Education First Tours

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All Talk No Service - Do They Hate Kids?
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After spending over 30,000 for 17 people to go on a SmithsonianStudentTravel trip we are face with "hide the dollars" where a 6 day trip becomes the same price as an 8 day trip and the mother of all "I hate kids" act they booked a return flight from Las Vegas (Grand Canyon) to the East coast leaving at 11pm and arriving at 11 am the next day! All calls and emails are ignored or treated with scorn.

Run away from this company! Cost it out and you'll find you can do better without their "assistance" and actually provide a child friendly trip.
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User Replies:
Ben There on 04/17/2009:
What type of hidden costs did they hit you with and how old are the kids?
Nzapa on 04/18/2009:
the kids are 9-14 years old and the hidden costs are extra charges because we had to be added to another group, added surcharge because we asked for six days instead of the five the other group was taking and added "insurance" when specifically told we don't want it (in writing and via phone). These added costs created a final cost that was $35 different from the original 8 day LA/Grand Canyon trip.
More importantly is the return flight which astounds me.
Ben There on 04/18/2009:
So they charged you more to add an extra day of the tour? Sounds reasonable to me. Also, if you wanted an extra day at the Grand Canyon and didn't want to fork out more money for an additional night a red eye is the only way to go. Getting from the West Coast to many cities on the East Coast is often an all day event when you add on three hours time loss, a change of aircraft in another city and several thousands of miles of travel. I see lots of kids on overnight flights both in the USA and on internaional trips...
daniel7 on 06/09/2010:
We too just recently had an issue with Smithsonian Student Travel concerning a charge that we were not told about. We had to make a change in who was traveling with our son due to a family illness. Smithsonian told us when we called that they would not charge anything to make the change however the airlines would. That was fine and we paid the $85 dollar charge. A week later we received a phone call from Smithsonian saying they needed $120 dollar's more for a room upgrade. When we asked them to substantiate the charge they could not and said they would look into it further and get back with us. The next day we received a call from thm wanting to add $35 for a program fee increase since we had changed primary names on the account. After several different stories about why the $35 dollar all of a sudden increase, we paid it. Hate being lied to. Do not use these people. The charges over all seem very pricy as compared to other tours, and the customer service stinks.
thorn11 on 04/13/2011:
We have a trip coming up and it's been fee after fee after fee. They charged a late fee for both me and my son because we didn't pay on the account within 30 days, even though the entire balance (before they added some more fees) was paid well before the final due date. Then they charge almost $300 to 'upgrade' to a twin room (what?) because my son was going to stay in my room rather in a room with other kids. How does this cost them any more money? I am waiting for them to charge me a late fee, for my late fee being late....ha!
susan from Texas on 07/28/2012:
I have traveled with Smithsonian/Goahead/EF Tours all over the world and US and have found them to be reasonable and hardworking to meet my needs. They offer specific tours. If you change the tour it will cost money. If you make car payments and you are late they charge you late fees. A late flight leaving when they will SLEEP on the plane tells me you all had a full day of touring and the parents won't have to pick them up in the middle of the night leaving you at the airport until the last parent gets woken up in the middle of the night to come get their kids.

A hotel room costs a set fee. Divided by 4 sleepers equals 1/4 of the cost of the room per person: divided by 2 equals 1/2 the price per person. Do the math!

The only troubles I have ever had on a tour was due to parents who behaved badly and wanted a high end tour for a low end price. If you want a high end tour, pay for it! Like with any company, be reasonable and polite and you will get what you need that is right and fair. Be flexible on thetour and you will have a good time! They tell you THAT in advance!

I enjoy a good working relationship with this company and will continue to travel with them as long as I can. Yeah Emily!
middle school mom on 01/25/2013:
Smithsonian Student Travel just led a school trip to DC for the Inauguration. The whole point of the trip: The Inauguration. Decisions were made based on bus parking locations, streets closed, etc. to make the children LEAVE the Inauguration early. The kids heard part of the President's speech, saw none of the Poem reading, the entertainers, etc. Beautiful day, and a mile extra walk was deemed too much. Many parents are very upset. They spent the money on this trip not for their kids to bowl in DC, but for the once in a lifetime trip to an Inauguration.
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