Do you have a list of references?
We are happy to email, fax or snail mail you a long list of past participants who will offer honest insight to their experiences. In fact, we recommend you always ask for references from whichever company you are considering.
What kind of experience do I need for a guided trip?
There is nothing more elementary than walking. Hiking is not a technical sport; you need only to be willing to put one foot in front of the other for several hours at time. The most important things are being in good physical condition, having a pack that fits correctly, wearing boots that won’t hurt your feet or give you blisters, and having the positive mind set needed for sustained physical effort.
That being said, hiking in the mountains can involve hiking on mud, snow, and scree (loose rock). Some terrain can be rugged, with very steep inclines as well as descents, and footing can be precarious. Some sections of trails can be open and what we call “airy,” meaning the trail may fall away to one side. Some routes may involve short sections of fixed ladders or hand cables. For some of our more strenuous trips, like the Haute Route, or Norway’s Jotunheimen Hut Hike, it can be advantageous to know what your level of confidence is in these sorts of trail situations.
What kind of experience do I need for a self-guided trip?
Self-guided trips are a wonderful option for experienced hikers. Those interested in a self-guided option should be comfortable hiking on wide variety of trail conditions, reading maps, using a compass and finding their way in the mountains under a variety of weather conditions. It is most important to know your own abilities and be able to exercise the good judgment necessary to your safety.
How fit do I need to be to take one of your trips?
If you are in reasonably good shape, participate in some sort of routine exercise, and are used to sustained physical effort, you should be fine on most of our trips. Of course, focused training prior to your departure will enhance your enjoyment of your trip. You should arrive already in shape for your trip, not hoping your trip will get you in shape.
We send each trip participant information on what you need to do to get ready for your trip. For those of you who would like the structure of a training program designed especially for the specific trip in which you are participating, check out Fit for Trips.
What are your groups usually like?
Generally, we find our groups are a nice balance between solo travelers, couples and friends or family members traveling together. Most of trip members fall between the ages of 45 and 65, though we also get a fair number of younger and older hikers, as well as families with teenagers.
Most of our trips are slightly more strenuous than similar trips run by other companies because, for the most part, our trips are not luggage-supported. This means we tend to get younger, more fit hikers as well as older but more experienced hikers. All share the sensibilities particular to this style of travel, which makes for a high level of congeniality (i.e., fun).
What if I am traveling alone?
Guided trips are a wonderful way for single travelers to participate in the sorts of trips they would not undertake on their own. They can provide a congenial social context and are great way to meet like-minded travelers.
We believe single or solo travelers should not be penalized for choosing to travel on their own. Our Land Costs are based on double occupancy. For solo travelers who prefer private accommodations when possible, we offer a Single Supplement. For solo travelers willing to share we will pair you up with a roommate of the same gender. Unlike most other companies, we will not charge what is referred to a Forced Single Supplement if you are willing to share but we are unable to provide you with a roommate.
Are your trips appropriate for children?
For our guided hut-to-hut or inn-to-inn trips the minimum age is 12. Young hikers should be able to carry a small pack weighing 10-15 pounds and have some experience doing multi-hour hikes.
For our self-guided hikers, we rely on parents to assess their child’s capabilities and their willingness to undertake a hiking trip. Hut-to-hut hikes can really appeal to a young hikers’ sense of imagination and adventure; however, they are not appropriate for very small children or infants. If you have a young family, a hotel-based trip may be most appropriate. Please call us if you’d like to discuss what options might best suit your family.
Why do some of your trips not have daily luggage transfer?
There are several reasons why most of our trips, particularly those in mountains, are not vehicle supported, none of them having to do with cost cutting. Anyone can arrange for vehicle support, and many are certainly willing to pay the extra cost.
For us, it has to do with valuing a traditional approach, and the heightened sense of connection and accomplishment that comes with this simple physical endeavor of traveling by foot with just a few essentials. Just as importantly, it has to do with our respect for our natural world and wanting to reduce our impact where we can.
What about extra luggage I won’t need during the hike?
For trips that are not vehicle supported, any extra luggage you have will be securely stored and will meet you at the hotel at the end of your trip.
Do I really need to buy Trip Cancellation Insurance?
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. While it may be difficult to foresee your plans being disrupted, it does happen. Trip insurance is an extra cost, but we urge you to consider the investment you are making in your trip and how you might feel if you lost that investment.
Not only will trip cancellation insurance reimburse non-refundable airfares and non-refundable land costs in the event you find it necessary to cancel, either prior or during a trip, due to injury, personal or family illness or emergencies, it can also cover costs incurred due to travel delays, lost or delayed luggage, accidents/illnesses, and emergency evacuations from remote areas. Additionally, should your traveling companion find it necessary to cancel for a reason which is covered in your policy, travel insurance can cover your costs should you decide to cancel, or if you decide to continue it will cover the costs of any single supplements. Once you have registered for one of our trips we will send you a packet of information, including information on trip cancellation insurance. It is possible to purchase travel/trip cancellation insurance policies online or through any insurance agency or travel agency as well. We also recommend that before purchasing your insurance, you read the policy carefully and have a clear understanding of what is covered and how the coverage works.
How far in advance should I register for a trip?
Whether you are considering a guided or a self-guided trip, we recommend that you register for a trip as soon as you are sure you would like to participate. For most of guided trips we only have one departure date and popular trips can fill quickly. For self-guided trips, some locations have limited options for accommodations and these too can fill quickly.
What happens if my trip is canceled?
It does happen on occasion that we find ourselves in the position of having to cancel a trip. If this happens, we will refund deposits or payments made to us immediately. We will also do our best to perverse your vacation plans by either offering one of our own trips as an alternative or by locating other companies that may run a similar trip, during similar dates, at relatively the same land cost.
Out of respect for our hotels and huts and for our trip members valued vacation time, if we cancel a trip due to insufficient registrations, we generally like to do so 60 days out from the start date. This allows accommodations the opportunity to rebook and it allows those registered for the canceled trip ample time to make alternate plans. However, Distant Journeys is not responsible for any expenses incurred by the participant as a result of such cancellation.