Travel Tips - Trek America

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I recently posted about my experience with Trek America here when I went on their Westerner 3 trek in Summer 2015. As that post was quite a long one I thought I would do a separate one on travel tips. Hopefully, this will be useful whether you are going on a trip with Trek America or a similar trip.

Are flights included in the price of the trek?

No, in addition to the cost of the trek you will need to also pay for flights. You can either book them yourself separately, or Trek America can do it for you. I booked my flights through Trek America as it was the easiest option for me. It also meant that I only needed to pay a deposit at the time of booking and I could pay the rest off at a later date.

Is accommodation included in  the price?

Yes, all accommodation whether that is a campsite or a hotel/hostel is included in the price. As for the departure hotel, this is an additional cost. If you plan to travel the night before or two nights before and after the trek you will need to organise and pay for your accommodation. I booked the departure hotel through Trek America and there were two options, I could get an individual room or a shared room. I opted for a shared room, this meant I could be sharing with anyone of the same sex on my trek or another trek. It worked out that I ended up sharing with a girl from my trek who I'd been talking to previously on twitter. Some other people in our group book accommodation elsewhere and just travelled over to the departure hotel the morning we left.

Can I find out who is on my trek before I leave?

There are many ways to discover people who are on the same trek as you. If you want to find out how many people and the average age of the people you will be travelling with you can always contact Trek America and they will be happy to let you know. Other than that, like the facebook page and ask if anyone is on your trek or you can take to Twitter/Instagram and search the hashtag. When I went there was also the Trek Live forum. Our group started talking on the forum originally and then we made a facebook group later. I believe, they now have the iTrek community which could help you to find other trekkers on your trip so I'd recommend checking that out.

How much spending money do I need?

I went on a 21-day trek and ended up spending around £2500, however, the amount you spend is totally up to you. The first thing you will need money for when you are there is the food kitty. This will cost you $10 a day for the length of your trip, however, it is paid all in one go at the beginning. Everyone in the group pays into this food kitty and as a group, you shop for food for breakfasts, lunches and diners. We ended up having money left over at the end and this was just divided equally between us. It is worthwhile knowing though that this is only while camping. If you decide to go out for food this will be an additional cost. This is something I did budget for. Something else I budgeted for was the optional extras. I did most of the extras that were available so that did cost me more. You can pick and choose what you want to do, there will be a list of the optional extras, including prices, so you can budget for these before you leave. Also budget to leave your tour guide with a tip at the end of your trek if they have done a good job. I read somewhere before my trek that as a guideline, budget the same amount for spending money as you spent on the trek itself. This worked out pretty well for me.

What do I need to pack?

This will totally depend on the type of trek you are doing. You can guarantee though that no matter what trek you are on, you will need a comfortable pair of shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking. If like me, you will be going on a lot of hikes you can take hiking boots/shoes. Personally, I just took a good pair of trainers with me as my hiking boots are bulky and heavy and would have taken up a lot of space in my bag. Most of us in our group just had trainers.

If you are going on a camping trip you also need a sleeping bag. You can either take one with you or buy one out there. We all went to Walmart and bought pillows on our first day as well. Things such as a water bottle, insect repellent, sun lotion and toiletries can also all be bought out there.

Should I take a suitcase, rucksack or holdall?

This is down to personal choice. You can take whichever you want. We had a mixture on our trip. Bare in mind that you have a weight allowance of 23kg. Personally, I chose to take a suitcase with me as it was far easier to get clothes out of while you are rummaging around in a tent.

What do you get given?

All camping equipment including tents, a thin sleeping mat and all cooking equipment is supplied so you don't need to take or buy any of that. You will also have two huge coolers where you will store all of the food you purchase using the food kitty.

What are the tents like?

Generally, they are good quality and there is plenty of room for two people plus bags/suitcases.

I'm going on a camping trip, what are the facilities like?

Most of the campsites we stayed at exceeded all of my expectations. The showers were clean (bare in mind some campsites do have a small charge for the showers). Some campsites even had little shops, swimming pools and a bar. There was only one campsite we stayed at for the duration of the trip that didn't have showers and we only had a portaloo toilet but this was only for one night.  Most campsites we stayed at also had electrical points and free wifi.

Should I take hair straighteners/hairdryer?

A question a lot of girls will ask, myself included, is should I take my hair straighteners and hairdryer? We had a couple of nights in Vegas and San Francisco so I knew I needed to take at least my straighteners. Something we wish we did before we went was organised who was going to take what. We ended up with all of us taking straighteners and only one person taking a hairdryer. If you get talking to some of your group before you go I would definitely suggest this.

Can I wash my clothes?

Yes, most of the campsites we stayed at had laundry facilities.

What will I need to help with?

We were all split into 3 groups and were given chores on a rota system. One night one group cooked, while another cleaned the van and then another washed up. This rotated each day.

What are the long van journeys like?

For some journeys, you can be on the road for hours at a time. The longest journey we did was 6 hours! However, you do have some stops along the way. Sometimes the van can get a little boring but this was a time when we all got to know each other and it meant that we all bonded pretty quick. Play games, talk, sing do anything to keep yourselves entertained. There is wifi, however, it is limited therefore you need to take it in turns to use it. Sometimes you can be on long straight roads with nothing to see for miles so use this as a time to catch up on some sleep. Take a book with you or headphones in case you are the only one awake. I also used this time, to write in my journal as it was difficult to find the time when we were constantly doing things and visiting places.

I hope some of these tips have been helpful.

Are you going on a similar trip soon? Have you already been on a trip like this? What tips would you give to others?

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