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
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Date: July 9, 2017
Departs: Los Angeles, California (LAX) at 12:55am
Arrives: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 6:45am on July 10, 2017
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Date: July 10, 2017
Departs: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 8:00am
Arrives: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) at 10:05am
RETURN TO USA
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Date: July 29, 2017
Departs: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) at 6:40am
Arrives: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 10:25am
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Date: July 29, 2017
Departs: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 12:55pm
Arrives: Los Angeles, California (LAX) at 11:10am
-DOMESTIC GROUP FLIGHT INFORMATION (INCLUDED IN COST OF TUITION)-
Airline: Thai Smile
Date: July 10, 2017
Departs: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) at 3:20pm
Arrives: Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNX) at 4:35pm
Airline: Thai Air Asia
Date: July 18, 2017
Departs: Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNX) at 8:25am
Arrives: Bangkok, Thailand (DMK) at 9:40am
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 to support the group as needed. Please check out the below bios of some of the people on your programs support team.
B.A. in Tourism Industry from Phitsanulok University
My name is Phanupong Somboon (my friends call me Bo) and I was born and raised in Thailand. I have been a rock climbing and outdoor educator for the past 6 years and enjoy every day of it. For the last four years, I have had the opportunity to work
with International students around the world. I enjoy working with students because I have the chance to take them to explore my own country and to show them my culture and language. I also get to show them my beautiful countryside, people
and way of life. I have enjoy traveling around Southeast Asia and China for several adventures of my own. I am looking forward to leading with Smithsonian Student Adventures this summer!
The International Film & Television School in Paris – B.S. in Video Editing
Born and raised in Paris, after working for a couple of years in the television industry, Laurene decided to volunteer with elephants in Thailand. After few months, she was offered the position of volunteer coordinator. She learned everything about the animal welfare issue within the Southeast Asia context. She worked for four years in several wildlife rescue centers in Thailand, and raised awareness to hundreds of young international volunteers about this matter. Laurene lives now in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, where she loves living amongst the local people, helping animals in need, and educating local communities and also foreigners about humane care of stray animals. Aside from her passion for animal welfare, she loves the Thai culture and delicious Thai food, and volunteers to help the Thai children who are victims of trafficking.
Kent State University, Studied Liberal Arts
In her own words: I have been working in the travel industry for Princess Cruises and Crystal Cruises as an Airport Liaison for the past three years and love that it gives me the chance to talk to people from all over the world. I was born in Ohio but have lived most of my life in Los Angeles and enjoy the diverse cultures here. I have journeyed to Italy, Spain, England, France, Costa Rica and throughout the US with my husband and two sons and we have had wonderful experiences with each visit. I am currently researching and documenting my family’s genealogy and it’s history around the globe.
Colorado College – B.A. Sociology, Minors in Global Education and Feminist & Gender Studies
Savannah is a firm believer in the power of informed impulsivity and has an insatiable travel bug, which, together, have propelled her adventures to six of the seven continents, so far. Through her studies of and experiences in the social world, she has been able to empirically substantiate risk-taking and reap the benefits of living outside her comfort zone. This is something she loves encouraging young people to do too. As such, she spent 8 weeks of the school year backpacking with high school students in Colorado and Utah before taking up residence in Amman, Jordan to study Arabic, work on a documentary film, and teach English Language and Literature at an American International School. Savannah is a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified teacher, certified in CPR/AED/First Aid and Mental Health First Aid, and is very excited to be returning to Thailand, where she taught and traveled in 2013.
Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.
- Tiana Muniz
- Taylor Jones
- Jesus Leal
- Kaden Jones
- Alexis Hypse
- Lauren Gardner
- Anna McCollister
- Teagan Walker
- Carey Ruzicka
- Sarah Spirek
- Della Moran
Community & Project Details
Bring The Elephant Home
BTEH is aiming for a better chance of survival for Asian elephants. They achieve their mission by restoring natural habitat, stimulating animal-friendly ecotourism, and by finding solutions to human-elephant conflicts. They work with a small community in Kanchanaburi that is particularly difficult human-elephant conflict zone. They are supporting this community by bringing volunteers to their tree nursery, but also to build check-dams to make sure that elephants can find enough water in the forest during the dry season, which prevents them from coming to villages and drinking from people’s houses. They have an extensive program of reforestation with local people all year round. They are also at the head of the second beehive-fencing project in Thailand. In collaboration with the National Parks system, they are building beehive fences to protect crops and local communities from wild elephants, who avoid bees at all costs. The resident communities benefit through the sales of honey and the reduction of elephant-caused damage and destruction of their crops. The pollination work of the bees increases biodiversity and even increases the yield of the crop that they protect. As a result of strategically placed beehive fences, elephants and humans can share the same area in harmony. BTEH is one of only a few community-based wild elephant conservation initiatives in Thailand.
The team from Elephant Nature Park, one of the first elephant sanctuaries that was created in Chiang Mai 15 years ago, have been working together with The Sai Yok Elephant Park, a former trekking camp in Kachanaburi, to take the saddles off of elephants that were being used for riding. This relatively new project is extremely important to educate trekking camps and people who keep elephants about the joy and satisfaction that comes from returning elephants from captivity to their natural habitats. The more people that support this project, the brighter the future is for other Asian elephants. Kanchanaburi in infamous for elephant camps that mistreat their animals by offering rides or shows, and Elephant Haven serves as a positive example of tourism that takes into account the welfare of the animals.
At Elephant Haven, guests prepare the food for the elephants, feed them, walk with them in the forest, go to a mud bath with them, and finish with a bath with the elephants in the river. Elephant Haven made the decision to shift to a more responsible model a year ago, and it’s very important to support them, as they are trying to set an example in the Kanchanaburi province. The family at the head of the park has been working for a long time with elephants all over Thailand, so they are very influential in their network and hopefully change the mind of many other trekking camps.
Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary
BEES is a retirement home for elephants, providing an alternative for elephants and their owners. Their aim is to educate locals and visitors about elephants, wildlife conservation, and the ethical treatment of animals. BEES works towards sustainable community development and working to create better futures for humans and animals. They provide an alternative for owners and their elephants to move away from city life and the hard, rough days of trekking or working in the tourist trade by providing a retirement home for elephants where they can come to have some much needed rest or have a long term/permanent stay. The elephants have the chance to live free and both owner and elephant no longer have to face the hardships of daily life in the city and trekking camps. In addition, they give a home to all animals in need and run rescue, rehabilitation and release programs and have education programs in the local community. BEES participates in reforestation efforts, environmental clean-up, and community education programs. BEES is located 3 hours’ drive southwest of Chiang Mai, amongst breathtaking views of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand.
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: https://smithsonianstudentadventures.com/2017-thailand-21-day-elephant-expedition/
What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.
Thailand Packing List
10 pairs of underwear
6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
4 t-shirts (some quick dry)
2 long sleeve shirts
1 rain jacket or strong poncho (it will be the rainy season in July)
1 swim suit
2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light (no short shorts please)
2 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans – this is important for repelling mosquitos)
1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer and guys a polo or button up shirt with jeans for
such occasions. Please have the skirt reach your knees)
1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of work gloves
1-2 pairs of work pants
1 sarong (something to cover knees when entering Temples and holy places *this may be purchased in country)
rain boots (for volunteer activities – *we encourage you to be purchase these when in country for cheaper)
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:
Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)
Band Aids and Neosporin
Medication in properly marked original container
Journal and pen
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
Power Converter (220 volts AC)
Alarm Clock and watch
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra
Durable water bottle
1 quick-dry towel
Deck of cards or other portable games
Host family gift for each host family
Pictures of family, friends, home
***Please keep in mind that the villages we will be staying in are generally more conservative. The people usually wear long covered up clothing and do not appreciate seeing a lot of exposed leg, cleavage, or bare shoulders.
***Dress in Bangkok: Thailand is still in its mourning period after the King passed away last October (His official funeral/cremation, is planned for late October). And especially in Bangkok bright colors clothes, and short shorts, or tank tops should be avoided (black and white are the mourning colors. But dark colors in general are just fine), ideally shoulders and knees should be covered. Again, this is more a Bangkok specific. Thai people are pretty flexible with the foreigners, but that would show some respect towards the population.