1. What is Better Places Travel?
Better Places Travel is an online travel platform that connects travellers such as yourself with a local travel expert in their destination of choice. Our travel experts run their own registered agencies with all the necessary permits. Because of our careful selection, you can rest assured that you are dealing with a professional organization, and they in turn receive a direct source of income. You will have direct contact with a local without having to go through a third party. Better Places Travel finds, selects and checks the travel experts, ensures effective communication, provides ease of payment and offers booking security.
2. Why the name Better Places?
The name came about from a call-to-action defined during a sustainable travel conference in Cape Town, South Africa in 2002:
“We call upon countries, multilateral agencies, destinations and enterprises to develop similar practical guidelines and to encourage planning authorities, tourism businesses, tourists and local communities – to take responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism, and to create better places for people to live in and for people to visit.”
This resonated with us. We decided to name our organization after this motto, and live it every day in our way of doing business.
3. What is a local travel expert?
Your local travel expert is your main point of contact in-country who designs your ideal trip according to your wishes. He or she is employed by a professional travel organization (a DMC), established in the destination country, and specializes in designing 100% tailor-made adventures.
Our local travel experts know their destination countries through and through, and will always do their best to show you not only the main attractions, but plenty of off-the-beaten path hidden gems that don’t attract many tourists. Our travel experts have an eye for unique, authentic experiences where you will have plenty of contact with locals.
4. How does Better Places select their travel experts?
Thanks to our many years of experience in the travel industry, we’ve built up a large network and have extensive experience working with our travel experts. Better Places works only with professional organizations and selects local partners based on various criteria. Reputation, expertise, professionality, communication, flexibility, and pricing are all of the utmost importance. Quality as well as respect for nature and the local population are also essential. We know from experience that tour operators who operate sustainably offer travel experiences you won’t soon forget. Most of our partners have worked in the travel industry for years, many of them as tour guides, so they know their country through and through.
5. What is tailor-made travel?
A tailor-made trip is completely customized to your needs. You travel individually (or with a friend, partner, or family), which gives you complete freedom when choosing your route and activities. The local expert specializes in advising you of your travel options and adapting the trip entirely to your wishes.
6. What changes can I make to the travel suggestions?
As many as you want. The route, travel time, presence or absence of a guide and / or driver, type of transport (car or public transport), luxury of accommodations (tent, homestays, small hotels, luxury hotels), activities, your free days… are all of your choosing. By consulting with your travel expert, you can design a fully tailor-made itinerary that is ideally suited to your wishes and your budget.
7. Is travelling with Better Places responsible?
Responsible tourism means taking the environment, people, nature and culture into consideration while travelling – making sure that we preserve the world’s travel wonders for future generations. Better Places has drafted a policy statement and a program with practical measures describing how we deal with environmental concerns now and in the future. Read more in our Code of Conduct and Responsible Tourism Policy. If you have questions about sustainability, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. What more do you do for responsible travel?
At Better Places Travel, we certify all our local travel experts through Travelife, an international program for organizations and accommodations committed to sustainable business practices. Our travel experts carry out the trips as responsibly as they can, and use as many authentic, local hotels and services as possible. This means the money you spend on your trip remains in the destination country, rather than going to large international travel businesses.
9. How do I book a Better Places trip?
For more detailed information, please see our “How it Works” page
Step 1: Choose your destination and get in touch with your local travel expert.
Step 2: Browse through our travel suggestions for inspiration. They give you an idea of what is possible, but don’t let this limit you. Your local travel expert makes sure the final proposal is ideally suited to your wishes. 100% tailor-made – we meant it!
Step 3: Fill out a travel proposal form and describe your ideal travel experience.
Step 4: Our local travel expert will send you an initial proposal. Fine tune it together until it’s just right (via email or Skype)
Step 5: Once you’re completely happy with the travel proposal, book your trip by filling in the booking form on our website. This gives the local expert the go-ahead to prepare everything in your destination. If a hotel or excursion is not available, the travel expert will provide alternatives (see next question). Typically, reservations are made within 3 business days.
Your booking is final when you receive an invoice from Better Places Travel.
You can then transfer the deposit through a secure online payment system by credit card or via bank transfer, with financial guarantees for extra peace of mind.
10. What if my first-choice accommodation or excursion is not available?
Once you book with Better Places Travel, the travel expert will secure your accommodations, excursions, transportation, etc. within your destination. If a particular activity or hotel is unavailable, the travel expert will make an alternative proposal. Note that additional costs may be involved.
11. What if I want to change something after booking or once I’m there?
Make sure your booking is correct and all names are spelled correctly before submitting. If something is not right, let your travel expert know right away. If you want to adjust your trip after the final booking, consult with your travel expert about the possibilities. In addition to a change fee levied by Better Places Travel, cancellation fees and any upgrade charges may also apply. See travel conditions for details.
12. What language does the local travel expert speak?
The communication with your local travel expert will be in English.
13. How long does it take before the travel expert contacts me?
After you send your travel request, your travel expert will contact you within two business days. He or she will then send a travel proposal or ask for further information. Other communications (email, phone, Skype) will be answered as soon as possible. Please note: the travel experts live in the country of your destination, so be mindful of time differences, which may impact response time.
14. How long does a travel request take?
That depends on the length and complexity of the trip. For a simple trip (a sample itinerary with few or no adjustments), a few emails may be sufficient. A completely tailor-made trip will naturally take longer.
15. How long before estimated departure should I request a travel proposal?
That depends on the season and the country, but generally it is advisable to book four to six months before departure to ensure availability for your desired itinerary. If you’re short on time, however, and your departure date is less than three months away, you can still contact our travel experts to see what they may be able to arrange.
16. Can I travel alone?
Of course you can! However, please keep in mind a single person surtax will be charged.
Your local travel expert can also advise if it’s possible to join other travellers for a part of your trip, should you want to do so.
17. Why does the price of my trip differ from those on the site?
Prices on the website are based on sample trips for two or four people, so actual prices will vary based on requested itinerary changes and seasonal price fluctuations. Your local travel expert will always send you the most accurate price for your proposal.
18. How does the proposal pricing work?
The travel expert will give you a total price, inclusive of your whole trip. It is possible to request individual prices if you are considering an additional excursion or upgraded accommodation, however you will not receive a breakdown of individual prices for each component of the travel proposal.
The final travel proposal you receive from the local expert is valid for 14 days. After that, the travel expert has the right to adjust the price due to changes in local circumstances or unexpected currency fluctuations.
19. Why is Better Places Travel often more affordable than other travel providers?
We cut out the middle man and put you directly in touch with a local travel expert. This eliminates an extra link in the booking process and makes our trips on average 15% cheaper to other providers.
20. How does Better Places make money?
Better Places Travel charges a service fee of 2% on your final travel proposal sum. We also receive a commission from your travel expert for each booking secured with them. This is used to cover website costs, selection of travel experts, marketing, administrative costs, secure payments and payment guarantees. Read more in Terms and Conditions.
21. When and how do I pay?
Your deposit is 15% of the total land arrangement price*. The service fee of 2% must also be paid in full at the time of booking.
The deposit must be in our account (via secure online credit card payment or bank transfer) within seven days of booking. The remainder is due eight weeks before your departure. If you book less than eight weeks before departure, the deposit option is no longer valid and you will need to pay the entire booking fee at once.
* If domestic flights are included in the itinerary, they must also be paid in full within seven days of booking.
22. Are there financial risks for me?
Better Places is affiliated with a worldwide travel guarantee scheme that provides financial security for travellers in case of bankruptcy by the local travel agency. Holidays listed on this website are covered within the terms of the financial guarantees scheme. Under the guarantee, consumers shall have their prepaid travel sum refunded if their counter-party is unable to fulfil its contractual obligations due to financial inability. Insofar as the agreement includes the transport and the destination has already been reached, the return trip will be arranged.
23. Is it safe to visit ...?
The safety of customers and staff is always a top priority for Better Places Travel. Our local travel experts continuously follow the safety situation in all our destinations. For up-to-date information on the safety of your destination, please refer to the following websites, or the equivalent site in your home country: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html.
24. How do I book my international flights?
Better Places Travel does not book international flights. All flights needed to reach your destination are your responsibility, but your local travel expert will work with you to ensure your flights align with the itinerary. You will find more information on our Flights and Transportation page.
25. What about domestic flights?
Domestic flights can be booked by our local agent if and when necessary. Note that any cancellation terms of the airline in question apply. You are free to book the required domestic flights yourself, however we do not recommend it. Any flight changes will affect your itinerary, so if you choose to book your own domestic flights, you will be responsible for communicating any changes to your local travel expert immediately. Please note this may result in additional service costs from your travel expert. The confirmation of all flights, international and domestic, are the responsibility of the traveller.
26. How do I get my travel documents?
You will receive your travel documents by mail or directly from your local expert upon arrival, depending on the country in question. Tickets for transportation are usually handed over in the destination.
27. What kind of insurance do I need?
For a safe and carefree holiday, we strongly advise our travellers to purchase international travel insurance prior to their journey. This can be arranged through various travel insurance providers, and in some cases even through your credit card company. Depending on your policy, travel insurance may reimburse you for hospital visits, lost luggage, theft, trip cancellation and provide other protections while abroad.
28. Do I need cancellation insurance?
That depends. Remember, if you cancel after booking, your travel expert will also incur costs. These should be reimbursed. Some parts of your trip, such as domestic flights, will have high cancellation costs. It might be worth checking if you credit card provider offers cancellation insurance as part of their coverage.
29. What are the cancellation terms?
If after the time of booking you find that you need to cancel or delay your trip, Better Places Travel will charge a cancellation fee.
Below are our cancellation terms:
– At least 56 days before departure, the cancellation fee is 20% of the total travel cost
– 29 to 55 days before departure, the client owes 50% of the total travel cost
–14 to 28 days before departure, the client owes 75% of the total travel cost
– If less than 14 days before departure , the client is responsible for 100% of the travel cost
If domestic flights are included in the booking, 100% of the flight fee will be charged regardless of the cancellation date. For the Galapagos Islands tour, 100% of the travel fee will be charged upon cancellation.
Cancellation of the travel agreement must always be done in writing, by letter or email. If you have cancellation insurance, this written proof will be required for any reimbursement.
All our local travel experts use the Better Places Travel terms and conditions. If there are any exceptions, they will explicitly mention this before the final booking.
30. Do I need a visa and how do I arrange this?
On our website you will find general information about passports, visas and health, but you are responsible for having a valid passport and any necessary visas prior to departure.
31. What about vaccinations?
Different countries apply different health advice and regulations. While we have general information on our website, you should seek professional advice from a vaccination clinic, tropical institute, or general medical practitioner. It is your responsibility to receive all necessary vaccinations and prophylaxis for your trip.
32. What do you do to prevent child prostitution?
We actively support ECPAT in combating child prostitution. We ask you to be alert when it comes to child abuse, reporting any suspicious activity to your local expert
33. Do I have to tip?
While it is not mandatory, we recommend tipping local guides and drivers a few dollars if you’re happy with the service as it helps them support their families.
34. What if I'm not satisfied?
Your local travel expert is responsible for t your experience in-destination, so please direct all feedback or concerns to him or her. Better Places Travel guarantees that any complaints under the terms and conditions set by the SGR Guarantee Scheme will be handled in a timely and efficient manner.
35. CAN I EXPECT CHANGES TO MY ITINERARY WHILE IN THE COUNTRY?
Travelling in foreign countries can sometimes be unpredictable, so the local expert may, at their discretion, make adjustments for your comfort and safety. If changes are necessary, rest assured the expert will maintain or improve the quality of your experience.
Better Places Travel selects the travel experts with care, and maintains intensive, almost daily communication with them. We regularly visit the countries and evaluate the quality of tours, accommodations, etc.
36. How can I share my experiences?
After your trip, Better Places Travel will send you an email to ask for your feedback. We ask you to be as honest as possible: the more we know, the better equipped we are to keep offering the best local, authentic and responsible travel possible. Of course you can also share your experiences via Tripadvisor, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
37. Can I get references from people who have already travelled with you?
For privacy reasons we cannot provide information about previous travellers, but we encourage you to read reviews and testimonials on our website.