Philosophy Of Travel
Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Walking Tree Travel designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.
Walking Tree Travel stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.
In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for our students, teachers, and staff, Program Leaders and Country Directors follow strict guidelines when deciding on lodging, making reservations, and assigning program participants to rooms.
Students will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with Walking Tree. Group Organizers and Program Leaders will be roomed separately from each other and from other students. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled.
Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.
San José: Hotel La Guaria
Pura Suerte: Pura Suerte
Uvita: El Tecal
Tuition & Fundraising
Program Tuition Includes
Program Tuition Excludes: Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.*
*NOTE: If you are traveling on a program that is completed before September 1, 2018 your basic travel insurance is included. If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have any supplemental coverage beyond what your family’s package may provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.
International Airfare: In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.
Standards of Behavior
WTT provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- Breaking group rules
These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with WTT.
Passport & Visa Check
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to Costa Rica.
NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.
Please contact us for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.
Health and Safety
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Costa Rica website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.
Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.
Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.
We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.
While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers while on program, experience has taught us that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we suggest you consider purchasing travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason, loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. Please see a summary of a plan below and follow the link for a more detailed explanation or to purchase the plan for your traveler.
Trip Cancellation Up to 100% of Trip Cost
Reimburses your prepaid, non-refundable expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
Maximum coverage: $100,000.
Trip Interruption Up to 150% of Trip Cost
Reimburses for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home or to continue your trip due to a covered reason. Maximum coverage: $150,000.
Missed Connection $1,600
Reimburses for covered expenses resulting from a covered delay that causes you to miss your scheduled flight or cruise.
Travel Delay $1,600
Receive up to $200 per day per person to cover additional accommodation/travel expenses and lost prepaid expenses due to a departure delay of six or more hours.
Emergency Medical and Dental $50,000
-This primary coverage provides reimbursement for expenses incurred during your trip due to covered medical and dental emergencies. No deductible.
-$750 maximum for emergency dental care.
Baggage Loss/Damage $2,000
Covers loss, damage or theft of baggage and personal effects.
Baggage Delay $600
Covers the reasonable additional purchase of essential items during your trip if your baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier for 24 hours or more. Receipts for emergency purchases are required.
Emergency Medical Transportation $1,000,000
Provides medically necessary transportation to the nearest appropriate facility following a covered injury or illness. Also covers the cost of your transportation back home following a covered injury or illness.
24-Hour Hotline Help Included
Help is just a phone call away with Allianz Global Assistance. Our staff of multilingual problem solvers is available to help you with a medical, legal or travel-related emergency.
*Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Insurance benefits underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101C series or 101P series, depending on your state of residence. Plan(s) may not be available in all jurisdictions. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are marks of AGA Service Company or its affiliates. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of this plan and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson InsuranceCompany. NonInsurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company. Consumer may be responsible for charges incurred from outside vendors for assistance or concierge services. Contact AGA Service Company at 8002848300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or email@example.com.
Global Leadership Curriculum
WTT has developed a curriculum that helps each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame the experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future.
For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.
Learn More About the GLC
To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.
Pre-Program Activity Portal
Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.
Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.
Group Flight Information
Walking Tree will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the group organizer before departure. Nevertheless travelers will need to check in at the airport and we recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure. For details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your teacher/Group Organizer.
DEPARTURE FROM USA
Date: July 23, 2018
Departs: Virginia (DCA) 6:45 AM
Arrives: Florida (FLL) 9:25 AM
Date: July 23,2018
Departs: Florida (FLL) 10:45 AM
Arrives: Costa Rica (SJO) 11:40AM
RETURN TO USA
Date: August 3, 2018
Departs: Costa Rica (SJO) 12:35 PM
Arrives: Florida (FLL) 5:40 PM
Date: August 3, 2018
Departs: Florida (FLL) 7:30 PM
Arrives: Virginia (DCA) 10:00 PM
A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event WTT is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.
WTT is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
To see more about Southwest’s baggage policies, please click here.
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.
WTT will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!
Assistant Costa Rica Country Director
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Carlos is still going after his studies in computer science at UNED and Nursing at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Carlos has been working with Walking Tree Travel since the beginning of 2018, planning and doing logistics for all Costa Rica programs during the summer. During his free time Carlos enjoys reading, researching on new technology and nature, and planning his next trip to a different country. Carlos loves to travel and is passionate about big cities, he has visited Mexico, New York and Panama. These days Carlos is still focused in his studies, technology and giving his best in which ever project comes his way.
Oral Roberts University: B.S. Global Environmental Sustainability, Minor: Psychology
I was born and raised in Laredo, Texas (a.k.a Texico) after my family migrated from Mexico. Growing up, I spoke Spanish at home and learned English at school. I moved to Tulsa to pursue my degree in environmental sustainability and started teaching last year. During college, I was first exposed to teaching on a trip to Guatemala where I taught English for a couple of weeks. I travelled to Brazil for a month on a poverty alleviation trip and from there developed an interest in urban planning and community development. I have travelled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Zambia and Canada along the way.
I currently live in Tulsa where I teach Spanish to crazy teenagers and adopted a beautiful boxer-pit-bull mix dog named Valentina. I highly enjoy camping, backpacking, everything about soccer and meeting new people.
Baldwin-Wallace College – B.A. Studio Art and B.A. Spanish
Cleveland State University – M.A. Spanish with Specialization in Latin American Studies
While at Baldwin-Wallace College, Chela spent a trimester abroad in Central America, studying biology, religion, and Spanish throughout Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Belize. After completing her undergraduate work, she lived in Costa Rica for three years, working for a non-profit and teaching ESL at the university level. Back home in the U.S., Chela has taught Spanish at the middle school, high school, and university levels. Her passions as an educator include girls’ empowerment, fostering character and camaraderie in the classroom, and teaching about global and social issues. Chela is also a freelance photographer, documenting events in an array of settings — from school campuses to the U.S. Open to the United Nations. She enjoys leading and photographing trips, and has traveled with students to Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, and Sweden. When not in the classroom or behind the camera, Chela enjoys going to concerts, comedy shows, and movies.
Universidad Latina, Heredia, Costa Rica – Architecture
Mauricio, or “Mau” as his friends call him, grew up in a small Costa Rican town called Pejibaye surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers. Mauricio attended Costa Rica’s first environmental high school which instilled in him a mentality to help the environment. Ever since he was a kid Mauricio always found himself fixing up and remodeling spaces, which led him to study architecture in the University. His hunger for knowledge and desire to learn about different cultures guided him on various trips to countries such as Colombia, Nicaragua, Belize, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the United States. Mauricio currently lives in Denver, Colorado and has worked in various volunteer organizations in Costa Rica to help the environment and to help combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors. Mauricio is multifaceted person who sings, designs, decorates, constructs and dances, all while traveling down life’s path with a smile on his face in search of learning something new.
Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled correctly. For corrections or edits, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Celia Taylor (Group Organizer)
- Denise Lyons (Group Organizer)
- Jose Reyes (Group Organizer)
- Laura Benitez Arenas (Group Organizer)
- Lauren Games (Group Organizer)
- Luisa Juarez (Group Organizer)
- Ashley Romero
- Alyson Contreras
- Alyssa Cuff
- Amiyah Simpson
- Ana Isabel Flores
- Anthony Vargas
- Asa Selassie
- Brian Ford
- Bruno Hernandez
- Diego Merino-Avalos
- Dionne Smith
- Dorian Clary
- Franklin Arevalo
- Gabriela Cruz
- Gustavo Arellanos Hernandez
- Jaiden Jones
- Jasmine Gallion
- Javier Simpson
- Jazzlyn Avery
- Jibril Davis
- Jonathan Reyes
- Jordyne Boykins
- Kaya Brown
- Kayla Wilson
- Kenneth Carter
- Kimberly Ajanel Pena
- Marc Margarito
- Marvin Buenaventura
- Menelik Workneh
- Milton Avalos Torres
- Paola Almendarez
- Rosalyn Duran
- Thania Moreno
- Vanessa Herrera-Miguel
- Wade Weddington
Community & Project Details
The DCI group will be broken into three sections and travel to one of three neighboring communities which are no more than 15 minutes driving from one another. Project details for all three groups are forthcoming.
San Gerardo de Rivas
San Gerardo de Rivas is situated in the misty mountains above San Isidro de General in the province of San Jose, about three hours south of the capital city. This village of 800 people will host a Walking Tree group for a fourth consecutive year. San Gerardo is a friendly community of coffee and agricultural farmers and has proven itself a perfect fit for an energetic group of young volunteers. Unknown to most travelers, San Gerardo is only occasionally home to foreign visitors and thus provides an idyllic example of rural Costa Rican village life. Set at the foot of the mighty Mt. Chirripo, it also happens to be picturesquely beautiful.
Herradura is a small and very beautiful town situated in a valley near the entrance of Parque Nacional Chirripó, which is home to Costa Rica’s tallest mountain. The nearest sizeable city is San Isidro (Pérez Zeledón), which is located about 20 kilometers, or 45 minutes away. There is a very beautiful river (Rio Blanco) that runs through the center of town and runs parallel of the main road. Walking Tree has been working in Herradura since 2009, and we continue to send groups here because of it’s beautiful scenery, great contacts and creative projects that are proposed. The town has a rustic feel to it, which is amplified by the fact that there is no cell phone service here. Electricity first made its way to Herradura in 1986.
Cannan de Rivas
Cannan de Rivas is situated in the misty mountains above San Isidro de General in the province of San Jose, about three hours south of the capital city. This village of 800 people will host a Walking Tree group for a fourth consecutive year. San Gerardo is a friendly community of coffee and agricultural farmers and has proven itself a perfect fit for an energetic group of young volunteers. Unknown to most travelers, Cannan is only occasionally home to foreign visitors and thus provides an idyllic example of rural Costa Rican village life. Set at the foot of the mighty Mt. Chirripo, it also happens to be picturesquely beautiful.
Living Conditions in our host communities
The heart and soul of our Costa Rica programs is the time in the host village. For the duration of our time in the community, students will live with homestay families where they will significantly improve their Spanish and experience firsthand an intimate snapshot of Costa Rican family life. While we understand the thought of living with another family can be intimidating, we believe that homestays are extremely rewarding. Walking Tree has carefully selected each host family to ensure a safe, nurturing and enriching environment.
Typical homes that are constructed nowadays are made of concrete and cinder blocks with tin roofing. They are made this way in order to withstand earthquakes. Traditionally, houses were made of wood with clay tile roofing. In rural areas, it is much more common to see traditional style housing whereas in the city it is very hard to find. Generally, homes are sized modestly with a living area, kitchen area, cuarto de pilas (utility room) and 2-3 bedrooms. Generally, parents will share a private bedroom, but depending on the size of the family and income, kids may share a bedroom with parents. Kids will often share a bedroom, especially when they are younger. It is considered normal to live with your parents until you get married, meaning that it is not strange for someone in their late twenties or early thirties to live with their parents. It also may be common for elderly family members to live with their children if they cannot take care of themselves. You will find that in small towns, family members will construct their houses very close to their other family members, which creates a greater sense of family within the community.
Kitchens are generally very basic in small towns. Gas or electric countertop stoves are most common nowadays, but you may find that some families still stick to the traditional wood burning stoves. The kitchen will almost always be found within the home unless a wood-burning stove is used. In this case, the kitchen may be partially outside the home. Ovens, toasters and dishwashers are not common in Costa Rican kitchens. All dishes are hand washed. All houses are equipped with electricity, running water and indoor plumbing, but it is important to note that you should not flush toilet paper or other paper products down the toilet. This will clog the toilets and can eventually cause the overflow of septic tanks.
Communication & Blog
Travelers will be able to keep in touch with family and friends at home by using Wifi (when available at hotels and restaurants) via Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.
During the program we keep families and friends updated on the group’s adventures as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, please direct all general inquiries to info@WalkingTree.org. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S. In case of an emergency, please dial 303-997-0310.
To access the group’s blog, click here.
Photos which appear in the blog will become available after the program ends. We will send out a link to the photo gallery, where you will have access to view and download as many of the photos as you like!
What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.
Costa Rica Packing List
6 pairs of underwear
6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
2 long sleeve shirts
1 rain jacket
2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
2 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
1-2 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
1 pair of sandals (Chaco/Teva/Merril sandals are great to have for water activities)
1 pair of work gloves – required for service work
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin
Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.
Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle
1 quick-dry towel
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!