If you are like most students gearing up for travel, you have questions. We have answers!
The Travel Portal is a treasure trove of information, which holds details, tips, and data ranging from flight details to pre-departure forms to packing lists to Home Base addresses and phone numbers...and everything in between! Over the coming weeks, our pre-departure team will be reaching out via email with helpful information on arrival day, packing, required documents, and reminders; however, for those of you who can't wait to get your ducks in a row, our Travel Coordinators have compiled the most common queries for this time of year. Read on!
Q. When will I get my Welcome Kit?
A. We know you’re excited to get a peek at your GLA t-shirt, journal, handbook, and other goodies. Not to worry--we’ll make sure it’s in hand by the time you depart for your program! If you still haven't received your kit two weeks before your program start date, give us a call and we can check the USPS tracking to give you a better idea of when to expect it. Kits typically go out during the month of May, but students traveling later in the summer may get theirs a bit later.
Q. Who will be with my child on the program? I don’t see any information in the Portal.
A. We are still finalizing our staff hiring for the summer--we put our Mentors and Directors through the wringer, requiring a lengthy application, multiple interviews, and a background check before they are officially welcomed to the GLA team.
Once our teams are finalized, the names, photos, and bios of our International staff will be available in the Travel Portal on the “Staff Info” page. (This typically happens throughout April and May.)
You can see other information about arrival day in the Travel Portal under “Flight Info.”
Q. But the airline needs to know who is picking them up before I book. What should I tell them?
A. If you purchased the Unaccompanied Minor service from the airline, please let your Travel Coordinator know and they can give you the details you’ll need regarding pickup. They'll also let in-country staff know, to ensure that they have the proper identification upon pickup. Oftentimes you can book the flight now and let the airline know the details of pickup before travel day when staffing is finalized.
Q. Are these shorts appropriate? What about this top? This swimsuit?
A. If you have to ask....there's a good chance it isn't! The dress code depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. Cultural standards are different from place to place, and dressing like the locals do is our aim. Thin-strapped tanks and short shorts won't ever be the right choice for out in the community, whether it be at the service site or during cultural activities. Two-piece swimwear is generally OK. See the packing list and the “Packing List” page in the Travel Portal for guidelines.
GLA's Packing Inspo Pinterest board also has some helpful examples and suggestions!
Q. What’s the deal with vaccines? Do I need them? ALL of them? Is there a real risk?
A. We defer to the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations on this one! If you’ve already checked the CDC’s recommendations in the Travel Portal under “Vaccinations” and still aren’t sure, we recommend consulting with a travel doctor or travel clinic for the scoop. (It's a good idea to do so regardless!) GLA reps aren’t licensed health providers, so we can't advise on this. We CAN tell you which vaccinations are required for entry for certain countries and which are not.
We do strongly recommend that all travelers be up to date on their childhood immunizations, as diseases that are not common or present in the US (such as measles) can be a very real risk in other parts of the world.
Q. How do I know who's flying with me? Do I have to go alone?
A. You can see other students’ flight details listed in the Travel Portal, on the “Flight Info” page, including where they’re starting from, flight numbers, and times. To see contact details for your fellow travelers and their parents, you will need to log in to your GLA Dashboard.
Don’t have a flight yet and would like to reach out to other families? There are two great ways to go about this: One, log into your Dashboard and access the roster, complete with parent and student emails. Alternately, you can check the country-specific Facebook page (ex. "GLA Ghana") to reach out to those who may be in your session.
Q. Why do I need to turn my forms in so EARLY?
A. We promise, the paperwork due date isn't arbitrary. We are firm believers in planning ahead--you might be surprised at the number of families who only realize that a passport is expired when they pull it out to submit and have to reapply, for example. We’re here to help make sure everything is in order to ensure a smooth and safe journey. It’s also important for our in-country staff to have this information well in advance so that they can properly plan for dietary restrictions, book lodging and excursions, and make other preparations.
Applying for a new passport or can't get in to see the doc until after the deadline has passed? Just let us know! Communicating with your Travel Coordinator is the key.
Still have questions? Give us a call! Your Travel Coordinator can be reached at at 858.771.0645 ext. 2. You can also email them directly, or send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't be shy! These experts have heard it all and are here to help.