International Travel Tours
That long weekend or school break is approaching and you’ve decided to spend that time far-removed from Japanese shores in a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Now comes the age-old question of, “Plan it by yourself?” or “Join a tour?” To debunk a popular myth, hoofing it by yourself isn’t ALWAYS the cheapest or most convenient solution. Particularly if you visit countries in Asia where the locals’ grasp of English is poor to nonexistant, or where safety may be a concern, it’s often best to go with a tour group.
This doesn`t mean you should join a Japanese tour– Japanese tours from JTB or related agencies are rather over-priced and have you staying in tourist-centric areas where you’ll miss the flavor of the country you’re visiting (not to mention everything will be in Japanese). Your Ehime JET senpais have suggested sticking to a tour comapny that offers small-group backpacking-type adventures. These tours are affordable (due to budget lodging and local transportation methods like public overnight trains), come with local guides who can take you to places where the locals hang-out, and have a great mix of scripted-included activities and free time for you to explore on your own.
The following list of tour companies was compiled based on Ehime JETs` personal experiences and recommendations. All specialize in the small-group tours, some with varying levels of comfort (and thus price). All of the tours listed cover only the in-country fees (lodging, trasnportation, activities, etc.) and does not include any international flights or arrangements for Visas.
An Ehime favorite! Intrepid is based out of Australia, though you can meet people from pretty much everywhere on it. The tours fall into three basic categories: Basix, Comfort, Original. The latter gives you the most for your money– featuring a good mix of scripted activities, free-time, and a competitive price tag to boot.
Based out of Canada, and similar to Intrepid. G Advertures offers many different travel styles – from Classic to National Geographic Journeys and YOLO Tours.
Small Group and Family Adventures.
Trekking and Adventure Holidays – recognised widely for their sustainable tourism initiatives.
Unique cycling tours and adventures.
If you go with one of the tour comapanies listed above, they will probably ask that you provide proof of travel insurance. Only accident and rescue coverage is required, but it might be a good idea to get additional insurance to cover your belongings or cancelation fees.
JET Programme Accident Insurance
As JET participants we are covered by public and private insurance. The JET Programme Accident Insurance is private insurance provided by CLAIR, which allows JET participants to claim back medical costs incurred if they are injured or fall ill during their time on the programme. It also provides coverage for death caused by accident or illness, disability, and treatment for injuries and illnesses that occur during travel abroad or temporary visits to the JET participant’s home country. Please check the policy at the link above for coverage details.
Other Travel Insurance
If you would like additional insurance to cover your belongings and unfortunate airfare cancelation fees, you can get additional insurance from most of Japan’s travel agencies. If you bought your international airfare ticket through a travel agency, then it’s easiest to go through them for the necessary travel insurance.