Expeditions FAQ

What makes CHOICE Humanitarian different from other global humanitarian organizations?

A:

CHOICE offers Village Driven Initiatives: Villages identify and manage their development process. As problems arise, villagers take the initiative to resolve them. 

CHOICE builds Leadership: Sustainable change is achieved through leadership. 

CHOICE teaches communities the leadership and business skills for them to break the cycle of poverty.

CHOICE promotes simple, appropriate technologies: All technologies introduced can be built and sustained through locally available resources and skills. 

CHOICE measures and evaluates: As villages progress through the phases of the CHOICE model of leadership development, we learn and implement changes that help the local communities grow and develop more sustainably.

CHOICE advances gender equality: Women are the key to creating lasting change. Research shows when you invest in a woman she will invest in her children’s health and education. Communities and economies are stronger when there is equal and full participation of women and men. Closing the gap between males and females creates a lasting impact that benefits everyone. 

CHOICE utilizes native in-country staff: We overcome problematic, top-down foreign leadership by hiring staff native to the areas where we work.  Our highly qualified team understands how to train people in the CHOICE Model of Leadership Development successfully in ways relevant to their cultures.

You can find more information about our CHOICE model by clicking here.

Do donations help real people around the world?

A:

Our guiding principle is not just some plaque or motivational poster written on the wall, it is behind everything we do and we take accountability with the levity that it deserves. Charity Navigator, Guidestar, Great Nonprofits, and the Better Business Bureau all endorse CHOICE Humanitarian with the highest possible ranking due to our fiscal responsibility and transparency.

You can find more information here about our Financial Responsibility.

How can I participate?

A:

There are many ways to help CHOICE further its mission statement. One of the main ways CHOICE has people get involved is through in-country expeditions. On an expedition, one meets the villagers he or she is helping, connects with them, and plays a part in creating something bigger than themselves. This is what the CHOICE model is all about! 

For a list of expeditions programmed for the year, click here

Another way to make a difference is by being a contributor to The Village monthly program to support the in-country project. Becoming a monthly member of The Village supports community-led projects in our 7 countries abroad. Also, for less than $0.35/day, you receive expedition discounts, exclusive field updates, and a welcome kit inspired by our global mission.

Find out more here.

What is an expedition?

What is a typical expedition like? What should I expect?

A:

For one week, participants stay in a rural community and have direct interaction with villagers through project work, trainings, meals, games, and celebration! While in the village, expedition participants will be camping in tents and/or sleeping in a schoolhouse or community building.  Meals are prepared by the in-country staff and expedition participants. Members of the group will be divided into teams to help manage projects, cleaning, cooking, etc. Much of the day can be spent on the project, but we also encourage participants to “shadow” villagers in their daily tasks. 

 

As a group, participants spend time learning about extreme poverty at both a global and community level. They eat well and work hard. They exchange ideas, cultural norms, and truly learn what it means to be a global citizen. The expedition is as much about creating a connection between the two cultures, as it is working on projects. We encourage participants to take time to share stories, music, and their own cultural traditions.  

How do I go on an expedition?

 



A:

Visit the Expeditions Page on the CHOICE website. Check out the current Expeditions Calendar and identify your available dates and country of interest. You’ll find specific details and resources about each trip by visiting the specific trip pages.  

You’ll want to review the country, culture, flight costs, and trip resources and documents located on each expedition webpage. After choosing an expedition, you can then register yourself and others for the trip from the specific trip expedition page. The registration process includes a $300 minimum deposit per person. 




In what countries does CHOICE run expeditions?

A:

We host expeditions in 7 different countries around the world. 

 

 

Bolivia       Ecuador       Guatemala       Kenya        Mexico       Nepal       Peru




What is the cost of an expedition?

A:

Expedition costs range between $2,295-$2,395, depending on the country.

This does not include your airfare to/from the country.

What do the expedition costs cover?

A:

The majority of the cost goes directly toward project expenses and materials. The rest of the money covers everything involved in putting together an expedition: two nights’ hotel accommodations, land transportation, village lodging, village meals, and certified leaders.

What kinds of projects do expeditioners work on?

A:

Each village we work with plans specific projects according to their unique needs and priorities. Depending on the needs at the time of the expedition, volunteers could be working on any of a wide range of community-managed projects that span the construction of classrooms, stoves, or hospitals to trenching water systems or constructing school desks. As such, the process is very organic and often we may not know the specific project of that expedition team any sooner than four weeks prior to the expedition.  And often, last minute changes can occur, as the community re-allocates resources and priorities.

Some past projects, by country: 

  • Bolivia: Community water systems, schoolhouse construction, latrines
  • Guatemala: Schoolhouse construction, community water systems, health post construction
  • Kenya: Pit latrine construction, desk and schoolhouse construction
  • Mexico: Schoolhouse construction, water cisterns, latrines, family gardens 
  • Nepal: Community water systems, schoolhouse construction, biogas digester construction
  • Peru: Family and community gardens, stove construction, women’s health initiative
  • Ecuador: School construction, reforestation, leadership training

What phase of the project will my expedition help with? Beginning, middle or end?

A:

The expedition may come in on any phase of the project.  The village determines the project and provides labor and materials.  The magic of the CHOICE development process is that projects will be completed regardless of expedition participation.  

We have learned that in order for humanitarian expeditions to be sustainable, they MUST be part of a larger, locally driven program that exists long before expeditions arrive and the programs must have commitments from every community that lasts long after the expeditions leave.

The expedition provides a unique opportunity for volunteers and village community members to work side by side and learn from one another while accelerating and/or completing a phase of construction for a specific project.




When will the upcoming expeditions be held?

A:

Check out our Expeditions Calendar!  (On the calendar, click on the dates of any expedition to move to its respective website to learn more or to sign up for an expedition.)

Can I fundraise for my expedition? If so, are there tools CHOICE provides?

A:

Yes! We encourage everyone to fundraise for their expedition. We provide a fundraising page to make the fundraising process a little easier for our participants.

  • Visit https://expeditions.funraise.org/
  • Click on "Fundraise"
  • Click on "Join a Team"
  • Set up your personal page
  • Search for the country you are fundraising for
  • Set your goal and customize your page

Then share your page with family and friends!

Will I be safe?

A:

Both CHOICE HQ and the in-country staff take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety, within practical limits.  But, ultimately, safety is up to the individual’s use of common sense. From the moment you land in-country to the moment you depart, you will be accompanied by CHOICE in-country staff and Certified Expedition Leaders through all transportation, hotel, and travel logistics.

With them, you will be traveling in private transportation through trusted agencies.  We stay at safe, clean, trusted hotels. It is typically very safe in the village and there is little to no crime.  Your belongings will be in the closed off sleeping areas. You are advised not to leave personal belongings (such as cameras and sunglasses) lying around outside this area.  

Prior to and/or after the expedition, participants are on their own and we encourage taking necessary precautions to ensure personal safety.




How old do you have to be to join an expedition?

How old do you have to be to join an expedition? Are kids allowed?

A:

While there is no set minimum age requirement, we encourage families to exercise some caution when bringing very small children. In most circumstances, children over the age of 8 are a good fit for expeditions, with one or both parents/guardians accompanying them. In some cases, younger children can join; if for example, they were the youngest of 3 children and the whole family was going on the trip. 

 

We will be in very rural and rudimentary lodgings and areas at times, and we want to make sure that everyone is aware and prepared for that. Some good questions to ask are whether the child:

  • is a picky eater?
  • is flexible with sleeping in new locations, using latrines, etc?
  • can handle extended travel under rough conditions?
  • likes to camp?
  • is mature enough to handle 3rd world poverty and culture?
  • has traveled internationally?
  • This is a case-by-case situation, and we trust parents to make the best decision. 

Please reach out to our Expeditions Team with specific concerns about this.



Are the expedition fees tax deductible? And the airfare?

A:

The whole expedition fee is tax-deductible.

Do I need to apply for a visa?

A:

This requirement varies by country.

  • Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico -- Visa is not required for stays under 30 days
  • Bolivia, Kenya, Nepal -- A travel visa can be purchased in the airport. Depending on the country, a visa can be also purchased ahead, if desired.  See your country embassy website for instructions: KENYA, NEPAL, BOLIVIA

Are participants required to get any shots or vaccinations?

A:

CHOICE recommends that all volunteers be up-to-date with routine vaccinations (MMR, DPT, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid).

CHOICE suggests that each volunteer consult with an international travel clinic for professional medical advice regarding travel vaccines and immunizations. 

Please allow plenty of time between entering a country and getting your immunizations. We recommend scheduling an appointment at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure.

The Center for Disease Control website should be checked for any further questions in respect to immunizations. Choose your country from the drop down list, then press “Go” to read more.Please allow plenty of time between entering a country and getting your immunizations. We recommend scheduling an appointment at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure.

The Center for Disease Control website should be checked for any further questions in respect to immunizations. Choose your country from the drop down list, then press “Go” to read more.

Is travel insurance required and where can I get it?

A:

CHOICE expeditions take place in rural locations across the globe where medical services are often unavailable. Therefore, CHOICE requires all expedition participants to purchase medical evacuation insurance that will provide coverage while traveling overseas. CHOICE requires at least $25,000 in medical evacuation insurance to cover proper transportation to a hospital or clinic during medical emergencies. You must provide proof of this coverage to CHOICE as part of your registration. (This cost is in addition to the expedition fee.)

In addition, CHOICE encourages all expedition participants to purchase standard travel insurance and trip cancellation coverage due to unforeseen circumstances that might cause trip disruptions or unexpected flight cancellations. 

Several companies provide the above insurance policies. CHOICE provides a few suggestions:

Travel Guard
3300 Business Park Drive Stevens Point,
Wisconsin 54482 (800) 826-1300
www.travelguard.com

Travelex
PO Box 641070
Omaha, Nebraska 68164
(800) 228-9792
www.travelex-insurance.com

Major credit card companies also provide free and/or low cost travel insurance to cardholders. Please be sure that such coverage is actual insurance and not just insurance consultation. If you are a student or faculty member, the least expensive way to acquire emergency evacuation/medical insurance is the international youth/student/faculty I.D. card ($20). Most universities offer these through their study abroad office. You will need to provide proof of current school enrollment or faculty employment and a passport-sized photo.

Do I have to be physically fit to participate during the CHOICE expedition?

 



A:

We recommend that you be comfortable traveling to remote, rugged areas, sleeping on an air mattress or cot and using latrines.  However, for the purpose of the project, physical capacities are not a major concern.  

The most important objective of the trip is not the project, but the connection created between people. For every participant, there will be a variety of activities available depending on interests and physical abilities.  All projects will include options of intense manual labor, such as digging latrines or building schoolhouse walls; less intense manual labor, such as hauling bricks or mixing cement; and non-strenuous activities such as teaching English, playing games, or interviewing villagers.




What if a child or adolescent (under 18) wishes to go on an expedition without their parents?

A:

A Parental Release document will need to be signed by the child’s legal guardian(s) and notarized.  Parents will also need to authorize an adult member of the expedition to be their child’s legal guardian.  This authorization is included in the Parental Release document. 

How do I make flight arrangements?

A:

There are two options: 

  1. You can arrange your own flights and we can provide you with other group members’ itineraries so that you can try to match theirs. 
  2. CHOICE can refer you to several travel agents who arrange CHOICE staff travel:

Blair Greene
1(205)-484-2029
blair@cvtravel.com

*Airfare costs are different for every country and vary with the time of year.




What are the options for in-country touring? Does CHOICE arrange this?

A:

We offer optional tours. In-country tours are optional and are not a set part of CHOICE expeditions.  In some cases, the expedition leader may opt to plan and lead additional touring. Check with the Expeditions Coordinator to see if this is being planned for your expedition.  In all other cases, CHOICE can offer suggestions of places to tour and agencies to use.  

**Costs of in-country touring are NOT included in expedition costs. 

Optional tours offered by CHOICE: 

  • Bolivia: Machu Picchu in Peru, usually before the expedition.  Helps you acclimatize. You can also visit the Salt Flats. 
  • Guatemala: Expedition usually spends its last night in Antigua, a beautiful historic city.  Further travel can then be arranged to hike Volcano Pacaya, visit Lake Atitlan or Tikal.
  • Kenya: Safari. May be before or after the expedition—depends on the trip.  Other options include visiting Lamu, a historic Muslim city, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, or fishing at Lake Victoria. 
  • Mexico: Guanajuato, an old Spanish Colonial silver mining town, usually after the expedition.  Mexico City tour of the historic old town. Mexico City Taco Tour. 
  • Nepal: Trekking in the Himalayas, usually after the expedition. Tours in Pokhara. Tours can also be arranged for the National Royal Forest Wildlife Refuge in Chitwan (elephant rides), white water rafting, mountain biking, and flights to Mt. Everest.  
  • Peru: Machu Picchu Tour usually before the start of the expedition. Hiking of Hyang Picchu as well.  Touring the ruins in Cusco. 
  • Ecuador: Galapagos Tour, Eco-tourism Tour in Banos, Quito Full-day Tour, Cotopaxi Full-day Tour

 

What if I want to stay longer or arrive before the rest of the group?

A:

CHOICE can help coordinate a meeting point, usually at the first night’s hotel, to rendezvous with the group.  We ask that you notify CHOICE of all your travel arrangements prior to and after the expedition.

Do I need a passport to travel?

A:

Yes. Passports are needed for entry to all countries where CHOICE expeditions venture. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the expedition return date.

Could I plan a private trip with my family, friends, or my business?

A:

Yes. We plan and host both public and private trips for any groups or businesses who would like to plan their own private trips.

Are there any discounts available for expedition costs?

A:

Expedition fees are due two months before the start of the expedition.

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