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.
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.
Should the above requirements change, you will be notified in a mailing prior to departure. All visa, entry requirements, and fees are subject to change without advance notification by action of the government and port authorities. Vantage is not responsible for any additional charges resulting from such changes.
For up-to-date information, please visit Generation Visa at http://www.genvisa.com/vantage
U.S. Customs Information
If you are traveling internationally, it is important to understand U.S. Customs regulations including required documents that are valid at least six months following your departure date, 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 info, "Know Before You Go."
View "Know Before You Go"
(Link opens new browser window.)
We realize that tipping can be confusing on a group tour, so we've included the following recommended guidelines for gratuities:
- Gratuities for local guides & drivers now included
- Included Meals: Gratuities are included
- Outside Dining: Varies according to local customs; your Adventure Leader will advise
- Vantage Adventure Leader: $10-12 per person, per day
- Vantage Adventure Leader or City Host (extensions): $10-12 per person, per day
- Porterage: Included except in Customs areas
- Ship Staff & Crew: $16 per person, per day
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 traveling 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.
Note: The above times are based on Eastern Standard Time.
Use the chart below to get an overview of the average temperatures at your destination.
Average High/Low Temperature (Fahrenheit)
Travelers’ checks are not recommended, as they are difficult to exchange. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card; ATMs (Visa and Plus international debit systems are most widely recognized) and are the best way to extract money. We suggest you bring small bills. Be sure the bills are not torn or dirty; bills in poor condition won’t be accepted.
Costa Rica's Currency & Exchange Rate:
The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colon, divided into 100 centimos. Banknote and coin denominations are as follows:
- Banknotes: ₡1000, ₡2000, ₡5000, ₡10000, ₡20000, ₡50000
- Coins: ₡1, ₡5, ₡10, ₡20, ₡50, ₡100, ₡500
What to Pack
You may find the packing information below helpful as you begin to prepare for your upcoming journey.
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.
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.
Costa Rica [top]
From the beaches to the rainforest, Costa Rican climate can vary dramatically. This is an active adventure through many different climates, and both casual wear and activewear are required. Moisture-wicking garments are also advised. We will travel by boat to Tortuguero National Park, which can be wet and rainy. Appropriate footwear is essential, and we recommend sneakers, hiking boots, or sporty sandals with Velcro straps, non-skid soles, and good traction. Also to be included in your packing list: sunglasses, sunblock, hat and/or visor, insect repellent, and a refillable water bottle.
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. 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. We suggest visiting our South America Essentials Shop to buy everything you'll need for your adventure!
Casual Dress [top]
This is an active adventure and clothing is very casual and sporty. Nicer clothes may be worn to various dinners, but Costa Rica is generally very relaxed and fancy garments are not necessary. 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. While cooler evenings in Costa Rica are rare, you'll want to take along a sweater or jacket, just in case.
Rain Gear [top]
A light-weight raincoat or waterproof shell with a hood is necessary. This adventure features various climates, and weather can change quickly in the rainforest. 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, or sporty sandals with decent traction.
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.
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
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.
If you wish to take
along an electric iron, razor, or hair dryer, be sure they are adaptable to different currents, volts, and cycles. Most appliances will require an adapter plug and/or an electrical converter/transformer which are available for purchase at most department stores or luggage shops. These kits are available for electrical settings in countries outside the United States. Electric irons are not allowed on Vantage riverboats.
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.
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
While on Tour
The information below applies in general to Vantage tours.
Prior to arriving at most ports, your Vantage Adventure Leader will conduct an informative
briefing concerning the daily schedule, local customs, and the included features
of the program. It is strongly advised that all tour members attend the briefings.
Extending Your Trip
Vantage offers specially arranged pre- and post-extensions on many of our river
cruises. See specific river cruises for details.
Additionally, if you would like to do some exploring on your own, either before
or after your river cruise, Vantage can help arrange the details. In most cases,
your flights can be adjusted for 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 and
cancellation penalties apply to changes made after airline tickets have been issued.
Your Health & Comfort
Vantage wants you to have a safe, healthy, and happy journey. Our river cruises
are planned to combine just the right amount of activity and leisure.
For personal medical attention while on your river cruise, your Vantage Adventure Leader 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 River Cruise
Vantage river cruises are planned to provide a well-balanced mix of activities and
free time. Certain river cruises, 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 travel program
should contact their Vantage Customer Relations Representative for tips on which
travel programs best suit their individual needs and abilities. See also Medical
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.
Click here to
read important information about travelers with physical, emotional, or mental conditions
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 Vantage
If your Vantage river cruise includes a stay in a hotel, please note that Vantage
makes every effort to reserve only hotels that offer well-appointed rooms and a
convenient 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.
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 and 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.
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 Adventure Leader 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 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.
Some credit cards such as American Express also include insurance protection for
purchases, but it is best to check with your 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.
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 river cruises 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.
All transfers between airport and hotel/pier are included when purchasing Vantage
air. However, travelers purchasing their own airline tickets will be responsible
for their own round-trip transfers to and from the airport/hotel/pier based on the
Each Vantage Adventure is planned with two criteria in mind: It must be 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 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 Adventure Leader
or local representative will notify you.
Your Vantage Adventure Leader / Local Representative
During your river cruise you'll be accompanied by an experienced, English-speaking
Vantage Adventure Leader. You
will also benefit from the insights of expert Local Representatives. Both your Adventure Leader and City Hosts can give you suggestions on the best restaurants,
shops, and local sights; 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 Adventure Leader). 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.
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
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
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
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 Concierge Staff 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
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
I was just reviewing my invoice online and noticed a discrepancy. What should
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.