Some people complain that airline pricing is opaque because of fees, taxes etc. - but that is nothing compared to adventure travel. Now you probably don't choose one adventure travel company over another based solely on price - at least you shouldn't, for reasons I explained in the previous post on choosing an adventure travel company. But it could be that you have come down to two or three trips offered by different companies, and at that point the price can be an important part of the decision.
There are two things you want to know:
- What are you getting for your money?
- How much else will you need to spend (i.e. what is your total cost)? We'll cover this in another post.
For the first question, there are five main issues to consider. Each of these presents a choice on your part. What's important is for you first to know what you want, and then second be sure you are getting what you expect.
- type and level of of accomodation: Lodging is often a major determinant of price. Let me give you an example from our trip calendar. We offer 3 different 4-day trips: the least expensive is Waterfalls and Wineries, which costs $785 and includes lodging in a hostel (its beautiful and new, but you're sharing with 3 other women); the second is Paddling with Manatees, which costs $995 and includes double accomodation in an older fishing resort; and the third is Kayaking Maryland's Eastern Shore, which costs $1185 and has single accomodation, 2 nights at the Atlantic hotel in Berlin and one night at the Lighthouse in Ocean City- both really nice hotels. What level of accomodation is acceptable is totally an individual choice. You may prefer saving money as long as you have a safe and clean place to sleep; or having a nice hotel room may allow you to relax in a whole different way.
- number of guides: In general, having two guides on a trip will allow for greater flexibility in the itinerary. This might mean different lengths and speeds of hikes or bike rides, or the group splitting up for the day and pursuing different activities. But its also more expensive. If you are content with everyone following the same itinerary, it might not be worth it to you.
- meals: How are meals handled? When you have a meal as a group, do you order off the menu (more expensive, allows for individual choice) or is it arranged beforehand (less expensive, usually takes less time)? For eample, we usually offer the former; but in places where restaurants are expensive (e.g. Switzerland), we opt for the latter to keep the trip price reasonable.
- free time: Some people love having lots of free time so they can sleep, shop, people watch etc. Other people like having a very full itinerary and don't think they are getting their money's worth if there is too much free time. Again, it comes down to you knowing what you prefer and whether that is what the trip offers.
- size of group: As I have written about before, the size of the group has a significant impact on what it costs to run the trip. Most adventure travel companies say that they offer small group travel - but the definition of a small group seems to be anywhere between 6 and 26. There are advantages and disadvantages of any size of group, but generally you should pay less for a larger group size.
If any of these elements are unclear from the description of the trip you're considering, simply ask.
Next time I'll address the question of how to determine the total cost of your trip