General Info for AIA Tours: Please read and Review
All AIA holidays are accompanied by a local, English-speaking tour guide, who is also a driver in addition to tour guide. Participants are expected to help with food purchases, cooking, washing up and tidying up while camping. If everyone participates it will be faster and easier and with more fun. The tour guide will coordinate these activities.
Some National Parks in the United States do not allow tour guides to act as National Park Service hiking guides. In that case, our tour guides will provide all possible information about a walk in advance, but will not act as a walking guide.
Rules of the Road:
Our Tour Leaders have an obligation to fulfill every destination stop promised in the tour itinerary and therefore will communicate with the group how much time will be allotted at each stop and a meet up time to travel to the next destination. Arriving late is unfair to the rest of the group who have made the effort to show up on time to just wait for a tardy passenger as well as strains the drivers time management plans, which could ultimately result in late arrivals to the hotel or dinner reservations. In addition to enjoying the attraction during a stop, the ample specified free time should also be used for shopping, snacks and restroom use before the designated meeting time.
PLEASE NOTE: The actual trip may be altered or from the description, depending on weather conditions, the conditions in the parks and the wishes of the participants. During this trip, the local agent uses a looser program than you may be used to from AIA TOURS. This often has to do with the many excursions that are possible during the trip and the freedom we want to offer you to choose a specific excursion or activity in consultation with the tour guide.
Best time to visit:
Since most of the parks we visit are above 1500 meters, the temperature in our summer is perfect for doing all kinds of activities. We often get up early to go for walks. It can be very hot in Las Vegas and pleasant temperature prevails in the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
For America you need a valid passport that is valid at least until the date you leave America. An identity card is not sufficient to enter America.
Parents traveling alone with child(ren) (up to 18 years) need an English statement from the parent who remains behind in Europe.
This must be stated:
All names (as stated in passport) and dates of birth of the persons traveling, including the unaccompanied parent
A statement that this agreement is along the lines of: “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so .”)
The signature of the left-behind parent – copy of the left-behind parent’s passport
Preferably also a birth certificate of the child / children
As a traveler, you are responsible for having the correct travel documents (a valid passport and any necessary visas). Keep in mind that in some professions (including @media and/or the armed forces) a different visa procedure than the regular visa procedure has to be followed. For travelers with a nationality other than EU different visa conditions may apply, other than those stated in our travel description. If the relevant Embassy and/or Consulate does not grant you a visa for personal reasons, AIA Tours is not liable for your help with the visa or if this results in for fit of the tour.
For the United States,most European travelers must apply for an ESTA (electronic visa).
Apply for ESTA if you are flying to or via the United States!
EU travelers (including children) traveling to or via the United States are required to apply for an ESTA (electronic visa) before departure; so even if the United States is not your final destination and you only make a stopover in the US! You can do this on the ESTA site enter your personal and travel details. The visa must be applied for at least 72 hours before departure. Failure to provide this information, or failing to provide it incorrectly, may result in you being denied boarding or entry to the US.
Important information about Covid-19 and flying via the United States
If you fly with an airline where you make a stopover in the United States, you must take into account the American Covid-19 entry measures. You can find the entry measures for the United States on the website of the Department of State .
First of all, it is very important to take into account the number of vaccinations you have had. If you are not fully vaccinated, you are not allowed to travel to the United States. Read here which requirements are set for the vaccination. Children under 18 are not required to be vaccinated.
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar (USD).
Pin, cash and credit card:
Pins : You can pin in almost all towns and cities and at the airport.
Cash: Some locations are a bit remote, so it’s helpful to have cash on hand.
Credit card: Credit cards are very common (more so than debit cards) and you can actually pay anywhere with them. You may also have to show some form of identification. Take your debit card and your credit card with you.
An overview of available ATMs and places where you can pay by credit card can be found at www.mastercard.com . We recommend that you bring an extra debit card and/or credit card for emergencies. A PIN is always required to use a credit card abroad.
Misuse of debit cards and/or skimming is a worldwide problem and many banks have now disabled debit card payments abroad. If you travel outside of Europe, make sure that you can withdraw money outside of Europe with your debit card. Ask your bank whether your bank card is set up correctly and how you can adjust it to ‘world’ if desired.
The recommended amount of pocket money for this trip is €300 per person per week. This amount is an average of what travelers have spent during this trip in recent years on meals and drinks, additional excursions, entrance fees, any local airport taxes and gratuities. Of course, your own spending pattern also determines this. Souvenirs are therefore not included. Various (optional) excursions are possible during the trip, which you can book on site (with the help of the tour guide). If it is better to book an excursion in advance, this is stated in the itinerary and on the booking form.
Some examples of expenses during this trip:
|Personal expenses: food and drinks (for the whole trip)
|Gratuities (excl. local guide)
|About $5 – $20 per activity
|Tip local guide**
|About $10 – $15 per day
|Other optional excursions and entrance fees
|– Baseball match
|About $25 or more
|– Biking through Yosemite NP
|– Stratosphere Las Vegas
|– Mountain bike Moab
**Tip local guide:
Contrary to what is stated below as standard for our tours, the tip guideline for US tour guides is USD 7 to USD 10 per person per day. In Europe we see tips as a token of appreciation for good service, but not an obligation. America is the country where tipping is not only customary but necessary. For many people who work in the tourism industry, tips are an important part of their income. This has to do with how people are paid in the US, often this is no more than a small minimum wage supplemented by tips. A distinction is made between two different types of tip. First of all you have the so-called ‘gratuity’, a tip that you should actually see as an almost mandatory surcharge. If you are extremely satisfied with the service or if a special service has been provided, you can tip extra. This is a tip on top of the usual gratuity.
These are the target amounts as known in January 2022. These can of course change in the course of the year. In addition, the exchange rate of the dollar and local currency may have changed and the prices of excursions and activities may be different.
During AIA Tours Most of the meals are included. When they are not, we will visit casual dining places. On tour everyone helps out with shopping,cooking, preparing things for breakfast/dinner and also washing dishes and tidying up. Your tour guide will explain the process during the welcome meeting.
Big bigger Biggest! Like many things in the United States, the food and drinks here also come in larger portions. If you take a soft drink at a restaurant, don’t be alarmed when your glass is taken away and you get a new one. In the United States you get free refills, which means that you don’t have to pay extra when your glass is refilled. It is also normal to ask for a doggy bag when you have not been able to finish food, so don’t hesitate to do this.
Because the US is such a large country and people from all kinds of cultures live there, the type of food varies considerably per region. There’s also the typical American stuff, of course, like burgers, tater tots, s’mores, buffalo wings, apple pie, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese.
The food in the area you are going to on this trip has influences from the Native Americans, Latin America and the cowboys. Breakfast specialties include breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, which roughly translates to cowboy eggs. A lot of cooking is done with corn, beans, avocados, chili, cheese and rice. In California they like to use fresh ingredients and food trucks are popular.
Language & Culture:
Language: The official language in America is English. Everywhere in America you can go well with English and communication is therefore no problem. The southern states have many inhabitants who are originally from Central or South American countries. It therefore happens that many people speak Spanish in the southern parts of California. About 176 native languages are spoken in America, such as the Navajo of the Navjao Indians. During this trip you will visit the state of Utah where the Navjao Indians live.
Culture: Due to the many immigrants who have settled there over the years, the United States has become a melting pot of cultures. Still, there are some things that are useful to know before the trip. As with the tip for the local guide, it is also customary in a restaurant to tip more than you are used to from the EU. In the US this percentage is between 15 and 20%. If you eat out with a large group, this is often already added to the bill. American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey are popular sports. When you are greeted by an American, they will often ask how you are doing (also with strangers). It’s polite to ask this back. Race, religion or politics are generally not discussed in public.
What do I take with me when I travel?
On site, transportation is often part of the adventure. Travel by (private) bus, truck, boat, train, all-terrain vehicle; it’s all possible during a AIA Tour. Because the luggage space in these means of transport is often limited, we do not recommend taking a hard suitcase with you. It is best to choose a flexible backpack, sports bag or soft suitcase. In addition, take a critical look at what you really need when traveling, experience shows that you quickly take too much with you. Because you are responsible for carrying your luggage to the accommodation, the following applies in this case: less is more!
Airlines usually allow 1 piece of checked baggage of up to 20 kilograms. For domestic flights, some airlines have a lower baggage limit. This is then stated in the ‘flight info’ tab, under the flight information heading. We advise you to put on essential items, such as medication and walking shoes, or to put them in your hand luggage.
It is important to know that a pillow is not part of the camping equipment. We advise you to bring a (small inflatable) pillow if you like to use it. Of course, a pillow can also be purchased on site.
Because the temperatures can vary quite a bit during this trip, it is useful to bring layered clothing: clothes that you can put on over each other when it cools down and take off quickly in warmer weather. A warm sweater and warm sleeping bag are necessary at all times; the weather is very changeable in these northern regions. A beautiful summer day can suddenly turn to inclement weather and colder temperatures. Furthermore, you need hiking boots with a good profile and firmness around the ankles, mountain boots are not necessary.
There are no specific dress codes in the United States. You can wear what you feel comfortable in.
What do you definitely need:
- Travel documents: see Passport & Visa
- Daypack for hikes and excursions
- Clothing: think especially of layers, swimwear, raincoat, warm sweater, sweater or fleece for cold evenings
- Towel (quick-drying), beach towel
- Footwear: well broken-in (important!) walking shoes, slippers for the shower
- Accessories: hat/cap, sunglasses, (head) flashlight
- Travel pharmacy: sunscreen, insect repellent
- Warm sleeping bag (3-4 seasons)
What is useful to take with you:
- Flightbag (protective cover for backpack or bag), also handy against dust
- Moneybelt/bum bag
- Refillable drinking bottle (saves plastic waste)
- Bag for small purchases (saves plastic waste)
- Mat is not necessarily necessary, but if you like to lie comfortably and you have a (self-inflating) mat, then definitely take it with you.
Photography, video and charging:
You need the right plug to charge your electrical devices during your trip. It is useful to check in advance whether a world plug is necessary. An overview of the type of sockets in each country can be found via this link . In addition, it is always handy to have a spare set of batteries and a power bank with you.
Travel healthily and safely
The purchase of sufficient mouth caps, disinfectant and two self-tests per person per week is mandatory and the responsibility of each participant. It is recommended to bring your own thermometer. Face masks may be mandatory on flights and many other places. Please note that local authorities may also require us to wear face masks on our own bus. For more information about our protocols, check out our Covid Page .
We recommend that you bring a modest travel pharmacy with you. This includes painkillers, disinfectants, sunscreen, (blister) plasters, remedies for fever, diarrhea, constipation, insect bites and motion sickness. In addition, tick tweezers and ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts, against dehydration) are recommended. Our tour guides also have a limited first aid kit with them.
Check your travel insurance!
The costs of medical care abroad or an unexpected flight home can be enormous. If you travel well be insured, so you avoid high costs and unforeseen accidents . That is why we make individual travel insurance mandatory.
AIA organizes adventurous active tours. For some travelers, the adventure consists of activities such as rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, sandboarding, hot air ballooning, mountain biking, or snorkeling. Where we offer these types of activities (optional), we have taken the utmost care in finding reliable partners with a high standard of safety. However, even with proper precautions and good partners, these remain risky and unpredictable activities. If we do not offer these activities at certain destinations, it is for good reason. If you decide to undertake such an activity yourself, you do so at your own risk. Always inquire whether your travel insurance offers coverage for these activities.
Safety on the road:
The condition of the road network and the road behavior of other road users is of lower quality and less predictable than in Europe. This carries some risk. We use extensively tested vehicles and trained and experienced drivers. The drivers and local partners meet the criteria we have set and are regularly tested to minimize the risks.
During some of our trips we offer the possibility of a bicycle tour or bicycle rental. Of course you could be a very experienced cyclist, but you should take into account that the roads and other road users abroad are less prepared for cyclists. Follow the directions and regulations of the tour guide, be extra alert and drive defensively.
Open water swimming:
During many of our trips you have several options to take a refreshing dip or swim in a lake, river or the sea. Because you are swimming in unfamiliar territory, you must take the necessary precautions. Before you decide to go swimming somewhere, we recommend that you always consult the tour guide in connection with, for example, strong currents that we are not used to in the EU. Always check whether safety information is provided in the form of, for example, warning flags. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t swim alone or at night.
In the United States (local) organizations offer rafting opportunities. Rafting, even with good precautions, always remains a risky and unpredictable sport. We therefore do not offer rafting in our tours. If you want to book a rafting excursion yourself, it is at your own risk. If you go rafting, always inquire whether your travel insurance covers this.
In the western US our summer is 9 hours (California, Nevada) and 8 hours (Utah, Arizona) earlier than in the Certain parts of Europe.
Contact with the home front:
You can make mobile calls and send text messages from the United States, but the costs are quite high outside the European Union. When you arrive in the country, you will receive a text message from your provider with the rates. The most economical way to communicate with the home front is via Wi-Fi (WhatsApp messages, WhatsApp calls or e-mail). In most hotels you can use the Wi-Fi network. Please note that the connection can sometimes be slow, drop out or sometimes not work. In the cities, of course, the internet is available everywhere. There is also mobile coverage in many places, but by no means all mobile European – certainly not the older ones – are suitable for the American network. A card can be sent via the post office and normally arrives about two weeks later.
Make sure that those who stay at home are always aware of both your itinerary and flight details. We do not send a list of the hotels where we stay during the trip because they sometimes change and the rooms are often booked under a different name. In case of an emergency, we are available 24 hours a day for both travelers and those staying at home. Therefore do not call the hotel but AIA Tours . During office hours you can call us on 1 (925) 378-3193 Outside office hours you will be forwarded to our emergency service or you can call our emergency number directly: