Q: Do I need to go on an expedition with a friend or relative?
A: In almost every case, young men and young women go on our expeditions without knowing anyone else on the expedition. It is not unusual for a single expedition to have participants from more than 15 different states. This is one of the wonderful aspects of our program because you will develop close friendships with great teens from all over. We find that these new friendships continue long after the expedition. You would be amazed at how many expedition friends end up being college roommates.
Q: Where does the expedition start and end and what transportation I am responsible for?
A: The Expedition Page lists a “Trip Start/End Point” for each expedition. This is usually Los Angeles (LAX) or Miami (MIA) International Airport. Each participant is responsible for their own transportation to the airport the trips is leaving from in time to meet the group and depart on the international flight together. Each person is also responsible to arrange transportation back home from that same airport at the conclusion of the expedition. Usually this means each participant will need to purchase their own round trip air ticket from their home airport to the airport their trip leaves from. However, If the participant lives close enough, they may choose to drive to/from the departure airport. The international air ticket is included in the cost of the trip and will be purchased by HEFY. HEFY will send each participant the exact international flight times in March. Please wait until you have the international flight details to book your domestic air so that you can make sure that you will arrive early enough at the trip start airport to make the international connection.
Q: I don't think I can come up with that much money, what do you suggest?
A: There have been many participants who have gone on our expeditions at very little or even no cost to themselves. They have done this by raising funds for HEFY. Fund raisers receive a discount on the cost of their trip and can even earn a free trip based on reaching fund raising goals. See our Fund Raising Information for the details. Of course, the sooner you start the easier it will be. To help you, there is also a fundraising packet available. This packet contains hints, sample letters and other ideas to make the fund raising easy. It also explains that Humanitarian Experience for Youth is a non-profit organization and the donations to HEFY are tax-deductible.
Q: What is included in the trip price?
A: It covers round trip international airfare from the trip departure airport, food, lodging, local transportation and tours. About $400-500 of it goes directly toward the cost of the construction project.
Q: What costs are not included in the trip price?
1. Round trip domestic airfare/transportation from your home to the trip departure airport.
2. Passport, visa and vaccination charges (US Passports cost $100, a Brazil visa can cost as much as $220)
3. Incidental expenses including telephone, laundry, snacks and extra drinks (we recommend about $50)
4. Souvenirs (we ask each participant to not bring more than $100 for shopping)
Q: Can I be over 19 and still go on the trip?
A:You can go if the trip start date is before your 20th birthday and you are single.
Q: How much luggage can I bring?
A: Due to the limited luggage capacity of the local buses and vans HEFY requests that participants only bring one carry-on and one suitcase weighing no more than 50 pounds and up to 62" total inches-that's the height, width, and depth added together.
Q: Will I need to bring spending money for food?
A: The trip cost already includes three group meals and beverages per day however participants can bring spending money should they want to stop for a drink or ice cream during the trip. We suggest that you bring about $50 for telephone, laundry, personal items, snacks and drinks.
Q: Can I use my frequent flyer miles and arrange my own international flight?
A: If you can arrange to be on the same flight it is permitted. Traveling on a separate flight is not permitted because unaccompanied minors on international flights may not be accepted by the airlines. It is also preferable to travel as a group because the group gets to know each other during those travel hours together. You certainly can use mileage to purchase your domestic ticket. Just make sure you have your international flight reservation from us first so you can make sure that the connections will work.
Q: What about calling home?
A: We encourage you to bring some spending money (about $15) to buy international calling cards. We make it a point to provide time for the participants to call home at least once during the trip - usually on Sundays (especially Father's Day). Contact with home is very limited though, so don't expect to hear from them more than once during the trip. Expedition updates and pictures (if possible) will be sent out by the Trip Leader at least once a week.
Q: Will I have a place to wash my clothes there?
A: This varies from expedition to expedition but usually we will have a local individual available to do laundry once during the trip. This laundry service usually costs about $10 depending on the amount of clothes. We recommend that you bring enough underwear and socks for 9-10 days.
Q: Will I be covered by trip insurance?
A: Yes, HEFY will provide you with coverage for short-term medical emergencies and problems while traveling. However, HEFY requires you have your own medical insurance just in case you have a problem that requires continued medical treatment after you return (if you don't currently have insurance we can provide you with information to obtain a short-term policy at a low cost).
Q: What is the exchange rate and should I change some money before leaving? Should I bring travelers checks?
A: The exchange rate changes daily. You don't need to change money before leaving; you can change it when you arrive. Most places will take American dollars; you just have to be aware of the exchange rate to determine the price. It is difficult and inconvenient to find places that will cash travelers' checks. We recommend that you only bring US currency.
Q: Will I need a passport?
A: Yes, you will need a passport to visit any country outside the US. Passports are good for ten years, cost about $100, require that you send in your birth certificate and take about 2 months to process. Forms and instructions will be sent to you when you apply to go on our expeditions.
Q: If the trip is overseas will I need to speak the language?
A: No. Some knowledge is helpful, as is a dictionary, but our trip leaders and alliance partners are fluent.
Q: Can I delay my return and spend more time touring the country?
A: The answer to this question is complex. First, if you tour for more time, the IRS may consider your trip to be primarily for tourism and you will loose the tax deduction for the amount you paid toward your trip. (Contributions to HEFY from your unrelated friends, neighbors, employers, etc will still be deductible).Second, if you are under 18, you would have to be accompanied by your parent or an adult (21 or up) with guardianship transferred from your parents. If you are 18 or above you would still have to be accompanied by another person of 18 or above with the approval of your parents.Third, this decision would have to be made at least 3 months in advance of the trip to be able to reschedule your return flight for a different time. You would also have to pay for any increase in airfare for not returning with the group. Please contact us if you are confirmed on one of our trips and are considering this option.
Q. How do I know where to meet my group when I get to the departure airport?
A. Our groups generally meet at the departure gate for their international flight. However, your trip leader will call you in the weeks preceding your departure and provide you with that information in addition to other important trip details.