Frequently Asked Questions

We've compiled answers to questions we're most frequently asked. We're also always happy to answer your questions via email or by phone at 800-462-2848.

About Us

How long has Backroads been in business and who owns the company?

Backroads was founded in 1979 by Tom Hale, who continues an active role as company president.

How can I reach Backroads?

You can email us here. You can also write, phone or fax us at:

801 Cedar St. Berkeley, CA 94710-1800
800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848)
510-527-1555
fax: 510-527-1444

What days are you open?

Backroads is open Monday-Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific time, with the following exceptions when we are open from 8 am to 3 pm: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

What is Backroads’ privacy policy?

Please refer to Backroads Privacy Policy page.

About Our Trips

Can you provide me with guest references for your trips?

Absolutely. Your Trip Consultant will be happy to give you the names and phone numbers of people who have participated in the trips you're considering.

What do your trip prices include?
  • All lodgings
  • On trips with hotels: all breakfasts, most lunches, including our trademark grand picnics, and all dinners except for one, when you'll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
  • On Camping Trips, all meals
  • Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
  • Snacks and beverages between meals
  • Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
  • Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
  • Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the Travel Planner
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on trips with hotels
  • Special events, including wine tastings and other select attractions as mentioned in the Travel Planner
  • On Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips: use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
  • On Family Trips: custom-designed kids' bikes and helmets as well as trailer bikes and carriers as noted on the trip page
  • Equipment and experienced guides for kayaking, rafting, snorkeling, sailing and canoeing as described
  • Park and other entry fees
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the Travel Planner
  • Select coach transfers
  • Baggage transfers and porterage
  • Backroads water bottle

Not included: airfare, alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events), gratuities for Trip Leaders and personal expenses

Are tips included in the trip price?

Gratuities for most services during your trip (except your Trip Leaders) are included in the price.

  • How much are you recommending for the Trip Leaders? Please see your Travel Planner for specific amounts for your trip.
  • How should this be covered? All leaders graciously accept gratuities via cash (preferred) or PayPal. US leaders also accept US checks. Gratuities may be given to one leader—the team divides tips among themselves after the trip.
  • Why aren’t Trip Leader gratuities included in the trip price? Backroads is committed to providing the utmost value to its guests. That’s why our trips already include so much more than other travel companies—including more great leaders on each trip. Ultimately, we don’t include gratuities in the price of the trip for two simple reasons: 1) allowing leaders to accept tips is customary in the travel industry, and 2) we hear from guests that they enjoy the opportunity to recognize leaders personally for their hard work.
  • How does Backroads pay its leaders? Backroads' leader compensation (much like our leader performance) is unparalleled in the industry—precisely the reason we are able to recommend gratuities as low as half the amount suggested by other companies.
What do you mean by “our prices are based on double occupancy”?

Our prices are based on there being two guests per room. This can mean two guests traveling together or two solo travelers (of the same gender) paired as roommates. When occupancy is not double, a room becomes "private," with a private room charge to account for the difference in price.

What is a private room charge?

Since our pricing is based on double occupancy (two people per room), there will be an additional charge if you’re in a room alone.

How far in advance do I need to book my trip?

The farther in advance you book, the greater availability of dates you'll find. For holiday periods and popular summer destinations in Europe and the US national parks, we recommend booking up to eight months before the trip you're interested in departs. And for active ocean and river cruises, booking up to 18 months before departure is not too soon.

How do I sign up for my Backroads trip? How much of a deposit is required?

Sign up with no risk! Your deposit is fully refundable up to 15 days after you book when you sign up 15 days or more before the final payment due date (does not apply to Private or Custom Trips). To sign up, call 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848) or 510-527-1555 from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific time. You can also reserve your trip with our secure online reservation form, as explained below. The deposit per person is $600 except for Special Departures and Custom Trips, which varies (please see the Deposit & Payment Terms below). Deposits may be made by check, wire transfer, money order or a major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Diner's Club, American Express). The balance of your trip cost is due according to the terms outlined in the Deposit & Payment Terms below. Balances may be paid by check, wire transfer or money order in US dollars or by credit card. We automatically bill your credit card when the balance is due unless otherwise instructed. If final payment is not received when due, Backroads reserves the right to cancel your reservation.

Can I use the no-risk deposit multiple times on the same trip?

No, after making your initial deposit we offer guests one opportunity to make one cancellation within 15 days of booking on that trip. While we understand there can be quite a bit of coordination with your pre/post trip planning, we're unable to allow repeated cancellations within the 15-day period after booking.

How do I reserve my trip online?

You can access our secure online reservation form by clicking on the "Reserve This Trip" button available on every trip page.

When will I receive more detailed information about my trip so I can start planning?

After booking, you’ll receive a Travel Planner, which includes detailed information about arrival and departure, pre- and post-trip hotels, transportation, clothing and gear, passports and visa requirements and our Travel Protection Plan.

Why do you only allow me to hold a trip for 72 hours?

We offer a 72-hour courtesy hold for all trips, during which time your price is locked in and your spot is not available to anyone else. For this reason, we cannot hold any reservation indefinitely because it could potentially result in others missing out on a spot that is not eventually booked. If you need more time to check on all the details for your reservation, please let your Trip Consultant know.

Will my trip run?
  • Your trip will run even for one or two people for just $500 more per guest.†
  • If you'd prefer the company of more guests, you can choose to transfer to any trip and we're happy to extend a $300 credit per guest.
  • We'll contact you well in advance and give you the option.
  • Your choice—your advantage!
  • † Applies to scheduled trips. Does not apply to Private or Custom Trips or Special Departures (Ocean & River Cruises, Africa Safaris, Vietnam & Cambodia Walking & Hiking, Peru Trekking and possibly others), Camping, Two-Night, Asia, Latin America, Caribbean, Dalmatian Coast, Israel, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket, Morocco, New Zealand, Amalfi Coast Premiere, Canadian Rockies Heli-Hiking, Iceland Northern Lights, Yellowstone & Tetons Snow Adventure and trips with Internal Air. We reserve the right to cancel departures in cases of force majeure or the failure of third parties—such as hotels, ships or campgrounds—to honor their reservations, in which case all payments received to date will be refunded, which constitutes full settlement. Backroads is not responsible for expenses that are incurred in preparation for any canceled trips, such as airline tickets, or for costs that are incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations or illness. In the event that you choose to stay on a smaller trip, if you book outside of 125 days, your final payment and additional $500 will be due at 125 days before departure and Special Departure cancellation fees will apply.
Will the price of my trip change?

Once you book your Backroads trip, your price is guaranteed. 

Do you charge any additional taxes or port fees?

Trips to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, New Mexico, New York and Utah are subject to state tax; River Cruise Trips are subject to port fees. These additional charges are not included in the trip price.

Can I pay for my Backroads trip using a non-US credit card?

If paying by credit card, your card will be charged in USD at the exchange rate applicable on the day your bank processes the charge.

What is Backroads’ cancellation/transfer/refund policy?

Trip Cancellation & Transfer Policy: If you must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the terms outlined in the chart below. Scheduled Trips: Transfers to another trip or to a holding account for a future trip are only allowed before final payment due date, after which time our cancellation policy applies. If the trip costs more than your original trip, you must pay the difference. Transfer policy does not apply to Special Departures, Private or Custom Trips: Exceptions to our cancellation policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather, terrorism, civil unrest or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. Private rooms and staterooms, bike rentals and internal air charges are considered part of the total trip cost and are subject to cancellation fees. Percentage charges are calculated on total trip cost.

Cancellation Fees (Per Person)

Days Prior to Trip Start Scheduled Trips Special Departures*, Private & Custom
156+ days $200** $600
126-155 days $200** 30%
96-125 days $200** 50%
61-95 days 30% 75%
31-60 days 60% 100%
0-30 days 100% 100%

* View our Special Departures. Private or Custom Trips on a Special Departure have unique payment and cancellation policies; ask your Trip Consultant for more details.

** Rather than paying the cancellation fee, you may choose to keep your trip deposit ($600) in a holding account to use on a future Backroads trip with no expiration date.

Bike Cancellation Policies: If you are upgrading to a Cannondale or a Co-Motion Tandem, a full cancellation fee will apply in the event you cancel your trip reservation inside 30 days.

Release of Liability: Guests are required to provide a signed Release of Liability, Assumption of All Risks, and Arbitration Agreement and a completed Personal Information Form prior to trip departure; you will receive these materials shortly after reserving your trip. You may also complete your forms online. We are unable to allow guests to participate in any aspect of a Backroads trip without a signed release form.

Does Backroads offer a travel protection plan?

We recommend that you purchase the Backroads Travel Protection Plan, which includes benefits designed to cover your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you while traveling. When we receive your plan payment on or before your final payment due date for your Backroads trip, the plan exclusion for pre-existing conditions will be waived provided you are not disabled from travel at the time you make your plan payment. Our Travel Protection Plan provides coverage for trips booked directly with Backroads and pre-paid, non-refundable airfare to and from a Backroads trip as long as the air travel dates are within 14 total days of your Backroads scheduled trip dates.

  • If you have specific questions, you can call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 or you can view/print the Plan Documents.
  • If you reside in the State of New York:
  • We recommend that you purchase the TripAssure Travel Protection Plan designed for Backroads travelers, which includes benefits to cover your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you while traveling. To get your quote and enroll in this important protection, click the link below. Be sure to use the total Backroads per person trip cost indicated above. When you purchase the TripAssure Travel Protection Plan on or before your final payment due date for your Backroads trip, the plan exclusion for pre-existing conditions will be waived provided you are not disabled from travel at the time you make your plan payment. The TripAssure Travel Protection Plan provides coverage for trips booked directly with Backroads and pre-paid, non-refundable airfare to and from a Backroads trip as long as the air travel dates are within 14 total days of your Backroads scheduled trip dates.
  • If you have specific questions, you can call TripAssure at 800-423-3632. You must provide your Plan Number - RF413B. To get a quote, purchase the plan or view the plan documents, see here.
Can I change my mind and transfer to another trip even after I’ve already made a reservation?

Transfers to another trip or to your Backroads account are always allowed before final payment without penalty. After your final payment due date we are unable to allow transfers and any cancellation will follow the Trip Cancellation Policy below. When transferring to a different date or trip, if the trip costs more than your original trip, you must pay the difference. Exceptions to the Transfer Policy include our Special Departures, Private and Custom Trips.

Will I need a passport or visa if I’m traveling internationally?

International travel requires a passport. This includes travel to Canada and Mexico. Visas are required for travel to certain countries and must be arranged far in advance of departure. Backroads will arrange group visas for Bhutan guests. Your Travel Planner contains details about required documents, and the consulate number, if applicable, for your particular trip. Guests who are citizens of countries other than the United States should contact the closest consulate for the country to which they're planning to travel to determine if a visa is required. Starting in 2021, visa-exempt visitors to the Schengen area are required to submit information via the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) as part of a pre-travel screening process. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.etiasvisa.com/etias-news/how-will-the-etias-system-work.

How do I get to the start of the trip? How will I get to the airport at the trip’s end?

Detailed information about starting and ending times and locations, airport and hotel van transfer locations and transportation options are included in the Travel Planner. If you wish to make airline reservations before receiving your Travel Planner, please contact your Trip Consultant for times and locations of your trip start and end. Backroads does not recommend the purchase of nonrefundable advance-purchase airline tickets until your reservation is confirmed.

Each trip begins and ends in or near a town accessible by plane, train, bus or Backroads shuttle as noted in individual trip descriptions. If you wish to drive to the trip start, please see the Travel Planner or ask a Trip Consultant about parking options.

What are standard accommodations on Backroads trips?

On all trips with hotels, whether Premiere or Casual, our typical accommodations are double occupancy with a private bath. (Rare exceptions are indicated in individual trip descriptions.)

Do I have to carry any of my own luggage or gear?

The leaders transport all luggage between hotels (or campgrounds) in Backroads' special trailers. They'll also gladly pick up and transport any purchases you make along the way. You need only carry snacks, clothing and personal items for the day's activities.

What do I do with my electronics and valuables when I’m on a trip?

It's best to leave valuables at home. If you must bring valuables on the trip, please understand that they're 100% your responsibility, regardless of what anyone (including leaders) might tell you. Keep them with you at all times, or lock them in the hotel safe if you deem it adequately secure. If you're concerned about forgetting items in the hotel safe (easy to do!), a good trick is to leave something on the safe that you can't forget, such as a single shoe. Cash, jewelry and passports are especially important to keep in your possession. It's not safe to leave valuables in Backroads vans; while not common, break-ins do happen. Although we'll transport your valuables during your trip as a convenience, we don't assume responsibility for any damage or loss. This policy applies to personal electronics as well as other items, such as luggage, jewelry, and fragile and delicate accessories, whether purchased on the trip or otherwise.

How can I arrange travel before and after my Backroads trip?

For help arranging air transportation, pre- and post-trip hotels, rental cars or rail tickets in conjunction with your Backroads trip, call your own travel advisor or contact the Backroads Travel Desk at Cadence Travel. Call us at 800-462-2848 to be connected with an advisor or email Backroads@CadenceTravel.com. Please note that ticketing fees apply, based on the services requested. Cadence Travel is open Monday–Friday, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm PT.

Backroads does not recommend the purchase of non-refundable advance-purchase airline tickets or hotel rooms without travel protection. If you wish to make airline reservations before receiving your Travel Planner, please contact your Backroads Trip Consultant for times and locations of your trip start and end. Please note that we don’t recommend purchasing airline tickets until your reservation is confirmed.

Will Backroads help me book a room before or after my trip if I’m extending my vacation?

No; please note that Backroads does not block rooms and does not offer special rates for pre- and post-trip stays. If you plan on extending your stay at our first night's hotel before the trip starts or our last night's hotel when the trip ends, let the hotel reservations agent know that you're traveling with Backroads—you may be able to avoid changing rooms. We recommend booking your rooms as early as possible, especially during peak travel season.

Can I reserve my Backroads trip with my travel agent?

Yes, Backroads accepts reservations from professional travel advisors. If you prefer to have your travel advisor handle your Backroads booking, please have them contact us directly. Pricing is the same whether you book directly with Backroads or with your travel advisor.

What responsibilities do I assume as a guest?

Guests are responsible for: choosing a trip that suits their abilities, fitness level and state of health (for assistance, refer to Activity Level Options); providing the Backroads office with a signed Release of Liability, Assumption of All Risks and Arbitration Agreement and Personal Information form prior to trip departure (guests will not be permitted to join a trip without this information on file); arriving at the trip start with the clothing and gear recommended in the Travel Planner; respecting the laws and customs of countries visited; following environmental guidelines and regulations while on the trip in accordance with leader direction; and respecting the rights and privacy of other trip members. An individual may be asked to leave a trip if the leader feels that the person's continuing participation may prove detrimental to the individual or to the well-being and enjoyment of other guests.

What are Backroads’ limitations of liability?
How can I get more answers?

You can send us an email using Backtalk, or call 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848) Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm Pacific time to speak with one of our expert Trip Consultants. 

Activity Level & Support

What kind of shape do I need to be in to enjoy my trip?

Backroads trips are designed for all levels of fitness. Some trips are more challenging than others and we suggest that you refer to the Activity Level Options or talk to one of our Trip Consultants about your fitness interests and the type of adventure you're looking for. They'll help you select the right trip for you. Call 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848) to speak to a Trip Consultant daily from 8 am to 5 pm, Pacific time.

How do I train for my Backroads Trip?

You'll get the most enjoyment out of your active adventure if you're reasonably fit. Try running, hiking, swimming or other aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, to help you stay in shape. If you choose a Biking Trip, the best training is to get out and ride—hills and flats—several hours at a time on consecutive days. The key is to just do it—and want to do it again the next day. Once you book a trip with us, we'll send you specific training tips.

How do you accommodate people of varying abilities?

On most days of your Backroads Trip, you'll have a choice of three mileage options. One day you might go for the most challenging. The next day, you may take it easy by choosing the shortest route, leaving more time for relaxation or exploration. You and your fellow travelers may spread out over several miles or you may choose to ride or hike together. For your peace of mind, one leader covers the route in a Backroads van, ready to offer assistance, refreshments or a lift back if you're done for the day.

Our trips attract people of varying abilities so there's typically someone else traveling at your pace. This is ideal for friends and couples with different paces; they can spend the day with similarly fit travelers and then reunite for lunch and in the evening.

How long will we be active each day?

It's up to you to decide how far you want to travel. Depending on the route options you choose and the pace you set, you'll typically spend three to five hours each day, biking or hiking or—on our Multi-Adventure Trips—engaging in a combination of biking and hiking along with such activities as kayaking, rafting or snorkeling.

The number of activity hours you can expect for each level per day:

  • Level 1:  2-3
  • Level 2:  2-4
  • Level 3:  3-5
  • Level 4:  4-6
  • Level 5:  5-7+

See our Activity Chart for more details about time and distance involved in each level.

How do your leaders support the biking and hiking routes?

On biking routes, one leader drives the support van, sweeping the route several times during the day and providing lifts and assistance as needed. Another leader rides the route, roving between groups traveling at different speeds. On hiking routes, one leader usually takes the lead while the other moves among the group. The amount of van support depends on the location of the routes and the number of guests. On trips with kayaking and rafting excursions, leaders typically team up with an experienced local guide to give you support and instruction.

Equipment

Should I bring my own bike?

Included in your trip price are Backroads’ high-quality, custom-designed titanium bikes for use and enjoyment on all Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips. Do you prefer to ride a pro-level bike? The top-of-the-line Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod is available by request on Biking Trips in Europe, US and Canada ($400). Wishing for a boost? Request the custom Backroads e-bike, available on most Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips. And tandem riders can choose the Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo tandem on Biking Trips in Europe, US and Canada ($400). View more details and bike specs

In the rare instances when Backroads bikes are not available, models of comparable quality will be provided. If you choose to bring your own bike, your Trip Consultant can offer trips on the best ways to ship it to the trip start.

Do you offer a women’s-specific frame for the Cannondale pro-level upgrade bike?

We do not offer a women’s-specific frame because Cannondale, in keeping with industry trends, isn’t producing a women’s equivalent. There is a move away from gender-specific frames toward a single frame style engineered to fit both genders, with a fuller range of sizes and components better matched to each size (bars, saddles, cranks, etc.). The goal is to fit bikes more precisely versus more broadly. Please note that you do have a choice of saddle sizes with this upgrade.

Do you provide kids' bikes?

Yes, we offer 20" and 24" kids' bikes on Family Trips, as well as Burley Kazoo trailer bikes for children up to 85 pounds and Burley Cub trailers to tote children 60 pounds and under.

Fellow Travelers & Group Size

Who travels with Backroads?

About half of the people who travel with us are between the ages of 35 and 55. Older and younger travelers are also well represented. Depending on your trip, you may meet solo travelers, families and couples. They'll exhibit a diversity of interests and occupations and share a love of active travel and the outdoors. About one-half of our guests are Backroads alumni, while one-quarter were referred by a friend.

How large will my group be?

The average group size for all Backroads trips is 16. Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips are limited to 26 guests with an average of 16. Walking & Hiking Trips are limited to 20 guests and average closer to 14. On Family Trips, groups up to 26 allow several families to mix it up. On active Ocean & River Cruise Trips, with up to 30 guests sailing together, we create a fun and dynamic community with up to 4 leaders.

How will I know if there’s a small group of friends or family traveling together on my trip?

Each Backroads departure has its own unique mix of guests and occasionally they include a small group. At times these groups identify themselves to us when they book their trip, but often they do not. When we're aware of a group of 8 or more, we offer a Private Trip as an option, if one is available. It's up to the group to make the choice to go private or not.

When we're aware of 8 or more guests traveling as a group together, we notify guests when the group makes up 50% of the trip’s total enrollment. If you're concerned about having a group on your trip, please let your Trip Consultant know.

Are kids welcome on all Backroads trips?

Families with kids 4-18 are encouraged to join one of our dedicated Family Trips, featuring family-friendly pricing, routes and activities. On Couples, Friends & Solos Trips, we do not offer youth savings and are unable to accept reservations for kids under the age of 16 and only allow one family per departure. Guests 18 and over are considered adults and are welcome on all Backroads trips. We recommend that you talk to a Trip Consultant to select the best trip for your family (call us at 800-462-2848 Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific time).

What is the minimum age for a kid to travel without a parent?

18

Solo Travelers

Do you offer private rooms for solo travelers?

Yes. In most cases, private rooms are available for a private room charge.

If I’m traveling alone, will you find me a roommate or can I have a private room?

Our prices are based on double occupancy (two people per room). Prefer to share? Backroads will endeavor to find a roommate (of the same gender). We are able to pair roommates over half the time, saving you the private room fee. The further out you book, the more likely we will be able to pair you.

If you sign up more than 125 days in advance of your trip and no roommate is available, 50 percent of the private room charge will be due at final payment. Should a roommate be found before your trip departs, the private room charge will be refunded.

If you sign up less than 125 days in advance of departure and no roommate is available, the full private room charge will apply. Should a roommate be found within 125 days, the private room charge will be refunded.

On some trips, two-bedded rooms are limited or unavailable; a private room charge applies if a shared twin room is not available, regardless of the number of days before departure. Please be sure to speak with your Trip Consultant to confirm your room arrangements. Note that in Europe, single rooms are often smaller than double rooms.

Private Trips

Do you have a special rate for groups?

Please contact our Private Trips Coordinator to find out about price savings for groups who reserve a Private Trip.

Family Trips

Does Backroads offer special youth rates?

Youth Rates on Designated Family Trips:
On Hotel Trips, when a child shares a room with one adult or two children share a room, youths (4 to 17 years old) receive a 10% savings. When a youth is the third or fourth person in a room, they receive 20% savings. When one youth is in a separate room, a 10% savings is applied to the trip price but the full private room charge applies.

On Family Camping Trips, youths 11 to 17 years old receive a 10% savings and youths 4 to 10 years old receive a 20% savings. Backroads normally provides one tent per two guests.

Youth Rates on Trips for Couples, Friends & Solos:
10% off for youths 16 to 17 when sharing a room with two adults. All minors (under 18 years) must be accompanied by at least one adult. When one youth is in a single room, the full private room charge will apply.

Is it possible to find out the ages and genders of other people on your trip?

Yes, just ask your Trip Consultant but please keep in mind this information may change before your trip departs.

What type of hotel accommodations are best for your family?

The Premiere Hotels we select for our Family Trips are distinctive properties with comforts to please even the most discerning travelers—and they also enthusiastically welcome families. They offer amenities such as swimming pools to appeal to the kids, and the finer touches parents appreciate. In Europe, dinners are often on the longer side (but you can often opt for family room service). Our trips with Casual Hotels typically provide a more informal environment, shorter dinners and a welcome retreat for relaxing and sharing stories about the day's adventures.

What are the rooming choices for families?

Rooming options are dependent upon individual hotels. Typically we can arrange for single, double or triple rooms on all Family Trips. A triple room often means 2 beds for parents with 1 child. In some cases, a triple room may include 3 beds, or 2 beds and a rollaway or fold-out sleepers. In some European hotels with smaller rooms, triples may not be feasible at all. On occasion we may use a high-quality pullout sofa as a twin bed option for kids.

Can kids have their own room?

Kids 15 and under must share a room with an adult. Kids 16 and older may have a private room and the private room charge will apply (hotel age restrictions may apply.)

Can you guarantee connecting or adjoining rooms for families when requested?

Once you make a specific request to your Trip Consultant, we will make every effort to secure rooms that connect, are adjacent, or are at least near one another or located on the same floor. Hotels will be advised of your request and Trip Leaders will follow up with hotels about special requests prior to check-in. Please note that connecting rooms are not available in the majority of our hotels, particularly in Europe.

Do you offer healthy meal choices?

We know that kids may have special tastes, so we make sure that our meals cater to their varied palates without sacrificing yours or your aspiring foodies. You and your family will find freshly made, healthy and delicious food on our picnics as well as quality cuisine with good kid options at our hotels.

Do adult and kids dine together every night?

On many trips, we plan for one night where adults and kids dine separately. While you enjoy adult conversation, our leaders plan a fun night out filled with great eats and activities for the kids. And if you'd prefer to eat as a family we can accommodate that for you too.

Will I require special documentation to travel with my kid(s) if I’m traveling alone with my son/daughter?

If you are not the parent or legal guardian of the child you're traveling with, or you're the only parent traveling with your child, you need to have a consent letter from the non-accompanying parent(s)/legal guardian(s) authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of the child's citizenship.)

Will my kid(s) require a passport to travel internationally?

Depending on your country of origin, and your trip destination, passports are necessary. It is your sole responsibility to be sure you have the correct documentation for all travel. If you are applying for a new passport or renewing an expired passport, please allow sufficient time to have your family member's passports processed. Passports issued to minors under the age of 16 are set to expire every 5 years. Some countries require that a traveler's passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of the trip. Check your expiration dates carefully! Not having proper ID and proof of citizenship may prevent you from re-entering the United States.

You may find helpful information about obtaining passports for minors on the US State Department's website.

US citizens can also refer to www.state.gov or the applicable foreign consulate for further details.

Ocean & River Cruise Trips

General

Will there be other guests on the ship?

Just like any hotel, we'll be sharing the ship with other guests on most sailings. Backroads breaks away from the group through our exclusive shore excursions, and there is also ample common space on ship.

How many Backroads guests, leaders and vans will be on my trip?

The number of Backroads leaders needed to maintain a high level of support depends on the group size. Typically, there will be three leaders on trips up to 20 guests; four leaders on trips up to 30 guests; and correspondingly more leaders and vans on our Full Ship Celebrations. Due to the unique nature of our active cruise trips, we welcome more guests on each departure than on our land-based trips, which are limited to 20 guests for Walking & Hiking and 26 guests for Biking and Multi-Adventure trips. This allows us to create our own robust active community with that special Backroads camaraderie during our week-long journey. 

What bed configurations are available?

Stateroom bedding options are typically one large bed or two twin beds.

Are three people allowed in one room?

Most staterooms are not set up to provide a third or rollaway bed. Please ask your Trip Consultant for details.

What amenities will be on the ship?

Each ship offers massage service, a hairdresser, laundry service and a small gym. Some ships have a small pool while others have a whirlpool.

Do I need to bring an electrical converter or adapter?

On all AmaWaterways ships in Europe electricity is 220 Volt AC (European standard). You will need an adapter and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you. On Ponant ships in Europe, you will find 220 Volt AC (European standard) and 110 Volt AC (North American standard) outlets in your staterooms. On our ships in Alaska and the Galápagos Islands, you will find 110 Volt AC (North American standard) outlets. For further details on electrical outlets and standards, please refer to the Travel Planner for your trip.

How do meals work?

Throughout the trip, there will be a combination of on-ship dining at Backroads group tables and at-your-leisure dining on board the ship. Your itinerary may also include on-your-own meals where we provide recommendations to explore off-ship, if overnighting at port. The on-ship dining experience may also be complemented by some off-ship lunches and picnics that more fully immerse you in the local culture and cuisine.

Is alcohol included?

Wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary on board AmaWaterways and Ponant ships,  (along with cocktails and premium wines available for a cost); alcohol is available for purchase on all other cruises.

How consistent are the itinerary and sailing schedules?

Weather and river/sea conditions may impact cruising schedules and shore activities. Should any unforeseen change happen during your cruise, we will work closely with the ship's captain and staff, who are very experienced in going with the flow.

What is the balance between cruising time and shore activities?

Our daily itinerary is based on scheduled sailing and port arrival times and, as a result, some days have more opportunities for exploring on land while other days have more cruising time. Backroads values time exploring on land and has chosen itineraries that optimize land time while still allowing for sailing to a region's most desirable destinations.

Do the bikes stay on the ship?

No. To maximize your riding time, the bikes will be moved to the next port by our leader team and staged upon the ship's arrival. You get to show up and ride!

Are e-bikes and carbon pro upgrades available?

Yes. All types of bike upgrades are available on our Biking and Multi-Adventure Cruises in Europe and New Zealand, except on the Douro River, where tandems are not recommended, and in the Galápagos, where our titanium touring bike is available.

Will there be a choice of routes each day?

Yes, multiple supported route options are offered each day. As with all Backroads trips, you are welcome to opt out of the planned activities and choose your own adventure as long as you're back on ship on time.

Can I participate in the ship’s excursions if I want to take a day off Backroads activities?

Yes. You're welcome to skip activities and join one of the ship's excursions that day. Note that while some excursions are included in your trip price, some shore excursions carry a fee ranging from $50 to $300 per excursion. Advance on-ship registration may also be required, so be sure to connect with the onboard Excursion Desk or Cruise Director for more details. You may also contact your Trip Consultant for more information about excursions offered on your cruise itinerary.

Do the Backroads leaders stay on the ship?

One or two leaders will typically stay on the ship overnight while on-shore leaders and staff handle equipment and activity logistics so that everything is set for your arrival at each new destination. The leaders will dine with guests most nights, and there will be dinners and lunches when you may eat at your leisure.

What if I’m late for the ship? Will it leave without me?

The ship departs promptly from each port in accordance with its sailing schedule, barring unforeseen issues. The ship is unable to delay departure for guests who may not be on board. If you miss the ship while participating in a Backroads activity, your leaders will assist you with rejoining the ship at the next port. If you miss the ship for any other reason, your leaders can assist you in finding transportation or lodging, but neither Backroads nor our ships are liable for any costs incurred if you miss the ship's departure.

What if I get seasick or have a medical emergency?

Passengers who suffer from seasickness usually have greatly reduced symptoms and are often surprised to find that the ship's motion does not bother them. Ships also have certified responders on board and first-aid kits with options to alleviate seasickness. 

Is it possible to arrive late to the trip? Leave early?

Yes, for most itineraries. For trip-specific information about arriving late and leaving early, speak to a Backroads Trip Consultant or refer to the Travel Planner. You may join or leave the trip at most scheduled ports and would be responsible for the costs of land transportation. Your Backroads Trip Leaders and the Cruise Director will be able to help make arrangements.

Can I book a Backroads Active Cruise Trip and have my companion book directly through the cruise company itself, if they don’t want to join the Backroads activities?

Possibly. If you plan on sharing a stateroom, you would both have to book through Backroads, regardless of the amount of activity you plan to do. However, if you're going to use separate staterooms, your travel companion(s) may book their cruise directly with the cruise company. Note that these bookings exclude the guest from all Backroads activities.

Can I book a suite upgrade?

Each trip departure has one or more stateroom options. Availability of suites is limited so we suggest booking early if that's important to you.

What are the cancellation terms?

If you must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the policy outlined above in the About Our Trips section. Note that Ocean & River Cruise trips are considered Special Departures with terms that differ from hotel-based trips.

What gratuities are appropriate?

Backroads covers all gratuities for ship staff and local guides. Suggested gratuities for Backroads leaders are listed in the Travel Planner and will be shared among the leader team.

What is the difference about the Full Ship Celebrations?

Backroads has booked the entire ship for these special sailings. This trip is a unique celebration of cycling and it’s a much different Backroads experience with up to 150 guests (compared to a maximum of 30 guests on a typical Backroads River Cruise Biking Trip or 26 on one of our land-based Biking Trips). We welcome couples, solo travelers, multi-generational adult families and perhaps some small groups traveling together. You can look forward to a very social atmosphere with active travelers who share a common interest in seeing the world in the most interesting way possible.

River Cruises in Europe

What is the ship going to be like?

The AmaWaterways ships vary in size based on the destination and departure date. Our ships and staterooms are some of the best on the river, but they're not nearly as spacious as traditional hotels. Although the same high level of service is offered on all trips, amenities—like pools, common spaces and furnishings—may differ among ships. Depending on availability, you can choose among several stateroom options, which vary in price based on size and location. 

What amenities will be on the ship?

Each ship offers massage service, a hairdresser, laundry service and a small gym. Some ships have a small pool while others have a whirlpool.

Is internet available on the ship?

Complimentary wireless internet is available on the ship, although the connection may be slower than ideal or temporarily unavailable depending on the ship's location, particularly in unpopulated areas and around locks. If you are depending on internet access, we suggest you bring your own mi-fi for more dependable access.

What is double docking?

Local river authorities allocate docking space based on ship arrivals and departures. Typically, river ships dock facing upstream. Port conditions require ships to tie up alongside each other, in which case you may be required to walk through another ship to access our ship. This is a perfectly normal part of the experience due to the popularity of river cruising. You may experience obstructed views from your stateroom when the ship is double-docked.

Which side of the ship has better views?

When selecting a stateroom you may wonder whether you should pick port or starboard for better views. During cruising time, both sides have equal appeal. While docked, note that due to potential double docking, it is impossible to predict whether a starboard or port stateroom may face another ship.

Are kids allowed on ship? If so, what’s the minimum age?

Please ask your Trip Consultant

How consistent are the itinerary and sailing scheduled?

Our experience has shown that the itineraries remain relatively consistent, allowing us to show you the highlights of the region even when schedules vary a bit. However, each river has its own unique temperament and for centuries water levels have shifted due to rain, temperature and agriculture. High water levels may mean the ship cannot pass under a bridge, low water levels result in slower sailing, and a disabled lock can also lead to some extra cruising time.

Should any unforeseen change happen during your river cruise, we will work closely with the captain and staff, who are very experienced in going with the flow. If you book your river cruise far in advance, it is possible that the river authorities may change the sailing schedule—we will inform you should those changes result in a significantly different trip experience.

What is the difference in downriver versus upriver itineraries?

On itineraries traveling against the current (upriver) you will enjoy more cruising time. On downriver trips, you will have more time on land.

Do any of the trips offer a day where I can bike from port to port?

Yes. Depending on the river and itinerary, there are days during which you may ride from port to port and even from country to country. The quickest way to find out which is the best trip for your interests is to have a brief chat with a Trip Consultant by calling 800-462-2848 or 510-527-1555. They're available Monday–Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific time.

Ocean Cruises in Europe & Latin America

Is internet available on the ship?

Internet availability and cellular service vary depending on itinerary, ship and access to coverage. While some ships include complimentary wireless internet, Backroads may provide a certain amount of internet access, after which you can purchase additional wi-fi directly from the ship. Wireless connections may be slower than ideal or temporarily unavailable depending on the ship's location.

River Cruises in South America

What is the ship going to be like?

We sail on the Anakonda Amazon. While the ship and staterooms are some of the most luxurious and comfortable in the Amazon region, they're not nearly as spacious as traditional hotels. Depending on availability, you can choose among standard or deluxe suites, which vary in price based on size. 

What amenities will be in the staterooms and on the ship?

All staterooms have air conditioning and a French balcony, while the deluxe suites feature an outside balcony. Each stateroom has a private bath with a hair dryer, shampoo and conditioner, and either one large bed or two twin beds to accommodate up to two people (there isn’t a third or rollaway bed). The ship includes spacious common areas and a rooftop whirlpool. Limited Wi-Fi is available—see below for details.

Which side of the ship has better views?

During cruising time, both the port and starboard sides have equal appeal. The ship will travel in both directions on the river, and the views of the forest are similar on both sides of the river.

Is internet or cell service available on the ship?

Wireless internet is available on the ship, but access is extremely limited. The connection is available only when the ship is docked, between about 8–9 pm and 6 am. The connection, when available, can be extremely slow and unreliable. More reliable wireless internet is available at the hotels on the trip. Please note that there is extremely limited or non-existent cell service in the Amazon Basin while on the ship.

Do I need to bring an electrical converter or adapter?

Electricity throughout Ecuador is between 110 and 120 volts AC and electrical sockets are very similar to those found in the United States and Canada. If you are plugging in a US or Canadian 120-volt appliance without the third grounding pin, you will not need an adapter. If your appliance has a North American grounded (three-pronged) plug, you may need a two-pronged non-grounded adapter.