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Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

Miami Beach, Florida
7 posts
Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

Hi,

I met a guy in Miami that works for TopSpotLife.org and he really caught my attention with his explanation of their tours. I am planning to travel there in January 2013 but I am still undecided if I should do it with them. Does anybody know anything about them? As I understand they are not even a travel agency, they organize some kind of service where you pay a "membership fee" and everything else on the spot while on destination. I have found their website and went through reviews and programs but still need clearer idea what is it all about?

Any response or review will be appreciated.

K

Vancouver BC
Level Contributor
4,725 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

I Read their Web Site. Doesn't make any sense to me. If it doesn't make any sense it raises a red flag so I would just stick with the well known Travel Companies or read the forum on Tripadvisor to where it is you want to go and learn the areas you want to go to. And ask questions like you are doing here.

Gros Morne National...
Level Contributor
1,664 posts
38 reviews
2. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

All these countries have well developed tourism industries. You don't need to use that kind of company.

On a side note, don't have Cuba as your first or last country as you are from the US. Cuba will not stamp your visa, just the tourist card, so don't stress over the embargo.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
2 posts
22 reviews
3. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

I see this as an interesting concept if there is a real experienced know-how behind it. I agree that nowadays one can get a lot of information about certain destinations from the web and travel books, however, my experiences from traveling tells me that the trips where I knew some people to show you around and explain you things were much more efficient.

Miami Beach, Florida
7 posts
4. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

Hi guys!

Firstly, thank you for all your replies. A I am not experienced traveler therefore every help matters a lot to me. My state of mind leads me to always try to find something new and different and what I am interested in is the approach of these guys towards travel and overall philosophy of their "agency" so after thorough review of their website, which was pretty complicated to understand at a first glance I have decided to try my luck with them. I will keep you posted in February what happened.

K

Miami Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
2 posts
34 reviews
5. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

I usually check out travel forums but never leave my comments. However, as I saw there was a lot of word about TopSpotLife I decided to register and break the mystery :) My friends and I went to Cuba with these guys this May and we have nothing but words of praise for them. The concept is really simple but the confusion arises from the fact that none of the other agencies offer services like theirs. The only thing you pay for in advance is the price of organisation and guiding service.This is the best thing of all - great flexibility and cash control. If you want to wander around but need additional guidance, no need to stick to the group - they will provide you with a local guide on the spot ! The accommodation prices are definitely lower than regular - sth you wouldn't achieve by yourself. In a nutshell, YOU decide what YOU want to see and how much YOU want to spend. And still, you interact with the locals and see the TRUE Cuba - very different from a boring enclosed AI resort. Hope I managed to clarify some of this at least one bit :)))

Cheers!

Paris, France
Level Contributor
2 posts
22 reviews
6. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

Question for Lana:

I've been in SE Asia last winter, bur definitely the best part of the trip was Cambodia because I have an acquaintance who works there. I can say that this part of the trip was most efficient because it was like having a guide to show us what it cannot be seen from ordinary tourist perspective. I'm really interesting to visit Cuba in the near future, so can you explain me how was the hole trip and how come you wanted to divide from the group?

Did you then meet with the group after? Was the local guide competent?

thanks in advance

Yucatan Peninsula...
Destination Expert
for Yucatan Peninsula
Level Contributor
9,540 posts
7. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

At the mention of "membership fee", I smell a scam.

If you are a bona fide tourist coming to Belize, there are plenty of tour guides here and you don't have to pay any membership fees.

Edited: 15 November 2012, 09:08
Miami, Florida
1 post
8. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

Usually where is a scam you don't find all informations posted about a certain company (its registration, location and so on). Everything is tracable and can be double checked nowdays. Afterall we are a google generation...

I have also found and read general terms and conditions which explains a lot and can give you a lot of answers... http://www.topspotlife.org/travel/information

Anyway. Gaining trust is a long term process and if you are not really a gambling addict it is important that when you travel you have to make sure what are you going to get. I'm sure that all REAL travellers know what i'm talking about... It's fun when you buy a plain ticket and you go backpacking but it's not so fun anymore when you find a SUPER local tour guide that is making profits on you with guiding you to the commissionary related spots.

On the other hand a big travel agency tours are non-flexible and can be a real suffer for more advance travellers... therefore even though this organization TopSpotLife is uknown i respect their effort and hope they will last, cause the idea is really something new on the scene...

Miami Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
2 posts
34 reviews
9. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

I wanted to go my separate way bcs I didn't share the same interest as the rest of the group. Instead of seeing the usual sites, I went to see small art galleries for example. Make sure to see the works of Martha Jimenez Perez in Camaguey! However, if you happen to buy a piece of art there get the official receipt for it - otherwise you'll have a lot of trouble with the customs. The guide I was with was Elio -ask for him if you go. You can pick his brain about anything, He's highly educated and knowledgeable + super funny. He's Cuban so he'll get the best deals for you and make sure you're not ripped off for anything.

As for other posts... I really can't understand where on planet Earth did you guys read about membership fees???!! The fee you pay is for guiding and organisation and all the accommodation prices are much lower than when travelling by yourself. Not all of us are DIY and as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have a guide by my side and not spend half of the time with my head stuck in a travel book.

Edited: 16 November 2012, 15:34
10. Re: Central America Tour (Mexico, Belize Guatemala, Cuba)

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