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.

My group is scheduled to travel. Are we still going?

Given the evolving nature of the situation, our operations and safety teams across North America and around the world continue to assess matters on a daily basis. In the event that the international and domestic travel bans and restrictions, governmental orders, and public health advisories will not be sufficiently lifted in time for your tour to depart as scheduled, or that these or other external events make it impracticable for suppliers to provide their services at all or in a manner that does not meet our safety and quality standards, we will notify your group no later than 45 days prior to departure. If this happens, your Group Leader will work with you to re-evaluate your plans and options for travel. Your group also has all our Peace of Mind Program options available to them if your group would like to proactively reschedule its tour and/or elect to receive Future Travel Vouchers. We recommend that you stay in contact with your Group Leader for the most up-to-date information regarding your tour.

What is an EF COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher?

As an additional measure, in response to COVID-19, we have amended the terms of our Future Travel Vouchers for all travelers whose original tour departure date is 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 Future Travel Voucher page.

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. More information about the Terms and Conditions of Future Travel Vouchers may be found here.

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 Covid Peace of Mind policies so that you can elect to take a COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher even if your group is currently continuing to travel as planned, subject to the terms and conditions of the Covid Peace of Mind policy.

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 redeemed for a 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 $450 (for travelers arriving to tour via flight) or $150 (for travelers arriving to tour via bus).
  • 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 $350 (for travelers arriving to tour via flight) or $150 (for travelers arriving to tour via bus).

If at 45 days prior to a group’s upcoming departure, governmental orders, as stated in the COVID Peace of Mind Program, would make group travel to a location on your group’s itinerary impossible or impracticable such that a postponement of your tour program is necessary, Group Leaders or travelers will have the following options:

  • Change the travel dates or tour itinerary of your group's current tour; or
  • Cancel your tour with each traveler receiving or reinstating a transferable COVID-19 Future Travel Voucher for 100% of all money paid to EF; or
  • Cancel your tour with each traveler receiving a cash refund for all of the money paid to EF less $350 (or $150 for travelers arriving to tour via bus)

Vouchers are issued electronically on your traveler secure site and refunds may be requested on the secure site, with standard four- to six-week 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 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. 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 on or after May 15, 2020.

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.

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

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continually adapted and enhanced our policies to be responsive to current conditions and the changing needs of our customers. Our COVID-19 Peace of Mind Program will protect your investment in your EF tour should your travel plans be impacted by COVID-19. As the situation evolves, we’re also continuing to adapt and enhance our policies to meet the changing needs of our customers. Read our most updated policies here.