Covid-19 has affected everyone so drastically and the face of education and travel has changed dramatically.

Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world. We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!

Check out the information below to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.

Education & Safety First

Here at Pacific Discovery, we want to assure you that our concerns for safety align with yours. With our 20 years of operation and more than 100,000 student days in the field, we have an excellent safety record. We have had our safety management systems assessed and accredited by the Gap Year Association, the Year Out Group(UK) and OutdoorsMark (New Zealand). Assessors have commented that our systems are among the best they have observed.

Experiential Educator Led & Supervised

Our programs are led by experienced experiential educators as instructors, equipped with comprehensive and expert risk assessments and safety management systems. All program participants are subjected to a high degree of screening prior to acceptance and consent to strict behavior guidelines for the duration of the program.

Informed & Expert Led Safety Systems

Alongside our long standing safety procedures, we have been working closely with health care professionals. All of our students enrolled in our programs are required to undergo strict pre-departure preparation and are required to return a negative result from a FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory within 72 hours prior to departure.

Trusted Partnerships at the Community level

Finally, we have been working at the grass root level with communities for almost 20 years. Our partners are almost exclusively small community based, family owned and operated businesses and community groups. We build strong relationships, seek to be invited to collaborate, follow our partners advice and align ourselves to the local communities expectations for mutual benefit and success.

Our COVID Policy

You can read through Pacific Discovery's full COVID 19 policy or check out the snapshot of our general COVID policy and procedures below:

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Traveling during a pandemic

“I am so incredibly impressed with the level of planning and communication from Pacific Discovery, from pre-trip to throughout the trip, recognizing how exceedingly difficult it must have been during the pandemic. I always felt Sydney was in good hands, and based on all of Sydney's reports, she has been exposed to not only the Thai culture and the unique activities and experiences offered, but she also learned to cope with uncertainty and view the circumstances with positivity. I am sad that the program has come to an end for Sydney, but I am awaiting a more enlightened daughter to return home, many thanks for what the program has done for her.” Colleen Bloch, 2021
Mother of Sydney, Thailand Program

  • 10 days self isolation with daily health checks logged (including temperature)
  • Physician consultation to screen for increased risk factors and health
  • Contact logging for final checking of causal/direct contact pre-departure
  • PCR testing within 72 hours of departure*
  • Strict safe travel protocols are provided exceeding CDC standards

* Destination & Itinerary dictates testing and quarantine protocol requirements

  • Private transportation from the airport or to program start
  • Detailed location specific quarantine procedures specific to the destination and accommodation facility
  • we will be facilitating COVID testing upon arrival for every program
  • Small group size, with high supervision ratio is enforced
  • Physical distancing enforced external to the group 'bubble'
  • Avoidance of indoor public spaces, and public spaces where social distancing cannot be observed
  • Pre-checked partner/operator COVID plans
  • Strict enforcement of established protocol where community interaction without physical distancing is required, such as activities and food shopping
  • Transportation and accommodation disinfecting procedures
  • Daily health checks (including temperature)
  • Permission and procedure for student and group isolation in the event of any signs or symptoms of any illness 
  • Behavior guidelines that reflect our educational and community/environmental engagement ethos, and enables removal of students who do not share or conform to program ethos
  • Upon arrival the group will begin travelling in a bubble. If one of the students shows COVID 19 symptoms we would take the required needs and this may include whole group quarantine. This is to ensure that we operate our programs with the highest level of confidence that we can, in order to travel safely and ethically within our program destinations.
  • Further to this, we have removed the vast majority of homestays from our international programs to minimise our risk of exposure and transmission. Furthermore, this will help to protect the vulnerable communities we have been visiting for the past twenty years with Pacific Discovery.
  • To mitigate the virus becoming present within our program groups, students and instructors will participate in ongoing monitoring, and stringent community distancing. We will avoid public transport, effectively eliminating or minimising community interaction where physical distancing is not possible. This is in-conjunction with our small group size of 8-14 students, and strict group supervision.
  • We strive to set the bar for best practice in the gap year and experiential education fields and ensure that all of our programs are held to the highest possible standards. Our management team is constantly monitoring and assessing the situation in all regions where our programs operate.
  • Continued communications and adherence to our local family, community group and operators' advice or guidance who have invited us to collaborate with them.
  • We would like to reiterate our commitment to our partner communities to collaborate in a controlled, safe and positive relationship, to achieve mutual, positive outcomes in these difficult times.

The Nuts and Bolts for Fall 2021 Programs

International programming outlook

Thailand, Central America, Costa Rica, Hawaii and, Hawaii & Western US are all open and ready for travel in Fall 2021! 

If you want your best chance to have the first pick of confirmed programs for 2021, you need to have applied, paid your $400 application fee, interviewed, and paid your $1500 deposit. Only then are you secure to have your first pick of available programs. Spaces are limited, so get in touch with our team today and apply now! If you still have any questions, feel free to schedule a call with our admissions team for more information.

The students on our latest 2021 Summer Programs to Thailand, Hawaii and Costa Rica had a great time on their trip! The Costa Rica students shared a vlog with us, and the Thailand students wrote down their stories in the latest blog - feel free to have a look.

 

If we cancel or change the program because of COVID-19

We do not confirm any of our programs until 60 days prior to departure. This is our process every year but is especially relevant now. Students sign up now and reserve their seat, but do not make any travel arrangements until the program is confirmed 60 days out. At that time we do a full check of our itinerary- we check everything from natural disasters, to political unrest, to COVID-19. We check with all of our local operators to get a local feel on the ground for everywhere we travel. Luckily, we are on an overland journey and enjoy the freedom to be flexible. We can adapt quite easily to avoid COVID-19 hot spots and can adapt our regulations to meet all local health and state requirements.

If for any reason we cannot adapt and must cancel the program entirely, you have 3 options up to 60 days prior to program departure.

  1. You can switch to any program that is confirmed, current students have priority seating on any program going forward.
  2. You can switch to ANY later date program within a year.
  3. You can get a full refund of all tuition and deposit. Your application fee is non-refundable.

All of our programs are similar in start date, price, and length of travel. Every program has the same components of outdoor adventure activity, cultural immersion, volunteer service learning, personal development, and an engaging overland journey with a tight-knit group of students no matter which destination you choose. It is important to us that no one is left without a program option.

Within 60 days of program departure, our standard Terms & Conditions apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have lots of questions, so please see below for some questions our team is commonly being asked. We have tried to think of the many varied scenarios that might come up and questions you might have about what that means for you. The following conditions apply to customers placing a deposit on or after 15th July 2020.

 

You have a couple of options in this situation: 

  1. We can transfer you to another program running at the same time but to a different location 
  2. We could transfer you to a later program of your choice
  3. We can give a refund based on the dates below

Anyone signed onto a program in these circumstances will be able to transfer the entirety of the amount paid to that date to another program up to two years from departure date without penalty. You are also able to get a refund, as per our standard terms and conditions, although we would certainly very much appreciate your support to look to travel at another date.

If you decide to cancel your participation in a program, our flexible programming terms and conditions apply. Therefore, the following fees apply at the time (prior to departure) we receive written notice of your cancellation:

Refund Policy

If you decide to cancel your participation in a 2021/2022 program, the following fees apply at the time (prior to departure) we receive written notice of your cancellation:

  • More than 91 days before departure – Full refund available excluding $1,500 deposit fee and $500 application fee
  • 61 to 90 days before departure – forfeit 50% of program tuition
  • 0 to 60 days before departure – forfeit 100% of program tuition
  • If you fail to join the program, join after its departure or leave prior to its completion, no refund will be given.

Students sent home early, or who choose to leave for any reason, including sickness, personal emergencies or injury, will be responsible for all medical costs, and travel costs related to their early departure.

 

We do require all studnets to purchase Travel Insurance that covers trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical coverage while on program, and emergency evacuation services.

It is possible that a program itinerary may be subject to small changes, or an entire re-routing depending on the global situation. Our first priority is always student safety, secondly is meeting the educational and developmental goals of our programs. If we feel for any reason that the itinerary booked will not offer the highest level of health and safety or deliver a life changing experience for our students, we will be looking to offer alternative locations that deliver a similar yet better experience.

If you still have any questions, feel free to schedule a call with our admissions team for more information.