This page provides useful advice for planning your trip and help with what to expect during your time on tour.
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About our tours
We recommend that you carefully read the tour description and the booking conditions as well as the Grand American Adventures Essential Details on this page. Once you have decided on a tour and departure date, you can contact Grand American Adventures either by telephone, email or via the website to check tour availability. We can normally hold an 'option' for 3 days to give you time to finalise your plans and submit a completed booking form and deposit.
Grand American Adventures maintains a maximum group size of 13 people on most tours in North America (12 on Walking Tours), with travellers from all over the world sharing the common desire to experience and explore the great outdoors. Group sizes vary on some tours in Central and South America. See individual tours for the maximum group size for each tour.
Grand American Adventures Tours are designed for adults over 18 years old. While most passengers are 25-55, we get many people both above and below this range. For safety reasons, travellers over 70 will be asked to complete a self-declaration of fitness. On our Family Discovery Tours the average age of children is 13 years old and the minimum age is usually 8 years old (6 and 7 year olds considered on request). Minimum ages are specified on the individual tour pages. Children 16 years and under receive a 10% discount off family tours.
Fitness and Preparation
Our active tours are suitable for people of all levels of experience and fitness. Active tours embrace the nature of the explorer and usually include a range of adventurous activities, such as walking and hiking, as well as city sightseeing. Walks, hikes and activities cater to everyone from beginner to expert, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. There will often be a wide variety of options available depending on your interests, budget and ability.
Our travelers may come from many countries around the world, but all Grand American Adventures tours are conducted in English.
All of our tours are accompanied by a professional Tour Leader, who is there to help you get the most out of your adventure. Our dedicated walking tours in North America are accompanied by two Tour Leaders, to provide more walking trail options and flexibility. Grand American Adventures Tour Leaders are a special breed; we choose the right kind of people who can handle the multitude of needs that arise throughout any tour. We are very selective in our choice of people; we employ men and women from many professional backgrounds, who lead active lifestyles themselves.
It is our belief that an important ingredient for the success of any tour is the Tour Leader, and we are extremely proud of the high professional standards set by our Tour Leaders. Our training programme begins with recruiting the right people and developing their natural talents to be great team leaders.
New Tour Leaders receive substantial training in all areas, with specific attention being paid to group dynamics and leadership. In addition, they receive various forms of instruction from our Training and Operations teams including first-aid, driving techniques, vehicle maintenance, meal menu planning and emergency procedures. When leaders complete their training, they receive hands-on education in the field, from managers and senior Tour Leaders who can relay the benefits of years of experience and knowledge. We are very proud of our training programme. Our level of customer satisfaction underscores it.
Working hour regulations for our Tour Leaders
We would like to note that US Law regulates the total number of hours your group leader is available to work. Our 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. 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 be assured that your leaders 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, but please consider that there will also be times when their interaction is limited by their working hours.
Our leaders take great pride in their level of customer service and will do everything they can to provide you with the trip of a lifetime. Please also respect that they need their own time to rest and recuperate in order to operate your trip safely and with great energy.
Our Central & South America tours and certain specialist tours in North America are run by well-established local tour operators or by one of our sister companies. Our sister companies are other specialist tour operators that we are linked with as part of our parent company, PEAK Adventure Travel. These companies have been carefully selected for their professionalism and knowledge of the region or specialism for that type of tour. They all maintain our philosophy of running friendly tours that offer a personal local perspective and unbeatable value for money.
In North America you'll travel in a private vehicle which is driven by your Tour Leader. All of our vehicles have air conditioning and excellent stereo systems. All luggage, equipment and other necessities are stored in a specially designed trailer or storage area to maximise space and comfort in the vehicle. When you are travelling within USA and Alaska our vehicles are fully equipped with free Wi-Fi. Every group is virtually self-sufficient and able to explore the back roads where the crowds can't go. Every passenger will have one seat and safety belt on board our vehicles. It may be necessary from time to time to utilise an alternative vehicle from the one described in the brochure, or in some cases to utilise complementary public transportation (including trains/airplanes/ ferries/buses), as local operating conditions permit. Tours in South and Central America use a combination of transport options including private air conditioned coaches and mini buses, public buses, ferry, boat and internal flights. All transport is chosen with the safety, efficiency and comfort of the traveller in mind.
Camping within and alongside the National Parks is an ideal way to access nature's beautiful trails. Grand American Adventures uses high quality dome tents, field kitchens and camp chairs so you can comfortably relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. We provide all the necessary camping equipment including tents, inflatable sleeping mats, cold food storage containers, camp lights, stoves and other camping accessories. The only thing you need to bring is a sleeping bag.
Our high quality tents are very easy to set up and take down on your own, and your leader will show you how. We camp with two in each spacious tent, which leaves more than enough room for your luggage. All meals for the nights spent camping are included in the price of your tour, and your Tour Leader will help you to prepare delicious meals so you can eat fresh, hearty meals during your trip. Many campgrounds are situated in stunning settings giving our groups opportunities not found by conventional tourists.
When we camp near major city destinations, nearly all the campgrounds have full facilities such as showers, pools, shops and laundromats. Virtually all National Park campgrounds have pay showers, flush toilets and basic facilities. Occasionally, our groups will choose to stay in more isolated areas or `bush camps' where the surroundings will quickly make you forget any lack of facilities. Most camping trips will spend some nights in hotels during the tour, usually in the cities. This is usually on a twin share basis, but on occasion may be multi share.
Participation when Camping:
Tour leaders will organise food shopping, meal preparation and clean up on camping based tours. With instruction from the Tour Leader, passengers will set up, pack their tents/kitchen, help prepare meals and assist leaders as requested. Typically it takes only 15 minutes to set up the tents and camp kitchen.
Grand American Adventures supplies all camping equipment needed EXCEPT a sleeping bag. We 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.
Grand American Adventures hotel accommodation is based on comfortable 2-3 star hotels that are chosen for their friendly atmosphere, amenities and proximity to the highlights. You may also stay in cabins, cowboy ranches and other unique accommodation depending on your itinerary. On some of our tours we also offer the chance to stay in historic and characterful cabins or lodges that lie within the National Parks themselves. On hotel based tours, you'll eat in local restaurants and get the chance to sample local specialties from Cajun and creole to fresh seafood, Mexican and all-American burgers.
Premium Hotel Accommodation:
For trips with a premium hotel option on specified dates, you can expect hotels graded around 4 stars, chosen for their character or close proximity to the highlights (e.g. sleep within the boundaries of the National Park).
Rooming and Solo Sleepers:
Accommodation on our tours is based on twin-share, so if you're travelling on your own, you'll share a room or tent with a fellow passenger of the same sex. Grand American Adventures do not charge any compulsory single supplements (except on the Alaska Adventure Cruises, America's Beautiful West by Rail and Canadian Rockies by Rail, where the limited number of cabins available on the ship or trains mean that a single supplement is compulsory). However, if you would prefer your own space then we can offer an optional Solo Sleeper on the majority of our tours. This will give you your own room or tent for every night, or the majority of nights on your trip. Where this is not possible every night it is usually due to spending the night in unique or remote locations, for example Hogan stays in Monument Valley or in lodges or ranches.
The number of Solo Sleepers we can offer per tour is limited and is subject to availability so it's best to book early if you would like this option. Look out for the Solo Sleeper icon on the tour pages in this brochure to see where this option is available, as well as pricing information.
Rooming on Family Tours:
Accommodation on hotel based tours will be allocated on a twin share basis. Anyone under 18 will be assigned a room with an adult. If you have young children you have the option of requesting a room for three or four people at a discounted rate. These rooms are triple or quad share, rather than three or four bed rooms. This should be requested at the time of booking. If there is 1 adult and 2 children under 18 years all will be allocated the same room. On camping trips, one tent will be allocated for every 2 people.
On each tour there are numerous activities and attractions to choose from. Some of the more prominent ones for each trip are listed under the `Optional Activities' section on each tour page. These options are not included in the holiday price because not everyone will want to participate in each activity. Our leaders know where to get the best group rates available for various attractions and activities, and activity providers have been assessed for quality and safety. This way each member of the group can choose exactly what they want to do according to their own taste and budget. For a detailed list and prices please refer to our website.
Guided Day Hikes:
Our leaders enjoy spending as much time as possible on the trail with their groups. As interests and capabilities do vary, our leaders will typically choose to guide day hikes according to each group's needs and the difficulty of the hike. On walking tours with two leaders, they will either guide separate hikes or offer additional activities and support. It will not always be possible for every hiker to be accompanied by a guide when groups divide up to explore different trails. Also please note that in Grand Teton National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Big Bend National Park and Glacier National Park there are certain regulations which mean that your Tour Leader will not be able to accompany the group on the hiking trails in these locations.
You will find a dedicated trip dossier for each of our tours on our website. These include a day by day itinerary, a list of optional activities as well as packing information and pre-tour joining instructions. These dossiers have been prepared to provide you with the most essential details that you will need to know about your forthcoming tour, however, it is not intended to be a complete guide. Your Tour Leader will provide you with more detailed information once you join the tour. Itineraries: Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, because operational conditions may vary and unforeseen circumstances can arise, we reserve the right to make itinerary changes when necessary.
If you book your tour more than 2 months ahead you can secure your trip with a deposit and pay the balance 8 weeks before you travel (12 weeks for tours 42 days or longer).
Credit Cards/Debit Cards:
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Connect, Solo and Switch for all payments. There are NO fees for debit cards issued by a UK bank. For all non-UK debit cards there is a 2% card fee. For all credit card payments there is a 2% credit card fee. We accept bank transfers and if you have a UK bank account your bank should not charge any fees for online banking; we can also accept bank transfers in Euros and US Dollars but please be aware your bank may charge you a fee. Please contact us for our bank details if you prefer to pay using this method. Late bookings: Full payment is due at the time of booking if your trip is less than eight weeks away. Provided that there are still seats available you may book a tour at any time before the date of departure. However you must pay in full before joining the tour. Please note most trips can be confirmed immediately if booked more than 35 days before departure and most trips will need to be requested if booked within 35 days of departure.
If you've travelled with Grand American Adventures before, then you are eligible to join Grand American Rewards and save on your next tour. You can save 5% when you've travelled with us, then after you've been on your third trip you will save 10%. These discounts are valid for you and anyone travelling with you and can also be combined with any last minute discount and multi trip discounts up to a maximum saving of 20%. For full details, terms and conditions and to join see grandamericanadventures.com/rewards Please note the loyalty scheme is at our discretion and we reserve the right to amend details or terminate the scheme at any time.
You can receive at 5% discount when you book 2 or more tours at the same time, so make the most of your time in the Americas. Before your Travel Tour Departures & Finish: Tours begin and end at designated hotels in our gateway cities. You will normally depart at approximately 7.30am (check your tour voucher for exact details). On the final day, your tour will normally arrive at the finishing point hotel around 5.00pm. If you require hotel accommodation for this night, you MUST book in advance. Some of our tours may start or finish earlier, please see each tour description for any variations. We recommend you book your return flight for the day after your tour finishes. If you do have to return home the day your tour finishes, please make sure your flight does not depart before 9.00pm. In Central and South America the first day of your tour will usually be an arrival day. Generally you will meet your tour leader and group at a meeting in the early evening with your itinerary starting the following day. On the last day of your tour you are usually free to depart at any time.
Joining your tour:
You will need to make your own way to and from the joining and end points of the tour. You will find detailed instructions on how to get to our hotels in your pre departure information, which we send to you with your confirmation/invoice.
Pre and Post Tour Hotels:
We can pre-book additional nights before and after the trip. We can offer you a twin share room, where we will match you with another Grand American Adventures traveller, or you can book a `Full Room' for single or double occupancy for passengers on the same booking. We encourage you to make your hotel requests at the time of booking. Pre and post tour accommodation can only be guaranteed when booked more than 35 days prior to departure. After this, it may be available on a request basis - please ask us. Pre and post accommodation cancelled between 8 weeks and 35 days of departure is subject to an amendment fee of UKŁ25/Euro30/US$40/AUS$40/NZD50. Hotels cancelled within 35 days of the tour departure are non-refundable. Feel free to contact our Sales team with any questions.
Grand American Adventures Tour Vouchers:
Electronic tour and accommodation vouchers will be emailed to you upon final payment and approximately six weeks before departure. You can print off the PDF vouchers or download to your smartphone. If you would like these earlier for any reason, please contact us. You will also be sent a trip dossier which includes practical guidance on what to pack, visas, spending money, departure points, hotel transfers, etc. Insurance
It is a condition of joining any of our tours that you must be insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs, air ambulance, and helicopter rescue service). We offer an insurance policy that is designed specifically to cover the potential risks on our holidays particularly the many optional activities offered. Please note we can only offer cover for passengers residing within the European Union. If you do not take our policy, you must ensure that the policy you do take offers an equivalent level of protection and covers you for the activities involved - be aware that some policies do not include, or restrict, coverage for this type of travel. There may be cheaper policies available, but this does not mean they are better value - we strongly advise you check fully what will and won't be covered. In particular, cover provided by credit cards is often very restricted. You will be asked to provide details of your insurance policy, including insurer, policy and phone number on the morning of your trip departure. Any claims concerning matters for which you are insured must be directed to your insurers.
Passport & Visas:
It is your responsibility to ensure you have a valid passport and any necessary visas for your tour. As a general rule you will 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 are going, and where you are from. It is important that you check which visas you will need, and apply for each of the necessary visas whilst in your home country. Please bear in mind, some tours may spend time in more than one country.
Visas are not currently required by holders of UK, EU, Australian, New Zealand or US passports for the following countries: Argentina Belize Bolivia Canada Chile Costa Rica Guatemala Mexico Peru Other nationalities should consult the relevant embassy. Please note that travellers to Cuba and Brazil will need to apply for a tourist visa in advance.
Visa & Rules for Entry into the USA:
Holders of UK, Australian, New Zealand and most EU country passports are eligible to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The Visa Waiver program is open to people for travel in the USA for up to a 90 day stay. For more information about who is eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, and the eligibility requirements please visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/. Residents from countries who cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Programme must consult their relevant embassy for more information. All eligible travellers who wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for electronic travel authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). If you are planning to transit in the USA or intend to stopover on the way to your destination, you will still need to apply for an ESTA. You must apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling to the USA.
From 1 April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip (an ePassport). From 21st January 2016 new rules also exclude from the VWP 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
You can apply for an ESTA at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel address). At the time of publication there is a USD$14 fee for the electronic approval (ESTA). Your ESTA will be valid for a period of two years, or until your passport expires. We recommend you carry your ESTA approval with you when you travel. 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 United States. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the port of entry.
Vaccinations & Medical:
You should consult your doctor concerning which vaccinations are advisable and necessary for the specific areas that you will visit. Illness or dental problems can spoil your holiday, so it's always wise to have a thorough check-up before you leave home.
Climate & Clothes:
Climate varies, sometimes dramatically, in the regions and altitudes we pass through, but temperatures will generally be hot during June, July, August and early September and warm at other times. For early and late season tours, we strongly recommend that you bring a warmer sleeping bag and jacket, as temperatures fall at night - especially in mountainous areas and in the north. While you will mainly wear casual, light clothing on your tour, you will certainly need a warm sweater, and you may want to bring something smarter for evening wear when we are closer to the big city night life. Hikers and walkers need to bring adequate footwear. For further information please refer to the tour's trip dossier.
All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle, so please don't bring more than one medium sized suitcase, soft holdall or rucksack (maximum 20kg) and your sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. Small hand baggage may also be carried inside the vehicle.
For camping tours all your meals at the campsite are included so we recommend you budget at least an average of US$15/CAN$15 per day for snacks, drinks, tips and general spending.
For hotel based tour we recommend you budget an average of US$50 per day to cover all meals, snacks, drinks, tips and general spending but please note that this is a recommendation only as ultimately how much you want to spend is dependent on your personal choice.
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.
ATM/Cash points are widely available in all major cities and small towns, but may be limited in some off the beaten track destinations, so we suggest you have US$150 with you in cash. Please ensure that your credit or debit cards have international access and a PIN number to access your funds at the start of the tour.
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 we recommend a discretionary tip of US$5-7 per passenger per day if the leader's performance meets or exceeds your expectations.