What makes you experts?
We’ve worked in the travel business for a shockingly long time (call us, we’ll share some stats)—as guides, researchers, photographers, planners, lackeys, you name it. We’ve been to the places we send clients, we’ve ammassed our own trove of relationships and expertise, we’ve learned the ropes. We recognize that fun is a serious business and we’ve literally spent our lives figuring out how to help people have better travel experiences.
What makes you different from a travel agent/agency?
The main thing that differentiates Trufflepig from a classic travel agent/agency is that we create our own trips using ingredients (hotels, guides, experiences) that we’ve unearthed ourselves. We aren’t dishing up travel as an impersonal commodity or selling someone else’s trip, we’re carefully crafting unique itineraries based on first-hand experience. We develop our own supplier relationships, form our own opinions, and work with whomever we think does the best job—be they part of a lauded boutique hotel group, or a 3-bedroom inn that no one’s ever heard of.
Can’t I just plan the trip myself?
We’ve always said that in theory anyone can plan any trip, just as anyone can build their own house or fix their own car. The more relevant question is whether or not it makes sense to do so. It’s not neuroscience, but planning a brilliant trip takes know-how, experience, contacts, and a lot of time. Fitting the right pieces together in the right way is more challenging than it may seem. If you have the patience and gumption to tackle your own trip planning, by all means do, it can be very rewarding. But if you’re tight on time, short on expertise, or simply “don’t want to risk blowing a day” (as a client once put it) then it makes a lot of sense to hire the right people for the job.
Do you arrange local guides, transfers, and that sort of thing?
Yes. We always arrange hotels and typically arrange all transfers (by air, land and/or sea) from the moment you arrive at your destination until the moment you leave. Additionally, we coordinate local guides, activities, excursions, special events, restaurant reservations, and anything else you’d like our help with. Some trips are planned to the minute and involve a vast number of arrangements. Other trips are more flexible and free-flowing, with a moderate degree of support. It’s up to you.
Do you book international flights?
Can I book my own hotels?
Do you run any scheduled departures?
No. All of our trips are private and built from scratch, so we do not offer set itineraries nor scheduled departures.
How long does it take to plan a trip?
It depends on a variety of factors (i.e. how far in advance of the trip you contact us, hotel availability, complexity of the itinerary, changes you may decide to make along the way). We’ve planned trips in as little as a week, while others have taken months to finalize. One thing you can be sure of is that we share your enthusiasm for finalizing the details as quickly as possible. The more advance notice we have, the faster and easier it is to plan a trip. And the more likely it is that you’ll get exactly the trip you want. If you wait until the last minute, it’s invariably more difficult to secure hotel and flight availability. Last-minute requests require an extra degree of flexibility and the planning process gets compressed (this can be a little stressful for everyone involved). Some regions, such as Africa and the Galapagos Islands, should be planned way in advance (think 12-18 months prior to departure) due to limited availability at safari camps and on boats. And if you want to travel over the Christmas/New Year holidays or during March break, please give us plenty of notice.
How does your Trip Planning Fee work?
We charge a Trip Planning Fee to recognize the expertise and legwork required to plan a stellar and seamless trip. The Fee is a per trip (not per person) amount and is a function of trip length and complexity. We use a sliding scale to determine the exact amount of the fee and will always let you know what it is before we collect any deposits. As a guideline, the fee for a 1-week trip is typically $1,500. $2,600 for a 2-week trip. $3,200 for 3-week trip. Please remember that the actual costs of the trip (i.e. hotels, guides, transfers) are on top of the Trip Planning Fee.
How does your pricing work?
Each custom itinerary has a single trip price, which is the sum of the Trip Planning Fee and all the ingredients (hotels, transfers, guides, activities, and so forth) you choose to include in the trip. Excuse the drab language, but you’re essentially buying a custom trip package. The trip price is fairly comprehensive and typically covers the bulk of what you’ll spend while on your trip. That being said, there are some things that are generally not included in your trip price, such as tipping, travel visas, shopping (sorry), some meals (this varies a lot by country, we simply suggest whatever makes the most sense) and your flights to/from the destination.
How much should I budget for my trip?
We’ve learned that the silliest question we can ask you on day one is: “How much do you want to spend?” We recognize that it’s very hard to know as there are many factors involved. However, we would ask you to carefully consider overall price from the outset. Think about flight costs. Think about what elements of the trip are most important to you (length of trip? hotels?). And think about those little costs like shopping, meals and tips. The more specific you can be about your budget, the better we’ll be able to work to it. If you want more help outlining a budget for your travel, please ask us.
What are your payment terms?
We require a nonrefundable deposit of $500 before we start looking into specific trip arrangements. Once the architecture and basic details of your itinerary have been discussed and decided, we set the trip price and collect a 30% deposit. Full payment is required 90 days prior to travel. Our Terms & Conditions outline the pricing and payment details.
How do I pay for my trip?
Payment can be made by personal cheque, bank transfer, bank draft or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). For full pricing and payment details, please read our Terms & Conditions.
Do you provide price breakdowns?
We do not provide line item breakdowns of your trip price. There are two reasons for this. One, we are often working with local suppliers who bundle hotels and services into package prices. This is standard practice in many countries. And two, it can get unreasonably complicated and confusing. Behind a single trip price is a rat’s nest of exchange rates, reservation details and micro costs. We aren’t out to be sneaky; we are out to keep things simple and clear. Having said all of this, if you want us to explain the general breakdown of costs we are happy to do so, and we will always tell you what our Trip Planning Fee is. It’s important that you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
What is your cancellation policy?
Please read our Terms & Conditions for complete details. Our cancellation fees are not negotiable.
Can I buy travel insurance through you?
In most cases, yes. We can offer comprehensive travel insurance to Canadian residents through Manulife Insurance, and for US residents through Seven Corners. There are some peculiarities and limitations to what we can provide depending on where you live and how much you want to insure, however the bottom line is that we can almost always help you find a travel insurance solution. Regardless of where you obtain insurance, the most important thing is that you’re covered.
Do I need shots or inoculations?
It depends. Every country has different suggestions and requirements. These seem to change on a regular basis, so it’s always best to check with a travel health clinic. For a guideline, please refer to the specific country you’re interested in in the Where We Go section of this website.
Do I need entry visas?
It depends. Every country has different rules and requirements. These seem to change on a regular basis, so it’s always best to check with the relevant embassy or consulate. For a guideline, please refer to the specific country you’re interested in in the Where We Go section of this website.
Is tipping included, and if not how much?
Tipping is not typically included in your trip price. Gratuities are a very individual thing, highly dependent on the situation. However, in your final travel document (the Trip Piglet) we provide tipping guidelines to help you quantify appreciation in various situations.
Are you fully licensed?
Yes. We are licensed members of TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) and a registered supplier with IATA. Trufflepig is incorporated in Ontario, Canada and we are fully insured.
Why is your magazine called The Sounder?
A ‘sounder’ is the name for a herd of wild pigs. And now you know.
Are the countries listed in the Where We Go section the only places you plan trips?
No, we’ve got a bunch of other destinations up our sleeve. A city here, a region there—fresh or developing expertise in all sorts of random places. So if you’re wondering what else we know, just give us a call or send us an email and we’ll give you a straight answer. It’s worth adding that we’re game to do research in a specific destination for you, if it’s appropriate.