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. During our 2022 season, we worked with local partners and suppliers to facilitate tours for thousands of travelers. Travel is back, and EF is leading the way.

We're also 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?

The U.S. Department of State advisories are an important factor that EF consults when determining whether it is possible and advisable to operate a tour. We consistently review information from a variety of additional sources, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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.

In addition, EF offers all groups the flexibility to change the dates of travel or modify the group’s itinerary up to 45 days before departure for any reason through our flexible Peace of Mind program. And if circumstances change for any location on your group’s itinerary within 45 days of departure such that the U.S. Department of State newly designates it as a Travel Advisory Level 4, EF offers groups those same flexible Peace of Mind program options.

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

All the information about your COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher, including the voucher amount, travel and refund options, expiration date, and all other terms can be accessed on your traveler secure site or by calling 888-333-9756.

What are my options to use a COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher if my traveler is a high school senior?

EF’s COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers are transferable and can be applied towards a range of travel programs for all ages and interests. 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 18-35 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 for tours that were originally scheduled to depart on or before September 30, 2022?

We know that the decision to travel during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was a very personal one. That’s why we enhanced our policies to provide travelers with tour programs originally scheduled to depart on or before September 30, 2022, an opportunity to take a COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher up until 110 days prior to departure even if your group departed as planned.

A COVID-19 Future Travel 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, an unredeemed 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 between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020 you may exchange your voucher for a refund of all monies paid to EF, less $450.
  • For travelers with original departure dates between May 15, 2020 and September 30, 2022, you may exchange your voucher for a refund of all monies paid, less $350.

Standard processing times for refunds will apply to requests for issued COVID-19 Future Travel Vouchers to be exchanged for the available cash refund option.

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 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. 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 cash 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 Explore America 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 prepared 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.

If the value of the cash refund option for my Future Travel Voucher was increased after I received my Voucher or after I requested a refund, am I still eligible for the increased refund amount?

Yes. Your traveler account and your Future Travel Voucher will be automatically updated to reflect any enhancements to the cash refund option available to you. If you’ve already requested and/or received a refund, EF will automatically process the additional refund amount in a subsequent payment within four- to six-weeks. You do not need to take further action to receive the adjusted refund.

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

EF Explore America’s travelers are offered travel insurance benefits through a plan provided by Academic HealthPlans (formerly known as 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 benefits 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 Academic HealthPlans directly if you have any additional questions regarding your specific circumstances.