Group Flight Information
In an effort to make the flight booking process as smooth as possible, we have partnered with STA Travel. This partnership provides our participants with discounted fares through STA’s contracts with the top airlines to help our travelers get the best possible rates.
STA Travel will help our families and travelers book their round trip travel between their home city and our host countries. We are excited to offer this premium service to our participants so that we can focus on what we do best – providing meaningful adventures around the world, and STA can focus on helping our
Open Enrollment participants are responsible for booking and paying for their own international flights. You have two options for making your flight arrangements, which are outlined below. With either option, we strongly recommend you book with STA, which you can do by calling their dedicated line at 877-777-8717.
1. (Preferred) Book a seat on the chaperoned international group flight.
Each Open Enrollment program has a suggested, chaperoned, group flight that will depart from a designated departure city in the United States and arrive to the destination country. Participants on these flights will have the support of our on-scene Airport Liaison as well as an accompanying Program Leader, on-flight. The Airport Liaison will help gather, coordinate and direct the arrival and departure of our participants in the airport and the Program Leader will accompany the group to and from the host country while on the flight. The vast majority of our travelers choose this option.
Here’s how to proceed:
Call our dedicated representative at STA Travel at 877-777-8717 to learn about your booking options.
- Tell the agent you are a Smithsonian Student Adventures participant, the full name of the program you are traveling on and your program travel dates. They will walk you through the details of your flight options.
- Once you know your flight options, you can book directly with STA or on your own to travel to the host country.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Should you elect not to travel on the suggested, chaperoned, group flight please email your complete flight reservation to info@SmithsonianSA.com
- Enjoy the support and ease that comes with this new partnership!
Program participants should meet the airpot liaison at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the international flight. If you are traveling on a connecting Delta flight from your home destination, you will meet your flight chaperone at the boarding gate for your international flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please contact Smithsonian Student Adventures.
-CHAPERONED GROUP FLIGHT INFORMATION-
DEPARTURE FROM USA
Date: July 6, 2017
Departs: Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) at 5:45pm
Arrives: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) at 7:40pm
RETURN TO USA
Date: July 16, 2017
Departs: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) at 7:20am
Arrives: Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) at 1:18pm
2. Book your own flight to the host country.
For this option we require travelers to arrive at the same time, or earlier (no more than 3 hours), than the suggested group flight’s planned arrival. We ask participants not to arrive later than the suggested group flight’s time of arrival. If travelers arrive on their own prior to the rest of the group we will arrange to have the second Program Leader or the Country Director meet them as they land in the host country.
With either option, we strongly encourage you to book your flights through STA, but it is not required.
STA operates a full 24/7 emergency line and can support you with issues from date changes, cancellations, or general crisis management support wherever you are in the world. To contact them, please call 800-836-4115.
A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event SSA is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. Notwithstanding, our travelers’ well-being and safety is always our number one priority in all facets of our operations and programming, so please know that in case flight delays or cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will keep family members updated on developments as we are able.
Important note: Please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
SSA is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage or for lost or stolen luggage. We strongly encourage all travelers to pack a carry-on bag if possible, or to at least put all valuables and a change of clothes or two in a carry-on along with all important medications and basic toiletries such as a toothbrush, deodorant, glasses, contacts etc.
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm whether this is required on your flight.
SSA will send a minimum of two experienced Program Leaders on every Open Enrollment Program. In addition to these Program Leaders, we also have an Airport Liaison who will be in the departure city airport to gather the group and help with any flight delays, as well as various staff (including a Country Director) in our host country and in our headquarters in Denver, Colorado that are standing by 24/7 to support the group as needed. Please check out the below bios of some of the people on your programs support team.
Country Operations, Costa Rica Operations
Earlham College – B.A. Non-Profit and Business Administration, Minor in French
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Esteban has spent the last seven years of his life traveling around the world and fostering his education in the U.S. Esteban has a strong background in cross-cultural education and developing business projects that strive for sustainable and social development. While attending college in Indiana, Esteban spent a semester abroad in France. During his free time Esteban loves reading, playing soccer, surfing, hiking, drinking a good cup of coffee, and dancing to Latino rhythms. These days Esteban has moved back to Costa Rica and loves leading awesome SSA programs in his home country!
Juan Pablo Rabanales Lau
Born and raised with a big family in Guatemala, JP spent seven years living and studying in the US where he was exposed to highly diverse communities. JP worked as a Wilderness Leader guiding expeditions in the Southwest of the US. After spending two years in New Mexico studying the International Baccalaureate, he moved to Indiana where he spent the next four years at Earlham College. His passion for international affairs brought him to spend a semester in China, and several other Southeast Asian countries. During his time abroad, he spent his summers traveling and backpacking through 15+ different countries, and participating in several service projects. Today JP is based back in his home country where he teaches English to young adults. Juan Pablo also enjoys hosting friends and travelers coming to Guatemala. He’s always down for an exciting road-trip around the country, or even better, around Latin America. A long time art and design enthusiast, and a photography aficionado.
Drake University, B.S in International Business,
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), M.A in International Education
Steph’s passion for traveling, adventure, studying languages and learning about other cultures
began when she graduated high school. Steph grew up in New York City, was always an adventurous
outdoors kid, worked as a lifeguard during the summers, and foreign language was always her best subject in school. She decided to save the money earned from high school lifeguarding and go study Spanish in Costa Rica for one month as a high school graduation present to herself. From there she was hooked! In college she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain for 8 months and Morocco for 4 months. Graduating in 2008 with a hurting US economy, Steph decided to try her luck abroad. She spent 8 months living in Israel working on a Kibbutz. The backpacking culture of Israel is contagious, and after her stay she followed some Israeli friends to India, where she spent 6 months backpacking throughout the entire subcontinent of India, all by bus and train! Nearly 5 years later, the backpacking bug caught Steph again, as she picked up to spend 6 months on a backpacking loop through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Professionally, all of Steph’s work experience is in the field of International
Education in some way or another. She feels this is the perfect place for her – in this field she is able to
share her love of travel, languages, culture exploration and understanding with others all while working! She has worked extensively with the University of California San Diego and the educational travel company EF Education First. In her free time, she likes to surf, hike, rock climb, camp, travel, and listen to live music.
University of Georgia – MMEd – Music Education
Zuly Diaz, a first generation Cuban-American, has been an avid traveler and musician since an early age. After completing undergraduate work at Berry College, Zuly began working as a corporate travel agent and children’s theatre coach. This experience sparked the desire to work with students full time leading her to earn her master’s at UGA. Since 2009, Zuly has worked with low-income students to make music and create dramas. In addition to her work in the public school, she has volunteered as a teacher leader traveling with students from all over the world in student leadership experiences. Zuly has traveled herself to over two dozen countries. These travels have allowed her to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities including singing at Carnegie Hall.
Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name appears below and is spelled correctly. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.
- Diego Zertuche
- Briana Ballard
- Ruby Jarvis
- Taylor Gull
- Carter Thomas
- Kelsey Midgett
- Keyeion Ashley
- Nicholas Wright
- Joseph Berke
- Steven DeVoe
- Madison LaBrec
- Laura Menon
- Blake Edwards
- Kera Paul
- Elise Lambert
Community & Project Details
This is where your host community information will appear, along with your community project, if applicable to your program.
Communication & Blog
The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.
SSA tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@SmithsonianSA.com. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.
Here is the link to your blog: -Coming Soon-
10 pairs of underwear
10 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
5 t-shirts (some quick dry)
2 long sleeve shirts
1 rain jacket or plastic poncho
2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
2 pairs of comfortable/light/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions, boys may want to opt for a polo shirt or button up shirt with jeans)
1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
1 pair of sandals (Chaco/Teva/Merril sandals are great to have for water activities)
1 pair of work gloves – required for service work
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin
Icy Hot Ointment
Small, personal/travel-size first-aid kit (Program Leader will have large, fully stocked kit).
Medication in properly marked original container. It’s important that medication travel in its original container, as customs officials have the right to confiscate it otherwise.
Plastic trash bag to separate wet clothes from dry
Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
Durable water bottle (absolutely mandatory!)
1 quick-dry towel
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!