Frequently Asked Questions
Current travel updates
Traveling with Atlas Obscura during the COVID-19 pandemic
Atlas Obscura cares deeply about the health and safety of our guests, guides, partners, and the communities that we visit. In response to COVID-19, we have created the following resources outlining our COVID-19 policies and protocols:
- Traveling with Atlas Obscura during the COVID-19 pandemic
- How We're Adapting Our Trips
- Destination Requirements (via Embassy Pages)
What happens if you cancel my trip due to COVID-19?
If Atlas Obscura cannot proceed with your trip as planned, our team will be in touch with you directly with your options for rebooking. Most of our trips have available future dates. We're happy to work with you to transfer your booking to a future trip of your choice.
Any other travel arrangements, including flights, hotel bookings, and other services not booked through Atlas Obscura are subject to the cancellation terms and conditions of those providers. We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
For questions about your trip, our office hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (GMT+5). Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (646) 961-4857.
What if I get sick or need medical help during my trip?
We work with Global Rescue, a leading emergency medical assistance and evacuation provider for travelers. While their top priority is assisting in the event of an emergency, their team is available to our travelers 24/7 to advise on minor issues, as well—from helping out if you lose your passport to getting you on the phone (free of charge) with a travel-medicine specialist to making sure a sore throat or headache isn't something more serious. They can also help arrange a visit to an approved local medical facility if you need in-person care. A Global Rescue membership for the duration of your time on trip is included in the cost of the trip (conditions apply).
Small group travel
I'm not sure organized group trips are for me. Are yours different?
Yes! Atlas Obscura is all about exploration and discovery. We create the kinds of travel experiences we'd want for ourselves, based on our database of the world's most unique places and foods. We'll provide you unparalleled access, in-depth storytelling, and of course, some freedom and flexibility to explore on your own. No big tour buses or boring tour guides here. As a result, our trips attract what we think are the most open-minded, curious, and easy-going travelers in the world. And that's the real secret! The company you keep when traveling makes all the difference.
Do you get many solo travelers on your trips?
We do—in fact, solo travelers make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there's a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. If you're looking for an opportunity to travel with people who share your sense of curiosity, you'll come away from these adventures with new travel partners and lasting connections.
How old are the people who take your trips?
Our trips are currently designed for travelers 18 years of age or older. There are some departures where an exception can be made for older teens.
Do you run family trips?
Presently, we do not offer dedicated family trips, but families regularly join our regular group departures. Guests 18 years of age or older are welcome to join any Atlas Obscura trip. Many of our departures are also available to book privately. This can be a great option for families, especially families with children under 18. Our private trip rates vary based on group size and availability. Please reach out to us if you'd like to explore this option for your family.
Who can join an Atlas Obscura trip?
We believe travel has the capacity to make us better global citizens, and we recognize that diverse groups of travelers enrich our trips for everyone. We encourage our travelers to be intrepid, curious, respectful and engaging with locals and other travelers alike. We often find that much of the adventure happens in the conversations that our experiences ignite.
In what language(s) do you conduct your trips?
Currently, all of our trips are conducted in English only.
Where are most of your travelers based?
While most of our travelers are based in the U.S., people join our trips from all over the world. You do not need to be a citizen of a particular country, or come from a particular place, to take one of our trips, though visa requirements for the countries visited can vary depending on citizenship.
Are your trips accessible?
We encourage all travelers to review the itinerary and pace of any trips that interest them prior to booking to ensure they can fully participate in all activities. We are happy to look into ways in which we can accommodate traveler needs or offer alternate activities where possible. If you have questions about whether an Atlas Obscura trip is right for you, please email us at email@example.com or call (646) 961-4857.
Can my dietary restrictions be accommodated?
We will accommodate dietary restrictions whenever possible, but there may be some destinations and trips where certain restrictions or allergies are harder to accommodate. Many of our trips indicate dietary notes at the bottom of the itinerary under “Trip FAQ”. If you have a severe allergy or have questions about a specific trip, please contact us to find out if a particular trip is right for you.
What are the activity levels of your trips?
All of our trips are rated as Easy, Moderate, or Challenging, based on the level of activity you can expect. This is noted on every trip itinerary page, right next to the trip name. In general, most trips typically include one or several miles of walking per day and require the ability to remain on your feet for extended periods of time. You can see the specific activity level details for each trip at the bottom of the itinerary under "Additional Info".
What do the trip travel styles mean?
- Communities Up Close - We're here to slow down, tune out the outside world, and learn the stories and traditions of unique local communities—whether meeting artists and craftsmen, farmers and foragers, or the neighbor's celebrity goats. Be ready for spontaneous visits, surprise guests, and warm welcomes.
- Urban Exploration - Delve into a city's nooks and crannies to discover local haunts and hidden gems. Be ready to walk around, take public transportation, and enjoy lively days filled with new encounters.
- Overland Adventure - Surround yourself in dramatic scenery and get immersed in local culture. You're here to take in as much of a new country as possible so be prepared for some long drives, but with plenty to see out the window.
- Road Trip - Be ready to move from place to place, staying at a new hotel most nights. You'll be visiting a number of different cities and towns and covering a lot of ground in a private vehicle—and occasionally grabbing lunch on the go.
- Outdoor Expedition - Immerse yourself in the natural world, learning about the animals and plants with which we share our planet. Be ready for full, exciting days outdoors, sometimes on the water or after dark.
- On the Water - Whether sailing a small schooner or cruising in an expedition ship, you'll experience spectacular corners of the natural world by water. Be prepared for compact quarters and meals onboard. In addition to adventures ashore, you'll have plenty of time to relax and take in the scenery.
Booking your trip
How do I join a trip?
On any trip itinerary page, click the “See Dates” button, just below the Trip name, or scroll down to the Upcoming Departures section and click the “Book” button. Then, simply fill out and complete the on-site booking form. You can also reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (646) 961-4857, and we'll help you through the process.
The trip I want to take is sold out. What should I do?
You can join any sold-out trip's waitlist by clicking the “Join Waitlist” button. If space on a particular departure opens up, it is offered to travelers in order of when they joined the waitlist. If a trip is sold out, there's a very good chance we'll offer it again in the future. Keep an eye out for new trip announcements via our trips newsletter.
Do you offer private trips?
Private trips are departures designated just for you, your friends, and your family using the existing group itinerary for that destination. Trip cost may vary from the advertised price based on group size and travel dates and special deposit and cancellation terms apply. Not all trips are available to book privately, but if there's one you're interested in, please email email@example.com or call (646) 961-4857. In some cases, we can arrange to run an existing trip date for your private party.
Do you offer custom trips?
We do not offer custom trips at this time.
Do you work with travel agents?
We work with travel agents on all trips departing before May 1, 2024. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (646) 961-4857. We are happy to offer details, answer your questions, and help you book a trip on behalf of your client. Travel-agent bookings currently must be made via email or over the phone. We currently aren't taking travel agent bookings for departures from May of 2024 onward, but will be reviewing and potentially updating this in the future.
Cancellations and insurance
What if I need to cancel my trip after I sign up?
For trips departing prior to May 1, 2024: All reservations made before the final payment date can be canceled without penalty within seven (7) days of booking up until the final payment due date. If you need to change plans after your final payment date has passed, cancellation fees will apply. Please consult our Terms and Conditions for more details on our cancellation policy.
For trips departing after May 1, 2024: Initial trip deposits become nonrefundable once they're paid. If you have questions about a trip before making your deposit, please don't hesitate to reach out. Please consult the Booking Conditions for full details on the cancellation policy.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. This is even more important as travel conditions continue to change. Different policies can cover items including trip cancellation, medical expenses and emergencies, or loss of luggage and personal effects. Our friends at Yonder Travel Insurance can help walk you through and explain the components of different travel insurance policies and what kind of coverage would work best for your needs. They are also a company with a social mission! With every policy sold on Yonder, they donate a week's worth of meals to children in need. Please click here for Yonder's contact info or to request a quote.
Is there a minimum group size for a trip to run?
Every trip is guaranteed once we have a group size of at least 4. If the group size is smaller than that, we'll work with our partners and do our best to run it below-minimum, but may need to cancel. In the event we have to cancel a trip you've booked due to under-enrollment, we'll issue a full refund or, if you prefer, can help you transfer to another date.
The places we travel
There's someplace I want to go, but you're not offering a trip there. What should I do?
We are continually updating and enhancing our offering of unique and immersive small group trips. To stay connected and be among the first to hear about new trips or departures, please sign up to receive our trips newsletter.
Does the trip cost include airfare?
No, our trips do not include the cost of airfare or transportation to or from the arrival and departure points. Each trip page has an 'arrival and departure' section that will identify where the group trip starts and ends. Travelers are responsible for arranging their own flights or transportation to and from the arrival and departure points. We can refer you to a third-party air specialist if you'd like assistance booking your flights.
I have a political or ethical objection to one of the places you're running a trip. Why would you send people there?
While this is a very difficult question and tends to come down to the particulars of the destination and trip, we generally believe that sending travelers to countries with complicated political situations is the right thing to do—provided we can do it safely and without contributing to the problems at hand. Simply put, if we felt we were doing harm by running a trip, we wouldn't do it. We believe greater understanding and engagement, especially the kind we get by visiting someplace first-hand, generally does more good than staying home or only visiting countries whose governments share our values.
I have a question that you haven't answered. How can I get help?
If you can't find what you're looking for here or in the trip-specific FAQ, please get in touch via email at email@example.com or call us at (646) 961-4857. We are available to assist Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m (EST). We'd love to hear from you!