Smithsonian Journeys FAQ

How do I reserve my space on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?

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How does Smithsonian Journeys differ from other group travel options?

Traveling with Smithsonian Journeys is a life-changing experience. Built upon the values and passion of the Smithsonian, our journeys are designed with the same quest to increase and diffuse knowledge to all. You will engage with the world through the Smithsonian lens, and enjoy an immersive and transformative experience that you will never forget. Our collection of diverse tours and cruises has grown to 350+ annual departures on all seven continents, and like the Smithsonian Institution, our tours enrich lives and satisfy your curiosity about the world. Importantly, your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s nineteen museums, our national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to make the world a better place by preserving and celebrating what we cherish from our common past, present, and future.

In addition to an experienced tour manager, a Smithsonian Journeys Expert, local guest speakers, and experienced guides will join you on your journey. Among the experts who accompany you are scholars from around the world—with an in-depth understanding of history, culture, politics, the natural world, or the fine arts—who have been selected by Smithsonian Journeys for their special knowledge and ability to connect with people. You may also find by your side a Smithsonian scientist who has spent a lifetime studying and interpreting biology, ecology, geology, astronomy, or another discipline. Our travelers tell us that our experts, and overall educational emphasis, are why they choose Smithsonian Journeys again.

What’s included in the cost of a Smithsonian Journeys tour?

Once you add up the extras we include as a matter of course — experts, tour managers and guides, pre-planning packages and reading lists, most meals, excellent accommodations, transfers, behind-the-scenes access and exclusive excursions, gratuities (except for on some cruise programs), little luxuries, and even airfare inclusive pricing on many tours — you’ll know you are getting more than you pay for.

Our programs also include emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000 for U.S. Residents only) and access to emergency assistance service. (And, we also encourage our guests to consider purchasing additional travel insurance to protect against unexpected events that may leave you with cancelled plans, lost luggage or unforeseen medical expenses.)

See the itinerary and Terms and Conditions for the program you are interested in for specific information on what is and is not included.

How do I decide which trip is right for me?

We offer a variety of options to fit every taste and travel interest. We offer international land journeys, many including airfare; small-ship ocean cruising, and comfortable, convenient river cruising; immersive cultural stay journeys; dynamic active journeys; one-of-a-kind specialty programs; around-the-world by private jet journeys; and multigenerational family journeys. And, if group options aren’t right for you, we offer Smithsonian Tailor-Made Journeys, customized to your interests with the help of a Country Specialist.

How many travelers are on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?

Group size varies depending on whether the journey is a cruise, land tour, or specialty program. Our land-based tours range from 12-35 participants and cruises range from 30-100 participants (with a few slightly larger), depending on the ship’s size. In most cases, our cruises share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which adds to the excitement and energy of the experience. Please ask our destination specialists about specific program sizes.

What about traveling alone?

Smithsonian Journeys tours are perfect for solo travelers, since you will experience and share the fun with like-minded people interested in exploring the world. If you prefer a single room, you may reserve one by paying the single room supplement (which reflects the additional costs charged by hotels and cruise lines). Please note that there may be a limited availability for solo travelers. If you would like to share a room, we will do our best to partner you with a compatible, like-minded, same-sex roommate who is also traveling solo.

I am interested in experiencing the world in a more active way. Do you offer active journeys?

Yes! We have developed a collection of small group tours with the active traveler in mind. With no more than 18 participants, each trip is intimate and enriching. And because cultural insight is a key to all of our programming, you will enjoy opportunities to get to know each destination in more depth through special arrangements with local experts.

How old are your travelers?

Because we offer a wide range of travel options, our age range is quite broad. More active journeys attract travelers from 45-70 years of age, while special interest programs, including performing arts, typically attract guests from 55-80 years of age. So, while, there is no typical age profile; our average age is 55+. On multigenerational family journeys, you will find parents, grandparents, and children of all ages (generally 8-12 years of age or above). For all programs, we do ask that travelers are physically able to participate in all planned activities so that they may enjoy every aspect of the journey. Please ask our destination specialists about the required activity on specific tours.

What are the physical and/or health requirements?

Because of the educational nature of our trips and the inquisitive nature of our travelers, our itineraries can be full and active. As a general guide, in order to enjoy your travel experience, we recommend that your level of fitness, stamina, and overall ability match the activity requirements for the tour/cruise selected. All tours and cruises feature varied activities that require a related level of physical fitness and ability. Detailed information regarding specific activity expectations can be found within the “Tour Details” tab on every web tour page and should be reviewed carefully to ensure you have chosen a trip appropriate to your capabilities.

Can I bring children on my journey?

Travel is a wonderful way for the younger generation to learn about the world and for families to spend time together. We offer an assortment of family-friendly journeys designed to be enjoyed by adults and children. Past travelers have told us that these have been among the best travel experiences they have ever enjoyed. Tours and cruises not specifically designated as family journeys, are designed with adults in mind. Some may be suitable for older children, however please check with us before booking. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

I don’t always want to travel in a group. Do you offer “non-group” tours that I can customize to my own requirements?

Yes! We are pleased to offer custom, private travel for those who are not interested in traveling in a group. Smithsonian Tailor-Made Journeys offer a rewarding experience that can be customized to your specific interests and are truly bespoke. A Certified Country Specialist will advise you on the best guides, food, lodging, and local secrets in the region you wish to visit and help you design the perfect journey just for you.

Can you accommodate those with dietary restrictions?

Yes, simply notify us in advance of your trip’s departure so we can arrange for your special dietary needs. Note: There is a specific area for you to note this information in the Pre-Trip Personal Information Form that you will receive with your confirmation packet.

Is airfare included in the tour cost?

Airfare varies on a tour-by-tour basis. While many of our small group, land tours do offer airfare inclusive packages, other tours and cruises may not. Should airfare not be included, most of our partner tour operators are able to assist you in arranging your flights. Please note: When purchasing airfare independently, it is important to pay special attention to cancellation policies before you do so as international flight times and departures may change.

Are there any U.S. Passport rules I should be aware of?

The U.S. Department of State no longer adds visa pages into U.S. passports. Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

Also, in 2018, the rules of domestic air travel are changing, and you may need a passport to board domestic flights. This is because of the REAL ID Act, a federal law that compels states to update the security of the ID cards and driver’s licenses that they issue. As of October 2017, the extension granted by the Department of Homeland Security for many states to comply with the REAL ID Act expired. While DHS has granted further extensions to all but six states, these extensions are set to expire in October 2018. If you live in a state that does not comply with the REAL ID measures, you may need to show an alternate, REAL-ID compliant form of government-issued photo identification to get through security for domestic flights. The most common compliant form of ID is a passport, but passport cards, Global Entry cards, and others are also accepted. The Department of Homeland Security offers an easy-to-use website that shows your state’s compliance status. Click on your state to learn more.

How is Smithsonian Journeys affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution? Is my trip tax deductible?

Smithsonian Journeys tours and cruises engage travelers in the wide-ranging mission of the Smithsonian—”the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. When you travel with Smithsonian Journeys, your participation benefits the work of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve national treasures and shape the future through science, research and exhibitions. Your trip cost is not tax deductible.

Does Smithsonian offer student travel programs?

Yes, we offer enriching and immersive travel programs tailored for high school students.

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