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Old 09-09-2017, 12:14 PM   #1
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Caravans

For those of you who have gone on a WBCCI-sponsored caravan, could you provide some opinions of your experiences? Is it worth the money? What kinds of problems and positive experiences did you have? I am considering signing up for one and would like to find out if it's worth the large amount of money involved.
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Old 09-09-2017, 01:02 PM   #2
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Never been. May not ever attend one. We do not think the cost is excessive. We do question if all of the events on the caravan will be of interest? Also, the caravans are much longer than we believe is appropriate for our traveling preference.

Having someone else plan your trip represents a considerable convenience. The value should not be underestimated. Folks tell us they develop life long friendships on caravans. Commitment to a trip gets you out and traveling, which has got to be a good thing.

Suggestion - attend a set of local unit rally events. Ask the folks you meet about their experiences with caravans. Look for one of the shorter caravans that some of the units are holding and see if you like the format.

Good luck with your investigation. Pat
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Old 09-09-2017, 02:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by edlong56 View Post
For those of you who have gone on a WBCCI-sponsored caravan, could you provide some opinions of your experiences? Is it worth the money? What kinds of problems and positive experiences did you have? I am considering signing up for one and would like to find out if it's worth the large amount of money involved.
We'll be following this thread because we're wondering the same thing. One concern we had is we've stayed away from organized vacation tours because of a couple of bad experiences. I'm a little wary of caravans because of that. We definitely don't like the "hit and run" tourist type on the tours we experienced. You know the kind, bus/cruise pulls up to a spot, people jump out, take a picture, buy a trinket or three, jump back on bus/cruise, never having experienced the locale or people - not for us. We consider ourselves what I like to call "travelers", not tourists, more immersion travel than looking at fish in a bowl type of experience. But AS people in general seem to be a great group, hoping it wouldn't be like a typical organized tour. Anyone with experience?
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Old 11-17-2017, 09:30 AM   #4
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Im kinda surprised no one has replied to this yet, but here is my two cents!
We went on our first caravan this year (Taste of Blue Ridge) and it was well worth. The leaders definitely spend a lot of time getting everything organized and to find interesting things to do as well as good places to eat, but you are not obligated to do everything and there is quite a bit of free time in the stops to do your own thing. If My husband and I had planned this trip on our own we would have missed most of the interesting things we stopped to see and we would not have met all the interesting people we were on the caravan with. Yes, sometimes we felt a little more hurried to get up in the morning and go eat breakfast or start a tour with the group than we would have if wed been on our own but all in all, it was a great experience with good folks. We have talked with many who have thoroughly enjoyed every Caravan and maybe one or two who said they did not like it.
As for the cost, you do get what you pay for. There is no hidden or extra-padding like I thought there might be. Each expenditure is shown and there are audits done by volunteers from the group to verify, then at the end of the caravan, the totals are verified and we were actually sent a check for a refund of what was not spent. So that part is very straightforward.
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Old 11-17-2017, 10:22 AM   #5
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2017 Upper Peninsula Michigan Caravan

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Originally Posted by edlong56 View Post
For those of you who have gone on a WBCCI-sponsored caravan, could you provide some opinions of your experiences? Is it worth the money? What kinds of problems and positive experiences did you have? I am considering signing up for one and would like to find out if it's worth the large amount of money involved.
We went on our first WBCCI caravan this summer to the upper peninsula of Michigan (Ores, Shores, Waters & Lights Caravan). The leaders were terrific, the caravan was well planned, organized and executed. We enjoyed seeing many sights we probably wouldn't have identified or visited on our own. Meeting new friends is another positive dimension of the caravan experience.

The cost of the caravan represents a good value and the leaders provided the participants with a budget at the beginning of the event and recap of spending at the end. All participants received an equal share of the money remaining in the kitty at the end of the caravan. We felt there was a good balance of scheduled activities and free time to explore on your own at each stop. Based on our very positive experience we have signed up for another caravan in 2018.

The Ores, Shores, Waters, and Lights caravan is a short 2 week trip with a smaller number of participants (17) than the popular long caravans. It is definitely a good venue to experience caravan travel before committing the time and money to a long trip across the southwest or to Alaska.

I produced a video covering the highlights of the Michigan caravan which you can access on YouTube at the link below. It should give you a good perspective of the caravan experience.

2017 Ores, Shores, Waters, and Lights Caravan
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Old 11-17-2017, 11:56 AM   #6
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Excellent video, photography and music!
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:10 PM   #7
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Another great production, Chuck. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:20 PM   #8
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We have done 2 caravans. One long, one short and 2 more down the road next year. A great way to travel at a relaxed pace and meet new friends and re-new old friendships. The cost is reasonable when you consider the overall value. BUT, they are not for everyone. I would suggest signing up on a few waiting lists (or plan far enough ahead) and try a short one to see if you enjoy it. Pick a part of the country (or Canada) that you would like to spend some time in and make plans to stay around after the end of the caravan or arrive early and wander about.
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Old 11-17-2017, 12:32 PM   #9
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We have not gone on one of these, but while at Alumalina few weeks back, we talked to several folks who have; some multiple trips. All reviews were pretty good. As mentioned in this thread, and from what we were told, they are very well organized, and the accounting seems pretty good; they sent refunds back for money not spent- some folks said as much as $400 refunds on one trip to Alaska recently. The persons providing the official information said to sign up and or to get on the waiting lists if full; there usually are drop outs and you likely will get to go on the one you select. We were impressed by the tales from folks we talked with.
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:36 PM   #10
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Florida 55....Very nice video! Who is the artist singing the first song?
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Old 11-17-2017, 01:59 PM   #11
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We have been on 10 Airstream caravans over the last 11 years . So yes, we like them. They have been well planned and lots of very nice people go on them. The way a caravan does the money is that the leader takes up a kitty fee and then pays for the group events and the campsites from that. So all of the money that is paid in is used for the caravan or returned to the caravaners at the end. The leaders work for free. They do get paid expenses. The leaders do know how to work discounts. They do schedule dinners and events that one could not do just on their own. Being retired, we like the length of the caravans. Long enough to get to know most of the people on the caravan.

There are lots of activities included in the kitty fee. The cost is low considering what you get for it. Yes, you could possibly go on your own and just sit in the campgrounds and do nothing cheaper. But every penny of the kitty fee goes towards the caravan. I think WBCCI charges $110 per caravan for the insurance for the leaders. That and the leaders expenses are the only added costs. On a commercial caravan there is profit for the company and pay for the leaders and other costs. Airstream caravans are about 1/3 the cost of a commercial caravan.

It is very tough to get on caravans now. Lots of people want to go. Few want to lead. You need to sign up a long time in advance and perhaps for several in order to get on one. So it is going to take some commitment to even do it.

We were on waiting lists for almost every caravan we actually got on. Sometimes for 2 years in advance. One time we were called 1 day in advance because someone broke their ankle loading up to leave for the caravan.

So far we have not had "a problem" on any of the caravans. It is a pretty experienced bunch of people who lead and go on these caravans.
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Old 11-17-2017, 03:40 PM   #12
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Florida 55....Very nice video! Who is the artist singing the first song?
The first song, "Michigan and Again" is performed by a group called the Accidentals. The singer is Savannah Buist. The band was included in Yahoo's list of the top 10 bands to watch in 2017. Here's a link to the band's website which includes a music video of this song.

The Accidentals Website
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Old 11-18-2017, 06:31 AM   #13
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Caravan leaders are a very special breed of Airstreamer, particularly those who lead the same caravan year after year for the enjoyment of those who go on the caravan. Consider they do not earn a salary only expenses (fuel, meal at group dinner, campsite rental, admission to activities). In many instances the campsite fees, meals, and admission fees are comped by the establishment due to the number of customers the caravan leader brings in.

A tremendous amount of non paid work goes into planning and executing a caravan. Plus there is some financial exposure born by the leaders since campgrounds today often require sizable deposits for large group reservations months before the kitty money is collected from the participants. Having now been on a caravan I can greatly appreciate the amount of work leaders do before and during the caravan.

Compare the price of a WBCCI caravan to one of the commercial caravans. The difference is significant and the savings for the WBCCI caravans is due to the incredible dedication of volunteer unpaid caravan leaders. If you go on a caravan, be sure to let your leaders know how much you appreciate them.
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Old 11-18-2017, 07:43 AM   #14
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We went on the Cajun Caravan earlier this year and had a blast. Next year we are headed to Alaska for two months.
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