They wanted an Overseas Adventure. Now they just want a refund

Overseas Adventure Travel gave them too much adventure

A Minnesota couple on an Overseas Adventure trip to Latin America got more than they bargained for when they requested a tour refund. Susan Sanger and her husband, Henry Solmer, abandoned a trip with the company in February when he became ill.

Then Sanger emailed the company to request partial reimbursement for the part of the trip they didn’t complete. She urged the company to revise its trip description, which she said was “significantly misleading and incomplete.” The 16-day “Route of the Maya” trip included stops in four countries and was described as “moderately easy.” When Overseas Adventure Travel didn’t respond to her email and failed to offer a tour refund, Sanger contacted our advocacy team.

Sanger’s experience should serve as a cautionary tale for people who enjoy adventure travel. Pay attention to information on the physical requirements for travelers. In this case, the description of this trip should have been a red flag for Sanger and her husband.

Is this Overseas Adventure trip really “moderately easy”?

Travelers should look past the sales pitch and evaluate for themselves how strenuous a trip might be based upon physical requirements provided by the travel company.

Consider some of the physical requirements listed by Overseas Adventure Travel for the Route of the Maya excursion:

  • Participants must walk at least three miles unassisted, stand for 30 minutes and participate in “6-9 hours of physical activities daily.”
  • Activities include a 4-mile walk with “steep slopes and steps” on Day 13 in Tikal.
  • Overseas Adventure Travel reserves the right to restrict participation or send travelers home, if their limitations impact the group’s experience.

The company indicated under a section called “Terrain” that travelers would encounter some “rugged paths and trails” on their journey.

These physical requirements suggest to us that this is not a tour many would describe as “moderately easy.”

The case for travel insurance

Sanger says she wouldn’t have joined the Overseas Adventure trip if it had “clearly described … physical challenges … participants would encounter.” In a letter to the company, she wrote she had “knee arthritis.” She indicated that condition limited her ability “to climb and descend stairs as quickly as some other people.”

Pro tip: When evaluating how strenuous a trip is, it always pays to read everything.

Reading through her paper trail, I wondered if Sanger had read the section on the physical requirements of this trip.

We don’t know why Sanger and her husband didn’t purchase travel insurance. When our executive director, Michelle Couch-Friedman, asked her if she had the insurance, she admitted that they did not.

Sanger sought $7,000 in reimbursement for her Overseas Adventure trip. This figure included costs for unused hotel rooms, meals and their flights home.

Affordable trip insurance – or a tour refund?

The couple could have found an affordable travel insurance policy that would have covered both of them for a few hundred dollars. And since she mentioned that her husband had become briefly ill on a prior trip it would have been a good idea to invest in a good trip insurance policy in this instance.

Pro tip: Travel insurance is a no-brainer, especially if you’re older and enjoy an adventure that presents physical challenges. (Insurers typically charge more if the traveler has pre-existing conditions.)

For more information about the costs and benefits of travel insurance, readers can consult sites like or, which allow you to compare policies.

My carrier offers three “trip interruption” plans, which provide 100 percent reimbursement for all nonrefundable, prepaid, unused trip payments. That includes payments when a trip is interrupted after departure because of covered “unforeseen circumstances,” including illness.

Michelle told Sanger she didn’t think Overseas Adventure Travel would issue a tour refund because of a medical problem. “That’s the type of thing travel insurance covers, and I would have no basis to request a refund from the company,” Michelle wrote in an email.  She pointed out that this request was basically asking for the benefits of a good trip insurance policy even though the couple didn’t buy one.

However, she suggested Sanger check her credit card for a “travel insurance policy” that might cover this event.

The other side of this Overseas Adventure trip issue

Michelle contacted Overseas Adventure Travel to discuss Sanger’s concern about the mislabeling of the adventure.

There appears to be some miscommunication about Overseas Adventure Travel’s response to Sanger’s complaint. While Sanger reports that no one responded to her, records indicate that OAT representatives reached out to her by email and phone in February. At that time, Overseas Adventure Travel declined her request for a tour refund.

Our OAT executive explained to Michelle:

I am so sorry that the Sangers could not complete their trip with us (Route of the Maya). Our records show that they left for home on Day 2 of the trip due to concerns around Mr. Sanger’s health.

As you accurately noted, our Route of the Maya trip is rated as moderately easy. We describe what that means in our catalog and website. I checked to see if we had received other traveler complaints regarding the trip’s designation, and we haven’t. Ms. Sanger’s concern seems to be that we require “participants to climb up to 1400 steps at archeological sites”, but we don’t require this. We bring travelers to archaeological sites, as indicated on the itinerary, but travelers decide for themselves what they want to do. They can walk around the site, ascend a few (or all) of the stairs, or take in the view from a seated position. There are always places to sit and rest. There’s also plenty of free time to explore the grounds at one’s own pace.

The bottom line on this Overseas Adventure trip

Overseas Adventure Travel isn’t going to offer a tour refund to Sanger and her husband. The tour’s “activity level” and “physical requirements” are detailed on the itinerary’s overview on the company’s website. But the Sangers’ experience should serve as a warning to others — get trip insurance before heading off on your adventure. Or be prepared to accept the financial consequences if things go wrong.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend