Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DO I BOOK A TRIP?
Click here or click on "2020 TRIPS" link above! Click "Book Now" on the trip you want and follow the easy steps to register!
IS THIS JUST FOR TEACHERS?
Absolutely not! Anyone is welcomed to join us. Non-educators cannot go into the schools with us, but they are welcome to do everything else. Additionally, they would need to be self-sufficient. If you have a question about this possibility, email us and we can discuss your options.
WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE COST OF ALL TRIPS?
Hotel and/or Host stay, see listing.
Bookbag Tours Conclusive Summit Dinner.
Any group activities that are planned by us as a part of the trip, not side trips.
Your amazing Trip Leaders, your Professional Development facilitators, our Trip Managers, and our On-Site and Off-Site Team members are also included!
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED?
Flights to and from your start and end destination are not included in the cost of any of our trips.
Travel insurance and Visas are not included. We do offer travel insurance (see below) and the link to apply for a Visa is below.
WHAT ABOUT THE FLIGHT?
We're glad you asked! We keep our costs lower for you by providing you the opportunity, and flexibility, to book your own flight (see below question, too). You can fly from anywhere in the world to our learning destination and even use your frequent flier miles if you like! Giving you the flexibility to book your own flight and meet us there, is the best way to ensure you get the most bang for your buck-- we'll even be there to pick you up at the airport!
For some trips, we will put together a group flight as well. Please email us if you are interested in a group flight price at [email protected] Most group flights fly out of LAX , JFK, TPA or MIA depending on country we are visiting. Once the airlines release the flights, we will create a group flight package and email that out to you (usually around Sept/Oct.)
However, we understand that booking an international flight can be intimidating, especially for first time international travelers, and we are here to assist! Simply let us know if you need any guidance and we will walk you through this experience from start to finish. Once the flights are released from the airlines (see below)....schedule an appt with us here and we can assist you in finding a flight!
**Please note the dates on the trip page are the First day when the program begins and the last date is when the program ends**
WHEN SHOULD I START LOOKING TO BOOK AIRLINE TICKETS AND WHERE SHOULD I BOOK THEM FROM?
Airlines release ticket prices approximately 9-11 months before the departure dates. Booking early is key to getting great rates. Although there's no exact science to finding the best rates....here is what we have found as a pattern as of 2019: If flying out in Summer, December has had best rates. If flying out in Spring, October has had the best rates. Start the research early so that you can recognize a good rate when you see one!
Book directly from the Airline. We do not recommend booking from a third party site. Booking directly through an airline for an international flight will save you lots of extra headache in the long run. Here is a site we recommend you look for deals and prices, www.skyscanner.com and www.flights.google.com....use this only as a search tool. Book directly with the airline.
Emails regarding group flights will be emailed in September-ish. This is optional and only from one specific airport, usually, LAX or JFK or MIA or TPA or MCO or ATL. We try to find the best deal.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS TRIP IS FOR ME? DO I NEED TO BE ACCEPTED OR APPLY TO ATTEND A TRIP?
No, we are completely inclusive! Every teacher in the World can join us. When it comes to the "type" of teachers who seem to join us on our trips....well, we have a "Kind People Only" sort of vibe. You know, the kind who will "go with the flow" per se. We find that those who demonstrate mean-spirited, dishonest or mean-girl/boy egotistical behavior do not travel with us. People who enjoy speaking negative about situations and people...which also extends to ageism, racism, or other ism that stems from bigotry, hate or jealousy, or even those who don't see the bright-side of things.....then this may not be the trip for them.
Our BBT travelers are warm, friendly, super positive people, very "open-minded," love an ADVENTURE , enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with other teachers, beyond the surface level and are just amazing teachers who will become your family by the end of the trip! Sooo many of our teachers end up visiting each other in their respective home states and now travel together on other BBT trips!
I AM ATTENDING WITH A TEACHER FRIEND(S), SHOULD WE BOOK ALL TOGETHER OR SEPARATELY TO ENSURE THAT WE ROOM TOGETHER?
Just book individually. On the form there is a place to put roommate choice. We will take care of you. When coming as a group, we just ask that you stay open for new friendships and be sure to make new meaningful friendships too, as we at BBT try to make every teacher feel included (basically, no cliques please.)
WHAT ABOUT FOOD?
Breakfast is included. Summit Dinner is included. If you are staying with a Host, many of them will cook a local dish for you! All other meals are not included as our guests love to choose their own meals and not be stuck in a "meals package" so that they may try out different cuisines or visit any restaurant of their choosing.
All-Inclusive Trips include ALL MEALS.
IS INSURANCE PROVIDED?
You have the option. As avid travelers ourselves, we highly recommend travel insurance. We will give you a quote.
IS THERE A PAYMENT PLAN?
Of course! When you make your deposit you will have the option of a ready made month by month pay plan. If it is not to your liking, you can opt out and talk with our finance department to establish a plan that works for you. We want to be as accommodating as possible!
ARE MY TRIPS REFUNDABLE IF SOMETHING COMES UP?
Refund of the total made payments, excluding $50 non-refundable portion, available before December 1st. We will also do our best to refund as much as possible up until 6 weeks of your trip. Some things (background checks, air line tickets, side trips, etc) cannot be refunded, unless covered by travel insurance. For example, if you book and paid $400 in payments, then your refund will be $350 if you request a refund before Dec. 1st.
IS THERE A WAY I COULD GO EARLY OR EXTEND MY STAY?
Definitely! As long as you are present for our opening welcome reception in order to meet our hosts. We are willing to assist you in any way to extend your journey on the front end or back end of the trip. Just let us know your preferred dates and we can help with planning, lodging, transportation, and any activities you would want to do.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M DOING A HOME STAY OR HOTEL?
In the Trip Page listing, for example, "Germany - Hotel", means Hotel only stay. Whether our team does a home stay, or a hotel, really depends on the country. Some countries allow home stays, but some experiences are better if staying in a hotel. Additionally, if doing a home stay, you might not be with your host the entire stay. Some countries have allowed us the opportunity to do home stays for a portion of the trip and lodge in hotels for another portion. If you have any questions regarding lodging of a particular trip, please let us know!
Are your trips filled with a bunch of tours? Will we have charter buses to take us around?
Although we are called Bookbag Tours, we have been told that we are more "Bookbag Adventures". We do a few tours, some are optional side trips.....but always an adventure! We aren't your average tour company, we are teachers who want to be completely immersed in the culture! So instead of being chartered everywhere like many tour companies do, we will walk, take the subway, take a bus and explore the city like a local teacher would!
WHO ARE THE LEADERS? CAN I BE ONE?
Click here to meet our team! We have qualified leaders that will help with the journey and provide quality professional development and travel assistance. In addition, our entire staff and leaders are current or former educators and educational leaders. Lastly, we are not currently hiring Trip Leaders, but since we are asked this question very often, click here for a link about our company's profile, any open positions, if any, and how to apply, will be listed there.
HOW DO I GET PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CREDIT?
Several states and districts are already acquainted with Bookbag Tours and our opportunities. Speak to your administration for requirements of professional development and let us know exactly what you need. We can easily send documentation to your principal or district to make the process of professional development as pain-free as possible.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
A thorough packing list will be sent to you upon booking your trip! Some things you DEFINITELY need:
- A passport that doesn't expire any sooner than 6 months of your trip
- A valid US license
- Spending money for lunch, dinner, shopping, or anything you do in your free time
- International power adapter
- A great attitude
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I GET OUT OF THIS BESIDES A LIFE CHANGING, CAREER SHAPING, GLOBAL EXPERIENCE?
Where do we begin? We could be here all day but here are three very practical things:
- Depending on your district, you can get professional development credit just for going on this trip! Check with us, or check with your district for more info.
- This is a major resume booster. For recent graduating college students looking for their first teaching job, or for a veteran teacher looking to spice up their LinkedIn profile, these trips are the perfect way to show that you have an edge and are ready to accommodate a multicultural classroom.
- Hopefully you will be able to come up with a great project that connects your classroom with a classroom somewhere around the world. It's up to you!
- Lifelong friendships with teachers across the United States and Internationally!
SHOULD I REGISTER WITH MY WORK OR PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS?
We ask that you book us using your personal email address that you check the most. Firewalls, job changes, etc. often will block our emails and many teachers have missed important communication due to using their professional/district emails used at time of booking. Please also be sure that our emails do not go to your spam folder.
CAN I BRING MY SPOUSE OR CHILD?
You can definitely bring anyone that is self-sufficient. They might not be able to attend the schools if they are not a teacher, but many of the spouses will explore the area while you are in the schools (and they have fun doing it!). When it comes to children, unfortunately, it is not recommended for anyone under 16. Like with all adventurous travel, this is a full cultural immersion trip which involves lots of public transportation and a lot of walking that would be too much for young children. If you have an older teen who thinks it's fun to hang out with a bunch of teachers, than give our director an email at [email protected] to discuss.
IF I BRING MY SPOUSE OR CHILD, DO THEY GET A DISCOUNTED RATE?
Unfortunately, since our costs do not lower, the price is the same.
HOW DO TEACHERS AFFORD THIS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON A TEACHER SALARY? ARE THERE GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS, OR PERSONAL FUNDS?
Most are personal funds. We do payment plans (aka Layaway) and this allows our teachers to budget for it! There are also a ton of grants and scholarships for professional development and travel out there....here is a great article on different types of scholarships you can apply for! Click here for article.
DonorsChoose has also been a grant our teachers have received for their trip, as of right now, the max D.C. grant has been $1500.
Our Director and many teachers also love to use Credit Cards that offer Sky Mile points!
Any type of Professional Development that involves travel, like an Education Conference, involves some type of creative budgeting, and it's not for everyone
DONORSCHOOSE: CAN YOU HOLD ME A SPOT SO THAT I CAN DO DONORSCHOOSE TO SEE IF I GET THE PROJECT FUNDED?
Unfortunately, because our trips are very limited, and we do alot of work behind the scenes to setup your trips for you, etc.....we cannot hold spots that do not guarantee a payment. We can send you an invoice, after you have booked, that is requested by Donorschoose and we have had several teachers receive the D.C. funding (see above question) but our teachers usually expect to pay for the trip and are pleasantly surprised....more like ecstatic.... when they receive DonorsChoose grants.
I PLAN ON TRYING TO SEE IF I CAN GET A DONORSCHOOSE GRANT, WHAT STEPS DO I TAKE?
First, please read the two above questions regarding grants. As a reminder, we cannot hold spots that do not guarantee a payment. We can send you an invoice, after you have booked, that is requested by Donorschoose by emailing "[email protected]" and we have had several teachers receive the D.C. funding (see above question) but our teachers usually expect to pay for the trip and are pleasantly surprised....more like ecstatic.... when they receive DonorsChoose grants. Bill Kennedy is our financials guru who will send you a "full formal invoice" upon request. His email is [email protected] Hours are M-F 9am-5pm, please allow up to 48 business hours.
WHEN DO YOU RELEASE THE TRIPS FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR?
We release the following year of trips around May. For example, 2021 trips will be posted in May of 2020.
We first email our Alumni and a few days later will email our subscribers. We will then publicly post any open spots afterwards (approx. 2nd week of May.)
After you have Booked FAQ's:
Can I cancel a side trip that I booked through BBT? An opportunity came up for me to do something else.
Side trips are fully optional. Unfortunately, they are non-refundable from the vendors end since we buy it at a group rate. We cannot refund the side trips so be sure you are definitely going to be available for it before you sign up!
I NEED TO ARRIVE A DAY BEFORE OR THE DAY AFTER TRIP BEGINS...DOES THIS CHANGE PRICE?
If you are arrive the day before, we will need to add an additional day for lodging and transportation. If you are arriving the day after, sorry, but price is still close to the same due to the special group rate that we are given and is non-refundable, on their end, upon booking.
Should I get TSA Pre✓?
That is up to you, but as avid travelers, we enjoy using our Global Entry pass (aka Trusted Travelers Program), which includes TSA pre-check. Here is a link to their government site. Visit this site for more information on what is included. Please email them with questions. We are not affiliated with them whatsoever.
WHAT AIRPORT WILL I BE FLYING IN TO? and WHICH REQUIRE A VISA?
Jamaica - Montego Bay
London: Gatwick or Heathrow
New Zealand: Wellington
Egypt: Cairo (Visa required)
Australia: Sydney (ETA)
Finland: Helsinki (HEL)
France: Paris Charles De Gaulle - CDG
Kenya: Nairobi (Visa required)
South Africa: Johannesburg (Visa required)
WHERE AND WHEN DO I GET MY VISA?
The governments do not allow you to apply for a VISA until three months before your trip. In January, we will be sending out detailed information on how to apply for a VISA with link included.
I JUST BOOKED, I FILLED OUT THE PROFILE, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Yay! You will be receiving a welcome call in September-ish upon our return from our summer trips and we are going to email you a nice list of "what to do next" in the Fall. In the meantime, feel free to call/text us at 864.735.8258 or email us at [email protected] with any questions. For billing or anything in regards to your payment plan or payments, please email Bill Kennedy at [email protected]. Welcome to the BBT Fam!
I AM NOW OFFICIALLY PART OF THE BBT FAMILY AND WOULD LOVE TO BRAG ABOUT BOOKBAG TOURS TO MY OWN FRIENDS AND FAMILY. HOW CAN I DO THAT? IS THERE A REFERRAL CREDIT PROGRAM?
Yes! Bookbag Tours (BBT) members will spread the news of our trips through social media, blogs, email and telephone conversations. Then all of a sudden....we are globalizing hundreds of classrooms!
BBT Alumni and members receive a $100 referral credit on all booked trips they have referred! So be sure they mention your name when we ask how they heard about us!
IF MY PASSPORT EXPIRES THE SAME YEAR, SHOULD I RENEW?
Yes, you should, many countries do not allow entry into their country if the passport will be expire 3-4 months after the trip. Better safe than sorry and renew your passport!
I AM A BBT MEMBER, I HAVE A QUESTION REGARDING MY BILLING THAT IS NOT ANSWERED HERE. WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO CONTACT YOU?
Our members take priority over general inquiries, and therefore only specific staff members have access to your account. Please ONLY contact us via phone 864.735.8258 or email us at [email protected] for general member questions and [email protected] for anything concerning billing, for example, updating your credit card info, or refunds.
DO NOT REACH OUT TO US VIA SOCIAL MEDIA. Our staff that manage social media do not have access to your accounts, cannot answer any member-type questions, and do not check Social Media DM's often.
*Here are some helpful tips while you wait for a response from BBT and our super fabulous team:
*Are you a BBT client/member and have a question, or want assistance? One of our customer support gurus will get back to you within 24-48 "business" hours and get that taken care of! - Keep in mind, we work on standard business hours, Monday-Friday EST, closed on Holidays. During summer, it may be longer, since we are also are out of the country traveling with our clients.
*For all emergencies, do not email us, please call us directly at 864.735.8258 for a much faster response! If you are traveling with us, you will be given ALL of our cell phone numbers for all emergencies during travel. You usually get about 4 cellphone numbers to call....we got you!!