring days are conducted at a leisurely pace; we take our time and avoid rushing from place to place. Stops are made frequently during the day to avoid extended periods of time on the coach. On a typical day, we might leave at 9am and arrive at our hotel at 5pm. We do endeavour to build in time for rest and relaxation and most inclusions are not mandatory, so if you would rather do your own thing you are very welcome to meet up with the group at the designated meeting point.

QHow flexible are Back-Roads touring’s itineraries?
A

There are certain visits included in our itineraries which are fixed and included in the price. However outside of these there is some flexibility to adapt the itinerary according to such things as the weather, special events and group wishes. One of the beauties of small-group touring is that we can be much more relaxed and flexible in our approach. If you have a specific request which is not on the itinerary, we will do our best to accommodate it, but this will depend on the agreement of your fellow-travellers and the judgement of the Tour Leader.

QHow much walking on a tour?
A

In cities, walking tours are offered by your guide. On European mainland tours there is considerable walking as many historic cities prohibit motorised transport and we have to park some distance out of the centre. On most tours there are opportunities for some extended walking, often from the accommodations we use.
 
Please note: if you have a mobility problem or concern, you may not find our tours suitable. Please contact us if you have any doubts.

QIs there time to shop?
A

Of course! But we will NOT be taking you to 'commission' stops. Our guides are not permitted to profit from your shopping.

QCan you explain what a driver/tour leader is?
A

Our driver/tour leaders have all passed a stringent government test which allows them to drive our vehicles and conduct tours. The intimate nature of our groups means that he/she becomes your travelling companion rather than just a tour leader, which makes for a much more rewarding experience. On some tours in mainland Europe (e.g. Italy, Spain, Croatia etc.) we will often use a driver in addition to a tour leader as this makes for better operation of the tour in these particular areas.

QAm I expected to leave gratuities?
A

It is common to leave a small gratuity in restaurants and cafes if you have received good service (typically 12% on top of the bill). Tipping your driver and / or tour leader is entirely at your discretion, and is not mandatory.

QWhat clothes should I bring?
A

This information will be provided in your pre-departure information. Whilst we it is not necessary to bring a formal jacket, we would suggest packing for variable weather conditions, or if you are travelling through Italy, Spain or Southern France in summer, make sure you pack a hat and sunscreen.We suggest a pair of good shoes for walking tours etc. 

QHow do I make a booking?
A

You can call, email, or book online directly with Back-Roads or through your local travel agent.

QWhat happens if I have to cancel?
A

Please, see our cancellation policy. We rarely have cancellations but if you do, through illness or any other reason, there would be a charge. We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to cover any cancellations.

QHow long has Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd been in existence and are you registered with any tourist organisation like ATBA, for example?
A

Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd was founded in 1986. We are ABTA bonded so you can relax safe in the knowledge that your money is safe with us.

QWhen is the best time to visit Europe?
A

We have scores of departure dates so there's certain to be one that suits your time frame. There is no doubt summer months are the best time to visit the UK and Europe, due to the warmer climate, however, July and August are the 'peak' months where most of Europe is on holidays and you might find more popular areas particularly busy. If you prefer to travel away from the crowds, May-June and Sept-October can be more pleasant times to visit Europe. The Winter months are great alternatives to experience Europe's festive seasons. November-January being the best winter months to travel and catch Christmas Markets and the best sales! (and hopefully some snow). Our winter tours have been adapted to allow you to see the best of the country at this time and they take into account closed attractions.

QWhat is the typical age of a Back-Roads touring client?
A

There tends to be a fairly wide range of ages, but broadly speaking our clients are in the 40-70 age group.

QAre Back-Roads tours suitable for children?
A

Our tours are designed principally for adults, but we will consider accepting children aged 13 or over on request. Please note that triple and family rooms are not always available and we do not offer child rates.

 

 

QWhat kind of room should I book?
A

When booking we need to know whether you want a twin room (two single-sized beds in a room) or a double room (one standard-sized bed for two people). Please tell us at the time of booking what your choice is as the room types are not interchangeable.

QI am a single traveller. Is it possible to share a room?
A

We do not ‘match up’ single travellers, But you are welcome to travel with a friend, or join the group as a single traveller with sole use of your own room. Single rooms in European hotels can have one single bed, although in some hotels single travellers will have a double room for their own use. Our single supplement is very reasonable, and much less than the total cost of 2 people sharing a room.

QWhat grade of hotel do Back-Roads use?
A

We generally use a 3-star / 4-star standard of accommodation ranging from country inns to town centre hotels and the occasional castle! Rather than going by the official grading (based solely on facilities rather than the standard), we base our choices on quality. In all properties the rooms have en-suite bathrooms.

QWhat else should I know about the hotels?
A

Many of the traditional properties we use are in historic buildings which have been converted to hotels from the original function, rather than purpose built hotels. Often the rooms are different shapes and sizes and may be smaller than you might be used to in newer chain hotels. Some hotels do not have lifts: in many cases this is due to regulations concerning ‘listed’ or protected buildings, but this will be more than offset by the charm and unique character and history which can be uncovered in these locations.

QIs porterage included?
A

We include porterage wherever possible in the hotels.

QCan Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd arrange additional nights’ accommodation in the cities of arrival and departure?
A

Yes. Please, let us or your travel agent know at the time of your initial booking. Please note most tours start at 0830am on day 1 of your tour or at 6pm. If departing in the morning, we advise you stay in the hotel the previous night so you are ready to meet your guide in the morning. If your tour commences in the evening, you may not require pre-tour accommodation and instead arrive during the day at your leisure. Please check your itinerary. Most tours complete early evening. We cannot usually drop you off at the airport, so we suggest you book your flights departing the following day of the tour to ensure you do not miss your flights due to unforeseen circumstances.

QDo Back-Roads Touring Co. provide airport transfers?
A

They are not included in your tour price. We can always book transfers for you as an additional service.

QWill I need a visa?
A

It is your responsibility to obtain any visas which might be necessary to enable you to visit and holiday in Europe. Make sure to check with your local consular office as to any visa requirements for the countries you are visiting. You will need a visa to enter Russia.

QWhat kind of vehicles do you use?
A

We operate a fleet of Mini Coaches. The most common vehicle in our fleet is a 16 seater Mercedes Sprinter. This vehicle is used on all tours that operate in the UK, Ireland and France.* In other countries in mainland Europe and Turkey we use models of a comparable standard and our group sizes do not exceed 18 passengers.

 

*Where group sizes are 7 or under we may operate the tour using a Mercedes Vito 8 seater.

QI'm over 6 foot. Is there plenty of leg room?
A

Yes, several of the seats have sufficient room for even the tallest passenger to stretch their legs. We also rotate places to ensure that no-one is sitting permanently in any particular seat.

QDo you have a policy on smoking?
A

Virtually all countries in Europe have now implemented a total smoking ban in public places, and the local laws must be followed. It goes without saying that no smoking is allowed on our vehicles.

QHow many people will be on my tour?
A

The maximum number we carry is 18 (22 on Charming Waterways) and the minimum 4 (8-12 on Charming Waterways and minimum 8 on Norway: Fjords & Glaciers). Tours with a separate driver and tour leader will have a maximum of 18 passengers; tours with a driver/tour leader only will have a maximum of 15. Your Tour Leader will usually implement a daily seat rotation on the vehicle so you can get to know your fellow travellers better and enjoy the view from a different perspective each day.

QHow much driving do we do?
A

We design tours so that there is as little wasted time as possible on the bus and plenty to see while aboard. Inevitably, there are days when travelling between locations may involve freeway driving and more mileage. Generally, a typical day's driving would be anywhere between 110 and 170 miles. There are at least three major attraction stops, 'comfort' and meal stops. We do travel along the scenic route wherever possible and you will see more of the countryside and local village life than on a regular tour.

QWhat are the benefits of travelling in a small group?
A

Unlike a large coach company we can offer a truly personal experience as we can explore the local region in greater depth. You will meet like-minded friends and enjoy the convenience of your own personal driver/guide, who will impart their local knowledge and ensure you visit sites that the mainstream tourist typically misses out on.

QWhat meals are included?
A

Breakfast (B) is included daily. We also include some lunches and dinners, either in the hotel or in a local restaurant. These are noted by L (lunch), or D (dinner) in the itineraries. You will have some free evenings to try the local cuisine independently. One thing to remember, dinner times in Europe are likely to be later than you might be used to: 7.30pm at the earliest and often later in France and Italy.

QAre you able to cater for my dietary restrictions?
A

We will do our best to satisfy your dietary needs, please ensure that any restrictions are made clear to us at the time of booking so we can pass the information on to our hotels.

QHow much spending money should I bring?
A

Although Back-Roads includes many meals and entrance fees within the price of the tour, you will need to bring spending money for any other meals, drinks and activities. As a guide we would recommend £70/90 Euros per person per day.

QDo you include entrance fees to attractions?
A

Unlike many tour companies who charge everything as extras, we include a selection of entrances in the price. Those inclusions are clearly stated in the brochure and on our website. Any other entrance fees will be at your own expense.

QCan I get my hair done / laundry done on tour / go to church or synagogue / post items home?
A

Yes. There is generally sufficient free time to incorporate all such functions, though we can't guarantee such in every country. Your guide-companion will be able to advise the most convenient point and assist in making relevant arrangements.

QCan we book our flights through Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd?
A

We can book flights if you are booking in Australia or New Zealand. If you've booked a land package with us, you can book your flight and buy travel insurance (which we recommend) through any retail travel agent . If booking your main tour through an accredited agent they should be able to help you.

QDo I need to take out travel insurance for my trip?
A

We strongly recommend that you are fully insured when travelling with Back-Roads Touring and have suitable and adequate medical, personal effects and cancellation cover.  Please ensure that details of your insurance are carried with you at all times.  You may be asked to provide details of your medical insurance or a payment guarantee in some counties before medical assistance will be provided.

QWhat is not included in a Back-Roads touring tour?
A
  • Unless otherwise specified in the listed inclusions, airfares are not included in the tour price.
  • Driver/tour leader gratuity is at your discretion.
  • Lunches (unless otherwise stated), social drinks, meals on free nights,’ items of a personal nature and entrance fees when not listed in the schedule of inclusions.
  • Occasional optional evening theatre/festival visits and entrances not detailed in the tour inclusions.
  • Incidental expenses, such as room service incurred at hotels. All expenses are to be settled prior to leaving the accommodation.
  • Laundry costs and any shipping charges for the return of purchases made on tour, or for the return of property lost on tour.
  • Pre and post tour accommodation.
  • Unless otherwise listed in the inclusions, transfers are not included in the tour price.
QResponsible Visitor Charter
A

At Back-Roads Touring, we are committed to supporting sustainable tourism and have been accredited a Silver Green Tourism rating for our commitment to green practises throughout our company.

 

Here are some suggestions about how you can be a ‘green’ guest whilst travelling with us.

  1. Travel to your pick-up and from your drop-off point by public transport – you’ll probably avoid traffic also.
  2. Using our Combines With tool, pick regionals tours that you can do back-to-back, which means you won’t need to travel between tours. For example, for summer 2015, you can do Edinburgh to London, London to Paris via the Channel Islands then Champagne, Burgundy & The Rhone Valley.
  3. Back-Roads prides itself on taking you into the heart of regional communities. Shop for locally sourced and produced goods in your free time.
  4. And try not to use any plastic bags!
  5. When you’re staying more than one night at a hotel, why not keep the same towel?
  6. Always turn off the lights and television when you leave your hotel room.
  7. You’ll be staying in the heart of medieval Old Towns – so in your spare time why not walk around the town, instead of taking a taxi?
QIf you are a travel agent.
A

Please email us at info@backroadstouring.com or phone +44 (0)208 8987 0990. If you are in Australia e-mail us on info@backroadstouring.com.au or in New Zealand e-mail us on info@backroadstouring.co.nz.

 

QMethods of making final payment
A
  • Call our toll free number and make payment over the phone – <telephone_number> (please choose the option customer service) – we are open Monday to Friday, 9AM – 6PM GMT+1
  • You can send through wire payment, our account details are on the last page of the invoice.
  • We can send you an authorization form for you to fill and send back to us.