Q – My long-time travel agent in Alexandria, Va. is, unfortunately, retiring. In a recent conversation, she mentioned something about our being her “favorite FIT Lovers”. She seemed to think we knew what that meant – but we didn’t. Did not want to show our ignorance but as we have been traveling with her counsel for more than fifteen years, I wonder if you might know what she meant. 

A – The term stands for “Foreign Independent Tour” and it is shorthand in the industry for travelers who prefer a personally-curated private journey instead of a set group tour. Travel agents who do FIT’s well are fairly rare. It involves utilizing hundreds of contacts abroad and designing complete itineraries on a custom basis. Agents who do FIT’s sometimes charge by the hour, but many do FIT’s on a flat-rate basis. Once a program is completed and the final itinerary is presented to the guests the final price reflects a mark-up of from 15-30% depending on complexity. These days, many FIT specialists charge a flat rate of $500-$1000 per person. 

To put the charges in perspective, when a major group tour supplier sets out to design a new group tour it takes a team working two to three years to complete the project. When you ask a travel advisor to create the same thing just for you the process can truly be time-consuming. 

Your agent was complimenting you. She was saying that you prefer to go your own way rather than going along with a set group program. Nothing wrong with being a FIT “Lover” but it can, over the course of several years, get expensive.