What is group travel like?

As you travel on a group trip, you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of traveling in a group. Your fellow travelers will probably come from all across the U.S. and beyond and are likely to be of a variety of ages too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group. Patience with your fellow travelers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone’s travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don’t keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well – this takes just a little effort on your part.

Is it possible to get references for GEEO?

Nearly 4,000 educators have traveled with GEEO since we ran our first programs in 2008. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the quality and value of the life-changing experiences that we provide.

To read comments from past travelers, please feel free to visit our profile on Great Nonprofits, which reviews nonprofit organizations.

Please contact us if you would like to communicate with some of our former participants for their reference.

Who travels with GEEO?

GEEO participants are mostly made up of American K-12 teachers. Each group tends to have a good mix of educators in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. About half of our participants travel alone and do not know anyone in the group prior to the trip. By default, we group single travelers of the same gender together as roommates unless a participant prefers to pay an additional fee for their own room.

GEEO trips are open to all kindergarten to university teachers, school staff, school administrators, and soon-to-be teachers pursuing their teaching certificates. Our programs are also open to retired educators. Non-American educators are welcome on our trips.

Each educator who participates in our programs is permitted to bring along up to three friends or family members who are not teachers. Each participant must be of adequate fitness level for their chosen trip. The minimum age for our programs is 18 years old, except for our family programs. If you wish to travel with children under 18 years of age, please get in touch with us so we can help you find an alternative program or consider setting up a new family program.

Where can we get a list of hotels?

Other than the first and last hotels, our partner G Adventures does not provide hotel lists for any of their trips. The reason for this is that sometimes hotels change at the last minute. G Adventures does not want to give out incorrect information, because that can cause more issues in an emergency. Instead, we give you 24-hour emergency phone numbers where you and your family can reach staff in the country that you are traveling to or in Canada at G Adventure’s headquarters. This way, at any time, your loved ones can call the emergency contact who can immediately put them in touch with your tour leader, no matter how plans have changed.

Is it okay if I arrive a few days early or stay a few days late?

You may want to arrive a few days early at the start of your trip or stay a few days extra at the end of your trip. Please feel free to do so. We will send out an email to all participants roughly 75 days before departure with information on which hotels we will be using for the start and end of the trip as well how to go about booking them.

Where can I purchase flights?

Check out our advice about booking flights here. We recommend using Google Flights or Kayak to see what kind of airfare deals you can find. If you would like assistance searching for flights, please feel free to contact us at travel@geeo.org. If you are traveling through a nonprofit organization like GEEO, you may be eligible for humanitarian rate airfare, which may be more affordable than rates you can find on travel search websites or airline websites. Recently, however, several of the major airlines in the U.S. have ceased offering humanitarian rates, and the discounted rates are now only available on a select few routes.

Where can I purchase travel insurance?

It is mandatory for all of our travelers to have travel health insurance that covers emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. Regular health insurance plans almost never include emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance, so you will almost certainly need to purchase a separate TRAVEL health insurance plan.

In order to receive your trip vouchers, you must enter your insurance information into our tour operator’s online check-in system, Good To Go. You will receive a link to the Good to Go system roughly two months before departure.

You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you like. We recommend the International Volunteer Card (IVC). The IVC has plans that include the amount of travel medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance you need for our programs, plus other trip insurance benefits. The card will also get you discounts and benefits at many locations, including many museums and hotels. Do NOT buy the Basic Plan that they offer, as it does not have enough coverage for our programs. Anyone from any country of any age can purchase this insurance. Another great thing about the IVC is that it covers you for an entire year and can be used for all your international travel for any trip 180 days or less in duration. While not required, we recommend purchasing cancellation insurance. For the IVC, you can purchase cancellation insurance on your trip and flights for 6.5% of however much you wish to cover. This can be purchased on their website when you buy the card.

Will I be eating on my own? With the group? Why aren’t all meals included?

Eating is a big part of traveling. Traveling with GEEO, you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally, meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what, and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally, food is affordable. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this, though. Your group leader will be able to suggest favorite restaurants during your trip. Please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets. Read our blog for advice from one teacher and GEEO traveler who manages to maintain her vegan diet wherever she travels.

Why are some activities included in the price of your trips and others are not?

We have found that paying locally for activities allows our participants to save money. Not every activity is appealing to everyone, and we don’t want you to pay for services you might not use. Perhaps you feel sick one day and would prefer to rest. This allows you to decide on the spot what you want to do each day with your free time and at the same time control your budget.

Is there internet access? Should I bring a computer? Mobile phone?

Nearly all of the hotels we use have WiFi (often free, sometimes not). Assuming you bring your smartphone, please make sure you check with your phone company before you leave to find out the data and calling rates and if they have any special international plans. International roaming rates can be extremely high, so you don’t want to be surprised.

How much money in U.S. cash should I bring on my trip with GEEO?

This is entirely up to you, but we think it is critical for you to bring along at least $200 USD in cash for emergencies. This is what GEEO’s Executive Director Jesse does in regards to money while traveling:

“I do not exchange any money before traveling to a country but instead bring somewhere between $200-$300 USD in cash. I go to a bank before I leave the U.S. and take out the cash there rather than at an ATM. I make sure each bill is in great condition with no rips or tears. I like to have mostly 20s, but in some countries you are better off with 50s and 100s. In some countries, it is also good to have about 20 singles for when you have no small bills in local currency. I divide this money between a money belt, my main backpack, and my daypack.

I also bring an ATM card and a credit card. Before I leave the country, I call the bank and credit card companies to let them know I am traveling abroad so they don’t think the foreign transactions are fraudulent and cancel my cards when I am most reliant on them. Having a second bank account and bank card is pretty handy so that, just in case one card doesn’t work at an ATM or is lost, you always have a backup account. It’s also important to check with your credit card to see if there is an international transaction fee. Some cards charge up to 4% extra for any transactions made out of the U.S. My Capital One Visa card doesn’t have any international transaction fee. I just use this card for traveling so if it gets stolen and I have to cancel it I won’t have to worry about recurring automated payments. I like to split up my cards between my money belt, wallet, and one emergency one hidden in my main bag.

When I arrive at the airport I make sure to go to an ATM before leaving the airport and typically take out the equivalent of $150 USD in the local currency. I find that ATMs give the best exchange rate, so throughout the trip, I will use the ATM card to draw out my spending cash. I will ask our tour leader for an estimate on how much I will need if I am close to leaving a country so this way I do not draw out too much money.

I try not to use the U.S. cash I brought with me so that I can use it in an emergency. Typically I will come back to the U.S. with most of that U.S. cash unspent. On a recent trip, I lost my ATM card and was able to get cash by paying for our group dinners with my credit card and having people pay me their share in local currency. I NEVER take cash advances on my credit card as they charge you an arm and a leg.”

What is expected from me from an educational standpoint?

Is there any safety advice we should know about?

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel, such as the US State Department. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash, and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelry at home – you won’t need it while traveling.

Always keep an eye on your belongings, especially in major cities and bus and train terminals.

Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When traveling on a group trip, please note that your tour leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your tour leader will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip, you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy, or explore at your leisure. While your tour leader will assist you with options available in a given location, any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants or during nighttime excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations – Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water activities when accompanied by a guide. We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is G Adventure’s policy not to allow our tour leaders to make arrangements on your behalf for water activities that are not accompanied by guide(s). Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

What happens if it becomes unsafe to travel on the trip of my choice?

Your safety is our utmost priority, and we will cancel a trip if we do not feel our participants will be safe. If GEEO or G Adventures cancels your trip, we will issue a full refund of any payments you have made, including the deposit. If YOU decide to cancel your trip, you will have to abide by the rules of our terms and conditions.

What is the relationship between G Adventures and GEEO? Who is running these trips?

GEEO is an independent nonprofit organization that helps teachers travel. GEEO has chosen to work with the tour operator G Adventures. We discount their prices for our participants so they are even more affordable for teachers. GEEO provides outstanding customer service to all of our travelers, 9 AM to 9 PM, 7 days a week. GEEO is also able to get our participants humanitarian rate airfare (certain locations) and discounted travel health insurance. GEEO customizes these trips for teachers. GEEO provides educational materials to teachers before and after the trip to help bring the participating teachers’ experience into the classroom. GEEO provides each participant with a Professional Development Certificate and program-specific materials to bring their global experiences back to the classroom.

G Adventures is a tour company that GEEO has partnered with to run our trips. For over 30 years, G Adventures has been sending hundreds of thousands of people abroad, and today they are the largest adventure travel company in the world. They design the trips, provide expert tour leaders and ground logistics, and work hard to make sure you have an excellent experience.

Are the trip itineraries run exactly as described on this website?

While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary, and on occasion, it may be necessary or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Is there any advice for finding funding for this program?

The first thing we recommend you do is to speak to your school’s principal and/or professional development coordinator who may know of grants that your school district or state offers. Often, schools reimburse teachers for professional development expenses. You can also try contacting your school’s PTA or professional organizations that you belong to. See our funding advice and our blog for further ideas on funding your program.

What are the physical demands of GEEO’s trips?

GEEO travel programs bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, at minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travelers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage. While our tour leaders work hard to ensure that all our travelers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings listed on each program page for more information. Please make sure you have read the notes section for your trip, which goes into more details about the physical challenges of the program.

How do I get a passport?

All international GEEO trips require that participants have a valid passport. Many countries require that your passport not expire within 6 months of your arrival in that country. Please take the time to look up the passport validity requirements for the country/countries you are visiting on this trip by visiting the US State Department’s website.

For more information on renewing or receiving your first passport, click here. Processing time for U.S. passports is 4-6 weeks, so please start this process immediately.

Do GEEO groups visit schools while abroad?

We used to, but in 2018 our partner G Adventures, with consultation from the Child Safe Movement, adopted new guidelines that they feel can better protect children. These can be seen here: https://www.gadventures.com/about-us/responsible-travel/child-welfare/. GEEO understands the rationale, and although it might disappoint some of our teacher guests that wish to visit schools, we ask our participants to follow these guidelines. We will still occasionally meet with local teachers, but these meetings are often difficult and unreliable to arrange, so are not a guaranteed part of any of our programs.