One of the largest countries in the world, the USA is racially and ethnically a very diverse state. Its national language is English. The currency used is the United States Dollar. From bustling metropolises to small towns and natural wonders, the USA has something for everyone.
There is vast variation in the land too – the Appalachian Mountains, geysers, the Rocky mountains, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi river and mangrove swamps all have a place in this huge country. The beautiful and well protected national parks – Yosemite, Yellow Stone and Grand Canyon among others – offer some of the most spellbinding scenery in the world. Some iconic animals are the puma, the bison, the grizzly bear, the American alligator and, of course, the bald eagle.
There is no simple answer as to the best time to visit the USA. Because the country is so large it really depends on where you are going and what you want to see and do.
A few days before you start your vacation, you will receive a traveller certificate from the Active Holiday Company. Your local emergency contact will be included in it along with some other useful information.
- Two Nights accommodation on twin share* basis on room only basis, including taxes at Trip Advisor winner of Certificate of Excellence - Club Quarters Central Loop hotel in Standard Rooms just .7 miles from the start and 1 mile from the finish point of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon
- Guaranteed Race Entry to the Chicago marathon (for race participants only)
- Personalised T-shirt with your name (for race participants only)
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners
- Flights, visas & insurance
- Credit card charges if payment is being made via credit card
- Chicago: Club Quarters Central Loop Hotel
- Chicago can be easily reached by flight.
- Chicago is well connected by flight.
We believe that eating local is not just a lot of fun but also one of those important elements of the destination experience – very much a part of the adventure as they say! So, be flexible and prepared to savour and enjoy the varied and wonderful foods of the world. Meals included and excluded are clearly specified on the detailed itinerary. When meals are included you will need to adhere to timings as these meals are usually eaten together in a group. Included meals are usually at local restaurants. When meals are not included, your trip leader will be happy to make restaurant recommendations of favourite places frequented by the locals, but you are also free to explore on your own. On some trips, such as the ones that include camping or home-stays, we can take the fun to a new level by encouraging you to cook your own meal if you would like to. When meals are not included, group members tend to head out to restaurants together and this can be a lot of fun. However, you are free to decide if you want to join them or not. Choice of vegetarian food can sometimes be limited and repetitive. Though special food, including vegetarian, child meals etc. can never be guaranteed, we do our best to accommodate your requests. On guided trips, please ensure you inform your trip leader if you are vegetarian.
Please note that obtaining visas for the trip are the responsibility of the individual traveler. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on your nationality and on the country you are visiting. For the most up to date information please check your country’s foreign ministry website as we take no responsibility for this information being correct and most updated on our website. It is important that you check for yourself. Please ensure that you understand whether your trip needs a single entry or a multiple entry visa to the destination. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport, along with insurance, trip confirmation, return flight tickets and proof of funds to cover your expenses when you are travelling. Visa applications can take from a few days to more than just a few weeks to process, so please apply for your visas well ahead of time. Please ensure that you apply for the visa on the right travel dates and that you check that visas have been issued for the right travel dates. To help calculate the exact dates of crossing from different time zones, you may like to refer here. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.
Flights are not included, unless specified in the inclusions. For any flights that are arranged by us, please ensure that your passport information and full name as per your passport is given to us before the due date. It is entirely your responsibility to provide this information before the due date, failing which your flight will not be booked. Internal flight tickets will be given to you prior to flight departure at your destination. For your arrival and departure flights booked by you, please ensure that these are well coordinated with your holiday plan.
Travel insurance is mandatory on all our trips and all details of your insurance policy including the policy number and insurance company’s 24 hour emergency contact number must be received by us prior to the start of your trip. We are unable to send you your Travel Certificate / vouchers unless we receive this. Your insurance must cover you for medical expenses for a minimum US$ 200,000 and include including emergency repatriation & rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. For credit card insurance we require proof that the credit card is in your name, details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number. It is your responsibility to obtain this from your credit card company and pass them to us before your trip starts. To see details of travel insurance providers please see here
Optional tours allow you to personalize your experience while giving you the freedom to engage in activities that interest you. These are add on activities that are not included in your tour price. Your optional activities available for this trip, if any, are detailed under ‘This Trip Notes’. Prices indicated are per person. Please note that the price of optional activities are subject to change and are subject to operation with minimum participation. Not all excursions listed here may be available, due to season, weather conditions and lack of minimum participants. It is also possible that participants on the option trips are travellers not travelling with the Active Holiday Company.
Optional activities have to be booked by you before departure although at times you may have to make the payment for the activity on your own, in local currency during the tour. Please ensure that you have budgeted and carried the funds for it.
The description of optional activities is only a guide and the transfer from your hotel and back may not be included. Please study the optional activity description in detail to understand where it starts and ends. Though recommended by us, these activities are operated by other companies and you will be undertaking them at your own risk. The optional activities do not form part of your contract with the Active Holiday Company and you may be required to sign / complete a waiver form for some optional activities offered during the trip.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements vary from person to person. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip. See the currency applicable for the touring country under the Country Facts section on this page. As currency exchange rates can be volatile, we ask that you refer to here for the most updated exchange rate before you set out to budget for your travel funds. The best way to carry your money is in debit cards, withdrawing cash in local currencies from ATM machines. ATMs are easily found through all major cities and will accept most Visa and Mastercard. If you have both Visa and Mastercard we recommend that you carry both, with one as a back up in case one is lost or has problems with it. Please note that banks charge a fee for overseas withdrawals and use an exchange rate different from what you see on xe.com and such websites. We recommend that you check your bank charges before you set out on your trip to avoid unpleasant surprises later. Throughout Asia and most of Africa, USD cash is widely accepted for exchange when ATMs are not accessible. In Europe, Euro is what you should be travelling with. You must have access to some extra money either via cash or ATM cards for emergency situations. Travellers Cheques are expensive to exchange and are not the easiest source to funds when travelling – especially in case of an emergency. Credit cards are accepted at the more upscale restaurants, hotels and branded stores. When carrying cash, please ensure the US Dollar notes are in good condition. Old notes, with tears, stains can lead to problems when exchanging. When leaving a country after a trip, please convert your left over local currency back to US Dollars or Euros as it may not be easy to change in other countries or once you are back home.
It is imperative that you have access to at least an additional USD $500 (or equivalent) as 'emergency' fund, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of flu etc.) require a change to our planned route.
We try to minimize the dent on the single travellers pockets by encouraging them to share their room with other solo travellers. This helps avoid the single supplement cost that most hotels charge. We offer the service of helping single travellers pair up with other single travellers of the same gender on the trip. Some trips allow mixed gender sharing and on some accommodation, the room complement could be triple or quad (and not just twin share). If applicable, you will find this information under price details. This facility is available only on the group departures and it is not a guarantee that we will be able to find you another traveller to share your room with. If there is no other single traveller of the same gender who you can share your room with, you may have to bear the single supplement, but do check with us before you do so! It is unlikely that we will be able to find solo travel companions on the self-guided independent trips – all the same check with us with your preferred departure date to see if we have any other solo traveller showing an interest in travelling the same time and sharing. Of course, all single travellers have the opportunity to pay a single supplement and stay in their own room. Please see price for details. Pre and post tours accommodation can only be booked in single rooms by solo travellers. Despite your willingness to pay a single supplement, single rooms may not be available on overnight trains, boats, home-stays, tented camps and tea-houses during the peak trekking season.
Though not compulsory, tipping is appropriate, customary and appreciated in most parts of the world. It is not just a way for you to acknowledge good service that you have received but also inspires & motivates the service providers to continue working towards offering excellent service. Plus, it is core to the tourism that we want to promote through the Active Holiday Company as it directly impacts and empowers people who take care of you during your holiday. We recommend that you directly offer tips to people who you feel deserve it – porters, restaurant staff, local / trekking / jungle / rafting guides and assistant guides, drivers, tour leaders. The amount is entirely a personal preference based on what you feel they deserve, however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day / per service is the basic standard expected. You may like to tip more or less based on your personal experience. Please don't tip with small coins or notes of very small denominations or dirty and ripped notes as it is regarded as an insult by most.
Your Travel Companions
Your travel companion could be from any part of the world and belonging to a wide age range. For it to be happy experience for all, as vacations should be, your patience, attitude and understanding can be the difference between it being an enjoyable or challenging experience for the entire group. Making people wait is not just considered rude in most cultures but also a waste of the groups and your precious vacation time. Please be aware that the trip leader has the right to leave you and move on with the planned activity / rest of the trip if you are not on time. The cost of rejoining the group will be at your expense. Due to privacy reasons we do not provide traveller contact details to group members prior to departure. You could get on to our community page and request this information. Travelling in a group and meeting new people can be a lot of fun with just an open mind and some small adjustments on your part.
Health & Fitness
All our trips have a clear grading based on the physical effort and difficulty involved and the minimum age for participation. It is imperative that you possess average level of fitness and mobility required to undertake your chosen trip. At the bare minimum, you must be able to walk unaided, climb a couple of flights of stairs or on an incline, and carry your own luggage. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have read through the itinerary to assess your ability to cope with the trip and that you possess the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete your chosen trip. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, then you are required to share the same with us through a short questionnaire that we provide, which must be signed by your physician. We regret that we are unable to provide assistance or provide any refund for unused services to participants who cannot undertake a day's activities due to their inability to physically cope with it. Please refer to our detailed physical ratings for each trip before you book yourself. We reserve the right of removing any traveller who is unable to cope with the trip, without offering any refund for the unused services. Please consult your doctor and visa agent for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. Our list of recommended first aid kit that you should carry is listed under ‘packing list’. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared with your prescription drugs (along with your prescription to allow for it to pass through customs) as not all drugs are easily available in other countries.
Safety & Security
The safety and security of our travellers is above everything at the Active Holiday Company and for this reason the company, its representatives and partners reserve the right to cancel, reroute or amend any of our itineraries at any point, before or during the trip. Our decisions to do so are based on inputs from Government advisories, our on-ground partners and other sources we consider reliable. Many governments offer travel advisements for their nationals to various countries and we recommend that you check your governments advise before leaving for a trip.
Rivers flooding, natural calamites, political rallies, bad weather, flight cancellation etc. can lead to the alteration of the itinerary and including substituting the mode of transport or extra nights. These are at an additional cost to the traveller. On some parts of our guided trips and throughout the self-guided trips you will have freedom to explore on your own. Your safety during such times is your responsibility, even if you take up an optional activity suggested by us. The Active Holiday Company offers no guarantee of service or standards of operations for optional activities offered. Though most places are generally safe during the day, wandering alone in certain areas – both during the day as well as the night can be risky. You are advised to stay in small groups, not dress to attract attention and carry more than necessary money on yourself. Avoid dark and poorly lit pathways.
Protests, demonstrations, political rallies – no matter how peaceful, have the potential to turn violent and unsafe without warning. Please avoid being part of or close to such gatherings and do not give in to the temptation of that photo opportunity, as these can be very risky. Pick-pocketing and petty theft are fairly common in touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution at all times – carry the day pack on your front, do not leave your bags out of your sight, use a money belt under your t-shirt. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. We strongly recommend you keep copies of your passport and air tickets and keep the originals along with cash and other valuable items in a neck wallet. Please do not bring along any valuable jewellery during your travel. Many hotels offer safety deposit boxes for you to securely store your valuables. Be careful of motorbike bag snatching, especially in some Asian and African cities. Please keep your luggage locked at all times.
Fire safety regulations and laws differ from country to country. Please familiarize yourself with fire exits when staying in a hotel and observe general fire safety precautions including not-smoking in rooms when not allowed. Many countries now also charge a fine for smoking.
Traffic rules may be different in the country you are visiting from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing the road and be prepared for chaotic traffic in many countries. When cycling, ensure that you use cycling lanes where available and be cautious of vehicular traffic when on main roads. On cycling trips, ensure you always have a helmet on – please study the inclusions carefully to see if it is included in your trip price. When not provided on the trip, please carry one or buy / rent one. Seat belts may not always necessary, even for children, in buses, vans and cars in several countries.
When taking part in any water activities in the ocean, river or open water, please be cautious of waves and currents, that can be unpredictable and unsafe. All water based activities including swimming in pools and snorkeling is at your own risk. Life jackets are a must for adults and children on water-crafts. You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life-guard on duty.
Parents are responsible for their children at all times and children cannot be left unattended at any time. Children unable to cope with some activities are welcome to stay back at the hotel with at least one parent’s supervision. There is no refund for unutilized services when travellers forego any inclusion on account of being unable to cope with activities.
We do not recommend that you rent any equipment such as quad bikes or jet skis as well as motorbikes etc.
Your Packing List
This section is intended to serve as a guide. Please do not consider it exhaustive or compulsory. It is imperative that you consider the weather at your travel destination before you pack. Please pack as lightly as possible. You are expected to handle your own luggage on many trips and even at times when the porter service is included; we don’t consider it very nice to get them to carry heavy luggage. Moreover, many trains, buses and internal flights have baggage limitations. Aim for no more than 10 to 12 kilos. On most trips you will benefit from using a comfortable, medium sized, day pack bag to carry water, camera, mobile phone etc.
You may also need special equipment for certain trips and this may or may not be included in your trip price. Sometimes equipment can be hired locally at a reasonable cost. On the other hand some trips may need you to arrive with special type of clothing / footwear etc. Please check with us if you are not sure of what you need to get on your own.
Important Travel Documents
Please keep scanned copies with your family and email a set to yourself. The physical copies should be in your checked-in luggage.
- Passport with photocopies.
- Visas with photocopies.
- Travel insurance with photocopies. Please ensure your insurers name, 24 hr emergency contact telephone number and policy number are highlighted.
- All flight tickets for the trip with photocopies.
- Active Holiday Company Trip Confirmation Certificate.
- Photocopies of important documents to be kept separately.
- Copy of the itinerary of your trip.
- Spare passport photos.
- Credit / Debit Card, Travellers Cheques with serial numbers kept at a separate place.
- Youth/Student identification / Senior Citizen card for discounts.
- International driving license if you have one.
- Vaccination Certificates if needed.
- Money belt that can be secured safely.
- Money – small denominations of local currency if you can get some before the trip.
- First aid kit comprising any personal medication, aspirin / paracetamol, band-aids, head-ache balm, rehydration salts of your choice, anti-allergy pills, anti-diarrhea pills, anti-nausea pills, small scissors, nail file, sun-block (50 SPF), lip balm, after sun moisturizer, insect repellent and antihistamine/insect bite cream, female hygiene products.
- Toothbrush, tooth-paste, deodorant, bio-degradable soap, shampoo, washing detergent.
- Water purifying / iodine tablets.
- Prescription Diamox / alternate for altitude sickness.
- Prescription glasses / contact lenses and solution.
- Antibacterial gel and wet-wipes.
- Wide brim hat, sunglasses with UV protection.
- Minimum 2 liters water bottle so you don’t have to buy plastic bottles, cloth shopping bag.
- Book to read, journal, pen, travel pillow, cards / travel games.
- Eye mask, ear plugs, army knife (this must always be in your checked in luggage when you are taking a flight).
- Adapter, alarm clock, phone with charger, i-pod / MP3 with charger and spare ear-phones, camera and film if your camera needs it.
- Travel pillow, torch with reusable batteries, head-lamp.
- Night clothes/sleepwear.
- Plastic bag to separate wet and dry / clean & soiled clothes.
Clothing & Others
As much as possible, try to pack in quick dry, easy to wash clothes. When visiting any religious places of worship, ensure that your legs are covered and that you are not revealing too much through singlets and tank tops. For this reason it’s a good idea to pack in a sarong and scarf on most trips. Topless sunbathing and even bikinis and swim wear that reveals too much is still not acceptable in many cultures - please ensure that you are not being disrespectful to the culture of the place you are visiting through what you wear.
- Socks, undergarments.
- Jeans are great on most trips but be cautious that they weigh more than light-weight pants.
- Quick drying towel.
- Smart casual evening wear depending on how long your trip is (take an average of a set for 4-5 days).
- Comfortable walking / trekking broken into shoes with good grip, sports sandals.
- Safaris: Try to stick to beige, brown, light green clothing.
- Winter Wear: Fleece jackets, water / windproof jackets, inner thermal layers, gloves, fleece hats, balaclava, scarf / muffler, down jackets.
Summer: Cotton shirts & t-shirts (both long sleeve and short sleeve), shorts, pants / zip off trousers (please avoid military styles), swim wear, snorkel & mask.
Monsoon: Foldable raincoat / umbrella, waterproof & windproof jacket, waterproof pants, waterproof cover for bags.
Trekking / Camping: Check the inclusions to see if you need to carry your own inner sleep sheet, sleeping bag, personal mattress etc. On most trips we do include these.
Hiking poles/walking sticks for treks.
Cycling Trips: Check whether helmet is included or if you need to carry one.
Carrying long sleeve t-shirts and pants will protect you against insect / mosquito bites in some regions.
We take no responsibility for the contents in your luggage and any damage to it while travelling. Please do not pack any expensive items in it. Here is the type of luggage style / bag you use on each trip.
- Safaris: Trekking / Duffel bags. Your travel bag must be soft without any wheels or frames if you have to get on a local flight.
- Cycling Trips: Sturdy bags that are easy to handle are recommended so they hold through the trip and daily transportation. You may also carry along a small back-pack for day use that is easy to carry while cycling.
- Hiking & Trekking: Bags with wheels and hard suitcases are not acceptable on such vacations even though the daily handling may be rough. Please ensure you have a comfortable trekking bag no more than 10 kilos.
While on the trip
Before getting on a self-guided trip, please ensure that you have updated yourself with all the skills that you will need to take you through your trip. On cycling and hiking trips that come with detailed maps, it is assumed that you know how to navigate and read these maps. On guided trips, the final authority is your tour leader. Should you have an issue or if any situation that needs attention comes up while you are on the trip, it is imperative that you discuss it with your group leader or the local representative immediately so that they can do their best to address or rectify the problem. This saves the rest of your trip from being impacted. While we welcome your feedback post trip, please appreciate that it is very difficult for us to offer any practical assistance to address the issue after the trip is complete. It is our endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, though despite our best efforts sometimes things can and do go wrong. If your trip leader or local partner is unable to resolve a situation to your satisfaction, please contact us directly and also provide details in your post tour feedback within 2 weeks of the conclusion of the trip. Please be aware that illegal drugs and exploitation of prostitutes is not tolerated on our trips. Prostitution thrives on exploiting the under-privileged and is against the principles of what the Active Holiday Company stands for and we want to achieve for the local communities through our trips. Many countries have very strict anti-drug laws and this also puts the entire group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium may be part of local cultures in some countries but is not acceptable for our travellers. We have the right to expel any member of the group if they use prostitutes or if drugs are found in their possession.
How did it go?
We want to hear from you after your trip with us! Your feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could do better and allows us to make improvements for future travellers. Remember that all feedback sent us, entitles our past travellers to enter our bi-monthly draw for a travel voucher worth $500 or equivalent that you can use against your next trip with us, provided your feedback is given within 2 weeks after the conclusion of the trip. We reserve the right to share your feedback, story and photos on our blog here or as a testimonial. Please email us your feedback at email@example.com
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