Traveling to Adventure Treks
Travel planning and what to expect on opening day
All enrolled families will have specific travel information for their student’s trip in their CampInTouch account in December, but most trips have an arrival window between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Most return flights need to be scheduled for departure between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.*
*Exceptions include Alaska Expedition and Peru. Enrolled families can view the travel PDF in CampInTouch for specific travel information.
If driving, tentatively plan to arrive between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on opening day, and between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on closing day. Know that this might change; a director will be in touch beforehand to confirm a time and meeting location for all drivers.
For all students flying to Adventure Treks, we highly recommend purchasing refundable airfare and/or travel insurance.
Here are a few tips to create the very best opening day for your student:
- TSA does not require U.S. citizens under 18 flying domestically to fly with an ID (unless traveling to British Columbia or Peru, in which case they’ll need a valid passport to drive across the border with us). However, check with your airline to see what their ID requirements are for children under 18.
- Arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure to ensure your student doesn’t miss their flight. If flying as an unaccompanied minor, you may want to arrive even earlier. For big/busy airports like Denver or Atlanta or Seattle, please arrive up to three hours early so your child does not miss their flight!
- Students should dress for the outdoors on opening day; wear comfortable clothing and closed-toed shoes.
- Your student’s daypack (carry-on backpack) should be packed according to their packing list (specific packing lists are available in CampInTouch), so they are ready for the park and can survive a few days should the airline lose their bag. In the event that luggage is lost for a day or two, instructors will make sure your student has everything they need.
- Pack your student’s prescription medications in their daypack; do not put medications in the checked duffel bag. All medications must arrive in the original container, and your student will give those to their instructors for safekeeping upon arrival.
- Even if your student doesn’t fly as an unaccompanied minor (see below for more information about UM services), we still recommend asking the airline agent at check-in for a gate pass to go through security and walk your student to the gate.
Meeting Adventure Treks instructors on opening day
We begin tracking all flights very early in the morning on opening day, and your student’s instructors plus a director will greet everyone at the airport. For students traveling as unaccompanied minors, an Adventure Treks instructor will meet them at the gate when they step off the plane. Sometimes we may be a few minutes late due to several students’ flights arriving at the same time. For students NOT traveling as unaccompanied minors, we try to meet them at the gate but cannot guarantee that due to airline and airport regulations. If we are unable to be at the gate, we will call and text them and let them know exactly where to meet us, which is usually baggage claim. Instructors will be easy to find in an Adventure Treks T-shirt and hat.
Safe arrival notification
Each student will call home upon meeting with an instructor so parents will know they’ve arrived safely (even if they’ve already called or texted parents on their own). This call usually takes place after your student has met an Adventure Treks instructor, collected their bags, and met the other students. Please expect up to an hour between the time your student’s flight lands and the phone call home to you. Instructors will then collect all electronics, medications, valuables, and wallets/passports.
After everyone has arrived, the group will head to a nearby park to play games, have lunch, and listen to a quick director orientation before heading off for their first campsite.
Carrying an ID is not required for U.S. citizens under 18 unless traveling to British Columbia or Peru, in which case they’ll need a passport. For international students traveling to the U.S., please check your country’s visa requirements several months prior to departure.
Unaccompanied minor service (UM)
The majority of our students fly to Adventure Treks independently, without their parents or UM service. With that said, most airlines have an unaccompanied minor (UM) service to young travelers who are flying without an adult. This means you’ll pay an additional fee to have an airline representative accompany your student for the entire length of their travel, from boarding the plane to arriving at their final destination. Each airline’s fees and age requirements vary; for example, Delta, United, and American charge an additional $150 each way and require that students under 15 fly as a UM, while Southwest charges an additional $50 each way and requires UM service only for students younger than 12.
In our experience, the UM service is most helpful for nervous students who also have a connection, as an airline representative will help them navigate the airport to find their connecting flight. However, most of our students prefer not to travel as a UM, instead choosing to navigate airports on their own as a way to build independence. If your student prefers to travel on their own, you’ll want to select an airline that will allow them to fly alone.
Each airline has its own rules, restrictions, and paperwork for UM service, so if your student will be younger than 15 when it’s time to fly to Adventure Treks, please call the airline directly with questions. You should also ask whether your airline will require your student’s ID at check-in.
If your student flies as a UM
- When you book, the airline will likely ask you for detailed information regarding the person picking up your student (i.e., an AT instructor) at their arrival airport. We cannot provide this information until a week before the trip starts, so please give your airline the following details until then: “Amanda Fox, 828-698-0399, 1826 Pinnacle Mountain Road, Hendersonville, NC 28790.” You’ll be able to update the airline later with the specific AT instructor’s info.
- Some airlines will allow you to pre-pay the additional UM fee (round-trip) when booking flights; others may only let you pay one leg at a time.
- If you pre-pay for the UM service on the return flight, please email a copy of the receipt to email@example.com so that we may have it on hand at the airport on closing day.
- You’ll receive a gate pass at check-in to accompany your student behind security to the gate, where an airline official will then walk your student down to their seat on the plane once it’s time to board. (Some airlines require your student to sit in the rear of the plane.)
- Once the plane lands at your student’s final destination, an airline attendant will escort your student off the plane and stay with them until a designated Adventure Treks instructor arrives at the gate to sign the appropriate paperwork. Then the airline will release your student to us.
If you don’t book UM service, know that parents can request a gate pass from the check-in agents and go behind security with their children until their flight takes off. Adventure Treks instructors will be waiting at the arrival airport, ready to greet students when they land.
Please prepay any unaccompanied minor and/or baggage fees, and send a prepaid debit card or a credit card with your student for additional fees. Usually, $150 is enough to cover the purchase of food in airports, baggage fees, and any personal items. (Most airlines do not accept cash or pre-paid gift cards, which is why we recommend a debit or credit card.)