Trip FAQ - Atlas Obscura

Frequently Asked Questions

Current Travel Updates

How is COVID-19 impacting your trips?

Note: We will continue to update this section with new information as we have it.

The wellbeing of our travelers, staff, and the communities we visit is our top priority. To help travelers stay safe and avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus, and due to travel restrictions in place around the world, we’ve suspended most of our trips through the end of 2020—though a small number of specially adapted trips remain on offer, mainly for people traveling locally and regionally in areas where it's possible to do so responsibly. Trips taking place in 2021 are set to proceed as planned, and we’re continuing to monitor the situation closely.

We know that many of our travelers have been looking forward to their trips for months and even years. Further, our trips are designed to have a positive impact on the individuals, communities, and places they visit. As long as travel can happen safely and responsibly, we’re committed to helping make these special experiences and positive impacts possible for our travelers and collaborators around the world.

To determine whether we can safely and responsibly run a trip, we’re continuing to work closely with the security and medical experts at Global Rescue, as well as contacts on the ground. We’re also following advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department as they continue to be updated, working to ensure we follow evolving travel guidelines Based on the information we have, we will proceed with scheduled departures to destinations where we’re confident we can operate safe, successful trips. You can find more information on our approach and decision-making process here.

As the world adapts to COVID-19, how is Atlas Obscura adapting its trips?

We’re working closely with an experienced team of advisors at Global Rescue to rapidly adapt how we operate our trips in response to COVID-19. Our updated operational guidelines include adjusting our on-trip health, hygiene, and emergency-response protocols; conducting expanded trip leader training; establishing new standards for vetting all accommodations, restaurants, and transportation providers; and providing travelers with more resources both before and during the trip, including 24/7 on-trip access to Global Rescue’s travel-medicine specialists. As always, trip staff and leaders are expected to follow all local and international health, safety, and travel guidelines, as well as the guidance of the team at Global Rescue. You can find more information on how we're adapting our trip operations to COVID-19 here.

By nature, Atlas Obscura trips tend to avoid crowded places where over-tourism is an issue. We’re now focusing even more on travel experiences that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds, as well as some that are private and/or self-guided. If you’re curious to learn more about how we’re adapting and what new trips are in the works, we invite you to get in touch.

What happens if you cancel my trip due to COVID-19? Will I get a refund?

If we cancel your trip due to COVID-19, or for any other reason, you’ll receive a full refund of all payments made to Atlas Obscura. You’ll also have the option of applying your payment as a credit towards a future trip with us.

Keep in mind that flights, hotel bookings, or other travel arrangements made through third parties are subject to the cancellation terms and conditions of those providers. We always recommend purchasing travel insurance for any trip to ensure you’re protected.

We’re available to answer questions about travel during this time. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (GMT+5). Please get in touch via email 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 travelers 24/7 for minor issues, as well—from helping out if you lose your luggage or passport to getting you on the phone (free of charge) with a travel-medicine specialist to make 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 tour is included in the cost of the trip.

 

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 to be found. 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 buddies and lasting connections.

How old are the people who take your trips?

The average age of our travelers depends on the particular trip. Our owl-tracking trip in Utah, for example, has an average age of about 35. Our trips to the Balkans and Chernobyl, on the other hand, have had participants ranging from 18 to 78, with an average of about 45. We love the age diversity of our groups, and the different perspective everyone brings to the experience. If there's a particular trip you're curious about, we encourage you to get in touch and we'll give you a better sense of what to expect.

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. With this in mind, we strive to support inclusive group travel experiences across race, ethnicity, national origins, gender and gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, class, and experience.

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 coming from a particular place, to take one of our trips, though visa requirements for the countries visited often vary depending on citizenship. Since people are flying from many different places before meeting at the trip’s starting point, airfare is not included. We’ll provide detailed instructions on when and where to meet the group at the beginning of the trip.

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 trips@atlasobscura.com or call (646) 961-4857.

What is an all-women trip?

All-women trips offer a space for participants to travel as part of a community of women. Our all-women groups include travelers and trip leaders whose current birth certificate lists sex as “female,” as well as those who self-identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned at birth. Participants can join solo or with co-travelers. Like all Atlas Obscura trips, all-women trips offer the opportunity to engage in responsible travel, explore incredible places with local experts, and make new friends along the way. To learn more about what to expect on these trips and to determine if they’re right for you, contact us at any time.

Note: Atlas Obscura doesn’t ask for documentation to verify sex or gender identity. We may request identification, such as a government-issued ID or travel document. For example, some hotels require a passport copy to confirm a reservation.

What is a solo-only trip?

While we design all of our trips for independent travelers, solo-only trips are made up entirely of solo travelers. These trips are ideal for solo travelers who want to meet and travel with other solo travelers. Solo-only and regular departures of a trip have identical itineraries and happen around the same time of year, so that you can select the option that matches your travel preference. To learn more about what to expect on these trips and to determine if they’re right for you, contact us at any time.

 

Booking Your Trip

I’m a local in the place where you’re running a trip. Can I join the trip or get involved somehow?

Yes! We provide amazing access to incredible places that we hope surprise even the most knowledgeable insiders. If you live in the area and want to come along for part of a trip, drop us a line and we'll work to make it happen. We also offer a 10% discount to locals on most of our trips. 

How do I join a trip?

On any trip itinerary page, 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 trips@atlasobscura.com 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 at the top right of the itinerary page. If any spots open up, we offer them to travelers according to 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?

Not all trips are available to book privately, but if there’s one you’re interested in, please email trips@atlasobscura.com or call (646) 961-4857. In some cases, we can arrange to run it just for you, your friends, and family.

Do you work with travel agents?

Yes! Please email trips@atlasobscura.com for details, or to book a trip on behalf of your client. In the future we plan to accept travel-agent bookings online, but for now they must be made via email or over the phone.

 

Cancellations & Insurance

What if I need to cancel my trip after I sign up?

We know that plans can change unexpectedly, which is why we now offer more flexibility than ever. All reservations can be cancelled free of charge within three days of booking. After the three-day grace period, you can still transfer your reservation, and apply your trip deposit, to any other trip departing before the end of 2022 as long as you let us know before making your final payment. Depending on the trip, your final payment is due between 30 and 90 days prior to departure. If you need to change plans after making your final payment, cancellation fees may apply—which is why we always recommend purchasing travel insurance (see below).

If you have any questions about the details of our cancellation policies, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Do I need trip insurance?

We work with the fantastic folks at Yonder (seriously, they're great!). They compare different policies from a wide range of insurance companies, so that you can find the one that's both the best fit and the best deal. Although we do not require trip insurance, we highly recommend it.

 

The Places We Travel

There’s someplace I want to go, but you’re not offering a trip there. What should I do?

Send us an email or give us a call! We're always working on new trips, and some of the best ideas come from the Atlas Obscura community. If we're working on a new trip that might fit your interests, we'll let you know. We also recommend signing up for our newsletter, where we announce new trips frequently.

Do your trips include the cost of international flights?

We don’t include the cost of international flights because our travelers live in many different parts of the world, and the flights they take to join our trips vary. We do, however, include any regional flights that are part of the itinerary itself. We can also 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.

 

Contact Us

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 our general FAQ, please get in touch via email 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!