What's included in the price of the Trek? Are there any age restrictions?
- All accommodation during your tour
- All transport in private air-conditioned vehicles in North America
- All transport on Central American tours
- The services of a professionally trained tour leader
- All necessary camping equipment including tents on Trek America camping tours
- Admission to all National Parks and monuments as listed in the itinerary
- Included activities unique to each Trek
What about age restrictions for alcohol consumption?
Trek America tours are designed specifically for passengers aged between 18 to 38. Consequently, they tend to focus on activities and nightlife that appeal to that age range. The minimum age on the special Christmas and New Year trips and the Sips of Old Hollywood Urban Adventure is 21.
I'm not a big drinker - is there any 'beer pressure'?
The legal drinking age is 21 in the USA, 18 in Central America, and either 18 or 19 in Canada, depending on the province. Please note that Trek America does not condone underage drinking on their tours.
Is it cheaper to travel independently?
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 Trek America trip. Legal drinking age in the USA is 21, and 18 or 19 in Canada, depending on the Province.
I am travelling on my own. Will I be the only one?
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 America 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, Trek America can negotiate great group rates on optional activities too.
How many people will be on my tour?
The majority of the people travelling with Trek America join their trips as solo travellers. Trek America trips are a great way to travel safely and meet other likeminded, adventurous people from all over the world and they do not charge single supplements. Join Trek America’s Facebook page, read previous trekker reviews or chat to others in the Trek America’s hubs to hear from other solo travellers.
Do couples travel with Trek America?
Trek America’s Original tours are based on travelling in small groups of up to 13 likeminded individuals from around the world, providing the security of group travel while maintaining the flexibility of independent discovery.
The Plus tours have an average group size of 30 (maximum 50) that you’ll stick with for the entire trip, giving you plenty of options when you choose who to hang out with!
BOLT tours have a maximum group size of 16 (Central America) or 18 (South America), so you can easily blend in with the locals.
Overland tours in South America have an average group size of 25 people (maximum 34) to get to know en route.
How do we get around?
Yes, every trip is made of a mixture of people travelling alone, as pairs or 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 Trek America will try to accommodate couples, however twin rooms cannot be guaranteed.
Are flights included in the price?
In North America, you'll travel in a private vehicle. This offers great flexibility and convenience plus guarantees to get you further off the beaten path than you ever could using the North American public transport system.
Camping and budget lodging tours use a private van driven by your tour leader. Meanwhile Plus tours use private coaches, with the benefit of both a driver and a tour leader. Both types of transport are equipped with Wi-Fi (mainland USA only - excludes Alaska and Hawaii) so you can keep in touch from the road.
In Central and South America, BOLT tours use public transport including local buses, flights and private vehicles. These varied modes of transport mean you get around affordably and ensure you get to experience local life.
For Overland tours in South America, you’ll travel in a powerful purpose built expedition vehicle specially designed and engineered to make your journey over rugged landscapes as comfortable as possible. There are large panoramic windows and plenty of luggage space in external compartments plus large overhead racks to store your day packs. You’ll have a portable kitchen with you making your group virtually self sufficient as you travel off the beaten path.
How fit should I be?
No, you will need to book your flights to the starting destination and from the end destination.
If your tour starts early in the morning, Trek America recommend you book your flight to arrive at least the day before your trip starts (does not apply for Plus, BOLT or Overland tours). Most tours will finish at 17:00 hrs, so please make sure your flight does not depart before 21:00 hrs (for BOLT or Overland tours, you are free to fly at any time on the last day of your tour). See the Trip Notes for each tour for more details.
To make your arrival as smooth as possible, for specific destinations Trek America recommend the following airports: Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) for New York (for Plus tours, any New York airport is suitable), Kona International Airport (KOA) for Hawaii, La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City for Antigua, and Cancun International Airport (CUN) for Playa Del Carmen.
What if I have limited mobility?
Anyone in reasonably good health can join Trek America 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.
When does a trip become guaranteed?
If you have concerns about the suitability of a tour, speak to your Trip Advisor who will be able to talk you through the best options for your individual needs.
What is the minimum number of travellers on a trek?
Trek America run more tour departures across North America than any other tour operator, so they offer you the widest choice of tours and departure dates available. Throughout the year, most departure dates will become guaranteed - this means that a tour will definitely operate on the day it is scheduled and will not be cancelled. Trek America guarantee these tours as soon as minimum numbers for that date are reached or based on historical popularity of those dates.
The average group size is 10 on camping and budget lodging tours (maximum 13), 30 on Plus tours (maximum 50) and 12 on BOLT tours (maximum 16). The minimum number of travellers can be much lower; however, this is uncommon. The type of vehicle may vary depending on the group size.
How much luggage can I bring? Which is best to take, a rucksack, soft holdall or suitcase?
One suitcase or rucksack with a maximum weight of 23 KG and one carryon bag for the vehicle (plus your sleeping bag on camping trips). Be sure to check the weight allowance of your luggage with your airline as well.
Where can I charge my devices during my trip?
For camping trips, Trek America guide that 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 budget lodging and hotel trips any type of bag would work and it is certainly not worth going to buy a new bag for you trip.
Will my mobile phone work whilst I am away?
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 Trek America recommend packing 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 nights spent in hotels, your room will have an electrical outlet (don't forget your travel plug adaptor), as well as the van charging points.
Do I need a passport & visa?
You'll need to check with your network provider as to whether your mobile phone will work in America, Canada or the South & Central American countries you are visiting.
Rules for entry into the USA
It's your responsibility to ensure you have a valid passport and any necessary visas for your tour. For Central and South America, you'll need a passport with at least six months validity following the end of your trip.
The visa requirements for your trip may vary depending on where you're going and your nationality. It's important that you check and apply for each of the visas you need whilst in your home country and you should consult the relevant embassy if you need more information. Please bear in mind that some tours may spend time in more than one country.
Transiting the USA
Holders of UK, Australia, New Zealand and most EU country passports are eligible to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is open to people for travel in the USA for up to a 90 day stay.
All eligible travellers who wish to travel under the VWP must apply for an electronic travel authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours before arrival. You will require your passport details and your address in the USA (you can use the starting point hotel address). There is a fee for an ESTA. Your ESTA will be valid for a period of two years, or until your passport expires.
All travellers wishing to enter the USA under the VWP need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport). VWP rules exclude most people who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since 1 March 2011, and those who have dual nationality of these countries. This means that existing ESTAs could be revoked, and you will instead need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
Residents from countries who cannot travel under the VWP must consult their relevant embassy. For more information about who is eligible to travel under the VWP, and the eligibility requirements refer to the US Government Visa Waiver program.
Anyone that has not applied for and received travel authorisation via ESTA prior to travel may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at the US port of entry. However, neither possession of a visa nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visa free on the VWP, guarantees admission to the USA. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the port of entry. It is important that you check for current visa information yourself.
Rules for entry into Canada
If you're planning to transit in the USA or to stopover in the USA on the way to your destination, you'll still need to apply for an ESTA. You must apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling to the USA. See above.
Do I need travel insurance?
Most visitors to Canada require an entry visa prior to travel, known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Citizens from countries other than the USA who do not require a visa to enter Canada are required to obtain an eTA before entering the country.
Eligible travellers will need to go online to apply for their eTA. To apply for your eTA you will need your passport, credit or debit card, an email address and your address in Canada (you can use the starting point hotel address). There is a fee to process your eTA. Your eTA will be valid for a period of five years, or until your passport expires.
Visit the Government of Canada's official website to apply. Residents from countries who cannot travel under the eTA must consult their relevant embassy.
If you have not applied for and received authorisation via an eTA prior to travel you may be denied boarding, experience a delayed processing or be denied admission at the Canadian point of entry. However, neither possession of a visa nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visa-free on the eTA, guarantees admission to Canada. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the port of entry. Please note: This ONLY applies to travellers arriving by air. So if you are entering Canada by land or sea you do not need an eTA.
You do not need to obtain an eTA if you are transiting though Canada with the sole purpose of refuelling en route to the US and are in possession of a valid ESTA or US visa. In addition, if you are transiting through Canada as a passenger on a flight to another country and are in possession of a valid visa for your final destination you do not need an eTA. Please note, this information is correct at the time of publication. Please check the latest requirements before travelling.
What do I need to pack?
Yes. Insurance is compulsory for all Trek America tours. Please ensure your policy covers all optional activities you may wish to participate in as well as air rescue and repatriation. Also Trek America strongly recommend cancellation and baggage coverage.
Do I need a sleeping bag? What kind of sleeping bag do I need?
You know what the Scouts say... Be Prepared! North America is vast, and you're likely to encounter lots of different climates during your trip. Check the weather averages for the time of year you're travelling and pack accordingly. Here are some of the things that should be in your case as well as your general clothes:
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm sweater / fleece
- Casual clothes and a few 'evening out' options
- Sunscreen / insect repellent (20% DEET)
- Sensible footwear for walking, ideally boots with ankle support, but trainers with good grip are OK
- Comfortable day shoes, sandals or flip-flops
- Sunhat / sunglasses
- Water bottle
- Camera & charger
- Travel power adaptor / USB car charger and cord
- Flashlight / Head torch
- Toiletries / personal medicine
- Warm hat / gloves
- Swim wear
Will I be able to use my hair straighteners and hairdryer?
You need to bring your own sleeping bag for all camping based trips in USA, Canada and South America. Trek America 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. Trek America 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 really need walking boots, or will trainers be ok?
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 on tour you won't use these as much as you think you will, but they may come in handy for a night out!
How much money do I need to bring on tour?
Comfortable shoes will make all walking more enjoyable, so Trek America do recommend walking shoes or boots that will provide a sturdy grip as well as good ankle support. A pair of 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 should I take my spending money?
For camping nights, Trek America recommend you budget at least an average of US$25/CAN$30 per day for meals and general spending. This includes US$10/CAN$15 per day for your food kitty (US$15 per day in Hawaii and Alaska) which covers all of your meals while camping plus at least US$15/CAN$15 per day for snacks, drinks, tips and general spending.
For budget lodging and hotel nights Trek America recommend you budget an average of US$50 per day to cover meals (where not included), snacks, drinks, tips and general spending. Please note that this is a recommendation only as ultimately how much you want to spend is dependent on your personal choice. Plus tour travellers can budget a bit less as most breakfasts, plus some dinners and extra activities are included in the tour price.
In addition to this, you should also budget for the optional activities that you would like to participate in. For guideline prices, the most popular optional activities are listed on the individual tour pages on the site. It is customary to tip waiters, bar staff, taxi drivers, local guides and any person who provides a service for you. Your tour leader will work long and hard for you during your tour and Trek America recommend a discretionary tip of US$5-7 per passenger per day if the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectations.
Do I need to tip?
Cash machines (ATMs) are usually readily available throughout the Americas (with the exception of Alaska and parts of Central and South America where cash facilities may be more remote). Major credit cards are widely accepted; however credit cards are not accepted for the food kitty (camping tours in the USA / Canada), local payment (South America tours) and many optional activities.
Do I need to pre-book optional activities?
Although it may not be customary in your country, it's normal and expected in USA and Canada to tip local guides, waiters, bar staff, taxi drivers and anyone who provides a service for you. Service workers are paid a low wage and depend on their tips for their livelihood. See the Trip Notes for your tour for more information.
Your tour leader (and driver on Overland tours) will work long and hard for you during your tour and Trek America recommend a discretionary tip of $5-7 per day in USA and Canada, and $2-4 per day in Central and South America, if your leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectations.
On North & Central America tours, you don't need to pre-book any of the 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.
On selected South America tours, there are a number of optional extensions available in Cusco. If you are interested in these, you will need to book these at the same time as you book your trip. See the tour pages for more details.
What type of accommodation is used on Budget lodging tours (BLTs)? What type of accommodation is used on BOLT tours?
Trek America use a combination of hostels, hotels, motels and cabins on their budget lodging based tours. Accommodation will be arranged on a multi share or twin share basis, usually single sex.
Where possible Trek America keep the group together, but this cannot be guaranteed. They also try to accommodate couples, however double rooms cannot be guaranteed. It may be possible to arrange this locally for an additional cost.
There is no food kitty collected on budget lodging based tours and meals will need to be paid for locally. You may wish to purchase this at a local retail store such as REI or Walmart. Please allow time to do this before the start of your trip.
What can I expect on a camping tour?
On BOLT tours, Trek America primarily use hotels on a twin share basis and occasionally on a multi share basis. Transport ranges between public and private transport, overnight sleeper coaches, ferries, water taxis and flights. In Central America, most meals need to be paid for locally. In South America, most breakfasts are included, and most other meals need to be paid for locally.
How does the food kitty work on camping tours?
Trek America have made camping easy and fun, so don't worry if you have never camped before! Trek America provide all the necessary camping equipment including tents, foam sleeping mats in USA and Canada (10mm thick), cold food storage containers, camp lights, stoves and other camping accessories.
The only thing you need to bring is a sleeping bag and pillow, plus a sleeping mat for South America tours. If you're on a long trip or prefer some extra comfort, Trek America recommend bringing a self-inflating mattress, such as a Therm-a-Rest.
The high quality tents are very easy to set up and take down on your own and your leader will show you how. Trek America camp with two people in each spacious tent, leaving more than enough room for your luggage.
Many campgrounds are situated in stunning settings. When you camp near major city destinations, most campgrounds will typically have full facilities such as showers (some campgrounds charge US$1-US$3 for hot showers), shops, laundromats and sometimes pools.
Virtually all national park campgrounds have pay showers, flushing toilets and basic facilities. Occasionally, tour groups will stay in more remote areas where the surroundings will quickly make you forget any lack of facilities.
Most camping based trips will spend some nights in budget hotels or hostels during the tour, usually in the cities. This is based on a multi share or twin share basis. On some occasions you will stay in cabins, ranches or a traditional Navajo hogan, as covered off in the itinerary.
Will there be Wi-Fi available?
On Trek America camping tours, tour groups share in the preparation and cooking of the food. The food kitty in USA and Canada is designed to save you money and is normally collected by your tour leader at the beginning of the trip in cash.
On longer trips the food kitty may be collected in instalments. Supplies, excluding soft drinks and alcohol, are purchased from the food kitty, and each member of the group pays US$10 or CA$15 per day (US$15 per day in Hawaii and Alaska).
This covers three meals on most days whilst camping, using fresh foods that the group purchase as you travel to satisfy the international flavour of the group. The food kitty can be used for ice and firewood where applicable. Naturally, this does not cover food on hotel stop days when Trek groups can choose to sample regional cuisine at local restaurants. In South America, most meals whilst camping are included in the price of your tour.
When travelling within mainland USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) tour vans are fully equipped with free Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is subject to a set data quota, sufficient for normal usage. For this reason, if you reach your data limit your tour leader may need to turn off the Wi-Fi to ensure you do not run out of data in the latter stages of your trip.
Trek America operate a fair usage policy to ensure everyone has equal access to Wi-Fi, which means that you are not permitted to stream films/music or to upload/download large documents. If you do so, this will deplete the entire group's data allowance.
It's also important you disconnect from the Wi-Fi network when you're not using it to avoid using up data unnecessarily. Only five people can be connected to the Wi-Fi at one time. Please note, in some remote areas you may not be able to pick up the Wi-Fi.
It is not possible to provide Wi-Fi in your vehicle in Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Central America or South America. Wi-Fi is widely available in built-up areas of the USA and Canada including campgrounds and hotels, and in many built-up areas in Central and South America including many hostels and hotels. Where possible, you make the most of this.
An essential part of your camping tour is helping with the daily camp duties. With guidance from your tour leader and a full range of camping equipment, the team spirit makes the chores easy and enjoyable. From setting up in the evening, to breaking camp in the morning and from unloading the vehicle to shopping for food and preparing group meals, you'll be part of the team.
What will my tour leader be like?
Please note that some tours featured in the collection may be part of a longer combination tour. For example, the Grand Trek is a combination of the Southern Sun and Northern Trail tours. On combination tours and other longer itineraries of more than 28 days (Pacific Dream, Desert & Rockies BLT, Canadian Express, Coast to Coast Express, Grand Trek, Grand BLT, Trailblazer, The Ultimate Transcontinental and Great 48), scheduling requirements may necessitate a change of tour leader at the mid-point of the tour and the passenger mix may change.
Although Trek America endeavour to maintain the same leader throughout your BOLT or Overland tour, they may change from time to time and the passenger group may change. Being able to combine some tours allows Trek America to offer more departure dates and a greater selection of joining cities. Some combination tours that start and end in the same city may run in different directions at different times of the year.
Working hour regulations for Trek America Tour Leaders
Trek America believe that the most important ingredient for the success of any tour is the tour leader and they are extremely proud of the high professional standards set by their tour leaders for over 40 years.
Trek America start their training programme with recruiting the right people and developing their natural talents via substantial training in all areas, with special attention paid to group dynamics and leadership. In addition, tour leaders receive various forms of instruction from the training and operations teams including first-aid, driving techniques, vehicle maintenance, menu planning and emergency procedures.
Once leaders complete their initial training, they receive hands on education in the field from managers and senior tour leaders who can relay years of experience and knowledge.
Working hour regulations for Trek America Tour Leaders
Please note that US law regulates the total number of hours your tour leader is available to work. Trek America trips are designed to make the most of your time in North America, but please understand that there will be certain times each day that your leader will need to be off duty from work and therefore their interaction will be limited.
Due to these restrictions, particularly after the longer driving days, your leader may not be able to join you for some of the daily activities or may need to tend to other work duties. Please respect that they also need their own time to rest and recuperate in order to operate your trip safely and with heaps of energy.
Your leader will provide you with the best information required to enjoy each trip day safely and to its fullest. They will provide maps, suggested activities and restaurants, and may decide to join you and the group on their own time off.
Trek America endeavour to run all tours as they are published however, it is sometimes necessary to alter itineraries to adapt to local conditions and park entrance regulations. You will be notified in the case of any major alterations to your tour. In most cases, your tour leader will provide a more detailed trip outline at the beginning of your tour.