What is Alumni & Family Travel, anyway?
Alumni & Family Travel is learning for the joy of it in fascinating places around the world. The majority of our programs are faculty-led, with custom-designed itineraries, and often offer access to local experts not available to individual travelers or commercial tour groups. Programs are consistently rated a good value by participants, with no hidden costs. (See more on that, below, with “what’s included” and “what’s not included.”)
Do I have to be a St. Olaf alum or parent of a St. Olaf student to participate in Travel?
No. Since its inception, this travel program has been open to the public. Some Travelers are St. Olaf alums, some are parents of Oles, and some have no prior relationship with the college.
What is the age range of Travelers?
Travelers range in age from late teens to late retirement. Shared interest in the themes and destinations of Study Travel create common bonds.
What is the typical group size?
We try to keep Travel a good value. Many people prefer smaller group sizes, but fewer people to share costs means that program fees are higher. The minimum number that each program fee is based on varies from program to program. It can be as few as 8, but is usually 10 or 12. The maximum group size is usually 25 travelers, including faculty leaders or hosts.
What are the physical demands of Alumni & Family Travel?
Although our programs are not “adventure travel” in the current sense of the term, you should be healthy and fit to successfully participate Alumni & Family Travel. Transportation between cities is usually by private coach. All other movement is usually on foot and with public transportation. Participants should be capable of walking up to five miles per day over possibly uneven terrain, climbing stairs that might not have handrails, climbing in and out of a variety of transportation vehicles, keeping pace with an active group of travelers on long days of traveling, dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture, and being part of a group for several hours each day. If you have any questions about the physical demands of a specific program, please contact Director Heidi Quiram at 507-786-3629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can children participate?
Mature teenagers are welcome to accompany adults on Travel programs and participate in group activities. Unless targeted at families, Travel programs are not appropriate for children.
Will I feel “left out” if I travel as a single?
A 30-something Traveler addressed this concern in her program evaluation: “As a single person it’s great to have people to travel with. The other thing that’s fun … is that you’re traveling with people who have similar interests, who are intending to travel in a way where they learn more than just surface-level sightseeing. I now have a group of friends that I continue to do things with after the trip.”
I’m single but would like a roommate. Can you help me find one?
Yes! If you request a roommate, we will assign a same-sex participant to room with you. We can put participants in touch with each other prior to departure and let them decide if they will be compatible as roommates during a Travel program.
Every program has an educational theme. Does this mean we are required to attend lectures and take tests?
Alumni & Family Travel emphasizes learning for the joy of it. Discussions are offered frequently, either by the faculty leader, guest speakers, or guides. Discussion sessions last anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes, depending on the program. Groups visit historic sites, museums, and art galleries, or attend music or theater performances that illuminate topics discussed in the seminars. There are no required assignments or tests. Program leaders provide resource lists in advance for those who want to become more familiar with the history and culture of their destination.
Will I have time to pursue my own interests?
On every program we strive to include free time every day, plus one or more free afternoon+evening or full free days. These unstructured times allow you to explore your interests, pursue new experiences, and savor the delights of different cultures. This is one of the great things about group travel: you’ve got some built in buddies, without having to move lock-step with them 24 hours a day. Schedules vary by program, however, so be sure to look closely at the itinerary posted online. See How to Be an Independent Group Traveler for more info on this topic.
Can I depart earlier or return home later than the group? Can I leave from a city other than Minneapolis?
Airfare is no longer included in program fees. You are free to choose the flight schedule and fare that is right for you. We will provide information on when best to arrive at the beginning of the program and when you are safe to depart at the end of the program, so as not to miss out on any group activities. We ask for your full flight schedule prior to departure and provide this information to the program leaders so that they know when each participant will arrive and depart. For every program, we recommend you not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go. (See a related answer, below, to “If I want to arrive early or stay later…”.)
What is typically included in the program fee?
Based on double occupancy, the program fee usually includes:
- Discussions led by the program leader and guest lecturers
- All accommodations
- Breakfast daily and several other group meals
- Entrance fees
- Group tours
- Ground transportation (except airport transfers)
- Gratuities to group drivers and guides
- Limited international travel medical coverage
There is a supplement for single occupancy.
What is not included in the program fee?
Airfare is not included in the program fee. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: airfare, transfers between the airport and hotel on arrival and departure, any passport and visa fees, any recommended immunizations or vaccinations, baggage / trip cancellation insurance, beverages, laundry, dry cleaning, phone charges, room service or mini bar charges, tips to porters and hotel maids, expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities, and lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.
Is travel insurance included in the program fee?
Limited medical coverage is included in your program fee. Trip cancellation and loss of baggage are NOT included in the program fee. Visit the Travel Insurance page for more information.
What happens if I have to cancel my participation after I register?
A Payment and Refund Schedule is posted for each program, clearly outlining the due dates of payments, and the amount of any refund. A deposit is always needed to guarantee your participation and is fully refundable until the interim payment is due. An Interim payment is requested about 6-8 months prior to departure, half of which is refundable until the final payment due date. The remainder of the balance is generally due about 2 months prior to departure. After the final payment due date, no refunds can be made. Again, please see the individual Payment and Refund Schedule posted for each program.
If I register a year or more before departure, will you just forget about me?
Certainly not! We strive to check in with you about once a month. As departure approaches, you’ll hear from us more frequently. Here are some of the subjects we’ll communicate with you about: the resource list or hotel list become available, to ask for scheduled payments (everyone’s favorite), with the go/no-go decision, with any relevant visa application information, with itinerary updates, to share articles or web sites related to your destination or educational theme, to request your Who’s Who submission and flight schedule, among much else.
If I want to arrive a few days early or stay a few days later, can you help me do that?
Yes, absolutely. We’ll write to the hotel and make the reservation on your behalf in the hopes that you can keep the same room you’ll have during the group stay. Quite a lot of participants do their own traveling before or after the program, turning the group experience into a personalized travel plan.
I’m convinced this is right for me. How do I register?
Scroll back up to the top of the page and use the Our Programs link to the right to see info on each program, including program descriptions, info about the leaders, what to expect, program fees, and more. Within each program page is a link to register for that program.
We hope to see you on St. Olaf Travel!