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  1. Here is the trip description and registration link: https://www.travelinghomeschoolers.com/washington-dc/ Is the price quoted per family, or per person? The prices are per family, not per person. Are spots still available? We're at our max, but I'm accepting waitlist registrations, please submit a registration form as you normally would. You'll have to pay a $250 per-family deposit to confirm your spots on the waiting list. (I'll send you an email with payment information after I receive your registration.) NOTE: It’s difficult to determine where families are on the waiting list. Not everyone on the list will follow through if offered spots, so even if there are 10 (or 100) families ahead of you, you may actually be the next family on the list. If spots come available, your deposit will be applied to your total. If spots don't come available by July 31, or I have to cancel the trip due to COVID-19, your deposit will be refunded in full. If you decide not to go after being offered spots, your deposit will not be refunded. Do you do "photo stops" or "fly-bys" on this tour? I plan to go inside (or get close to) each site listed in the description. For example, we'll go inside the White House, not just do a group photo from the outside, and we won't view the monuments from a bus window, but get up close and personal. I prefer to experience the places we visit rather than just crossing them off a list. This is contingent on getting government approval for tours (it's rare that we don't, and it's usually due to government shutdowns). If you're comparing different itineraries with long lists of sites you'll visit, ask which ones are photo stops and fly-bys, and which ones you'll actually spend time at and go inside. Are our tours guided? Some are guided, some are self-guided. I live in the area - can I join your group for the day? We have a limited number of tour spots, so they're reserved for my group. Can we opt out of the hotel, specific tours, etc.? This is a package deal, with required minimums to qualify for group discounts. You won't be able to opt out of the hotel. You can opt out of any tour on the itinerary, but you won't receive a refund for any missed tours/events. What hotel will we be using? What is our exact itinerary? I'll share hotel information, itinerary, etc., closer to our travel dates in case there are unexpected changes. All of the hotels I partner with are mid-range (for price and value), highly rated, family-friendly, in good areas of town, and near restaurants. Why do I need a cellphone for this trip? I use a mass text messaging system during the trip, so a cellphone with unlimited texting and a portable charger/power bank you can carry with you is required. I have a family of 5, 6, 7, (etc.) - can we all share one room? I have a baby, toddler, preschooler - do they count in the price? The hotel allows a maximum of four people per room due to fire codes. If you have more in your party, you'll have to get two (or more) rooms. This trip is limited to ages 5 and up. Should people with mobility issues go on this trip? Will we have buses? We won't have buses this time. Due to the heavy walking associated with this trip and logistical issues with using public transportation, I don't recommend this trip for anyone with mobility problems. What happens if I get sick, have health issues, or a death in the family? If it's before June 1, 2020 and I have a waiting list, I'll try to replace your family. If I can replace all of your spots, I'll refund everything but the $250-per-person cancellation fee. If it's June 1, 2020 or later, I won't be able to refund anything. Travel insurance is recommended. I have a family of 5 or 6 or 7 or 8. What's the price? Family of 5: combine the price for a family of 2 and a family of 3. Family of 6: double the price for a family of 3. Family of 7: combine the price for a party of 3 and a party of 4. Family of 8: double the price for a party of 4. And so on... Have any other questions? Please reply in this thread and I'll answer and add it to the list!
  2. 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!
  3. Dianna

    Universal 2020 - FAQs

    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? 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.
  4. Here is the trip description and registration link: https://www.travelinghomeschoolers.com/pioneer-campout/ Are spots still available for this trip? I'll post updates on my website (link above) regarding the status of the trip. I live in the area - can I join your group for the day? The ranch won't allow non-campers to enter the wagon area. I feel uncomfortable sharing a wagon with people I don't know. What can I do? A lot of families travel with friends and request to share a wagon, and others opt for a private wagon (if we have any empty wagons left). Others bring tents (and pay a cheaper price). Do whatever you feel comfortable with. I have a baby, toddler, preschooler - do they count in the price? Children ages 2 and under can go free with proof of age. Have any other questions? Please reply in this thread and I'll answer and add it to the list!
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