Home At First Essentials:
Important things that help
you realize your travel goals.


Travel Essentials: pursuing fulfilling activities at dream destinations. Sharing the adventure with someone is not essential, but can greatly enhance the experience.

Photo © Home At First.


Our Essential Advantages

You’ll find them convincing.
        Since 1980 we have been arranging independent international travel to many of the world’s great destinations. With Home At First travel you feel at home right from the start of your trip, because you get:

A Choice of Locations ideal for exploring your destination.

Lodgings with the comforts of home & welcoming hosting.

Full-service planning: flights, lodgings, ground transport.

Design Flexibility: a trip planned for your needs & budget.


Independence: you determine pace, activities, & interests.

The Best Prices Possible: we start with low prices, then work to make them even lower.

Home At First On-Site & Activity guidebooks. Image © Home At First.


Key Essentials: Our Lodgings

You’ll find them refreshing.

        In Bermuda, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Paris, Portugal, & Switzerland you stay in spacious, quality Apartments, Cottages, & Chalets. Here’s why:

• You live life like a local in your roomy vacation home.

• You feel a resident in an authentic neighborhood.

• Your unique vacation home reflects the local cultural style.

• The location is an ideal base for exploring the destination.

• Having a kitchen means eating-in whenever you wish.

• There’s no need to pack and unpack and move frequently.

• There are no crowded lobbies, hallways, or elevators.

• Safe, clean, & secure: lodgings meet government standards.

• Near stations in destinations served by public transport.

• Parking is on-site or nearby for rental car destinations.

• Rural lodging rental is weekly, usually starting Saturday.

• In cities rental can be partial weeks, beginning any day.

• Welcoming English-speaking hosts introduce you to their lodging, their neighborhood, and their culture, while serving as a source of help and support.

        In Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, & Sweden you stay in boutique hotels, historic inns, & upscale B&Bs. Here’s why:

• Lodgings are usually small and personal.

• Lodgings rarely have crowded lobbies, hallways, or elevators.

• Lodgings usually reflect regional cultural style.

• Lodging locations are central: ideal for exploring the region.

• Safe, clean, & secure: lodgings meet government standards.

• Near stations in destinations served by public transport.

• Parking is on-site or nearby for rental car destinations.

• Lodging occupancy can be daily, starting any day.

• Welcoming English-speaking staff check you in, show you the lodging, recommend restaurants & local activities, & are a source of help & support.                                                    

Transportation Essentials

We plan only those transport items you need. And we do it right.

International & Domestic Flights: Home At First‘s expert team researches the least costly, most convenient flights for your needs. Select your itinerary from the choices we propose; then we book & ticket your flights to lock in airfares.

Don’t Need Help with Flights? If you are flying free using miles, your airline will handle flight reservations and ticketing for you. Home At First will handle the rest of your trip needs using our Ground Arrangements Only (lodging + land transportation) or Lodging Only pricing packages.

Rental Cars: In destinations best explored by rental car, Home At First recommends the smallest, least expensive, appropriate car for your needs and informs you of available upgrades and their costs. We reserve and pay for your choice, then send you a voucher for car pick-up at your overseas destination. Basic insurance is included.

Public Transportation: In destinations best explored by public transport, Home At First recommends the most efficient, appropriate transport passes for your needs and informs you of available upgrades and their costs. We purchase your choice, then send you the passes themselves or a voucher for pick-up at your overseas destination.                                                    

Prices & Paying Essentials

You’ll find our prices excellent and our paying process fair & equitable.

Published package prices:

        Home At First‘s independent overseas travel packages cost less than most hotel-based, tour bus package holidays, and often less than package vacations to U.S. family resorts.

Pricing Tables: Each destination page on this website has an accompanying page with current package prices valid through October 31.

Paying for your trip:

Payment Methods: Home At First accepts payments by personal check, wire transfer, or PayPal.

Credit Cards: If you use your PayPal account to pay us, you can pay PayPal with your credit card.

Wire Transfers: to pay by wire transfer, contact Home At First for the appropriate bank routing information.

Provisional Reservations may be made to hold a trip proposal you are considering. Provisional reservations can be held for 1-week (7 working days) without a deposit.

Late Payments can can result in the cancellation of your trip reservations.            

♦ Payment Procedures for Standard Classic Destination Weeks priced from our official Pricing Charts:

• Our receipt of Your Non-Refundable Deposit of US$800.00/person confirms your 2024 trip reservations.

90-Day Payment: the balance of your trip cost is due 90 days prior to the start of your trip — earlier if you wish to lock-in your airfare by having flight tickets issued before the 90-day mark.

Final Payment for changes or additions to your trip after the 90-day mark is due prior to the start of your trip.

♦ Payment Procedures for Specially-Priced Custom-Planned Weeks or Standard Classic Destinations purchased on-sale (including “Current Travel Bargains”):

• Initial 1st Week Package Payments are considered Deposit Payments and as such are entirely non-refundable.            

Our Health & Safety Travel Policy

          Home At First believes in — and practices — safe international travel. We are confident that properly prepared (e.g.: with a documented up-to-date vaccination status, or with a current passport and any required visas) USA & Canadian travelers can visit any available Home At First destination with no more concern nor greater risk than they do traveling at home in the USA & Canada. We strongly urge travelers to heed the advice of science and governments, avoid taking any extraordinary risks, and practice the recommended behaviors they encounter locally at home, underway, and once at their overseas destinations.
          Travelers should be aware that — just as the USA & Canada require of foreign visitors — to safeguard the national health and security, some Home At First destinations may require that international visitors provide valid passports, authorized visas, proof of vaccination, and/or a negative pre-arrival health test before allowing entry. Some destinations also may require follow-up on-site health tests after arrival.
• IMPORTANT: By placing & paying for 2024 reservations with Home At First, you are certifying that you are currently qualified for and/or will meet all future qualifications to travel internationally, especially with regard to maintaining any required health or safety or passport/visa status for international travel required by destinations, airlines, railways and other conveyances. Travelers unwilling to meet these requirements set by their destination countries should not attempt to reserve 2024 travel with Home At First.
         Home At First is in no way liable for travelers’ failure to provide any required passports, visas, or proof of acceptable health status. Neither is Home At First in any way liable for the consequences of travelers’ failed required health tests, whether they result in penalties, delays, quarantines, postponements, or cancellations.
• Travel Insurance policies may or may not cover health & safety related cancellations, interruptions, medical costs, and/or evacuations. Although we can provide limited advice regarding insuring your trip, Home At First does not provide travel insurance, nor are we party to any travel insurance policy purchased by our clients. We recommend contacting a travel insurance specialist to help you obtain the coverage you prefer.
• Returning Home: USA & Canadian resident passport holders do not need to take/pass any health tests to re-enter the United States or Canada.


Essentials: Our Privacy Policy

You’ll find this reassuring.

What personal data we collect & why we collect it —

• Contact forms: how long we retain your data, & your rights over your data —

When you telephone us, email us, or submit a contact form to Home At First, we record the name & address & phone data plus the comments into our customer data base. We keep this information and update it when any further communications occur. This information is never shared or sold. After a reasonable period of inactivity or whenever you request it, your records are archived as inactive.

• A Cookie

If you submit a contact form from this website, the website automatically saves a cookie that remembers you. This is for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. This cookie lasts one year.

Embedded content from other websites —

When you sign up to receive Home At First‘s Travel Bargain Alerts using the form found on this website, that form is embedded content from Mailchimp®, our email marketing provider. Home At First contracts with Mailchimp to help us design and distribute email to our opt-in subscribers. Mailchimp is required by various internet governing bodies to carefully observe anti-spam practices, including not sharing or selling the information you provide it via your completed sign-up form. Moreover, Mailchimp provides opt-out means (an “unsubscribe” link) on all emails it sends. We are convinced that Mailchimp is strictly respectful of your privacy and ethically responsible in its emailing practices. However, as part of its email marketing service, Mailchimp does collect data about you, and may use cookies to record your receiving, opening, and responding to Home At First emails sent to opt-in subscribers. When any subscriber “unsubscribes” their status is immediately changed to “unsubscribed” and their records are archived. Archived records can be expunged (“cleaned”) upon request. 

Whom we share your data with:

Home At First does not sell or share customer data with any 3rd parties, with these exceptions:

1. Airlines: When we make flight reservations for you, we are required to enter your names and your birthdates.
2. Ground Transportation Organizations: when we make any car rental reservations for you or purchase railway passes or tickets, or ferry or ship tickets, we must provide rental car companies the names of all those who will be driving, plus their ages; and passenger names & ages to railways, ship lines, and ferry companies.
3. Lodgings: When we make lodging reservations for you, we must provide the names of all persons in your party, and include the ages of any children.

Home At First keeps customer records minimal and stores no credit card numbers:

We keep basic customer name/address/phone/email data in our paper files and on our computer network server in-house. We also record and store birthdates of our customers traveling by air, rental car, and some transportation passes. As Home At First does not directly accept credit card payments, we rarely need credit card information. If we ever are provided customer credit card information for one-time purchases, that information is neither recorded nor stored in our written or electronic files.

Cancellations & Insurance Essentials

We’ll try take the mystery out of this.

If you cancel your trip —

        Once your travel arrangements are in place (as in the case of Home At First‘s instant-purchase, full-package “Current Travel Bargains” or any packages with instant-purchase airfares) and/or for travel arrangements within 90 days of the start of your trip, Home At First‘s travel packages are non-refundable.
        Once paid, your Non-Refundable Deposits are not refundable. Full instant payment of our “Current Travel Bargains” full packages or any travel package with an instant-purchase airfare is considered a Non-Refundable deposit.
        Home At First recommends the purchase of Trip Insurance to insure against potential losses brought on by you cancelling your trip or interrupting your trip to return home for any reason. Here is a list of possible non-refundable charges, change fees, and cancellation fees that may apply if you cancel your trip:
A. FULL CANCELLATION: all payments are non-refundable.
♦ Lodgings portion: These change fees apply:
◊ Change of dates only (for same lodging locations):
  • $100/person to change to a new date in the same travel year (ends 31OCT of current year), plus any seasonal rate increase in the total cost of the lodgings in the current travel year.
  • $300/person to change to a new date in the following travel year (ends 31OCT of next year), plus any increase in the total cost of the lodgings for the new year.
◊ Change of accommodation or lodging location (with or without a dates change):
  • $300/person to change to a new accommodation in the same destination (no flight changes needed)
  • $400/person to change to a new accommodation at a new destination (flight changes needed)
Flight portion is subject to individual airline rules: sometimes changes are not permitted; sometimes changes are permitted with a change fee; sometimes changes are permitted without additional charges other than any applicable fare increases.
♣ Ground Transportation portion: Once transport passes, tickets, or vouchers have been issued, changes/re-issuance are subject to the rules of the transportation suppliers or rental car agencies. A Home At First service charge of $50/person will apply to changing previously issued transport passes, tickets, or vouchers. If passes, tickets, or vouchers are not yet issued, the only fees that may apply are for rate changes for the new travel dates.
        If you cancel before airline tickets, ground transport (car rentals, railway & ferry tickets, and transit passes) have been issued for you, a portion of the monies you have paid may be refunded to you or applied to future travel with Home At First, at our discretion on a case-by-case basis.

Insurance for your trip —

  We strongly recommend you consider purchasing travel insurance to cover the costs of trip interruption and cancellations, as well as health problems & accidents that may occur while you are traveling. We will counsel you generally about travel insurance if you ask us, but otherwise we will not be a party to your insurance purchase or policy.
        If you choose not to purchase travel insurance, you — not Home At First — are taking on the risks that come with Independent Travel, including potentially costly cancellations, interruptions, delays, loss of luggage, and health problems and accidents. We believe you should be free to purchase insurance or not. But – and this is the crux of the decision – by not buying travel insurance you are taking the risks on yourselves.

        Because the possibility of losing non-refundable payments you have made begins with your initial required per-person deposits, Home At First recommends you purchase travel insurance as soon as you know the full cost of your trip. Travel insurance can cover many things you may want to insure against:

Trip Cancellation: if you cancel your trip for illness or accident.

Trip Interruption: if you return home early from your trip for illness or accident.

Trip Delay: if you are delayed by reasons beyond your control while traveling.

Baggage Loss: if your baggage goes astray while traveling.

Accident, illness, & emergency evacuation: if you are not otherwise insured internationally. (Medicare coverage does not extend beyond US borders.)

Pandemics, wars, border closings, terrorist acts, natural disasters, weather emergencies, and “acts of God”: these issues are the great grey areas of travel insurance. Insurers define their responsibilities for insuring such events individually: some very narrowly, and some liberally. Ask pointed questions of prospective insurance companies before signing up. Vagueness is a red flag.

Cancellation for Any Reason: expensive ultra-coverage for those who may decide not to travel for reasons other than documentable health or accident reasons.

        There are many travel insurance companies with dozens of policies to choose from. Home At First does not recommend any particular insurer, nor do we become a party to any insurance policy contract. We recommend you shop at one of the several travel insurance clearing house websites that lets you compare policies, features, costs, and reviews. We will provide the names of such websites to you on request, and will help steer you through the insurance minefield by answering your questions. Because we feel it creates a significant conflict of interest, we neither sell or service travel insurance, nor do we complete insurance applications for you.
        What About Policy Cost: basic Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance will add between 6-12% to your overall trip cost depending upon your age and destination. Full-coverage policies that permit Cancellation for Any Reason can add 25% or more to the cost of your trip.
        What Does Home At First Think? Because we have seen it benefit many clients as well as members of our team, we believe Travel Insurance to be a practical extra add-on for most travelers, although something of a necessary evil. While we believe the decision as to how much coverage to purchase is a personal choice, we urge our customers to do their homework and not buy travel insurance that is a duplication of existing coverage provided by credit cards, homeowner, auto, and health policies.

Arrival Essentials — All Home At First travelers receive detailed instructions for arrival day at their destinations.



Overseas Support: Help While Your Trip is Underway

When the unexpected happens.

What Home At First Can/Will Do  —

  Whenever we travel, things may happen that can require making changes in your trip plans. Weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, drought, global warming, political upheaval & wars, strikes, and — yes as we now know — pandemics and other medical emergencies can interrupt the most carefully planned travel arrangements. Family or business emergencies at home, health or accident emergencies while abroad, rental car problems, missing a flight, a train departure, or a scheduled check-in/check-out — all these and more can interrupt your trip and require changes with the help of others.

• First Aid: Analysis & Opinion

  When you need help, contact Home At First. Explain the nature of your interruption. We will help analyze the significance of the issues and offer our professional opinion about how best to solve any problems, get medical attention (if necessary), rearrange car rentals, flights, train trips, and revising lodging arrangements. In our 40+ years in the international travel industry there are few underway-traveler requests we have not been asked to help with. While we do not guarantee we can immediately solve your problem, we can at the least provide an experienced opinion about what to do next. There is no charge for this service, although requests should be for issues of consequence: health, unforeseen delays, accidents, other personal emergencies.

• Second Aid: Facilitating Communications

  If you need help contacting others about your situation (hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, folks back home, lodgings overseas, medical people, police or government officials) you may request our involvement. In making any such communications for you, Home At First will not be acting as your advocate, but will relay information as accurately as possible from a neutral point-of-view. Home At First reserves the right NOT to act as a communications intermediary for you in situations that seem to us to be improper, illegal, or ethically questionable. Many communications are brief and do not incur costs and are made at no charge by Home At First. Other, more involved communications that require more than 30minutes of Home At First staff time will be billed to you at the rate of $100/person/hour (minimum $50).

• Third Aid: Acting as your Agent on your behalf

  If you require/request Home At First’s involvement in getting assistance locally for health, accident, car rental, flights, public transit (trains, ferries, etc.), or to make changes to your lodging reservations, we will tell you what we will do for you and what we may not be able to do for you. Example: we can make flight changes/revisions for flights booked through us but we cannot make flight changes/revisions for flights you booked on your own or through an organization other than Home At First. However, we can do basic flight research for all your flight needs, provide you the results of our research and make recommendations for what you should do next. Please note that any actions you request we take on your behalf may be billed you by Home At First at the rate of $100/person/hour (minimum $100). This cost is over and above any costs/fees/penalties/surcharges that may be applied by airlines, lodgings, rental car agencies, public transportation companies, etc. Home At First’s charges plus any other change/rebooking/cancellation fees incurred are normally claimable against a Trip Cancellation/Interruption/Health/Accident policy you may have taken out. Home At First recommends (but does not require) that you purchase Trip Cancellation/Interruption/Health/Accident insurance for your trip. All costs you incur for decisions you make before/during/after your trip are exclusively your responsibility. Home At First will act as agent on your behalf, but will not be financially liable for decisions you make and actions you take, even by accepting Home At First recommendations.

Need Help? Unsure what to do? Home At First is ready to advise and assist you overseas in the event the unexpected happens. Photo © Home At First.

FEELING LOST? Need Help? Unsure what to do? Home At First is ready to advise and assist you overseas in the event the unexpected happens.

Contact HOME AT FIRST: (800) 523-5842 (toll-free USA & Canada) +1 610 543 4348 (worldwide) info@homeatfirst.com