Q.    Where did the name Drifter Sister come from?

A.    I have traveled extensively since 1996, primarily with my sister, so when the nickname Drifter Sister was given to me it seemed appropriate, and it was a natural progression as it evolved into the name of my tour company, which was started in 2007.


Q.    Where did the name Catch the Wind Tours come from?

A.    It came from a page in a daily calendar, on which was written an anonymous quote that I adopted as my motto many years ago:

      "Catch the wind.

         Taste the rain.

            And touch all of your tomorrows."


Q.    Is airfare included in the price of Catch the Wind Tours?

A.    No. Airfare cannot be included because the planning begins and prices are set very early, and there is no way to know what airfares will be by the time of the tour. Also, many people are able to use frequent flyer miles for their trips.


Q.    Why don't you do group flights?

A.    Group flights can only be arranged for groups of 10 or more traveling on the exact same itinerary. Most Catch the Wind tours have a maximum of 12 passengers, and some fall below this number. If you block a number seats with an airline, and subsequently fall below 10, you must give up those seats and start again, at the current airfare. This is too risky. Also, because Drifter Sister clients come from all over the country, it is best to make individual flight arrangements from the nearest departure airport, as opposed to making everyone begin in a particular city, such as New York.


Q.    Do you offer travel insurance?

A.    Yes, and on some of my Catch the Wind tour destinations, such as to Africa, it is mandatory.


Q.    Do you sell travel insurance to people that do not go on your trips?

A.    Yes. You don't have to be on one of my trips to purchase travel insurance. If you are going on a cruise, or package-tour, or even traveling independently, you can purchase travel insurance from me.


Q.    Are your travel insurance rates competitive?

A.    Yes. You will find they are often actually lower, and sometimes with better coverage, than you will find being sold by the cruise companies or other sources, such as through Travel Smith.


Q.    Why do you offer an Early Bird Discount?

A.    I deal directly with vendors, skipping the middle person, which is one of the reasons my tours are more reasonably priced than most. Some vendors let me pay in US dollars, others insist I pay them in Euros, or some other currency. I know exactly how much the US$ trips will cost me, so can price them accordingly. For the foreign currency ones, however, I cannot be certain. If I can lock in and pay for things in advance, I won't have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates, and can price the trip accordingly. It's worth it to me, then, to reward those who let me know of their serious interest in a particular tour plenty of time in advance.


Q.    What if I've never traveled to Europe before? You say your trips are for experienced travelers.

A.    If you are a newbie, don't worry. I will take care of you. Some people have been there, done that, and prefer to head out on their own. That's okay. Others need more guidance. I will help you every step of the way, and you can 'hang out' with me. I offer as much or as little assistance as required.


Q.    What is a Good Faith Deposit?

A.    I ask for a Good Faith Deposit of $100 for two reasons. First, when a trip is far into the future, this indicates to me that a person is serious. When I get enough of these deposits I can work with the vendors with confidence, knowing that the tour is a 'go.' The second reason is for tours that I know fill up fast. The receipt of a Good Faith Deposit holds a spot for the client, and qualifies for the Early Bird Discount, if there is one.


Q.    Is the Good Faith Deposit refundable?

A.    Yes. It is fully refundable if you cannot go on the tour for any reason, and if you do go it is applied to the price of the tour.




Q.    Do you take credit cards?

A.    No. The fees associated with credit cards are very high, and my margin is too low to allow for it. If I did accept credit cards I would have to pass the cost along to the client.


Q.    Do you take installment payments?

A.    Yes. However full payment must be made prior to the trip. Sometimes that final payment can creep up on you and feel overwhelming. If it helps to make multiple, smaller payments instead, we can customize a payment plan.


Q.    How can your tours be so reasonably priced?

A.    First off, I am an independent tour operator. When you call Drifter Sister, you talk to ME, Ihla Crowley. That's it. There's no one else. I work out of my home. Because of this, there is very little overhead, thus very little mark-up on my trips. Second, I skip the middle person and go directly to the vendors. I am certified and licensed, so get the same treatment as a big travel agency. I deal with the same vendors over and over, they get to know me, and we develop trust and loyalty. They give me their best rates. Finally, when we can, we stay in one or two places only, such as a villa or chateau. This is a cheaper option than paying for nightly rates at hotels.


Q.    Why are some Catch the Wind Tours more expensive than others?

A.    First, the all-inclusive ones cost more because more is included. That's pretty simple. And I tend to offer those in more expensive locales, where it would cost you more to 'go it on your own.' Africa and Cuba, for instance. Next, small group travel, by nature, is a more costly way to go. We stay in the towns or villages, usually in bed and breakfasts or guesthouses, not in the cheaper hotels on the outskirts. Finally, in the cases where I need to transport people in motor coaches, I don't settle for anything but the best and most comfortable, and always with a certified guide. Ireland, for instance.


Q.    Why are Catch the Wind Tours a better value than other tours?

A.    Drifter Sister tours are special in that they are personalized, and different from those offered by other, more commercial companies. My concept is to experience a place in-depth. They are always small-group, generally 10-16 (with a few exceptions, but rarely, if ever, over 20). I accompany all of the tours, and never to anywhere I have not been to myself. To the best of my ability I will minimize the number of times you must get in and out of your suitcase. Most of my clientele have 'been there, done that' on the one-night-in-each-city tours, and don't have a desire to put themselves through that anymore. Customized, personalized, small-group - all at the most reasonable price attainable. That's value!


Q.    Is there a chance of a Drifter Sister Tour price going up?

A.    In some cases, yes. There is also the possibility of a trip price going down. Mostly, this only affects those tours where I must deal in a foreign currency. On every flyer or brochure, and on my website, I have a caveat about what currency rate the price has been based, and explain the possibility of the price being adjusted if that rate changes appreciably. A tiny percentage point one way or the other won't impact the price. However, if it goes up a lot, the price might change - whether this happens or not depends on how much I was able to pay for in advance. [By the way, this has never happened yet.] One way a tour price might be lowered is if I get the maximum number of participants. On most trips I have a minimum of 10 to make it happen - but we can go as high as 16. I price it for somewhere in the middle of that range, with a little leeway on either side. If we get the full complement, however, sometimes I can reduce the price on the final payment invoice. A nice surprise, yes? [By the way, this has happened - twice.]   


Q.    Why are you so open about your pricing methods?

A.    Because my most important asset is customer loyalty. Most of you are my friends - or will be once we've traveled together. To earn and attain this loyalty, people must know I can be trusted. I truly believe that honesty and openness, as a baseline, help to foster trust and then loyalty. If just 60 of you, each year, trust that I will provide you a quality experience at a reasonable price, a relationship of loyalty and repeat business occurs and Drifter Sister will survive. This is what I consider the key to fulfillment, and a successful business.