Canadian Rockies Escorted Tours

Options for Canadian Rockies escorted tours range from local companies to international operators offering tours throughout the world. Below we describe some things to consider before booking an escorted tour.

What is a Canadian Rockies Escorted Tour

Say the words “escorted tour” and you may automatically feel as though you’re being forced to choose between your money and your lifestyle. Think again.

An escorted tour does, obviously, involve an escort, but that doesn’t mean it’s constricting. Escorted tours range from cushy bus trips, where you sit back and let the driver worry about the traffic, to adventures that include biking along the Icefields Parkway—adventures where many of us could use a bit of guidance. The main point is you travel with a group, which may be just the thing if you’re single and want company. In general, your costs are taken care of after you arrive at your destination, but you have to cover your airfare to get there.

Many people love escorted tours. The tour company takes care of all the details and tells you what to expect at each leg of your journey. You know your costs upfront and, in the case of the tame tours, you don’t get many surprises. Escorted tours can take you to the maximum number of sights in the minimum amount of time with the least amount of hassle.

 If you decide to go with an escorted tour, we recommend purchasing travel insurance, especially if the tour operator asks you to pay upfront. But don’t buy insurance from the tour operator! If the operator doesn’t fulfill its obligation to provide you with the vacation you paid for, you have no reason to think that it will fulfill its insurance obligations either. Get travel insurance through an independent agency.

When considering a Canadian Rockies escorted tour, find out if you have to put down a deposit, and ask when the final payment is due. In addition, ask a few simple questions before you buy:

WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY? Can the operator cancel the trip if not enough people make reservations? How late can you cancel if you’re unable to go? Do you get a refund if you cancel? If they cancel?

HOW JAM-PACKED IS THE SCHEDULE? Does the tour schedule try to fit 25 hours into a 24-hour day, or does it give you ample time to shop or relax by the pool? If starting your day at 7 a.m. to pack in 12 hours of nonstop sightseeing sounds like a grind, certain tours may not be for you.

HOW LARGE IS THE GROUP? The larger the group, the more time you spend waiting for people to get on and off the bus. Tour operators may be evasive about this, because they may not know the exact size of the group until everybody has made reservations, but ask them to give you a rough estimate.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GROUP SIZE? Some tours have a minimum size, and may cancel if they don’t book enough people. If a quota exists, find out what it is and how close the tour operator is to reach it. Again, operators may be evasive in their answers, but the information can help you select a tour that’s sure to happen.

WHAT EXACTLY IS INCLUDED? Don’t assume anything. You may have to pay to get yourself to and from the airport. A box lunch may be included in an excursion, but drinks could be extra. Beer may be included, but not wine.

HOW MUCH FLEXIBILITY DO YOU HAVE? Can you opt out of certain activities, or does the bus leave once a day, with no exceptions? Are all your meals planned in advance? Can you choose your entrée at dinner, or does everybody get the same chicken cutlet?

A Pursuit tour bus at the Columbia Icefield.

A Pursuit tour bus at the Columbia Icefield.

Companies Offering Canadian Rockies Escorted Tours

Picking the right escorted tour is a very personal choice. We don’t pretend to know what you like, but many international escorted tour companies visit the Canadian Rockies. COLLETTE VACATIONS is a Canadian-based company that visits destinations worldwide, including the Canadian Rockies. Other options are COSMOS, GLOBUS, TAUCK, and TRAFALGAR.

TIMBERWOLF TOURS has multi-night tours through western Canada that are for small groups. BACKROADS is renowned for its variety of itineraries, as well as quality accommodations. They also operate bike tours along the Icefields Parkway.