ANSWERS to COMMON QUESTIONS
(The FAQ is a "must read" for all trip participants! The Summer 2023 Trip is our 15th trip. There are 14 trips which have preceded this one and your question is most likely answered in the FAQ section below because someone has asked it before on an earlier trip.
Please read the FAQ section throughly! )
Who are the trips for?
Our summer trips are designed for homeschool students and family members. Grads and family members are welcome to come on our student trips. The trips are open to family members if the homeschool student is also on the trip. Families are welcome, as well as non-CC students. Parents are allowed and encouraged to come, but the trip is NOT designed to be a private family vacation separate from the established itinerary.
The trip is tailored around the studies of the Classical Conversations senior (Challenge 4) student, though other students will benefit greatly from the trip. Students who have studied Classical literature, students who are interested in Classical studies, or students who are going into Challenge 4 or have completed Challenge 4 will greatly benefit from this trip. Regardless of background, past trips have shown students bond quickly on our trips.
Homeschooling is not a requirement. Christian students from public schools are also welcome.
Why only Italy, Greece, & Turkey?
We love travel and recommend exploring other parts of the globe. The unique focus of a ClassicalTrips.org experience is a classical approach to the ancient Greco-Roman world and its influence on Western civilization from a Christian perspective. Italy, Greece, and Turkey encompass unique aspects of history that have shaped our modern culture and are also significant to the growth of the early Christian church and it's spread across the world. Whether your specific interest is the study of Homer's world, the development of the Renaissance, or the missionary journeys of St Paul, you can experience all on a ClassicalTrips.org expedition.
A One Sentence Trip Description?
Our days and bellies are full, our feet are tired, our brains are expanded, our spirits are soaring, and we've made deep, lasting friendships with tripmates we've known for only a few days.
How long have you been taking groups overseas?
The Summer 2023 trip is our 10th year and 15th Classical trip to Italy, Greece, & Turkey. However, we've been taking groups overseas since 1988, traveling into 100 countries, and coordinating hundreds of overseas groups through the years. We've learned a thing or two, and use that knowledge to maximize each trip's experiences, activities, and adventures.
What about Airfare?
As you are probably aware, airfare prices have fluctuated greatly in the past year. You have two options: (1) purchase your own airfare with our guidelines for arrival and departure dates so you meet up with our group, or (2) we can arrange your air travel so you arrive when we arrive and depart when we depart. Either way, we will work with you to get the best air itinerary at the lowest price.
The posted trip prices cover all travel between your arrival to Rome and departure from Istanbul between Italy, Greece, and Turkey.
What about Covid?
Trip plans could change due to Covid. However, we feel the current situation and Covid responses from Italy, Greece, and Turkey are developed enough that we feel confident in planning the Summer 2023 trip.
Please click this link to understand how Covid may affect the trip while it is in process.
Read the post titled "The What Ifs of Covid 2023"
NOTE: You will be contacted prior to disbursement of your funds for your intra-European flights should Covid or some other worldwide crisis develop.
Required for international travel. Must be valid for travel 6 months AFTER the last day of trip (ie. your passport must be valid until December 2023).
A New passport can take several months to obtain so start early. Allow a minimum of 4-6 months to obtain.
A Renewal passport can take 3-4 months to obtain so plan accordingly.
USA passport application: https://www.usa.gov/passport
Note: average turn-around time for Summer 2021 & 2022 was 3-4 months!
All necessary visas included in the trip costs.
One (1) carry-on bag per person (rolling or back-packable) and one (1) personal item that fits under the airline seat in front of you.
NO Check-in bags! No exceptions!
Surprisingly, you can fit everything you need for this trip in one carry-on bag, plus a small daypack (which you'll use during the day for water bottles, snacks, etc.) A packing guide is provided here that will teach you the deep, dark secrets travel pros use to pack everything they need for a month of travel in just one small carry-on and one small day-pack.
(If you plan on traveling much in the future, this secret alone may well be worth the price of the trip!)
Acceptable bag size is: 21.65 x 15.74 x 7.87 inches. IF in doubt, check the Cabin Bag requirements for Ryan Air (one we frequently use).
If your bag exceeds these dimensions, you WILL likely be charged an additional $70 per flight each way by the European airlines!!
Do not bring your bedroom pillow, towels, or sleeping bags!
(Check dimensions before purchasing)
Note: You will carry your own bags. We do not hire porters. If your bags are too heavy for you to carry or roll down cobblestone streets, reduce the weight!
Additional European Travel
Additional time in Europe can be arranged before or after the group departure at your own expense and travel arrangements.
Make arrangements in advance with the ClassicalTrips.org office if you desire this option.
Any money saving suggestions?
As you are aware, the trips are priced for travel within Europe. The cost to travel to NYC and the hassle of navigating various NYC airports can usually be reduced by flying directly from your home city's nearest International airport to Europe.
(1) You can opt for the Land Package Only choice and make your own travel arrangements to Europe, or
(2) We can coordinate direct flights for you to our arrival destination, the same airport and time in Europe. Typically there is a few hundred dollar savings by bypassing NYC. However, if you are uncomfortable traveling to Europe on your own, you may opt to fly out of the USA with a group leader. We will help you coordinate your travel to/from Europe.
Travel in Europe
We use public transportation as much as possible. We will NOT hire a tour bus. You will become an experienced traveler on Metro, Underground, train, city bus, Funicular, walking, and cheap intra-European flights, etc. On average, you will walk 8-12 miles per day over cobblestone streets and ancient trails.
NOTE: You will actually walk 8-12 miles per day, up hills, up stairs, over hiking trails, and on rough roads, etc. (Note: this is very different than walking on a treadmill or sidewalk the same distance.)
This trip has been described by some as a "walking tour of Italy, Greece, & Turkey".
NOTE: we do not walk 8-12 miles non-stop!
We stay in furnished apartments, leased flats, monasteries, or budget hotels. Think AirBnB or VRBO style . . . better than Youth hostels, but cheaper than traditional lodging.
Benefits are: (1) more living space, (2) kitchens, (3) courtyards, (4) laundry facilities, (5) stove top espresso makers, (6) easy access to public transportation, and (7) experiencing the culture like a local.
Drawbacks are: (1) shared bathrooms, (2) no elevators, (3) noisy neighbors, (4) no maid service, (5) no room service, (6) not located at major intersections, (7) rarely rated 5 stars in the Michelin Guidebook.
We book entire villas and buildings with large living spaces, spectacular views, and close proximity to the top sites when possible. All in all, it is a great way to save money. Typically trip participants are housed 4-5 per room.
NOTE: whether student or adult, we have the same accommodations. However, Students share rooms with Students, and Adults share rooms with Adults. If the lodging works out, there may be options for family members to room together, but this is not always the case. There are NOT options for private rooms or room upgrades. Though your actual bed may be a fold-out couch, futon, etc. or real bed depending on the availability at the lodging, you will always have a bed. Leave your sleeping bag & hammock at home!
Depends on where we are. You will always have a bed, but it may be a fold out couch, rollaway, hideaway, or futon. If your bed is a double or larger, you will most likely share it. Sheets will be clean and bug-free, but not quite like the Four Seasons Hotel's satin sheets.
Pack enough clothes for 5-6 days only. You will have opportunity to do laundry at least once per country during the trip. Hand washable, quick dry items are best, as you can pack lighter but do laundry in your bathroom sink more often when washing machines are not available. You do not need to bring laundry detergent. Laundry detergent is available locally. We use laundromats weekly. Laundry is at your expense.
Read these Travel Tips for how to pack.
On past trips, students have found approximately $200-300 sufficient.
The best exchange rates are always obtained by using a debit or credit card at ATMs that give the current rate of exchange.
Travelers cheques are difficult to exchange due to the very limited places that accept them and are NOT RECOMMENDED.
Cash (US dollars) typically incurs a 20% fee to exchange into Euro and is NOT RECOMMENDED.
I highly recommend bringing your spending money on a credit/debit card.
Note: you'll need to let your bank know you'll be withdrawing $ overseas.
And YES, we said CASH and Travelers Checks are NOT RECOMMENDED.
All your basic expenses are included in the trip, including 3 meals a day. However, items for which you will want extra money are: gifts, souvenirs, laundry, Covid tests, snacks, coffee shops, more coffee shops, lots of gelato, some great pastries, etc., and any meals you choose to eat separate from the group. On past trips, students have found approximately $200-300 sufficient. ATMs are the best way to obtain Euros during the trip, but you must inform your bank in advance of the trip dates and countries you will visit. Check with your bank regarding fees charged for ATM cash withdrawal.
It is recommended you bring a Credit/Debit card that works overseas rather than cash!
We will do our best to accommodate group tastes, but most often food preparation is out of our control. If you have stringent dietary needs, you will need to bring $ for your own food supply, as it is not feasible for the group to cater to one person's specific needs when traveling and eating as a group. On a typical day, the group will eat from restaurants, food stalls, street vendors, and fresh food from the local market, either at a restaurant or in our apartment kitchen. You get to embrace the culture and live like a local.
Most meals are served "family style". (Family Style means: the trip leader orders a variety of foods for the group to share around the table at the meal.) Either the trip leader will order for the group (to make sure you get to try some of the fantastic foods you've never experienced before), or each table will combine their $ allotment for that specific meal to order shared dishes for your table. As determined by the trip leader, there will 2-3 meals in which you will be given cash to eat at the establishment of your choosing.
FOOD PHILOSOPHY: You are not expected to like everything, but you are asked to try everything.
You may discover a new favorite!
NOTE: We rarely take you to an American chain restaurant overseas (though travel schedules may require it on occasion so I apologize in advance!) You may find one and eat at it on your own time and expense, but our thought is that you don't travel to the other side of the world to eat American food!
NOTE: Read this if you have FOOD ALLERGY CONSIDERATIONS or CONCERNS
Typical meals (3 per day included)
BREAKFAST(always at our apartment): yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, milk, cereal, bread, butter, jam, boiled eggs, bakery items, etc.
LUNCH: this is our larger meal of the day. Usually eaten sometime between 1p-3p at some of our favorite spots (which are highly rated restaurants known for authentic meals of great quality and good quantities).
DINNER: smaller than lunch. Usually eaten between 8p - 10p. Good food, just not as large as lunch. Europeans typically eat a later supper by American standards so you may want a snack inbetween meals.
SNACKS (at your own expense): coffee shops, gelaterias, bakeries, etc.
NOTE: our meal-time schedule is typical for Europe but later in the day than most American meal times.
NOTE: water is our beverage of choice 99.9% of the time. Break your soda addiction. Drink more water! Meals include water, but typically not soda, coffee, tea, etc.
Every place we stay has drinkable, potable water. BRING A WATER BOTTLE for the trip. You will fill it before venturing out for the day and you will refill it multiple times during the day. Water is essential for life . . . particularly your life! We rarely buy bottled water. We drink what the locals drink from the tap. It will not make you sick. Due to the typical level of daily exertion, you will need to stay well hydrated. Plan on drinking a couple of litres per day!
Every participant is REQUIRED to carry Overseas Medical insurance that covers Covid. If your existing U.S. medical insurance does not cover overseas medical coverage (including Covid treatment), you will be required to obtain coverage. Proof of overseas medical coverage is required before trip departure. If your current medical insurance does not cover you overseas, low cost Overseas Medical Insurance policies that span the trip dates are available through Sevencorners.com and other travel insurance companies. Typical cost is $60 and is not part of your trip payments. The suggested policy is the Seven Corners Travel Medical Plus at Sevencorners.com that covers $500,000 medical expenses with a $250 deductible and Covid coverage.
Note: the required Overseas Medical Insurance coverage is NOT for trip cancellation, lost luggage, delayed transport, etc. but for Medical & Emergency situations. Travel CFAR Insurance (which includes Medical, Covid, lost luggage, & trip cancellation for any reason) is available for approximately $200-300 from a variety of travel insurance companies.
Overseas Medical Insurance is required.
Travel Insurance for trip cancellation, lost luggage, delayed transport is not required.
CFAR (cancel for any reason) travel insurance is not required.
You are not required to use Sevencorners.com for overseas medical insurance. However, we have had positive experiences with them the few times we have ever needed them.
Release/Hold Harmless Form
All participants are required to submit a 2023 RELEASE & HOLD HARMLESS FORM to participate in any GlobalQuest.org or ClassicalTrips.org trip or activity. Click link above to download the PDF form.
Due 4 weeks before departure.
Safety is paramount in all we do. All reasonable and customary precautions will be observed at every leg of the trip. Though you will be stretched, challenged, and pushed, you will never purposely be placed in personal danger by the ClassicalTrips staff.
NOTE: People have asked about the safety of travel to Europe and Turkey. We will only be in the "safe" areas, far from terrorists, world crises, etc.
Trip leaders stay in close contact with the US Embassy in each country and the Embassy is informed of our itinerary in advance.
We provide the embassy our leader's contact information in case the Embassy needs to connect with our group.
Every trip itinerary and trip participant list is registered with the US State Department in advance.
As a Student-oriented Christian travel group, we follow broadly accepted guidelines for Christian behavior and interaction among all trip participants. NOTE: SAFETY & CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR DETAILS
What about Turkey?
We stay in regular contact with the US Embassy in Istanbul as well as the US Consulate near our lodging during our travel in Turkey. Should there be any concerns prior to departure or during the trip regarding Turkey, alternate sites in Siena, Venice, Thessaloniki, or a Greek island may be added. Assuming there are no State Department restrictions to travel to Turkey, we will only be on the western coast of Turkey (which is the most modern and developed) and in Istanbul.
Though this is a rare situation, if you have a Medical Emergency during the trip, you (or your parents) will need to take care of the treatment arrangements & expense. The ClassicalTrips staff will assist you as much as possible and help you pursue medical consultation, but cannot abandon the rest of the group.
Note: if a Student has a non-emergency illness, they will be left during the day in a safe, secure location with phone/text access and their parents will be notified.
Chaperones & Parents?
Adult sponsors accompany the group during the trip. Groups are chaperoned for safety, Christian behavior, and to maximize the International experience. However, it is our goal for Students to be able to "explore" safe sections of each city in approved groups without a chaperone or parent. We believe this is an important part of their exposure and adventure overseas.
Typically, students bond better and develop more when a parent gives them the freedom to experience the culture apart from parental supervision. "Helicopter" parents create a negative environment for others and limit the learning experience of the students.
Though your cell phone should work overseas after you inform your carrier you need international coverage, remember the cost for overseas calls and data can be prohibitive. However, smartphones can be very useful by providing free calling & messaging back to the USA over free WiFi in each city. Smartphone use is discouraged during site visits and meals (except in case of emergencies) to allow time for processing and Socratic discussions among the group. Mealtimes and site-visits are "no-phone" zones. Talk to your neighbor instead. Most cellphones have great cameras which are very useful for pics, etc.
What Is A Walking Tour
You will walk a lot! Based on IOS, Android, and fitness apps that track the distance and number of steps past participants have taken, you actually will walk 8-12 miles per day or use 10,000-20,000+ steps per day. Typically a light day of walking is followed by a heavy day of walking. Unlike walking on a track or treadmill, almost all of the walking overseas is on rough paths, unpaved trails, cobblestone streets and uphill (don't ask me to explain how it seems we never go downhill).
Due to a typically full schedule each day, we try to fit in as much as possible in the number of sites we see. Though you'll never have to run or jog, we frequently walk at a rapid pace to reach our next scheduled site, followed by opportunities to rest and enjoy.
A walking tour of Italy, Greece, and Turkey gives you an understanding of how the locals live and what life is truly like in each country. As you learn to navigate local transportation, eat where the locals eat, and live like a local you will gain an appreciation of the cultural and sociological dynamics of each country. More importantly, you will gain the understanding needed to return on your own in the future, confident in your knowledge to successfully master travel in Europe.
You truly will walk a lot! A good pair of walking shoes is required. On average, you'll walk 8-12 miles (sometimes more, sometimes less) per day over paved streets, cobblestone paths, up hills, to historic sites, metro stations, etc. Break-in a good pair of walking shoes several weeks in advance! Typically, one pair of walking shoes and one pair of hiking sandals are all that is needed for the entire trip.
Note: your trip leader has long legs, walks fast, and expects you to keep up with the group.
Comfortable, casual clothing is desirable for most of the trip. However, "holy places" do not allow tank tops, shorts or skirts above the knee, bare shoulders, etc. This applies in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and includes Vatican sites, churches, mosques, etc. You will be informed in advance the days we are visiting "holy place" sites. You will have the opportunity to do laundry on a regular basis . . . typically at least once per week. Bring clothes that air-dry easily, as no locations have clothes dryers.
Average temps in Greece, Italy, & Turkey are between 70-105 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot & sunny. Sunscreen is a must.
Plan on having one day at the beach. As schedule allows, this will either be along the Athens coast or the Rome coast. This generally incurs a $10-$15 cost (your expense) to rent a beach umbrella, lounge chair, entry fee, and snacks. Sunscreen required. Bring a swimsuit of your choice. FYI: Though all the beaches we visit require "clothing", European standards tend to be skimpier than your average Church Youth Group standards.
Packing & Audio Tours on the trip
Though we have traveled extensively around the world, we like to utilize "travel helps and tips" that others have prepared when appropriate. The following link connects you to some of those travel resources that we have found helpful. In addition to Packing helps (how to pack in just a carry-on) there are also downloadable audio tours of the sites we will see. These will be helpful during the trip at many sites. Link to helpful resources: PACKING HELPS and AUDIO TOURS.
Is there a payment schedule? What if I miss a payment deadline?
Yes, the Payment Schedule is found on the Payments page. If you miss a payment deadline and costs have increased due to adding you in after the group's air/lodging purchases have been made, those costs will be added to your overall trip costs.
If the trip fills up, is there any way I can still go on the trip?
Possibly . . . we will start a Waiting List. If space opens, we will fit you in on a first-come/first-served basis. Due to changes in family schedules and other factors, this occasionally happens.
Can I join the trip last minute?
Yes, but at a price! It depends on how "last minute" you are. We generally purchase airfare and pay for lodging months in advance of our trip departure. Adding someone in after that often means the airfare cost will have increased and the lodging space needed may go at a higher rate. Those costs are passed on to you. Entrance fees to sites & exhibits are not usually affected, but the increased airfare costs and lodging costs (above what the rest of the group is paying) can be hundreds of dollars more. However, we are happy to work with you to try to keep the costs down, should you add in late. Often, as a late add-in, if you're able to fly on slightly different flights than the rest of the group, your additional cost will be minimal. As a side note, the trip payment is divided into 4 scheduled payments between December 2022 - April 2023. Payment schedule details are on the PAYMENTS page.
Here is a sample itinerary. Dates are not exact until the week of the trip, but the sites listed are part of what you will experience. During the trip, this itinerary is updated regularly. It provides each student a daily schedule of their Site Expert sites so they can be prepared before heading out each day, thus enabling you to share effectively at each of your chosen sites. Additionally, it is a great way for family & friends back home to follow your adventures.
List of some of the HISTORIC SITES you will visit.
Previous year's sample itinerary:
Every trip participant that has a smartphone is encouraged to download Whatsapp.com to their smartphone for use during the trip. It's been the best way to stay in communication among the group for times when we may be dispersed across one of the trip cities or for times when we need to inform everyone of an unexpected change in plans. It works over readily available wifi and does not cut into your data plan when on wifi.
Additional Smartphone Apps
We use the app Rick Steves Europe (https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/audio-europe) for additional information, free audio tours, and helpful tips for those who want to get the most out of the trip sites. Though not required, the free information is recommended for trip participants who have a smartphone. A recommended list of free audio tours is provided at: PACKING and AUDIO TOURS
Available in many locations. Always available at our lodging.
Best apps we've used for staying in touch back home are: Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facetime.
Internet Safety Overseas
It is essential to use a VPN service when handling ANY confidential, financial, or private information online when you are overseas. A secure VPN can eliminate being hacked when online overseas. Especially important for any financial or important transactions requiring internet security. Here's a listing of various free VPNs. Note: paid VPNs are ad-free.
I've heard there are pickpockets?
Greg's Recommended Travel Items
A recommended list of items we have found helpful in overseas travel is provided. None of these items are required. All of these items are easily packable in a carry-on bag, along with our required clothing, etc. For your convenience, online shopping links are provided for each item where a specific product is recommended. Link to SUGGESTED ITEMS
A small backpack or fanny pack for carrying camera, snacks, H2O, etc. is advisable.
Online Conference Call Meetings
There are Online Meetings held prior to the trip departure. Recordings of the online meetings are posted to the website afterward. The last conference call is held a week before trip departure. Call recordings are posted online after each call.
Due to the in-depth study of Western culture and it's roots, a number of colleges/universities are willing to grant academic credit for students who participate on this trip. Details here.
Alcohol / Wine / eCigs / Smoking / Marijuana / etc
Decisions about alcohol, beer, wine, smoking, medical marijuana, etc are personal decisions, and Christian practices vary widely regarding their use. It is not our desire to impose our interpretation and practice upon trip participants, however, necessity dictates that we establish guidelines that the entire group will follow. ClassicalTrips.org has chosen to abide by a strict interpretation of "avoiding the appearance of evil" and "doing nothing that would cause a brother to fall" among all our fellow Christian believers. As such, all ClassicalTrips.org participants must agree to abide by our guidelines regarding the use of these during all of the trip.
We practice a strict No alcohol, No wine, No smoking, No illegal drugs, etc on all ClassicalTrip experiences.
Each trip participant commits to abstain from these practices during the entirety of the trip, beginning with the NYC departure and ending after the NYC return. Though your personal beliefs may differ from these guidelines, by coming on the trip, you are agreeing to abstain during the trip entirety. This commitment applies to all trip participants, whether they are adult or student; with the group or separate, during scheduled events or during free time, etc.
It is our purpose to maintain a Christian witness at all times in all behavior.
What if I disobey the rules, venture off by myself, and get lost?
Before heading out in each city, we will discuss your plan of action, which will include (1) deep sincere repentance, (2) contrition, (3) genuflection, (4) a phone # you will keep with you for help, & (5) a phone pic of our apartment address, and (6) a phone call to your parents. Remember, policemen are our friends.
What if I run out of money?
You won’t go hungry nor sleep on the street. There may be a way for your parents to send $ to the Trip Leader, which we transfer to you.
What if strange people keep pestering me to buy cheap souvenirs I don’t want?
Welcome to the world of travel where everyone assumes you have more money than they do.
Can I go home early if I decide I’m too homesick?
Yes. Typically it cost between $600-$950 to change your ticket.
What if I overpacked and can’t carry all my stuff?
We will donate your excess goods to the local economy or nearest dumpster.
Don’t order extra food and plan on reimbursing us. Order it on a separate ticket after all other orders have been placed.
However, opportunities for this will be rare as we normally order our meals “family style”.
What if my boyfriend/girlfriend is on the trip?
Please read the Trip Guidelines section about Couples.
INFORM your bank debit/credit if you plan on using your card overseas.
INFORM your phone provider if you plan on using your smartphone overseas.
Take out a calling/texting/data plan in advance if you plan on using your phone’s cellular data.
Wifi is available, but it can be spotty.
Don’t access personal data or websites without using a VPN.
Foreign SIM cards only work on UNLOCKED phones.
Download WhatsApp in advance and make sure it works for you in the USA before expecting it to work overseas.
A link to our Trip group chat will be provided in advance.
Do NOT bring sheets, pillows, bath towels, sleeping bags, etc.
Do bring a light jacket for cool or inclement weather.
If your walking shoes are brand new and not broken in, pick up blister pads before departing.
Though you will get a meal on the flights to Rome, bring some $ for snacks you may want at the airports to and from Europe.
Your first “trip provided” meal begins after you land in Rome & last meal ends when you depart either Athens or Istanbul.
Who is Global Quest Inc. and why am I writing checks to them?
Global Quest Inc is the parent organization of ClassicalTrips.org. ClassicalTrips.org is the educational arm of Global Quest Inc., which equips both students and adults in Christian education, a Biblical worldview, and a passion for world missions.
Check out the LINKS below for more info:
What if I still have questions?
Feel free to give us a call or text @ 918.770.8088
NOTE: you will most likely get voicemail. Please LEAVE A MESSAGE!
Or send an email: email@example.com