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Travel Notes



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 journey.

Passport & Visa requirements

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.

Country Passport Visa
New Zealand Y N
Australia Y Y

A Visa is required for entry into Australia. Vantage Deluxe World Travel will mail you a letter approximately 120 days prior to departure asking for a legible photocopy of the picture page of your passport in order to process the ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) Visa. A return postage paid envelope will be included. The ETA Visa is obtained through Vantage Deluxe World Travel as part of your flight reservation and no physical visa will be issued. This is an INCLUDED service.

Australian Customs Regulations
Keep in mind that Australian Customs regulations apply when you enter Australia. In general, travelers are allowed to bring into Australia $A900 (approximately $850 U.S.) worth of goods duty and sales tax free, not including alcohol or tobacco, when the goods accompany the passenger. The limit is $A450 (approximately $425 U.S.) for travelers under 18 years of age. The maximum amount of alcohol allowed per person is 2.25 liters. The maximum amount of tobacco allowed per person is 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products. For more information, contact the Australian Customs Service: telephone from the U. S.: 011-612-6275-6666; on the web: www.customs.gov.au. 

Security: In addition to their customs restrictions, the Australian government has adopted security measures to limit the amount of liquids, aerosols, and gels that can be taken through the screening point for people flying to and from Australia—similar to the U.S. TSA regulations. All containers with drinks, creams, perfumes, sprays, gels, toothpaste, and similar substances cannot exceed 100ml (3.3 ounces) each and will have to be carried in a re-sealable clear plastic bag, no larger than 20cm x 20cm, and be inspected separately. There is a limit of one bag per person.

Telephone from the United States: 011-612-6275-6666. Or on line at www.customs.gov.au

New Zealand Customs Regulations
The following regulations were taken from New Zealand’s government customs website: www.customs.govt.nz. All regulations are subject to change without notice. Before you arrive in New Zealand, you will receive a New Zealand Passenger Arrival Card. You must tick (check) “Yes” in the Customs section of your arrival card if you are bringing any of the following into New Zealand:

• Goods that may be prohibited or restricted, such as weapons, hookah/shisha pipes, other ornamental pipes, objectionable (indecent) materials, wildlife products or illicit drugs. 
• Goods in excess of the $700 allowance and the tobacco and alcoholic beverages allowance. At time of writing, $700 NZD was roughly $570 U.S. The duty-free allowance for tobacco was 200 cigarettes, or 250 grams of tobacco, or 50 cigars, or a mixture of all three weighing not more than 250 grams. You could also bring up to 4.5 liters of wine, or 4.5 liters of beer, or three bottles each containing not more than 1,125ml of spirits, liqueur, or other spirituous beverages dutyfree.
• Goods carried on behalf of another person
• NZ $10,000 or more, or the equivalent in foreign currency (please have purchase receipts available)
• Food items of any sort, whether restricted or not. This includes food given to you during your flight.
• You will be fined on the spot (around NZD400) for anything that you do not declare on this form.

TIP: We would like to remind you that you should NOT bring fruit of any kind into New Zealand. It will be confiscated and you will be fined.
You do not have to declare your clothing, footwear, jewelry, or toiletries. These are regarded as personal effects if they are intended solely for your own use.
Unlike other Customs administrations, there is no provision for travelers to obtain a refund of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on their purchases when they leave the country. In order to purchase goods without payment of GST,  travelers are required to purchase from a duty free shop.

U.S. Customs Information

If you are traveling internationally, it is important to understand U.S. Customs regulations including required documents, 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 booklet, "Know Before Yo Go." This publications is available online and as a printer-friendly "PDF" document.

View "Know Before You Go"
(Link opens new browser window.)

Gratuities

We realize that tipping can be confusing on a group tour, so we've included the following recommended guidelines for gratuities:

  • Included Meals: Gratuities are included
  • Outside Dining: Varies according to local customs; your Tour Director will advise
  • Local Guides: $2.00 - $3.00 per person per day for each
  • Local Drivers: $1.00 - $2.00 per person per day for each
  • Vantage Tour Director: $8.00 - $12.00 per person per day
  • Porterage: Included except in Customs areas

Vaccinations

At this time, 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. 

Climate/Time Zone


Time Differences

Country

Time Difference

Australia 16 hours
New Zealand      18 hours
Note: The above times are based on Eastern Standard Time.

Climate

Use the chart below to get an overview of the average temperatures at your destination.

Average High/Low Temperature (Farenheit)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Auckland H 73 73 71 66 62 58 56 58 60 62 66 69
L 62 62 60 56 52 49 47 48 50 52 55 58
Queenstown H 71 70 67 60 52 47 46 50 56 60 64 69
L 49 50 47 43 36 33 31 34 37 41 44 48
Sydney H 79 79 77 73 68 63 62 64 68 72 75 78
L 65 66 63 57 51 47 44 46 50 55 59 63
Cairns H 88 88 87 84 81 78 78 80 82 85 87 88
L 74 75 73 71 68 64 63 63 65 69 72 74
*Ayers Rock H 99 96 92 83 74 68 68 72 79 88 93 98
L 70 68 63 54 46 41 38 41 48 56 62 67
Mt. Cook H 65 66 64 60 56 53 53 54 56 57 60 62
L 52 52 50 47 44 41 39 40 42 45 47 50
*Melbourne H 79 80 75 68 62 56 55 57 61 66 71 76
L 56 57 55 51 47 43 41 42 44 47 50 53

* Post-Extension


Money Matters


Country

Unit of Currency

Australia Australian dollar Get Exchange Rate
New Zealand    New Zealand dollar Get Exchange Rate

Local Currency
Currency exchange rates fluctuate daily. Your Program Director will advise you of the exchange rate upon your arrival. For current exchange rates, please refer to the our website or the financial section of your newspaper.

Australia
The official currency of Australia is the dollar, though its value differs from the U.S. dollar and the New Zealand dollar. The Australian dollar is divided into cents. Banknote and coin denominations are as follows:
Bills: 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars
Coins: 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents; 1 and 2 dollars

New Zealand
The official currency of New Zealand is the dollar, though its value differs from the U.S. dollar. The New Zealand dollar is divided into cents. Banknote and coin denominations are as follows:
Bills: 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars
Coins: 10, 20, and 50 cents; 1 and 2 dollars

How to Exchange Money
If you want to exchange money before your trip, you can usually do so through your bank or at an exchange office. Your departure airport in the U.S., a travel agent, or an AAA office are also possible outlets. Or you can wait and change money on the trip instead—but it might be helpful to arrive with some local currency in case you run into a bank holiday or an “out of order” ATM.
On your trip, the easiest way is to withdraw funds from a local ATM. The ATM will give you local money and your bank at home will convert that into U.S. dollars.
You can also exchange cash at some hotels, large post offices, and money exchange offices. To exchange cash, you’ll usually need your passport and bills in good condition (not worn, torn, or dirty). New bills (post 2004) are best. Never exchange money on the street. All exchange methods involve fees, which may be built into the conversion rate; ask beforehand.

ATMs
PLUS, Cirrus, and other international ATM networks are widely available throughout Australia and New Zealand. Always notify your bank before you leave home that you are going abroad so that they may remove any blocks on your account, and also ask them about the number of withdrawals you may make abroad. For cash withdrawals, don’t forget to memorize the actual digits of your card’s 4-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number), as many keypads at foreign ATMs do not include letters on their numeric keys, they only display digits.
Note on ATM use: Many banks have begun imposing a fee ranging from $1 to $5 every time you use an ATM in a foreign city. You may want to limit the number of withdrawals that you make. Your Adventure Leader can advise you on locations, but when to exchange money is left to your discretion.

Debit Cards
Debit cards are very popular in Australia and New Zealand, and are widely accepted, but will always require a PIN. Many U.S. banks offer a combined ATM and debit card. Check your ATM card, and if it has a Visa or a MasterCard logo, ask your bank if it can be used as a debit card in Australia and New Zealand. (If there’s no logo, then you probably can’t use it as a debit card, but your bank will know for certain). If it can be used as a debit card, all you’ll need is the same PIN you use at the ATM.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in both Australia and New Zealand. In both Australia and New Zealand many hotels are now charging a 1-2% surcharge for credit card payments on supplementary charges (bar bills, room service, etc.).
Though major American credit cards (American Express, Visa, and MasterCard) are accepted abroad, always inquire if your type of credit card is accepted before deciding on your purchase. It is also wise to notify the credit card company that you will be using your cards abroad so that they may remove any security block. When using a major credit card you may receive a different exchange rate than if you pay with cash; inquire about the rate first. Please be aware that credit cards might not be accepted for small purchases or in the markets. Note that the Discover credit card are not widely accepted outside the U.S. Keep your receipts in case you have questions about the conversion or exchange rate. Also, keep your receipts as proof of purchase for items to be shipped home.

Credit Cards in Australia
There is a different system in place for credit cards issued from Australia. At time of writing, those who own an Australian credit card will be required to enter a PIN, like a debit card or ATM, instead of supplying a signature. Fortunately, credit cards issued outside of Australia should be exempt from the new system. However, there can be hiccups for a traveler—for example, most cashiers will be used to dealing with Australian cards, so they may automatically ask for a PIN. You may also find that few shops won’t know how to process your credit card. In this case, the easiest way to deal with this is to pay by cash or debit card instead. You can also see if your credit card company will issue you a PIN. Some U.S credit card companies do, others do not.


Tipping 

We realize that tipping can be confusing on a group tour, so we've included the following recommended guidelines for gratuities: 

• Included Meals: Gratuities are included
• Outside Dining: Varies according to local customs; your Adventure Leader will advise
• Local Guides: $2- $3 per person per day for each
• Local Drivers: $1 - $2 per person per day for each
• Vantage Tour Director: $8- $12 per person per day
• Porterage: Included except in Customs areas


Packing Guidelines


What to Pack

You may find the packing information below helpful as you begin to prepare for your upcoming journey.

In General
• Travel light: Have a varied travel wardrobe, yet keep your luggage light, we recommend you select a color scheme and pack color-coordinated clothing items that can be mixed to create different outfits. For more packing and luggage tips, you might want to visit www.travelite.org.
• Pack casual clothes: Comfortable, informal apparel is acceptable at each of your destinations. At dinner, you will not need formal dressing; men do not need jackets or ties and women do not need fancy dresses. You may want one or two smart casual outfits for the Welcome or Farewell Dinner, but it’s completely up to you.
• Consider clothing designed for travel, sports, or camping: With modern fabrics, lightweight packing for comfort and protection through a wide range of weather is easy.
• Clothes for mild weather: For the temperate climate at each of your Australian destinations, pack lightweight, drip-dry clothing made of breathable fabric, such as cotton, cotton knits, or Dacron/cotton. The latter two material blends dry very quickly after washing and stay comparatively wrinkle-free. Evenings can be cool and may require a sweater or jacket. You can select an outer layer from the cold-weather gear that you need to bring for New Zealand’s South Island, as outlined in the next paragraph.
• Warm clothes for the year-round volatile weather on South Island, New Zealand: Come prepared for travel to the South Island, where every kind of weather imaginable is possible. Cold, wet weather is especially apt to occur near the island’s southern Alps, where there may even be some snow. Winter lasts from May through September, but all the elements of that season—ice, hail, snow, sleet—can happen any time of year. An insulated jacket with hood (preferably waterproof), fleece pullover or wool sweater, gloves, and waterproof shoes are recommended for your comfort. Your outer jacket should be roomy enough to comfortably fit over your sweater or fleece top. Since spurts of very warm weather are equally common, dress in layers so you can easily adjust to any sudden temperature
shifts.
• Comfortable, supportive walking shoes. In addition, sneakers or casual shoes are fine for dinner and evening activities.
• Sports attire: Don't forget your swimsuit and exercise clothing if you plan on these activities.

Packing Your Carry-On
Using a daypack as a carry-on bag for your flights is a smart solution. We strongly urge you to pack your carry-on with at least one full change of clothes, your camera gear, medications, changes of socks and underwear, your important travel documents, and other irreplaceable items, in case your checked bags go astray. Store camera gear and important papers in plastic bags to protect them from dirt and moisture. With a daypack you can then remove these items on arrival and load your bag with the gear you’ll need on walking tours and excursions.

Travel Gear Suggestions
To travel wisely these days you must juggle your personal needs and preferences against the physical constraints of your transportation. Consult the following items to create your personal checklist – ignoring what you don’t need and making the tough decisions over borderline cases. Remember that many airlines today will charge you extra for  added luggage.

What not to pack: Do not pack aerosol cans and avoid packing glass bottles; use plastic containers instead. Leave at home checkbooks and any credit cards not essential for your trip or valuable jewelry.

Custom’s regulations prohibit some foods: Australia and New Zealand impose very strict regulations on the importation of food. Visitors must declare all food products at customs upon arrival and, as a general rule, are not allowed to bring dairy products (including cheese and foods containing powdered milk), fruit, crackers, meat, flowers, etc., into Australia or New Zealand. For further details, please contact the Australian Customs Service: telephone from the U. S.: 011-612-6275-6666; on the web: www.customs.gov.au. Please adhere to these regulations.


Packing Essentials

Daily essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hairbrush or comb, shaving items, deodorant, etc.
Spare eyeglasses/contact lenses and your prescription
Sunglasses with a neck strap
Sunscreen, SPF 15 or stronger
Travel money bag or money belt
Moisturizer, lip balm
Insect repellent: with DEET—can also be
purchased in Australia or New Zealand
Wide-brim sun hat or visor
Pocket-size tissues
Moist towelettes (packets) and/or antibacterial hand lotion
Light folding umbrella
Photocopies of passport, air ticket, credit cards
Camera, spare batteries, and memory cards

Clothing
Shirts: A mixture of short and long-sleeved shirts to layer
Trousers, jeans, or skirts 
Comfortable walking shoes and/or water resistant shoes
Light rain jacket/windbreaker with hood
Sleepwear
Socks and undergarments
Swimsuit

Medicines
Your own prescription medicines
Vitamins
Cold remedies: Sudafed/Dristan
Pain relievers: Ibuprofen/naproxen/aspirin
Laxatives: Senokot/Ex-Lax
Stomach upset: Pepto-Bismol/Mylanta
Anti-diarrheal: Imodium
Band-Aids, Moleskin foot pads
Antibiotics: Neosporin/Bacitracin

Electronic devices

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.

Luggage Restrictions [top]

To help make your travel experience as smooth and simple as possible, Vantage recommends you limit your luggage to one large suitcase and one small carry-on bag per person. Most airlines now charge a fee for more than one suitcase. Domestic and international carriers currently restrict weight limitations to 50 pounds.

Travel Light [top]

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 traveling to areas where flora and fauna may be observed.

Casual Dress [top]

Dress on tour is generally casual and smart casual. Gentlemen may wish to bring a sport jacket. Formal clothing is not necessary, unless you are traveling on an ocean cruise that has formal nights, or on one of our popular President's trips. If you are traveling on an ocean cruise please refer to the attire information for your particular cruise line. 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". A HELPFUL HINT — plan to avail yourself of the laundry and valet services available at an additional fee.

Warm Clothes [top]

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.

Rain Gear [top]

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 [top]

One of the most important items you'll need for any vacation is, of course, comfortable walking shoes for touring. We suggest you refrain from purchasing new walking shoes just prior to departure — it's best to wear a broken-in pair that you know are comfortable.

Pool and Sauna Apparel [top]

On many programs, some accommodations will feature pools. So if you plan to use them, bring along a swimsuit and pool slippers.

Cameras and Film [top]

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.

Valuables [top]

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 or ship safe deposit boxes or safes to ensure the safety of possessions that you may want to have with you.

What to Leave Behind [top]

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.

Electricity

The standard U.S. electrical system — 110V 60Hz current and flat two- or three-pronged polarized plug system — is rare elsewhere. The overwhelming choice for the rest of the world is 220-240V and 50/60Hz current with a variety of plug shapes, sizes, and configurations. Some plugs will work with multiple receptacles, while others won’t.

Plugging a 110V U.S. appliance into 220/240V 50/60Hz service will ruin the motor. We suggest that you bring dual voltage appliances (widely available) that work on both 110 and 220/240 voltage. Dual voltage appliances are inexpensive and need only plug adapters.

If you bring 110V appliances, such as a hair dryer (note that hotels often supply hairdryers and coffee makers) or shaver, you'll need a transformer (to halve the 220/240V current) in addition to plug adapters.

Regional transformer/adapter kits can often be found at hardware or online stores but transformers tend to burn out, so it might be better to leave those larger items at home.

In Australia the electrical current is 240V, 50 Hz; in New Zealand it is 230V, 50 Hz. Wall outlets in Australia and New Zealand take a slanted three-prong or two-prong plug.

Type I receptacle/plugs are used in Australia and New Zealand.

Even though you’ll only need Type I plug adapters on this trip, it may be a good idea to invest in an all-in-one, universal adapter/converter combo. Versatile and lightweight, this item will ensure that you are prepared for your current trip as well as future vacations. If you use multiple digital devices—cell phone, digital camera, and MP3 player for instance – it’s handy to have a travel power strip, perhaps with a surge suppressor and USB-style port for charging cell phones, MP3 players or e-readers without the use of device-specific plugs.

Internet

Internet is available at all hotels. Some hotels offer wi-fi complimentary others have a charge for in room wi-fi but free in lobby areas.   

Telecommunications

Reception in main towns is good but reception in some nature areas may have little to no cell reception or data reception.

Photography

You can photograph just about anything in Australia and New Zealand however please ask your Adventure Leader for best practices. 

In any culture, it is polite to ask permission before taking pictures of people, and Australia and New Zealand is no exception.

When not using your camera, always keep it in your pocket, in a case attached to your belt, or hanging on a strap around your neck.


Flight Information


Flight Information

When planning your flights, Vantage considers each airline's reputation for quality, service, and routing options to the destination. 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


The information below applies in general to Vantage escorted land tours. To learn more about our full line of escorted land tours, click here.

Briefing sessions

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.

Extending Your Trip

Vantage offers specially arranged pre- and post-extensions on many of our escorted land tours. See specific tours for details. In some cases, your Tour Director on your base trip will be there also on the extension, but not always. On some pre- and post-extensions, there will be a Vantage representative to assist you.

Additionally, if you would like to do some exploring on your own, either before or after your tour, Vantage can help you arrange the details. In most cases, your flights can be adjusted for either an earlier arrival date or a later return date. A non-refundable administrative fee will be assessed, plus any additional costs that may apply to the air ticket and hotel. Transfers to and from your hotel are not included when traveling independent of a Vantage group. Please ask a Vantage Sales Representative for additional details. Note also that some airline contracts may exclude changes to routing.

NOTE: Should you wish to make any changes to your plans to extend your trip, please do so no later than 60 days prior to your scheduled date of departure. Change or cancellation penalties may apply to tickets once they have been issued.

Your Health & Comfort

Vantage wants you to have a safe, healthy, and happy journey. Our tours are planned to combine just the right amount of activity and leisure. For personal medical attention while on tour, your Vantage Tour Director can refer you to reliable physicians in the cities on your tour.

Please note that Medicare and U.S health insurance are generally not accepted in foreign destinations. If you have an insurance claim, it should be made upon your return to the USA and filed through your health insurance provider or through the Vantage Travel Protection Plan if you have purchased it. Keep relevant receipts and doctors' reports for processing your claim.

Jet Lag Precautions

When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many hours of regular sleep. Upon arrival your body must quickly adjust to new sleeping and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, and vague disorientation. You cannot completely avoid jet lag but you can minimize it. Here's how:

  • Try to sleep on overnight flights
  • Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before - and during - your flight
  • Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying
  • Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner

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.

Your Personal Safety

Please keep in mind that in any tourist destination, you need to be aware of your surroundings. We recommend that you use a money protector that can be worn around your neck. Flashy jewelry should be left at home. Never place your camera or purse down, or hang it on the back of your chair. Although incidents of theft and pickpocketing while on tour are rare, it is important to be cautious and aware.

Medical Issues

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.

Hotels

Vantage makes every effort to reserve only hotels that offer well-appointed rooms and a central location. We remind you that quality of accommodations may vary from destination to destination. Vantage strives to provide the best hotels available that meet our standards of quality. You can check descriptions of the hotels for your chosen trip under Accommodations on the website for that trip.

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.

Religious Services

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

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.

Optional Excursions

Vantage makes every effort to provide the right balance of both included activities and time for exploring on your own. We've found, however, that many of our passengers prefer an additional guided activity in lieu of free time. For that reason, some of our tours may include a limited number of optional tours and activities, which you may choose to take at a moderate fee. In no case do we replace an included sightseeing tour with an optional tour. Optional tours are strictly voluntary, providing you with the opportunity to visit an attraction that you may not see otherwise.

Taxes

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.

Transfers

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.

Travel 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 value.

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/Regional Experts

During your tour you'll be accompanied on tour by an experienced Vantage Tour Director. You will also benefit from the insights of Regional Expert tour guides. Both your Tour Director and Regional Experts can provide suggestions on the best restaurants, shops, and local sights; will help coordinate optional tours and excursions; and assist in any manner possible.

Vantage Hospitality Desk

For your convenience, a Vantage Hospitality Desk will be available daily during scheduled hours at many of the hotels on your itinerary (staffed by an experienced team of local travel professionals or by your Vantage Tour Director). The desk hours vary, depending on your daily scheduling. Tour members will be advised of the desk hours during the briefing held upon arrival at most hotels.

Tipping

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.

Payment Information


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 of usage.

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 occurrences.

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 Plan?

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 Service 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 charges.

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 accuracy.

I was just reviewing my invoice online and noticed a discrepancy. What should I do?

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.

Contact Vantage

CALL 1-800-848-5773

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Journey Australia & New Zealand: An Adventure Down Under Grand Australia & New Zealand
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*Prices are subject to change & based on comparable March or November departure dates
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