In the old days (the 80’s and 90’s), we relied on an armful of colorful brochures from travel agencies when reserving tours to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Now that most tour and excursion bookings are done online, it might be a good idea to ask the following questions before plunking down your hard-earned money and make sure you and your family get the most for your vacation pesos.
1. What Should I Wear?
Many Cancun and Riviera Maya tours involve water, sand or even several different types of terrain in the same tour.
If you’re headed to an archaeological site like Ek Balam, Chichen Itza or Cobá, make sure to wear your best walking shoes, shorts, a hat (and biodegradable sunscreen!), sunglasses and insect repellent.
One of those rolled up plastic rain ponchos will be a lifesaver during one of our frequent Autumn showers. And if you plan on getting wet, bring a spare swimsuit, water shoes or sandals, and a change of clothes. And ask if towel service is part of the deal.
2. What Food or Drinks Will be Served?
Make sure you’re clear if your tour includes food. If it does, find out ahead of time about your options, and make sure to let your tour operator know about allergies and preferences. If it doesn’t, make sure you have a plan B for meals and check into options before, during or after your outing.
Also, if drinks are offered, find out if they are alcoholic, non-alcoholic or both. Some tours offer you beer, wine,or even a full domestic or premium brand bar service. It won’t hurt to ask.
3. Should I Bring Extra Money?
Actually, this should be: How much extra money should I bring? Even if your tour is all-inclusive, there might be unique shopping opportunities to explore where cash is king, like at archaeological sites or on Isla Mujeres. Also, some more remote areas may not take credit or debit cards, and tipping around here for services rendered by your tour guide are also done in cash. Yes, you should tip your guide if he or she provides service above and beyond.
In short, a little mad money is always a good idea.
4. What Kind of Physical Activity is Required on This Tour?
Some tours are all about relaxing, like a day out on the catamaran, while others might leave you tuckered out (in a good way). Find out if you’ll be walking, swimming, riding, ziplining or driving, and be honest with your tour provider about your physical fitness, age or any physical limitations.
Find out if your tour is handicapped-accessible, and if not, what other options they can suggest.
5. What Is Your Cancellation Policy?
Find out what your tour company’s cancellation situation involves. Are there provisions for reimbursement or rescheduling in case the weather is uncooperative?
You’ll be able to separate fly-by-night operators from serious companies when you ask about cancellation. If you get a dodgy answer, there’s your answer. Book with a pro.
6. How Will We Get There?
Does your tour include pickup and drop off service at your hotel? If not, find out the most convenient options ahead of time.
If you plan on having a drink or two, or exerting considerable physical effort, let someone else get you to and from your destination.
7. Is the Tour Always the Same All Year?
Sometimes tours adjust their activities or schedules depending on factors like weather and hotel occupation rates. High season and low season may affect you. For example, if you check out a company’s whale shark tours in June, know that the season is from May to September, so don’t book online for March, for example.
Also, ask your rep if there are any changes to the logistics of your tour since you reserved. Tours and their offerings, just like most things, are subject to change. Make sure those changes are for the better for you.
It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your tour operator if there are any special events happening when you’ll be down here. Day of the Dead festivities at Xcaret or music festivals might be the perfect opportunity to enjoy this area even more!
In the end, it’s always good to get your questions, doubts and concerns resolved BEFORE you come. Never assume. What might seem like a dumb question might just be the key to make sure you and your loved ones have the perfect tour and excursion experience here in the Mexican Caribbean.
The people who will have all the answers for you are the folks over at ecotourism-Cancun.com. They are long-time residents whose vocation is to bring you optimum travel experiences that represent the best quality and value. Check out their website at www.ecotourism-cancun.com or call them today at +52 (998) 273 00 01…you’ll be glad you did.