Frequently Asked Questions

How does air travel work?

We offer group flights that are chaperoned by Zeal trip leaders. This goes for both departing and returning flights. As a parent, you can rest assured that your teen won’t get lost, miss their flight, or be separated from the group in the event of a delay or cancelation. You’ll receive detailed instructions long before the trip begins on where and when to meet in the airport, and what the flight details are so you can track the flights in real time.

Is airfare covered in the tuition cost?

No, airfare is not covered by tuition. We confirm our group flight reservations 300 days in advance, so generally speaking reserving a space on the group reservation is less expensive than anything found online. We do not charge any extra fees for the group flight service; we only want to make the experience as simple and seamless as possible for you and your teen.

What is the food like?

In short- it’s healthy, plentiful, and delicious! Just like accommodations, food is another basic need that can make or break your teen’s experience. In some of our accommodations, there are large and fantastic kitchens, so we often prepare our own meals. This gives the trip another aspect of feeling at home, as participants can stock up on their favorite foods and help prepare the meals in work rotations. Aside from these tasty home-cooked meals, we eat out to experience local cuisine and culture. It’s a great balance that makes the whole trip even more wonderful.

What about food allergies?

All Zeal trips are nut free and can be modified to accommodate other food allergies and dietary restrictions. Zeal trip leaders are trained and certified to respond to anaphylaxis with epi-pens, and carry them at all times. We also reach out to restaurants beforehand to ensure safety policies are in place. If they cannot guarantee a safe kitchen, we either go somewhere else or prepare a separate meal for our participants with food allergies and restrictions. We also buy safe snacks for participants so they don’t get anxiety about not having food on the road. Additionally, we review the medical information of each participant before the trip and do pre-trip phone calls with each family to discuss their specific needs and how they’re handled at home. Traveling in small groups allows us to give ample attention to each participant ensuring dietary needs are met.

What are the accommodations like?

Accommodations are the foundation of comfort and ease on Zeal adventures. Having a safe and comfortable place to come home to each evening allows our participants to thoroughly enjoy themselves and step outside of their comfort zones when the day’s activity may be challenging. Accommodations vary by trip and day, but may include small family owned hotels and eco-lodges, tent camping, and major hotels like Double Tree, Ramada, or Holiday Inn. Participants always share their sleeping quarters with 2-3 other participants of the same gender.

Is there community service?

Absolutely! Engaging with and serving communities is a core belief held by all Zeal staff members. What’s more, we only participate in service learning activities that are fun, educational, impactful, transformative, and much more than simply checking the box off the list. Our service opportunities cover a wide range of experiences including marine conservation, building homes for those in need, volunteering in animal rehabilitation, and working with youth in local summer camps and tutoring settings.

What's the technology policy?

Zeal participants should bring phones and cameras, but no tablets or laptops. Trip leaders will safely hold onto all phones throughout the trip with notable exceptions being the first and last day of the trip, as well as once a week for phone calls home. This policy keeps teens off their phones and immersed in the Zeal experience.

How often will I hear from my teen?

Our goal is have parents feel up-to-date on their teen’s trip without impeding on them having a life-changing experience in a small cohesive group. With these two goals in mind, your teen will call you upon arrival in the destination, weekly throughout the trip, and before we board the plane to return. In addition to these calls, you’ll have access to a blog written daily by participants that includes a summary of the day and photos. On top of that, trip leaders update Instagram and Facebook throughout the day, every day.

What happens in medical emergencies?

All Zeal trip leaders are trained and certified Wilderness First Responders, so participants receive immediate medical care no matter where we are. Our trip locations are chosen such that we always have access to definitive care like a hospital or urgent care facility. Parents are notified immediately in the event of an emergency. This approach provides you with quick communication and the fastest response possible for your teen.

Can I speak with trip leaders?

Yes, but with a caveat. Our trip leaders are extremely busy as you can imagine. They are in charge of safety, logistics, group dynamics, communication with our head office, and much more. If ever there is an issue or question regarding your teen, Zeal’s director will call you immediately. After that initial call and depending on the situation, it may make sense for you to speak with the trip leaders, in which case they will reach out to you.