If you go on to sites such as TripAdvisor to check their forums in regard to www.tours-usa.com there are a lot of people who question the validity of this company and ask whether it is safe. Many of the responses are based on people’s beliefs and not on their own experiences with the company. So what’s my answer to the question?
It’s simple… Yes they’re perfect safe, and what’s more they are a delight to deal with!
So here are a few of their criticisms and what I thought of them:
Their tours seem to be copies of others I have seen.
They’re not copies… They are in fact the exact same tour, just usually (in my experience whilst looking) a fair bit cheaper! The reason for this is that many self drive USA holidays or coach tours etc are organised and booked through a company called ATI Tours. You cannot book through them direct but several booking agents sell their tours.
They want a copy of your passport.
Generally speaking tour operators and booking agents don’t need this, so that’s a worrying point to come up… But it’s absolute rubbish. They never once asked us for these.
Their office is in the UK (although it is now in Gibraltar) but that’s just an industrial estate or office building when I look on Google Earth.
That is also correct. They have a registered office in Europe but don’t operate from there, I think it’s a company called the Unite Group you will find for that address. The same applies to their New York office, but these are just registered business addresses, and you could in some cases potentially have hundreds of businesses using the same address (especially online businesses going through their accountants etc.). This is normal business practice and nothing to worry about. someone even said on TripAdvisor that their New York address is a company called virtual office – I think the name of that company sums up what they do for online businesses… They ARE a legitimate company.
I can’t find much information about them.
Admittedly there isn’t a huge amount, although as they are becoming more known I have seen more reviews of them pop up. If in doubt about anything, ask them.
You can’t pay the full amount on a credit card – just a deposit, they want a wire transfer.
Nope, you can pay by credit or debit card- no problem! You pay through a secure online gateway provided by (at the time I booked) a Swiss bank.
Some of their promo material is written in poor English.
I believe they are an Eastern European company, but don’t quote me on where and whether this is fact but that’s the impression I got… and once again that’s absolutely fine by me!
Now for our tour
We actually emailed back and forth with them a few times and they were fine to deal with so we did book a tour with them… The American Heritage tour which starts in New York and goes down to Miami as a self drive format. You can read about this in my East Coast USA Road Trip posts which start here in NY.
Right from the start they gave us plenty of information and paying for the tour was easy. They even helped out with a few changes I wanted to make to the tour, cancelling one of the hotels (in Charleston) for us as we wanted to skip that one and head to Atlanta instead… Best decision we made! Atlanta was an absolute blast.
The tour itinerary is actually really good, heading to a few great cities (although I think Luray was a bit of a waste if like us you want to travel down from there along the Skyline Drive in which case stopping the night in Front Royal – but that route is incredible). What you actually do there however is up to you, although they give you some pretty good ideas in literature which you receive in a bag once you arrive at your first hotel. The bag also had plenty of maps in it, although a sat nav is a good idea as some of the drives from day to day are pretty long.
If you want to see as much as you can in just a 2 week period of what the USA can offer, the full length of the East coast is the way to do it! Pack for cooler weather and rain in New York, shorts but maybe still a jacket for Cherokee (although I recommend not spending much time there but instead driving there by heading through a bit of the Smoky Mountain National Park and stopping off in Gatlinburg – that town is amazing… I could happily spend a week in that area).
Some of the hotels aren’t all that great to be honest, like the ones they set you up in when you go to Roanoke and Sarasota for example, but if you go for an alternative company offering this tour, you’re going to end up with the same hotels selected by ATI!
I really would recommend them! We had no problems and ended up enjoying an amazing holiday which culminated with us getting married on Miami Beach!
Feel free to ask me any other questions about this company and tour… I will try to answer as much as I can but we only did that one tour so don’t know about their other ones… or if in doubt, as I said before, send them an email!