Ray Haupt is the host on all the tours. He has traveled extensively throughout this area over the last 16 years. Ray Haupt is a recently retired school administrator who first began his travels in Germany with high school students on exchange visits. He now offers his tours to anyone interested in visiting Germany.
How many tour companies can give you the opportunity of being escorted around Southern Germany by a descendant of the Hereditary Imperial Generals of the Holy Roman Empire? Ray Haupt is a descendant of the Haupt Family (Lords and Counts) of Pappenheim that were awarded the title of Erbreichsmarschalle (or Hereditary Imperial Generals) by Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV in 1332. He is also a descendant from the Eberhard clan of Jegenstorf, Bern, Switzerland dating back, at least, to the 1530's. His mother is of the Eberhard clan from Jegenstorf. Through his paternal grandmother, Haupt is a descendant of the family Count Bentzel Sternau-Hohenau from Mainz and Württemberg. His maternal grandmother is of the Leonhardt clan of Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Wuerttemberg areas. More recently, both sides of Ray Haupt's family have been in the United States since the early to mid 1700's.
As an accomplished family historian with a good grasp of European history as well as American history, Ray Haupt makes this history relevant to Americans (and others) while on tour. At Haupt Germany Tours we believe that there is sightseeing and then there are tours. A good tour will be accompanied with just the right amount of history - not too much to create boredom - but just enough to bring relevance to what you are seeing. Still, we understand the need for some free time for shopping, etc. With Haupt Germany Tours, you will get much more than the typical sightseeing tourist. You will get a hosted tour with a personal touch. Let us provide you with a fabulous adventure.
Frequently asked Questions
Why are there deadlines for participation in the various tours?
We want to be as courteous as possible to the other travelers in the group as well as the vendors (hotels and bus service) we use in Germany. To do so, we must provide accurate and timely information so the best plans can be developed. Many of our tours involve tour bus rentals which must be reserved well in advance of the tours. Airline seats (cost and availability) become a factor as well as the tour date approaches. For summer dates, airline seats on our desired flights are usually filled about six weeks before departure dates. For tours at other times of the year, the seats on our desired flights become filled about 4-5 weeks ahead of departure dates.
I see the tour prices fluctuate with the Euro/Dollar exchange rate. Can you elaborate more on this?
The final tour price per traveler will be based on the exchange rate at the time the last half payment is due. The 2nd half payment may be higher or lower than the 1st half payment as a result. The bottom line is we have to be able to pay all the bills once there. We share these price changes with exchange rates so others can see that our prices will come down with the strengthening US Dollar and may go up if it weakens. This is unlike other tour companies with set costs that are often set higher than actual costs. Only if there is a sharp change in the exchange rate after 2nd half payment is due will additional funds be needed.
Many of the tours appear to have a pro-rated cost based on the number of travelers. Can you explain this?
An ideal tour group would have approximately 10-14 persons. Our on-the-ground costs are advertised based on a group size of 10 persons. Should the particular dates that you wish to travel have fewer than 10 travelers, I still would want to make the tour available to you. Obviously, with fewer travelers, costs for bus rental goes up per person. In our Bavaria on a Budget tours, we use rail service so this is not a factor and a flat rate for all travelers can be charged regardless of number. I have traveled with groups with only 7 and used a tour bus. Though the costs were increased per traveler, all greatly enjoyed the comfort of bus travel (i.e door to door service as well as the physical comfort).
Do you work with larger groups of 20 or more persons?
Yes. Since the costs are pro-rated depending on the total number of travelers, the costs will come down even further with larger groups. For example, if a group of 20 travelers wanted the Summer Castle Tour (9 days with bus service) then their cost would be approximately 70% of the posted cost for 10 travelers. This is a result of a better utilization of the bus while on-the-ground. You would need to contact Haupt Tours for specific rates for the larger groups.
What discounts can you provide to school groups?
For each school group, a free group membership (under 18 years) will be applied for through Hostelling International which will provide student groups with the absolute lowest rates possible for lodging. For college age groups a paid group membership will be obtained. If student groups are still interested in traditional lodging arrangements, then we can seek lodging arrangements where multiples can stay in same room (to keep costs to a minimum). Other services (i.e. travel agent services and tour guide services) will be discounted by 30% for groups of 15 or more. For groups of 15 or more, one free pass for on-the-ground expenses - covers meals, lodging, transportation, admissions - usually reserved for group leader.
What if the tour dates do not match up with groups plans?
If there is a problem with the scheduled departure dates and or return dates, then provide enough advanced notice and the block of time you need can often times be arranged - providing others have not already booked for the scheduled tour. Call or e-mail us with your desired dates and we will see what can be done.
Do you work with high school tour groups or college tour groups?
Yes. Haupt Germany Tours originally began by working with high school students on exchange visits. If your German class or History class (or other school-wide group) wants to visit Germany, simply contact Ray Haupt and let him know of your desired dates and other travel plans. He will likely be able to fit you in.
Why do you emphasize the number of "Full Days in Germany" at the top of each tour page?
I have encountered so many other tour companies that say their tours are so many days long when in reality are actually two days less. Often times the first day involves travel/arrival and perhaps an evening get together. The last day may involve a breakfast and departure/travel. They make it sound like you are getting so much more for the price. At Haupt Germany Tours, we will be specific with the number of full days on-the-ground.
How can I learn more specifics of the places the tours visit?
I would suggest that you do a web search on any term that appears on the various itineraries. All the villages and cities we will stop in have web pages with photos of the various sites. Some of these web sites are in English while most will be in German. Other web locations can provide information in English. I encourage you to do this, so you can see the wonderful places we will be visiting.
How does one book a trip?
Once you have found a tour that you are definitely interested in, let us know by e-mail and we will add name to a list for that tour as a potential traveler. To be considered as booked, at least 50% of the ground costs (or full payment) need to have been paid to Haupt Germany Tours. If you need assistance at determining this figure, please inquire. As the deadline approaches, reservations will only be made for those who are partially or fully booked. When payment is sent, please be sure to indicate which tour you are booking.
Can you provide tours with an emphasis on family history?
If you know of where your family is from, a tour can be modified so that a visit to a specific village or area is possible. Usually, this is asked of family groups wanting to visit ancestral locations. For these groups a small private custom designed tour works out best. Just provide the details in advance and Ray will see what he can do.
Do you also visit Switzerland?
Switzerland is a very beautiful country with lots of history. A custom tour can be arranged with Switzerland in mind.
What is your fee structure?
There is a 9% travel agent fee charged per person for handling the arrangements of the tour advertised on the web site (itinerary development, logistics, communications, lodging, transportation, admissions, etc). Then there is an hourly wage charged to the group as a tour guide/host. This hourly rate is $25.00/hour. The days are usually 10 hour days (8:00 am to 6:00 pm). The days involved include the two travel days in addition to the days on the ground while on tour. This has all been calculated into the advertised prices or otherwise quoted prices. For groups wanting different tours on different dates than those advertised on this website an 11% travel agent fee is charged.
What about Tips and Gratuities?
If a bus is used, the bus driver tip is already calculated in the advertised or quoted prices. The driver will be tipped a minimum of 3 Euros per person per day plus one meal per day. The group also pays for bus driver's lodging (already included). No tip is needed to Ray Haupt for his services as tour guide as his hourly fee is sufficient (see above). Otherwise, an appropriate tip in Germany for a tour guide would be 5 Euro per person per day.
Tips for the two evening meals provided by Haupt Germany Tours as part of the expenses are already covered. For other meals the tip should be about 10% unless already included on the bill. Restaurant tips are usually less in Germany than in the US. For especially good service, you may want to tip as you would in the US.
Use of public restrooms in Germany should not be viewed as being free of charge. 30 Euro cents to 50 Euro cents is an appropriate tip to leave for the attendant. These restrooms are usually very clean as the attendant takes great pride in their work.
Do you offer other travel agencies commissions for finding travelers?
Yes. Haupt Germany Tours offers an 8% commission on the advertised price to other US travel agencies for their help in finding other travelers. This will be payable within 30 days of conclusion of tour.
Why are flight tickets not involved in the price of the tours?
Many travelers believe they can get better rates on their air travel. Some have frequent flier miles, etc. Some may want to travel at different times and meet us a day or two later in Germany. Some prefer one airline over another. Because of so many different factors, Haupt Germany Tours will only charge for the on-the-ground costs. Still we will show on each of our tour pages the current (approximate) cost of the air travel from Atlanta to Munich for that particular tour so you can better plan for your own travel plans. The airline prices we post are from Delta's website.
When should I purchase the flight tickets?
I recommend strongly that you wait until 6-8 weeks before departure to purchase flight tickets. We should have a good idea by then as to whether or not the tour will have enough persons to be successful. You should book your tour before then and no later than by the posted deadline. Some flights are booked less than a month before scheduled departure - especially during peak travel season. Communicate with Haupt Germany Tours regarding this. Remember, we will need copies or confirmation of flight plans by the posted deadline. If you wish to accompany Ray Haupt on his overseas flights, he will be glad to share his flight information.
What on the tours will be of interest to children?
Do I really need to mention castles and knights in armor? How about medieval villages, the stuff fairy tales are made of? Many of Disney's movies are modern versions of old German tales from the Brother's Grimm. Much on the tours will appeal to the younger tourists. All restaurants selected are family friendly establishments.
Do you accept credit cards?
At this point, no. I have inquired about the costs for this to be possible and at this point, I do not want to pass these costs onto the travelers. So checks only please. International persons can pay with a bank to bank transfers. Write to me for specifics.
What is Starr Travels' role?
I have been using the services of Starr Travel of Greensboro, NC for several years. They have provided very good service and communication with regard to arranging the flight ticketing for the travelers. I would encourage you to use them as well. In an ideal world, all the participants for the tours would travel together on the same flights. In many of the tours most, if not all, will be on the same overseas flights. The excitement of the travel builds long before the actual tour and the travel days should be part of this travel experience. Starr Travel will make sure you are on my flights. Before you contact them, please be sure to contact me (Ray Haupt) at Haupt Germany Tours. Doing so greatly assists in the communication element.
Can I participate with Haupt Germany Tours if I do not live in the Southeast USA?
Absolutely! If you live in the United States, simply arrange your own flight plans. Provide Haupt Germany Tours with these flight arrangements by the deadline so we know to make reservations for you. Pay your ground costs on schedule and arrange to meet up with the tour on day one of the tour in Germany. Communicate with Ray Haupt regarding your plans.
I live in another country and would like to participate with an English tour group visiting Germany. Is this possible?
Absolutely! We welcome travelers from other countries to join us! Communicate with Haupt Germany Tours (Ray Haupt) with regard to processing payments for the ground costs. See Contact Us web page for e-mail address. Bank to bank transfers can be worked out. Arrange plans to meet the tour group on day one of tour in Germany.
Are single occupancy rooms available?
Although our ground costs are advertised based on double occupancy rooms, single occupancy rooms are available at additional cost. This is usually about $40.00 USD more per night at 3 star locations and $58.00 USD more per night at 4 star locations. At some locations, cost for single occupancy room is equal to cost for double occupancy room.
I have never studied the German language. Will this be a problem?
No. You will find that many Germans know English. I have traveled with many with no German language skills and they have done very well and found the experience to be very beneficial to them.
What are the advantages of a Bus Tour over a River Cruise?
The first, is being able to see much more of the countryside - a bus can take you where river travel is not possible. Our costs are lower. Be sure to compare prices with the River Cruise vendors. Be sure to compare specific times of travel and not their "Starts at" rate. You will see a big difference. Others may have attracted folk with expensive glitzy travel magazines or other ads. These are very expensive to produce and the cost is passed on to the traveler. Our advertising budget is kept to a minimum. Our tours usually are smaller, so you can get better service one-on-one with our guide. Custom designed tours/routes are not possible with a river cruise.
I cannot decide between the Castle Bus Tours or the Bavaria on a Budget Tours. What do you recommend?
The Castle Tours use bus service. Although the rail service is extensive in Germany, there are some locations on our tours that the trains do not service. Bus service provides door-to-door convenience and our luggage is loaded on the bus. With 10 or more travelers, the bus is very affordable and really is the way to go. For the more budget minded travelers, the Bavaria on a Budget tours offer use of the German Rail service. This is a very affordable way to travel and is comfortable. The trains run frequently and for smaller tour groups, this is a good way to get around. One must be willing to roll their luggage to the stations and then load luggage on and off the train. Luggage storage lockers are available at most stations.
The Bavaria on a Budget tours will only visit sights in Bavaria (and Salzburg, Austria). The Castle Tours will visit Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland, and Salzburg, Austria. The Bavaria on a Budget tours are five full days in Germany (plus two travel days). The Castle tours are nine full days in Germany (plus 2 travel days). Both types of tours offer similar lodging. Both types of tours will offer a fabulous experience.
All of your tours seem to have the travel days falling in the middle of the week. Why is this?
It is a conscious effort to keep costs at their lowest for the traveler on all of the tours. Airline seats tend to be least expensive during the middle of the week. The seats also tend to be available at the lower cost for a longer period of time. With this said, you may still find other travel times during the day with lower rates and perhaps with other stops. I prefer to have an afternoon departure with arrival in Munich early the following morning. Non-stop direct flights are the way to go - the flight is long enough. Some of our tours allow for a return travel day on a Saturday. This is to allow some time to readjust due to jet lag and the start of a new work week.
Can private tours be arranged for a small family group?
Absolutely. Just contact Haupt Germany Tours. These will need to be scheduled around the tours already advertised. If enough advanced time is given, these can substitute in place of an already scheduled tour.
What kind of lodging accommodations can we expect on the advertised tours?
Most of our chosen locations are three stars with an occasional four star location (using the 5-star system). This helps to keep total costs in-line for more travelers. The rooms are in clean, well cared for establishments. Some are in Gasthaus settings (similar to privately owned bed and breakfasts) while others will be in more of a small hotel and some in between. Rooms tend to have a single double bed which in some locations can be separated into two beds. An additional cot can be requested. Rooms have TV and in most cases internet connections. Some locations have a computer available to guests. All locations will have a bathroom within the room. Most locations will have restaurant facilities attached. All will provide a German style breakfast. The rooms tend to be small compared to typical US motel rooms but are a very typical size throughout Germany. See our photo section for pictures of rooms and facilities.
The lodging locations are conveniently located for our travel plans and yet sufficiently away from the big city prices. For the Bavaria on a Budget tours, the lodging locations are located within a short walking distance of the train stations.
Can tours be arranged with luxury accommodations?
Haupt Germany Tours has an excellent list of four and five star lodging locations. These would need to be private group tours. Let us work out a plan for you.
Any information on vacation rentals in Germany?
Interested in quality vacation rentals in Germany? Try out the "Live Like a German" website.
Why Southern Germany?
Southern Germany is in the heart of Central Europe. It has an incredible 2000+ years of recorded history. This history has shaped western society as we know it. Experiencing the locations of where this history occurred helps to better understand why today's societies developed the way they did. Speaking to Americans...people of German descent make up the largest single culturally ethnic group in the United States today (per 2000 census). Learn how Germany has influenced the United States and how the United States has influenced Germany.
Germany has some of the world's most beautiful scenery. The Koenigssee area of Berchtesgaden is one of my favorite locations. Set in the Bavarian Alps, this absolutely pristine lake should be a destination for all travelers. The Bodensee area (Lake Constance) is another favorite with the Austrian and Swiss Alps in the distance. The Rhein River is something to behold. It is the path that many American's colonial ancestors took when departing from Germany. Many other sights will amaze as well.
The architecture, church history and artwork one experiences will be unlike anything experienced before. Germany is simply an amazing country to visit. Do not simply travel to a city or two and say you have seen Germany. One must venture into the wonderful countryside and experience the treasures around every corner. You will also find the food and beverages rather appealing as well. Haupt Germany Tours can provide this sort of experience.