If you have booked or are considering any of our USA Meetup Tours, this is where you will find the practical information you need from travel insurance and safety protocol to tipping culture and packing lists.
Currently, SoFe Travel requires all unvaccinated travelers to show a negative PCR test on the first day of the tour. Vaccinated travelers should bring their original COVID vaccination certificate.
As rules and restrictions are constantly changing, please check your government’s foreign travel advisory and visit the following website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/covid-19-travel-restrictions-and-exceptions.html
Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers you for travel to and from the USA as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country.
Upon arrival we have an escort meeting you at the airport, just look for the sign with the SoFe logo! They will take you directly to the hotel where they will meet our leader.
You need a valid passport to travel internationally. Most countries require that your passport does not expire for at least 6 months after the date you enter. We require your passport details 45 days before departure. When booking your Meetup Tour, please enter your name as it appears on your passport and contact us immediately if there are any errors.
Your tour leader will do their best to accommodate any dietary restrictions, but sometimes gluten free and vegan can be a little trickier in every meal, especially breakfast. We suggest bringing supplemental snacks like protein powders and bars just in case. It is ultimately your responsibility not to consume anything to which you are allergic. You may wish to speak to your tour leader at the beginning of the tour to make your requirements clear and ask your options throughout the tour.
As of April 1, 2021, we have updated our policies to require all travelers to show one of the following upon meeting the group on day 1:
-Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or
– Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip
Travel insurance is mandatory on all our Meetup Tours. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank’s name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Some of our US tours have accommodation at campgrounds and in tents, while others have shared accommodation in hotel. Please check the itinerary details and webpages for complete details.
Rooms are twin share with an ensuite unless you upgrade to a private room, based on availability.
The accommodation indicated on the webpage is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to lack of availability. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
In the base cost of the tour, a shared room is included. You may choose to upgrade to a private room for an extra charge as long as there is availability. Please note that there is no private accommodation option when camping on the Egyptian sailboat (1 night).
Upgrading to a private room once on the Meetup Tour is more difficult and may result in a higher cost than advertised on the webpage.
Sometimes it is not possible to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels, especially if you arrive before check in time. We can store your luggage and you can explore the surrounding area. Standard check in time is 4:00pm.
Check out is at 11:00am on the last day.
Extra nights at our hotel are available. You may have to switch rooms at the beginning or end of the tour.
All of our accommodation has air conditioning. Should it not work, we will attempt to replace your room or the unit, dependent upon availability.
Phone and internet access
There is wifi available in most of our accommodation, but it is not always the most reliable, especially in more rural areas. Data services, like 3G and 4G, are widely available in the US, but rural areas may have sparse coverage.
The group will travel via air-conditioned bus, and the size will vary depending on the size of the group.
Money and finances
Spending money is a personal choice, and everyone will have different spending habits and needs. It is best to budget a reasonable amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping, and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.
Please have a thorough look at the itinerary and at what is included so you will be prepared for what isn’t included. Our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, however some meals, tips, and extras are not included. This guide should make budgeting a little clearer.
Many meals are included in this tour, but some are purposefully left out so you can experience different restaurants and dishes to your liking.
Lunch at a local restaurant could cost between $10USD to $20USD. However, local street food is relatively safe to eat and is normally much cheaper.
Your leader and guide will help you find local options. Meals will cost between $15USD to $30USD, depending on the restaurant.
Food prices in the USA range widely from cheap street food to fine dining. If you have a strict budget, be mindful of your choices and let your tour leader know the type of food you are looking for, so she can direct you to the best places.
ATMs are widely available in major cities and towns. We recommend always having a small amount of cash with you for small purchases at places that do not accept credit card. Credit cards are usually accepted in tourist shops and restaurants, but American Express, Diners, etc. are not usually accepted at all. Bring a Visa or Mastercard if you want to use credit cards. Alert your bank that you will be traveling before departure to avoid being locked out of your account while abroad, as they may suspect fraud.
Tipping a a large part of American culture. Wages are extremely low for service industry workers, and tipping is an important means of supplementing income whether you are a tourist or local. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip is appropriate and always appreciated. A minimum of 15% is usually advised. While it may not be a part of your customs at home, it is very valuable and helpful to the people who will be taking care of you on your trip.
If you are worried you may not have small change or feel uncomfortable tipping yourself, your leader might suggest the idea of a group tipping kitty, where everyone contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all money spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your local guide, but tips for your driver and porters at hotels are included in your tour price.
The currency in the USA is the US Dollar ($ USD). Denominations come in notes at 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and coins come in as penny (1), nickel (5), dime (10), quarter (25), and 50 cent piece (50).
Our tours are comfortable and very inclusive with premium accommodation, and in the case of the USA, some trips with camping. This means you can pack a little lighter. In fact, you will be carrying your own bags to the lobby or at the airport, and you will need to be able to manage. Also, our domestic flight has a maximum luggage allowance of 50lbs.
This is a general list to be used as a guideline. Once you’re enrolled in the program, we will send you a more detailed packing list with specifics.
- Copies of your travel documents- passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance policy and contact info.
- A hat for the sun
- A light wind or rain jacket for winter months
- Bug spray
- A pair of breathable, solid walking shoes like Keens or Teva, our favorites.
- Loose-fitting pants
- A casual dress or nice outfit you can dance in
- Short sleeve tops, tank tops, at least one shirt that totally covers your shoulders
- A lightweight scarf to cover your head
- A swimsuit and bathing suit cover-up
- Don’t forget underwear
- Earplugs and an eye mask
- Body soap
- Shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush
- Body wash
- Period essentials
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. We recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Group leader and guide
All tours with The Solo Female Traveler Network are accompanied by a guide who is with the group for the whole trip. The guide’s role is to be the local expert of the destination and coordinate a lot of the on the ground logistics. They are not always a native of the region, but they are always experienced expert guides.
Most of our tours also include a SoFe ambassador, whose role is to enrich the experience socially. She will help bridge any cultural differences, manage group expectations, and capture the tour in photos and videos for marketing purposes. Some tours will not include an ambassador, and in this case, our local guide will supplement.
Traveling as a woman
We believe that every woman should dress as she chooses and should feel free to experience the world without extra worry for her safety. Unfortunately, the rest of the word does not practice gender equality as we wish. It’s important to adapt to local customs to be safer and to respect not only the locals, but also your fellow travelers. The likelihood of anything happening on your trip is quite low, but we recommend being aware of the following safety tips:
Street harassment such as cat calls, stares, invitations to get in a car/bar/restaurant/home are common. These are our tips for responding to this unwanted attention:
- Ignore. Don’t even bother smiling. Just keep about your business.
- Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.
- Ignore. We mean it, so we said it twice! Ignore them but also ignore your internal commentary on it all. Let it roll off your back and walk on focusing on all the amazing things around you.
- Dress respectfully and you will find both men and women will respond to you in a more respectful manner.
- While it very unlikely to happen, do feel free to stand up for yourself if you feel threatened. Egyptian men you do not know should not be touching you at all and if you’re in public, people will come to your aid if you make a fuss.
When not with your guide, we recommend the following:
- Do not walk in isolated areas or at night by yourself
- If hotel staff need to enter your room, arrange to be either on tour or in the lobby, so you are not alone.
- Respect the local customs, which may mean dressing more conservatively than you do at home.
- Do not hire a driver or guide for tours from the street. Always go with a reputable company or ask us to help you arrange any pre or post experiences.
- Do not accept any invitations for anything from random people on the street.
- Always carry your tour guide’s contact information and hotel address with you during solo time.
- Alert your guide of any inappropriate behavior or perceived risk to your safety.
We recommend that you stay up to date on travel safety updates on your home country government website. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, but they are not required to accompany you on solo time, where you can relax, choose an optional activity, or explore on your own. During solo time, we do not vouch for the safety of the experiences you choose, even if our guide or leader recommends them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Our team on the ground is always monitoring the safety situation and reserves the authority to cancel or change experiences at their discretion if deemed unsafe.
Seat belts are always provided and must be worn in accordance with local law. Practice extreme caution when crossing the street. Also note that traffic may be much heavier and road rules may be very different from what you are used to. Be careful and aware that pedestrians do not have the right of way.
While most of the tour, especially in major cities, will be with your guide and the group, petty theft is common in any tourist area. Do not walk around alone at night if it can be avoided and hold your belongings close on public transportation. Your local guide will give you some safety tips throughout your tour, and we suggest heeding this advice.
Please do not enter the water without a life vest and a buddy if you are not an experienced swimmer. Alert the leader and guide to your ability level before participating in water activities. Lifeguards are not on duty and our staff are not trained in water rescue.
We suggest checking your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
With almost all of our travelers coming on the Meetup Tour solo, we have women from different countries, backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. This is part of what makes our tours so special and what often leaves our travelers with couches to crash on around the world and even long time friendships. Like any group, especially one consisting of people of different ages coming from all corners of the world, this can also cause clashes in culture and disagreements. We promote an environment of kindness, empowerment, and communication, so certain behaviors will not be tolerated for the benefit of everyone’s experience.
A great group dynamic takes effort, patience, and compassion from every member. Bullying, threatening, and violence of staff, locals, and fellow participants will not be tolerated on our trips.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while traveling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The group guide and leader have final say on all matters that affect the safety or well-being of any traveler or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.