Does Experiential Travel operate in safe countries/areas?
We operate only in countries with a stable political climate and an excellent track record with tourist safety. All trip areas are thoroughly vetted before offering a program there to ensure that there are no unnecessary risks. Our primary operating area is Costa Rica, which is renowned worldwide for it’s political stability, friendly people, low crime rates, and tourist-friendly infrastructure, including top-notch medical facilities in case of emergencies. You can learn more about Costa Rica from the U.S. State Department Website:https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2019.htm
Are all the activities that Experiential Travel engages in safe?
While there is some risk involved with all adventure activities, statistically they are less risky than driving a car. Our staff is trained to a level far above the minimum requirements for the activities we offer, and have years of experience managing the activities. We require all staff to have a Wilderness First Aid certification at minimum, and have an emergency action plan for each activity and trip location. We also provide safety talks before each activity in order to prepare students on how to correctly and safely perform the activity.
How does Experiential Travel ensure a safe group environment?
Our participants safety is our top priority. Trip leaders are with the group 24/7 keeping an eye on things, and have years of experience detecting signs of bullying, intimidation and other inappropriate behaviors within the group, which are immediately addressed according to the degree of severity of the behavior. We believe co-ed trips are important for a well-rounded group culture, and are committed to effectively managing that dynamic. Relationships are not permitted on course, both for safety as well as the overall group dynamic, and trip leaders watch closely for signs of this forming. Groups will sleep in one common area every night, with a minimum of one male and one female trip leader in the same room. Girls and boys sleep on opposite sides of the room. In the event the group must split up, girls will sleep in one area accompanied the female trip leader, and boys will sleep in another area supervised by the male trip leader. We also allow parent chaperones to attend trips in some cases.
Does Experiential Travel have insurance?
Yes, we carry a General Liability Insurance policy that complies with industry standards.
Can I communicate with my child while they are on a trip?
When there is cell phone signal, yes. Although we do find that if participants are too connected with home (multiple calls, for example) it diminishes the trip experience for them. Experiential Travel will post updates on our blog on how the group is doing and ask that participant’s families only contact them if absolutely necessary. When there is no cellphone signal, trip leaders will send one daily update on group status via satellite message, which staff will post on the blog. Generally speaking, no news is good news. We have multiple evacuation options and communication plans for each area we visit – if something goes wrong, we will be in contact with the family of affected students as quickly as possible. Otherwise it is safe to assume that the group is happy, healthy, and having the time of their lives.
Will the trip be too challenging for my child?
We do our utmost to cater to every level of ability, and have contingency plans in place for every activity should it prove too challenging for a participant. We do not force any activity upon participants. If they wish to sit out an activity, they may. The only requirement is that they stay near the group so as to be supervised by trip leaders. They will also be expected to share in group responsibilities, such as cooking or washing dishes when camping, and to carry their own equipment when hiking.
Does Experiential Travel have a policy on drugs & alcohol?
Yes, we have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs (which includes medications not prescribed to the person possessing them). This policy is applied equally to staff members as well as students. If a student violates the policy while on course, their parents or guardian will be notified immediately and the student will be booked on the first available flight home at the parents or guardians expense. No tuition refund will be issued.
How are intercultural experiences facilitated?
We believe in positive intercultural experiences that are facilitated just enough to give them momentum. We have seen too many programs who just bring a group into contact with host family or group of local people, let them struggle, and then call it an intercultural experience when in reality the group does not have the language skills to learn anything of the other culture, and end up feeling awkward and isolated. Students who are able to communicate with even the most basic language skills are encouraged to do so, and are given just enough help to make the interaction flow positively. When students get stuck, they are helped out by trip leaders, with the end goal being to create a human connection between students and the local people they interact with. All of our staff are fluent in Spanish and experienced in facilitating intercultural exchange.