You will receive your tour documents, travel literature and document wallet approximately one to two weeks prior to your departure. These documents are valuable and contain a wealth of advice and essential information to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. Please read them carefully before your departure.
Passports and Visas
You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. However, please note that certain hotels will need to hold your passport overnight in order to comply with local regulations.
All passengers require a passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. Some Guided Vacations may require multiple-entry visas for certain countries, depending on the itinerary. You must contact your travel agent or the applicable government authorities to get the necessary documentation. It is the sole responsibility of each passenger to have a valid passport and necessary visas, as well as to comply with entry, health or other requirements of the countries visited.
Please remember Brendan and/or their employees and agents are not responsible for passport, visa requirements, health or other requirements of the countries visited or for any loss sustained by you for failing to comply with the laws and regulations of countries visited.
Why should I travel with Brendan?
Brendan has been sharing the world with travelers for 40 years. We believe that a truly successful vacation reveals all the sights, sounds and experiences that make a destination unique, while offering personal and caring service from your first contact with Brendan until you return home after your journey. Our travel philosophy has evolved into a company culture based on providing superior service. Our management team is hands-on, making it a priority to personally inspect the properties and sights featured in our itineraries. This ensures distinctive, high quality vacations for you to enjoy. Depending on the destination, you can travel on a fully Guided or Locally Guided Vacation, or take independent modules or city breaks. We also offer cruises in Europe, Russia, Egypt and China, as well as self drive vacations throughout the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Traveling with Brendan on a Guided Vacation, you see the highlights in each city you visit, without having to wait in long lines for inside tours. In many destinations we include unique local experiences to make your vacation even more memorable. These might be a meal in the home of a typical family, a wine or whisky tasting or a visit to a lesser-known and rarely experienced treasure. You will stay in first class hotels conveniently located near shopping, historic districts, restaurants and public transportation. Many great meals are included, plus you have the opportunity to sample the local fare, experiencing tantalizing new tastes. Finally, our expert Tour Directors make your vacation completely hassle-free and fun, while they share their unique insights, stories and knowledge of our destinations.
For those travelers seeking a more independent vacation or a quick getaway, a Locally Guided, Independent or City Break Vacation may be right for you. Brendan offers a choice of hotel standards and sightseeing options in major European cities, allowing you the flexibility to choose a program that suits your own individual pace and preferences. Plus, our friendly hosts are a wonderful asset to your experience. We maintain our standards of high quality and personal service on these vacations as well, as we know that is what travelers and travel professionals expect on a Brendan vacation.
Will I be traveling with a reliable company?
Yes. Brendan has been in business since 1969. Owned by the Murphy family until 2007, the company is now part of “The Leading Travel Companies.” This worldwide organization of travel and tourism companies is highly respected in the travel industry, renowned for outstanding value, service, quality and financial stability.
How many people are on tour with me?
Guided Vacations: Europe: There is a maximum of 49 people on our Guided Vacations, and departures operate with a minimum of 22. US, Canada & Mexico: You will generally be traveling with 30-52 fellow passengers. In most other destinations, you will be traveling with as few as 6 and as many as 49.
Locally Guided & Independent Vacations: On our Locally Guided and Independent Vacations, you travel with just the people in your own party. Generally, you will join other travelers for sightseeing with a local guide. Different transfer staff and sightseeing guides will assist you in each city you visit.
Will I be traveling with people from other countries?
Since our tours are sold in many parts of the world, it is likely that there will be people of other nationalities on your tour. Generally, you'll travel with Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and/or British. All of our tours are conducted in English.
Will I have time on my own?
Yes. We design each itinerary with the right mix of included sightseeing and time at leisure to pursue your own interests, shop, people watch or simply relax.
What is the motorcoach like?
You will ride in safety and comfort on one of Brendan’s first rate, air-conditioned coaches. Your driver is experienced, reliable and friendly, getting you everywhere on time, keeping the coach neat and clean, and the panoramic windows spotless.
Is smoking allowed on the motorcoach?
No, Brendan has a no smoking policy on board our motorcoaches. However, we make plenty of stops along the way, allowing you an opportunity to smoke, stretch your legs, take a scenic snapshot or enjoy a cup of coffee.
How is seating determined on the motorcoach?
Your Tour Director utilizes a seat rotation system, which gives everyone a variety of views and across-the-aisle seatmates.
Where will I meet my Tour Director?
On all Guided Vacations except those starting in London, you will meet your Tour Director at your first hotel. For vacations that begin in London, you will meet your Tour Director on the morning you leave London.
On Locally Guided and Independent Vacations, our transfer staff will meet you at the airport holding a sign with your name (be sure to ask if transfers are included in your package). Your local guide/s will make arrangements to meet you at your hotel. They are available to answer questions and to assist with reservations for optional sightseeing and excursions.
How do I read the Vacation Pace scale?
Brendan's Vacation Pace scale, shown on itinerary pages, runs from “Easy” to “Let’s Go!” This pace refers to the number of nights spent in each city on your vacation.
Are the hotels air-conditioned?
The majority of the hotels we use have air conditioning, but not all. A quick check of each hotels website should answer this question if the information isn’t already in our brochure.
Why are prices based on double occupancy?
We have found that most of our passengers travel with a companion. So, all prices quoted on Brendan’s website and in our brochures are per person, based on two people sharing a twin-bedded room (unless stated otherwise).
What is the difference between a twin-bedded room and a double room?
A twin-bedded room has two separate beds of any size. This is what we generally reserve for our travelers. A double room usually has one double bed. These can be requested at the time of booking if desired.
What happens if I travel alone? Is there an extra charge?
On many of our tours in Europe, we offer a “Guaranteed Share Room.” We will accommodate you with a fellow passenger of the same sex in a twin, non-smoking room. If there is no single to match up with you, we will absorb the single supplement.
What is the single supplement?
The single supplement is the additional cost for to those who would like to stay in a room on their own. The room will sometimes be a regular twin or double room, and sometimes be a smaller single room.
What size is a triple room?
In most of the world, a triple room is the same size as a twin or double room. It will have beds to accommodate three people, however it may not have three separate beds or the third bed may be a rollaway. If there are only two beds, a rollaway may be requested but cannot be guaranteed. In some cities and hotels, triple rooms are only available with an upgrade to a suite.
Are airport transfers included?
Transfers will depend on the tour you choose and the days you arrive and depart. In general, if you buy a Brendan Guided Land and Air package, then transfers between the airport(s) and hotels are included. If transfers are not included, they can often be purchased separately.
Can I select my airline seats before departure?
All carriers have different policies when it comes to seat assignments. Special seating can be requested in advance through your Brendan Specialist or your travel agent, however some carriers only do seat assignments at the time you check in.
Can I request special meals?
Meals included on tour are based on local foods and menus. We can generally accommodate passengers who prefer a vegetarian, diabetic, gluten-free or other medically recommended diet. Please advise this at the time of booking. Unfortunately, we are unable to supply meals in accordance with strict religious requirements.
Can I bring a wheelchair on tour?
Yes, you may bring a fully collapsible, non-motorized wheelchair. Please advise us at the time of booking if you plan to bring one. You must be traveling with a companion who is physically able to provide you with assistance. Brendan’s staff cannot help with walking, dining, getting on/off vehicles or other personal needs. Motorcoaches, mini-buses and vans are not equipped with wheelchair ramps.
How much luggage can I bring? What size can it be?
Due to limited space on the motorcoach, you may bring one suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30”x18”x10” and weight not exceeding 50 lbs. Airlines may have additional luggage restrictions and may impose additional charges if you choose to check any luggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for more information. If you bring a carry-on bag, it should not exceed the dimensons of 12"x11"x6". Wheeled carry-ons are not allowed on motorcoaches.
Africa: smaller, soft-sided luggage is recommended on all safaris.
China: for flights within China, the maximum weight for your checked luggage is 44 lbs.
Japan: for the optional Ryokan stay and the train ride to Hiroshima you will need a small overnight bag.
Galapagos Islands flights: the maximum weight for your luggage is 44 lbs.
Tortuguero National Park (Costa Rica): you will need to carry a small overnight bag, with a maximum weight of 25 lbs.
Canada and Mexico train rides: for the Rocky Mountaineer in RedLeaf Service only, VIA Rail and the El Chepe train in the Copper Canyon (Mexico), you will need a smaller overnight bag.
Is baggage handling included?
Baggage handling of one suitcase per person is included on Guided Vacations. It is not included on Locally Guided and Independent packages.
Travel insurance is a must! It is imperative that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy, which covers you the entire time you are away from home. Your policy should cover the following:
* Cancellation or curtailment of your tour due to medical or other reasons
* Loss or damage to your property and baggage
* Loss of cash, Travelers Checks, credit cards, etc.
* Medical costs and personal accidents Don’t forget to pack a copy of your policy, contact phone numbers and instructions on how to claim, on the off chance it is necessary.
Storage space in modern luxury touring coaches is limited. Because of this, we ask you to bring ONLY ONE BAG or SUITCASE PER PERSON. The maximum size of your luggage must be no larger than 30” wide x 18” high x 10” deep (76cm x 45cm x 25cm) and the maximum weight is 50 lbs (23 kg). You may also bring one piece of hand luggage that fits under your coach seat or in the overhead luggage rack. Wheeled carry-ons are not permitted, as they do not fit in the space on the coach.
Your safety and comfort is important to us. We therefore appreciate your cooperation. If a SECOND suitcase is carried, or if your first exceeds the permitted weight and/or dimensions, a charge of US$5 per traveling day will be collected by your Tour Director. Baggage handling at hotels for ONE suitcase per person is included in the Guided Vacation price (not included for Locally Guided or Independent packages).
Please note: Regulations regarding airline luggage allowances are constantly changing. We advise you to check with your airline or travel agent in advance of traveling, to ensure your luggage conforms to such regulations. Airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage.
Deciding what to pack is a difficult but essential process. The following is a list of helpful hints and guidelines to assist you.
Start by writing a packing list. When packing an item, think about how many times you are going to wear it – the more times the better. Choose clothes that pack well and color coordinate. Leave expensive items such as jewelry at home. If traveling as a couple, pack in each suitcase clothing for both people – in the unlikely event the airline misplaces one of your suitcases, you will have something fresh to wear. Ensure your personal and tour details are written on a label INSIDE your suitcase (including your phone number, departure and return flight details). Write only your name and destination address on the outside labels. Make sure that your luggage is in good secure condition, and don't forget the TSA recognized locks and keys!
NEVER ACCEPT packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry on board the aircraft.
Suggested items to pack:
* Clothes that can be mixed and layered (smart and casual)
* Comfortable walking and dress shoes
* Toiletries - remember to pack 3-ounce sizes that fit in one 1-quart zip-top bag
* Credit cards (only those needed)
* Traveler’s Checks and cash
* Local currency for 1st country
* Money belt
* Spare memory card for your digital camera or film
* Photocopies (1 for you and 1 for someone at home) of your passport ID page, credit cards, airline tickets and itinerary
* Extra passport photos
* Only those keys needed on return
* Medicine and spare prescriptions
* Extra glasses, contacts and prescription
* Plastic bags (zip-top bags)
* Elastic clothesline
* Travel alarm clock
* Earplugs and sleep mask
* Mini first aid kit
* Mini sewing kit (put in your checked luggage)
* Toiletries and tissues
* Adapters and voltage converter
* Patience and good humor!
For weather conditions pertinent to your travel schedule, visit these websites: www.cnn.com/weather/ www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world www.weather.com
Many hotels supply hairdryers in rooms. If you take an electric razor you should find that there is a suitable socket in the bathroom. Outside of the U.S., electric voltages will differ from those at home, and adapters may be required. Ask your travel agent for more information. There are also a number of websites offering details on electricity around the world, including voltage and socket designs.
It is important that you take precautions when traveling. If hotel security boxes are available we recommend you use them for all your valuables; do not leave these items in your hotel room. Prior to leaving home, purchase a money belt and/or shoulder or neck holster to carry items such as your passport and extra money – make sure it is not visible under your clothing. Be wary of pickpockets! Wallets and purses should be kept out of sight, in inside or front pockets; carry your handbag and backpacks around your front. If you are unsure about security while on tour, your Tour Director or local host will be able to advise you.
A World of Difference!
It is exciting to visit and explore new places and experience the cultural diversity across the globe. Of course, you will find that the food, customs and other aspects of daily life in other countries (or even states in the US) can be quite different from life back home. They can also vary considerably from one country to another. Some customs you encounter on your vacation seem strange to you, but if you try to keep an open mind and simply enjoy the unfamiliar, you will have a more enjoyable experience.
Your Tour Director
Your Tour Director is there to help you, so if you have any questions or problems, talk to them. You will find them useful for the odd bit of translating, knowing where to go (they know the best restaurants and shops in every town) and of course they are a wealth of information when it comes to historical facts and information about the places you will be visiting.
Traveling on board Brendan's modern motorcoach fleet is like taking a leisurely land cruise. Air conditioning or air ventilation is standard, and you will relax in comfortable seats with large panoramic windows that give uninterrupted views. Plus, the on-board stereo provides entertainment for quieter moments.
Our seat rotation plan ensures you enjoy the views from the coach at a different vantage point each day.
For the comfort of our passengers, smoking is not permitted on board our coaches. Smokers need not worry; our itineraries are well-planned so that frequent comfort stops are made during each touring day.
Food On Board
It would be appreciated (especially by your driver!) if you could bring the minimum of food and drink on board the coach. This will assist them in keeping the coach spotlessly clean at all times for the benefit and comfort of all passengers. We make frequent comfort stops where food and beverages may be bought and consumed before re-boarding.
No doubt you will want to capture all the famous sights of your vacation on film, so wherever possible the coach will stop to enable you to click away! But spare a thought for those passengers who are not budding photographers. It is impossible to stop the coach every few minutes for a view from a different angle. So please be guided by your Tour Director; after all they know their country like the back of their hand and can advise you of the very best shots to take. If you use a digital camera don’t forget to bring additional memory cards. If you are using film, we suggest you purchase it prior to going on your tour.
Holidays and Changes
During local or national holidays, certain facilities such as museums, sightseeing tours and shopping may be limited. At these times we may need to make slight itinerary adjustments. Also local holidays, closing days and other circumstances may change the day of the week for scheduled dining out, gala dinners, sightseeing and other included activities.
Hotels Around the World
Often, the tourist industry is centuries-old in the area(s) you will be visiting, and hotels frequently reflect the varied traditions and cultures of each country. So, do not expect hotels to be the same as those back home. Single rooms are often smaller than in North America, and rooms may not be ready for early check-in, as check-out times are usually midday. When selecting hotels, we try to balance traditional with modern, so you will enjoy the best of both worlds. It is sometimes the case that hotels do not provide washcloths in bathrooms, so guests are advised to bring their own. Also, the term 'private facilities' generally means a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom usually with a bath and/or shower. On certain occasions, for operational or local reasons, it may be necessary to change your hotel accommodation in a particular location. If this does occur you will be notified of such changes as soon as possible.
Hotel Check-In and Check-Out on Guided Vacations
Arrangements are made to ensure that check-in and check-out at hotels runs smoothly, and your Tour Director will advise you in advance of the procedure before arriving at each hotel. Crowding the reception area usually hinders rather than helps, so it is suggested you remain on the coach for a few moments, or relax in the hotel lounge while waiting for your key to be handed to you. On departing the hotel, always remember to return your room key to reception before boarding the coach.
Personal Hotel Expenses
Any additional costs incurred during your stay at hotels (for example laundry, telephone calls and bar bills) are your responsibility. Please settle your account on the evening before leaving to ensure a smooth and speedy departure the following morning.
Meals included in your Guided Vacation arrangements can be "table d'hote" (set) menus, buffets or a typical regional menu.
Freedom at Meal Times
Brendan's unique philosophy of a careful mix of free time and organized activities is extended to your meal arrangements; that is why lunches are not usually included on our itineraries. We believe you should be free to spend your lunch time in your own way, maybe trying a local dish or taking a light snack and using the time for additional sightseeing or shopping. Occasionally, our daily itinerary may require us to make a lunch stop at a recommended roadside cafeteria.
Freedom at Dinner
In certain major cities, dinners are not included. This is to give you an opportunity to dine out on your own, to sample regional dishes and eat in typical local restaurants. Your Tour Director can advise you to help you make the best choice.
While tap water is perfectly safe to drink in many countries, we suggest you drink bottled water where available. Check with your Tour Director, local host, or the concierge at your hotel about the water in their area. You may also wish to carry a small bottle of water with you throughout the day to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated.
When there is a two-night stopover, arrangements can be made for your laundry with the hotel chambermaid (at your own expense). Please note laundry services are not available on weekends or local holidays.
On your travels you may encounter an air-conditioning system in public places, on ships and in hotels that might not be up to the standard you are used to back home. Just think positive and look upon it as part of the travel experience!
Sightseeing on Guided Vacation
Brendan guarantees you a sightseeing tour in all major towns and cities visited on your Guided Vacation. These tours are conducted by qualified local guides who are eager to share their vast knowledge and love of the local history and culture. In places where a local guide is not available, your Tour Director will give you a brief orientation drive or walk to familiarize you with the locality, usually on the way to your hotel.
Our well-planned tours include so much, but we believe it is important for you to be able to personalize your Brendan experience. We have not included the cost of our optional excursions in the price of your tour, as we want to ensure that you don’t pay for activities you are not interested in.
Optional excursions not operated by Brendan are run by third party suppliers who have been approved and endorsed by Brendan. These excursions may be purchased directly from your Tour Director, who will accept payment in Travelers Checks or in cash in most major currencies (such as US dollars or Australian dollars). Credit cards are also widely accepted. Full details and prices are shown in your itinerary leaflet.
These vary depending on which vacation package you take. You can find the sightseeing highlights and travel features for your vacation in the relevant Brendan brochure. We try to provide as many highlights each day as possible, carefully balanced with relaxation and free time. There's an art to getting it just right, and we hope you will agree that we have.
Making Phone Calls
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones). Your Tour Director will advise you how to use the telephone if you are unsure.
International Country Calling Codes Australia + 61 Canada + 1 Great Britain + 44 New Zealand + 64 South Africa + 27 Hong Kong + 852 Singapore + 65 USA + 1
Automatic money machines (ATMs) are widely available. By using a Cirrus or Plus 1 card you can take money directly from your account (in local currency). The transaction will be converted into US dollars at the current exchange rate when recorded by your bank. This is a convenient way to get cash, however do not rely on this for all your spending money, as machines can be unreliable.
Another option for your monetary needs is an adequate supply of convertible Travelers Checks. They are easily obtained from your bank or other authorized dealer. You will find it an advantage to have your Travelers Checks in a currency that is easily exchanged, such as US dollars or the local currency. Remember to make a separate note of all the numbers and denominations of your Travelers Checks in case of loss or theft. It is worth carrying some checks in small denominations as it may be difficult to cash larger checks in hotels and shops. Many banks charge a set rate, so it could be worth your while cashing more money less often. Banks usually offer a better rate of exchange than hotels, restaurants and large shops. Please note that personal checks are not accepted unless you hold a bank account in the country of purchase.
Most countries have arrangements to accept many of the leading credit cards, although this is a matter for individual shops and hotels. The bill you sign will be made out in much the same way as at home, except that the total will be in the local currency. This will be converted into your home currency by the credit card company at the rate in effect when the transaction is recorded, then invoiced in the usual way. It is worth remembering that you can also use Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners to obtain cash abroad, at the regular rate your credit card company charges.
How Much to Take
The most difficult question to answer is 'How much money will I need?' Of course, this depends on many factors - the length of your stay, the extent of your travel, and, last but not least, your shopping and sightseeing plans.
We have two suggestions: first, plan your budget well in advance of your departure and second, take more money than you think you will need rather than less – this way you won’t be disappointed if you find a "must-have" item. Remember, excess Travelers Checks can always be refunded at the end of your vacation or used at home.
What is included in your vacation package?
To assist you in planning your budget, we have listed exactly what is included in your Brendan vacation package. Accommodation, transportation, breakfast daily and a good proportion of your evening meals, hotel porterage and tips for included meals are all provided for in the price of your Guided Vacation. In addition, sightseeing in major towns and cities en route conducted by your Tour Director or a professional local guide and special highlight features are also incorporated into your vacation price. For a full list of included features, refer to your itinerary page in Brendan's brochures. On Locally Guided and Independent Vacations, you can expect accommodation, transportation between cities (depending on the package), breakfast daily, some sightseeing, the services of local hosts and/or guides and some transfers. On Independent City Stays, our hotel rates include all taxes and most provide breakfast as well.
To give you an indication of how much spending money to take, we've listed the extra expenses you can expect to incur on your vacation.
All breakfasts and many dinners are included in the price of your Guided Vacation. However, lunch is not included as experience has shown us that the majority of our passengers prefer the flexibility of making their own choices. As a general guide, a lunch consisting of one simple dish with coffee, tea or beer would cost approximately US$10-15 per person. In certain cities where there is an abundance of local restaurants, we do not include dinner so you have the opportunity to sample regional dishes. Costs will vary enormously depending on the country and the class of restaurant chosen. However, as a general guide we recommend you allow at least US$20-40 per person.
Your best guide will be your Tour Director who can advise you of local restaurants which fall within your particular price range. On Locally Guided and Independent Vacations, you will need to purchase lunch and dinner most days. Your local host or guide or the concierge at your hotel will be able to assist you in finding just the right restaurant for your tastes.
Your Brendan brochures list all of the sightseeing and special highlight features included in your package. Brendan also organizes optional excursions in many places. You can find full details and prices for these in your travel document pack. Some optional excursions feature an evening's entertainment with dinner included. Others are half or full day sightseeing excursions to nearby places of great beauty or historic interest.
You may also wish to make additional sightseeing plans of your own for days when you are at leisure. Passengers with a particular interest in art galleries or historical museums should allow extra to cover the cost of visiting these places if they are not already included in the vacation price. As a guide, entrance fees to museums and art galleries can range from US$5-$20.
Personal Expenses and Shopping
Don’t forget to include in your budget smaller items such as stamps, postcards, taxi fare, laundry expenses and calling home. We recommend you allocate at least US$7-$12 per day to cover such expenditures.
Naturally, you will want to take back home a few souvenirs of the places you visited – it is fun and part of the travel experience. It is difficult for us to guide you on prices for general shopping; you know your purchasing habits, so you will have to judge for yourself a reasonable amount to bring.
Your Tour Director, local host or hotel concierge will advise you where local markets and shopping areas are located. But remember if you are planning on doing a lot of shopping, not only will you need to allow for it in your budget but you will also have to leave some room in your luggage.
It is customary in most of the world to tip when you feel you have received good service. On your Brendan Guided Vacation we have pre-paid certain tips and gratuities for you, including all baggage handling at hotels and ports from the time you join your tour and gratuities for all meals included in your tour. Tips for your Tour Director, coach driver and local guides are not included. The suggested tipping rates for your Brendan team are: Tour Director US$4-5 per day (or the equivalent in the local currency) Tour Driver US$2-3 per day (or the equivalent in the local currency) Local Sightseeing guide US$1-2 per day/tour (or the equivalent in the local currency)
When you are on your own, we suggest the following tipping rates: Taxis: 10-15% of the fare on the meter Restaurants and bars: 10-15% of the total bill If a service charge has already been added there is no need to tip as much or at all.
Brendan Repeat Travelers Discount
SAVE 5% Each year, a majority of our passengers return to experience the magic and excitement of another Brendan vacation. We appreciate your loyalty. To show our gratitude, we offer a discount for our Repeat Travelers.
As soon as you complete your first Guided Vacation or River Cruise with Brendan, you are extended a credit of 5% off the land/cruise portion of your next Brendan Guided Vacation or River Cruise ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!
*The Repeat Traveler Discount is not available retroactively. Only one voucher is available per person, per Guided Vacation/Cruise, per year and only one voucher can be redeemed against each further Guided Vacation/Cruise booking. The discount does not apply to independent arrangements (FIT), Locally Guided Vacations, Greek Island cruising, Egypt & Israel vacations, Europe Train vacations, City Breaks, London tours, gateway accommodations and group bookings. This valuable 5% credit is valid for 2 years from the date of your last Brendan Guided Vacation or River Cruise.