T RA VEL
F OR P ARENTS
1421 Broadway Street North, Suite 108
Menomonie, WI 54751
www.cetatours.com a guide to help you and your child
prepare for international travel
Table of Contents Notes
Letter from CETA..........................................................................1
Important Tour Information.........................................................2
Payment Schedule/Cancellation Policy.....................................3
CETA’s Contingency Plan............................................................6
Tour Materials Checklist...............................................................8
A Parent’s To-Do List....................................................................9
Contacting Your Child on Tour.................................................16
Packing Information and Lists..................................................18
Notes Dear Parents,
We have developed this handbook to help you and your child
prepare for travel abroad. Much of the information contained in these
pages is an overview of topics covered in meetings held by your
child’s teacher in the months leading up to departure.
Most of the materials we provide to help students get ready for
their tour are sent to the organizing teacher. Teachers distribute and
discuss these materials at meetings that take place before departure.
It is extremely important that you and your child attend these
meetings. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please make sure
your child gets the information that was handed out.
In addition to the information contained in this booklet, we have also
provided a series of checklists for you and your child. We hope that
these checklists will help you and your child know what to pack,
what to leave home, what materials you should receive at meetings
prior to the tour, as well as the deadlines of which you and your child
need to be aware.
Please take a moment to look through this booklet and keep it handy
so you can use the checklists. Your child is about to embark on an
exciting and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Our goal is to
help you make sure your child is well prepared for his or her tour
abroad. Such preparation will not only ensure that your child has an
enjoyable tour experience, it will also give you peace of mind while
your child is abroad. If you have any questions along the way, please
contact your child’s teacher or give me a call at 1-800-501-0397.
Wishing you and your child a positive tour experience, I am
Kristen Hoag Billingsley Customized Educational
Kristen Hoag Billingsley
President - CETA Tours
Important Tour Information
The tour brochure your child received when he/she signed up for the References
tour contains all of the information listed below. You may choose to Websites
write in the information so that you have it all in one location.
Departure Date : ___________________________ ALL TRAVELERS
Departure Airport : ________________________
*Info. on Transportation to Departure Airport : Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)
__________________________________________ Information about Packing, Going through Security, etc.
*If applicable. Your tour may or may not include a bus
transfer to the departure airport in the States. If this is not United States Department of State
included, depending on the distance from your town to the Information on Passports, Applications, etc.
airport, teachers may choose to organize a car pool or other
means for the group to travel to the airport together. This is
usually decided fairly close to the departure date.
Return Date : ______________________________
Return Airport : ___________________________
Tour Code : _________________
German Tourist Office Costa Rican Tourist Office
Tour Price : _________________ www.germany-tourism.de www.tourism.co.cr
Swiss Tourist Office European Travel Website
Login Information www.cetatours.com www.myswitzerland.com europeforvisitors.com
Username : _________________ Password : ______________
Austrian Tourist Office Youth Hostels in Germany
Upcoming Meetings www.austria-tourism.at www.jugenherberge.de
(scheduled and held by the organizing teacher)
Spanish Tourist Office Youth Hostels in Austria
Date Time Location www.spain.info www.jgh.at
__________ __________ ________________________
Italian Tourist Office French Tourist Office
__________ __________ ________________________ www.italiantourism.com www.franceguide.com
__________ __________ ________________________
References Payment Schedule /Cancellation Policy
Listed below is our standard payment schedule and cancellation
Books policy. Some tours have different payment schedules. The payment
schedule listed in the Terms & Conditions section of your brochure is
the applicable payment schedule for your group.
u Culture Shock! PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Available for: Austria, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, Spain,
Payment Due Sent
Deposit ($500) with application q
u When in Germany: Do as the Germans Do Intermediate Payment ($1000) October 15, 2011 q
by Hyde Flippo Final Payment January 15, 2012 q
u The German Way – Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and
Customs in the German-Speaking World
by Hyde Flippo General Cancellation Policy Information
All cancellations must be in writing (letter, email or fax). The
u French or Foe? Getting the Most out of Visiting, Living postmark date (time/date stamp on faxes and emails) will be
and Working in France considered the valid date of cancellation. Any eligible refund will
by Polly Platt be processed only after receipt of the written notice of cancellation
and may take up to 15 business days to process. Fundraising money
u Savoir Flair! 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French applied to the cost of the tour will be returned to the school unless
by Polly Platt the organizing teacher instructs otherwise. Penalties outlined below
are in addition to any airfare penalties.
u The French Way – Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and
Customs of the French CANCELLATION POLICY
by Ross Steele
Up to October 15, 2011 $125 penalty
u Spain is Different
October 16, 2011 to $500 penalty
by Helen Wattley Ames
January 15, 2012
u The Hispanic Way – Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and January 16, 2012 to $500 penalty plus any
Customs in the Spanish-Speaking World 31 days prior to departure unrecoverable expenses
by Judith Noble & Jamie Lacasa
30 days or less prior to departure No refund possible
For ticketing purposes, the first and last names on
the airline ticket MUST exactly match your child’s 5. The students are also not allowed to attend any event outside of
your home, unless at least one family member is present.
passport. Therefore, it is imperative to notify
CETA if the first or last name listed on the receipt
6. The student should sleep in your home during the entire stay. Any
for your child’s tour are not the legal first and last other arrangement requires the permission of the contact person.
names that will appear on your child’s passport.
7. The student should abide by the same rules as your children,
including the time the student should be home at night. In any case,
the student should be back in your house at a reasonable time.
8. It can happen that a student, especially towards the end of the stay,
If your child is fundraising, the school will send CETA Tours a becomes homesick. Please do not believe that this has anything to
check and let us know how much to credit your child’s account. do with your family; it is a normal reaction. When this situation
Often times, fundraising checks are mailed to CETA Tours after does not take on unbearable dimensions, it is best to ignore the
we have already mailed out the invoice for the final payment. homesickness.
In such cases, we ask that parents/students subtract the
amount that has been fundraised from the trip balance shown 9. When a student does not eat all the food on his/her plate, it does
on the final invoice. If you are unsure of the amount, please not necessarily mean that he/she does not like it. Some host families
contact your child’s teacher who should have that information believe that their American guests will eat larger portions of food.
for you. We appreciate your cooperation in helping ensure your Only if the student does not eat anything should the chaperone and
child does not overpay. contact person be notified.
In the case of overpayments due to students/parents not 10. In the United States, it is forbidden for anyone under 21 years
deducting the fundraising monies for the final amount due, of age to consume alcohol (beer, wine, etc.). For this reason the
CETA Tours will issue one check to your child’s school for all consumption of beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages is forbidden.
students who have overpaid.
11. If you should notice that your guest has used illegal drugs, we ask
In the event of a cancellation, fundraising money applied to that you notify the chaperone and contact person immediately.
the cost of the tour will be returned to the school unless the
12. Students are encouraged to use their language skills as much as
organizing teacher instructs otherwise.
possible. While it may be tempting to practice your English with
your guest, please try to help them with their language skills.
Scrapbook (small) with pictures of
family and hometown Insurance Information
u Cookbook Medical/Health Insurance
CETA Tours requires all participants to be covered by medical/
u Baseball hat
health insurance for the duration of their tour. Many private
u CD of local musicians medical/health insurance companies will cover members while
u Calendars with pictures of hometown they are traveling abroad. Medicare and Medicaid do not offer
and/or state coverage for international travel. It is the responsibility of each
student’s parent(s) to determine whether his/her student is
u Anything relating to your host’s
special interests covered by medical/health insurance. Students without medical
insurance coverage must purchase temporary coverage for the
u Mugs of hometown and/or state duration of the tour. CETA Tours mails each traveler information
u An American football about temporary medical insurance coverage available through
Travel Guard with their Acknowledgement of Deposit.
Expectations of Family Stay Participants Travel Guard offers affordable temporary medical insurance that
Before arrival in the host city, each student will receive two copies includes emergency medical transportation coverage, called Zero
of a letter. One copy is in English for the student and one copy is Trip Cost Insurance. Please contact CETA Tours with questions or to
in the native language of the host family. The content is identical purchase this insurance.
and outlines the expectations for students, as well as some
safety guidelines that we ask all host families to follow. Below Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
is a synopsis of the letter, highlighting the most important items Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance purchased through
covered in the letter. Travel Guard provides coverage for :
Dear Host Family, u Cancellation from the trip due to unforseen illness,
accident, or injury of the traveler, including protection of
1. It is important for you to know that this group has a chaperone otherwise non-refundable deposits.
and contact person, who is available when someone gets ill or
other problems arise. (Chaperone and contact person’s name and u Costs incurred by interruption of the trip due to unforseen
telephone number are inserted here). illness, accident, or injury of the traveler, including
protection of unused portion of the trip, and otherwise
uncovered medical expenses.
2. Although the student is a guest in your home, we expect that he/she
will take care of daily duties just as your own children do (i.e. doing u Cancellation or interruption of trip due to death, illness, or
dishes, making beds, etc.). injury of an immediate family member.
3. The students are to have enough spending money. It should not be Generally, trip cancellation/interruption insurance is not included
necessary that you buy movie tickets or similar items for them. in the price of the tour. However, trip cancellation/interruption
insurance, which includes medical expense coverage while
4. Under no circumstances do the students have permission to operate traveling, is highly recommended. Please contact CETA Tours
a motorized vehicle. with any questions or to purchase travel insurance.
each family is willing and excited to host an
CETA’s Contingency Plan American and show him/her what daily life is
We have detailed below what contingency plans we have established like.
in the event of possible terrorist incidents in your child’s destination
country. First, we believe it is important to point out that the odds Rules You and your child will sign a participant
of being involved in an incident are extremely remote. It is not just rules form in which your child agrees to
arguable, but rather quite accurate to say that a young person today adhere to certain rules while on tour, including
faces far greater risk climbing into an automobile to go out on a during the family stay portion of the tour.
Saturday night than boarding an airliner. Comfort should be taken In addition to the participant rules, there are
when considering the extensive security procedures that have been further guidelines for the family stay, a copy of
initiated by the aviation industry. Most experts agree that air travel which can be found at the end of this section.
today has never been safer. Further, in matters relating to general We have explained to the local organizing
safety, the risk of personal injury due to violence is much greater here teachers that while local laws may permit
at home than overseas. The foreign countries visited on tour often alcohol consumption at 18, American students
have a significantly lower rate of violent crime than the United States. are not allowed to consume alcohol during the
The above notwithstanding, it is nonetheless desirable to have in
place policies and procedures in the event of a possible mishap, Gifts It is considered customary for your child to
regardless of nature. bring some gifts to his/her host family. The
most meaningful gifts are local items (“Made
The overriding concern of all CETA staff, tour leaders and chaperones in China” doesn’t tell much about your area!).
is the safety and well being of the young people entrusted in our care. Try to find a suitable gift for each member
This policy takes precedence over any other concerns: of your host family. The gifts you bring are
a wonderful icebreaker and can help start
I. Pre-departure conversation on the first evening in the host
A. CETA will monitor all government bulletins and warnings family.
pertaining to foreign travel.
Some items that have been brought in past
B. In the event that the State Department should specifically years include:
ban travel to the country visited on an itinerary, any tours to
the affected areas will be cancelled and every attempt will be u T-shirts with local attractions, school
made to recover and refund committed funds from suppliers. mascots, town images
u Local food specialties (candy, maple
C. In the event that a warning is issued of a dangerous situation syrup, jams, etc.)
occurring in a specific city, and if that situation is determined
u “Coffee table” type books about the
to be still dangerous during the time of the group’s visit, the
local area or state
itinerary will be rerouted and alternate accommodations
obtained. Possible additional costs of accommodations, meals, u Current magazines (Teen, People, etc.)
etc. will be borne by CETA. u Ornaments that feature your town or
u Brownie or chocolate chip cookie mix
(a great activity!)
The following items should help both you and your child II. During the Tour
better prepare for the family stay: A. CETA will be in contact with the tour leaders to advise them
of possible danger areas. Tour leaders will have access to their
Letter of Your child will be asked to write a letter bus driver’s cell phones so that communication is possible
Introduction of introduction several months prior to even on travel days.
departure. This letter should be written (as
much as possible) in the target language. If B. Tour leaders will be advised that all possible precautions
your child needs help writing the letter, ask must be taken to assure the safety of the group. This would
him/her what they would want to know include the omission of sightseeing activities if necessary. This
about someone coming to stay at their house. is already standard procedure regarding conditions involving
Along with the letter of introduction, your demonstrations, weather problems, etc.
child will also complete a questionnaire with
information about your family, your child’s C. In the event of a crisis of any nature, CETA will, if necessary,
activities and interests. initiate telephone-trees to effect rapid communication with
Correspondence Once host family assignments have been
made (usually 1-4 weeks prior to departure), III. Flight Delays
CETA encourages both the guest and host In the event of a flight delay, change, cancellation or airport closure,
to correspond prior to the tour’s departure. the airline(s) involved will determine the group’s flight schedule and
Many families have email, which means that routing. The airline personnel will work with the teachers present
students may be able to correspond with at the airport to ensure that the group reaches their destination as
their host several times before they depart. soon as is safely possible. If it becomes necessary to split the group
Occasionally, there are some students who on two or more flights, it is CETA’s policy that all students travel in
do not hear from their host families prior the accompaniment of an adult group member whenever possible.
to the tour departure. This is usually due to In the event of significant delays on the outbound flight, teachers
circumstances beyond CETA’s control, but will inform CETA of new flight schedules and a tour coordinator
rest assured that your child will be warmly will amend the itinerary whenever possible. Reimbursement of costs
welcomed into their host family. With some incurred by delays, such as additional hotel stays and meals, are
family stay programs (Spain), students will subject to the responsibility assumed by the airline involved. Airlines
receive information about their host family often compensate passengers for delays caused by mechanical
a week or two prior to departure, but will malfunction, but are unable to assume any responsibility for factors
probably not have a chance to correspond with beyond their control, such as delays caused by inclement weather.
IV. Communication with Parents
Host Families Our contacts do their best to match American
students with the most compatible host family. In order to effect good communication between the tour leader,
Even with this careful attention, is not always teachers and parents, CETA Tours will have a copy of the telephone
possible to guarantee that the host student tree for each group traveling on a CETA Tour. Should parents need
will be of the same gender of the American to be notified of change in the group’s itinerary, CETA Tours will
guest. In such cases, the American guest will utilize the phone tree as the most effective and efficient method of
naturally be in a separate room from his/ communicating with parents while their children are on tour.
her host of the opposite sex. Rest assured that
Tour Materials Checklist Family Stay (if applicable)
The following is a list of materials you and your child should The family stay is a unique opportunity for students to
receive in the months leading up to your child’s departure. You experience daily life with a local family. In addition to living
will receive most of these materials during the meetings held by with the family, students will have the opportunity to expand
your child’s teacher throughout the school year. If you think you their language skills as they get to know their family’s interests.
may have missed a meeting where some of this information was While the family stay is often the highlight of many students’
distributed, please contact your child’s teacher. tours, it is also a source of questions for both parents and
students as they prepare for their tour.
Normally distributed 3-6 months prior to departure:
q Health Information Sheet (salmon) It’s natural for students to have questions or concerns about the
Passport Information Sheet (blue)
Pre-Flight Information Sheet (green)
Participant Rules Form (pink)
Student Handbook (white)
3 family stay in the months leading up to their tour departure.
When we surveyed students after returning from their trip,
the overwhelming response was that none of their concerns
materialized during the family stay. Some common concerns
q Medical Release Form (yellow) u Will my host family like me?
q Family Stay Questionnaire - if applicable (white) u Will I be able to communicate with my host family?
q Family Stay Information - if applicable (purple) u Will I like the food my host family serves?
u Will I be able to understand what’s going on?
u Will we do anything fun during the family stay?
Normally distributed 1-8 weeks prior to departure:
q Accommodations List (tan) When talking to your child about the family stay, ask if he/
she has any concerns about the upcoming family stay. Reassure
q Flight Schedule with Luggage Requirements (yellow) him/her that the host family has volunteered to host him/her,
q Passport Pouch that they will make every effort to help your child understand
what they are saying and that while they will introduce your
q Family Stay Contact Information (if participating in a
CETA-arranged family stay) child to typical local food, they will also make sure that your
child has enough to eat. Mothers are the same all around the
world – they always worry that their children (and guests!) like
CETA Tours sends most materials directly to teachers, who then what they are being served and have enough to eat.
decide when to hand them out. Documents relating to your tour
are also available online by logging in at www.cetatours.com.
Family stay contact information will not be available until shortly
before departure. Personalized luggage tags will be handed out at
“Herd Mentality” Your child should keep in mind that he/she
will be doing many things together as a
A Parent’s To-Do Checklist
group. Tour participants will eat breakfast There are some items that parents and students must do on their
and dinner together and sit in pairs on the own to prepare for the tour. We have provided a rough estimate of
bus. They may be asked to give up some of when each item should be completed.
their personal space during a walking tour so
that the guide doesn’t have to shout and
disturb others in the area. Even during free
q Apply for passport
Should be done as soon as possible. Passports must be valid for 6
time, they will be part of a (smaller) group.
months beyond the return date of the tour. Upon receipt of your
passport, verify immediately that there are no errors, and sign
on the signature page. (see Passport Information sheet for more
q Apply for travel visas (applicable only to non-US
citizens and only for countries requiring visas)
As soon as possible, as processing may take several weeks.
q Call medical insurance company to confirm coverage
No later than January 15, 2012
q Complete medical release form and return to teacher
No later than January 15, 2012
q Complete participant rules form and return to teacher
No later than January 15, 2012
q Submit copy of passport (picture page) to teacher
No later than January 15, 2012
q Apply for credit card and/or ATM card
2-3 months prior to departure
q Sign-up for frequent flyer program
1 month prior to departure
q Test ATM and credit cards
1-2 weeks prior to departure
q Call credit card companies and banks
1-2 weeks prior to departure (see “Money” section)
3-5 days prior to departure
kiss (or two) on the cheek. If your child is
Money participating in a family stay, the host
In this section we have included up-to date information on different mother may greet him/her with a hug and
methods of obtaining foreign currency while on tour. The Travel kisses on one or both cheeks.
Handbook for Students also covers this topic. As this is often the first
time students will be exposed to a currency other than the US dollar, Politics Your child should be prepared for questions
it is a good idea to read through the currency section of the handbook about politics in the United States. It’s not
with your child so that you can better answer his/her questions uncommon to be asked for personal opinions
about making purchases in foreign currency while on tour. on a variety of political issues. It’s OK if your
child is not comfortable discussing this and
ATM Cards to simply say that he/she is not interested in
talking about it. Many people enjoy political
The number one recommended way to obtain local currency while
discussions and are simply curious to hear a
on tour is an ATM card; the same card you would use in the States
native opinion. In the end, they are able to
to obtain money from a cash machine. ATM machines are located
separate the politics and policies of the
next to almost every bank, are easy to use, are not limited to business
native country from the individual citizen.
hours, and the transaction can be completed in English. If your child
doesn’t have an ATM card, you most certainly should think about Walking Your child should be prepared to walk 2 - 3
obtaining one for him/her. miles over the course of each day. The
walking will be broken up into shorter
The ATM card your child brings on tour must be issued in your segments, but door-to-door service will not be
child’s name, even if it’s from your account. Call your bank at least possible, especially in congested cities.
two months before departure so that there is ample time to have Travelers to Costa Rica will encounter more
cards issued in your child’s name. It is also extremely important that rugged roads and paths. It is essential to wear
you call customer service approximately one week prior to departure comfortable walking shoes for safety reasons.
to notify them that the card may be used in a foreign country. In Flip-flops are great for the shower and the
order to better protect their customers against fraud, many banks beach, but not for walking all day on
flag or freeze accounts with suspicious (i.e. unexpected international) cobblestones or trails.
activity. Check with your bank regarding what charges apply when
using an ATM card in another country. Some banks charge the same Travel Days There are a few travel days on every tour.
conversion fee that credit card companies charge, while other banks On these days not too many activities are
only charge for using an out-of-network ATM. Your child will need to planned, as the group will spend most of the
know his/her PIN to complete any transaction. day on the bus getting to their next
destination. CETA tries to minimize these
There are two major international ATM networks which will be travel days, but they are sometimes
compatible with your child’s ATM or debit card: Cirrus and Plus. unavoidable. Take advantage of rest stops to
The back of the card will have one of the two logos on it, indicating stretch your legs.
which network will accept the card. If you are unsure of the network
on which the card works, ask a teller at your bank. Some banks can Waiting Group travel is not as spontaneous as
also order a directory of international ATM locations – just allow individual or family travel. Tour participants
enough time (usually several weeks) for the directory to arrive should expect to wait often, whether it be for
before departure. ATM machines normally display the symbols of a local city guide, for entrance into a museum
the networks to which they belong and of which cards they accept. or when checking in to a hotel or for the flight
Occasionally it has happened that a particular ATM card will not home.
more expensive some places, 2) the rent the work in the ATM machine. For this reason, it is imperative that your
owner is paying for the location of his cafe is child have a backup method of obtaining foreign currency.
usually very expensive, and 3) guests are
often paying for the privilege of enjoying the It is also important to note that many ATM machines do not offer a
table at that quaint outdoor cafe. Remember choice between withdrawing money from checking or savings. When
the table is there for as long as guests care to money is withdrawn, it will be taken out of the primary account,
enjoy it. Also, considering the caffeine content, which is most often the checking account. We advise those students
one cup of European coffee is usually plenty! who only have savings accounts to open a checking account, as some
travelers in previous years have had difficulties withdrawing money
Meal times Breakfast times on tour will vary depending from savings accounts. If you are concerned about which account
on the day’s activities, but most breakfasts are will be used or overdrawing your account, it may be a good idea to
between 7:00 and 8:00 AM. Lunch stops are monitor your child’s account(s).
made anytime between 11:30 AM and 2:00
PM, depending on the activities for the day. Your child should plan on withdrawing enough money to last a few
Dinner may not be scheduled until 7:00 PM or days, as he/she may not have access to an ATM for a day or two,
later. depending on the group’s touring schedule. We do not advocate
carrying large sums of cash, but at the same time, we discourage
Time Differences For students traveling to Costa Rica, the travelers from making daily withdrawals from an ATM – it will cost
country’s geographic location close to the time and money that could be better spent sightseeing.
equator means that evening daylight hours
in the summer are more limited than in the Credit Cards
United States. In order to take advantage of A Mastercard or Visa credit card is another convenient option
daylight hours, some touring days may begin for making international purchases. Credit cards often allow the
as early as 7:00 AM in order to complete purchaser to receive a better exchange rate than with cash, and they
activities. In contrast, Europe’s slightly more are quicker since your child is not dependent on finding an ATM
northern latitude lends itself to more daylight machine or open bank to use them. However, be aware that in many
in the evening. In late June, it may be light countries, merchants accepting credit cards may impose a ‘minimum
outside as late as 10:30 PM. charge’ rule. Your child will not be able to use a credit card to make
every little purchase.
Stores and Banks Many banks and some stores take a midday
break, where they are closed for an hour or Credit cards are also relatively secure. In the event of a lost or stolen
two during the middle of the day. Your child card, you are usually only liable for the first $50 of fraudulent charges
should be aware of this schedule when given and a new one can be issued within a day or two. You may want
free time. He/she may want to check and see your child to carry two cards (from different accounts), in case of a
what’s open and when before making plans. problem. Again, credit cards must be issued in the child’s name, even
if he/she is using a parent’s account. Allow plenty of time for the
PDAs Public displays of affection (PDAs) are process of issuing new cards.
common between couples, as well as friends.
For example, it’s not unusual for two girls to Many credit card companies charge a “foreign currency conversion
hold hands with each other as they walk charge” which is typically 2-3% on all credit card purchases outside
down the street. This is nothing more than a the U.S. Your cardholder agreement should disclose this information,
sign of friendship. Friends can often be seen but if you are unsure, call customer service and ask about their
greeting each other with a handshake and a policies for charges made abroad.
Many credit cards allow cash advances to be made on their cards. Water We Americans are used to finding drinking
While this may be a handy way to obtain cash if an ATM card doesn’t fountains on every floor of every building.
work, interest will be charged from the day the cash advance is Don’t expect to see many drinking fountains
made. Basically it is equivalent to making a short-term loan at a very in Europe. Every time we sit down at a
high interest rate (sometimes higher than the APR for regular card restaurant, we are used to a glass of ice water
purchases). We suggest that your child only use the cash advance presented to us along with our menu. This
option on a credit card as a last resort. doesn’t happen very often in Europe.
Restaurant guests will almost never be auto-
It is important that you contact the company for each credit card your matically served a glass of water. Although it
child plans on taking abroad, even for back-up cards. Approximately is safe to drink, Europeans as a rule do not
one week before departure, you should call each company and drink tap water. They prefer to drink bottled
inform them that your child will be traveling abroad and may water or mineral water, for which there is a
use the card. Most companies ask for the dates of travel and what charge. Tap water may or may not be
countries will be visited. If you do not notify credit card companies available and may still carry a cost.
of international travel plans, there is a very real chance that they may
freeze the account due to “suspicious activity.” Ordering tap water in Costa Rica shouldn’t
be a problem. Here, due to a more widespread
You will want your child to know the PIN for each credit card. concern for the environment, they encourage
Although in the U.S. a PIN is usually not necessary for a credit card guests to refill and reuse disposable water
unless you are obtaining a cash advance, it is possible that your child bottles.
will need it even for regular purchases abroad. Allow several weeks
for a new PIN to be issued by mail. Waiters In the States, those of us on tight schedules
have found it feasible to eat a meal at a
Prepaid Cash Cards - US Dollars restaurant in 20-30 minutes. In other parts of
In recent years, some American card companies have introduced the world, service is simply slower. On the
temporary travel cards, which can be loaded with a certain amount other hand, waiters probably won’t hint that
of money and then used like a credit and/or ATM card in foreign lingering guests should vacate their tables.
countries. The card is not linked to your personal bank account and Most of the time they will not even bring the
can be reloaded during the trip. While the card offers advantage, check until it is requested. Keep in mind that
thre are still some drawbacks: fees for set-up, reloading and closing in other cultures, waiters are often not as
out the card, possible currency conversion fees, etc. Another thing dependent on tips for their income as
to consider is the liability if the card is lost or stolen - How do you American waiters are. Therefore, don’t be
replace the card? If a lost/stolen card is used before you have a surprised if the waiter does not appear every
chance to report it, is that money gone forever? It is advisable to read 5 minutes to ask how the food is.
through the terms and conditions of the card carefully and call the
company’s customer service department with any questions. Higher Prices Americans are used to paying certain prices
for things like soft drinks, coffee, and tea. A
Prepaid Cash Cards - Euros dollar-fifty for an unlimited supply of coffee
Some companies (Travelex is one example) offer prepaid Euro cash or soda is a great bargain we really enjoy. In
cards for travelers. These cards come with the chip & PIN technology Europe as well as other parts of the world, one
that’s found throughout Europe. US credit cards do not use this cup of coffee or soda can cost $4.00 or more,
technology, which is one reason they sometimes don’t work in depending on the restaurant or cafe. Keep in
Europe. The cash card is not linked to your personal bank account mind that: 1) in general, due to taxes, coffee is
Air Conditioning In our country, air conditioning is no longer and can be reloaded during the trip, if needed. Cardholders can
considered by many of us to be a luxury, but use it to get cash at an ATM or for purchases in stores and at ticket
rather a standard feature. Most hotels in machines.
the US are fully air-conditioned. Further, we
are able to individually control the While the cash card offers the advantage of having Euros available
temperature, and enjoy the room at 68 to use the moment you step off the plane, there are still some
degrees, if we wish. In other countries, air drawbacks: fees for set-up, reloading and closing out the card.
conditioning is usually limited to upper first Another thing to consider is the liability if the card is lost or stolen -
class hotels. Even in touring coaches, the air How do you replace the card? If a lost/stolen card is used before you
conditioning often does not function to the have a chance to report it, is that money gone forever? It is advisable
extent we are accustomed to. Your child to read through the terms and conditions of the card carefully and
should not expect the level of comfort cooling call the company’s customer service department with any questions.
enjoyed at home.
US Dollars - Cash
Smoking For many years, the US has been ahead of
Europe in limiting smoking in public areas. It is a good idea to have a small amount of US dollars in cash for
Only in recent years have many European purchasing food or drink items at US airports or on domestic flights.
countries passed laws limiting smoking in
If your child is traveling to Europe, he/she should not be planning
many public areas. While many hotels now
on using US dollars abroad. Merchants accepting US dollars are
offer non-smoking rooms, they cannot
almost unheard of, and in the event of encountering such a place,
guarantee enough of them for an entire
your child will not get a good exchange rate. Exchanging US cash for
travel group. There is no way to completely
local currency is also not recommended. It is impractical and unsafe
avoid tobacco smoke in Europe.
to carry such large amounts of cash, and it again places your child in
Rest Rooms In the US, we are used to using rest rooms in the unfortunate position of being dependent on finding an open bank
restaurants, gas stations, department stores - to obtain money. The fees associated with cash exchange at a bank are
almost anywhere - at no cost. In some expensive. Exchange rates and fees at airports are even worse.
countries, many restaurant owners, shop-
keepers, etc. “show their displeasure” when However, if your child is traveling to Costa Rica, it is okay to bring
tourists march into their establishment, use some US dollars in cash. US dollars are widely accepted here and
their water, which is often more expensive, your child will be given change in the local currency (colones).
and then leave. (When buying something, of
course, usage is almost always free.) Finding The Buddy System
public rest rooms can also be frustrating. In addition to deciding on which ways to obtain foreign currency,
Sometimes rest rooms are leased out to parents should also consider the “buddy system” concept. Some past
individuals who keep the facilities clean, and tours have used this system for financial security. Before the tour
charge a usage fee, which can range from departs, students pair up and their parents agree that if one student
$0.50 - $0.75 or even more. Americans find is unable to use his/her ATM card to obtain cash, the parents of that
this practice extremely irksome, but that’s just student will deposit money into the account of the other student, who
the way it is. The exception is major airports, can then withdraw the money for the buddy. This arrangement is
where people may not have the particular designed to be used for emergencies only and if used, requires careful
currency needed. Anytime there is a public record keeping.
rest room available, especially a free one,
don’t pass it by!
Creating a Budget
Finally, one topic that you should discuss with your child is how
to budget spending money. Most tours last two weeks and making We Americans enjoy what is probably one of the highest standards of
spending money last that long is often difficult, especially when living in the world. We take for granted many things that are luxury
visiting new places. Parents know best how to help their child items in most other areas of the world. When we leave our beloved
prepare for budgeting money during tour. homeland and travel abroad, we are sometimes (unpleasantly)
surprised by the conditions. Even in highly developed countries
For students traveling to Europe, we suggest bringing at least $150 which enjoy standards of living at least as high as ours, there are
per week for lunches and snacks. Most students spend between $300 occurrences that are frustrating to the American who is expecting
and $500 on tour in Europe, depending on their personal spending things to be the way they are at home. It may be helpful for your
habits and the length of the tour. Those traveling to Costa Rica child to know about these cultural differences in advance. This
usually do not require as much spending money. Estimate $100 or section is meant to give you both an idea of what you should expect
less for a week’s worth of lunches, and $150-$300 of total spending (or not expect) when your child journeys abroad. Your child’s
money for these tours. experience should still be well worth the time and money spent, but
we must realize that when we leave home we cannot always expect
the same standards.
Some items that may help students better manage their money are:
Hotels The accommodations for your child will be
u Making a budget of how much will be spent on souvenirs, comfortable. Hotels abroad are often very
food and other items. charming and reflect the culture of the
country being visited. However, the standard
u Deciding for whom your child wants to purchase souvenirs. room size is usually significantly smaller than
a typical hotel room in the States. This is
probably one of the most frequently observed
u Creating an emergency fund of $20 or more that is tucked
phenomena by American travelers. We simply
away in a separate pocket, away from spending money.
have to remember that everything in America,
including the country itself, the cars, and the
u Some teachers collect a small amount from each student hotel rooms, are bigger than anywhere else.
before tour and hold on to the money until the end of tour.
This way, students don’t have to worry about accidentally Bathroom Linens Although hotels usually provide towels, most
spending their emergency money. do not provide washcloths. Somehow, they
feel that a washcloth is akin to a toothbrush.
Some of the more economical hotels and
u If the tip for the bus driver and/or tour leader is not included
hostels will not have bathroom linen service at
in the cost of your child’s tour, you will need to make sure
all so your child should be prepared with his/
that your child has enough money at the end of the tour for
her own. Some hotels provide hair-dryers in
these gratuities. We have requested that teachers collect the
the bathrooms and some do not.
tip for the bus driver (and tour leader, if appropriate) prior
to departure, in order to ensure that students don’t need to Ice We are used to fetching buckets of ice from
worry about saving a portion of their spending money until machines often located on every floor of
the end of the tour for the tip(s). even the most inexpensive motel. Many other
countries generally do not use any ice cubes in
their beverages and have ice on hand only in
limited quantities for cooling produce, etc.
It is normal for students to feel homesick at some point during Gratuities are included in the tour price for hotels, city guides,
tour. They are experiencing many new things and may long for and included meals. If the end of tour gratuities for the bus
the familiar surroundings of home. Homesickness also recognizes driver and tour leader are not included in the tour price, (check
the strong bond between loved ones, so it’s a natural emotion. your tour brochure to make sure) the recommended amount
is $3-4 per person, per day for the coach driver and $3-4 per
You may already have an idea of whether or not homesickness person, per day for the tour leader.
will be an issue for your child. If your child has gone to summer
camp or other overnight school trips and not had a problem with When ordering meals, the gratuity is often included in the
homesickness, then he/she will probably not have a problem price. When ordering beverages, however, you should include
while on tour. If, however, this trip will be the first time your child a very small tip as this is service beyond the serving of meals.
has been away from home for an extended period of time, or if
This is usually done by rounding up to the next whole amount.
he/she had experienced difficulties with homesickness in the past,
However, to be certain, your child should ask his/her teacher
then it is a good idea to address homesickness with your child. We
or tour leader for the unique customs of each country visited.
have outlined some items that will help you deal with your child’s
homesickness while on tour.
u Don’t call – it’s better to call the organizing teacher on tour
than to call and talk to your child directly. If you call your
child, you may only increase the level of homesickness. It
can also make other students who are not feeling homesick
start to feel homesick. This is one of the main reasons why
we recommend that students make no more than 2 phone
calls home while on tour.
u When you do talk to your child, be upbeat and positive.
Tell him/her you’re proud and interested in hearing about
his/her trip when he/she gets home.
u Keep your concerns about your child being homesick to
yourself, as well as any concerns about events at home
until your child has returned.
Most homesickness will pass in a day or two if dealt with in a
constructive manner. Your child’s teacher will help your child
through these times. Even though you may worry about your
child, an upbeat attitude will go a long way towards helping your
child overcome homesickness.
Contact with Your Child on Tour Notes about Packing for the Return Flight
Parents always want to know how they can best contact their
u Persons under 21 years old are not permitted to bring
child when they are away from home, whether it be only an hour
away or several time zones. We have outlined several methods of
wine or other alcoholic beverages into the United
communication below, along with observations about which methods States. In past years, students who have received such
are better than others. items to give to their parents as presents from their
host family have had the alcohol confinscated by US
Many hotels and hostels have internet kiosks located in their lobby
that guests can use for a nominal fee. Internet cafés can also be found
u Seeds, plants and produce may not be brought back
in most cities your child will visit on tour. While we do not encourage
students to spend all of their free time in an internet café, email and into the United States. If a US Customs agent finds
Facebook are probably the easiest way for students to let their parents them, they will be confinscated.
and friends know how they are enjoying their tour.
u If you have purchased a pocket knife, Swisscard,
Fax Messages C
The accommodations list provided just prior to departure includes
sword, letter opener or any other sharp object, it must
be packed in your checked luggage.
the address, telephone and fax numbers for the hotels and hostels
where your student will be staying on tour. Some parents have found
that sending a fax to their student has been a good way to brighten u Liquids, gels and aerosols in containers larger than 3
their day and to let them know that you are thinking of them. If you ounces must be packed in your checked luggage.
are sending a fax, you should keep a few things in mind:
u Keep your message limited to one page – most hostels and
hotels charge guests a nominal fee to send and receive faxes.
u When addressing the fax, make sure that your child’s name,
school, the name of your child’s teacher, the arrival and
departure dates are clearly marked. It is not unusual for your
student’s teacher to be the one who receives the fax from the
reception and then delivers it to your child.
u Remember that each touring day is fairly busy and most
groups will depart their hotel/hostel by 8:00 or 8:30 AM.
Also keep in mind the time difference when sending faxes.
Hotels and hostels will not forward the fax on to the next city
if your child’s group has already checked out.
Calling the United States from Abroad C
Most students call home at least once during their tour to let their
parents know that they are having a good time. Some students in past
years have purchased pre-paid calling cards in the US (from Sam’s
Club, Wal-Mart, etc.) and used them fairly easily. Other students have
q 2-3 pairs of nice pants/jeans and/or shorts No holes purchased pre-paid calling cards in the country they are visiting.
or tears; plan on wearing each pair several times. These cards have rates similar to our discount phone cards and will
usually allow at least 20 minutes of conversation. Please instruct your
q 4-5 short-sleeved shirts --plan on wearing each more
child to read the details of any calling card carefully to make sure
they understand the rates, which can vary greatly by location. Your
q 1 sweatshirt, sweater or light jacket child should also be aware of telephone charges at the hotel before
q Umbrella (travel size) and/or rain jacket/poncho placing any calls from their hotel room, as these can be costly.
No more than 2-3 pairs of shoes, including one pair
of comfortable walking shoes. Calling Your Child on Tour D
Unless the tour includes a family stay, we do not recommend that
parents call their students while on tour. Students are busy during
What to Leave At Home the day with tour activities and their exact arrival time at the hotel is
8 Anything you would be devastated to lose not always known in advance. If your student is staying in a youth
hostel, there are often only one or two phone lines for the entire
8 Jewelry, including expensive watches hostel and personal phone calls on those phone lines are frowned
8 Extra food (unless it is required for a documented upon. Naturally, if it is an emergency situation, it is perfectly
medical condition) Food, especially in Costa Rica, acceptable to call your child. Family stay participants are usually able
attracts unwanted guests - BUGS! to receive phone calls without any problems. Please, however, keep
8 Overly patriotic clothing the time change in mind if your child is traveling in Europe, which is
7 hours ahead of Central Standard Time (CST). If you call at 7:00 PM
8 Offensive clothing CST, you’ll be waking everyone in Europe up at 2:00 AM! Be sure to
8 Revealing clothing such as spaghetti-strap tank tops, identify your child’s teacher and school when calling, as they may
crop tops, short shorts and short skirts. Such attire is not recognize your child’s name, but will recognize the group name.
not appropriate for visiting churches and will attract
unwanted attention. Letters and Packages D
8 Bulky sweatshirts (bring light-weight jacket instead) While airmail service has greatly reduced the amount of time it
takes for a letter to travel overseas, it can still take up to 10 days
between when a letter is sent and when it arrives abroad. For this
8 Musical instruments (guitar, etc.) reason, we strongly discourage parents from mailing letters to their
8 Rolling carry-on bags (like flight attendants use) children while on tour. Hotels will not forward or return letters that
arrive after the group checks out. Packages can take several weeks to
arrive, unless sent via airmail, which can be very expensive. Even if a
package is sent via airmail, it may still take weeks to arrive.
Check with your family’s service provider for applicable rates on
calls and text messages placed from the areas where your child
will be traveling. Also ask what the abilities and limitations of your
child’s cell phone model will be. Often times calls placed from
an American cell phone are not possible or not economical while
traveling abroad. Text messaging may still be possible and is often a
more cost effective way to keep in touch.
Packing What to Pack
When packing for a trip to a new destination, it’s easy to pack much q Passport (This is the one item you must not forget)
more than necessary. Here are CETA’s regulations regarding checked q Passport pouch provided by CETA
and carry-on luggage. We have also complied two lists to help you
and your student pack efficiently for tour. The first list covers items q School ID to avoid additional admission costs
that should be packed. The second list includes items that students q ATM and credit cards (see Money section)
in previous years have packed which are not appropriate or wise q Toiletry items
to pack. Bear in mind that locations visited on tour will have stores
where students can purchase forgotten toiletry items. q Feminine hygiene products (if applicable)
q Washcloth & towel (not optional!)
All carry-on and checked luggage is subject to q Flip-flops for the shower/beach
restrictions imposed by the airline, as well as any TSA
q Travel alarm clock (battery powered) and watch
requirements in effect. Current TSA and/or airline
regulations can be found online. 8 www.tsa.gov q Sunglasses
q Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
Each airline has its own weight restrictions for both carry-on and
q Small backpack (use as your carry-on)
checked luggage. You will receive a copy of your child’s flight
schedule with the luggage restrictions printed on the reverse side. q Camera (mark with your name)
Luggage that exceeds the airline’s size and/or weight limitations will q Extra memory cards
be subject to additional charges-typically $50 - $100 per bag.
q Extra batteries or rechargables with charger
Checked Luggage q Zipclose bags are handy for wet clothes & towels,
Each participant is allowed to bring only one suitcase or duffelbag shampoo bottles, etc.
due to the space limitations of the storage compartments on the bus. q Laundry Detergent (small amount for hand washing
clothes; some shampoos work well too).
Carry-on Luggage q Prescription medication and/or over-the-counter
Most airlines limit passengers to a total of 2 carry-on items, including medications you may need while on tour. All
a purse, camera bag or items purchased at the airport. Due to space medication must be in its original container.
limitations on buses, carry-on bags should be small, and must fit
q Pens and/or pencils and a journal
behind students’ legs or in the small overhead space on the bus
(usually no more than 6-8 inches tall). Backpacks are ideal. q Pre-printed address labels for sending postcards
q Small pocket calculator for converting prices
Rolling carry-on suitcases, like the ones flight attendants q Converter and/or adapter plug for anything electric
use, do NOT fit in overhead compartments on buses and (consider sharing 1 hair dryer between several
therefore are NOT allowed as carry-on bags on tours people)
operated by CETA.
q Playing cards, travel games, 1 or 2 books, magazines
q Pocket dictionary
q Socks & underwear – enough for each day of the
tour, unless you plan on hand washing