Traveling Homeschoolers was created when we outgrew our Carolina Homeschooler website. Although we still offer local/regional trips for families in South Carolina, the trips featured here are open to families throughout the United States and beyond.
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Frequently Asked Questions
I subscribed to your mailing list but haven’t received any newsletters.
Due to COVID, I don’t have as many trips on the calendar right now. Consequently, I’m not emailing as many updates.
Also, sometimes our newsletters get routed to spam, promotions, marketing, or junk folders. Check those folders to see if they’re stuck there.
What’s the best way to get trip announcements and updates?
- Subscribe to my newsletter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Facebook, with the following recommendations:
- First, click the Like button and the Follow button (below my page’s cover photo).
- Then, click the button with the three dots (near the “Liked” button) and choose Follow Settings.
- Then, select Favorites. (Make sure to click the Update button after you make the change.) This will make my messages post higher in your news feed.
- Interact with my page once in a while (like something or comment on something) to keep our connection active. If you don’t, you’ll stop getting notifications.
I try to keep Facebook posts down to one or two a day (or fewer) so you won’t get bombarded with notifications. During a trip, I’ll post more often with trip photos so you can travel virtually with us.
Do you have a membership fee?
Traveling Homeschoolers does not require membership and doesn’t charge a membership fee.
How long have you been doing trips? Do you have trips every year?
I’ve been coordinating trips for homeschooling families every year since 2006.
Do you go on all of your trips?
I attend all of the trips I plan, with very few exceptions.
Do you use tour operators?
I coordinate US-based trips myself instead of using tour operators in order to provide the best experience at the best price. Tour operators tend to do a lot of “photo stops” and “fly-bys.” I prefer to experience the sites we visit.
I never plan international trips where we’re added to another group to fill a bus or quota. Our group is private – not part of another group.
If I partner with tour operators for international trips, I still customize each trip for our group to get the best price, and to avoid the pitfalls of most group tour companies. I don’t “re-sell” tours.
How do people afford these trips?
Most families don’t go on every trip with me. They choose one trip a year, and save for that one trip. Also, sometimes one parent will take one or two children on a trip one year, and one or two other children the next year.
We really want to join you, but we can’t come up with all the money immediately when you announce a trip.
For some trips, I have a payment schedule, so you don’t have to pay all at once. For others, full payment is due upfront (within 7 days of my confirmation email).
Full-payment trips are usually offered every year, so you can plan ahead and budget for them. When I announce the trip you want, the money for it is already there.
But how does everyone find the money to save? We’re not rich!
Here are some answers from my travelers:
- We value experiences more than things. We never buy new cars, or anything else that we can buy good-quality used. We use the money we save to travel.
- I got a part-time job and put all the money from that into a separate travel account.
- I electronically deposit a little each paycheck in a bank in another town. I don’t have online access to it, and it’s far enough away that it’s hard for me to “borrow” money from it for other things. So when there’s a trip I want to take, the money is there waiting for me.
- We live in a house about half the size of what we could afford. I drive a 2002 car that we stay up to date with repairs on. We specifically chose to live in a region with a low cost of living.
- Use trips for birthday and Christmas gifts. Just be careful not to fall to the temptation to double down.
- We live simply. We don’t have many material possessions, but we have extraordinary experiences. It’s a question of priorities.
- I do work from home in the evenings for a local family website. That money allows me to be able to do extra things every once in a while.
- If your budget can stand it, change your filing status to single, no dependents. Your employer will keep more money from your check each week, but you’ll get a bigger refund each year. Use your refund for trips. (This is like a forced savings account – if you don’t see the money, you won’t miss it. And since the interest rate at most banks is so low, you’ll lose very little in interest.)
- I think increasing income is better than cutting expenses, unless you have fluff in your budget, such as cell phones, cable TV, or other money hogs. When I think about the riches of our trip to Italy, the pallid entertainment that many people pay a hundred dollars a month for seem extraneous. Getting a part-time job for even ten hours a week produces travel income, as long as you don’t let it stress you out so that you then order take-out because you’re too tired to cook. Also, I always put ‘found money’ (inheritance, etc.) into a reserve, no matter what budget strains I am living with. Irregular money is for extras, not emergencies.
- Use credit cards that have rewards points for airfare and other travel expenses. Charge everything (household bills, groceries, gas, medical expenses, etc.). But make sure you pay off the balance each month or you’ll lose in interest what you gain in rewards. Also, don’t use a card that charges a yearly fee – that waters down the value, too.
- In Michigan, we have returnable soda pop bottles for 10 cents each. Bottle drives, where you pass out some flyers in your neighborhood and then go collect bottles, can raise a few hundred dollars in a weekend.
- We had more than a year to save for the Italy trip, so in addition to spreading out the cost of the trip, we told all our family that we’d appreciate all cash/donation-to-Italy-trip as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. We put that money into our “Italy savings jar” in addition to any unanticipated funds like insurance refunds, Amex/Costco annual refund, etc., and that was our spending money. Our tax refund paid for the plane tickets. We got the best deal of $700 per person round trip by signing up for daily alerts on Kayak.com from our home airport and other airports within driving distance (Atlanta), then purchased the day the prices dropped significantly.
- I would recommend families start saving as soon as they begin planning for a trip. We took about $300 per paycheck and put it in a special savings account. I also sold things at a yard sale and on Craig’s List, too. We used the Capital One Visa for all our expenses, like groceries and any other household expense. You can now redeem points for money for travel even if you don’t have enough points to get a whole ticket. We also used a Kayak alert to tell us when the fares to Rome were the cheapest.
- We bought our airline tickets in advance and were able to get decent prices on them. Also, set aside some money every month straight out of a paycheck before you have a chance to spend it. Cut out cable and other entertainment money and spend the time researching wherever you’re going. Spread out your purchases of new shoes and clothes to get them on sale.
- I travel a couple of times a year for work. I will always volunteer to stay off a flight if it’s overbooked. By doing so, I can earn up to $800 per leg. I then put that into my travel account.
- We use my husband’s overtime for our vacations.
Where do your travelers come from?
Our travelers come from all over the United States, Canada, and beyond!
Do you know all the families on your trips? Will I feel like an outsider?
Although I have many repeat travelers, the majority of families on each trip are meeting me (and each other) for the first time. You won’t feel like an outsider, and will most likely make new lifelong friends.
My husband doesn’t like being part of a group. Should we still go?
Yes, please do! Many husbands have told me they started out feeling the same way, but ended up enjoying my trips after all. I organize them so families can stick with the group, go their own way, or mix things up according to how they’re feeling each day. We’re a friendly group, but your husband won’t be stuck with us the whole time.
Do you recommend your Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, rail journeys, river cruises, or international trips for younger children (under 5)?
I don’t usually recommend these trips for younger children because we have busy itineraries and do a lot of walking, with no time built in for naps. Wait until they’re older – your family will enjoy it much more!
What trips do you recommend for families with younger children (5 and under)?
I recommend any of my retreats (they’re great for all ages), Disney World, most of my campouts and road trips, and probably a few others. Read the trip descriptions for each trip and let me know if you need my advice.
Do you have teens on your trips?
Yes, we have teens on almost all of my trips, unless they’re specifically targeted to younger children. Email me if you’re worried your teen will be the only one on a specific trip.
Do you have room for my family on your trip to (wherever)? Is your trip to (wherever) full?
The status of each trip is updated in the trip description. Sometimes my trips fill very quickly, so I won’t know how many spots are available until I receive your registration. If we don’t have spots available, you can sign up to receive text notifications when I have more spots.
How do your waitlists work? Are they first come, first serve?
If a trip is full, you can sign up to receive a text notification when spots come available. The sign-up link will be in each trip’s description after it reaches capacity.
Waitlists are not first come, first serve. They are based on a lottery system. Notifications go to everyone who signed up, and everyone has an equal chance of getting spots, no matter if they’re the first or last to sign up.
When the cancellation period for a trip closes, the waitlist also closes since we can no longer replace spots.
To increase your chance of getting spots through our waitlist “lottery,” make sure to follow the instructions in the text you receive and provide the needed information.
Can I opt out of the hotels on your trips?
Some trips are hotel-optional, others are a package deal where minimums are required to qualify for group discounts. If the hotel is optional, it will clearly state this in the trip description.
I live in or near the area you’re traveling to. Can I opt out of the hotel?
See answer above.
Can I opt out of visiting specific sites while I’m on a trip with you?
Most of my trips are flexible, and families can opt out of activities if they’d rather do something else (no refunds, though). If an activity is mandatory (to qualify for discounts or whatever), it’ll state that in the trip description.
Can you tell me the exact itinerary and/or hotel(s) we’ll be using for the trip?
I give a general idea of our itinerary in our trip description. However, I wait until closer to our travel dates to share final itinerary and hotel information in case something changes (due to circumstances beyond my control).
What do your trip fees cover?
They cover the cost of planning and organizing each trip, admission fees, educational programs, and anything else I can get at a group discount. Please read the description for each trip to see what’s covered.
Your trip to (wherever) is really cheap! Is this a scam? Can I trust you with my money?
I try to keep prices as low as possible, taking advantage of group discounts whenever I can. Sometimes the discounts are so good that people think my prices are “too good to be true.” Most of the time, if it seems too good to be true, it’s usually a scam, so you’re wise to question it.
However, I’ve been organizing trips since 2006 and am trustworthy. But don’t take my word for it – do a search of “Carolina Homeschooler trips” and “Traveling Homeschooler trips.” If I’ve cheated anyone, it’ll be all over the internet.
My “Traveling Homeschoolers” website is newer (created in 2016 when I outgrew my Carolina Homeschooler website), so you may find more results for Carolina Homeschooler.
Your trip to (wherever) seems too expensive! Why does it cost so much?
It’s difficult to answer this question because “expensive” is in the eye of the beholder. What’s expensive to one person is reasonable, or even cheap, to another. (In fact, I get many more emails asking, “Why are your trips so cheap? Is this a scam?”)
It’s also difficult to answer because everyone has different standards for hotels, what sites and experiences they want to include, etc. So, my advice is to compare my trips and itineraries with other companies, making sure to compare apples to apples:
- I don’t do “photo stops” and “fly-bys,” for example. Some companies will list “fly-bys” (sites you’ll see out a bus window) as sites on their itinerary.
- I don’t list multiple sites in the same location to make it seem like you’ll see more. For example, others will often list all the museums and monuments/memorials in the National Mall area of Washington DC (sometimes giving full paragraph descriptions for each), where I’ll just say “monuments and memorials” and “your choice of museums.”
- I don’t include “student” lunches and dinners (often a lot of pizza and pasta, with no choice of entrée) to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal. Other than breakfasts at our hotels, our group meals are part of an experience – afternoon tea at Parliament in London, for example. An exception to this is during international trips – group meals are provided after a longer travel day (when we’re all tired and don’t want to hunt for food).
- I don’t include airfare in my price to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal. This allows families to get lower fares from their closest hubs, use rewards or points, and have complete control over their flight times and connections, seats, cabin level (economy, premium), etc.
After you’re finished comparing, choose the itinerary and price that best fits what you’re looking for.
What forms of payment do you accept?
I accept checks, bank checks, BillPay, and online payments through Zelle (if you can make the full payment at once – split payments are too difficult to keep track of). For some trips, I accept credit and debit card payments through Stripe.
I don’t accept PopMoney or any other payment method that requires me to give my bank account number to a third party. I also don’t accept PayPal or money orders.
Each trip description will describe the type of payments I accept.
I can’t go to (wherever) with your group. Can you tell me your itinerary, hotel, etc., so I can plan a trip?
I’ve found that each family’s preferences and expectations are very different. What works for one family may not work for another, and I don’t want to give you wrong advice that will ruin your trip. So the best way to plan is from the ground up – research your destination, sites, hotels, etc., and choose what’s best for your family.
What other policies should I be aware of?
- Parents or another designated adult (grandparents, aunt, uncle, etc.) must accompany children on all trips, excursions, and activities.
- If you have to cancel a trip, your spots aren’t transferable to others outside of my waiting list.
- No weapons are allowed on any of my trips.
- Due to space and site limitations, adding extra people without my prior approval is not allowed.
I have a question that isn’t answered at your website.
Please email me and I’ll add it to my FAQs.