Real East USA Adventure
Hit the road on a trip like no other through the eastern USA, where each city is a culture unto itself. One day you’re in Nashville munching Southern-style biscuits for breakfast, the next you’re wandering around the iconic buildings of Chicago. This 18-29s tour is full of flexibility, making it perfect for the independent traveller who wants to see as much of this part of the country as possible in a short amount of time. The Victorian-era homes of Louisville, the winding Shenandoah River, thundering Niagara Falls and a sunset over Lake Erie – this is a real east USA adventure.
Ages: 18 - 29
Theme: 18 to 29s, Explorer
Accommodation: Camping (with facilities) (8 nights), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (1 night)
Welcome to New York! There are no activities planned until your welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm. If you arrive early there’s no shortage of fun in the city that never sleeps. You can get a delicious crash course in how immigration has shaped the city on a Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour with Urban Adventures. Stroll through New York's unique culturally signifcant sites in the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Little Italy, trying food along the way and gaining an appreciation for those who risked everything in search of the American dream. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/Tenements-Tastings-Tales-A-Tour-Of-New-York-Lower-East-Side.
Leave the skyscrapers in the rear-view mirror and head towards Washington DC. Along the way make a stop in Philadelphia, where you’ll have time to check out a few highlights before continuing to the USA’s capital. Spend a couple of hours in Philly and take in some icons of the Old City. Check out the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the 72-steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky climbed while training for the fight of his life (ask your dad). Continue to DC for a free evening in the capital. Tonight, maybe grab some buddies and head out in search of dinner. You can plan your schedule and consult your maps over a bowl of ramen in Chinatown, or maybe over a beer at one of the rowdy bars in Georgetown.
Hit the streets today at your own pace. Many of the iconic monuments and museums in DC are free to visit, including the White House, National Archives, National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Prefer the structure of a guided tour? Ask your leader about the optional Bike and Roll tour options and you could be exploring the city on a bicycle or segway in no time. News buffs might want to check out the Newseum, where (for a small entry fee) you can learn about the First Amendment, press freedom and the historic threats to both.
This morning you’ll head into Virginia along the scenic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. It’s a long drive, but an incredibly beautiful one. We’re not saying a ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ singalong is mandatory, but it is a great way to pass the time and get into the spirit of the journey. The beauty of travelling in a small group is that there’s a certain amount of flexibility on these drives. See something incredible you want a closer look at? If everyone’s on board, go for it. You’ll arrive in the Blue Ridge Mountains after an approximately 5-hour drive.
Drive approximately 4 hours to Nashville, Tennessee. Settle into the campground and then get your bearings on an orientation tour with your leader. See some highlights of the city, including Broadway – home to historic buildings and honky-tonks. After you’ve familiarised yourself with the city, talk to your leader about what else is on offer in the home of country music. If you have time, perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. When the sun goes down in Nashville, it’s time to hit the honky-tonks. Head to the Wildhorse Saloon tonight, where you’ll soon be stomping the boards with the locals during a line dancing lesson.
Start your day in Southern style with a breakfast of coffee and hot, buttery biscuits. This down-home staple is kind of like a savoury scone but tastier. After breakfast, enjoy a free day in Nashville. Maybe celebrate the ‘Man in Black’ with a trip to the Johnny Cash Museum. Or perhaps take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium, one of the city’s most famous performance halls. If you’re having difficulty deciding what to do, pick your leader’s brain for details of the optional activities on offer. If you’ve got a hankering for more southern-fried goodness, ask your leader where to grab a plate of ‘meat and three’. That’s what locals call a meal that includes your choice of meat (usually the options include fried chicken and country-fried steak) plus three side dishes such as collard greens, mashed potato and creamed corn.
Leave Nashville behind today and drive north for around 3 hours to Louisville, Kentucky. On arrival, you'll have free time to explore this huge city. You may have heard of the city’s namesake derby or baseball slugger, but the city’s got a multitude of unexpected charms to go along with its big hitters. An inventive but unpretentious food scene makes Louisville the perfect place to try variations on classic Southern dishes like hot, fried chicken and crab legs. The city is also home to some gorgeous parks (120, to be exact) and the largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the country, both of which can be explored on foot (and mostly for free). Of course, Kentucky is also known for its tipple of choice – bourbon. You could always take a self-guided trip between distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Just be aware that any activities undertaken today will be at your own expense.
Sit back and relax on the 6-hour drive to Chicago. With more than 45 kilometres of lakefront paths, Chicago is one of the world's most walkable cities, so what are you waiting for? This a great opportunity to bust out your walking shoes and start exploring on foot. Maybe head to Millennium Park, a massive public space with gardens and artwork throughout. Make sure you check out the Cloud Gate, the massive silver sculpture (also known as ‘The Bean’) that reflects the cityscape on its shiny surface. Another great way to see the city is by walking along the Magnificent Mile, an upscale stretch lined with attractions like then Art Institute and the Wrigley Building. Dinner tonight is included and a Chicago classic – deep-dish pizza. After dinner, perhaps grab some of your fellow travellers and head to the John Hancock Center to take the elevator to the 95th floor. Here you’ll find the Signature Room, where for the price of a drink you can enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Take a whole day to explore Chicago, with heaps of optional activities to choose from. Check out the full list of recommended optional activities below and, as always, make sure to grill your leader for advice. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a tranquil place to while away a few hours for a small cover charge. If your interests lie more with politics, the past, or both, the History Museum is great place to learn more about Chicago. If you’d like to be shown the city by someone who knows it inside-out, consider booking a tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike.
Skirt the edge of Lake Erie and cross the Midwest into Ohio, with Sandusky as your destination (approximately 2 hours). Choose whether to join the group on an optional trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park, the so-called ‘Roller Coaster Capital of the World’ (extra cost). Cedar Point also features the Millennium Force, which has been voted the greatest roller-coaster in the world, making it the place to be if you love an adrenaline hit. If you’re not big on thrills, you may prefer to head to the nearby beach and simply stretch out on the sandy shoreline. In the late afternoon, set up camp near Lake Erie and wander down to the lake’s shore for a memorable sunset.
Visit one of the country's greatest natural attractions – Niagara Falls. Continue along the border of Lake Erie all the way to this famous sight, which sits sandwiched between the borders of the USA and Canada (approximately 4.5 hours). There are numerous viewpoints from which you can appreciate the power of this amazing set of falls, including from the water on an optional Maid of the Mist cruise. For the ultimate show, head to the falls at night and see them lit up in all their glory.
Return to New York today (approximately 7 hours). Traffic coming into the city can be incredibly busy, so please be prepared for delays. This is the perfect time to listen to a podcast or crack open a book. Arrive in Newark in New Jersey. There are no included activities planned on arrival, and no accommodation included this evening. If you plan to stay in New Jersey (or make the short trip to NYC by boat, train or bus) we can help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability). Chat to your travel agent or an Intrepid representative before you begin your tour.
- Chicago-style deep dish pizza dinner
Hilton Newark Airport
1170 Spring Street
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Hilton Newark Airport
1170 Spring Street
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes nights 8 & 9 (Chicago) where you will be in shared accommodation.
Your Intrepid group leader’s role involves organising the overall operation and smooth-running of the trip, managing trip logistics and camp responsibilities. They will work to make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible for all travellers. Intrepid's North American trips are built around the co-operation and participation of all the group members under the supervision of the group leader. On our camping trips, your leader will show the group how to set up and use the camp equipment, and form work groups to take turns cooking, cleaning and shopping. Everyone is expected participate and carry their share of the workload, making camp chores easier. If the whole group participates it will be quicker, easier and more fun.
Your leader will provide basic information about the sights and cities you'll be visiting but please note that our leaders are not 'tour guides' in the traditional sense. They are adventure travel specialists and are there to organise your trip, arrange activities and help with questions or problems you may have while on your tour. Your leader will provide you with all the important information you need to embark on your own explorations.
They are also responsible for driving the van and navigating across the country. The allowable driving times for drivers is strictly controlled in North America. This ensures our drivers are well rested and are not over-tired from too many hours on the roads.
While your group will have a minivan for all included activities on the trip, please note that the services of the van and the driver may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi.
We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
It's strictly forbidden for non-qualified rangers to present any information about some National Parks in North America, therefore we adopt a system (as requested by the park rangers) where our leader will encourage travellers to visit the information centres in the National Parks for details about the site.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
DRINKING SAFETY: Please note that in the US the legal drinking age is 21 and in some parts of Canada it is 19. When out drinking in bars please be responsible and take the same precautions you would at home. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't let your drink out of your sight. It is always a good idea to go out with a group and stick together.
UNFENCED CAMP SITES: On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
BEARS: Whilst travelling throughout North America it's not uncommon to encounter bears within campsites and national parks. Your group leader has been specifically trained for these situations and, if camping, will inform the group on how to 'bear proof' the camp in the evenings or when the site is unattended. There's absolutely no reason to be alarmed by this possibility as it is extremely rare for bears to attack humans.
Our vans in the USA are equipped with free WiFi however a fair use policy applies. It is limited to 5 users at one time, and is suitable for updating your Facebook status or sending an email home - not for streaming video or radio. Please be considerate of your use so that there is enough to go around. Some campgrounds also have WiFi access, as do many hotels.
North American electrical outlets operate at a lower voltage than much of the rest of the world. This means that your devices may take longer to charge than you are used to, or may say that they are not charging, even though they are. You may also notice that some hotels have powerboards or multiple appliances plugged into one socket. Because of the lower voltage, this is not the safety issue that it may be in other parts of the world. Some campgrounds have access to power for recharging batteries, but it may not be in an area that's safe to leave your device unattended. You can also recharge batteries on the van, although obviously this will need to be shared between everyone. You will need to bring a 12 volt/cigarette lighter adapter to plug your USB charger into.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.
PLEASE NOTE: Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Apply for ESTA no later than 72 HOURS (we recommend 1 week prior to travel) before departing for the United States. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding.
Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html
Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable, biometric passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. You can get further information from the US Department of State website:
All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address).
Please note that if there is any discrepancy between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere.
If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan or Yemen since 1 March 2011, you will no longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
Why we love it
With two whole days in Chicago, you’ll have plenty of time to take in the living history, stunning monuments and eclectic nightlife the city has in spades.
Feel the almighty roar of Niagara Falls. These three waterfalls are just as spectacular as you’ve heard.
Eat like a local with buttery breakfast biscuits in Nashville and deep-dish pizza in Chicago.
From the bustle of Washington DC to the rural charms of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this trip offers slices of both city and country life.
See the neon guitars and cowboy boots that announce the presence of the world’s greatest honky-tonks in Nashville.
Is this trip right for you
In order to see as much as possible on this trip, there will be plenty of time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.
This trip involves camping, giving you access to more remote destinations at proximity, and the joy of camping under the night skies and beside a campfire. This is a participatory trip – a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride, but you are part of a team! Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand, and everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!
That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately USD 10 per day to cover the cost of meals. This means you don’t have to worry about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and it helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night or s’mores by the campfire! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out to purchase (and cook) your own food.
The diversity of the seasons here makes for incredible scenery, but the weather in this region can be unpredictable. It’s best to wear layers at all times of the year in case conditions change during the day. At night the temperature can really drop, so bring your warm clothes. Camping can be especially cold at the start and end of the season. Even in the warmer months the temperature can be low in the mountains.
There’s so much to see and do in the cities and towns we visit on this trip. The tour is designed with plenty of free time, with optional activities on offer in most destinations. Because of this it’s important to budget carefully before you leave, so you can be sure you’ve got enough to do everything you’d like to on your adventure.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Medical prescriptions written outside of the US and Canada aren't accepted at pharmacies. Therefore, we recommend you bring along your personal medications in the necessary quantities for your trip.
DEHYDRATION & SUN PROTECTION:
The most likely medical incidents to occur on our trips are dehydration, over exposure to the sun, and twisted ankles from walking on uneven ground. While hiking please ensure you drink enough water to remain hydrated as some hikes don't have refill stations for your water bottles. The sun (especially in desert areas in the West) can be harsh, particularly in the warmer months. Ensure you apply adequate sun protection cream and wear a hat. Travelling with sunburn can be uncomfortable.
Recently it has been confirmed that 4 people in Florida have been infected by the Zika virus by local mosquitoes. These are the first known infections of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes locally. Up to this point all other cases have been contracted overseas.
This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull). In addition to this risk, the World Health Organisation have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus, however we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to closely monitor the information provided by the World Health Organisation, and also the USA government's Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/).
More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links:
World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
On our trips in North America, we operate an optional kitty, where travellers are encouraged to contribute to a central fund which is used to buy groceries which then supply meals to the entire group. In our experience all travellers generally participate, however some with special dietary requirements may prefer to opt out. The kitty is administered by the group and is payable per week of the trip. The cost is:
USA - US$70 per week
Alaska - US$90 per week
Canada - CA$90 per week
While camping, some breakfasts, lunches and dinners are paid from the food kitty. Sometimes we'll go out for dinner and eat at restaurants at everybody's own expense.
Your leader will participate in the food kitty as well. On hotel nights (if included) the food kitty doesn't operate and everybody eats at their own expense.
Chores such as buying and cooking the food, washing up, etc. will be shared by everyone on the trip. Teams of two people will carry out the camp duties on a rotating basis. On camping nights, we usually cook our evening meals together on our own stove, or barbecue food over the camp fire. We usually prepare salads, grill meats and cook pasta, rice and vegetables. For breakfast we usually buy milk, coffee, tea, cereals, bread, jam, butter etc. Not all personal eating preferences can be catered for, however we endeavour to provide tasty, basic meals.
We keep our food costs as low as possible by sharing the expenses. The kitty is based on the average cost from our past experiences and from passenger feedback about what they are prepared to pay for shared meals. Personal beverages, lunches and snacks are not included in the food kitty. If there's any cash left over it will either be redistributed to the group or put towards paying for a group activity.
It can be difficult to exchange money while on the road so we suggest that you bring some cash in US dollars, or exchange/withdraw money at the airport when you arrive, or at least before you start the trip.
Your individual budget will depend on your personal plans. Think about how much you want to spend on souvenirs, shopping, entertainment, food, drinks, excursions and attractions that aren't included in your trip (eg. helicopter flights etc). Please bear in mind that North America has endless things to do and see. Not all possible optional activities are listed in our Trip Notes.
The cheapest and most convenient way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which are plentiful throughout all cities and towns, and even at roadside stops. This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees.
Don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. When using your debit card, check your receipts and keep them to compare against your statement when you get home.
Occasionally banks will also allow cash advances on your credit card, but it's not recommended to rely on this method only. We recommend that you carry some cash for situations when ATMs can't be accessed.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: We suggest 18% to 22% of your bill.
Bars: Recommended US$1 for each drink ordered to ensure you are served again.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$5-20 per day for local guides. Ask your leader for suggestions as to what is appropriate for a given activity.
Your Group Leader: You should also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. Your leader works long and hard for you. He or she may well become your friend during the trip but they do need to pay their bills. If the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectation they will gladly accept a tip from you. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however you should plan to tip your leader US$5-7 per person per day.
Another charge not normally listed in North American costs is the state and federal taxes, keep this in mind when your bill comes out slightly higher than the original price listed.
Tipping in North America can be confusing. If you'd like some more detail about when and how much to tip, see http://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/tipping-guide-united-states/
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
What to take
LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg maximum) per person, plus a sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.
As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIAL - Sleeping bag. Please bring one from home or purchase one before your trip starts - you may not have time once we're on the road. Sleeping bags can easily be bought in the US and Canada at big stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target or at sports and camping supply stores. Renting sleeping bags isn't possible on our trips. As we offer trips throughout the year and travel in diverse climate zones, we recommend you carefully consider the weather and choose an appropriate sleeping bag. Please bear in mind that nights can be very cold even in the warmer months. We can experience temperatures as low as -5C and even snow. - Towel - Travel pillow - Reusable water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. Tap water in the US and Canada is safe to drink and there are many places to fill up along the way, so please save plastic by bringing your own water bottle. - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Clothing you can layer. You may encounter a wide variety of temperatures en route due to altitude and unforeseen weather conditions - so be prepared! Make sure to pack a warm fleece and a waterproof jacket. We suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer. - Closed-in shoes. As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment. RECOMMENDED - Power adaptor - Insect repellent - Spare camera battery. You should have access to electricity to charge your battery most nights, but as some of the places we stay are a little isolated, it is always a good idea to carry a spare. - Swimwear - Head torch - A simple plastic bag/waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures. - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc. OPTIONAL: - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Thermarest. While we provide a basic camping mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer. - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring tent-mate - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives.
Climate and seasonal
The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed:
- New Year's Day
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Washington's Birthday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please contact our operations base on 1-800-786-8735 (toll free in the USA and Canada) or +1 707 523 1800 (office hours).
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
POLICE AND AMBULANCE
In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA and Canada. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.
BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at:
CRISES AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):
Intrepid's local operator:: +1 707 483 9460
The campsites that we use are selected for either their scenic beauty, their convenient location to places of interest and/or the facilities available. We aim to offer you a selection of different types of campsites.
If you've never camped before - no problem! We provide a complete set of camping and cooking equipment. This includes roomy easy-to-pitch tents, which are shared by only two people and are equipped with thin foam rubber mattresses and vinyl floors. Your leader will show you how to pitch a tent on the first day. On many trips we also spend a few nights in reasonably priced hotels / motels / hostels (as per the itinerary).
For the group, we also provide two burner stoves, efficient camp kitchen equipment, dishes, coolers, food storage boxes, a water container, lamps and a sun and rain roof. Please take good care of all the equipment. You'll be assigned a specific tent so please look after it well. The equipment has to be returned clean, complete and in the same condition as you received it. Please keep in mind that sleeping bags are not provided and you'll need to bring your own. Please read the 'What to Take' section of these notes for more information on choosing a sleeping bag.
Our high quality camping equipment (including tents) can be affected by bad weather conditions. This can result in some wet and cold conditions inside the tent. Your spirit of adventure and flexibility will help make your adventure trip an exciting and unforgettable experience. On nights where the group is camping and weather conditions are extreme (such as snow or heavy rain) there may be an opportunity for the group (if everyone agrees) to stay at an alternative location such as a nearby hostel or hotel. When this is the case the upgrade is at your own expense.
You'll find the necessary facilities - toilets and in most cases showers, washing machines and driers - at many of our campsites. The showers at some campsites only have cold water available and some may require a payment (usually no more than US$1-$3 for a quick shower). This is payable locally and is generally a contribution to paying for a limited water supply. Please be aware that some campsites won't have any facilities, however it will rarely be for more than one night at a time. This is true of many campsites within Yosemite National Park, so if your trip is visiting this park, please prepare to go without a shower on this night, although it can often be arranged to stop and utilise facilities on our way out of the park.
In all the campsites there are strict quiet hours, when absolutely no loud noise is allowed. This means that all music, singing and group gatherings have to stop. We request that all our travellers respect these campsite rules.
For trips where there are lodges/cabins used, couples travelling together may be separated as our rooming arrangements are based on single gender.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Camping (with facilities) (8 nts),Hostel (2 nts),Hotel (1 nt)
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