You asked, and I'm answering. This is my Trek America FAQ's post which will hopefully answer all of your questions and help any of you who are thinking about booking or going on. If I have skipped your question or not answered something that you'd like to know, just give me a quick tweet (click one of the contact buttons to the right or left) and I'll be happy to help!
Because this post got rather lengthy, I've split it into two parts.
What made you travel alone?
Honestly? Because nobody else could get the time or work/university. Well that's the main reason. The other reason is because I wanted to do something independent and quite adventurous. A lot of my friends have been on Gap Years or took part in Camp America alone and managed fine. In fact, they had all raved about travelling alone, so I thought I might as well give it a try.
Couldn't you have started with a tenting holding to ease yourself in?
I've never been the camping kind of girl. I absolutely love the outdoors and will walk miles with my dog in the Peak District but I like to come home to a proper mattress, indoor plumbing, electricity whenever/wherever I want and heating/air-con. Call my high maintenance, I really don't mind. I love my modern luxuries. As this is supposed to be a holiday, I didn't see why I should put myself through something I didn't really enjoy. As for travelling round another country, if I'm going to do it, you might as go the whole way. American's speak English too, so it's really just like staying in England, but with the bonus of better weather!
Why did you choose Trek America? Why this trip?
I wanted the independence of travelling alone, but not the hassle of organising my entire trip myself. Trek America meant I could have the best of both worlds and travel alone, but then also as a group with other trekkers. It meant I wasn't completely stuck on my own and had the comfort of somebody being able to help me get the most out of my trip. The Western BLT really appealed to me. I could only get 10 days off work at one time, so that did limit the choice of trips, but as this trip covered so many places I wanted to see, it was like a match made in heaven. Because it was only 7 nights on the official Trek, it also meant that if I didn't enjoy it, it wouldn't be as bad as being on one of the longer Trek America tours.
Is it easy to book a Trek America trip?
Super easy! I know some people on my tour did it over the phone, but I just did it only. All I did was click on what tour and dates I wanted to do, and complete a quick form. It was similar to placing an order with ASOS! What's great with Trek America though is that the staff genuinely want to make your trip the best possible so will be happy to help and answer any questions.
How much does a Trek America trip cost and what do I have to pay up front?
I'm not going to lie, this isn't cheap. I had to save like mad to be able to afford this trip. The actual tour cost just over £900 which includes all travel and hotels whilst on the tour. My flights were £900ish too. I also stayed a total of 4 extra nights in hotels. With Trek America though you only have to pay a deposit up front, and the rest is due at a later date. I actually paid a little off each month every time I got paid, so I didn't miss the money too much. I will say this though, it is worth every single penny.
What did you do about flights?
Some people booked their flights themselves, but I just went through Trek America. The reason for this is because I didn't have to pay for my flights completely up front and the cost was just added on to my account, so I could pay it off with my Trek. It also let's you amend your booking if you need to change anything.
You stayed extra days before and after the Trek. What hotels did you stay in? Did everyone stay after?
I stayed in the Gateway hotels recommended by Trek America which were pretty decent. They are good location for the airport and exploring and, again, have the added perk of not having to pay up front. I would suggest booking at least one night in the hotel before and after the trek as they start early in the morning, and after the Trek you won't want to say goodbye straight away. On my tour there were a couple of us who started in LA a couple of days before, but the majority came the day before. There were definitely more people staying on in San Francisco. Again, the vast majority were in Gateway hotels but there were others in ones they'd booked themselves. It wasn't a problem as we all still met up. I think if you are only staying or two days, make use of the Gateway hotels, but if you want a couple extra nights in the start/end location, you might be best looking for a hotel in the centre of the action.
What did it feel like being in strange cities on your own? Did you feel safe?
I was the first to arrive in LA at the Gateway hotel and I'll happily admit that when I checked in to the hotel and sat in my room, it hit me how alone I actually was. I did have a bit of a panic but a shower knocked some sense into me and I realised how lucky I was. I tended to travel by taxis to main areas and then walk around as I didn't fancy getting lost. I also made sure I had things plan so I didn't waste time and didn't feel isolated. As for feeling safe, I didn't go to any "bad" areas and didn't really stay out late at night on my own, but in the hotels I felt absolutely fine.
Did you speak to anyone on your Trek before you left?
Yes, quite a bit actually. Trek America have this thing called Trek Live, and we all started talking on there. A Facebook group was then made and it was later moved to WhatsApp. There were a handful of people who I hadn't spoke to, and they got on amazing with the group, there was no cliques or anything. It was really nice though to know a few faces and names, and have someone to ask questions to. Sharing our excitement pre-trek was part of the build up and we even spoke when we were all in the airport!
Next week I'm answering your On Trek questions and Post-Trek Questions, so if you have any, it's not too late to ask them!