Traveling Owls FAQ

About Our Trips

How does Rice pick which trips to offer?

Each year, the Rice Alumni Traveling Owls program offers approximately 25 trips to destinations across the globe. These trips are carefully selected based on a variety of factors – such as price, location and included features – to ensure a broad portfolio of offerings for our alumni, parents and parents. If you have a suggestion for a future trip, please email the Rice Alumni Traveling Owls at travelingowls@rice.edu.

How large or small are your groups?

Trip size varies. However, most of our trips accommodate 25-36 travelers. Some of our cruises can accommodate up to 300 people, although these trips are often shared with like-minded organizations and institutions.

Are there trips for young alumni?

All of our trips are open to all alumni, parents and friends of Rice. However, in 2021, we have a specific trip reserved for our alumni from the Classes of 2010-2020! You can find the “Colombia Lost City Young Alumni” trip on our upcoming trips page.

Do you have a publication that lists all of your trips?

We publish an annual catalog in June of each year, listing programs offered in the following calendar year. You can also view all of our trips online in the upcoming trips section.

How can I request a specific brochure?

Request brochures by emailing us at travelingowls@rice.edu or call (713) 34-TRIPS (87477). In your message, be sure the name of the trip you are interested in. Brochures are available 6-9 months in advance of the departure date. If you request a brochure before it is printed, one will be sent to you as soon as it is printed.

What trips have been offered in the past?

The Traveling Owls program has offered trips to countries around the world, including Australia, Myanmar, Cuba, Russia, China and many more. You can see the world through the eyes of fellow Traveling Owls on past trips by visiting our online photo albums and hearing from faculty hosts in our online videos.


Pricing and Reservations

What is included in the price of a trip?

Trip prices are per person, based on double occupancy and in most cases do not include airfare. For single travelers, a single supplement may apply. For most land programs, tours and excursions are included in the price of the trip. There is an additional cost for pre-program and post-program tours on our land programs and for excursions on our cruises. A professional tour manager will travel with you on all programs to ensure worry-free travel.

Is there an additional cost for single travelers?

Most trip pricing is based on double occupancy, or two people sharing a room or cabin. Many of the trips offered will charge a single supplement for those who wish to room alone. On most tours, a limited number of single rooms are available. Single travelers can request to be matched with a roommate in order to reduce their cost. The tour company will strive to find a compatible partner of the same gender to share a room; however, the single supplement is required if a roommate cannot be found.

The Traveling Owls program also maintains a Single Traveler Registry. If you travel as a single, you can email travelingowls@rice.edu to be placed on the Single Traveler Registry. When a single traveler inquires about the possibility of a roommate, our office would do an email introduction between single travelers to determine if each is a match.

How do I reserve my place on a trip?

All registrations for each trip will take place directly with that trip’s tour operator. Visit the Upcoming Trips page or the Tour Operators page to find the phone number or website to use to complete your registration. You are always welcomed to contact the Rice Alumni Traveling Owls program at (713) 34-TRIPS (87477) or email travelingowls@rice.edu and a staff member will connect you to the right trip operator.

What if a trip is waitlist only?

Contact the Traveling Owls at travelingowls@rice.edu or (713) 34-TRIPS (87477) to be added to the waitlist and to find out if alternative dates are available. People cancel travel plans for a variety of reasons, even close to departure. Our tour operators also are occasionally able to offer additional departures or alternative dates. If we have cancellations prior to departure, we will fill those spaces via our waitlist. A deposit is not required for the waiting list; however, if a space becomes available you will be contacted and asked to confirm your reservation — including the deposit — within three days to be mindful of others on the waiting list.

What is the cancellation policy?

Cancellation policies vary by travel partner. In most cases, travel companies charge a nominal cancellation fee from the time of the deposit to cover expenses incurred in processing a new reservation and mailing out the preliminary trip information. As the departure date draws near, the travel partner has made more financial commitments to their suppliers (airline, hotel and ground transportation). Accordingly, cancellation fees then become more substantial as the departure date approaches. Cancellation policies typically are null in void if the trip is postponed. We suggest that you discuss cancellation fees with our travel partners before making your initial deposit. We also strongly recommend travel cancellation insurance to minimize financial risks.

What is the refund policy?

Refund policies vary by tour operator. We suggest that you discuss the refund policy with your tour operator before making your initial deposit. The Traveling Owls program is not responsible for the refund process and does not make any decisions regarding the amount refunded. As always, we strongly recommend travel insurance to minimize financial risks.

Can I book my air transportation on my own to get a non-stop flight, use frequent-flyer miles or simply get a better deal?

Yes, but with caution. We strongly urge you to arrange your flight through our travel partners. Where international air travel is concerned, the unexpected can occur and often does. Flights are delayed, canceled and/or planes are re-routed. In most cases, when you book on your own, your flight is non-refundable and you may forfeit the entire cost of the ticket should you need to change your itinerary, and in these cases, our travel partners cannot intervene on your behalf. We believe the benefits of booking with our travel partners far outweigh the minimal cost savings that might be possible when booking on your own. Our travel partners have strong alliances across the airline community and have provided our travelers with exceptional customer care when the unexpected occurred. We highly recommend making all of your arrangements through our travel partners.

Is it possible that pricing or other elements of the trip may change?

Due to the advance planning of our trips, all dates, itineraries and prices are subject to change. As a result, it is possible that information included in the yearly catalog and initial information that is available about our trips may differ from the final details that are provided in the final trip specific brochures. We encourage you to review the final brochures for the most accurate information regarding pricing, inclusions, dates and other elements related to each trip. If you have any questions, please email travelingowls@rice.edu.


Insurance and Parking

Should I purchase travel insurance?

We strongly recommend that you be adequately insured against last minute trip cancellation in case of an illness, injury, medical evacuation, delay or unforeseen emergency. Our travel insurance partner, USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services, offers reasonable packages in three different tiers. The Select Elite package is the most comprehensive package and provides coverage should you need to cancel for any reason up to the day of departure. For more information and pricing, visit USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services. In addition to USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services, travelers are welcomed to also explore other insurance options and providers to find coverage that is most suitable for individual needs. Unfortunately, the Traveling Owls staff is unable to answer specific insurance related questions since staff members are not licensed insurance agents. But we are happy to refer travelers to staff members at USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services to discuss individual questions.

Do I receive discounted airport parking?

Available to all alumni traveling, whether on a Traveling Owls trip or not, Rice travelers are eligible to receive parking discount at both FastPark Houston locations (Intercontinental Airport IAH and Houston Hobby HOU). To receive the discounted rate, click here to register for a free membership. When registering, you will need to enter corporate code BAA227 and indicate Rice University as the company name upon enrollment to receive the discount.

In addition to the Houston locations, discounts are also available at the FastPark locations in Albuquerque, Austin, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Orlando, Raleigh, and Tucson. The discounted parking rate varies by location and will be displayed when clicking on the above link and entering corporate code BAA227 and Rice University as the company name upon enrollment.

Not only do Rice alumni travelers receive the parking discount, but also other benefits including free parking accumulated with each day parked, complimentary pick up/drop off at your car, secured facilities, guaranteed parking availability, and free bottled water and newspapers.