FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Whether you are thinking about booking a TrekAmerica trip, or you're all booked and waiting to go we've put together this list of the most frequently asked questions.
If you have any further questions about our tours please use our contact us form. And don't forget, you can chat to previous and other Trekkers in the TrekAmerica Live Forum or on Facebook or Twitter.
Are there any age restrictions?
TrekAmerica tours are aimed at and designed for people ages 18-38, so that you know you will be travelling with people of a similar age.
Why should I travel with TrekAmerica?
TrekAmerica is the leading tour operator for small group tours in North America, and we have been running tours since 1972. We offer a great value, easy and dependable and fun way to explore North America and offer the widest choice of tours and range of departure dates available. Read more about the Trek Style of travel and why you should travel with us, but don't just take our word for it read trip reviews from our previous Trekkers.
What's included in the price of the Trek?
> All accommodation during your tour (For 2013 camping tours, any en-route hotel nights are paid for locally during the tour)
> All transport in a private air-conditioned van in North America
> All transport on Central American tours
> The services of a professionally-trained tour leader
> All necessary camping equipment including tents, cold food storage containers, camp lights, stoves and other camp accessories
> Admission to all National Parks and monuments as listed in the itinerary
> Included activities unique to each Trek
Are flights included in the price?
No, however if you are in the United Kingdom we can provide a quote and book your flights for you. For a flight inclusive quote please call 0845 330 6095. TrekAmerica is a registered ATOL member authorised to sell flights as part of a package.
What are the benefits of booking my flights through TrekAmerica?
There are a number of benefits in booking your flights through TrekAmerica
1) We only require an initial deposit when you book, with a final balance due 8 weeks before travel. Many flight providers will require full payment when you book.
2) We can book flights to suit your travel plans - not just to fit in with your TrekAmerica tour. We can also fly you in and out of a variety of cities, not just where your tour starts and finishes.
3) We can temporarily hold seats on a flight. This allows you to finalise your plans safe in the knowledge that your flight seats and price is secure
4) We can be flexible - if you decide to change the dates of your flights you can usually do so free of charge up to 8 weeks before your flight departure, this is particularly useful as occasionally your plans can change (subject to availability and airline rules)
5) We are ATOL protected and IATA licensed. ATOL is a protection scheme for air holidays and flights managed by the Civil Aviation Authority ("CAA"). All tour operators and travel firms selling air holiday packages and flights in the UK as a principal are required by law to hold a licence called an Air Travel Organiser's Licence ("ATOL"). If you've booked and contracted with TrekAmerica for a complete air holiday package, ATOL protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad in the unlikely event of TrekAmerica going out of business. If this were to happen, the CAA can give refunds to people who can't travel and arrange for people abroad to fly home. After booking your flights and tour you will be sent an ATOL certificate.
Is it cheaper to travel independently?
The costs of independent travel can really start to add up. Once you consider everything such as accommodation, food, national park entrance fees, excursions, road tolls, bus passes and local taxis or car hire and fuel, you'll soon see that travelling Trek style is great value for money. Plus if you do it alone you don't get the experience of a local tour guide who knows those great little tricky-to-find 'secret spots', or the hassle free experience where everything is planned and organised for you. Plus we can negotiate great group rates on optional activities too.
I am travelling on my own. Will I be the only one?
No. The majority of the people travelling with us are on their own. Our trips are a great way to travel safely and meet other like-minded, adventurous people from all over the world and we do not charge single supplements. Why not join our Facebook page, read previous trekker reviews or chat to others in our forum to hear from other solo travellers.
Do couples travel with Trek?
Yes, every trip is made of a mixture of people travelling alone, as pairs of groups of friends or couples. If you travel as a couple you will be able to share a tent, if your tour includes cabin, hostel, hotel and other budget lodging accommodation then we will try to accommodate we will try to accommodate couples, however twin rooms cannot be guaranteed.
What if I haven't camped before?
Don't worry... we make it easy! Our tour leaders will teach you how to set up your tent and how to use all the camping equipment. Most of our first timers actually grow to love sleeping in the great outdoors. You will sleep in high quality, heavy duty tents which you share with only one other trekker. Single travellers will be matched with someone of the same sex. We provide all passengers with a foam sleeping mat. For those passengers who want added comfort, you can bring your own self-inflatable air mattress.
What facilities are at the campsite?
All our trips use both National and State Park campsites and also a wide assortment of private campgrounds. Almost all will have hot showers and flush toilets; some will even have swimming pools, bars and laundry facilities on site while others will accentuate the natural beauty of the area and thus tend to be more rustic. We keep "roughing it" to a minimum. Camping with TrekAmerica is easy and fun... you'll love it!
Will there be showers and toilets at the campsites?
Most campgrounds will have flush toilets and hot showers. Some campgrounds may charge an additional fee of $1-$3 for showers.
How fit should I be?
Anyone in reasonably good health can join our trips. Many activities on tour are optional, so you can choose them according to your fitness level. Most National Parks offer a variety of hiking trails that suit all levels of adventure and fitness. Many other activities do not require previous experience and are not fitness related.
I'm not a big drinker - is there any 'beer pressure'?
Not at all! A great mix of young people with a passion for travel and sense of fun is enough. People might choose to go for a drink at a local bar or have a beer around the campfire but there are no huge organised 'bar crawls' on a TrekAmerica trip. Legal drinking age in the USA is 21, and 18 or 19 in Canada, depending on the Province.
What is a guaranteed departure? When does a trip become guaranteed?
TrekAmerica run more tour departures across North America that any other tour operator so we offer you the widest choice of tours and departure dates available. Throughout the year, we will guarantee the majority of departure dates - this means that a tour will definitely operate on the day it is scheduled and will not be cancelled - we guarantee these tours as soon as minimum numbers for that date are reached or these are chosen based on historical popularity of those dates. By January 2013 we had guaranteed 80% of our tours for the year ahead. We want to ensure the best group experience possible and we are committed to giving you the fullest groups possible up to our maximum of 13.
What is the minimum number of travellers on a trek?
The average group size is around 10-12 passengers with a maximum of 13. The minimum number of travellers on any trip is around 4-5 although this is not common.
How do I book my Trek?
TrekAmerica tours can be booked from anywhere in the world. Bookings can be made online or by contacting our worldwide sales office by phone or email. You can secure your place on a trek with a deposit and final payment is due 8 weeks before departure. The final payment due date will be printed on your invoice. Bookings made within 8 weeks of departure are subject to full payment at the time of booking. Please phone or email us if you need any help or have any questions.
When should I book my Trek?
Book early! Many tours fill quickly so you should contact us as soon as possible. We would be happy to help you choose the Trek that is right for you. All of our sales team have first-hand knowledge and information about our tours. Call us anytime to check availability or hold a seat on option for up to three days with no obligation.
Do I need to pay everything upfront?
No, our standard deposit is £125 / €150 / US$200, or 10% of the cost of your trip (whichever is greater) and then you can pay the rest in installments at any time, as long as everything's all paid up by 8 weeks before you travel. Plus if you're in the UK and booking flights with us, you can hold these with a deposit and pay 8 weeks before you travel too.
When do the trips begin and end?
Most Treks depart from our gateway hotels at 7:30am on the day of departure and generally end between 5:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day of the tour. Exact start times will be shown on your trip voucher. For your convenience, we suggest you book the pre night hotel in our gateway hotel. You can also arrange the final night in our gateway hotel where the tour will finish. If you must leave that evening, we recommend that you book a flight departing no earlier than 9:00pm to allow enough time to make it to the airport.
How do I reserve a hotel room the night before and after my Trek?
We can book a hotel room for you at any of our gateway cities. Don't worry if you are travelling alone as there is no single supplement. Rooms are based on a twin share basis and we will arrange for you to share a room with another TrekAmerica passenger of the same sex. Reservations can be made on your booking form or by calling our office anytime up to one month before your tour departure date. If you are booking within five weeks of the departure, twin share rates cannot be guaranteed and are on request.
How and when do I receive my confirmation and documents?
If you book directly with us we will email you a confirmation, invoice and Trek Tips within 24 hours of receiving your booking. Once final payment is made you will also receive vouchers. Final documents are resent around 6 weeks before departure. If you book with a travel agent you should receive all documents and information from your agent.
Can I find out who else will be on my trek?
If you have booked a tour directly with TrekAmerica you will be sent a personalised invitation to join TrekAmerica Live - our dedicated TrekAmerica social platform. Once you have done this, you can set up your Trek profile and then approximately six weeks before departure we will open up the group for your departure for you to connect with other registered Trekkers on the same trip. Don't panic if you can't find everyone booked on your trip - not everyone will use TrekAmerica Live but you will meet everyone when you join your trip. You can also try our forum and Facebook page to connect with other Trekkers.
How much luggage can I bring?
One suitcase or rucksack with a maximum weight of 20 KG, plus your sleeping bag and one carry on bag for the van. Be sure to check the weight allowance of your luggage with your airline as well.
Which is best to take, a rucksack, soft holdall or suitcase?
For camping trips a soft holdall or rucksack is generally better. There may be a few occasions where you will need to carry your bag short distances and a soft bag would be beneficial. When storing luggage in your tent it also works out better having a soft bag. Suitcases will however suffice. For lodging trips any type of bag would work and certainly not worth going to buy a new bag specially.
Where can I charge things during my trip?
On camping tours it is often difficult to find a safe and secure wall outlet to recharge mobile phones, camera batteries and other electrical devices but every van has at least 2 outlets for your use, so we recommend bringing a car charger. Although remember you will have to take it in turns to use these so it's always worth bringing a spare camera battery!
For lodging tours your hotel room will have an electrical outlet (don't forget your travel plug adaptor), as well as you having the van charging points.
Will there be Wi-Fi available?
We have Wi-Fi in our vans. It is limited to 5 people at any one time and only when within the US trips it means you don't need to miss out on anything while on tour. Many campsites, hotels and hostels will also have Wi-Fi.
Will my mobile phone work whilst I am away?
You'll need to check with your network provider as to whether your mobile phone will work in America, Canada or the Central American countries you are visiting. TrekAmerica has partnered with e-kit to provide some of the cheapest ways to keep in touch with family and friends while on tour. E-kit can provide international calling cards, prepaid SIMs or international mobile handsets All TrekAmerica travellers are eligible for a free SIM card plus US$5 calling credit.
Can I travel to Mexico or Canada during my 13th month?
The J-1 visa does not allow you to leave and return to the United States during your 13th month. Please contact your local community coordinator if you have any further questions about your visa.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes. Insurance is compulsory on all TrekAmerica tours. We recommend you take our policy which has been specially created to cover all activities on our tours. Our policy covers all residents within the EU. If you decide to arrange your own travel insurance please ensure your policy covers all optional activities you may wish to participate in as well as air rescue and repatriation. Also we strongly recommend cancellation and baggage coverage.
What do I need to pack?
Keep in mind that dress tends to be casual and take a practical selection of clothes for both hot and cool climates to suit the season. You may encounter a wide variety of temperatures en route due to altitude and unforeseen weather conditions, so be prepared!
Besides your essential clothes, here's a checklist of other items you should take:
> Waterproof jacket
> Warm sweater / fleece
> Casual `evening out' clothes
> Sunscreen / insect repellent (20% DEET)
> Walking shoes / boots
> Comfortable day shoes
> Sandals or flip-flops
> Swim wear
> Sun hat / sunglasses
> Travel power adaptor
> Toiletries / personal medicine
> Warm hat / gloves
Don't forget you can always swap packing tips with other Trekkers in the TrekAmerica Live forum.
Do I need a sleeping bag? What kind of sleeping bag do I need?
You need to bring your own sleeping bag for all our camping trips. You do not need to bring a sleeping bag on our BLT trips or BOLT trips, apart from the Southern BLT, Northern BLT, Grand BLT and the Mexican BLT where you will need to one.
We recommend a `three season' bag during the summer months and a `four season' bag the rest of the year, as some nights can be cool to cold, especially in mountainous and desert areas. We supply a foam pad to sleep on, but if you prefer added comfort, you are encouraged to bring your own self-inflating sleeping pad and pillow.
Do I need to bring a camping mat?
We will provide a foam sleeping mat for you to sleep on, but you may prefer to bring your own inflatable sleeping mat for extra comfort. You may also like to bring a pillow.
Will I be able to use my hair straighteners and hairdryer?
You can bring hairdryers and hair straighteners with you, but make sure you bring plug adaptors and check the voltage as they can vary meaning your appliances won't work exactly the same as they do at home. Most people find that after a few days in tour you won't use these as much as you think you will, but they may come in handy for a night out!
Do I really need walking boots or will trainers be ok?
Comfortable shoes will make all walking more enjoyable, so we do recommend walking shoes or boots that will provide a more sturdy grip as well as good ankle support. A pair trainers will be ok, but be prepared for these to get dirty and make sure they do offer some grip. A nice, solid and comfortable pair of trainers (sneakers) is best, not your favourite pair of pumps.
How much money do I need to bring on tour?
For camping tours you will need to budget for the food kitty. This is US$10/ CAN$10 a day and will cover all of your meals while camping but does not cover meals during hotel stops or when the group chooses to sample regional cuisine.
For BLT Tours we would recommend budgeting around US$25 per day for meals paid locally as you go but please note that this is a recommendation only as ultimately how much you want to spend is dependent on your personal choice.
For all tours we recommend you budget a minimum of US$40/CAN$40 dollars per day for your optional activities and snacks along the way. For guideline prices and the most popular optional activities for your trip, please see the individual tours pages. We suggest you bring US $150 with you in cash to start the tour with.
How do I access money on tour?
ATM's and cash machines are readily available throughout the Americas and major credit cards are widely accepted. Travellers Cheques are generally accepted and can be a safe way to take your funds but aren't always the most practical, as foreign money exchange facilities, especially in Central America, can be limited. If using Travellers Cheques you should purchase US Dollar cheques. Credit cards are not accepted for the Food Kitty and many optional activities. Pre-paid credit cards can be a cost effective and safe way to take funds overseas. See www.fairfx.com/trekamerica.
Do I need to tip?
Although it may not be customary in your country, it is normal and expected in North America to tip waiters, bar staff and taxi drivers or any type of guide. Service workers are paid a low wage and depend upon their tips for their livelihood. A minimum of 15-18% is standard in restaurants. Your tour leader also works long and hard for you, so if the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectations, we recommend you consider a tip of US$5-7 per person, per day, in appreciation of the service you receive.
Do we need to pre-book optional activities?
No, you don't need to pre-book any of our optional activities. You tour leader will run through all the options with you during your trip and you can decide what you'd like to do and pay as you go along for these.
I really want to visit Alcatraz on my tour - can I?
If you are visiting San Francisco on your tour, and you want to visit Alcatraz then you can do this on your free day (Day 2 in San Francisco). We do recommend though that you book your tickets well in advance as they can often sell out completely, days or weeks in advance. If you wait to try and book this during your trip, you may miss out.
You can book your ticket through Alcatraz Cruises, the official source of tickets to Alcatraz, by visiting www.alcatrazcruises.com or calling +1.415.981.7625 between the hours of 8am-7pm, Pacific Standard Time (USA). Tickets can be booked up to 90 days in advance.
What is the joining point of the tour?
Our departure hotels are conveniently located and serve as your trek's start and end points, Most of our tours start in the lobby of the departure hotel at 7.30am. If you want to stay at these hotels for the night before and after your trip we can book this for you. Once you have booked we will email your tour vouchers detailing the joining point and time of your trip, and our Trek Tips with hotel details and transfer advice. 6 weeks before travel relevant vouchers will be re-sent and these can be downloaded to your smart-phone before departing.
Do you organise transfers to the tour joining point?
No we don't arrange transfers from the airport to our gateway hotels. Usually there are quick, easy and more cost effective transfer options available directly from the airport to the gateway hotels. We provide some basic details on our main website on our airport transfers page.
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