In February 2016, I went on the Southern BLT with TrekAmerica! It was amazing! Since I got back, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how I booked, about the tour, flights etc. So I’ve made a list of the questions I get asked the most and have answered them here. I hope this helps everyone who is thinking about going on their own amazing adventure with TrekAmerica!
How did I get my flights?
I used to work for an airline when I booked my trek. I thought I could get them cheaper through work but when I called up Trek they said they would do a quote for me. It was cheaper! The best part about booking my flights through trek as that I only had to pay a deposit of £125 and pay the rest 8 weeks prior to leaving for my tour with the rest of the trek balance. I also got the ATOL certificate and was able to change my flights once free of charge as I decided to come back from New York instead of Boston. I wanted to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade but I would just miss the Boston parade by a few days so I changed to spend it in NYC. Cheap. Depositable. Flexible. Protected.
Will there be other people travelling alone?
YES! Trek recently released a YouTube video about Solo travel and they said about 71% of their passengers are solo travellers! When I went on my trek everyone was solo except one couple and 3 friends. Everyone else…solo! The odds are you will have other solo trekkers on your trip so don’t worry. If not, you can always ask Trek when making your booking if anyone is already booked. You won’t really be alone on trek! That’s the best part about group tours!
Is there any point going to America if I am under 21?
We had three trekkers on my trip who were under 21 and they still had a great time. Obviously, in America you cannot drink under the age of 21. You can go to restaurants but you can’t step foot in bars and clubs…sorry! But we didn’t do this that often and not all the group wanted to drink every night anyway! There’s more to do in America than drink in bars! Also, we had a party bus in Vegas and YES the under 21s were allowed on the bus but again…can’t drink! I’ve been to Vegas a few times and there is so much more to do in Vegas than the stereotypical Hangover night out with Tyson and Tigers!
Does trek go into New York?
We didn’t go into New York City on our tour. We ended the tour at the departure hotel in Newark, New Jersey. There’s a train you can get into New York City or get a taxi like we did! There are some TrekAmerica tours that start in New York City but if your tour starts or ends in Newark, fear not! You can always fly out to New York a few days before or after your tour. You need some quality time in the Big Apple to wander round and see all the touristy landmarks! Check out my New York Vlog to see all the fun things I got up to in 4 days after trek.
Did I get on with everyone on the trek?
Yes, the best part about trek is that you will be travelling with like-minded individuals. Everyone wants to see the states, everyone loves to travel and everyone has been dreaming about this adventure for months. Also they’ve all probably been thinking the same thing…will I get on with everyone? Be open minded, friendly and speak to everyone in the group. Get to know everyone. You never know, you might find friends for life!
Did we need a sleeping bag?
I was on a BLT trek which is budget lodging, e.g. hotels. However, I did need a sleeping bag for one night. You will need to have a look at your Trek Tips aka the information attached to your TrekAmerica Booking. You should really buy one before you get to America. Attach it to your backpack or carry on for your flight. Not all tour leaders stop at a Walmart on the first day (the rumour) and you will need one on the first night if you are camping. It’s not really fair on the rest of your group to delay your tour if you haven’t got one before the trek starts. Yes, carrying a sleeping bag around is annoying but it’s worth it for those nights you might want an extra layer, in the van during those drives or for activities with the group (Drive-thru Cinema or S’mores on the beach when the fire is failing to keep you warm).
How long are the drives?
One of the top questions! You need to remember that America is HUGE! Easiest way to check is to google map the longest routes. I did the Southern BLT which was a cross country trek. We had driven as short as an hour and one of the longest drives was 8 hours. However, this was broken up very well by our tour leader Emily. We had bathroom breaks, food stops and even stopped to have a look at some crazy American road side attractions. You’ll get up early so you don’t waste the day and so you can spend a decent amount of time in each locations.
Did you get chance to do Laundry?
Loads of times! One the first day you get given your accommodation list and they show which of them has breakfast included and which have laundry facilities. I advise to pack no more than 2 weeks’ worth of clothes especially if you are on a trek longer than 2 weeks. You will find somewhere on route which does laundry and have the time to do it sometime during your trek. I actually did mine 4 times. I like things clean.
What do you recommend to do in Vegas on your free day?
My favourite question! There is so much to do in Vegas other than the gambling and drinking scene which can eat up your time. I highly recommend to go to see a show. The best show I have seen so far is Mystère – Cirque du Soleil. It was one of the most beautiful and creative shows I have ever seen BUT I’ve not seen the Thunder from Down Under yet and that could be a complete game changer! More visits to Vegas must be done! Alternatively, I would suggest the Tournament of Kings which is a medieval dinner theater show. Highly entertaining and you get your meal included. Save those pennies! Or an illusionist show like Chris Angel or the famous David Copperfield (highly pricey though if your on a budget). If magic isn’t your thing then there’s always singers and DJ’s on at a few of the hotels.
How much spending money did I bring?
Slightly intrusive but I’ll take the bait. I hate talking about money but this is a question I get asked a lot and I completely understand why! Someone once told me to match the tour cost but I don’t think that is a reasonable answer. Everyone is different! I basically tried to save as much as I could as it was my birthday present to myself this trip and wanted to have the best time I could. I saved every penny possible. However, here is another method to work out a minimal amount. Add up the following:
- Food kitty ($10 x how many trek days) or $35 a day for a BLT trek.
- All the Optional activities you want to do (check your trek tips)
- $5-7 a day for your Tour Leader Tip (Apart of the American culture and they deserve it!)
- $10-$15 a day for snack for the road
- Transport to and from the trek
- Money for drinking (to your own discretion)
Did I find and speak to any of my group before the tour started?
Yes, TrekAmerica have this website formally known as TrekAmericaLive, which is now called iTrekHere Community where you can speak to other trekkers on the same trek as you. It doesn’t open up till 6 weeks prior to your trip starting and not everyone uses it but you might find someone. There’s also good old Facebook and Twitter. If you can’t find anyone don’t worry, you’ll meet them soon enough.
Any more tips?
Well, for the girls, don’t take hairdryers. Its additional space you just don’t need, go for the natural look and in most hotels you get a hairdryer in your room anyway! UK Straighteners don’t really work in American because to the voltage. I invested in some American straighteners years ago when I was working in camp for about $30. I got to American a lot and they still work nearly 10 years later. Don’t plan everything! Sometimes it’s great to go with the flow and decide what to go when you get there. Make a playlist of music before you get in the van for the first time. You’ll all have chance to sit up front and DJ so make sure you have an awesome playlist ready. Or a super cheesy playlist of 90’s pop like me. Lastly HAVE FUN! This is a once in a lifetime experience for most people so make the most of it!
Check out my TrekAmerica Southern BLT vlogs on my YouTube Channel! Please SUBSCRIBE as I have more adventures coming very soon!