Frequently Asked Questions

Book or hold a place online. You can also book by downloading a PDF booking form, completing it and sending it to us by email or post. All our detailed itineraries have a booking form on the last pages, or you can email us and we will send you a booking form. We are also happy to accept bookings by phone, but you will need to complete a printed or online booking form within a week, confirming that you have read and accepted our terms and conditions. To be confirmed, all bookings must be accompanied by a specific per person tour deposit. If we receive a completed booking form without a deposit, it will be regarded as ‘holding a place’ for seven days.

We are happy to hold a place on any tour for up to seven days while you make a final decision, organise travel arrangements or travelling companions. We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to finalise these arrangements, so contact us if you think you need more time. However, we are not able to extend the ‘hold a place’ period for tours which are booking out quickly.

Some tours require Academy Travel to make significant up-front payments to secure key services, such as tickets to performances or guaranteed cabins on cruises. The detailed itinerary will usually state if a second deposit is required, though we reserve the right to charge a second deposit on any tour if required. Please note that second deposits, if requested, are strictly non-refundable.

Hotels charge Academy Travel for each room we book, irrespective of whether it is occupied by one or two persons. The fairest way of covering this charge is to request that travellers occupying a room to themselves pay a supplement, equal to the difference between the cost for single and double/twin occupancy. Wherever possible Academy Travel books equivalent standard rooms for single travellers as it does for double/twin occupancy.

Academy Travel accepts payment by direct deposit, cash, credit and debit card. For credit card payments there are additional processing charges for Visa and Mastercard and for American Express on all payments, except the initial tour deposit. Debit card payments cannot be accepted over the phone.

As soon as you book a place on a tour, considerable work is undertaken on your behalf. Suppliers are contacted, hotels rooms held etc. You are also making an implicit commitment to fellow group members that minimum numbers will be reached and that the tour will proceed. Because there is a maximum of 16 places on our tours, by making a booking, the tour place is now unavailable to other potential travellers. For these reasons we need to be sure that you are fully committed to travelling on the tour when you make a booking. The simplest way of doing this is for us to require a non-refundable deposit at the time of booking.

If you change your mind or if something else prevents you from travelling on a tour, you are able to transfer $1,000 (per person) of your tour deposit to another Academy Travel tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked.. Please advise us in writing that you wish to transfer your deposit. Please note that second deposits (see above), if requested, are non-transferable.

If you need to cancel from a tour, please inform us as soon as you can. If you cancel by phone, we require you to follow up with an email notification of your decision. You are not required to inform us of the reason for your cancellation, but we do appreciate knowing the circumstances behind your decision.

The vast majority of Academy Travel tours depart as planned. If Academy Travel cancels a tour due to lack of numbers or any other reason, you will receive a full refund of all monies you have paid towards the cost of the tour and travel arrangements to get to and from the tour. Before purchasing non-refundable airfares from a travel agent or airline, we strongly suggest that you contact us to reconfirm that the tour is proceeding. If Academy Travel is booking your flights we will not request payment until we are certain that minimum numbers have been met and the tour is proceeding.

If there is any doubt about tour numbers or security, a final decision to proceed or cancel is made about 90 days before the start date. Feel free to contact us at any time to check on booking numbers and the tour viability. For the great majority of tours, we have a clear idea about the viability of our tours at least six months before the start date.

All Australian travellers and all travel companies should keep themselves abreast of travel security advice provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through its Smart Traveller website. Academy Travel continuously monitors DFAT advice. If DFAT advice is to not travel to a destination, or to avoid non-essential travel, Academy Travel will either cancel a tour outright or modify the itinerary to eliminate the security risks that have been identified. The timing of changes due to security advice is beyond Academy Travel’s control. We will do our best to make clear decisions about changes well in advance of a tour, but we cannot exclude the possibility of cancelling or making significant changes to a tour immediately before the start or even during a tour. In these situations your personal security is our highest priority.

Academy Travel is a full-service travel agent. We are happy to make flight bookings and other travel arrangements, such as insurance and individual pre and post-tour travel.

Before publishing a final itinerary for a tour, Academy Travel checks flight schedules and determines the most convenient start place and time for travellers who are joining the tour directly from Australia. The airlines whose schedules best correspond to these arrangements are named as our suggested airlines. If the tour begins in a major city, there are usually several suggested airlines, whereas for more remote destinations there may be only one suggested airline. Recognising that many Australians earn points through the Qantas/One World alliance, we often schedule tour start and finish times to correspond to this network’s flight schedules.

There is no requirement for you to use our suggested airline. However if you travel with another airline you may find that your waiting time at airports increases or that there will be additional costs with pre-tour accommodation etc.

If flights are included within a tour, Academy Travel will book and pay for economy class travel for all passengers. It is not possible to change to another airline for these internal flights, and upgrades are subject to availability. Please note that economy class luggage weight restrictions may apply on these flights if you are travelling economy class.

The cost and availability of changes and upgrades depends on the booking conditions for the ticket you have purchased. Generally speaking, the more discounted the ticket, the less flexible and more costly it is to make changes, cancel or get an upgrade. We advise you to consider carefully the conditions of your ticket before purchase.

No. Your frequent flyer points are a personal loyalty arrangement between you and the airline. Academy Travel is not authorised to access your account and make bookings on your behalf. You will need to contact the airline directly.

In most countries which Academy Travel visits, most dietary requirements can be satisfactorily accommodated. Some countries deal with dietary requirements better than others, and an equivalent variety or quality of food cannot be guaranteed. If you provide us with clear and specific advice about your dietary requirements we are able to check on how well they can be accommodated and make arrangements on your behalf. For some dietary requirements in some countries, it may be necessary for you to bring your own supplies of some foods.

Most Academy Travellers combine some additional travel with the group tour. The most popular option is to arrive at the destination a few days before the tour begins in order to recover from the flight and adjust to the time differences. Academy Travel can extend the group hotel booking for you at either the beginning or end of the tour, subject to availability. To avoid the inconvenience of changing hotels we suggest you inform us of your plans as early as possible so that bookings can be made.

Yes. Some travellers choose to change hotels for a change of scene or to splurge or save. We are happy to make bookings for you in alternative hotels either before or after the tour.

Yes. Academy Travel is a full-service travel agency, with many years’ experience in organising travel to a wide range of destinations. We are happy to provide suggestions for your pre and post-tour travel and to make arrangements on your behalf.

Yes. Academy Travel can provide reliable, comprehensive insurance for your travel. The cost of policies depends upon your destination, the length of travel, your age and any pre-existing medical conditions you have. Please contact us to arrange a quote.

Not all travel insurance policies cover all circumstances or provide the same level of cover. If you are travelling on a pre-paid group tour you should ensure that both adequate pre-departure cancellation and a suitable level of medical cover for the destination are provided, as well as cover for delays, theft, damage etc. If you have close relatives, especially parents, with pre-existing medical conditions, you should check carefully the circumstances under which you will be able to vary or cancel your travel due to their health.

Academy Travel’s tours are designed to appeal to travellers with a strong interest in history, culture and the arts. We plan our tours carefully around themes in these areas, and engage an articulate, enthusiastic and experienced expert to provide insightful leadership throughout the tour. No special qualifications are required to join an Academy Travel tour. Many Academy Travellers are intellectually curious: they read books, watch films and attend public lectures on topics that interest them. Many are also repeat travellers. Having ascertained that our style of tour suits them, they undertake three or four of our tours perhaps once a year or even more often.

There is a minimum age of 18. However, most Academy Travellers are 50+ years old. Rather than age, your physical fitness is an important consideration when choosing to join a tour. All our tours require a reasonable level of physical fitness, and are graded from level one to three, depending on the level of fitness required. For tours with a fitness requirement of level three, we do not accept bookings from travellers 80 years or older unless they can demonstrate an adequate level of fitness and mobility to undertake the tour.

No. The reading and film list is provided for those who enjoy finding out more about a destination before they travel. We find that some travellers have read everything on our list before travelling (and more!), whereas others prefer to experience the destination first, then reflect on their experience through film and literature. Academy Travel also provides a set of tour notes about a month before departure. These notes are designed to complement the information provided by the tour leader and by guide books. Like the reading list, there is no expectation that you have read these notes prior to travelling on the tour.

While the composition of each group varies, most groups have between four and seven solo travellers, both men and women. You are free to check with us the composition of the group prior to making a booking, though we cannot provide you with the names or contact details of other travellers.

Food is a significant component of the travel experience, and we try to make dining a significant aspect of your tour. Some meals are simple and designed primarily to meet the essential needs of the group, such as when the group arrives at a remote destination at the end of a long day. Other meals are more elaborate and are designed to showcase the best of local traditions. Keep in mind that some destinations, such as Japan, Italy and France, are renowned for their food, whereas others have a more modest culinary tradition. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks are included in all Academy Travel group meals.

Most travellers dress comfortably for the nature of the sightseeing in the itinerary. There are generally one or two events on a tour where more elegant clothing would be appropriate, so men should consider bringing a jacket. Music tours with performances at prestigious venues may require more formal clothing. On tours to Iran there are specific dress requirements for men and women.

The key requirement for our tour leaders is a high level of knowledge and genuine insight about the places visited on a tour. This usually means that they possess a post-graduate research degree but have also demonstrated their ability to translate their academic skills into accessible and meaningful information for the non-specialist. The second requirement is good social and leadership skills. The tour leader shapes the ‘tone’ of the tour and needs to be approachable and able to diplomatically use their expertise to guide the group through the itinerary to maximum effect – not too slow, not too rushed, not too detailed, not too superficial. On some of our tours the academic tour leader also acts as the tour manager, attending to the logistics of the tour as well as the content. On other tours we engage both a tour leader and a tour manager. In some destinations we are also required to work with a national guide or a local tour manager.

Depending on the destination, Academy Travel may work independently or may engage a local ground operator to organise services. Academy Travel has its own tour operating company in Europe, Academy Europe, which manages all services and ensures that we maintain full control over the selection of hotels, restaurants, coaches etc. In the United States and the United Kingdom we work directly with suppliers with no incoming tour operator involved. All our destinations are carefully researched before the tour. The tour leader has travelled to the destination, usually several times over many years, hotels have been inspected, restaurants tried and local guides are known to the company.

Yes. If you prefer to deal with your trusted travel agent, please do so. There is no requirement that you deal with Academy Travel directly. If you are a travel agent and have a client who wishes to book on an Academy Travel tour, we are happy for you to arrange flights, insurance and additional travel, and we can pay you a modest booking fee.

While Academy Travel goes to considerable lengths to ensure that its tours are enjoyable and problem free, you may find that a tour does not live up to your expectations, or that your dealings with Academy Travel prior to departure are unsatisfactory. Please let us know as soon as possible and we will make every attempt to address and rectify the problem. You can call our office or send us an email to let us know the situation. The quality of some services, such as flights and airport transfers, are beyond Academy Travel’s control, but may nevertheless seriously impact on your enjoyment of the tour. We appreciate knowing what went wrong even if it just means we can try to avoid the issue in the future. Similarly, if you were especially impressed by aspects of your tour, it’s good to know this as well, so we will be sure to include it in future tours.

If there is a problem that can be addressed immediately, please let us know as soon as possible. For example, if your hotel room is unsatisfactory, don’t wait until check out to tell the tour leader. Let us know right away and we’ll see what we can do. If you are on tour and think that the tour leader or tour manager are not doing their job properly but don’t feel that you can raise the issue directly with them, please let our Sydney office know immediately by email or a quick phone call. We’ll do our best to resolve the issue quickly and tactfully. About two weeks after a tour concludes we’ll send you a detailed evaluation form. The information provided on these forms is read very carefully and helps us to continually improve our tours.

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