Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions apply to all Smithsonian Journeys booked on or after February 1, 2024, but do not apply to Tailor Made Journeys, Ocean cruising aboard PONANT vessels, Private Jet tours, and Student Travel. Please visit Tailor Made JourneysSmithsonian Journeys / PONANT Cruises, and Student Travel for those Terms and Conditions. And please call 866.903.7650 for Private Jet information.

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engages participants in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our participants’ lives and inspire their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 21 museums and galleries, and the National Zoo, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

Eligibility: Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire tour. See age requirements for family tours on the itinerary page at smithsonianjourneys.org. Other itineraries may have minimum age requirements as noted on the itinerary page.

Basis of Tour Price: All prices are based on two persons sharing a room or cabin, unless otherwise noted in the itinerary, and are quoted in U.S. dollars.

What Is Included in the Tour Price

  • Services of an experienced Travel Director, a Smithsonian Journeys Expert (unless otherwise noted), and local guides throughout the program.
  • Accommodations and meals as noted in itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; R-reception; D-dinner). On ship journeys, complimentary beer and wine are served with lunch and dinner.
  • Excursions, activities, sightseeing, and visits led by local specialists and/or highly qualified guides as noted in the itinerary.
  • Airfare is included on some tours as noted in the tour price information.
  • Pre-tour educational information, including a reading list.
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted.
  • All gratuities except for the crew on ship or train journeys, unless otherwise noted in the tour price information. Recommended guidelines are provided for tipping crew on ship or train journeys.
  • Port taxes for cruises, unless otherwise noted in the tour price information.
  • Group airport transfers at starting and ending points on international tours.
  • Personal listening devices and Wi-Fi on many tours, as noted in the pre-tour information.

What Is Not Included in the Tour Price

  • Airfare and related fees, unless otherwise noted as included in the itinerary.
  • Passport and all visa fees; any other travel documentation; immunizations and medications, as required.
  • Transfers to and from home airport. Transfers at starting and ending points of tour on domestic tours and, if not using or meeting group transfer, on international tours.
  • Activities, excursions or extensions noted as optional or any special pre or post tour arrangements.
  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption, optional Cancellation for Any Reason (not available to New York residents), and Travel Delay coverage. To learn more about Smithsonian Journeys’ provider’s policy, please click here.
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone and alcoholic beverages including wines, liquors, à-la-carte orders, meals other than specified in the itinerary.
  • Gratuities for crew on ship or train journeys.
  • Any other items not specifically mentioned as included.

Reservations and Payments

To reserve your place, please call a Travel Specialist at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri. 9am – 6pm (Eastern Time) or use our secure online system at SmithsonianJourneys.org. Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified by a Travel Specialist of your status within one business day of receipt of your reservation.

A deposit of $500 per person for a land tour and $1,000 per person for a cruise or train journey (unless otherwise noted in the itinerary) is required to reserve space on a tour. Deposits are applied toward final payment of the tour price.

Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted. All payments must be made by credit card. If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

For reservations received within 95 days of departure, upon confirmation of reservation, payment in full is due immediately.

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full. Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the waitlist to the tour within the designated late registration period for that tour. Individuals on the waitlist will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Travel Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a waitlist, please notify us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellation by participant: Following confirmation of a reservation, a participant’s withdrawal from the tour for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Cancellations must be made in writing (an e-mail to [email protected] is acceptable), and take effect when you receive an e-mail confirmation of your cancellation from Smithsonian or tour operator. Per person cancellation fees are based on the date written notice is received by Smithsonian Journeys. Refunds will be made on the following basis:

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking, unless it is within final payment due date (95 days before departure): Full Refund
  • Cancellations made more than 7 days after booking but prior to final payment due date (95 days prior to departure): No Deposit Refunded
  • Cancellation made after final payment due date (95 days prior to departure): No Refund

This policy also applies to payments of deposits and final payments for pre and post tour extensions and extra activities arranged by tour operator for participant.

Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys and/or tour operator: Smithsonian Journeys and/or tour operator reserve the right to cancel any tour due to low enrollment, inability to operate the tour or due to concerns about the safety, health or welfare of participants.

If a tour is cancelled prior to departure, participants will receive a full refund of monies paid, except in the event that the cancellation is due to a significant event that makes it infeasible to operate the tour as planned, in which case the participants will receive a refund and/or travel credit equivalent to the amount paid by participant.

Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys or tour operator while tour is in progress: Tour operator will provide participants a pro-rated refund or travel credit based on the number of days not completed on the tour. If a participant elects to leave a tour in progress on their own volition, the participant will not receive any refund.

If your flights are delayed or if for any reason you are prevented from joining the tour on the scheduled departure date and/or time, or if you choose to leave the tour early, we cannot provide a full or partial refund or travel credit toward a future tour.

Except for the refund or credit outlined above when Smithsonian Journeys or tour operator cancel a tour, Smithsonian Journeys and the tour operator have no responsibility for any expenses, including any non-refundable air expenses, incurred by the participants related to the cancelled tour.

Changes to Your Reservation

Up to 120 days before your departure, you may make a one-time change to your reservation, including moving to another departure date or another tour, without any cancellation penalty. Your deposit will be applied to the new departure date or tour. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason or at any time, you will be charged the single supplement.


For tours that have round-trip international airfare included in the tour price, rates are based on the economy class fare from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tours that do not include international airfare, your pre-tour information will provide details on options for reserving your individual flights. International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. If you make your own airline reservations, we recommend that you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or tickets with high penalties for changes.

We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties, or any other penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Single/Shared Accommodations

A limited number of single rooms/cabins are available at an extra cost (a single supplement) on a first-come, first-served basis.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel either before or after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability. Your pre-tour information will further explain all options.

Travel Documents and Information

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the tour such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If not a U.S. citizen, participants should contact their embassy or consulate to ensure they obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of the tour, and with at least six blank pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours. The U.S. Department of State no longer adds pages into U.S. passports. Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD). Non-U.S. citizens should contact their passport office for information on required visas and other travel requirements.

For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website www.travel.state.gov. For medical and immunization information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) CDC-INFO (232-4636) or www.cdc.gov/travel

Health Considerations: To enjoy the travel experience, participants should be in good physical and mental health. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with a full day of activities and should be able to walk over uneven terrain and climb stairs. Smithsonian Journeys will make reasonable efforts to accommodate participants with disabilities on all of its tours, but not all tours may be suitable for all participants. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Any physical condition, diet, or treatment requiring special attention or accommodation must be reported in writing when the reservation is made. Please contact Smithsonian Journeys for any questions about the participant’s ability to join a tour or if special accommodation to participate on this tour is required.

Please be aware that healthcare standards, facilities, and services abroad may vary depending on the destination.

Smithsonian Journeys encourages participants to consult a doctor for specific medical advice about any activities or destinations. Certain tours require each participant to obtain his/her physician’s approval to join the tour, and in those cases, Smithsonian Journeys will send the participant a form for his/her physician to sign and return per instructions outlined in the pre-tour information. Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the tour or not to use certain services included in the tour, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the tour or services.

Itinerary or Tour Modifications

Smithsonian Journeys is committed to offering high quality travel experiences. If improvements in itineraries can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, at our sole discretion, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute elements of the tour. These elements include, but are not limited to hotels, staff, speakers, experts, itinerary stops and activities in the itinerary. Every effort will be made to carry out the tour as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary has been sent to you. Please note that weather and other conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruises.

Travel Insurance

We encourage you to consider a travel protection plan to help protect your travel investment from unforeseen events such as cancellation due to illness, flight delays due to weather, baggage loss, and more. For your convenience, we offer an optional Travel Protection Plan provided by Trip Mate, A Generali Global Assistance & Insurance Services brand. To learn more about Trip Mate’s Travel Protection Plan, please click here.

Photography and Video

Smithsonian Journeys and the tour operator reserve the right to take photographs or videos (or audio) during the tour for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian or authorized third parties. This content may be used for promotional or commercial use. By making a reservation on a tour, the participant agrees to allow his/her likeness to be used by Smithsonian or Smithsonian-authorized third parties without compensation to the participant. Participants who prefer that their voice and/or image not be used must notify us in writing prior to the beginning of the tour.

Copyright in all photographs, video, and related materials created by a participant (“Participant Content”) belongs to the participant upon creation. The participant grants to Smithsonian Journeys a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use any Participant Content provided to Smithsonian Journeys and/or the tour operator in any media for editorial, educational and/or promotional use by Smithsonian.

Smoking Policy

For the comfort of all participants, no smoking is permitted in public areas, hotel rooms or during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On most cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour information will provide further details.

Privacy Policy

Our privacy policy can be found at www.smithsonianjourneys.org/privacy

Other Provisions

Certain tours, such as cruises, may have additional terms and conditions that apply, which will be provided on the ship’s ticket. Other provisions concerning, among other things, safety and health measures for group travel will be provided to all participants prior to departure. Participants must agree to all such terms and conditions in order to participate on the tour.

Dispute Resolution

If a complaint arises, the participant should first inform a member of the on-tour staff, so that the staff can attempt to rectify the matter. If the issue remains unresolved, the individual should submit the complaint in writing to Smithsonian Journeys within 30 days of the completion of the tour.

The Smithsonian Journeys staff will make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute. In the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of that dispute resolution process, such efforts shall not constitute a waiver by either party of the right to file suit.


Smithsonian Journeys tours are organized and administered by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of designated tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer participants a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, to require a participant to quarantine (subject to Public Health Entities’ protocol and guidelines), or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time (including, but not limited to inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant. “Public Health Entities”, as used herein, includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and foreign, federal, state, and local governments and health agencies.

Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, or in the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.


The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour materials, and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel, including, but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature including, but not limited to weather, flooding, and high/low water levels, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, widespread communicable disease outbreak (e.g. COVID-19, SARS, etc.) or other public health emergency event declared by local, State or Federal government order to be an epidemic, pandemic, public emergency or similar, quarantines, bites from or attacks by animals, insects, or pests, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others.  The undersigned will follow any orders, directives and guidelines issued by Public Health Entities, the health and safety guidelines provided herein and the directions of tour staff.

Smithsonian Journeys promotes an environment that values inclusivity, respect, and integrity. By participating in a Smithsonian Journeys tour, you agree to act in accordance with these values in your interactions with fellow travelers, tour staff and other service staff, and the public.

In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.

Medical Authorization and Coverage: In the event the participant becomes sufficiently incapacitated as to be unable to direct his or her own care, there is no one on the tour who can direct participant’s care, and Smithsonian Journeys is unable to contact participant’s emergency contact, the participant, by registering and paying a deposit for a journey, authorizes the provision of emergency medical treatment in the event of any injury or illness while participating in the tour including, but not limited to, X-ray, examination, anesthetic, medical or surgical diagnosis, or treatment and hospital care. In addition, the participant certifies that they have medical insurance which will cover personal accidents, medical expenses, loss of effects, and all other expenses which might arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience occurring to the participant, and that in the absence of this medical insurance coverage, or for costs not covered by this medical insurance coverage, the participant agrees to pay all costs of rescue and/or medical services as may be incurred on the participant’s behalf.

These Terms and Conditions apply to all Smithsonian Journeys (except for Tailor Made Journeys, Ocean cruising aboard PONANT vessels, Private Jet tours and Student Travel) booked on or after February 1, 2024. For Terms and Conditions for Smithsonian Journeys trips booked prior to February 1, 2024, please refer to the copy of the final Terms and Conditions sent with pre-trip communications.