The safety of travelers is Xperitas' first priority. While emergency situations are extremely rare, you can rest assured that Xperitas is prepared in the following ways to assist Xperitas participants while traveling abroad.
- Xperitas staff are on call 24/7 while participants are traveling. After office hours (M-F 8:30-4:30 pm CST), an on-call phone number is available to all group leaders and parents, and is answered by Xperitas staff.
- Xperitas staff regularly monitor the situation on-the-ground in all of the destinations to which we travel. We count on the U.S. State Department to provide up-to-date travel alerts and warnings, as well as our strong network of partners on the ground such as land operators and family stay coordinators.
- All travelers are registered with STEP, the U.S. State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.” By providing the U.S. State Department with the names, passport information and travel dates for each participant, we can count on the U.S. State Department’s assistance with any emergency situations and we receive routine updates about the destination. In this way we are aware of any impending situations that may affect Xperitas travel groups and can act quickly should any event warrant an early return to the U.S.
- All travelers are covered by Xperitas’ insurance which includes evacuation for groups who “are at risk of grave physical harm or death” due to a natural disaster or political instability while traveling abroad; please see item 28 in the Insurance FAQ document for more details.
In the event of an emergency situation before or during an Xperitas program, we follow this procedure:
- We review information provided by the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control.
- We communicate with our partners in-country (e.g. land operators and family stay coordinators).
- We communicate with group leaders (teachers) in-country and with parents in the U.S., keeping all parties abreast of any situation that impacts their group along with any solution(s) we implement.
All travelers are covered by Xperitas’ Cancellation Protection Plan, which protects trip participants against major loss in the case of unforeseeable world events. For this policy to be in effect, the following conditions must be met:
- The U.S. Department of State confirms that there has been a terrorist act against U.S. interests in the U.S., in international airspace or in any country on your Xperitas itinerary;
- The U.S. Department of State issues an official Travel Warning against travel to any region listed on your Xperitas itinerary;
- The official Travel Warning is issued or in effect within 90 days of your departure
If all of the above three criteria are met, a full refund will be issued, minus a $500 registration fee.
Here are five simple and important tips to discuss with your student to help ensure she/he has a safe, healthy and culturally enriching experience abroad:
- Travel in large and small groups, but never alone. Employ a buddy system of no fewer than three students.
- Use a money belt or neck pouch for safe storage of passports, credit/debit card, money and hotel/host family contact information.
- Leave valuables at home. Expensive jewelry, high-end electronics and large amounts of cash have no place during travel and therefore should be left at home!
- Review Xperitas’ Code of Conduct and live by it.
- Stay well hydrated and follow any indications set forth by your teacher with regards to safe drinking water (or lack thereof). This is not a concern for all Xperitas destinations, so talk with your student’s teacher or your Xperitas Program Manager if you aren’t sure whether the tap water in your child’s destination is safe to drink.
Travel abroad is an enriching and exciting opportunity to experience another culture, meet new people and speak another language. While preparing for the cultural aspects of this experience is important, it’s also essential for travelers to prepare themselves, health-wise, to spend time in another country. Xperitas encourages all travelers to review the recommendations for travelers provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, a visit to a travel clinic may be recommended by the CDC. See Current Health and Safety Updates for information about current world events and illnesses.
Travelers who take medication regularly are advised to speak with their primary caregiver about how international travel may or may not affect their health, and/or how to handle time-sensitive medications while in another time zone. It’s always wise to carry a prescription for the generic brand of any medication in the event it must be replaced during travel.
In the event that a participant falls ill or has an accident while traveling, the group leader(s) will ensure the traveler receives medical attention immediately. Limited insurance for minor illness or accidents and trip cancellation insurance is provided for all Xperitas participants. Coverage details and instructions can be found here. The policy also pays 100% of covered expenses for emergency medical evacuation, and is coordinated by Europ Assistance, a travel assistance company that operates around the world in conjunction with our insurer. The Europ Assistance emergency hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Note: Pre-existing conditions, mental illness and pregnancy are not covered by the insurance policy included with Xperitas programs. Therefore, we recommend that each traveler's own comprehensive medical insurance be current and include coverage for the destination country.
Medical Conditions & Special Needs
Traveling abroad can be an amazing experience for young travelers. It can also lead to increased stress, which may exacerbate a participant’s medical condition(s). In order to ensure the safety and well-being of all Xperitas travelers, it is our standard practice to request additional information related to a student’s current health status. This information is requested by Xperitas via email shortly after the student’s enrollment materials are received. This information helps both Xperitas as well as the participant’s parent(s) to determine if the Xperitas program is the right fit for their child at the time.
If, after careful consideration of this information, Xperitas and/or the participant’s parent(s) feel that travel on an Xperitas program is not appropriate, they may withdraw his/her application free of charge within two weeks of receipt of the email notice. This must be done by sending a cancellation request to email@example.com. After the two week period has passed, our standard cancellation fees will apply. Xperitas also reserves the right to cancel a participant who does not disclose a medical diagnosis on his/her application; regular cancellation fees apply.
Current World Events and Illnesses
Zika virus (2016)
Some of our travelers have expressed concern about the Zika virus outbreak and how it may affect their travel program.
The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and in some, but not all cases, produces mild symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Very rarely are symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have recommended that pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant take special precautions since it is suspected to be the cause of severe birth defects in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus while pregnant. You can find more information about the virus on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.
Xperitas recommends that everyone traveling to Latin America bring their own insect repellent and apply it often – always after sunscreen. Wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants is also an effective way to avoid bites.
The safety of our travelers is always our top priority and we regularly monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State for updates on traveler health and travel alerts and warnings. Xperitas also has a cancellation protection policy in place; the conditions required for this policy to be in effect have not yet been met. At this time Xperitas programming for 2017 will progress as usual. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Our regular cancellation policy applies to all cancellations, Zika-related or otherwise
- The medical evacuation coverage provided to all Xperitas travelers by Core Travel Insurance does not respond to epidemic or pandemic disease, nor do any of the plan upgrades available through Core Travel Insurance.
- We recommend that any participants who are concerned about traveling abroad purchase additional trip cancellation insurance that provides coverage for any reason.
We hope you find this information helpful. The safety of our travelers is of utmost importance to us, and we will continue to closely monitor the Zika situation.