During the first half of April, I did my very first Trek America tour after reading some other bloggers posts and deciding to take the plunge. I actually booked my trip about 10 months’ before travelling and it seemed that I was the only person on my trip to do this. I had little experience with travel organizations like this having only used Exodus and Archers before, so I didn’t really know what to expect before heading out. Most of what I’d read was of big groups of 12/13 people with long drives most days; thankfully my tour wasn’t like this as there were just 5 of us booked on and being in Hawaii the longest drive was about 2.5 hours long.
Thinking about it I’m not 100% sure how I’d have coped doing one of these tours for 2-3 weeks, especially if it was purely camping (our was 4 nights camping, 2 nights in a cabin and 1 in a hostel) but that’s another thing, but my trip was pretty much perfect. Here’s why I think Trek America are great:
Your tour leader is your driver
On my previous trips, we had a separate driver and although this was probably nice for the tour leader to not have to do the drives themselves, on Trek America, it meant that if we wanted to make a detour and go somewhere ‘off tour’, or see where a particular road led we could. If we had a separate driver this probably wouldn’t have been as easy and wouldn’t have been as unique an experience.
Camping gives you a more authentic experience
So many people moan about touristy experiences and locations yet still choose hotels and hostels in the middle of the hustle and bustle, but by choosing to camp you’re heading out into the unknown and experiencing things differently. We camped on a beach for a night and woke up to the waves and a sunset, this isn’t something you’d get in the middle of a city, and being out in the middle of nowhere sometimes meant you met people you wouldn’t normally.
Camping helps you bond more
On most Trek America tours when there’s a larger group you’re split into three groups and alternate being cooking, washing up and van cleaning. Now our group didn’t do this as there were so few of us we just alternated on a daily basis (and our wonderful tour leader cooked a lot of the dinners), but by having to do these tasks yourself you bond more. Sitting down and chopping salad bits, heading to dingy places to wash dishes with only the light of a head lamp and carrying massive boxes of crockery to the van was nice as you got a chance to connect with people more than if you were going out to restaurants/ fast food chains where people may have split off into little groups.
It works out cheaper than other tour companies
As you’re camping for parts and doing a lot of the cooking yourselves it works out quite a bit cheaper than other companies. Comparing trips with other organizers the tours themselves worked out cheaper and there’s a lot less additional spends when you’re there. Trek America operate on a kitty system where you add in a fixed price per day which then goes to buy all the food you need in order to make breakfasts, packed lunches, and yummy dinners. On mainland America, this is just $10 ($15 in Hawaii), and if you were buying food yourself you’d struggle to get breakfast for this price.
You do and see a lot within your time
Trek America put a lot of effort into working out the itineraries so you get to see and experience a lot within the locations. As I said before we were fortunate to not have long drives as were just on one island and not driving across States so we managed to stop sometimes 4 or 5 times within a day out to see things, explore places, go swimming etc, and from speaking to others’ who have done other trips this is even the case on long drives. Fun activities are planning like snorkeling and hikes, and there’s plenty of relaxation time as well.
The tour leaders put in the effort
From all the people I’ve known who have done tours with Trek America, I’ve never heard a bad thing said about a tour leader. Jesse took us five girls out and despite the fact that he’d never done this tour before and had only driven around the island probably once before he really put in the effort. He spent time online searching for the best places to stop on top of our normal itinerary, looking at menu’s when we had meals out and finding answers to any questions we asked that he didn’t know. You could tell he’d looked into the island and the tour properly before starting out as he had loads of information and bits to tell us.