How can I feel confident enrolling on an EF tour now?

The world is changing around us and we are all adapting to a “new normal.” For us, that means activating hundreds of local EF staff on the ground in virtually every country an EF tour visits. Working with local partners and suppliers, we’re preparing for and adapting to whatever that new normal will be. When travel comes back, EF will be ready to lead the way.

We’re leading the charge on student safety. With our extensive global presence, our best-in-the-industry experience, and our strong, long-established relationships with some of the largest airline, hotel, and transportation companies, global governmental agencies, and health organizations, we are actively shaping new worldwide cleanliness and safety standards. In addition, we’re proud to have earned the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp—the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed specifically to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.

How is EF handling the financial impact of the pandemic on the travel industry?

By operating as we always have: with our sole focus on creating the best possible experiences for our customers. Through 55+ years of careful management and our wide portfolio of educational products globally, we have a strong foundation and we are built for a strong future.

Our company is family-owned and has been successfully navigating world events for decades. We simply don’t have distractions like obligations to investors and creditors like other companies in the industry, which means our entire global team can continue to dedicate themselves to delivering life-changing experiences and exceeding customer expectations, even in the most challenging times.

What happens if the U.S. Department of State increases the travel advisory for a destination on my tour before we depart?

Several months ago, the U.S. Department of State changed the approach they used when assigning travel advisory levels to international countries to weight more heavily potential public health risks, specifically potential risks related to COVID-19. Based on this new approach, the majority of countries around the world were reassigned and currently maintain a travel alert level 3 or 4 due to factors related to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of State advisories are just one factor that EF consults when determining whether it is possible and advisable to operate a tour. We have spent many months reviewing information from a variety of additional sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, international health ministries, federal and local authorities in the destinations we travel to, alongside the real-time on the ground information we receive from our local offices, staff and the partners and suppliers we work with. All of this information, from multiple sources, is taken into account when determining whether a tour to a particular destination is both possible and advisable, which includes determining whether the suppliers that we work with are capable of adhering to the strict on-tour health standards and requirements designed to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19. Since that time, travelers now have access to a COVID-19 vaccine(s), which provides an option for travelers to help lower their own risk to COVID-19 while traveling. For those groups and travelers that are not yet comfortable traveling we have a variety of flexible rebooking and refund options available to them. As always, our teams around the world will continue to monitor the situation and will notify you if there is the need to adjust any of your travel plans.

What should I do if my group has not yet rescheduled our tour?

Rest assured, there is nothing you need to do now. Given the circumstances, it may take your Group Leader some time to work through the details of rescheduling your tour. We recommend you stay in communication with your Group Leader on next steps.

What is an EF COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher?

As an additional measure, in response to the COVID-19 situation, we have amended the terms of our Future Travel Vouchers for all travelers who had their original tour departure date affected by events related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher is issued electronically in the amount of all monies paid to EF (including all non-refundable fees). COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers may be used toward a travel program with a variety of EF products or it may be redeemed for a cash refund of all money paid to EF less an amount that varies based on your tour’s original departure date. COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers are transferable to immediate family members and to students or faculty in the same school district as the traveler to whom they are issued. To view complete details of all the ways to redeem your voucher, visit our COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher website.

Where can I find the details about my COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher?

All the information about your voucher, including value, terms, and flexibility can be accessed on your traveler secure site.

What are my options if my traveler is a high school senior?

If you are unable to travel as scheduled, you can choose to take a COVID Future Travel Voucher valued at 100% of all monies paid for your tour.  The voucher is transferable and can be applied towards a range of travel programs for all ages and interests and the vouchers are valid through September 2023. Programs include the following popular travel options:

  • Grab your friends, choose your dream destination, and go! Even if you sign up solo, you’ll travel with a whole bunch of people you just met, and—cue epic soundtrack—make friends that will last a lifetime on our EF Ultimate Break trips, the perfect way for travelers aged 18-29 to travel to almost any corner of the globe.
  • Travel with your family, or if you’re not able to go, let your favorite adult take your spot. Whether they’d prefer a European food-and-wine tour or an African safari, they’ll find something amazing to spark their wanderlust on an EF Go Ahead Tour.
  • Students taking a break before college can also take advantage of our EF GAP Year program, which offers immersive multi-destination travel and the opportunity to learn a language, participate in service learning, and intern abroad.

Please click here, for more information on our portfolio of programs geared towards graduating high school seniors, and to sign up for an informational webinar to learn more about our many programs designed to provide college-aged students with a travel experience that works for them.

What are my refund options?

We know that the decision to travel in the next few months is a very personal one. That’s why we have enhanced our policies at this time to provide travelers an opportunity to take a COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher even if your group is currently continuing to travel as planned.

Taking a COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher instead of canceling allows you to protect your full investment. This voucher is in the full amount paid for your trip. And, it means you can travel at a later date that works for you–giving you the option to use the voucher on a variety of EF Programs. COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers are also transferable to immediate family members and to students or faculty in the same school district as the traveler to whom they are issued.

In addition, COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers can also be exchanged at any time through their expiration date for a partial cash refund option.

  • For travelers who were originally scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020, you may exchange your voucher for a refund of all monies paid to EF, less $565.
  • For travelers with original departure dates on or after May 15, 2020, you may exchange your voucher for a refund of all monies paid, less $500.

For programs scheduled to depart between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022, your Group leader or an individual traveler can enact COVID-19 Peace of Mind for any reason up to 110 days prior to your tour program’s original departure date. More specifics on our COVID Peace of Mind program can be found here.

Rest assured, the partial cash refunds and vouchers are issued on request with standard processing times. When travel is back and you are ready to redeem your voucher, EF will be ready to show you the world.

Why can’t I get all of my money back?

We begin planning your tour as soon as you enroll to ensure the highest quality service at the lowest price. As a result, we incur substantial non-recoverable costs and expenses in planning, preparing, and pre-paying amounts for our tour programs from the time of enrollment to departure, which can span well over a year or more. This includes the people needed to work with the program Group Leaders to design and plan the tour, the people needed to support travelers and their families as they prepare for the tour, and the sourcing staff needed to vet, select, and then negotiate group-based contracts with suppliers and other vendors in destinations around the world. In addition, EF has continued to make considerable investments in our safety resources and infrastructure as we prepare for travel in this new COVID world. The refund option we have worked hard to make available to our customers, during the unprecedented events related to COVID-19, allows us to partially cover the costs related to the already incurred and non-recoverable expenses and payments to our staff and suppliers, as well as the investment we have always made and continue to make in itinerary, date, and destination flexibility. 

The refund option is just one of multiple enhancements we have made to our standard policies to provide expanded options to our groups during this unprecedented time. We are offering very flexible rebooking options, holding pricing through 2023 for any of our groups that want to move their tour to a later date and making an exception to our standard terms by offering Future Travel Vouchers to any individual traveler who cannot travel on their group’s future tour. We have also now made the vouchers even more valuable: COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers will be issued for all monies paid to EF, including all non-refundables. Additionally, travelers may now exchange their COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher for a refund of the majority of their program fee. Visit our Future Travel Voucher page for full details and to explore all of the ways you can use your voucher.

Why are some groups eligible for a different refund amount based on their originally scheduled departure date?

EF Educational Tours incurs significant costs and expenses in planning and preparing for tour programs from the moment the first traveler enrolls and over the average two-year timespan prior to departure, much of which cannot be recovered in the event a program cannot depart as originally scheduled. This includes unrecoverable investments in staff and infrastructure costs associated with each tour program, and also the booking of large volumes of flights, hotels, and activity entrances that occurs months, if not years, in advance to provide a high-quality group travel program at the lowest price.

For our spring tours in 2020, much of the cost had already been incurred before tours became affected by the events of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, flight space had been secured and allocated, hotel rooms were blocked, entrance tickets had been purchased, Tour Directors had been selected and trained and thousands of hours of staff’s time had already been spent on the details of our groups’ tours. However, the additional time we have had prior to later departures has allowed us to avoid incurring, reduce, or negotiate additional flexibility with respect to costs and other investments on those tours. As our unavoidable or non-refundable costs for those later departures will be lower, we feel it is the right thing to do to pass these additional savings to our travelers that were scheduled to depart after May 15, 2020.

I purchased Global Travel Protection; can I file a claim due to COVID-19?

EF Educational Tours’ travelers are offered travel insurance benefits through a plan provided by Specialty Insurance Solutions and underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company. Benefits of the policy prior to tour include the ability for a traveler to receive a refund of your program price less non-refundable fees if a traveler needs to cancel from tour due to reasons specified in the policy, which can include but are not limited to serious injury or illness requiring hospitalization and involuntary employer termination or layoff. On tour, the policy provides coverage for incidents such as lost baggage and flight delays as well as coverage of hospital bills, doctors’ fees, and medical transportation for certain illnesses or injury. Based on the circumstances, travelers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to tour or parents who have recently lost their job may qualify for cancellation coverage. For a full explanation of benefits provided under this policy or to submit a claim, click here. We recommend that you reach out to Specialty Insurance Solutions directly if you have any additional questions regarding your specific circumstances.

How can I feel confident about my investment if COVID-19 is still impacting travel?

As the situation evolves, we’re continuing to adapt and enhance our policies to meet the changing needs of our customers, which may include extending our COVID-19 Peace of Mind program to affected customers. Read our most updated policies here.