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Avoiding Bus Tour Potholes

June 13, 1991|PAULA JHUNG

Buses can break down and tour companies can go out of business. Before investing your time and money, it pays to check out the company you're dealing with and determine exactly what you'll get for your dollar.

The National Tour Assn. offers these tips:

* Check to see how many meals are part of the package, and if luggage handling, tips and taxes are included.

* If the tour includes several modes of transportation, make sure the price you pay covers all legs of the trip.

* Ask what extra expenses you might incur so you'll know how much cash to bring.

* Group tours range from budget to mid-range to deluxe, terms that mean different things to different people. You can get a good idea of the class of tour by checking how the hotels are rated in the Mobile or AAA guide.

Robin Diamond of the American Bus Assn. offers this advice:

* Check to see if the tour company is insured and bonded.

* Make sure the bus company is insured and authorized by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

* Ask the age of the bus, and check it out if you can to see if it is clean and updated. If the interior is shoddy, it's often a pretty good indication as to the condition of the engine.

* You can often determine the quality of service by the people you talk to on the phone. Are they helpful? Are questions answered fully?

* If you book through a travel agency, make sure it has some kind of professional affiliation. If it is listed with a number of professional associations, it's a good sign the outfit is thorough and careful.

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