Journey to the Homeland Tours
North Dakota State University Libraries

Sponsored Tours
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo


Preparing for the Tour

Tour Land Price: $3,250 (double occupancy) or $3,550 (single occupancy)


Receive $250 off your land tour price if you make final tour payments by December 5, 2014. Postmark date must be before December 5, 2014.

Tour payments according to the following schedule:
Due Date
(Per Person)
More Info: Refundable?
November 1, 2014
$600 non-refundable deposit No
November 1, 2014
1st Tour Payment Until March 1, 2015
February 1, 2015
2nd Tour Payment Until March 1, 2015
February 1, 2015
Tip Fund (Required) Until March 1, 2015
February 1, 2015
Optional Alsace France Day-Tour (Lunch Inluded) Until March 1, 2015
March 1, 2015
Airfare surcharge* Yes, anytime
March 1, 2015
Single room surcharge** Until March, 1 2015

  * If booking airfare on your own (see AIRFARE section below)
** If requesting single room single room for hotels in Frankfurt, Odessa and Stuttgart, there is a $300 charge for single-room supplement.

Full payment can be made at any time. All checks should be payable to "NDSU Libraries." Please keep this memo handy and mark your calendars with the payment schedule listed above. Tour Land Price can not be paid with credit card.

Should a reservation need to be canceled because of personal reasons of a tour member, a full refund less a $600 U.S. administrative fee will be made for a tour cancellation received on or before 1 March 2015.

Airline tickets into and out of Odessa, Ukraine, MUST be purchased through Kvamme Travel. Contact Sheila at 800-999-1585 or Sheila@kvammetravel.com for prices and applicable service fees. Transfers from the airport to the hotel are included. If you do not book your travel into and out of Odessa with Sheila at Kvamme Travel, you will be required to pay a $250 airfare surcharge on your registration; it is very important that the group is together on these flights so we are able to arrange proper transportation to and from the airports.

For tour members who travel to the former Black Sea German villages of Bergdorf, Glueckstal and Neudorf today located in Moldova, there will be the additional cost for the border crossing from Ukraine to Moldova. You will be informed of this USD amount once you have registered for the tour. The USD dollar amount can change for each tour. The Glueckstal District mother colony of Kassel of the Glueckstal District is today located in Ukraine.

From our tour experiences of 1996 to 2013, we are adding a separate charge of $100 USD for each tour member to cover tips. These tips will be for vehicle drivers for village visits, translators, restaurant and hotel employees, tourist facilities, baggage assistance, tour guides, and the Odessa Intourist coordinator. From experience we have found it will be much easier if tour members know in advance that each person has participated equally with the tips. Howevers, tips for meals and activities are on your own, outside of group activities, are your responsibility.

A separate check in the amount of $100, payable to "NDSU Libraries", should be sent with the final payment of 1 February 2015.

When we are in Stuttgart, Binder Travel will provide bus transportation from the hotel for the all-day tour to Alsace, France. We will need to inform Binder Travel about the size of the bus needed depending on the number of tour members who wish to take the "Alsace Day Tour". The cost of the tour is $100 USD for each person which includes an Alsatian lunch in Sessenheim, France. You will need to identify with response if you definitely wish to take the Alsace tour. Binder Travel is recognized for high quality transportation and services.

Please send a separate check of $100 USD each person if you wish to take the Alsace Tour. Mark on your check payable to "NDSU Libraries" for "Alsace Tour". Check should be sent with payment on 1 February 2015.

To assist everyone in becoming familiar with each other, and to assist us in becoming familiar with your expectations of the tour, please fill out the Biography Form, this is due by February 1 of your tour year. A booklet of tour member biographies will be prepared and sent to you prior to the tour. Tour members can also complete their biographies on another form with computers. If possible, please type biography summary.

Visit the GRHC website at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/journey/index.html to see messages sent by tour members, photographs, newspaper articles and other items from past tours.

Please contact your local Public Health Office or your family physician for vaccinations. Public Health officials recommend various vaccinations or boosters depending on which parts of the world you will be visiting. We will be in very rural areas of the Ukraine when we visit former German villages. At the very least, please investigate vaccinations or boosters for Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Polio. Costs for the vaccinations will vary. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain these vaccinations as your local public health office or personal physician may not have them on hand.

Contact your health insurance provider to verify your "out of country" health insurance coverage on your existing policy. According to the U.S. Department of State, the Social Security Medicare program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the USA. Depending on your coverage, additional health insurance may be warranted for this trip. Contact your personal property insurance provider regarding your coverage against loss of material goods on your homeowners policy. Some insurance providers do not cover against theft or loss on items when you are outside the USA. Still cameras, video cameras and other personal items can be expensive to replace if lost or stolen. We highly encourage you to purchase travel insurace for your tour costs to protect against the loss of tour fees should you not be able to make the trip for some reason. The brochures provided by Kvamme Travel offer several types of insurance for all the items covered above. Your choice of coverages will depend on your personal needs. It is highly recommended that you secure travel insurance.

Be sure to bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you will be taking. Re-filling prescriptions is not possible in the Ukraine. It is also suggested that you bring an adequate supply of any non-prescription medications you may need such as aspirin, ibuprofen, antacids, liquid or solid, Imodium AD, and a gentle laxative. Chlorinated water treatment pills are not really necessary, as bottled water, both spring and mineral water, are readily available. You will find it helpful to bring a small squeeze bottle for water to use for personal consumption during the day trips to the villages. Most of the two-liter water bottles available do not have screw caps and have a tendency to open when carried.

The hotel in Odessa does provide bar soap in the bathrooms of each guestroom, however depending on your personal choice, you might want to bring your own. Toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, and deodorants are all available in Odessa, but they may not be up to standards you are accustomed to. Some sort of head cover or hat, and the use of sunscreen are recommended as direct sunlight will be very intense during the time of our trip. Sunglasses are also recommended.

Odessa can become very warm in late May and June. Mornings can be quite cool, followed by very warm and humid temperatures in the afternoon. The Black Sea directly affects the weather in the Odessa area. For mornings, you might want a light windbreaker. A heavy coat is not necessary, a sweater will do. For the afternoons, bring warm weather clothes, shorts, light shirts, and cover ups to protect your skin from the sun. Since we will be doing a lot of walking, sturdy walking shoes are a necessity. One pair of dress shoes will be sufficient. Dress clothes are recommended for social events such as the opera, dinners, and church services. Men may want to bring a sport coat or blazer with dress slacks a dress shirt and a tie. Women should consider bringing one dress for the social occasions. It is not necessary for women to wear a head covering at Catholic Mass. Try to travel light. Remember, if you feel you are packing too many clothes, you probably are.

Commercial power in the Ukraine is different than we have in the USA. Power in the Ukraine is provided at 240V / 50hz. Power in the USA is provided at 120V / 60hz. Most appliances manufactured today have switches that allow the use of either type of power. Most camcorder, laptop PCs, hairdryers, electric shavers, and haircurlers are equipped to accept both 120V / 50hz, and 240V / 60hz. A power converter is essential if your appliance is not built to accept both. Check out the labels of your appliances. Power outlets are also different in the Ukraine. Power outlet adapters for Eastern Europe are available at most department stores for a few dollars.

It is highly recommended that each tour member has no more than one check-in piece of luggage and one carry-on. Each carry-on must be no larger than 22 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 9 inches deep (22" X 14" X 9"). If the carry-on does not fit into a box of these dimensions at time of check-in, you will not be allowed to bring it on the aircraft. Carry-on luggage that does not fit into the box will be checked. Do not place cameras, camcorders, or other expensive items in checked luggage. It is recommended you make provisions to take these items as carry-on.

Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality and if possible, lock your luggage.

From past tour experiences, we have found it much easier if each tour member has only one piece of check-in luggage.

Bring extra camera batteries. Batteries for flash units, electronic rewind cameras, and camcorders are not readily available in the Ukraine. Due to the possibility of rain, an umbrella would be a good idea. A bag or pack with a shoulder strap to carry items during the day is also a good idea. It can become tiresome carrying cameras, jackets, sweaters, water bottles, and other items. Fanny packs large enough to carry several small items have been found to be quite useful.

Recording your adventure is something you will want to do. Bring a small notebook to record your photos and daily activities. Despite your best intentions, remembering what happened, where it happened and when can all become a blur. Some tour members have used small portable tape recorders that fit in a shirt pocket. Make notes often during the day. You will appreciate those notes when you are back home trying to remember the name of that church or what village that cemetery you visited was in.

On past tours, several tour members have bought small gifts to present while in the former German villages. Candy, gum, pens, small notebooks, soaps, and small jewelry items are very much appreciated by those in the villages.

It is a good idea to apply for your passport at least three months before you plan to travel. Passport applications are available at your local post office or local clerk of court office. Bring along photocopies of your passport and keep them in a separate place. In case you misplace or lose your original, the photocopies will make it easier for the American consul to assist in your return to the USA.

A visa is no longer required for Canadian or USA citizens if traveling to Ukraine or Moldova.

Remember to make two photocopies of your passport, your airline tickets and itinerary, and other important documents that you take with you on the tour. Leave one copy at home with someone you will be able to contact, and take the other copy along on the tour. Keep the photocopies in a safe place, such as in your luggage, separate from the originals.

It is very important that each tour member creates a record of their Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club credit cards. Make a list of the telephone number contacts to these companies should you lose your credit cards and it becomes necessary to cancel them. Verify that you will be able to call the company from Europe should any thing happen. Make two copies. Bring one along and leave one with someone at home that you will be able to contact. That way, if you are not able to call the company from Europe, your contact in the United States will be able to do it for you.

Chambermaids on each floor of the hotel in Odessa provide laundry service for a fee. Laundry services are available in Germany. The hotel in Germany provides valet laundry service.

American and Visa credit cards have limited acceptance in Odessa. Telephone calling cards are only usable at four locations in Odessa. Traveler's checks are very difficult to convert to cash. It is recommended you bring enough cash, $300 - $700 USD, to meet your needs. Contact your bank and secure new or almost new bills, as cash exchange locations will not accept old or worn bills. Currency exchange is available at the hotel in Odessa and at various currency locations near the hotel. The currency exchanges accept large denomination American currency, so it is not necessary to bring a large number of $1 and $5 dollar bills. When you exchange money in the Ukraine and Germany, you will be given a document as a record of your transactions. Be sure to keep these documents, as you will be asked to present them when leaving each country.

Travelers checks and telephone calling cards, and traveler's checks are readily accepted in Germany and France.

Bring enough cash for your purchases of souvenirs, extra beverages, meals on your own, telephone calls, taxis, tips, Alsace tour expense, and anything else you may purchase. For example, taxi trips cost between $5 and $15. All scheduled meals at the hotel in Odessa, and box lunches for the day trips to the villages are included in the tour cost. Bottled water, beer, or soda is available at cost at meals provided at the hotel. All other meals you may eat outside the hotel are on your own.

Please make use of some type of money-belt or hidden purse. Various types are available at department store luggage departments. Keep all your documents, airline tickets, currency exchange receipts, opera tickets, etc., with you at all times. You will be asked to surrender your passport, for the duration of your stay, when checking in at the hotel in both Odessa and Stuttgart. Except for these periods, keep your passport with you at all times. Do not keep important documents in external purses.

Do not bring expensive jewelry or unnecessary valuables along to Odessa. Only bring necessary credit cards and identification. Leave those "nice to have, but not really necessary" items in your wallet at home. Those membership cards, hunting licenses and library cards will be there when you return home. The hotel in Odessa does not have a hotel safe. Security at the Black Sea Hotel is very good. The hotel employs security personnel that are on site at all times.

Please realize we are large group of people touring in another culture. Everything will not be the same as how we live in the USA. What we expect in certain situations may not be how things are done in the cultures of Ukraine or Germany. Use common sense and courtesy and you will usually come out ahead. Keep a positive attitude and it will have an affect if you become frustrated. We have not lost a tour member yet!


The tour package in agreement with the Odessa travel agent provides that each tour member will be able to spend up to two full days in the former German villages including transportation and translator. If the tour member wishes to take an additional day to visit the villages, the expense will be the responsibility of the tour member and is not part of the tour package price. Arrangements for additional days of travel to villages beyond two days will need to be made directly with Odessa travel agent.

Each tour member will need to decide which of the former German villages is of highest priority for the village visits. It is possible that not all the villages can be visited during the tour.


The Wartburg Hotel in Stuttgart is near to the city center. The hotel is located close to shopping and cafes.

Any income generated from the Journey to the Homeland Tours is donated to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo. These projects include: 1) preservation, documentation, and collection of archival materials relating to the Germans from Russia; 2) preservation and collection of textiles and clothing relating to the Germans from Russia; 3) translations projects; 4) publishing of books relating to the Germans from Russia; 5) displays and exhibits; 6) documentary programs on the Germans from Russia; 7) purchase of books and educational materials for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection; 8) oral history interviews; 9) other projects and promotions that fulfill the mission of the NDSU Libraries' Germans from Russia Heritage Collection; 10) salaries of employees to carry out above projects.

Additional information will be sent to you later. Please write, telephone or e-mail if you have additional questions.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
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