FAQs

Getting Prepared

  • Where do I get more information about the tour?

    Our detailed Trip Notes (located down the bottom of each Trip Overview) are a pretty good place to start. As well as outlining the itinerary, they include heaps of wanna-know info like included meals, prices for optional activities and some tips on what to pack.

  • What should I pack?

    It depends. Where are you going? What are you like? What’ve you got? The best thing to do is to check out the region-specific Packing List in the Trip Notes for ideas – but less is better! 

  • What immunisations do I need?

    It depends on where you’ve been before, which jabs you’ve had previously, how long ago you had them etc. etc. Your GP or travel doctor is the boss on this one, and it’s best to get their advice sooner rather than later as some meds, like malarials, often need to be started several weeks prior to departure. When you do go, make sure to obtain any certificates of vaccinations you get, as some countries will want to see these before letting you in.

  • Do I need to take any medical supplies?

    Always a good idea. You’ll find a few medical kit suggestions in the Trip Notes, but we’d also recommend asking your GP. Don’t count on necessarily being able to track down whatever meds you need when overseas – even if they’re around, you might have to invest hours in tracking them down and the dosage instructions could be in Swahili.

  • How much luggage can I take?

    There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but as a general rule the less the better. There will be times when you’ll need to carry your luggage between transport and accommodation, so lightness is your friend. More room in your pack also means more room for souvenirs, and leaving your sexiest jeans at home gives you a great excuse to buy some news ones. Some of our trips do also include flights, making baggage allowances a consideration – check directly with the airline or ask your travel consultant to confirm weight restrictions for you. 

  • Will I be able to do laundry?

    Some of the places we stay at have laundry facilities, and those that don’t are bound to have some nearby (unless you’re camped out in the Gobi Desert. Or trekking the Himalayas etc.) A little bottle of ‘travel wash’ and a portable clothes line can also be handy when it’s just a fresh pair of socks you’re craving.

  • Do I need a sleeping bag?

    Depends on which trip you’re doing – check the Packing List in the Trip Notes for the low-down. Some travellers like to pack a lightweight sleeping sheet for extra comfort and hygiene, especially when travelling on overnight sleeper trains. 

  • How fit do I need to be?

    It really depends on the trip you want to do. If it’s trekking Kokoda, a solid level of fitness (and tenacity) is invaluable. If it’s taking the train through Spain, you’ll really just need to be able to heft your backpack a bit and eat your weight in tapas. Most trips include a fair amount of walking – though the choice is yours whether you join in or not.

    This being said, some of our trips head into fairly remote areas where medical facilities are limited or non-existent – so you do need to be in good health (or at least know how to manage any conditions you may have). It also sorta goes without saying that some aspects of travel can be testing regardless of fitness: long drives, rough roads, dust, dirt, delays, snow…a hearty, can-do attitude will go miles in combatting these.

  • Do I need to get a visa for my trip?

    Obtaining any requisite visas for your travels is the responsibility of the traveller. Our detailed Trip Notes do outline visa and immigration conditions for several nationalities, though it is ultimately your responsibility to check that this information is still current leading up to your trip. Please contact us if you require any supporting documentation or information in obtaining your visa. And don’t leave it to the last minute! Some visas can takes weeks to procure.

  • Do I need to take Travel Insurance?

    Yes! No ifs, no buts. If you want to travel with us you MUST have taken out a comprehensive travel insurance policy. As much as we may strive to exude a cool, devil-may-care attitude much of the time, this is something we are 100% serious about. At a minimum, your policy must cover medical costs in case of hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation. And if you are going on one of our activity holidays, you must make sure your policy covers you for this activity. We would also highly recommend taking cancellation cover at the time of booking your trip, because if you suddenly need to cancel your trip once you have paid your deposit or full payment, certain fees will apply. We’re so serious about all this that you’ll need to provide your trip leader with a copy of your policy – showing the policy and emergency hotline phone numbers – at the first group meeting. If you rock up without one, we’ll be leaving without you. 

  • Can I get online while travelling?

    Yeah, the old internet’s a pretty big deal these days. So unless you’re out on safari or in the desert the entire time, you’ll be able to get connected at some point along the way. If there isn’t wireless or ‘puters at the hotel, your trip leader will be able to point you in the direction of an internet cafe. Be aware, however, that in some countries connectivity can be slow, unreliable and/or expensive.

  • Will my mobile phone work overseas?

    Probably. Particularly when you’re doing your hanging in major cities. Before jetting off, check with your service provider to see if they have a reciprocal agreement with the countries you’ll be travelling to and the costs of using your phone overseas. Remember to switch international roaming on… and you’ll be within earshot of home at any hour of the night.

Families and Private Groups

  • Can we go as a private group?

    Why yes, as a matter of fact you can. Because as much as making new travel buds can be great, we understand that sometimes one just wants to holiday with one’s homies. Or Hockey team. Or My Little Pony Club. Or whatever.

    The process is all pretty straightforward. Consider the trip you wanna do (it can be an itinerary we already run, some mutant of it or a beast entirely of your own making)
, bang a group together and get in touch with our Private Groups Department to talk it through. They’ll be able to provide specialist advice on your chosen destination – best time to go, cultural expectations, minimum numbers needed for it to run etc. – and work up a quote for you. Then it’s over to you to sell it to your homies.

Booking the Trip

  • Do I have to book online?

    Nope. It was in the interests of making things as easy as possible that we created a website with trip booking functionality, but we’re more than happy to do the whole thing over the phone. 

  • How do I know which trips are available?

    Unlike some tour companies, Geckos trips don’t require minimum numbers to go ahead. If you book a Geckos adventure, then that adventure is running. (If perchance it turns out you’re the only traveller booked on a trip, we’ll get in touch with the option of changing dates).

     

    Our website indicates whether spots are still available or if a trip’s booked out. Alternatively, give our reservations team a call and they’ll be able to advise how many people are already booked on that trip.

  • Can I just do part of the tour?

    Technically, no. In reality, yes. That is, you can book on a trip with the intention of only doing part of it – but you’ll need to cough up the full price. There’s nothing to prevent you signing off a trip early, or joining one late, but if joining late it’ll be up to you to get to a certain meeting point by a certain time.

     

    Also note that some of the longer trips are made up of smaller tours lined-up back-to-back, so you might be able to book these separately.

  • Does the tour price include international flights?

    No. Our crack team of flight specialists do have access to some pretty mean fares though, so just ask if you’d like a quote.

  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    There’s no hard and fast answer to this one. Theoretically, there’s nothing to stop a group of twelve ringing up and booking out the last twelve spots remaining on the trip you’ve been eyeing off for the past five months. For this reason, as soon as you know the trip and date you like the look of, we’d advise locking it in with a $250 deposit.

     

    On the flipside, we’ll typically still take bookings right up until the departure date, if there are spaces left. So if you’re feeling impulsive, head to our website for a sniff around.

  • When is the final payment due?

    Final payment for a Geckos’ trip is due 56 days before departure. If you’re booking inside of 56 days, we’ll need full payment upfront.

  • Can I book through a travel agent?

    Absolutely! We love those crazy guys…

You and Your Travelling Companions

  • Is Geckos group style travel for me?

    Geckos appeals to people who want the fun, freedom and flexibility of independent travel, but want to make the most of their time and prefer that someone else takes care of the hassles and organisation – queuing for tickets and looking for a hotel at night can be a real drag! Geckos is also for people who are seeking a deeper understanding of, and immersion in, the region they visit - our innovative itineraries and exceptional team leaders are what make this happen. Alternatively, you might be a single traveller looking for the safety and companionship of travelling with a few others, sharing the experiences and adventures together. Essential on your list of things to pack are an open mind, sense of adventure and an easygoing attitude. On a Geckos trip you won't find yourself paying for unnecessary extras – that’s why the prices are so good. We include many of the must see sights, but keep plenty of free time aside so you can go on your own way and make your own discoveries. Your lodging will be basic, but clean and comfortable, locally run, and usually reflecting the character of the region. Aside from being a more interesting place to stay than a bland internationally-run hotel, this also helps to keep the cost down. You might spend a night or two in a ‘home stay’, lodge or hacienda - these could be fairly basic, but certainly a real highlight; offering a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. Many of the tours have several long travelling days, often on local transport, and sometimes on rough roads. The trips are packed with highlights and the pace is fast, so we can see as much as possible - although there’s always time to chill out, enjoy a cold drink and watch the world go by if that’s what you feel like doing. Geckos is not for everyone. If you think Geckos might not be your style, have a chat with one of our travel consultants and perhaps consider travelling with either of our sister brands: Intrepid Travel – www.intrepidtravel.com, or Peregrine - www.peregrineadventures.com

  • Is this a typical group tour?

    Most Geckos travellers consider themselves independent travellers, rather than typical group travellers. This is just as well because Geckos is a long way from your typical group tour - freedom and flexibility are fundamental! There are usually around 9 people on a Geckos trip (the maximum is 16 worldwide, up to 24 in Africa), and you’ll find that the excellent tour prices offer a real alternative to backpacking. Geckos travellers want to explore places at a grassroots level – and have a great time while doing this.

  • I am a single traveller, is that a problem?

    Most of our travellers are ‘flying solo’ and like the thought of travelling with like-minded souls. Unlike some of our competitors, Geckos does not believe in charging a single supplement. Most likely you'll probably be sharing a room with a travelling companion of the same sex, but even if you do score your own room we're not gonna charge you for the privilege. Because many of our travellers are travelling alone, your tour will have a strong social element and you'll almost certainly return a few pals richer.

  • Who will I be travelling with?

    Every group is different, however you'll generally travel with a mix of nationalities including Australian, British, New Zealander and North American, amongst others. The vast majority of Geckos travellers are in their 20s or early 30s. Some of our trips are especially for those aged 18 - 39. These trips are marked with an 18-39 stamp next to the trip name.

  • Are there any age limits?

    Yesiree bob. We’re now offering exclusive departures designed for adventurers aged 18-39. Where this is the case, we’ve labeled the trips with this sticker :Age sticker

    If you’re young at heart but not as young in years (i.e. over 40), our trips marked without an icon are for you.

  • How many people will be on the trip?

    The maximum group size on all trips is 15 (the exception is Africa where the maximum is 24). Groups usually consist of about 9 travellers.

  • Do I need to be able to swim?

    Several of our holidays include travel by boat, ship or canoe. It is assumed by us that you can swim, unless you advise us otherwise. If you cannot swim, you must let us know, so we can let your tour leader know. However, swimming is by no means compulsory at any stage in our trips.

Money Matters

  • What’s included in the trip cost?

    Included in the price of each trip is your tour guide, accommodation, transport on tour, entrance fees to all the major highlights and a few meals along the way. A Geckos trip won't get you paying for unnecessary extras - that’s why the prices are so good.

  • What's a Trip Kitty?

    A few of our trips, mostly in Africa, include a 'Trip Kitty' (it will be clearly outlined in the Trip Notes). A trip kitty is an additional amount paid in cash (in the currency indicated) to your local trip leader at the beginning of your trip. While it may sound like an extra cost to you, the idea is to make things cheaper. It means things like supplies for camping trips can be bought in bulk locally, and will save a lot of bill-splitting and wallet-extracting in the long run. If there's any money remaining in the Trip Kitty at the end of the trip, you'll get it back. Now there's a good kitty...

  • Can I pay the local payment in the local currency?

    The local payment needs to be paid in the currency indicated in the itinerary and final invoice.

  • How much spending money do I need?

    Not a lot! Your accommodation, transport, local leader and some meals are included. Depending on where you are, you'll generally get by on about US$20 a day, covering meals, drinks etc. Your Pre Departure Information that you receive after you book will carry full details of extra expenses.

  • What is the best way to take money with me?

    A combination of cash, an ATM card and a credit card makes for a killer combo. Travellers cheques are a safe way to carry money, though can prove difficult to cash in some areas. As a general rule, American dollars are accepted throughout the world, but make sure you have small denomination bills that aren't ripped or marked, as this may affect your ability to use or change them. And remember to check with your bank about using your bank cards overseas. You don't want your funds frozen two days into your adventure 'cos you forgot to tell your bank you were off to Nairobi.

  • Do I need to tip the local guide?

    Your tour guide works hard to ensure you have a great trip, so please don’t hold back if you feel they have earned a tip for their efforts. If you would like to reward your tour guide for his or her services, you can choose to do so individually or make a group presentation at the end of the tour. Full details of tipping are covered in the trip-specific info pack that we send out to you before your departure.

  • Can I bring gifts for people?

    If you want to give something to the local people please bring something useful like pens or school books, not lollies (which can be particularly harmful in remote regions without access to dental care). The other thing we insist upon is that gifts are distributed in an organised and responsible manner: either present them to the headmaster of a school/director of a charity or ask your tour leader what the most beneficial approach would be. They might also have ideas on what could make good gifts. Some children, and even adults, might ask for things as you pass them on the street or in villages. Handing them something might bring you each a moment of joy but it only encourages begging and is destructive in the long term. 

On Tour

  • Why do you use local tour guides?

    One of the main reasons many travellers choose to travel with Geckos is the fact that we exclusively use tour guides who were born and raised in the region. Highly trained, well-informed and well proficient in English, their intimate knowledge of their homeland enables them to show you things that other travellers are bound to miss out on. Simply put, travelling with a local tour guide translates to you experiencing things from a uniquely local perspective: eating at restaurants the locals frequent; seeing things you wouldn't usually find in any guidebook... you might even meet some of your guides’ friends along the way! Aside from the benefit a local leader holds for you, a practice of local employment equates to providing income and training to the local community.

    Throughout the regions we visit, our operators possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, meaning you can be confident you’re in safe hands. They are out in the field 24/7 because they live in it; continually monitoring and refining our adventures to ensure we offer the most innovative trips at the best value possible. We work to ensure our staff and local partners are the best in the business.

  • How much free time is there?

    Plenty of free time added in for independent exploration is an integral element of any Geckos itinerray. Different people have different interests, so those occasions when you branch out and do your own thing could well end up being the highlight of your trip. (And we promise we won't be offended if it does). Of course, some components of the itinerary aren't negotiable – if you insist on getting a massage when we have a train to catch, your trip will suddenly turn very independent indeed. But much of the time what you want to see and do is ultimately up to you. If temples aren't doing it for you any more while another group member just can’t get enough of them, ask your trip leader what else there is to check out. It’s your holiday after all.

  • Will there be time to explore the start and finish cities or should I allow extra time?

    In crafting our itineraries, we've tried to factor in enough time at the start and finish locations for you to see the highlights and landmark attractions. So strictly speaking, there shouldn’t be any need for you to arrive early. Then again, how much time is ever really enough in Barcelona? Or Berlin? Or Buenos Aires? If the city sounds to you like a pretty remarkable place, chances are that it is. Let us know if you’d like to add in a few extra days and we’ll be happy to help line-up some additional accommodation.

  • What standard of hotels should I expect?

    Expect your lodgings to be cheap but cheerful. Cleanliness, comfort and centrality of location is always first priority, but forsaking a few luxuries is how we keep the prices low. We always try to select locally run accommodation options that reflect the character of the region rather than some totally unmemorable internationally run hotel, as this is another way of supporting local industries. On occasion you might also find yourself spending a night in a homestay, tent, yurt, teahouse, hacienda, ryokan or other type of local lodging. This offers an unparalleled chance for local immersion – and regularly ends up being a trip highlight. All in tha game yo, all in tha game…

  • What will the food be like?

    Getting down and chompy with the local cuisine is a definite highlight of our trips. Our local guides make sure you have the opportunity to visit local eateries and try some regional delicacies. Butter them up some and they might even point you in the direction of India’s best butter chicken.

  • I’m a vegetarian or have special dietary needs, is that a problem?

    Nup. In fact, this is one situation where having a local leader on hand is particularly advantageous. They'll be able to translate local menus for you, suggest dishes free of your vice and make sure that the pork left out of your pizza isn't replaced with chicken. Just let us know your culinary quibbles in advance, so that we can pass on this info to our local tour guides. It is important to realise that in some places your diet might end up slightly limited, as meat can form an integral part to many local cuisines, but at least you'll be in the best position to eat alternatively. If in doubt, ask our consultants for their first-hand knowledge of an individual destination.

  • How do I get to the start of the tour?

    The pre-departure info we send out will list the trip starting and finishing points hotels, plus what time you'll need to be there. We can often organise airport transfers, if you wish, as well as extra nights accommodation.

  • Can I book extra accommodation for the start or end of the tour?

    Yes. In all cases, we can organise extra accommodation for the start and end of the tour. Just let us know and we’ll whip up a quote for you.

  • What form of transport do we use?

    As a general rule, we travel on a variety of local transport; this being a great way to mix it with the locals and get involved. In some places, the best way to explore is by foot, in others we’ll hop aboard boats, bemos, canoes, camels, tuk-tuks, songthaews… you get the picture. The style of transport will be as varied as it is fun: sealing you up in some stuffy 50-seater coach isn't out thing. Sometimes, however, local transport is not practical – you just can’t jump on a No. 96 bus in northern Thailand – so in these instances, we hire our own vehicles.

  • Are there any long travelling days?

    Many of the trips do feature some long travel days; often on local transport and sometimes on rough roads. The trips are packed with highlights and we keep the pace fast in the interests of seeing as much as possible, although there is always time to chill out, nestle back with a cold beverage and watch the world go by if that’s what you feel like doing. The itinerary run-down in the Detailed Trip gives a pretty good indication of the travelling times for each day.

  • What will the weather be like?

    The country overview pages on the website give a Best Time to Visit chart, but for more comprehensive info ask your travel consultant. When weighing up time to travel, keep in mind that better weather usually correlates to more crowds – and the converse.