What’s Included in the Trip Cost
On this page, you'll find a description of what is included in the prices of our scheduled trips of 4 or more nights, and of what is available for an additional cost (see here for services included in our short trips). Here are the categories:
The Bike (for bike trips priced in $ only — bikes are available at extra cost for bike trips priced in €uros)
Transport Within the Trip
A Friendly Coordinator
All hotels (and sleeping berths on overnight trains or boats) are included in the cost of our trips.
For a broader discussion of our hotel choices, see here.
Included sleeping berths on night trains or boats are in shared cabins, regardless of room type occupied on the trip. Private cabins are proposed when available, but at an additional cost.
Private “ensuite” bathrooms. Virtually all of our hotel rooms include private bathrooms. But 17th century country inns are not standardized affairs, and it can happen that a few rooms share a hall bath (never more than 3 rooms to a bath). Proportion varies itinerary to itinerary, and by season, and we cannot guarantee a particular distribution. But it would be rare indeed to encounter a room with a hall bath even once per week.
If you wish, for 100€ per trip week, or the equivalent in the currency of your statement (50% more for 2 or 3 people sharing a room), we will guarantee a private shower (or bath) and a private WC nightly.
This guarantee does not apply to nights on overnight trains (if any). On overnight trains, cabins with ensuite shower and WC will be proposed at an additional cost, if available.
If we are unable to live up to our promise at one stop during a given week, you will receive a full refund of the supplement paid for that week.
On rare occasions, those selecting this option may be lodged in a different hotel from the rest of the group, never more than a short walk from the “main” group hotel.
We hasten to add that this supplement rarely buys you much, except perhaps in Scandinavia. Thus we do not endorse it, or encourage you to pay it. Almost all of our hotels have private baths, anyway. But if a rare exception would ruin your trip, this is how to protect against it. Even in hotels where you would have had a shower / WC anyway, we do observe that people for whom the private bath is explicitly requested sometimes get marginally better rooms....
Solo travellers are a majority of our guests. “The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready” — Robert Louis Stevenson.
If you are travelling alone, and do not wish to pay extra for a single room, you are not assigned a roommate, but rather share with different people (of approximately the same gender) at different stops. We work for an interesting crowd, and this arrangement will generally be to your advantage.
Single hotel rooms are available, if you prefer, at the cost of a “private single room supplement,” which varies by trip. See the “Facts and Figures” table at the bottom of each trip page for the cost of the private single room on that trip.
The private single supplement does not extend to nights on overnight trains or ships (if any). On overnight trains and ships, private cabins will be offered at an additional cost, when available.
If you are a long-distance traveller (on a trip of 2.5 weeks or more) you may opt for a “Roommate Escape Single.” For roughly a quarter the cost of the trip’s private single room supplement, you are guaranteed a single room at least one stop per trip week, and
for at least 30% of the total nights of your trip.
Couples, or friends travelling together, are guaranteed a double or twin room at no additional charge. Triple rooms are also available at no additional charge.
If you are requesting a room for two people, be sure to indicate on your application whether you wish a room with a double bed (a “double” room), or a room with two single beds (a “twin” room).
If you request a triple room, and the hotel’s configuration means that none are available, a single plus a twin will be assigned at no additional cost. We only accept adequately spacious triple rooms, not doubles with a cot stuffed into the only open floor space.
Particularities regarding double rooms: our hotels generally cater to mostly local guests. In many (especially Germanic) countries, genuine double beds are uncommon. “Doubles” more often contain twin beds pushed together, sometimes bizarrely made up with one set of sheets. Amorous intentions, or just a restless night, can land you on the floor between the two beds.
Conversely, in Latin countries, “doubles” can be rooms containing a double (not a “queen” or a “king”) bed. Couples used to larger beds should carefully consider whether intimacy or a sound sleep is of higher value. Generally the beds are wider than the minimum double standard of 120 cm (140 cm is typical), but hotel keepers react with surprise to questions on the topic, and often seem to have no very clear idea of the size of their beds, which may additionally vary room to room.
“But what are the hotels ‘like?’”
None of the above really tells you. Here are two pages that will: follow this link to a discussion of how we choose our hotels. And our travel philosophy page discusses the relative importance that we accord to the different elements of travel, including the hotels.
Breakfast (continental) is included during the trip. It is generally taken at the hotel. Snore (except in Austria and Switzerland: Alpine breakfasts can be pretty good. And there is a Basque bar that everyone likes...).
Most dinners are also included. You are on your own for dinner (and its expense) two nights per “trip week.”
“Trip-weeks” are rounded in your favor in increments of half-weeks. For example, “Alpine Lakes,” together for 13 nights, is considered to travel for 1.5 “trip weeks.” Thus three dinners are independent, and not included in the trip price.
Included dinners may be taken in a group, or you may dine on your own, or in smaller “sub-groups,” with suggestions offered by the Trip Coordinator. On nights when you prefer one of these latter options, funds will be distributed sufficient to permit a wide selection of restaurants. Beverages at dinner are not included.
Our meals are special events, and a focus of our trips, especially in the Latin countries. Choice is never lacking (except in Norway, where isolation often dictates a table d’hôte menu). But we pride ourselves on our ability to showcase local cuisines, often different from anglo tradition.
“Picky” eaters, or those with diets which exclude food types or groups, may find this focus tiresome. And since special diets are rare in Latin Europe, our hosts are surprised by them. Complex dishes may contain some food you wish to avoid, hidden as a seasoning. Chefs who take pride in their creations are not only unwilling (or unable) to remove the offending ingredient, but can be unwilling to even discuss the recipe! Fortunately, the unusual flexibility of our meal program allows you to retreat to a pizza place if the cultural experience becomes oppressive.
Trains, Boats, Bikes, Yaks...
All transport required by the trip’s itinerary, for you (and for our cycles, if appropriate), is included. We don’t use tour buses or coaches. Blue Marble abhors the tour bus.
We pride ourselves on using the fastest and most comfortable trains. This means something in Europe, where all-stops locals can hit 160 kph / 100 mph without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, you get to rub elbows with the people who live where you are visiting, one of the most interesting aspects of travel. 20 minutes on a country bus can be more than interesting....
Transport for your own cycle during the course of the trip, should you choose to bring it, is generally included. On trips of 2 or more weeks there are rare exceptions, however, and these can result in an additional cost. They are detailed behind this link (read the discussion of “exceptional shipments”).
Included in the $ trip prices of our cycle trips, or available at additional cost if your trip is priced in €, is the use of one of our quality road touring bikes, and the cost of shipping it to and from your trip.
Maintenance of our cycles is additionally included.
If you prefer, you are welcome to bring your own cycle. North American riders receive a discount on the $ price of the trip in that case. We also offer help with shipping your cycle within continental Europe, and with shipping and / or storage of your cycle case, if you have one. There is, of course, no obligation to use our services in these domains.
Further information of various sorts is available on these pages.
• Cycle Home Page. Discusses our bikes, and the pros and cons of different styles.
• Equipping your cyle. Cycle luggage, rental equipment of various sorts.
• Cycle Insurance. Available to insure your cycle against serious damage or theft.
• Trips including our Norway itinerary as part of a longer (2 or more week) trip, include the use of a mountain bike while there, regardless of the currency of your account.
These pages specifically discuss the issues surrounding bringing your own bike:
• The Pros and Cons of Bringing Your Own Bike
• How To Bring Your Own Bike (includes a table showing the trip-by-trip discount available to North American riders)
A Friendly Trip Coordinator
A Trip Coordinator accompanies each trip, and has a broad administrative role: shipping bikes & bags; confirming, reserving, and paying for trains and hotels; ensuring that our hotels receive our guests as they promise; verifying sightseeing information; banking; tuning and repairing the cycles; offering roadside assistance and route information; scouting for restaurants.... In sum, coping with the lines, hassles and arguments that are the buzz-kill of travel.
Further, our bilingual Coordinators know more than a bit about the cultures, cuisines and countries through which we travel. The advice and counsel they provide can help you get the most out of your vacation, and their menu explanations can enrich your meals with more than calories.
Finally, they assist in coping with the unexpected: lost passports, dental flare-ups or medical emergencies, changes in travel plans.... We don’t know all the local emergency rooms, but we know how to find them quickly. Of course, none of this will be necessary on your trip....
What’s Not Included
- Travel to and from the trip
Air / rail fares to and from the trip are not included in the trip cost.
If you are coming from North America, we can help you find a reasonably-priced air ticket from your departure city, and back to it at the end. We even offer air fare price guarantees to riders on our trips. See our air ticket page for details on what we propose.
If you are coming from Britain, we can help you book discount Eurostar tickets from and back to London, along with connecting trains on the continent. Our Eurostar tickets for British riders are generally the lowest cost available for any given flexibility / class of service.
Travel between the trip and different airport cities (or Paris, for connections to and from London) is also available through us (“Access Packages”). We offer inclusive and economical travel packages via the route (or routes) and on the schedule(s) that most of our guests follow (though many variants are available, including extra hotel nights, first class train upgrades, and so forth). You may subscribe to our package to reach your trip, to leave it, or to do both (pre- and post-trip “Access Packages” may be subscribed separately).
- Lunch (some in Norway are included)
- Private sightseeing
- Beverages at dinner
- Items of a personal nature