Frequently Asked Questions
How do I register for a program?
When we receive your registration along with your $200 deposit, you are enrolled in the program. Deposits and registration can be made at any time. Sooner is better. Some programs require a deposit and registration ninety days prior to departure, so please call us or check with you group leader. The deadline for full payment is seventy days prior to departure. A late fee ($45) will apply thereafter. Please make sure your registration form is filled out thoroughly.
By the time you have enrolled, we have already been working on logistical details like air and ground arrangements for your program. You will receive final flight and travel information from our office between thirty and forty-five days prior to your departure. This will include information on what to pack and what kind of weather to expect. You might receive a mailing even earlier. Please pay careful attention to anything from our office.
What is included in the price of the program?
Each program is different, so you should read your printed material carefully, especially the program conditions on your registration form or check with us. However, unless otherwise specified, the price will include round trip airfare from the gateway city (the city in the United States where you will make your international connection), transfers between airport, hotels, and piers, lodging, breakfast and dinner daily (unless otherwise specified), ground transportation, entry fees for sites listed in the itinerary, instruction, airport, port and departure taxes, facility and security fees, tips for porters, maids, and waiters at hotels. Unless otherwise specified, the price will not include a $35 administration fee, domestic travel to your gateway city, the cost of visas for countries that require them and optional costs such as single room supplements and travel insurance, personal expenses such as laundry, individual travel arrangements, passports, beverages at meals, excess baggage fees. Sometimes vendors and governments impose charges after the time of registration and these will be added to your account if necessary.
Will I receive periodic statements from Terra Vista?
Yes, you will receive confirmation of your registration when we receive it. We will send you a statement showing your balance about ninety days prior to departure. Your final payment will be due seventy days prior to departure. Of course, you can call the office at any time to get an update on your account or ask any question. Our programs are priced to deliver the best quality program available at prices that are affordable and competitive. Because our programs are unique, they are very labor intensive. Consequently, we prefer to minimize the costs of administration in order to keep our program prices affordable. For the same reason we do not accept credit cards.
What about Visas and Passports?
You are responsible for having a valid U.S. passport or, if you are not a U.S. citizen, proper travel documents. Terra Vista will arrange for group visas where possible to be issued for all U.S. citizens who are traveling with on the program. Since visa regulations vary from country to country and since visa fees change, we do not include the cost of the visa--if any-- in the price of the program.
Please make sure you fill out your passport information correctly on the registration form. This is so that we can arrange for any group visas in advance. If you don't have a passport, apply for one immediately; it normally takes four to six weeks to be issued. You can apply for your passport at most post offices.
For non-U.S. citizens, visa and documentation requirements vary widely from country to country. If you are not a U.S. citizen or if you will be traveling on your own at any time, you will have to check with the embassies of any country you will be traveling in for information on what documents you will need and what additional fees might apply. We cannot make visa arrangements for individuals traveling on their own.
Is there much walking during a program?
All programs involve some walking. Each program is different and the amount of walking varies. Typically, the walking involved on a daily basis is not demanding. However, some programs include outdoor hikes and moderate climbs. If yours does and you are not up to it, or for any reason you cannot be with the group for a particular part of the program, we can make special arrangements for you.
Are there any special requirements?
Please inform Terra Vista when you register if you have any special physical requirements. Also, if you have any dietary restrictions or medical needs, please let us know when you register.
Do I need any vaccinations?
No vaccinations or inoculations are required for travel in any of our international destinations. However, you should check with your own doctor for personal advice.
What about luggage?
You are allowed one suitcase and one carry-on bag. Keep your carry-on light and small. Your carry on must fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment of the plane. Make sure you luggage is labeled with your name, address and phone number! Terra Vista will be sending each enrolled person two luggage tags to use. Most airlines restrict the checked bag to forty-four lbs. So, it is a good idea to travel light.
What should I pack?
Dress for comfort, not fashion. Comfortable walking shoes are your most important item. Next comes rain gear. Plan to dress in layers so that you can adjust as the weather requires. A windbreaker, sunscreen and hat are always good items to carry. Shorts and sleeveless shirts (on males or females) are not allowed in many religious sites such as churches or mosques and are inappropriate at any time of the year during some touring. A bathing suit might be useful on some tours. Remember, delayed luggage happens. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on, in case your luggage is delayed or lost. If you are traveling with a partner, distribute your belongings between your two suitcases, so that if one gets lost, you will have something to wear in the other. Make sure your luggage is labeled with your name, address and phone number! Terra Vista will be sending each person two luggage tags to use for this purpose.
Here's a list of what experienced travelers pack:
It is a good idea to leave valuables and sentimental items at home anything you'd hate to lose or feel is irreplaceable.
What about travel insurance?
Terra Vista strongly recommends the purchase of travel insurance to cover any losses that you might incur due to travel delay, cancellation, trip interruption, flight schedule changes, illness, accident, etc. You can purchase travel insurance through Terra Vista or shop for your own. Anyone who would like Terra Vista to purchase travel insurance for them can indicate so on their registration form. The premium payment should be mailed along with your deposit. Coverage and prices vary from one policy to the next. Some policies require that you purchase the insurance within fourteen days of registering in the program. Our registration form includes the bare details of the plan we can enroll you in. You can get the brochure by calling us or the insurance company directly. Many health insurance policies already cover you for accident and illness when traveling abroad so check with your provider.
What will the weather be like?
Weather conditions vary from season to season and place to place, so we will furnish you with information specific to the program you have enrolled in.
In general, however, winter weather in the Mediterranean region can be unpredictable. Our advice is: Be prepared! During the course of your journey, conditions will change frequently. Wind can make moderate temperatures feel much colder. Rain is likely. You will be changing elevations. Even snow is possible. The weather rarely keeps us from our daily itinerary, but if you are not prepared you might experience some discomfort. Winter temps around the Mediterranean may range from freezing to 80 degrees. This is why layering is so important. For winter travel, hats, gloves, windbreakers, scarves and raingear are essential.
In the summer, you will probably be surprised to find the climate more pleasant than many places than in the U.S.A., because of the lower humidity. However, certain locations will require special attention to the effects of the sun and dryness. The sun is strong and so we recommend long pants and long sleeved shirts. Sunscreen and hats are also essential. Raingear is not.
Electrical current in foreign countries:
The countries of Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East operate on a 220 volt electrical system. This means that electrical devices designed for use in the United States will not work without the appropriate conversion devices. Trying to use electrical devises without a transformer and/or converter will result in damage to your device. Even with a transformer, some appliances, such as electric blow dryers, will not work well. Converters and transformers are available in the United States at hardware stores and electrical supply stores. Adapters for plugs are also available and these will be necessary. Always make sure you purchase a plug suitable for the country to which you are traveling and be sure that the transformer is heavy enough to handle the wattage of the device you will be using. Laptop computers often come equipped with a built-in transformer and can be operated on any system between 110v and 240v as long as the proper plug adapter is used. Check with your computer dealer to determine if you can use your laptop without a transformer.
In Europe, there are rarely problesm related to unclean water supplies. In the eastern Mediterranean, however, and in the Middle East, we recommend caution. You will be given advice on this issue when you have arrived at your destination. No need to worry about it until then. As added "insurance" practice, many people like to purchase bottle water. You will want to bring bottled water with you during each touring day, no matter where you find yourself. Dehydration can be a problem for Middle East travelers, making them ill. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Also, a product called "Immodium A-D" is available over the counter at any drug store. It is a good idea to carry this with you, even though it will probably not be necessary.
Will I be able to collect my email?
There will be times when you will not have internet access, but many hotels provide online services for a fee. Also, in many cities there are internet cafes where you can rent time online to collect email. Many ISP's have web based email service, so check with your provider. Or, before you leave home, sign up for a web based email service such as "hotmail," "excite," "netscapemail," etc.
Will I be able to make phone calls?
You will be able to call and be called from your hotels. We will supply you with phone numbers for your hotels prior to your departure. You should bring your long distance calling card and appropriate access numbers for the countries you will be visiting. Some countries do not have calling card access. In these cases, you will find it expensive to call the United States from the hotel. The best thing to do is to call home and have someone return your call.
What about money?
In Europe, only local currency is accepted and you will have to convert US dollars into the local currency. US currency will be accepted in many places you will be traveling in the Middle East. US currency is accepted almost everywhere in the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and many places elsewhere. Traveler's checks can usually be converted at hotels. Our recommendation is that you bring US cash, but keep most of your money in traveler's checks. Cash and traveler's checks can be converted to local currency when necessary. It is also recommended that you bring your checkbook as well. Of course, credit cards are a good idea, too. Do not count on ATM's being available everywhere.
What kind of hotels will we be using?
Hotels standards vary from program to program and sometimes from place to place. Generally, we use the equivalent of 4 star hotels. The price is based on double occupancy. There are always private baths. Single occupancy is usually available at a supplemental cost that varies depending on the country, the hotel and the time of the year. If an odd number of participants in a program requires us to assign a single room to someone, we will assign that room to the last person to enroll and the single supplement will apply. This is called a "forced single." We always try to avoid these, but we are not always able to.
Reservations are non-refundable once ticketed. Travel is in jet economy class aboard IATAN and ARC carriers only. We do not use charters. Flight times are subject to change by the airlines. Terra Vista is not responsible for such changes or delays and cannot reimburse expenses resulting from them. If you make your own domestic air arrangements, Terra Vista does not recommend the purchase of budget tickets for domestic airline connections.
Some international airlines offer feeder service from U.S. cities which connect with the international flights. The additional charges vary. Anyone who would like to purchase the domestic add-on must indicate so on the registration form. The booking airline is required to conform to FAA regulations and is also constrained by airline schedules from your domestic point of departure. They are not always able to make a connection for your domestic city and sometimes an overnight is forced, especially on the return leg of the journey. In this case, extra charges will pertain for hotel accomodations. When New York City is the gateway city, the booking airline is not always able to fly you into John F. Kennedy Airport. Instead you will sometimes have to fly to Laguardia or Newark Airports. Travel between these airports and JFK is an extra expense for you.
From the day of registration to 70 days prior to departure, a full refund of the deposit will be made less a $35 administration fee and any airline penalties. Cancellations made: 69-45 days prior to departure incur an $85 charge plus any unrecoverable hotel, insurance or airline payments; 44-31 days prior to departure, 20% of the total cost plus any unrecoverable airline, insurance or hotel payments; 30-15 days prior to departure, 55% of total cost; 14-3 days prior to departure, 70% of total cost; 2 days prior to departure date, 85% of total cost; on or after day of departure, 100% of total cost. 100% of cancellation fees are covered by the optional travel insurance (see next page), provided the premium has been paid and the reason for cancellation is insurable.