Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Who makes all of the travel arrangements for the Alumni Tour program?
Our programs are designed and managed by the finest travel operators, most of whom specialize in providing trips for alumni associations. We select these travel operators based on our criteria of established reputations, dependable operations and professional staff. All itinerary and flight details are handled by the travel operators. The Alumni Association selects the trips based on feedback we receive from our past travelers as well as current trends in the industry. [top]
What is the Alumni Association's role in operating the Alumni Tour program?
The Alumni Association adds the Penn State connection by supplying our travelers with travel insurance options, traveler biographical information, and international connections with alumni and students abroad when circumstances allow. Most trips include Penn State hosts to accompany the group and serve as hosts for a private Penn State reception. In addition, all travelers receive special Penn State gifts as mementos of their trip. The Alumni Association staff is also available to assist travelers in making arrangements for deviations from the standard trip and reconfirming travel arrangements. Our staff will also interact with the travel companies on behalf of our travelers to obtain answers to questions or resolve problems. If you need any assistance please don't hesitate to call our Alumni Association travel office at 800-548-5466, option 5. [top]
Is my money refundable if I have to cancel my trip?
Most travel companies charge a nominal cancellation fee from the time of deposit to cover expenses incurred in processing a new reservation and mailing out preliminary trip information. As the departure date gets closer, the travel company has made more financial commitments to their suppliers (airlines, hotel, ground transportation) and accordingly, cancellation fees become more substantial. Cancellation penalties are structured to coincide with advance payments that our travel vendors must make to their suppliers and the penalties are strictly enforced due to these contractual commitments. Because our many travel providers have different policies regarding cancellations, we suggest that you discuss cancellation fees with them prior to making your trip deposit. We also strongly encourage purchasing trip cancellation insurance to minimize financial risks. [top]
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We strongly recommend that you are adequately insured against last-minute trip cancellation and other travel related risks. For example, if you must cancel your trip due to a family emergency and can recover only 50 percent of your money based on the travel company's cancellation policy, the insurance company could cover the remainder of the loss up to the level of coverage that you selected, provided you meet the criteria spelled out in the policy selected.
- For your convenience, we’ve made arrangements through our associate, USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services (TIS), to offer travel insurance in connection with the Alumni Tour program.
- After registering for a trip, you will receive an email with travel insurance information from the Alumni Association. Please contact TIS if you have any questions regarding travel insurance coverage or costs. You can contact the insurance company directly at 800-937-1387.
- You are free to make travel insurance arrangements with another insurance company of your choice.
- You may also choose to forego purchasing travel insurance coverage, although doing so is not recommended.
- Some credit cards companies offer travel insurance coverage when you use the card to purchase your trip. Check with your financial provider for details. [top]
Do I have to be an Alumni Association member to take a trip?
No. The Alumni Travel program welcomes all alumni and friends of Penn State, regardless of whether they are members of the Association. [top]
How early should I make a reservation?
We always suggest making reservations as early as possible after the trip information is available. Some trips sell out very quickly, while others do not fill to capacity. But it is impossible to predict how quickly a trip will sell out so the longer you wait, the greater the chances are that the trip will be filled by the time you send in your registration. You may call the Alumni Association travel office at any time at 800-548-5466, option 5 to inquire about the status of a trip. [top]
Why do I have to pay more if I am traveling alone?
Tour prices are always based on two people sharing the cost of the hotel room or ship cabin. If you are traveling alone, there is no one else to share in the lodging expense. Therefore, a single traveler must cover this entire cost, instead of half. Please note that the single supplement for a cruise is generally much higher than a "land" trip since a substantial portion of the total trip cost is the ship cabin. There are no other "extra" fees charged to a single travel other than the additional lodging cost. Most of our travel companies will try to honor requests for roommates, but there is no guarantee that a roommate will be available. [top]
Can I take my children on a Penn State trip?
Occasionally, we do offer trips that are designed especially for families. However, most of the Penn State trips are best suited for adults, especially trips on small expedition vessels or those with long side-trips that include lectures. Small children may be bored on many of our trips as well, since there would most likely be no activities or playtime facilities available for children. If you are interested in taking your children on one of our trips, please contact the Penn State Alumni Association travel office or the travel company to find out if a particular trip is appropriate for children. [top]
Can I take a Penn State trip if I have a disability or special need?
While Penn State encourages people with disabilities to participate in its activities and programs, some of our expeditions cannot accommodate people with severe health problems or physical limitations. The Penn State Alumni Association and their travel vendors cannot take responsibility for special arrangements or problems incurred by passengers unable to participate in the planned activities. Travelers requiring extraordinary assistance must be accompanied by someone who can and will provide all required assistance. Many countries do not offer the same level of access for persons with disabilities as the U.S. For this reason, we recommend that you call the travel vendor or the Alumni Association prior to registering for a trip to inquire about the physical access provided and to obtain information regarding the trip best suited to any physical limitations that you may have. [top]
How many people generally travel on a Penn State trip?
The number of Penn State travelers on a trip can range from six to forty-five, but is typically somewhere in between. Trips such as our "College Abroad" program usually consist entirely of individuals who are affiliated with Penn State. Other travel programs include groups from other colleges and universities in addition to our Penn Staters. The Alumni Association generally provides a Penn State host and a private Penn State reception when several university groups are traveling together. [top]
Are trips canceled when participation is low?
Even when participation is very low, our trips generally do not cancel. However, in rare cases, our travel vendor is unable to meet minimum requirements to operate the trip and may be forced to cancel. In the event that a trip is canceled by the travel company, all funds paid to the travel company will be refunded. [top]
Is the flight service by private charter?
Generally, no. Most flights are on regular scheduled service with reputable international carriers. Occasionally, the travel company will charter a plane for a particular trip. Sometimes the cruise ships are chartered by the travel company as well. [top]
Why do I receive travel brochures even though I didn't request them?
Penn State travel brochures are generally mailed to individuals who have made recent inquiries regarding our travel program, or who have taken a trip with us in the past. Travel brochures are also sent to alumni within specific graduation years based on selection criteria provided by our vendors. If you prefer not to receive our brochures or if you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-548-5466, option 5. You may also request to be added or deleted from our mailing list by selecting "request brochure" at the top of this page. [top]
Does the Alumni Association provide a bus or other transportation to the gateway city?
Not usually. Because our travelers come from all over the United States it is difficult for us to provide transportation to the group departure city. Occasionally, our cruise packages do include optional bus transportation. Our travel companies will be happy to assistant you in making flight arrangements to the gateway city, or you are free to make your own arrangements. [top]
Can I remove the air component from the travel package so that I can use my frequent flyer miles to get to the destination city?
Yes. Our travel companies will give you a discount if you prefer to make your own air arrangements to the destination city. However, the discount will not be substantial since most of our travel vendors receive special negotiated airfares. Also, if you are not flying with the group, you will be responsible for arranging your own ground transportation from the airport to the hotel when you arrive in the destination city. Many of our travel companies now offer trips both with and without airfare. This gives travelers greater flexibility when making air arrangements. Please refer to the individual trip brochures regarding what items are included in each type of travel package.
If you choose to make your own flight arrangements for an alumni tour and not use those provided by the tour company, we recommend that you not do so until making your final payment to the tour company confirming details of your trip’s scheduled departure. However, if you choose to make your own flight arrangements, the Penn State Alumni Association is not liable for any loss resulting from tour cancelations or changes to tour dates. [top]
Am I required to depart from the designated departure city?
Most of our travel companies base their tour price on a group departure from a designated city or cities. The travel company obtains better airfares because of the group departure, and is better able to facilitate transfers upon arrival in the destination city. You may depart the U.S. from another city of your choice if you prefer. However, you may incur additional airfare, deviation fees, and you will be responsible for arranging your own ground transportation from the airport to the hotel when you arrive. If the Penn State gateway city is not a convenient airport for you, be sure to ask if there are any other gateway cities available for your particular trip. [top]
Unless promoted as a Penn State exclusive tour, your group may include travelers from other universities.[top]
Please note that all package rates and itineraries listed are subject to change.[top]
Our direct number is 814-865-5466. We can also be reached at 800-548-5466, option 5 or at the Alumni Association's main number, 814-865-6516. You can reach us by e-mail at email@example.com and by fax at 814-863-8687. [top]