AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS
Will there be staff on my flight?
A. There are multiple variables here. Since we have customers coming from all over North America, we cannot have staff on each flight, or at each connecting city. These are the airports at which we commonly have staff originate: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Ft. Lauderdale, Hartford, Las Vegas, Lexington, Louisville, Miami, Minneapolis, Moline, Oakland, Orlando, Sacramento, Syracuse. If you are departing from other cities our tour staff may meet you at a connecting "hub" airport (such as Charlotte, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, New York City, Milwaukee, Memphis, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Toronto) and continue on to the destination with you. An example might be you begin in Des Moines and fly to Chicago and our staff meet you in Chicago airport to continue to the destination with you. If you do need staff on the entire flight, or at a connecting city, you can request this on your application, atlhough this could cause a price increase if we have costs associated with routing our tour staff to an airport to meet you. Also, keep in mind that on some tours the staff are all traveling on our buses and will not be on any flights.
If your flight is to Hawaii or an international destination, and if our staff are not on your originating flight, then we will automatically route our staff to meet you at a connecting hub. All international destinations we have tour staff on the international flight to assist you with customs and immigration.
If you live in Canada and are flying to a USA destination many major Canadian cities have US immigration and customs at the Canadian airport so you can clear immigration and customs before you depart Canada.
How can I safely fly by myself?
A. We request assistance for you, whether that is a direct flight or a connecting flight. If you have a connecting flight we can request someone to meet you at that airport to help your transfer to the connecting gate. When you check in at your home airport you can easily have a support person escort you through security and wait with you at the gate until your flight boards. Our tour staff go through security at the arriving airport and meet you as you disembark the plane. On the return voyage, our staff go through security with you and wait until you board your flight home, and your support person can go through security at your home airport to meet you as you get off the flight. See our airport assistance web page for more information.
When will I receive my flight information?
A. We generally ticket tours approximately 30 days before departure, and mail out documents (flight information, luggage tags, staff and hotel phone numbers) about three weeks before the tour.
TOUR MEETING POINTS
I don’t live near any of your locations and want to go on one of your bus tours. How do I meet the bus?
A. Our vehicles transit through many states and we’ve picked up customers from Oklahoma to Nova Scotia. Please call us to see if our vehicles may travel through your area en route to the destination. Buses usually leave from Minneapolis, Boston, Orlando, Sacramento, or Los Angeles and drive to tour destinations. As an example, for a tour to Nashville a bus may leave from Minneapolis or from Boston (or both) and pick up people at many states in-between those cities and Nashville. Another example: a tour to New Orleans may depart our Orlando location and pick up people in Pensacola and Mobile before arriving at the New Orleans airport to meet those arriving by air. A tour to San Francisco may depart from Los Angeles and pick up people throughout California en route and then arrive at San Francisco airport to meet those arriving by air.
What is the staff ratio on the tours?
A. You can choose a 1:4 (included in the price), or you can request a 1:2 (surcharge). Most participants using a wheelchair or walker have the 1:2 ratio option. You may choose a 1:1 ratio on Search Beyond Adventures tours if you are bringing your own attendant, or we can provide a 1:1 attendant on our Pumpernickel Places tours.
Where do you find your staff?
A. Tour staff generally have worked in group homes for people with disabilities as program care staff, special educators, recreational therapists, nurses, etc.
Can I bring my own staff?
A. Sure. We list the provider as a “personal care attendant” and give that person a discount (usually he or she pays 85 percent of the ground tour cost).
Can a family member attend?
A. Sure. We charge a family member the same price as a “personal care attendant” (usually 85 percent of the ground tour cost) if that person is assisting an individual with the tour. If a family member is not assisting he or she usually pays full price or may receive a 10 percent discount.
I need a nurse on the tour. Can this be provided?
A. We can, but there may be a surcharge since we may have to pay airfare for the nurse to get to the destination, and the nurse may want a stipend. These costs would be passed through to you.
How far ahead of time must I book a tour?
A. Reservations are on a first-come, first-reserved basis. We have enough tours that one can usually still register a few weeks before the tour departure date.
What is the farthest out date for which I can book a tour?
A. We advertise our tours 12 months in advance, so you can always register for any tour within the next 12 months. If you need to register longer out then this, then register for a Vacation Account, and you can decide on the specific tour later.
How can I tell if a tour is full or closed?
A. Go to our main website page, select (under "Find a Vacation" green box) the link Search by Date link. All the tours will show up in chronological order. If the tour is closed you will see in red letters after the tour name, "Registration Closed".
Can I reserve by phone?
A. Phone reservations are accepted for tours departing more than 60 days away and for special event tours (such as sporting game tours). Call (800) 800-9979, option 2. If your tour departs in less than 60 days you can register by mail, fax, or in-person at one of our offices.
Can I register on-line?
A. No. The application is on our website (see Forms) but you must print this, then complete the application and send to us.
You have multiple locations; where do I send my application?
A. Any location is OK, but for fastest processing send to our MA office where we have more data entry staff.
Can you hold space for me until I am sure?
A. No. A phone reservation is considered “reservation sold” and is a solid booking with cancellation penalties applicable.
After you receive my application what happens next?
A. We send out an invoice as confirmation and a packing list and tour itinerary usually within 24 hours. A Program Coordinator will review the application and contact you if there are any questions or missing information. Statements are mailed out monthly (if you have a balance) so you can view any activity on your account. About a month before the tour we run the airline tickets (if any). The tour coordinator mails you airline ticket information, pick-up and drop-off information, luggage tags, hotel information, etc. about two weeks before the tour.
Are all meals included?
A. All meals, all activities, tips, and EVERYTHING are included!
How do you keep your prices so low?
A. We run a lot of tours so our overhead is spread over many tours, not just a few. We have staff in many parts of the country so we don’t need to spend as much on airfare to fly our staff all over the place for tours. Our higher volume allows us to negotiate better with vendors like hotels and activities. Our office staff are salaried and work lots of hours to keep costs down!
Where do I send payment?
A. Any of our addresses will work. See the How to Register page on our website. We prefer the payment goes to your closest office. That webpage will detail which office to send payment to from varying states and provinces.
Does payment need to come with the application?
A. No. You can send application first, payment to follow; or payment first, application to follow. Either way we will register you and send you an invoice as confirmation.
Can I pay with a credit card?
A. No. We no longer accept credit or charge cards.
I don’t live in the USA. How should I pay?
A. You can send payment in Canadian, Sterling, or Euro cheques. You may also wire the money to us.
Can you debit my bank account for payment?
A. We do not do ACHs (automatic bank account debits). However, if you live near any Bank of America, Wells Fargo, TD Bank, Country Bank, or Bremer Bank you can make a deposit or transfer funds directly into our customer accounts in those banks.
Where are you located?
A. We have operation centers in Minnesota (Minneapolis), Florida (Orlando), Massachusetts (Brimfield), Ohio (Bellevue), and California (Sacramento). However, our tours don't leave from our offices so if you don’t live near any of these places it doesn’t matter. Our customers come from everywhere.
Is insurance available for my tour?
A. Yes, two types (for most tours). We have our own in-house “waiver of cancellation penalties” for $29, and we sell TravelGuard travel insurance. The TravelGuard refunds your tour if you cannot go, plus includes medical, lost luggage, travel delays, etc. Our in-house gives you a credit for your tour that you can apply to any other tour with us within one year. See the Cancellation and Insurance page on our website.
I don’t see the destination I want. Can you arrange a tour for me?
A. We can arrange a Custom Group Tour, but we do not arrange individual travel.
How many persons are in each room?
A. We do not put customers in rollaways so each person has his or her own regular bed. Generally rooms are double occupancy (two beds per room) although occassionally a location may have larger rooms with three beds. If you want a single room you can pay a surcharge. Each person has his/her own bed unless requesting a shared bed as a couple.
Do you accept children?
A. Customers must be at least 17 years old unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Are wheelchair users accepted on your tours?
A. Yes. Most wheelchair users will need to register for the higher 1:2 staff-participant ratio, however. A limited number of wheelchairs can be accommodated per tour. For anyone unable to get into our mini-buses we generally rent an accessible vehicle for you (no extra charge). See our Extra-Assistance webpage for more information.
Can you provide a sign-language fluent staff?
A. Yes. Ask for this on your application.
English is not my first language. Do you have staff that can speak Spanish or French?
A. Si & Oui! Petición en su aplicación. Demande sur votre application.
What is different about your tours?
A. Every company claims to have the “best staff” and we think ours are rightly so, too. But the noticeable differences are price (you’ll save lots of money by paying less), tour availability (you usually can book even two weeks before the tour), variety of tours from which to choose, and transportation (we shy away from packing people in 15 passenger vans!). We started in 1979 so do have a few years experience!