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Lucy Flaherty
Trailblazer from New York

Best thing I’ve ever done

Reviewed January 2018

Honestly the best thing I have ever done, don’t be afraid to go.

Simon Jago
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Grand Trek

Probably the best experience I'll ever have!

Reviewed January 2018

Overall Review:

This is THE best trip I have ever done and possibly ever will do. I thoroughly recommend people to go ahead and book one if you’re in the position to do so, the longer the trip the better!

Solo/travelling with friends:

Whether you’re a solo traveller or going with friends, this trip will be great either way!
I was one of many solo travellers in my group of 13 people (2 couples and the rest solo). Do bear in mind, you are with these people pretty much all day everyday throughout the trek so if you’re lucky enough like I was, you will have a great group of people and have a great time! Of course, you won’t get on with everyone, that’s only natural! You get to know each other very quickly and probably a little more intimately than you may wish to think!

Budget:

Personally, I had planned to do the majority of the additional activities listed by Trek America so I had saved quite a bit of money. Things to consider for your budget should be tipping. For anyone who hasn’t been to the US before, tipping is a huge part of the service industry compared to the UK. You should tip EVERYONE who is providing a service to you (guides, bartenders/waiters, taxi drivers, street performers, the lot!) this does add up very quickly if you don’t plan it into your spending money. Also, don’t forget the Trek Leaders need tipping too for the outstanding service they are providing. Overall I roughly spent around £4000 over the 2.5 month trip (not including the flights and trek itself etc). This covered everything from optional activities, tips, drink and food, general shopping etc. You could certainly do it for less and also a hell of a lot more if you wanted to!

Food and meals:

The food kitty system worked really well for our group. You pay the money to your leader at the start of the trip and they note how much is spent on the food shops etc for the meals. For all the days there was ample food for 3 meals and more for everyone. Some nights you eat out too which if there’s money available, can be used from the food kitty but this does depend or what the Trek leader advises. We also got some money back each from what was unspent which was a small bonus. I would advise learning a special dish that you can cook for everyone because when you get a good meal it certainly makes the everyone happy!

Optional Activities:

As previously stated, I had saved up with the intention of doing as many of the optional activities as possible. The ones I would recommend for definite are:

• Cedar Point Amusement Park – Great rides but to be honest the Trek leader also agreed, should be an included activity because there isn’t anything else in Sandusky to do apart from this.
• Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon – No explanation necessary but it is one of the most expensive optional activities but thoroughly worth it! How often will you be going to the Grand Canyon?
• Swamp Tour in Louisiana – See the gators and other wildlife in their habitat!
• Alcatraz Tour – Book in advance! A really, really good tour with an audio guide included.
• Willis Tower – Worth going up to the top for a stunning view over Chicago, long queues though however!
• Night time cycle tour in Chicago – It’s such a good way to see this incredible city and see the sunset. If you’re lucky enough to get ‘Gabe’ as your cycle tour guide he is excellent!
• Not so much an optional activity but definitely don’t turn down the option to do a bit of ‘cowboy camping’ in Navaho. You will get to see THE most spectacular night sky!! There are more stars, shooting stars and satellites in the sky than there is darkness. One of my fondest memories of the trip and I could have sat and gazed at that sky for months on end and never get bored of it.

Van Appreciation Days/Driving:

It goes without saying, the US is massive!! So inevitably you will be spending a fair amount of time in the van. Take a book, headphones etc to keep you entertained if you don’t fancy being sociable 24/7 and want to just shut off for a bit. If you’re like me, I was more than happy just watching the world go by out the window and seeing the various parts of America without having a care or worry in the world. No work to worry about, no phone calls from customers… bliss! There are always various stop points on the journeys for bathroom breaks and refreshments. I think the longest drive we had in a day was around 8 hours, didn’t seem to take that long really! One thing to point out, it says on the trek site that wifi and charging ports are available. I don’t think we used the wifi once because it either didn’t have a strong enough signal and for the fact they have a daily/weekly usage limit so it tends to only be used for emergencies etc. With regards to the charging ports, there was about 4 available on our bus which were constantly used for everybody’s devices so I’d recommend taking some portable power packs with you to use instead.

What to pack:

The Trek list they have on the website of what to pack is pretty much all you need, some extras I found particularly useful/worthwhile were:

• Buy some cheap pillows at a Walmart, it makes night times so much comfier and also to sleep on the van as well if you fancy a nap! Rather than a hot window or an unwilling trek companion! Leave the pillows at the end and they either get re-used for other trekkers or given to homeless shelters.
• Camping mat – Trek do supply a camping mat but in all honesty they aren’t worth the room in the trailer! Again, if you’re on a trip like mine where the majority is camping, it makes sleeping a lot more enjoyable and less achy the next day! The same outcome applies with leaving it with the Trek leader at the end of the trip.
• Portable Battery packs – A life saver really to keep your phone and any other devices charged and when on the move. If you have a decent internet allowance then using your phone maps to find out what’s around you and directions to places is handy!
• Warm clothing – Despite going in the warm season still, some night time temperatures were below 0c, so definitely take some warm clothes to wrap up in!
• Comfy trainers/walking boots – You’re on your feet a lot, so really make sure you take something you find comfy and can walk/hike in all day. Breathable and waterproof another bonus.
• Microfibre towel – Don’t take up valuable space with a big towel, get a microfibre one that takes up hardly any space/weight and also dries quickly!
• If you’ve got a decent camera, take it or invest in one! There’s so many picturesque moments throughout the trip and it’s the best way to keep the memories of it all if you can capture it forever.
• Luggage – I personally took a suitcase as opposed to a rucksack. It was easier to keep things organised and accessible. You don’t have far to take luggage anywhere on the trip either so a suitcase worked well. Take a backpack for the hikes.

Trek Leaders/free time:

I think I may have had a bit of extra luck with the 2 Trek Leaders we had for our tours (1 for the Northern Trail and 1 for the Southern Sun). They were both absolutely outstanding. Excellent knowledge of places to go/not to go, good fun and really helped make the trip the best it could be. Of course, it is still a job so they have their own time to themselves which is usually when you also get free time to go and explore or do things you wanted to that aren’t on the itinerary but they are always there if required.

Fitness:

The trip does involve a certain amount of personal fitness required to partake in. The hikes have various levels of difficulty to cater for everyone but the conditions are normally hot which if you’re unfit, will not be helping you on a hike! As with most things in life, the best things are hard earned! This works the same way with the hikes, if you can push yourself to get to the highest point or hardest trail then do so, the rewards far outweigh the little bit grit it takes getting there!

My Top 5 Places:

Of all the places visited, these would be my top 5 in no particular order:

• Nashville
• Chicago
• New Orleans
• Monument Valley
• Yellowstone

CHARLOTTE D.
Western BLT from Los Angeles

Experiences to last a lifetime

Reviewed January 2018

This trip was great experience. There are so many sites to see. The tour guide was brilliant and knew where to go. Grand Canyon was the highlight of the trip for me. You cannot comprehend how awe amazing it truly is until you are there. The transport was very comfy and spacious. Overall great trek.

Nicola M.
Westerner 3

Experience of a lifetime!

Reviewed January 2018

I meant to give full stars in my review!! Not sure why it didn't work, please match this rating with my written review!

AVINASH R.
Mountain Trail

Most memorable trip of my life with JD & others

Reviewed January 2018

To start with we were so lucky to have JD has our Tour guide. He is a human encyclopedia with full of information on every subject you address him with. His meticulous planning based on evolving situations was epitome. I must admit it was not that easy job to group up 12 different people coming from different countries with 48 different ideas to have such a unified, wonderful and fun-filled tour experience. The trip is well organised and at the same time gives you good sense of liberty to explore the nature at its best. We were one among few groups who sighted wolves, bears, bison, moose and elks and all in wild. Not to miss the shooting star experience at Dead horse point, grooving like a cowboy at Jackson, early morning safari at Yellowstone and rafting on snake river. Thanks to the professionalism, patience, knowledge and passion of the tour guide JD which enabled us to have one of a few life time experiences. Cooking, sharing responsibilities and camping together with such lovely people made the trip so personal to me. Hope to have many more such trips with Trek America.

JUSTIN G.
Western BLT from Los Angeles

So much more than what I expected!

Reviewed December 2017

When I booked the Western BLT, I expected it to be a point to point trip with not much in between. The devil is in the details though. Our Guide, Alex, was amazing at seeking out and making sure we had time for all sorts of mini stops along the way! Route 66 had so many weird little places that I never would have gone to (or known to go to) otherwise.

The main stops were incredible as well. I have to go back to the Grand Canyon to do more hiking and some water rafting on the Colorado River. Vegas is also well worth the trip, of course! Seeing the giant Sequoias at Yosemite was an unexpected surprise as well!

On top of all this, the time spent in the van and at each stop was excellent time to get to know everyone on the tour. Our group was small but I appreciated how we rotated seating each time in the van to shake up who we sat with/talked with.

To quote a fellow passenger: 10 out of 10!

B.Morris
Southern Sun from New York

I would press the button.

Reviewed December 2017

Honestly, if I could do this trip all over again, I absolutely would. I couldn't recommend it more. Our tour leader was brilliant and took us to interesting, lesser known locations during the long driving days that I never would have seen, experienced or known of otherwise. I met lovely friends who I have since stayed in contact with - you can't have the experiences you do together and not stay in touch to relive them! What a privilege. Trek America's support staff (the ones you talk to on the phone with your long list of endless questions, worries and problems) - I could not praise more. Each time I called, no matter whom it was I spoke to, they were friendly, patient, understanding and just all-round brilliant. I know it's easy to read these reviews and think 'yeah, they all say the same thing, what's new?', but if you're even considering doing this trip, the final thing I will say, is to just do it. Press the button. I can promise you that I didn't regret it.

Nicola M.
Westerner 3

EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME

Reviewed December 2017

Nothing I can say in this review can ever begin to tell you how amazing this trip truly was! From the strangers I travelled around with for 3 weeks to the phenomenal places we were lucky enough to find ourselves in, this was totally unforgettable! Drew, our trek leader, was literally the best I could have hoped for booking onto this trip, he made everything so easy for us and just made everyone so happy! Honestly have never met a more positive or enthusiastic person in my life and I’ll never forget him for making this trip so amazing! I can’t even pick a favourite place because each and every one had something totally different to offer. I have to say though the greatest feeling ever was completing the hikes, it was seeing everyone in our group make it to either the top of a mountain or the bottom of a canyon and sharing that experience with those people, it’s a feeling which can’t be compared to anything else! It’s out of this world!

CHARLIE FARROW
Southerner from New York [CLOSED]

Best experience in my life so far..

Reviewed November 2017

The trip was amazing. Every single place was a unique experience, no two days were the same. Our group was extremely friendly and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable (the best)

sarahjenkinss_
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Southern Sun from New York

Unforgettable trip - have made friends for life!

Reviewed November 2017

This trip was my first time to the states as a solo traveler and I literally could not have asked for a better time. I was incredibly lucky to be in a group mixed with boys and girls who who were all completely different, but got along super well due to our common interest in travel.

Most of us were Brits (which I didn't expect!) and one from Aus. I had my apprehensions about coming on the trip as it is 21 days - but I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. We made the long van driving days fly by with lots of regular stops and each person took their turn at being Quiz Master (who knew Georgia is the Peach state?!) along with each of us channeling our inner DJ as we picked a new playlist each day.

There was so many highlights for me - My first would be finding out how beautiful and diverse America really is. Every state is completely different - seriously! Each has its' own quirks, however every American we met was super friendly and were so interested in all our individual stories.

My second highlight was camping in Utah with the Native American people (Navajos) it was the most breathtaking experience of my life. The views of Utah were unbelievable, and the food was to die for. Getting up at 5am to watch the sun rise was beautiful, and added so much to our already amazing trip.

My third and final highlight was Vegas with the group. We didn't just party on the strip, we were lucky enough to be invited to our Trek leaders' relatives house for a BBQ. I had never had an American BBQ before and I don't think anything could top the night we had.

Some final words I would like to add is DO NOT be afraid to take personal time to go and do what you want (where it is possible of course). I definitely left the group a few times of the trip because I just needed time t collect my thoughts and be able to join in again. There will definitely be times where you miss home and probably even some times where you bicker, but you WILL get over it.

We finished our Trek in July 2017 and not a day goes by where I don't think about that trip. We have actually made plans to visit Ireland for St. Paddy's day (one of our group was Irish) and even our leader is coming along.

I have seriously made friends for life, and would recommend anyone just to do it. It will be the best thing you'll do. I am planning on doing some more travelling with Trek next year.

Happy camping!

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