We’ve found it helpful to answer some commonly-asked questions and explain our terms of service. Our goal is to ensure there are “No Surprises” so we can focus on the joy and anticipation of designing your trip.
Is using a travel designer more expensive than the Internet or booking direct?
It depends. For cruises and escorted group tours (A&K, National Geographic Expeditions, Tauck) our pricing is the same as booking direct. So why hire us to book your cruise or tour? When you plan your travel with True North we will help you sort through all of the options to find the cruise/tour that is right for you based on your travel style. Once you choose your trip, we will help you make smart decisions regarding your trip. We don’t own the ships or run the tours that have spaces to fill so our recommendations are unbiased and focused solely on matching your needs to the right experience. And it won’t cost you any extra. Our pricing is the same as booking direct.
When it comes to custom designed trips our pricing will be higher than if you researched and booked your own trip online. How much higher depends on a number of factors including the type of hotels, tours and mode of transportation you are evaluating. On average, our custom designed experiences will be comparable in price to a group escorted tour. This represents a tremendous value for a customized, private experience.
Is it worth the higher cost to book through True North?
It depends on how much your time is worth and whether or not you want the benefit of a “lifeline” while traveling. The average person spends over 40 hours researching his or her own itinerary. Even after the task is complete, the fear of making the wrong choices still lingers. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay, value it what you get.” You can rest easy knowing our pricing is sensible and you’ll receive tremendous value through our insider insights and attentive service.
Once you begin a trip booked through True North, you have recourse if you run into trouble during your trip. Should you require assistance in the event of an emergency or change of plans, you only have to make one call to True North and we will help you sort it out. No wasting your precious vacation time to problem solve a difficult situation.
What is the cost to retain a Travel Designer?
Our initial consultation is offered on a complementary basis. This is a great opportunity for us to learn about your interests and for you to get to know our level of expertise. After this meeting, your investment to start the designing process is a $250 retainer that will be applied to the cost of your trip at final payment. In exchange for the retainer you will receive the following services:
- One-on-one ongoing consultation with an experienced travel designer
- Hiring an advocate to correspond and negotiate with travel suppliers
- Preliminary itinerary featuring routing, transfers, hotels and tours
- Adjustments to the itinerary to match your desired experience
- Pre-trip consultation to advise on packing lists, self-guided tours, restaurants, etc…
- Published final itinerary – a printed and digital PDF version outlining your day-by-day schedule along with a destination guide and details related to hotels, transfers, tours, confirmation numbers, contact lists and more
We work on a basis of good faith believing once we’ve engaged in designing a trip, you will finalize those plans with us. In the unlikely event you don’t book your trip with True North, the $250 retainer will be used to compensate our Designer for their time designing your itinerary and the cost of our intellectual property. This fee will transfer ownership of our professional insights and recommendations for you to use at your own discretion. The $250 retainer can also be applied to future travel at True North if an unforeseen event has postponed your plans to travel.
Is this retainer worth the investment?
True North offers much more than a transactional booking service. The value we offer is high touch service, industry leading expertise, highly detailed consulting and research, and tapping into our Little Black Book of contacts in over 150 countries around the world. We know the world and the world knows us. When you book online you are just a transaction. There is no way to VIP yourself.
How much should I budget for my custom trip?
This can be one of the most difficult questions to answer. Please select which budget level you would like us to use when designing your trip. Keep in mind this is a guideline. Depending on where you travel and the time of year you are traveling pricing may vary.
Price per person, per day: $300-500
Price per person, 7-day trip: $2,100-3,500
Price per person, 10-day trip: $3,000-5,000
Includes: 3-4 Star Lodging, airport transfers, small group tours, breakfast daily, special “True North Perk” amenities, taxes, resorts fees, park fees, professional travel documents, emergency travel assistance. Excludes: International air, tips, lunch & dinner
Sensible Pricing: True North can offer a much more appealing private experience for around the same price as a large group tour. For example, a 40-50 person group bus tour with a company such as Globus may cost around $3-5,000 per person for a 10-day trip versus your own private experience for around the same budget.
Price per person, per day: $500-800
Price per person, 7-day trip: $3,500-5,600
Price per person, 10-day trip: $5,000-8,000
Includes: 4-5 Star Lodging, private airport transfers, mix of small group & private tours, breakfast daily, some lunches (if included in tour), special “True North Perk” amenities, taxes, resorts fees, park fees, professional travel documents, emergency travel assistance. Excludes: International air, tips, lunch & dinner
Sensible Pricing: True North can offer a much more appealing private experience for around the same price as a small group tour. For example, a 20-30 person group tour with a company such as Tauck may cost around $5-8,000 per person for a 10-day trip versus your own private experience for around the same budget.
Price per person, per day: $800-1,200+
Price per person, 7-day trip: $5,600-8,400+
Price per person, 10-day trip: $8,000-12,000+
Includes: 5 Star lodging, VIP airport services, private transfers, private tours, breakfast daily, some lunches (if included in tour), special “True North Perk” amenities, taxes, resorts fees, park fees, professional travel documents, emergency travel assistance. Excludes: International air, tips, some lunches and dinner
Sensible Pricing: True North can offer a much more appealing private experience for around the same price as a small group luxury tour. For example, a 20-30 person luxury tour with a company such as Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) might be around $8-12,000 per person for a 10-day trip versus your own private experience for around the same budget.
Not finding a planning budget that meets your needs? Ask us about affordable active/adventure group tours with G Adventures or check out our online booking engine for warm weather vacations. Price points are geared towards value oriented travel experiences.
How long will it take to get an initial itinerary?
This will depend on the complexity of your trip. The benefit of using our services is we have one of the best “little black books” in the industry. We have partners in over 150 countries around the world. As you can imagine, time zones and cultural hurdles may come into play impacting the timeline. A lot depends on when we get information back from our partners. On average, we can usually have an initial proposal for your review 3-5 days after our initial consultation. If you have a pressing timeline, please let us know and we’ll do everything we can to help meet your needs.
Can I get a price breakdown?
When we put together a trip for you we will work to meet your established budget. We will present you with a complete price for the trip we create for you. If this price doesn’t meet your target we will refine it, based on your needs and requirements until you are satisfied. The reason we don’t give a detailed price breakdown is that we receive our pricing from our suppliers in a similar fashion. Like us, our partners have negotiated unique rates with their individual suppliers and to protect their interests and those of the suppliers, this information is not shared.
I shopped your itinerary around and found it cheaper online.
While it is possible to search the framework of an itinerary and find it cheaper online, it is not possible to find True North’s itinerary cheaper online. We include things in our itineraries that can’t be priced out online such as the expertise of our guides, the quality of our properties, the choice of our tours and amenities unique to True North etc… Also there are many factors that can be left out to make a trip look well priced. Government taxes, port taxes and fees, resort fees, private versus group transfers etc… Simply put, the trip booked online is not the same trip as designed by True North. If you feel the pricing doesn’t match your expectations, we will be happy to discuss ways to adjust your itinerary so it’s a better financial fit.