Please sign in to post.

So Andy Steves just cancelled my daughter's tour - set to leave July 6th - Need ideas

This is a college graduation present - a hybrid travel alone/travel on a tour monthlong trip. We're really frustrated - canceling 15 days before departure??!!

We're in a real bind here. There's lots of other companies out there and I can even make dates match for some cool trips but ALL the companies say that they can't confirm the trip for about 4 business days as they need to confirm hotels. She leaves in less than 4 business days and I don't want her to have to go without set plans.

Gate1 told me that even if I buy the tour in full today, they'll get back to me by Monday with actual confirmation and there's only a 50/50 chance that they'll truly be able to confirm the tour.

Anyone have any ideas for us? She really wants a 10 -12 day tour for this part of the trip to cover places she's not comfortable transiting on her own...eastern Europe, central Europe etc. She's already going to be in Paris and London on her own.

Thanks!!

Posted by
896 posts

Call Rick Steves office and see if they have anything available in the area she will be traveling. It is worth a try.

Posted by
4435 posts

How frustrating.

A couple of suggestions:
1) Plan a backup while you are waiting to hear from Gate 1 focusing on a few places. Cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Copenhagen are super easy for a less confident traveler. Try to get her booked in a hostel where she will meet other young travelers.
2) See if you can find any tour companies that cater to students (Contiki comes to mind) and see if they have any short trips that are open and of interest.
3) Call RS and see if they have any tours with an opening for a solo traveler.

Posted by
1701 posts

Tried that. No luck. We are truly without ideas at this point.

Posted by
365 posts

If you can get her places to stay she could take day tours through local tour companies. Did Andy's company say why the tour was cancelled.

Posted by
1701 posts

He said it did not meet the minimum number of travelers. It's just hard to believe it took them until now to decide that.

Posted by
490 posts

So sorry this happened; but college students are good at going with the flow; it will work out and she will have a great trip and make news friends...sending positive vibes that tours will fall into place with the efforts you have made.

Congratulations graduate!

Posted by
6073 posts

Instead of cobbling up another guided tour trip, I would encourage her to stretch her young wings beyond Paris and London. Going beyond your comfort zone may seem scary, but it's often a great learning experience that you never regret. If she's social and can meet other people on the ground, I'm sure she can find other like-minded young people to travel with her. I'd kill to be a 20 year old again traveling in Europe for a month with no set plans.

Posted by
2388 posts

I think if your daughter is staying in hostels, then she will meet other's her age and have no problem deciding what to do with those now free days! Lucky her to have a chance to changer her plans as she gets a feel for her adventure. Great adventure to start being an adult and handling unexpected changes and challenges on her own.

Posted by
313 posts

She's old enough not to need a set tour. Book her airbnbs in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Bruges and set up the flights/trains. She'll be fine.

Posted by
7109 posts

This is a great website and resource for 20-somethings for travel info all over the world:

Reddit.com/r/backpacking

As others have said, staying in hostels is the best. She'll meets lots of great people she can hang out with and can travel with if she chooses.

My 27 yo son recently traveled solo for a month in Asia. Although he's a seasoned Europe traveler, he got all the info he needed for Asia, from A to Z, from this website which is very popular with their age group. He purposely stayed in hostels, even though he could afford nice hotels, so he could meet, hang out and travel with others. He made lots of friends and had a fantastic time.

Posted by
4063 posts

This is fate telling you she should travel solo. Stay in hostels, meet friends. What is she or you worried about? Europe is easy. I was all over the place at 20 by myself. Berlin, Prague, Budapest, anywhere in Italy, Barcelona.

Posted by
11389 posts

That sucks ! Did you look at Contiki tours , not same quality , but fine for young kids .

Company is reliable , been around for at least 35 years

Posted by
11389 posts

Is not cool that tour was cancelled at such a late date .

Posted by
1701 posts

Hello all. Thanks for the replies! We got some useful advice from you all. She does not want to solo travel those countries and I totally respect her decision. She's doing 10 days on her own and she wanted to try a tour for ten days. At any rate - the G Adventures tip worked - they'll book her on available trips and confirm the departure!

I know tours get cancelled but we've emailed questions a couple of times over the last few weeks and they responded and never mentioned the tour was in jeopardy of being cancelled. What we got today was an email canceling and a phone number to call with questions or to ask for a refund. When we called, the phone rang forever and there was never any answering machine that picked up....business hours....called continuously from 2pm onward.

My email went unanswered...I'll let you know what happens.

Posted by
16606 posts

I am sorry you ran into this disruption so shortly before your daughter's departure. I can understand that it would be difficult to make the mental/emotional adjustment to all-solo travel on such short notice. After this experience she'll be good with solo trips in the future.

I ran into a G Adventures group on a train in Romania/Bulgaria in 2015 and was very impressed with their adventurous spirit and the the personable guide's generosity toward me, a solo traveler who just happened to be sitting in the same train compartment. I'm glad your daughter was able to hook up with that company.

Posted by
1997 posts

Valerie, are you trying to phone during business hours in Europe? I suspect that's where Andy is.
So sorry this happened to your daughter but sounds like the two of you have found a way for her to still have a fantastic time.

Posted by
1701 posts

@Darcy. I have still not received any response. I just tried the phone number on the email from WSA again and a man answered it and said he had nothing to do with the Andy Steves organization! Wow - I'm pretty frustrated.

Posted by
7109 posts

Valerie, I'd be very upset, so I understand. Andy Steves sounds extremely unprofessional.
Glad your daughter has an alternative... might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Posted by
760 posts

Hi. It sounds like you have a plan. I checked the tour availability of Rick's tours, and there are a few starting around your targeted date, Switzerland, for one. Great tour. There appear to be some in Italy, too. I know these are not the areas you were targeting, but they give you some additional options.

Odd about WSA. I poked around their website for a minute and saw only fall dates for upcoming guided tours. Did they by any chance provide a list of hostels they were planning on using? That might take the edge off going solo, to give at least a bit of structure in this last minute change.

Posted by
23259 posts

I hope that the cancellation isn't as a result of cancellations by tour members as a reaction to the various terror and political problems we are all suffering.

Good you for helping her bounce back from this setback - I bet you're a great parent.

By the way, it looks like you were lucky. I saw that they can cancel with as little as 24 hours!!!

1.4 In the event that less than 10 bookings on a WSA tour, WSA reserves the right to cancel the guided portion of the tour booked.
Tour members will be notified at least 24 hours ahead of the departure
date. In the event of a tour cancellation, participants will be given
two choices:

Posted by
1701 posts

Update : I did hear from two people at WSA Europe now. No solution yet. They are polite and trying to help but I'm not sure where we'll end up. @Nigel - I know! 24 hours - I think it's because the bulk of their tours are weekend trips, marketed at the study abroad students in Europe...so if they aren't going to run the tour, they decide on Thursday and the kids from the other European cities don't come over for the weekend. Seems they should have a different plan for the 10 day tours they offer;)

Posted by
6073 posts

I have made it clear that if they had told us they cancelled at the
actual cancellation time

If the contract says 12-24 hours (looks like it does according to Terms and Conditions in separate sections), it sounds like they followed their contract. So how are they in the wrong and the "bad guys" here? If you signed the contract, then you agreed to those onerous terms (probably on the assumption that the contract wouldn't actually be enforced). I take every contract literally and this one isn't written in legalese - it's pretty straightforward (although it should be reviewed for consistency as there are clear inconsistencies between 12 hours and 24 hours in case of cancellations, and the "there are no cancellations" language). It sounds like this is a very flexible contract (strongly in their favor) and works best for students who are already on the ground studying abroad, etc. and can just shift their timing to another date.
https://www.wsaeurope.com/terms-and-conditions/

Posted by
1701 posts

@Agnes - I don't think they're bad guys at all. Once they realized I was trying to contact them, they've been very polite and responsive. I do think, however, that the 24 hour thing was clearly meant for when they were just doing weekend trips that started on Friday and so they'd tell the young people studying nearby that the trip was off and then they branched out to these longer trips and never redid their website. But - sure - that's what's on there. However, they did cancel this trip about a month ago and never let us know. They cancelled all of their 10 day summer trips because apparently they had very little response at all.

So did they have to let us know when they cancelled it? I guess not an argument could be made that they didn't. Heck - they could wait until the morning of the 5th. But why in the world would they?

It's a young company and perhaps they can take some PR value from this. There was no reason not to let us know when they cancelled it.

Posted by
6073 posts

However, they did cancel this trip about a month ago and never let us
know.

How did you find this out and can you get it in writing? I admit, when I read that contract, I'm wondering if a lawyer had reviewed it. It's full of inconsistencies, some typos, and it could be tightened up. Although it was written in plain language, it made my head hurt. But I got the main takeaway, which is that this is a highly one-sided contract that gives them incredible leeway to cancel last minute. So I'd be wary of that when signing such a thing if this trip was really a deal breaker and couldn't be switched to another date. Technically, they were within the bounds of their contract. I would be happy to get my money back and just let it go. They are unlikely to compensate you for anything outside the contract terms unless they do it purely for good-will reasons.

Posted by
1701 posts

@Agnes: They told me on the phone. I told them they should have let me know immediately and they were sorry and agreed.

We would have switched to a different trip with them but they cancelled all of 10 day trips for the summer. They apparently ran one that's going on right now and pulled all the other ones off their website. They are running their weekend trips - at least some of them.

We'll see what happens. It's not the end of the world obviously but I don't think it's good for the business profile...it's in their court though. I'll report back when it's all over.

Posted by
2456 posts

There is already one review on TA from another person who thought she was taking this same trip only to have it cancelled last minute like your daughter. In reading through the low review responses from WSA, there attitude seems pretty cavalier to some of their frustrated clients. Overall though they get good reviews.

EDIT: I didn't read the cancelled trip review thoroughly. It was for the same countries and time period BUT the review was written in July of 2015! WSA must have been trying these summer tours for awhile only to cancel them. It seems like the weekend model works best for them with their college tour groups. Good that you've found some alternative solutions.

Posted by
6073 posts

I going to go out on a limb and guess that their cancellation terms of 12-24 hours reflect that their business is not super stable or they experience a lot of churn (where people cancel or switch to another group last minute) or even have issues with their vendors on the ground, and they need to cut their risk by allowing themselves maximum time to get the minimum required participants and all their ducks in a row. I can imagine that tours involving young people is not exactly the nice stable business that Father Rick runs, where a much older, more predictable clientele books many months in advance and there is a ton of repeat business. I think it'd be tough to run young people tours like Andy's - you have to tolerate a lot of risk unless you have much more demand that you can possibly want, which doesn't sound to be the case. Cancelling 10 summer tours at the height of the peak season seems like a bad flag that something's off with business operations - and who knows what. Maybe their weekend trips are solid, but the long term (two week) trips are just not ready for primetime yet.

Good luck, Valerie, in letting this go and hopefully your daughter will have a fantastic time in Europe regardless of this small wrinkle.