Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I reserve my space on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
- How does Smithsonian Journeys differ from other group travel options?
- What's included in the cost of a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
- How do I decide which trip is right for me?
- How many travelers are on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
- Can I travel alone?
- I often travel with a group. Does Smithsonian Journeys offer any group discounts?
- How old are your travelers?
- What are the physical and/or health requirements?
- What should I know about Travel Insurance?
- Can I bring children on my journey?
- I don't always want to travel in a group. Do you offer independent travel that I can customize to my own requirements?
- What is the best way to learn about Smithsonian Journeys tours?
- Can you accommodate those with dietary restrictions?
- Is airfare included in the tour cost?
- Are there any U.S. Passport rules I should be aware of?
- How is Smithsonian Journeys affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution? Is my trip tax deductible?
- Does the Smithsonian offer student travel programs?
- Does Smithsonian Journeys consider how travel impacts the environment?
1. How do I reserve my space on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
It's easy—you can reserve online at any time or call at 855-330-1542 (M-F: 9 AM-6 PM EST) for calls from outside of the United States, please call 989-702-2515. You can pay with most major credit cards. Our programs typically require a deposit, with final payment due later.
2. How does Smithsonian Journeys differ from other group travel options?
Built upon the important mission of the Smithsonian, our journeys are designed with the same quest to increase and diffuse knowledge. You will engage with the world through the Smithsonian lens and enjoy an immersive and transformative experience that you will never forget. Our collection of diverse journeys has grown to 300+ annual departures on all seven continents and will satisfy your curiosity about the world. And, when you travel with us, your participation benefits the work of the Smithsonian Institution, supporting our educational mission to preserve our heritage, discover new knowledge, and share our resources with the world.
In addition to an experienced trip leader, on most trips a Smithsonian Journeys Expert and top local guides will join you on your journey. Among the experts who accompany you are scholars from around the world—with an in-depth understanding of history, culture, politics, the natural world, or the fine arts—who have been selected by Smithsonian Journeys for their special knowledge and ability to connect with people. You may also find by your side a Smithsonian scientist who has spent a lifetime studying and interpreting biology, ecology, geology, astronomy, or another discipline. Our travelers tell us that our experts, and overall educational emphasis, are why they choose Smithsonian Journeys again and again.
3. What's provided with a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
Extras include experts, trip leaders and guides, enrichment, most meals, excursions, excellent accommodations, transfers, most gratuities, and even airfare inclusive pricing on many tours. You will find that many of our trips offer exceptional value. You can find the full list of inclusions in our General Terms & Conditions.
For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys provides an on-tour insurance plan. In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as a missed flight connection, lost luggage, and canceled plans. There are many plans you can consider for your convenience. You may visit www.travelguard.com/smithsonianjourneys or call Travel Guard at (800) 208-6142 to learn more about optional travel insurance options.
4. How do I decide which trip is right for me?
We offer a variety of options to fit a range of tastes and travel interests. We offer land journeys (many including airfare), small-ship ocean cruising, river cruising, cultural stays, special interest tours, active journeys, train journeys, private jet, and multigenerational family journeys. And if the group options aren’t right for you, we offer Smithsonian Tailor-Made Journeys where you can customize your itinerary with the help of a Country Specialist.
You can use our Trip Finder to search by destination, tour style, departure date, duration, activity level, and even by a particular interest to find your perfect journey!
5. How many travelers are on a Smithsonian Journeys tour?
Group size varies depending on the trip type. Almost all of our land trips feature guaranteed small groups of 12-24 travelers, and cruises range from 30-100 travelers (with a few slightly larger), depending on the ship’s size. In some cases (including on river cruises), our Smithsonian group shares the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions. Please ask our reservation specialists about specific trip sizes.
6. Can I travel alone?
Smithsonian Journeys offers tours perfectly suited for solo travelers! You will share your experience with people with similar interests and a taste for exploring the world. If you prefer a single room, you may reserve one by paying the single supplement (which reflects the additional costs charged by hotels and cruise lines). Please note that availability may be limited for solo travelers. Learn more about our solo traveler special offers here!
7. I often travel with a group. Does Smithsonian Journeys offer group discounts?
Yes, there are several opportunities to apply a group discount. Apart from Smithsonian Family Journeys, travel agent, or Tailor-Made bookings, Smithsonian Journeys is pleased to offer a discount of $250 per person based on eight (8) or more people booking at the same time and traveling together. If the group falls below eight (8), the price will reflect the original price. In addition to your initial per-person deposit that becomes nonrefundable after seven days from booking, a second deposit of $1,000 per person will be due and become nonrefundable at six months prior to departure. Please call 855-330-1542 to learn whether a group discount is available for a given tour.
8. How old are your travelers?
Because we offer a wide range of travel options, our age range is quite broad. More active itineraries attract travelers from 45-70 years of age, while special interest tours, including performing arts, typically attract guests from 55-80 years of age. So, while there is no typical age profile, our average age is 55+. On multigenerational family journeys, you will find parents, grandparents, and children of all ages (generally 8-12 years of age or above). For all of our journeys, we ask that travelers are physically able to participate in all planned activities so that they may enjoy every aspect of the journey. And please ask our reservation specialists about the activity on specific tours.
Please read more about our Activity Level Ratings which provide a better understanding of the activity level requirement for each trip. Specific activity level details are located within the “Tour Details” tab on every web tour page (these describe the ease or rigors of trip activities, as well as altitude, internal flights, train travel, and length of walks, hikes, and treks).
9. What are the physical and/or health requirements?
Because of the educational nature of our trips and the inquisitive nature of our travelers, our itineraries are full and active. As a general guide, to enjoy your travel experience, we recommend that your level of fitness, stamina, and overall ability match the activity requirements for the trip selected. All trips feature varied activities that require a related level of physical fitness and ability.
Please read more about our Activity Level Ratings which provide a better understanding of the activity level requirement for each trip. Detailed information regarding specific activity expectations can be found within the “Tour Details” tab on every tour page and should be reviewed carefully to ensure you have chosen a trip appropriate to your capabilities. These describe the ease or rigors of trip activities, as well as altitude, internal flights, train travel, and length of walks, hikes, and treks.
10. What should I know about Travel Insurance?
For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connection, lost luggage, and canceled plans. There are many plans you can consider for your convenience. You may visit www.travelguard.com/smithsonianjourneys or call Travel Guard at (800)208-6142 to learn more about travel insurance options.
11. Can I bring children on my journey?
Travel is a wonderful way for the younger generation to learn about the world and for families to spend time together. We offer an assortment of family-friendly journeys designed to be enjoyed by adults and children. Past travelers report that these are among the best travel experiences they have ever enjoyed. Trips that are not specifically designated as family journeys are designed with adults in mind. Some may be suitable for older children, however, please check with us before booking. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18. View our family journeys.
12. I don't always want to travel in a group. Do you offer independent travel that I can customize to my own requirements?
Yes! We are pleased to offer custom, private travel for those who are not interested in traveling in a group. Our Tailor-Made Journeys offer a rewarding experience that can be customized to your specific interests and are truly bespoke. A Country Specialist will advise you on the best guides, food, lodging, and local secrets in the region you wish to visit and help you design the perfect journey just for you. Click here to learn more!
13. What is the best way to learn about Smithsonian Journeys tours?
All of our journeys are featured on our website, and we also print catalogs to support most of our programing. To receive our FREE catalog, submit a request online or call 855-330-1542. To keep up-to-date on "Just Announced" tours and Special Offers, including Early Booking and Solo Traveler, and to receive invitations to our Expert Lecture webinar series, sign up today for our newsletter.
14. Can you accommodate those with dietary restrictions?
Yes, simply notify us in advance of your trip’s departure so that we can arrange for your special dietary needs. There is a section for you to note this information in the Pre-Trip Personal Information Form that you will receive with your confirmation packet.
15. Is airfare included in the tour cost?
Airfare varies on a tour-by-tour basis. While many of our small group, land tours offer airfare inclusive packages, other trips may not. Should airfare not be included, some of our partner tour operators are able to assist you in arranging your flights. Please note that when purchasing airfare independently, it is important to pay special attention to cancellation policies before you do so as international flight times and departures may change. You may search for all of our Airfare Inclusive tours in the Trip Finder.
16. Are there any U.S. passport rules I should be aware of?
The U.S. Department of State no longer adds visa pages into U.S. passports. Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).
Also, the rules of domestic air travel are changing, and you may need a passport to board domestic flights. This is because of the REAL ID Act, a federal law that compels states to update the security of the ID cards and driver’s licenses that they issue. The Department of Homeland Security offers an easy-to-use website that shows your state’s compliance status. Click on your state to learn more.
17. How is Smithsonian Journeys affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution? Is my trip tax deductible?
Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian—"the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Like the Institution, our trips offer enrichment opportunities and satisfy travelers’ curiosity about the world around them. When you travel with Smithsonian Journeys, your participation benefits the work of the Smithsonian's 21 museums, National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.
Your trip cost is not tax deductible.
18. Does Smithsonian offer student travel programs?
Yes, we offer enriching and immersive travel programs tailored for high school students. To learn more about our programs, please visit Smithsonian Student Travel.
19. Does Smithsonian Journeys consider how travel impacts the environment?
Yes, climate change action is a high priority for Smithsonian and Smithsonian Journeys. Smithsonian’s five-year Strategic Plan highlights “understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet,” where Smithsonian is using its resources across scientific museums and research centers to advance our response to the growing threat of environmental change. For example, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is closely monitoring the impact of a warming planet on coastal ecosystems through cutting edge ecological research, and The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute led one of the first major environmental impact studies ever and continues to study tropical ecosystems with over 350 running research projects every year. Smithsonian Journeys recognizes the impact of travel on the environment and on local populations. Our efforts are focused on both reducing our carbon footprint and having a positive impact on the communities we visit. We fully support The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, signed by more than 300 global travel stakeholders including tour operators, tourism boards, and hotel chains.
Private Jet Journeys: To help counterbalance the carbon footprint that results from flying, we are working closely with our partner tour operator, TCS Expeditions, to help offset the jet carbon emissions planned for these trips. Click here to learn more about TCS’s responsible travel efforts.