Frequently Asked Questions
Why should we travel with Academic Expeditions?
Academic Expeditions was created by experienced educators and leaders in the student travel industry who consistently maintain the core philosophy that all-inclusive custom educational travel is simply one of the best tools available to help students better understand their own vital role and responsibilities within this world. We believe that there is no better way to understand our past, present, and future than through educational travel and the experiences and memories that it brings. We take our role and the trust given to us for you and your family’s safety, enjoyment, and education with sincerity and are proud that we can offer such high quality custom educational tour programming that is committed to quality, integrity, and value.
What type of tours do you offer?
We offer endless options of customized educational tours. Many of our school groups focus on US history, gravitating toward the cities of the East, but we also do environmental science and native culture trips to various National Parks. We also customize trips to International destinations such as South America and Europe. Browse our Destinations
page for more details. We do not offer prefabricated itineraries, instead we focus on creating a customized itinerary specific to your groups wants and needs. The common theme within all of our tours is the sincerity in our approach to safety, learning, and the quality of our amenities. Our experienced and professional staff will work with you through the entire process to insure that your exact and specific tour goals are not only met, but exceeded.
What level of service and quality can I expect from your tours?
The best available. Always. We strive to make your trip not only enjoyable and educational, but also comfortable. Only newer model motor coaches from insured and experienced operators are considered. All come with restrooms, air-conditioning, video, and reclining seats. Our meals are all premium quality and generally include a variety of Historic Inns, Taverns, and finer dining experiences. Accommodations are all of the highest quality and all are well known names such as Marriott, Sheraton, and Doubletree, located close to where you want to be. All of our licensed Expedition Leaders are experienced educators who work with your group to ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime. They stay with your group from the moment you step off the plane until you get back on to head home.
Are your trips more expensive because of everything you offer?
Actually, no. We are a privately owned company that doesn’t need to answer to stock holders' bottom-lines, and with the advantages of mobile technology, our family-oriented team of versatile professionals avoids corporate overhead costs. This allows us to offer better quality tours at a more reasonable price and value than many of our competitors. We never have, nor ever will skimp on the quality of the goods or services we offer and will strive to keep our prices competitive and affordable.
How can we bring the cost of the trip down?
One important way that clients can save on their trip cost is by booking as early as possible. This allows us to purchase airline tickets and hotels farther in advance and generally results in lower prices that we can pass on to you. Another important way to decrease trip price is to increase the number of travel participants. The more travelers you bring, the better able we are to lower the price.
What does the trip price include?
The tour price is all-inclusive. All meals, transportation, accommodations, guides, entrance fees, gratuities, security, taxes, transfers, airfares, and insurance are included. We like to say that the only things you need to pay for are your souvenirs. The only exception to this rule is airline baggage fees. Volatility among airlines has made this very hard to budget as not all carriers have them, and so far it only applies to domestic flights.
How serious are you about the educational aspects of your expeditions?
Educating our travelers is the primary goal of our expeditions. Travel and education are blended into a model that truly opens our travelers’ eyes and minds to new ideas. Wherever we go, our own 24 hour Academic Expeditions tour leaders work in conjunction with local educators, guides, naturalists and park rangers, who really know the region, to present information in a fresh and unique way. All of our customized educational content meets school based curriculum guidelines and is designed to meet teacher expectations and student learning objectives. Our curriculum is based on national and/or state standards and employs higher order critical thinking and develops real life connections for students.
Do you use “step-on” or part-time guides as well as full-time guides?
Our own Academic Expeditions leaders are present during every moment of the tour for your added safety, education and sense of well-being. Their relational engagement in and in-between cities, meals, and hotels will add a sense of security and continuity to the educational information they also provide. While our full time guides are licensed and do lead the whole trip, there are several sites (i.e. US Capitol, Gettysburg Battlefield) where it is only permitted to use their own resident guides.
How is a custom expedition different than other tours?
Rather than offer the same expeditions to everyone, we recognize that different groups have different needs and desires. We work with you to create your own custom trip that feels right and works well for your group. Suggestions and options are always made, but the final choices of how a trip is arranged are up to our groups. Many tour operators simply offer dates for pre-arranged departures and trips with little or no say in how a trip is organized. Academic Expeditions creates each expedition from the ground up and customizes as much as the client wishes. We feel this is the way that fulfilling travel should be.
How do you provide security and safety on your trips?
Safety is our highest priority. We will not run a trip if we feel the safety of our clients and guides is compromised. All of our expedition leaders carry mobile phones and are in contact with our office several times daily. All clients are also provided with a 24-hour toll free number that can be used for any emergency. Student groups are required to wear a name badge with this number printed on it. This phone line is always staffed by someone who is familiar with your group and can respond to any situation. We also use top quality hotels and transportation staffed only by trusted personnel that we have worked with in the past. Our accommodations are always in better and safer areas and for student groups we hire trusted private security on our floors throughout the nighttime hours.
Is the included travel insurance really that important and may I view it?
Our belief is that comprehensive travel protection is so essential that we automatically include it with each expedition that we operate. This policy includes medical and accident coverage, pre-trip cancellation, trip interruption, evacuation, and baggage loss and delay. It truly is a comprehensive package offered by TripMate Insurance, a leader in the tour insurance industry. We provide an on-line insurance pamphlet to every participant. Please visit our Insurance Page
for full details.
Do you also carry Liability Insurance?
Academic Expeditions® carries a $10,000,000 Professional and General Liability Insurance Policy through the Steadfast Insurance Group, a standard in tour and travel insurance coverage. This policy offers our clients an additional layer of protection and confidence in the travel products that we offer. The document is available here
for viewing and downloading as needed for proof of Liability Coverage.
Am I able to purchase my own flight for a trip and pay a reduced Land-Only price?
Yes, if a number of conditions are met. We understand many families have air miles or flight credit saved up that they’d prefer to use and save money on our all-inclusive trip price. Or sometimes, a certain student is not able to take part in the whole trip, and needs only a one way rather than a round trip. We are happy to work with families needing these unique arrangements, but any time an individual or family makes their own separate flight arrangements from the group booking, there is the potential of delays or missed connections, and it is the family’s financial and logistic responsibility to join the group without interrupting the larger group’s itinerary. Thus, these conditions must be met:
- First, ultimately the lead teacher or administrator for the group must give you permission to diverge from the established itinerary. We defer to them first.
- Booking your own flight – the SAME itinerary: The ideal situation with someone arranging their own flight is that they get on the exact same flight as the group, so there are no concerns about timing a meet up or needing an additional adult chaperone. This may seem simple enough, but since we as a large group are holding so many seats on those flights and reducing the available capacity, it is unlikely that those same flights will show up as your cheaper or eligible for rewards flights. So if saving money is your intention, you may be forced to fly a different airline / itinerary and that could create problems for you joining the group.
- Booking your own flight – a SEPARATE itinerary. If you don’t buy the exact same flight as the group, it is possible that there will be a flight change or delay that prevents you from meeting with the rest of the group in time. The tour group is in NO way responsible for waiting or going out of their way to connect with anyone who buys their own flight. You could get stranded and it will be at your own expense to join or depart the group to accommodate your own flight schedule. Thus this option is ONLY available for families: minors who are traveling with a parent or guardian. For unaccompanied minors, you are only permitted to book your own flight if it is the same itinerary as the group flight.
- DO NOT purchase your own flights until 3 - 5 months out. Reason being, with group bookings it is common that our group reservation will change times, and even the airports. So the flights listed on the itinerary more than 5 months out may change to a different airline and airport, leaving you stuck with a bad flight choice if you already matched the old itinerary.
- If your own flight is purchased separately prior to AE finalizing the flight names (2 months out) we will reimburse the family our flight price, TBD for each group.
- Anyone wanting to fly with the group on one leg of the itinerary, but have their own date/destination for the other leg, may inquire to do so. Each case is handled individually. Since many of our group bookings are roundtrips, it may not be possible for us to only cancel half of it. A one way can sometimes cost as much or more as a roundtrip, and may result in an increased price to make the change. If your plans require purchasing your own one way flight to meet or depart the group, all of the above conditions apply. Must be purchased by 2 months out.
What if I need to cancel my trip or substitute someone in my place?
All details regarding cancellation or substitution are clearly outlined in your registration form, and our included insurance covers trip cancellation for legitimate emergencies and interruptions. We understand that circumstances can change. We always attempt to work with our clients individually and find the best solutions for each situation. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any further questions.
How do I pay for my trip?
Payment is arranged by our company and is detailed on the online registration form that you fill out. Some organizations and schools choose to collect the funds directly from participants and forward the payments to our office while others elect to have clients billed directly by Academic Expeditions payment invoice system. We offer a variety of payment plan options that you are welcome to choose from that fit your own particular comfort level.
How do I register?
Talk to your tour organizer. He or she will have our private registration link or registration form and all of the other important information you will need to start planning your participation.
What is your company’s professional affiliation?
Academic Expeditions has been a leader in customized educational travel since 2001. We are incorporated in New York State as an S corporation filed as Academic Expeditions, Inc. Academic Expeditions is a privately owned company and is fully licensed and insured to the maximum extent of the law governing tour operators. We are proud to be a member in good standing of the National Tour Association (NTA) the Student Youth Tour Association (SYTA), the American Bus Association (ABA), Washington D.C. Guild of Tour Guides, and the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN). We also hold a California Department of Justice Seller of Travel certification number. These organizations demand the highest professional standards in the travel industry and require its members to maintain a consistently high standard of integrity and service.
What if I have more questions?
Please visit our Contact Us
page for general inquiries or visit Our Team
page to reach out to specific staff with more specific questions. We are always happy to help with any needs and consider this a vital link to our continued success. Personal references from past participants are also always cheerfully provided. We truly appreciate your interest in traveling with us and look forward to helping you create a wonderful trip that is perfect for you and your group and that enables you to “Learn the World”. Thank you!