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  1. Here is the trip description and registration link: https://www.travelinghomeschoolers.com/rhine-river-cruise/ Is the trip still open? What cabins are left? We just posted the trip, so we'll hopefully have spots available for a while. Our 2020 Rhine cruise was cancelled due to COVID-19, so we're trying it again! Families were registered for our 2020 Rhine cruise will get first priority for spots, but we have a bigger ship this time, so we can add families. Please check my website for cabin availability updates. Is the price quoted per person? It's per cabin. Please read the description under each cabin category for pricing. Wow! That's a lot of money to send to someone I don't know. And no refunds? Can you provide references? You're right to hesitate before sending money to anyone you don't know, especially someone you "met" on the internet. I could provide references from families who've traveled with me since I began doing these trips in 2006, but the references could be faked. Instead, read my About page to find out more about our organization, then 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” name is newer, created in 2016 to differentiate between my local member trips, and trips that are open to everyone, so search both names. You can also get a sense of who we are if you follow/read my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/travelinghomeschoolers/ Please don’t register for any of my trips or send me money until you trust me. It's just too stressful! Do you think you'll fill the ship and be able to confirm the trip? We were able to confirm our first river cruise (Danube) and second (Rhine). We had to cancel the Rhine cruise due to COVID-19, but the Danube cruise was amazing in all respects. Most (maybe all) of us were ready to write the check for the next one before we left the ship. The adults loved it and the children (even the teens) loved it. I've never been on a river cruise before. Can you give me an idea of the ship, activities, etc.? The ship may change (since it's 2 years out), but most river cruise ships are typical - the top deck is open for viewing and hanging out in the sun. The remaining decks are half cabins, half social areas (lounge, seating areas, restaurants, etc.). The cabins are 155-350 sq ft. The smaller ones have fixed windows or French (inside) balconies, while the bigger ones have twin balconies (inside and outside balconies). Rooms have two twins or 1 queen (they hook the twins together to make the queen), and some have sleeper chairs and/or sleeper sofas for more than two people. (Although we didn't receive any complaints about the beds, their twins and queens seemed smaller than regular twins/queens.) My website explains what meals, amenities, etc., are included in the price (almost everything). The focus of river cruises is on the places we'll be visiting, not the ship (the opposite of ocean cruises), so there aren't a lot of planned ship activities during the day (because we're out touring). In the evenings, we enjoy socializing, playing games, getting to know each other, etc., and they often bring local entertainment (musicians, etc.) on board. There’s plenty to do, but also time for parents and children to socialize and bond. And they did plenty of that on our Danube cruise - it was wonderful! Does your website list everything we're doing? Cruise itineraries for 2022 haven't been finalized yet and is subject to change. We usually have a choice of tours each day, too, so you'll have a lot of choices - tours, walks, hikes, bike rides, etc. When will you post information about the Switzerland and Amsterdam extensions? I hope to post more information about both soon. I have young children. Can we all share one room? This trip is recommended for ages 8 and up. We have some triple cabins and some quads, but the 3rd and 4th people sleep on sleeper chairs or sofa beds. We also have some connecting cabins. Do they have cabins for families of 4, 5, 6...? Cabins sleep up to 4 people, and a few cabins connect to provide accommodation for families of 4 and 5. One adult (age 18 and up) must be in a cabin, even if they're connecting. I have a baby, toddler, preschooler - do they count in the price? This trip is recommended for ages 8 and up, but everyone, regardless of age, counts in the price. Should people with mobility issues go on this trip. We'll have "gentle walker" versions of most tours to accommodate travelers with mobility issues. Describe your issues in the "special needs" section of the registration form and I'll make sure we can accommodate your issues before I confirm your spots and you mail your payment. What cities will we fly to/out of? Our cruise begins in Basel, Switzerland, and ends in Amsterdam. If you're doing the optional pre-trip extension in Switzerland, we'll begin in Zurich. What payment methods do you accept? Checks (personal and BillPay through your bank - not PopMoney), and transfers through Zelle (if your bank offers that service). I don't accept credit card payments for this trip. Have any other questions? Please reply in this thread and I'll answer and add it to the list!
  2. What type of tickets will you offer? How much are they? We're offering two types of park-to-park (hopper) tickets: 2-day, 2-park ($166) 3-day, 3-park ($214) Do the tickets include tax, etc.? The price includes everything, except parking (currently $26 per car). There are no hidden charges. Are the tickets discounted? You're saving $148+ per 2-day, 2-park ticket, and $180+ per 3-day, 3-park ticket that includes Volcano Bay, comparing it to the online discounted price as of 12/8/19. (Your savings may be more if they increase prices during the year.) What dates are our tickets valid for? Tickets will be valid November 1-30. However, all park days must be used within 7 days. After you use it the first day, you'll have 6 days left to use the rest of the ticket. They'll expire after that and unused days won't be refunded. Do I have to register for the Disney trip, too? No, they're two separate trips, so you can register for one and not the other. I want to do Disney World *and* Universal. Do I need to register and pay for them at the same time? No, you can register for one now, and wait until later for the other one. Will you offer the behind-the-scenes tour (educational program) again? No - we've cancelled the behind-the-scenes tour due to COVID-19. Yes, we're offering Universal's excellent Behind the Adventure tour this year. The cost is $27 per person. (NOTE: Attendance at an educational program isn't required to get the discounted Universal tickets.) Will you get discounts at a Universal hotel for our group? In order to streamline, I won't get group rooms at Universal in 2020. If we stay onsite at a Universal Resort, will we be able to get the Early Admission perks with these tickets? Early Admission is tied to your resort stay, so you'll get Early Admission through your hotel room key, even with our tickets. Enjoy! Universal Trip Description & Registration Link: https://www.travelinghomeschoolers.com/universal/ Have more questions? Post them in this thread and I'll answer as soon as possible.
  3. How does everyone afford all your 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 for them and save each month. When I announce the trip you want, you can register, knowing that the money for it is already waiting. 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. I'll post more tips as people share them, but please feel free to post your own tips in this thread and I'll add them to the list!
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