Frequently Asked Questions

Photo credit: Michel Behar

With more than 30 years of experience in this industry, we’ve built a reputation as a leader in travel to destinations at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. In that time, we’ve also had to track down the answers to many questions. You’ll find answers to our most frequently asked ones below.

  • Can MIR book my international air transportation?

    MIR’s in-house, full service air department is available to assist our travelers with their air travel needs. Check with MIR before booking air on your own, as we are happy to research and compare the best fares and routes available. We have access to special contract rates to many of our destinations.

    We do not furnish air-only arrangements; air tickets must be purchased in conjunction with a MIR tour. Mileage tickets and upgrades must be purchased on your own.

    More information on air transportation arrangements is available on our Air Travel page.

  • Can I get more information about travel insurance?
  • What does “MIR” mean?

    In Russian and Ukrainian, the word mir means both “peace” and “world.” The company was named MIR because it’s a word that represents president and founder Douglas Grimes’s vision for the company and his travel ethos. 

  • How long has MIR been in business?

    MIR began in 1986 when Douglas helped organize (and participated in) a goodwill volleyball tour of the USSR. Douglas enjoyed the country and the people so much that he was inspired to help others travel there. Read more about MIR Corporation on The MIR Story and The MIR Commitment pages. 

  • What is the maximum group size on a MIR tour?

    MIR has four types of group tours: the Premier, Cultural, and Explorer series tours and Private Rail Journeys

    The Premier and Cultural trips have a maximum of 16 travelers, and the more intimate Explorer trips allow a maximum of only 12.

    Rail Journeys by Private Train group sizes vary from 60  to 100 or more travelers, depending on the train and program. Off-train touring is frequently in more intimate sized groups as multiple private vehicles whisk travelers away forth train for in-city explorations. 

    Our Flexible Essential Private Trips are indeed private (not group tours). They are suggested itineraries with no designated dates. Essentials are priced based on two travelers, although the number of travelers can be easily changed.  A single traveler can book a Flexible Essential trip for a supplemental price.

  • Are the scheduled group departures guaranteed?

    The Premier, Cultural, and Explorer group tours are guaranteed once they have registered the minimum number of travelers. The minimum number varies from two to six and can be found on the specific tour page and in the Descriptive Daily Itinerary.

    Rail Journeys by Private Train scheduled from May to October are considered guaranteed departures.

  • Can MIR arrange pre- and post-tour extensions?

    Absolutely. Our staff has the information and expertise to plan anything from one extra day in the Gobi Desert to two extra weeks in the Caucasus Mountains. Aside from special-order extensions, many of our trips are designed so that they can be linked together back-to-back.

    Also, consider the classic itineraries featured in our series of Flexible Essential Private Trips – well-designed private tour itineraries already researched and ready to book on the dates you choose. You can easily add these on at the beginning or end of your main tour.

  • What can I expect traveling during this new era?

    The safety and well being of our guests and teams is paramount. To that end, we will continue to develop and adopt safety and sanitation practices in conjunction with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, as well as local travel industry regulations and requirements in the destinations we take you to during this new era of travel.

    MIR offers small group tours with a maximum group size of 12-16 travelers, as well as customized private travel. We will continue to utilize vehicles that are significantly more spacious than group size necessitates, will arrange flexible table seating options at included meals, and will tailor touring activities to promote traveler well being.

    Read more about what you can expect when returning to travel with MIR.

  • Are there any inoculations required for my tour?

    No specific inoculations have historically been required to travel to these destinations. We recommend that you talk to a travel medical specialist and consult the website for the Centers for Disease Control for recommended inoculations.

  • Who will lead my tour?

    MIR’s tour managers and national guides are experienced, caring, multilingual leaders who bring a passion to their work that ensures your satisfaction. Many of our managers are native to the lands in which they guide and have university degrees in art history, architecture, geology, or ethnography.

  • How does Custom & Private Travel work?

    Travel when, where and how you want – that’s what our Custom & Private Journeys are all about.

    Bring your family, your friends, your schoolmates; or travel solo, just you and your destination. You choose your companions, pick the place and set the pace – we make all the arrangements.

    Other travel companies may not be equipped to handle the details of customized personal trips, but MIR has been handling the ins and outs and special requests of personalized travel in our destinations for more than 30 years.

    More info: The four easy steps to plan a custom private trip
    Start planning: Complete a Custom Travel Inquiry form

  • What are the differences between MIR’s series categories for small group tours?

    We offer three styles of small group tours – Premier, Cultural, and Explorer Series. They’re all great adventures, but each has a slightly different focus.

    The Premier Series seeks out one-of-a-kind experiences, from ringing in the new year in St. Petersburg to attending a private falconry demonstration in Kazakhstan. It also puts a priority on comfort, providing five-star accommodations wherever possible.

    Cultural Series trips emphasize people and traditions. You may end up meeting Mongolian nomads, having a home-cooked meal in the mountains of Georgia, or learning the techniques of Tuvan throat singers. Lodging is comfortable but not always luxurious.

    With the Explorer Series you’re likely to rough it a bit. Some days may be spent mainly on foot or horseback, and some nights in a yurt or a rustic B&B. A little sweat will earn you the most spectacular views and most far-flung cultural experiences your destination has to offer.

    Note that Premier and Cultural Series trips are capped at 16 travelers. With the Explorer Series the maximum is 12.

  • How strenuous are MIR tours?

    We have decades of experience creating custom tours to suit the desired activity levels of our clients. If anyone can get you to your chosen destination with a minimum of stress and strain, it’s MIR. 

    To be comfortable on a MIR small group tour you generally need to be able to walk at least a mile a day unassisted and keep up with other group members. Private Rail trips may present challenges getting on and off the trains. Beyond those basic parameters, we designate each tour with one of four activity levels: Light, Medium, High, or Rigorous.

    The Light level indicates a tour that’s designed to be flexible. Some days may include a mile or two of walking, but those demands can be modified. Itineraries incorporate free time and follow a relaxed pace, often staying two or more nights in the same accommodations.

    Medium trips move at a faster clip. Itineraries are filled with activities on most days, with little or no down time, and you’ll seldom spend more than a night or two in the same location.

    Trips with a High activity level have full itineraries much like Medium, but they pose some additional challenges. They may include long drives over rough terrain, multiple border crossings, and more time on foot, up to three miles a day.

    Rigorous trips go a step beyond the High-level demands. They may include hikes of several hours, and some accommodations are likely to be primitive, with no indoor plumbing and/or regular electricity, and bedding that may consist of a simple mat on the floor.

  • What’s included in my MIR tour?

    MIR small group tours offer great value with our all-inclusive land tour pricing. By “all-inclusive,” we mean that we include well-located accommodations, the majority of your meals (as listed in the itinerary); access to spectacular sites, cultural performances, and special visits; the services of an experienced tour manager; gratuities to support staff (local guides, drivers, and restaurant staff for included meals); arrival/departure transfers (whether we book your international airfare or not); and ground/surface transportation per the itinerary (trains, coaches, jeeps, boats/hydrofoils as applicable).

    The inclusions for each small group tour, Rail Journeys by Private Train, and Flexible Essential Private Trip are listed on each tour page under “What’s Included” and in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary for that tour.

  • What is the food like? Can you cater to special dietary requirements?

    Cuisine in MIR’s corner of the world varies widely, from the elaborate Georgian Table spreads to the lamb-based stews of Mongolia. Our preparatory trip informatin which you will receive after you register for a trip, describes the food in the countries you’ll travel through. Vegetarian options are available in most places.

  • What kind of accommodations can I expect?

    Style of accommodation varies by trip type and destination – from rustic lodges to authentic Mongolian gers to moderate or luxury hotels. 

    Our three styles of small group travel – Premier, Cultural or Explorer Series tours – feature different levels of accommodation, from five star hotels (Premier Series) and perfectly located three star hotels (Cultural Series) to rustic lodges, homestays, gers, or even tents (Explorer Series).

    The types of accommodation for each small group tour, Rail Journeys by Private Train, and Flexible Essential private trip are listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary for that tour.

  • What do I need to bring?

    Included in your travel preparation information is a list of suggestions on what to bring with you, including clothing, sundries, gift items, and indispensables. Our Travel Gear Shop also offers a unique collection of apparel and gear that helps you prepare for and enjoy your MIR adventure. 

  • What’s the weather like?

    Weather information for each of the countries you plan to visit is included in your travel preparation information booklet.  Another good source for climate information is:

  • Can I have more details on the tour I’m interested in?

    Yes. You can instantly access a Descriptive Daily Itinerary on each tour page. You may also request a detailed itinerary.

  • Will I be met at the airport?

    Yes. On MIR group tours, transfers are included on the tour start date whether MIR arranges your international airfare or not. A MIR transfer agent will be waiting just past customs and passport control with a MIR sign. If you are arriving before the official start date of the group tour, MIR can still arrange a pickup and transfer from the airport to your hotel.

  • I’m traveling alone. Do I have to pay the single supplement fee?

    Not necessarily. If you wish, we can try to find a roommate of the same gender for you. We are often successful in matching two singles wishing to share accommodations, but we can’t guarantee it. If we are unable to find a roommate for you, the single supplement fee will be assessed. More information on single travelers can be found on our Terms & Conditions page.

  • What kind of information will I receive to prepare for my trip?

    Once MIR has your deposit and completed reservation form/release, we’ll send you a complete electronic pre-departure information packet including daily itinerary, recommended reading, and detailed touring and country information, and a suggested air quote if requested. More information can be found on our Booking Terms and Conditions.  

  • What about visas?

    Many MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. It is the traveler’s responsibility to check visas and passports for accuracy (more info). 

  • Will you help me to get my visas?

    Travelers are responsible for obtaining all necessary visas prior to departure. Once you have booked with us, MIR will assist you in coordinating your visa needs, but these costs are not included in the land tour prices listed (more info). 

  • Can MIR do my visas for me?

    No, we can’t. MIR will provide detailed instructions on how to complete the necessary forms to send to our recommended visa service, but we can’t complete the forms entirely on your behalf.

    More information regarding Visas is available on our Visas & Passports page.

  • What if I change my mind and want to switch to a different tour?

    Travelers booked for trips can transfer land payments from one scheduled Small Group Tour or Custom Private Journey to another, up until the final payment deadline, subject to availability. Within 90 days of departure, travelers are subject to our cancellation policy. More information about transfers is available in our Booking Terms and Conditions.  

  • What are the penalties for canceling my trip?

    Our detailed cancellation policy is available in our Booking Terms and Conditions.

  • What happens to my deposit if my trip is canceled by MIR due to COVID-19 restrictions?

    In the event COVID-19 travel restrictions require MIR to cancel a departure, MIR will contact you directly to discuss details and review options as outlined in our Booking Terms and Conditions.

  • Isn’t it dangerous to travel to these regions?

    MIR’s destinations are no more dangerous than the rest of the world. Further, the safety of our travelers is paramount to us. MIR monitors events closely through our network of contacts on the ground as well as through other sources.

    As far as petty crime is concerned, we have found through extensive travel that MIR’s destinations pose no more threat of crime than other places. As in any city in the world, there are pickpockets that may prey on travelers. If you keep your money and passport in a pouch or belt under your clothes you will not be an easy victim. Use your luggage locks when you travel or when you leave your luggage in a hotel room. Be particularly vigilant about your bags at the airports, including in the U.S.

  • Do you offer any discounts?

    Detailed information on any discounts we are currently offering can be found on our Special Offers & Savings page.

  • I’m an agent. Can I travel on one of your tours?

    Yes, contact us directly for special consideration. Copies of your IATA card or IATAN list are required. Final payment must be made by net agency check.

  • I am booking a trip through a travel agent. Can I pay the final trip payment with my credit card?

    No. For all agent bookings, MIR can only accept final payment by net agency check. There are no exceptions to this rule. For all direct bookings with MIR, travelers can use their credit card for the final trip payment.

  • I only want train tickets on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Can you help me with that?

    We do not offer point-to-point train tickets sold alone on this route or any rail route within our destinations. We would be happy to help you with your plans for a railway adventure if you are seeking arrangements for accommodations, transfers, and touring as well as train tickets.

  • I only want to book hotels. Can you help me with that?

    We are happy to help with hotel bookings if you are seeking arrangements for a full tour package (transfers and touring as well as hotels).

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