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Trek America

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    Hi guys,

    I've been working part-time for a few months now on an enforced gap year (dissertation troubles) and have been toying with the idea of spending a couple months travelling in the summer, and I was pointed in the direction of Trek America by a someone I was having a chat with.

    It's been one of my dreams for years to travel across North America and although ideally I'd like to go with a friend, if it comes to it I'm prepared to go alone.

    So my questions are; have any of you guys been with Trek America? If so, any opinions/ advice would be welcomed.
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    I haven't been with Trek America but I did travel around the US for two and a half months last year with my boyfriend. I do get emails from Trek America for some reason (I must have signed up for them at some point but I don't remember doing it!) and have noticed that they seem quite expensive compared to just organising everything yourself, especially considering most of the tours don't include accommodation, food etc. Our whole trip, including accommodation, food, tickets for various attractions and travel expenses cost just over £4000, and we visited most of the main cities on the West and East coast of the USA (Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington DC, Orlando, Miami). We stayed in private rooms in hostels/motels, but ate cheaply and didn't drink over there, but had the time of our lives and would recommend it to anyone.

    Obviously, it all depends on where you want to travel to, how long you want to go for, what your budget is, whether you plan on going out at night over there etc, but I don't know if it is worth the cost of going with a tour group, when essentially they are just providing a guide and transport from place to place, which you can get extremely cheap over there anyway with companies like Megabus and Greyhound.
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    Everything Emma said is very true and valid, driving and camping does not cost anything like what they charge for it.

    However, if you want to venture out of the cities (I thought I was a city person until I went to the SW - it's amazing!) and are under 25 then you will find it is rather expensive (or even impossible) and for that Trek America is really good.

    It's not cheap, but then if you're going to do something like that it's probably better to go all out and have a super memorable time and see all the places rather than being cheap and regretting not doing everything.

    It's a good way to explore the country, doing/ seeing things you might not have considered yourself, but are glad you got to experience. Also most people go there alone and it's nice to have some people to share the travels with.
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    (Original post by CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK)
    Hi guys,

    I've been working part-time for a few months now on an enforced gap year (dissertation troubles) and have been toying with the idea of spending a couple months travelling in the summer, and I was pointed in the direction of Trek America by a someone I was having a chat with.

    It's been one of my dreams for years to travel across North America and although ideally I'd like to go with a friend, if it comes to it I'm prepared to go alone.

    So my questions are; have any of you guys been with Trek America? If so, any opinions/ advice would be welcomed.
    I went with Trek last summer and it was the best holiday of my life, uber expensive (although I got a lot of help with that) but easily worth the money. My theory is that if you're going to pay £500 to fly over to the States you might aswell spend as much time as possible over there to make it worthwhile and in that sense Trek is awesome. You see much more than most tourists do and you don't have the hassles of having to organise your own hotels, route or driving between destinations. It's also a great social experience, me and my friend that went on the tour are still in contact with all the English people who were on our tour and still regularly meet up with them. If you have any specific questions fire away, it's a bit hard to offer opinions without knowing what you're looking to be answered.

    (Original post by Emma_B)
    I haven't been with Trek America but I did travel around the US for two and a half months last year with my boyfriend. I do get emails from Trek America for some reason (I must have signed up for them at some point but I don't remember doing it!) and have noticed that they seem quite expensive compared to just organising everything yourself, especially considering most of the tours don't include accommodation, food etc. Our whole trip, including accommodation, food, tickets for various attractions and travel expenses cost just over £4000, and we visited most of the main cities on the West and East coast of the USA (Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Washington DC, Orlando, Miami). We stayed in private rooms in hostels/motels, but ate cheaply and didn't drink over there, but had the time of our lives and would recommend it to anyone.
    It's actually cheaper than what you paid from my experience, I went from LA to NYC via the Summer Sun tour and paid £3k all together for the tour, flights, ESTA, hotel fees on the road, food, three days in NYC at the end of the tour and spending money. I got to see LA, Vegas, Zion National Park, stay at a real cowboy ranch, the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Roswell, West Texas, San Antonio, Houston, Lafayette, New Orleans, a big swathe of the rural south, Washington D.C and NYC, roughly the same amount of cities you saw but just a different choice. The hotels you stay in are also awesome and sooo cheap because of the company's group booking discounts, for example we paid £20 per night to stay in a hotel literally opposite the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

    (Original post by fiona344)
    Everything Emma said is very true and valid, driving and camping does not cost anything like what they charge for it.

    However, if you want to venture out of the cities (I thought I was a city person until I went to the SW - it's amazing!) and are under 25 then you will find it is rather expensive (or even impossible) and for that Trek America is really good.

    It's not cheap, but then if you're going to do something like that it's probably better to go all out and have a super memorable time and see all the places rather than being cheap and regretting not doing everything.

    It's a good way to explore the country, doing/ seeing things you might not have considered yourself, but are glad you got to experience. Also most people go there alone and it's nice to have some people to share the travels with.
    True but the company has to make a profit somewhere, although it was a large amount of money, I didn't begrudge paying it at all by the time I was on the plane back to the UK. I'm already saving up to do Trek's cross Canada trek.
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    (Original post by ajp100688)

    It's actually cheaper than what you paid from my experience, I went from LA to NYC via the Summer Sun tour and paid £3k all together for the tour, flights, ESTA, hotel fees on the road, food, three days in NYC at the end of the tour and spending money. I got to see LA, Vegas, Zion National Park, stay at a real cowboy ranch, the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Roswell, West Texas, San Antonio, Houston, Lafayette, New Orleans, a big swathe of the rural south, Washington D.C and NYC, roughly the same amount of cities you saw but just a different choice. The hotels you stay in are also awesome and sooo cheap because of the company's group booking discounts, for example we paid £20 per night to stay in a hotel literally opposite the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
    How long was your tour though, if my trip had been shorter it would have been even cheaper. The two can't really be compared because the cities that you visited are so different - the cities along the coast are much more expensive than the ones in more central regions. We also paid quite a lot for attractions, such as theme parks, entrance to museums, wildlike parks, boat trips, bus tours, a show on Broadway, etc. It also all depends on where you plan to visit, as my trip mainly involved visiting the city areas, it would have worked out less expensive if I went to the more rural areas or was able to camp in the national parks. Oh and also, was the hotel you stayed in the Imperial Palace by any chance? We paid £12.25 a night to stay there, right opposite Caeser's Palace and the Bellagio - the hotels in Vegas are particularly cheap, because the more people that stay in them, the more money they are making in the casinos, in their eyes.

    However, as Fiona said, it can be difficult to travel out of the cities to see more of the central part of the US, away from the public transport systems of the cities.

    I guess it also comes down to whether you will be travelling on your own. If you are, I would suggest Trek America is the better option for you - you will make friends easily and will be travelling with the same group of people who want to see the same sights as you, so there will be no disagreement on where to go! I would have found it hard to travel on my own, it's always nice to have some company on the long bus rides between the cities!
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    (Original post by Emma_B)
    How long was your tour though, if my trip had been shorter it would have been even cheaper. The two can't really be compared because the cities that you visited are so different - the cities along the coast are much more expensive than the ones in more central regions. We also paid quite a lot for attractions, such as theme parks, entrance to museums, wildlike parks, boat trips, bus tours, a show on Broadway, etc. It also all depends on where you plan to visit, as my trip mainly involved visiting the city areas, it would have worked out less expensive if I went to the more rural areas or was able to camp in the national parks. Oh and also, was the hotel you stayed in the Imperial Palace by any chance? We paid £12.25 a night to stay there, right opposite Caeser's Palace and the Bellagio - the hotels in Vegas are particularly cheap, because the more people that stay in them, the more money they are making in the casinos, in their eyes.
    True the cities on the coast are expensive but we visited our fair share of fairly expensive cities such as LA, Vegas, New Orleans, Washington and NYC aswell. We paid a fair bit of extra activites aswell such as going to a gun range in Vegas, staying with an Indian family in Monument Valley, swamp tours in Louisiana etc. We ended up staying in the USA for 26 days so I don't know how that compared with what you did?

    We stayed at Bill's Gambling Hall and Casino, it was actually roughly the same price as yours (I put £ instead of $ by accident). It's a bit closer to the Bellagio than where you were, literally right opposite it and next door to the Flamingo.

    However, as Fiona said, it can be difficult to travel out of the cities to see more of the central part of the US, away from the public transport systems of the cities.

    I guess it also comes down to whether you will be travelling on your own. If you are, I would suggest Trek America is the better option for you - you will make friends easily and will be travelling with the same group of people who want to see the same sights as you, so there will be no disagreement on where to go! I would have found it hard to travel on my own, it's always nice to have some company on the long bus rides between the cities!
    Indeed places we went to like Zion, Monument Valley, Pecos (West Texas -home of the world's oldest rodeo apparently), Lafayette and the places in the Deep South (Northern Alabama and Eastern Tenneessee) would have been a pain to get to just using public transport, if damn near impossible in some cases. They're not the places most tourists go to (Monument Valley aside) so I feel that's a unique thing for Trek America; even if some kids in Tennessee thought I was Australian!
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    (Original post by ajp100688)
    True the cities on the coast are expensive but we visited our fair share of fairly expensive cities such as LA, Vegas, New Orleans, Washington and NYC aswell. We paid a fair bit of extra activites aswell such as going to a gun range in Vegas, staying with an Indian family in Monument Valley, swamp tours in Louisiana etc. We ended up staying in the USA for 26 days so I don't know how that compared with what you did?

    We stayed at Bill's Gambling Hall and Casino, it was actually roughly the same price as yours (I put £ instead of $ by accident). It's a bit closer to the Bellagio than where you were, literally right opposite it and next door to the Flamingo.

    Indeed places we went to like Zion, Monument Valley, Pecos (West Texas -home of the world's oldest rodeo apparently), Lafayette and the places in the Deep South (Northern Alabama and Eastern Tenneessee) would have been a pain to get to just using public transport, if damn near impossible in some cases. They're not the places most tourists go to (Monument Valley aside) so I feel that's a unique thing for Trek America; even if some kids in Tennessee thought I was Australian!
    We stayed for 78 days altogether. I guess our trips can't really be compared, yours sounds completely different to the places that we visited and the things that we did there! We didn't really venture out of the cities much because public transport is pretty sparse once you leave them, so we focused more on the sights within the cities, for example, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Universal Studios Hollywood, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Golden Gate Bridge cruise, Alcatraz, all of the Orlando theme parks, The White House, Bunker Hill Monument, the Freedom Trail, Independence Hall, various natural history, science and art museums etc. We also spend a few weeks out there just relaxing by the beach, such as in Los Angeles (Venice Beach) and Miami Beach. I guess we also liked the freedom of being able to divert from our plans as and when we wanted to, which we wouldn't be able to do on a tour. For example, while visiting Boston, we noticed that the town of Salem was pretty close by, so we took a day to catch a bus over there to see the witch trials memorial and the old town hall where the trials were held. We were really glad we did it, especially as it was just before Halloween, so the whole town really takes advantage of the visitors that visit at this time of year, with lots of people around dressed up as witches, and lots of shops and stalls selling 'witchy' things, such as old spellbooks, crystal balls, costumes and lots of halloween-esque/witch trials ornaments and souvenirs.

    Went off on one a bit there so back to the point of this thread!! -

    I think it all just boils down to whether they want to see more of the cities or more of the rural areas. I'd say, if you're just going to see the main cities - particularly those along the coasts - you don't really need Trek America. If you want to see more of mainland USA and to see the national parks, mountain ranges, and basically more of 'natural' America, go with Trek America
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    Sorry I haven't replied in ages, had a busy few days. First of all help yourselves to rep for replying informatively.

    (Original post by Emma_B)
    x
    Ideally I would also travel with someone, unfortunately, my 2 original travel partners pulling out and my tumbleweed scene of a love life mean I will most definitely be travelling alone, thus I reckon TrekAmerica would be the best way of travelling alone yet meeting new people...if you get me.

    (Original post by ajp100688)
    I went with Trek last summer and it was the best holiday of my life, uber expensive (although I got a lot of help with that) but easily worth the money. My theory is that if you're going to pay £500 to fly over to the States you might aswell spend as much time as possible over there to make it worthwhile and in that sense Trek is awesome. You see much more than most tourists do and you don't have the hassles of having to organise your own hotels, route or driving between destinations. It's also a great social experience, me and my friend that went on the tour are still in contact with all the English people who were on our tour and still regularly meet up with them. If you have any specific questions fire away, it's a bit hard to offer opinions without knowing what you're looking to be answered.
    How long did you go for? I've looked over their site briefly and I see they do something like 21days, 45 days and 64 day treks, I'd definitely be aiming for the 45 or 64 days, aiming to go around July time, although if I miss out on a place I can always wait another year and try for summer 2013 while earning as much money as I can.

    I guess my questions are;
    how long did you go for? (I'll just repeat that one)
    what are the rest of the people in the group like? (or what were the people in your group like?)
    are things like meals, accommodation included in the price?
    do you get a chance to experience of the US firsthand (do you get to talk to people like have free time in towns etc?)
    how soon in advance do you have to book? As I say I'm looking to go around July time but don't yet have the money to pay for it, however by May I will but would this be too late?

    There's probably more I'll think of but I'll ask those as they come up if that's alright.
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    (Original post by CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK)
    How long did you go for? I've looked over their site briefly and I see they do something like 21days, 45 days and 64 day treks, I'd definitely be aiming for the 45 or 64 days, aiming to go around July time, although if I miss out on a place I can always wait another year and try for summer 2013 while earning as much money as I can.
    I went on a 21 day Trek (Summer Sun) although I tagged on a day in LA before the Trek and three days in NYC at the end of the Trek, where totally randomly my friend and me happened to be staying in the same hotel as two other people on our Trek for the same amount of days. So it was like the Trek hadn't really ended, just continued for those days. Half of my tour group did the 45 day Trek though, going from NYC through the Northern States to LA and then from LA through the Southern States to NYC.

    what are the rest of the people in the group like? (or what were the people in your group like?)
    Awesome, still in touch in about half the group and regularly meet up with them. Our Trek leader was insanely good. That is one of the things that is random though, you can get a totally great Trek leader and they will make the tour for you but likewise you might get an inexperienced or bad leader and it won't be as good. Although from the experience I had (my Trek leader, another leader who was running parallel to us for the entire Trek and who we often met up with at the campsites and the Trek leader of the Northern tour that some of my group went on) they're all pretty good.

    are things like meals, accommodation included in the price?
    Unfortunately not. What you do is put $10 a day into a combined food kitty and then at various points on the journey you stop off at supermarkets and buy a load of food for making meals when you're on the road. You split into teams of 3/4 and rotate each day when you're on a campsite (when you're in cities it doesn't matter) and one group cooks, one group washes up and cleans and one group cleans the van. It works pretty well and as long as you have some decent cooks in your group then you're fine. At the end of the Trek if there is anything left in the food kitty then it's given back. If I remember right we each ended up with like $53 back.

    Accomodation isn't included but you only spend a few nights in paid accomodation anyways and it's usually fairly cheap. The only nights I paid accomodation on the Trek were in Las Vegas (2 nights @$20 a night) and New Orleans (2 nights @$50 a night). The rest of the time was spent camping on camp sites, where the camping fees are part of the Trek package.
    do you get a chance to experience of the US firsthand (do you get to talk to people like have free time in towns etc?)
    Whenever you're not travelling between cities/towns you have free time to do what you want. Some times activites might be organised such as the free limo ride in Vegas, Riverwalk in San Antonio and Grand Canyon walks but you don't have to do them. Other than those and other misc. activites Trek organises for you (Steamboat ride in NOLA, gun shooting in LV etc) you're pretty much free to do whatever you want during your time in each city. If you're driving along and you see something interested signposted on the roads or an interesting little town on the map the Trek leaders are generally up for stopping aswell, so long as you have the majority of the group that wants to go. Basically it's up to you to decide what you do within the greater framework.

    how soon in advance do you have to book? As I say I'm looking to go around July time but don't yet have the money to pay for it, however by May I will but would this be too late?
    Usually a couple months in advance although occasionally you'll get a % off if you book early enough. I booked six months in advance but that's just because I like to be organised, some people only booked a couple months in advance on my Trek. If you go on their website and look at the dates you're thinking of, it generally tells you whether it's close to being fully booked.

    (Original post by graceland)
    Hi Guys, just need a bit of advice.. Ive been looking at Trek America too and a bit worried about the price and what you get. They seem expensive!

    I found someone else GoTrekUSA (not sure if you can put links on here but its a dot com). They seem to be a bit cheaper for the same kind of thing.. Has anyone tried these guys?

    Also, im traveling alone.. How scary is it!?

    Confused!

    Thanks for any advice!!
    Never heard of GoTrek before but they seem rather similar to Trek America aside from the fact it's a little less intimate (15 people vans vs 11 on Trek) and they don't do cross country tours, they only do regional ones. They have a South-West regional tour up for the same price that I paid to go from LA to NYC. This is also totally superficial but they don't seem to have won any awards, Trek have won British Travel Awards - Best Tour Operator to the USA (Gold) and Best Special Interest / Adventure Tour Operator (Silver) two years running in 2010 and 2011.

    This being said they do seem to be slightly cheaper, although not substantially so, but I guess that's the difference between an established and well known company and smaller one. Totally random but Trek America has 24,000 people on it's FB page and GoTrek has like 400.

    Don't worry about travelling on your own, like half of my tour group did it and they made friends straight away, you're around people all the time and they tend to be very similar people to you (not everyone blows £2/3k on a holiday unless they're really into travelling) so everyone gets on great.
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    Wow this really makes me want to travel across America, you guys have given some great advice
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    most companies are more expensive than doing it yourself but you have to take into account what you want from the trip, whether you want peace of mind knowing everythings organised for you or freedom and adventure of doing it yourself. also if you are going alone going in a group will probably be more fun, so trek america may have an advantage that way.

    if it were somewhere obscure like uganda or something then i could see the advantage of doing it through a company but USA/Canada.... no need really. everythings pretty accessable etc.

    remember train journeys can be expensive (amtrak) and you have to be 21 to rent a car... buying a car may be cheaper if you get an old one... plus most of the time, to my knowledge, you insure the car not the driver... so if you went on a trip with your friends you could take turns driving. coaches would probably be the best option since they can be quite cheap (grayhound etc.) AND they don't get boring, time flew for me on coach journeys in the states because i just had my iPod plugged in and was watching the scenery outside.
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    Graceland-have you seen Go Trek USA has an offer buy one trip and then you get to bring a friend for free!!!! I called them to check and its real!!!!
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    (Original post by fiona344)
    However, if you want to venture out of the cities (I thought I was a city person until I went to the SW - it's amazing!) and are under 25 then you will find it is rather expensive (or even impossible) and for that Trek America is really good.
    Where are these costs? Hiring a car was a lot more expensive that in europe, but its a lot of fun so would happily pay.
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    Ok so I'm all booked and due to fly out early August, CANNOT WAIT!

    One question: in terms of passport requirements, I've got a normal British one. What I mean by 'normal' is it's not one of those electronic ones, is that going to be a problem getting into the States? I've been told they're pretty into those electronic ones.
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    You'll have a fantastic trip, I'm sure! How exciting :-) I did a trip across America but went with the Green Tortoise. It seems they have much lower costs and go to the same places.
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    (Original post by CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK)
    Ok so I'm all booked and due to fly out early August, CANNOT WAIT!

    One question: in terms of passport requirements, I've got a normal British one. What I mean by 'normal' is it's not one of those electronic ones, is that going to be a problem getting into the States? I've been told they're pretty into those electronic ones.
    Yeah it needs to be one of the new biometric passports which have that square logo on the front of the passport. I have no idea why though because British passports don't contain fingerprint data or iris scans anyways, so the chip doesn't have much data on it and you have to do the fingerprint/iris scan at immigration. If you haven't got a new one, I think (not 100% sure) that you'll have to renew your passport into a new biometric one before you leave. Make sure you've filled out an ESTA too.
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    (Original post by ajp100688)
    Yeah it needs to be one of the new biometric passports which have that square logo on the front of the passport. I have no idea why though because British passports don't contain fingerprint data or iris scans anyways, so the chip doesn't have much data on it and you have to do the fingerprint/iris scan at immigration. If you haven't got a new one, I think (not 100% sure) that you'll have to renew your passport into a new biometric one before you leave. Make sure you've filled out an ESTA too.
    I tried to +rep you but it said I couldn't. Thanks for this, I'll get right on it!

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