Most airline tickets are now issued based on special fares. Airlines may impose penalties for any changes made to these special fare tickets once they have been issued. Airfare is not included in the tour price. Back to Top
Security checking of hand luggage, etc., at airports these days can be time consuming. Please arrive at the airport early enough to allow time for security checks. Please remember there are many restrictions on items which may be taken in your carry-on luggage, including many liquids. Since security restrictions can change at short notice, do not pack anything which is not absolutely essential, or which you are not willing to discard at the security check point. Back to Top
Customs fees and airport or country departure taxes are not included in the cost of your tour. The airport departure tax for Latin American countries can be up to $30 cash per person. This exit tax is collected by a tax official at the airport on your departure. Usually, U.S. dollars or the local currency can be used for payment. On Mexico’s Copper Canyon Tour this tax is collected on day two of the tour as you enter Mexico. Back to Top
Caravn transfers you between the airport and hotel on the starting and ending dates of all Latin American tours. Some transfers are provided on North American tours. Complete transfer information can be found on each tour itinerary page. Back to Top
The schedule of most activities is indicated on the day by day itinerary. Where the Tour Director feels that additional information is required, he or she will make an announcement on the motorcoach. The Tour Director has been instructed not to post bulletins with this information in hotel lobbies, as Caravan feels that such bulletins are not in keeping with Caravan standards nor with your right to be treated as an individual guest at the hotels used. Back to Top
When registering at your hotel, please identify yourself as a Caravan Tour member. Hotel rooms may not always be available for immediate occupancy. If this should occur, check your luggage with the hotel’s bell captain until your room becomes available. Official check-in times vary. Normally check-in times are in the mid afternoon. Back to Top
If you make any telephone calls from your hotel room or incur any extra room charges (i.e. drinks or in-room movie charges), please be sure to pay for these incidental charges before you leave the hotel. Some hotels will require you to provide a credit card imprint to the hotel before allowing any incidental charges. Back to Top
Caravan itineraries are carefully constructed to show you as much as possible at a pace you will find comfortable. Your Caravan Tour Director has been instructed to follow these departure times and route exactly. The Tour Director may deviate from them only in cases of extremely bad weather, extraordinary traffic conditions or other exceptional circumstances. Please, therefore, do not ask the Tour Director to change either departure times or route. Occasionally, events may require a change in the sequence of your itinerary. Your Tour Director will, of course, advise you as soon as possible if such changes are necessary. All itineraries are subject to change. Back to Top
Laundry and dry cleaning service are available at most hotels. We suggest that you arrange for this at a hotel where you will be staying for more than one night. Please check the rates before arranging laundry and dry cleaning. Back to Top
The tour rate includes the handling of one piece of standard sized luggage per person. Due to space limitations, suitcase size should not exceed 60" for the combined height and width and depth of a suitcase, or 25" for the longest side of the suitcase. Garment bags and canvas or nylon fold-up type luggage cannot be carried. Experience shows that garment bags do not stand up well when stored in aircraft, motorcoaches, etc. with regular hard luggage.
One small handbag and/or small flight bag may be personally carried on board the motorcoach. You are responsible for handling your carry-on luggage at all times. Please do not ask your tour director to lift your carry-on bags for you. For the comfort and safety of all tour members, wheeled luggage exceeding 18” in length is not acceptable as carry-on luggage, and must be checked as regular luggage. Unlike an airplane, the motorcoach does not have sufficient room to store this type of luggage in the overhead compartments or under the seats.
You will receive Caravan luggage tags about three weeks before departure. These luggage tags should be attached to your luggage before leaving home for easy identification.
Luggage insurance is highly recommended and is offered by Caravan as part of a reasonably priced, optional Travel Protection Plan. In addition, your homeowners and rental insurance policies may cover lost or damaged luggage.
COSTA RICA TORTUGUERO EXCURSION-LUGGAGE LIMITATIONS
Due to space limitations on the Tortuguero boats, each person is permitted to take only one carry-on bag with a maximum weight of 25 pounds to Tortuguero. You leave your main suitcase behind at the San Jose hotel. When your motorcoach meets you at the Tortuguero canal cruise dock after your two-night Tortuguero trip, your main suitcase will be awaiting you on the Caravan motorcoach. Back to Top
Meals included in the land price are indicated in the itinerary at the end of each day by B (Breakfast), L (Lunch), D (Dinner). Coffee or tea is provided at all included meals. In Latin America, bottled water is provided where specified. Where meals are not included, your Tour Director will be pleased to suggest a restaurant. We have found that the hotels and restaurants are unable to make provisions in advance for special diets such as: low-salt, vegetarian, diabetic, kosher, etc. and clients with food allergies should note we are unable to make any guarantees concerning food preparation. Alcohol beverages are not included unless specified. Back to Top
To ensure fair and equitable seating for all members of the tour, seating on the motorcoach will be rotated once or twice a day in a clockwise direction. Your Tour Director will advise you of the procedure. Back to Top
Be sure to take along enough film for your needs. Often, film purchased in other countries includes the cost of processing. Very seldom will you be in a spot long enough to take advantage of this service, and you will then end up paying for processing again on your return home.
Do not pack any film in luggage checked with airlines. Many airports now use a scan technology for checked luggage called axial tomography which can cause "fogging" or markings to appear when the film is developed. Film is safer packed in your carry-on because X-ray machines for carry-ons are supposedly calibrated to avoid damage to film. For absolute film safety, you can request a hand inspection of your film by airport security. Back to Top
We strongly caution against purchasing real estate or timeshares during your vacation with us. Instead, we suggest you use the experience for the purposes of orientation and information gathering. If you are interested in such a purchase, we suggest you return for at least one more visit and seek the guidance of a lawyer. Back to Top
Early in the tour, your Tour Director will hand out registration cards for you to complete and return. Back to Top
Room assignments are made by the hotel. If you have a special room request, such as king bed or smoking room, please advise Caravan before the tour begins or inform your Tour Director at the beginning of the tour. Caravan is pleased to forward your requests to the hotels. No guarantees can be made as these requests are at the discretion of the hotel. All tour members are treated equally in regard to special requests. Back to Top
A practical suggestion before you leave home: make photocopies of all your credit cards, airline ticket numbers, passports, etc., that you will be taking with you. Make two photocopies: take one with you and carry it separate from your luggage for your reference in case these items should get lost or stolen while traveling. Leave the second copy with a family member or friend at homein case of emergency or if you should lose both the copy and the items noted. It is always a good idea not to bring expensive jewelry or watches with you. Please remove all personal belongings from the motorcoach at the end of each touring day. Please do not pack your passport, it should be carried with you at all times. Back to Top
Your Tour Director can advise you more precisely on shopping hours. In Mexico, many shops close for a few hours at lunch time, and are open a little later at night. If your purchases are not too large, it is best to carry them with you. If you decide to ship your purchases, please be sure to insure the packages, and obtain clearly written receipts from the places of purchase. Back to Top
A limited number of single rooms are available at the single rate. Single rooms in some countries are not like those in the U.S.A., where they are usually a double or twin-bedded room. Single rooms outside the U.S.A. are often smaller than a twin or double, and frequently are not up to the standard of the same hotel’s twin or double rooms. Back to Top
In exceptional cases where single rooms and/or rooms with private bath or shower may not be available, your Tour Director will make an immediate cash refund for the difference in value of the room for that evening. Back to Top
Smoking is not allowed on the motorcoach. Frequent stops are made affording time for smoking outside of the motorcoach. Back to Top
Survey forms will be distributed by your Tour Director upon completion of the tour. In order to fully evaluate your trip, we suggest you wait a few days after your return home before filling out the survey. Then, just drop the postage-paid form into the mail anywhere in the U.S.A. Outside the U.S.A. you will need to affix postage. These surveys will be carefully read and are very helpful in maintaining the quality of our tours. If, for some reason, your Tour Director should not have a supply of these forms handy, or should you misplace your form on your return, please write or call us and we will be happy to send a survey form to you.
Should you plan to use a tape recorder or camcorder while on tour, please be sure to ask the permission of any guides or your Tour Director before recording. You may find that some guides object to having their comments recorded, or they may be guiding you through a place that forbids recorders to be used. So, please, always ask first. Back to Top
Tips to your Tour Director and driver, are not included. Such tips are entirely at your discretion. Your Tour Director and Drivers depend on these tips. Most tour members compute these tips by allowing a certain amount per day based on service they have received. If you feel that service has been good, you may wish to leave an appropriately generous tip. We suggest the following guidelines:
US $4 to US $8 per traveler per day for the Tour Director.
US $2 to US $5 per traveler per day for the Driver.
These tips should be handed directly to the Tour Director and Driver on an individual basis. We request that no group collections be made. Tips to water craft personnel, local guides, waiters, porters and bellmen are included in the tour price. Back to Top
Caravan has included a name and address section in the day by day itinerary so that you may record the names and addresses of the new friends you make among your travel companions. At the welcoming reception, Caravan distributes a list of tour member names. This list does not include addresses, due to respect for personal privacy. Back to Top
Triple rooms usually offer two double beds with a cot or rollaway for the third person. In some hotels, the rooms are limited to two beds, a third bed is not available. We regret a third bed cannot be guaranteed prior to, or during your tour. Back to Top
The best way to enjoy your flight and your vacation is to drink lots of water! At sea level, the human body loses about a quart of water a day through air expired from one’s lungs and through the skin. At flight levels and higher desert and mountain elevations, this loss can be up to 100% greater. This water has to be replaced. Therefore, to avoid dehydration and its symptoms, do as experienced flight crews do: drink lots of plain water. Simple, and effective. In Latin America, it is advisable to drink only bottled water. Back to Top
Prior to departure, you will receive a list of your hotels with addresses, phone and fax numbers. Extra copies are provided for your friends and family. As mail delivery is unreliable, we suggest your family and friends contact you by phone. While Caravan will gladly assist in locating tour members to convey urgent messages, this service is provided as a courtesy and we ask that the caller also convey their message independently. Caravan is not responsible for any undelivered messages. Back to Top
We suggest you purchase the postage from your hotel concierge and affix it to the envelopes yourself, or have the concierge meter the articles in your presence. This will ensure the proper postage is put on each piece of mail. Or, you can ask your tour director for help in locating a local post office. Back to Top
Should you need to call the U.S. while you are gone, please note that the cost can jump considerably for calls placed from your hotelwhether dialed direct or placed through the hotel operator. What would normally be a $5 call can jump to $20-25. Frequently, it is more economical to purchase a prepaid phone card. Your long distance carrier (AT&T, MCI, Sprint, etc.) may have a service that helps you to minimize hotel telephone surcharges. In many countries, you can now just dial a special number from almost any phone. Please contact your long distance carrier for details. In Latin America, you may find that sending a fax is quicker and cheaper. We suggest that you first check with the hotel operator or front desk. Back to Top
For the additional and the most current information please visit the passport section of the U.S. State Department’s website: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport_services.html
As soon as you receive your passport, please sign it as indicated. The passport is not valid until signed. Your passport is a highly important and valuable document. Record the number and date of issue to facilitate replacement in case of loss, and keep this information in a separate place from your passport. Carry your passport with you at all times while abroad and never pack it in your suitcase. For all travel requiring a passport or visa, please make a copy of the page containing your photo on your passport, and make a copy of both your drivers license and your visa. This copy should be carried with you at all times in a location apart from your passport. Back to Top
No visa is currently required for travel to and from Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala or Canada. For 2007 a passport valid for a further 6 months upon entry is required for travel to Costa Rica, Guatemala and for air travel in and out of Mexico and Canada. According to US Customs & Immigration, passports will not be required for land travel to and from Canada and Mexico until 2008. However, we strongly recommend clients travel with a valid passport and are not responsible for any travel problems arising from improper travel documentation or border crossing issues. If you passport is valid for less than 6 months, please call the nearest Consulate of the country to which you plan to travel. This time requirement may change and your passport may still be valid for travel.
Travel to All Countries: Non-U.S. Citizens: You may need a passport or visa to visit one or more of the countries on your Caravan Tour. If visas are required, they must be obtained before departure. Non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United States may need a multiple entry visa for return to the United States. If you have any questions, please check with your Travel Agent or the consulate of the countries concerned.
Resident Aliens: An Alien Registration card is needed for re-entry to the United States and, for purposes of income tax clearance, a "Certificate of Compliance" (Form 1040-D) commonly known as a “sailing permit,” must be obtained in person from the Internal Revenue Office nearest your home before you leave the U.S. Back to Top
Obtaining a passport is a simple procedure, if you arrange it in advance. Ordinarily it takes less than six weeks from the time you apply until you receive your passport, but delays do occur, so we strongly recommend that you apply as soon as possible. Right now is the best time! It is not necessary for travel arrangements to be finalized before a passport will be issued, so even if you’re not certain of your travel plans, you should go ahead and apply for your passport now.
Each individual citizen must have his/her own individual passport, and must apply in person at a passport facility for a passport. Many post offices and courthouses serve as passport facilities. Passport facilities are located throughout the country. The passport fee is currently $60 plus $10 service fee. Your passport will be valid for 10 years from the date of issue. If you need to expedite the issuance of your passport within 2 weeks, the extra charge is $35 plus delivery. Back to Top
You can renew your passport by mail, provided that you already hold a U.S. passport issued after your 16th birthday and less than fifteen years ago. Please visit the U.S. State Department’s website: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport_services.htmlfor more information. Back to Top
PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP: For native born citizens, a previously issued passport, a birth certificate, or, if these are not available, a baptismal certificate or certified copy of the record of baptism. Naturalized citizens should present their naturalization certificate.
IDENTIFICATION: The following documents are acceptable, provided they contain the signature and either a photograph or physical description of the applicant: a previous passport, a naturalization certificate, a driver’s license or a government (federal, state, municipal), industrial or business identification card or pass. If none of the above is available, an identifying witness is required who is 21 or over, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and who has known the applicant for at least two years. Husbands and wives may testify for each other.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Please note the following carefully: Photo print size must be exactly 2” × 2.” Also, the head size, from bottom of the chin to top of the hair, must be at least 1,” but no more than 1 3/8.” The two duplicate photos must be clear, front view, full face, and taken in normal street attire. Vending machine pictures, Polaroid snapshots, etc., are not acceptable. Please go to a photo-shop that specializes in taking passport photos. Back to Top
As a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you are now granted a $800 duty-free allowance. As of July 17, 2006, the following requirements must be met: (1) You must have been abroad for at least 48 hours and have not used this duty-free allowance, or any part of it, within the preceding 30-day period. (2) You bring the articles with you, at the time of your return to the U.S. (3) The articles are for your personal use or for use as gifts and are not for sale. (4) The articles are properly declared to Customs. (5) The articles are not prohibited or restricted.
There is no limit to the amount of merchandise you may bring back, but duty will be levied on all amounts in excess of the $800 duty-free allowance. For further information please refer to Know Before You Go at the US Customs and Border Patrol website at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/ .
Cigars and Cigarettes
The number of cigarettes you may import for your own use is now limited to 200. Cigars are limited to 100 (no Cuban products are allowed). The value of these items is considered as part of your $800 customs exemption.
If you are 21 years of age or older, one liter of alcoholic beverages may be included in your duty-free allowance.
The head of a family traveling together can make a joint declaration, with each member of the family allowed $800.
Thus, a family of four has a joint allowance of $2400, even if all the purchases are made by one member only. Infants and children are entitled to the same allowance (except for alcoholic beverages).
Friends and relatives in the U.S. may receivefree of duty and taxgifts shipped from abroad provided that no one addressee receives more than $100 worth on a single day. Write “Unsolicited GiftValue under $100” in large letters and the retail value on the face of the package. Personal belongings such as worn clothing can be mailed home without payment of duty as long as they have not been altered or repaired whilst abroad- write “American Goods Returned” in large letters on the outside face of the package
Foreign-Made Articles Taken Abroad
If you have a foreign-made item of value (watch, camera, jewelry, etc.), be sure to register it with U.S. Customs before you leave, thus ensuring duty-free re-entry on your return.
To expedite your re-entry through U.S. Customs, list all your purchases, have all your sales receipts ready and, if possible, pack all your purchases together, ready for inspection. Keep in mind that, under customs regulations, if you understate the value of an article on your declaration form, you may have to pay a severe penalty in addition to payment of duty. Back to Top
Foreign Customs officers are invariably liberal with pleasure travelers. They are mainly concerned with drugs, tobacco and liquor.
As far as film and cameras are concerned, the customs officials allow a reasonable amount of film for personal use.
Once you have joined your Caravan tour, you’ll find that your Tour Director handles all formalities at entry points (always have your passport ready at this time), often making your customs inspection a swift and easy process. Back to Top
Listed below are countries and their currencies.
|Canada||Canadian Dollar (CAD)|
|Costa Rica||Colone (CRC)|
|Panama||US Dollar (USD)|
Most overseas visitors have found travelers checks to be the safest way to carry travel funds while abroad. Travelers checks are widely accepted in banks and shops. Although you may have to pay a small charge (usually 1% of the amount you buy) to purchase the checks, travelers checks are one of the best ways to protect your funds when traveling.
When deciding the denominations to get, you may wish to get larger denominations for countries where you will be spending more time and making more purchases, and smaller denominations for those countries where you only need to cash enough for a meal or snacks. Keep in mind, too, that, in some countries it may not be easy to cash in your unused currency. You may want to only cash enough to cover your immediate expenses. Back to Top
Many foreign cities have ATMs which dispense local currency. You may want to check with your bank to see if your ATM system has outlets in the countries you are visiting. Back to Top
It is always useful to have a supply of low denomination bills for small purchases or in case you are short of local currency. Back to Top
Many credit cards are now widely accepted throughout the areas you will be visiting. In some shops, a fee may be added to your purchase to use the credit card. Back to Top
At the time this booklet was published, no vaccinations were required for any countries included on Caravan tours. This is subject to change. Please double check with your Physician and re-check the Caravan web site prior to your departure. Immunization against tetanus, with a booster every ten years, is now universally recommended by the Center for Disease Control for all travelers to foreign countries, regardless of age. Please check the status of your immunization against polio with your personal physician and act in accordance with his/her recommendations. For further information, please visit www.cdc.gov/travel, the website of the Center for Disease Control. If you have any concerns, or if you are coming from a country other than the United States, please talk it over with your doctor. Back to Top
Be sure to carry with you (do not pack in your luggage) a sufficient quantity of any regularly used medicine, with the proper dosage clearly labeled, as certain medications may not be available locally. Please carry all medications in their original containers and do not mix them in one container. You may wish to keep an extra supply of essential medication in your luggage. An extra prescription from your physician, on your physician’s letterhead, might be handy to carry. You might also request your physician to note the generic names for your medication on the prescription, as they are recognized almost world-wide. Some medications, such as insulin for diabetes or various glaucoma medications require refrigeration. The motorcoaches have no refrigeration facilities and we cannot assure they will be available at hotels. Please bring your essential medications in your carry-on bag and do not pack these medications in a checked suitcase. If you wear glasses, a second pair, or a prescription from your eye doctor, is recommended for emergencies. Back to Top
Caravan provides free bottled water on the motorcoach in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico and on the train in Mexico’s Copper Canyon Back to Top
Airline seats are often small with little legroom. Over a long flight, this can lead to a decreased circulation and the onset of blood clots. In an effort to prevent this, it is recommended that you walk up and down the aisle of your aircraft once every hour. Back to Top
You are responsible for choosing a tour that suits your abilities, fitness level and state of health. While Caravan Tour directors may carry copies of medication lists, and will make efforts to find a doctor in medical emergencies, Caravan Tour directors are not health care providers. For this reason, please consult your doctor if you have any questions about your ability to travel. Back to Top
If you have serious health issues, Caravan requests a certificate from your doctor with the following:
This certificate must be received in our office before you leave on tour. This statement is a valuable protection for you and will help the Tour Director to find medical assistance should the need arise. In addition to this certificate, we suggest you carry with you key medical information should emergency treatment be necessary. You may wish to obtain from your doctor a list of doctors/specialists/treatment facilities in the areas you will be visiting. If you have a pacemaker, please have the electronics checked out prior to departure. All information regarding your health will, most assuredly, be kept confidential. Back to Top
Persons needing special assistance for personal needs must be accompanied by an able companion. If you have a disability of any kind, please notify Caravan Tours. Some tour operators specialize in travelers with special needs. To get more information, you may contact SATH, The Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped and Elderly, at www.sath.org. They also have a regularly published magazine, Open Road. Back to Top
It is recommended that you carry insect repellent on all tours. You will find this particularly useful for Latin America, especially if you choose to leave your window open at night, as some hotels do not have window screens. However, mosquitos and biting flies can be a nuisance in all parts of the world, including the USA and Canada! Back to Top
Please remember that not all travel illness is transmitted through food and water. Frequent hand washing, beyond ones usual regimen, can help minimize exposure to sickness that might otherwise spoil your tour. Please take along a good supply of moist towelettes or baby wipes for times when soap-and-water hand-washing facilities are not available. Whilst Caravan makes every effort to minimize the possibility of tour members becoming sick during their tour, we cannot offer any refunds to clients who become sick during a tour (unless where provided by our Travel Protection Plan). Back to Top
First, make a list of all the items you expect to take. Second, cut the list in half! The person who travels lightest, travels farthest and enjoys it most! Then, plan ahead and your packing will go smoothly. Experienced travelers start the journey as lightly as possible, leaving room for things picked up abroad. Many items such as handkerchiefs, underwear, men’s socks and ladies’ hose, etc., can be rolled tightly and smoothly and will take up less space than if packed flat, and they can be put inside shoes or used to stuff the shoulders of suits, jackets and dresses. Be sure to pack creams, cosmetics and such in a plastic or rubber-lined case to avoid spills. Always place your heavier, outer garments and shoes on the bottom of your suitcase with your blouses, shirts, etc. on top. Some people prefer packing shoes along the sides of their suitcase with the soles facing outwardsit is a good idea to place the same number of shoes on either side of the suitcase to insure balanced carrying. Back to Top
RAZORS AND HAIR DRYERS: Many modern electric razors and blow dryers take AC and DC currents with a range from 90 to 240 voltsand this includes most of the places you will visit. However, if your appliance is not dual voltage, you may need to purchase a converter, and an adapter plug for the outlet. Always check on the wattage and voltage before using your razor or dryer. If you have any questions, ask your tour director. Although some hotels sometimes have hair dryers, Caravan recommends that if you need a hairdryer that you bring your own.
To determine and purchase the correct converters and adapters for your travels, please see your favorite travel store or call the Savvy Traveller, Chicago, Illinois, USA at 888-666-6200 or 312-913-9800. Three elements determine if you need a converter and/or adaptor for your appliance.
Electrical appliances built for use in North America are designed to operate on 110-120 volts. Most of Latin America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, operates on the same 110-120 volts.
To determine the correct converter you need, you must know the voltage and wattage requirements of your appliance. This information is often listed on the appliance manufacturer’s label located on the back or bottom of the appliance or in the appliance owner’s manual. You will need a stronger converter for higher wattage devices.
The shape of the plug required for the outlet also varies country by country. Also, if coming from the United States and visiting a country such as Mexico with a similar plug shape, there may still be differences. For example, in North America, many appliances are required to have plugs with one blade wider than the other. This type of plug is called a “polarized plug.” Mexico has the same volts and plug style as North America, but often does not have polarized outlets. So you may still need some kind of adapter plug. Back to Top
Caravan recommends bringing at least one sweater or light-weight jacket on all tours. Even in hot climates, the temperature may be cooler at nighttime. A sweater is also useful in an air-conditioned motorcoach. You want to pack as little as possible, so please pack versatile clothingthings that can be mixed-and-matched and layered with each other to meet any weather situation. Casual wear is fine for sightseeing and daytime traveling, but with Caravan, there are evening occasions where you may want to dress up a bit. Back to Top
The best friend you can have while sightseeing is a comfortable, sturdy pair of walking shoes. Delicate sandals or high heeled shoes should be limited to evening activities. Be sure to bring your favorites with you. If you buy new shoes be sure to break them in before your trip. Caravan recommends 2 pairs of shoes. Back to Top
Keep in mind that some localities won’t allow certain attire at certain sites. Please be sure to check with the Tour Director if you are in doubt.
LATIN AMERICA: The dress codes on our Latin American tours are very casual. Sportcoats for men and dresses for women are nice but not necessary at any time. Back to Top