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Westerner 2

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TESS
Westerner 2

This trip was an emotional state of absolute happiness. We engaged in truthful stories, road-blaster music and laughed until we cried.

Reviewed September 2019

When you are reading this you are probably researching whether you should book the Trek America tour you have been dreaming about for a while. Or you are just trying to spark your imagination, figuring out which Trek suits your travel aspirations best. If you are just looking to have the best time of your life like myself, please continue reading my review for the Westerner 2 trip with the most legendary tour leader Brit Mathat.

Also please note this is a review written by someone who fully enjoyed this trip and now remains in the days of massive post-Trek blues. I tried to keep it short and sweet but well. Here are a lot of trip insights and feelings for y’all.

Completing my post-trip review I obviously only ticked the boxes which stated “exceeded expectations”. Because wow.. I tell you I had pictured myself going on this trip for a long time but this was something else. Of course I read into the itinerary before leaving to see if it ticked the highlights I wanted to explore around the CA Westcoast, however I can barely explain with words how amazing this trip actually was. It is more like an emotional state of absolute happiness I look back on. Literary the only hard thing about this tour was leaving California and to say goodbye to the people I shared this wonderful time with on the road. We engaged in truthful stories, road-blaster music and laughed until we cried.

ARRIVAL IN LOS ANGELES
Starting off in LA I arrived one day before the trek departure date and stayed in the recommended hotel nearby LAX international airport. After a long flight from Amsterdam I was thrilled I booked this comfortable hotel. The shuttle bus to the Marriot was super practical, a quick call and they picked me up within 15 minutes. I was so stoked when I arrived, I immediately asked the kindest hotel receptionist for recommendations in the area. However when I got to my room I realized how jet lagged I actually was. I quickly organized my luggage for the next day and dozed off at 8PM. This was honestly the best idea so I could have a long rest before the next day - the 1st day of my American road trip adventure! Tip: try to book your pre-departure accommodation through Trek America, you can possibly share a room with someone to save money. I decided I personally needed a room for myself after this long flight but I would consider the option.

MEETING THE GROUP
After I woke up I enjoyed the breakfast buffet, grabbed my coffee to go and made my way to the hotel lobby. Here I saw a group of young enthusiasts sitting with their sleeping bags, backpacks and a couple of suitcases here and there. The group age ranged from 18-25. I myself just turned 28 a few months ago and got along with everyone, I even became good friends with someone who was just as lighthearted at the age of 18 years and was one of the funniest people I had ever met. The group was a great mix of personalities and cultural backgrounds. Everyone was really shy at first of course but we quickly started to have some conversation and great laughs. When Brit arrived and introduced herself as our tour guide it really felt like our trip was about to begin. She handed out our travel itinerary and I noticed she had a great sense of humor serving us with the departure information with witty comments complimented by her enthusiastic spirit. I immediately had a good impression of Trek America by her booksmart presentation and positive outlook on the upcoming tour. After a short but sweet intro on the health and safety rules for the trip, we went through some small administrative tasks and completed our dietary wishes etc. (I am a vegetarian and so were two other people on this tour. The entire group was so lovely and open to share vegetarian meals for most evenings, when there would be a meat based meal the cooking crew always made sure that night there was a vegetarian alternative just as delicious.) Within an hour we were en route to San Diego, upbeat music playing through the speakers and everyone getting to know each other rotating seats on the go. We all knew this was where the authentic road trip experience began and we only had the road ahead of us with amazing adventures to look forward to.

SUITCASE OR BACKPACK
Before leaving on this trip I contemplated whether I should bring a suitcase or a backpack. I have camped around Europe and several festivals however it had been a while. I decided to take a suitcase as it felt more organized for me personally. Honestly it doesn’t really matter, but I can only advice you.. don’t bring too many clothes and “just in case” items. After a few nights of camping you start to realize how little you need to get by and feel refreshed everyday. Also there is time and plenty of opportunity on the road to do your laundry. Every campsite and hostel has a launderette and you will have enough personal time to wash your clothes for only a few dollars. When I will go camp again I learned from this experience to only bring a few outfits. As I joined this trip in August the weather in California was really warm in most places and I would most likely wear a pair of comfortable shorts and a t-shirt everyday. I would say I probably only needed 2 pairs of shorts, swimwear, 3 T-shirts, an outfit for cold weather, maybe a jacket or a vest, something to wear on a night out and a raincoat just in case. Bring your hiking boots or sandals/sneakers with good grip, slippers and maybe another pair of shoes for an evening out. Make sure you pack a sleeping bag according to season. The mattresses provided by Trek America were perfectly fine to sleep on however I brought an extra one just in case. I wouldn’t take this mattress the next time as it is just a lot of extra space in your luggage, another cost and not a necessity, I donated it after the tour. So the next time having learned from this trek I would probably bring a duffle bag with the absolute necessary and my sleeping bag. Oh yeah I also found it super handy to bring a waist pack for my valuables and some sunscreen for during the day. I also brought a dopp kit for my shower essentials, a headlamp and a travel towel. This was really easy so I could just wake up and take out my dopp kit with my towel etc. to head for the showers in the morning without having to plow through my overpacked-giant-rookie-suitcase. LOL sorry Sasha (my new friend and funniest tent mate ever).

~ I am not going to get into too much detail about the travel itinerary because I think it is good to leave most of this trek to your own imagination. Therefore I’m just going to highlight a few details that made the trip really special for myself by not giving away too much. ~

ON THE ROAD
Being on the road with a group of solo travelers which quickly became my newfound friends is just a magical experience itself. If you are like me you probably imagine this scene you saw in a coming of age movie with a group of people on the road listening to their favorite tunes, driving through the mountains living wildly and carefree. Yes that’s exactly it! Especially if you are lucky enough to have such a brilliant tour guide like Brit showing you the true beauty of California. She made each day, hour, minute count and planned everything so perfectly. I mean when I think about it she was driving for long hours everyday and had to organize a million things for us carrying a huge amount of responsibility, but she was so easy going, approachable and crazy funny to be around! She really was loved and respected by everyone and 100% part of our group.

Everyday was a different experience filled with adventures. It kind-of felt like we were this group of lucky ones who made it to Neverland and everyday was another surprise filled with inspiration and beautiful endeavors. Brit would creatively draw up the itinerary for each day and during breakfast we would go through the planning. She inspired us to push ourselves to get the most out of each destination. To rise early to see the sunrise, sign up for the most amazing hikes and explore the best sites of each city. This talk really struck me and I made sure I wouldn’t waste one minute of this trip filled with opportunities. Brit is honestly one of the coolest and kindhearted people I have ever met. We were so lucky to have her guiding us on this tour with her knowledge about forestry, outdoors expertise and caring/joyful spirit.

FIRST STOP FOOD-KITTY
As you may have read Trek Amerika operates a food kitty system. This is super efficient and fun. Our first stop before San Diego was Walmart. The group was divided into 3 crews: dinner, dishes and van cleaning. This means you rotate chores every time you stay at a campsite. Together we made a grocery list for each food kitty shopping trip and divided this into 3. Also you will have some extra time to purchase personal items. I would get some extra snacks for on the road for example (read- a giant bag of cheese puffs Cheetos I didn’t open until 3 days later, you really get enough lunch from the food kitty), some beers for around the camp fire and maybe a disposable camera or another gallon of water for an upcoming hike.

CAMPING
One of my absolute favorite parts of the trek was camping. There is something so refreshing about just having this ground space to call your home for one or two days. It really makes you appreciate the surroundings and time you get to spend there. You just feel so awake and aware of the present moment. I never thought about the past or future worries during this trip. I was fully immersed into the present and the camping was something that really contributed to that. It’s because you really are exploring continuously to seize the day or sitting around a camp fire with your group at night laughing and talking. Also it was so easy to set up the tent. Brit gave us a 5 minute tutorial and I think everyone had their tents set up within 15 minutes after. It became such an easy process and you really learn to love and appreciate it. When we got to stay in a hostel or a luxury hotel in Las Vegas I appreciated the facilities but I really missed camping already here. Even now I am back at home I am planning on how I can get back into the wilderness as soon as possible haha. This is coming from a woman who has worked in fashion marketing for over 5 years lol. I absolutely loved the outdoor lifestyle, there is no way I can go back to living in the city full-time anytime soon. I learned so much from this trip and what effect your surroundings have on your physical and emotional state. I am ready for the next adventure and redesign my lifestyle.

IMPRESSION OF A FIRST TREK DAY
Ah San Diego it still feels like yesterday.. I absolutely loved it. What a laid back atmosphere and breezy summer weather.. the perfect start of this tour. I decided with a few of my group peers to rent bikes and cycle towards the pier. I felt so alive and relaxed on my bike, we stopped for lunch on the way and had so much fun together. It’s amazing how a group of strangers immediately grow so close when you are on the same journey. Brit mentioned in her first talk we would become a unit who would look after each other and she was so right about that. Later in the afternoon some people decided to rent a surf board, we really had a nice long day to enjoy the beach and wander around some shops. In the evening we would meet all together again with our take-out taco meals and got to enjoy this amazing view of San Diego Brit showed us. When we got back to the campsite we gathered around the campfire and had the best time grilling marshmallows, sharing laughs and stories.

*If you like some quiet time for yourself this is always an option. It is totally up to you when you want to join the group activities on each site. It is only human for everyone to have different feelings at times and we all have our own unique personalities. Some people liked to go to bed early and others enjoy staying up late. Some people would venture off to read in a quiet place and some people would get together to enjoy a drink or two playing a card game. As long as you make sure you are on time and have a good attitude, you do you and everything flows. It is important to take time for yourself to reflect sometimes and recharge. So definitely listen to your own voice and needs to make the most of this tour. In general everyone wants to get the most out of this experience so we would be asleep before 11pm most of the time to get a good night rest before waking up early. Most campsites require you to keep the noise down before 10PM as well so if a part of the group would decide to stay up late it wouldn’t bother anyone trying to sleep.*

NATIONAL PARKS
The national parks were absolutely beautiful. I think they were my favorite destinations. Swimming in freshwater lakes with the most mesmerizing views, hiking the Nevada falls or the Grand Canyon trails. The parks have so much to offer. I personally really enjoyed hiking Yosemite and would love to get more into hiking in the future. However it is completely up to you if you want to commit to the hikes. I would recommend you to definitely try if this is possible for you as there are different levels of hiking. Brit would always draw us a clear picture of the optional trails the night before we would start our hike and then she would ask us personally which hike was of our interest. She would then answer any questions raised and advice us on the different routes and what to pack. I always felt safe, prepared and informed. I felt really lucky to witness some of the most stunning viewpoints I had ever seen during the Yosemite Mist Trail hike. When we made it to the to Nevada falls I just felt so ecstatic. And then to finish the day with a jump into the most beautiful lake.. it’s just insane how perfect this day was. It is so special to share this feeling with your group as well. We would still talk about it for days after.

MORE HIGHLIGHTS
As I said before I don’t want to get into too much detail and provide spoilers but I will state a few things to look forward to which are already in the itinerary.

San Diego - definitely rent a bike or rollerblades to feel like a local for one day and cruise around the boulevard.

Colorado river - be prepared to witness one of the most beautiful campsites you will ever see and sleep under the stars.

The Grand Canyon - I can not recommend you enough to rise early for the most beautiful sunrise of your life, hike and explore. It really is a world wonder. If you can afford to definitely go on the helicopter ride as well.

Las Vegas - Be prepared to dance yourself high on life on the party bus in Las Vegas. This really is one of the most epic activities you can experience. I had so much fun on this ride.

Sierra Nevada - truly take in all the views. I would try to stay awake during this scenic route it is absolutely breathtaking. Other than that there are some beautiful surprises planned on the way to this campsite.

Yosemite - as I described before, the most captivating views I have ever seen. This day really has a special place in my heart. The mist trail hike atmosphere is just ethereal.

San Francisco - What can I say, I left my heart in San Francisco. No honestly I absolutely loved this city and it’s nostalgic vibes. I really enjoyed the walking tour by the local guide. And wow the sunset sail is such a romantic and beautiful experience. I can really imagine myself living in San Francisco in some future scenario, the city is mysteriously foggy and has such a free spirited atmosphere. There are many different districts with their own charms. Also we were really lucky to be here for the Moon festival so China town was the place to be.

Pacific Coast - This was an amazing campsite at Pismo state beach. We had a lovely time by the sea and organized a beautiful last campfire where we shared our favorite experiences.

Santa Barbara - before driving back to Los Angeles we got to spend some time in Santa Barbara. This was such a lovely place and a nice last lunch stop having a picnic by the beach.

Los Angeles - all good things come to an end and unfortunately this is where we had to say goodbye to most of the group at a stop by Venice beach continued by the last drop off, the LAX el Segundo Marriott hotel where we met. I booked to stay a few more nights in a hostel in downtown LA. I wanted to explore Los Angeles for the week before heading home back to Europe.

I really can not recommend this tour enough. It was more than I could have hoped for and I will cherish these priceless memories forever. I will definitely travel with Trek America again next year. This trip and especially our amazing guide Brit have inspired me so much to continue traveling. Trek America gave me the opportunity to fall in love with California and all the amazing places the state has to offer and I can not wait to go back!

Best wishes,

Tess

Matt
Westerner 2

Best Adventure In My Life

Reviewed September 2019

I'm normally a sociable person and don't mind talking or meeting new people, but I was nervous about this trip. Meeting complete strangers and having to spend 24 hours a day over 2 weeks was pretty daunting... But I soon found out I had no reason to be nervous.

Little did I know at the start of the trip that the 12 strangers I met at 8am on the first day would become best friends and my own little camping family. The tour was led by Ryan Foley, he's one of the coolest guy's I've met and his knowledge of every area we visited was outstanding! He soon became part of our little family.

We started the trip by going to to San Diego, where we were thrown into our first WOW moment (this quickly became a group meme, Owen Wilson style). But before this, we stopped off at the first grocery store where we were split into Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner groups for the first big food shop. This is where my love for wraps started to deteriorate... haha! So with food taken care of and a couple bottles of Gatorade to combat the jet lag, we were taken on a tour of San Diego featuring Seals, amazing panoramic views of the area and a nice little campsite. The first night camping... So I was wondering why we had such a big trailer... It was for tents, this is where the first sighting of the great group we had came to light as everyone helped everyone to set up camp while others cooked.

The second day we were up early and briefed on the days activities, Free beach day in San Diego and sunset with food? This was a great start to the holiday! The beach day included surfing, tips from Ryan helped us find the best surf hire place. This gave us all time to sit down, sunbath and get to know each other which helped. And everyone got to laugh at me trying to surf... But I managed to tick surfing in California off my list. Later that day we were driven to the first sunset spot of the trip and grabbed some food on the way. I thought to myself "surely this trip can't get any better, it's only the 2nd day of 14." I was wrong.

Another early get up, tents packed and I was the trailer loader aka "Trailer Trash", we were packed in the van and on our way to Arizona (Colorado River). This was the first taste of how big america was travelling by car. But the trip flew by as we were all too busy chatting and harassing the daily DJ to put songs on our awesome playlist. We finally arrived at our second location and sadly we were only here for 1 night. We also got our first taste of the hot american sun as it was over 40C at 6pm! We quickly set up camp and ran to the the river to cool down. Sitting in a river with the mountains behind was an amazing view. So it got to 11pm and the temp was still too warm for sleeping bags or tents. So this is the first ever night I have slept outside and saw the Milky Way has clear has it was, easily another WOW moment!

Morning arrived and with it the heat! So we quickly packed up and headed for the Grand Canyon and another day of Minibus Karaoke, with cheesier songs being added to the playlist. We stopped by Joshua Tree on the way and had wraps for lunch... which was great! So we arrived at camp and the routine was in motion, before being taken to the Grand Canyon for a surprise. The next morning was another free day at the Grand Canyon and followed by the best place i've eaten pizza, grand canyon sunset anyone? Yes!

We headed to Las Vegas for a "rest" even though a comfy bed was a relief, the rest didn't happen... It's Vegas after all! This was a great 2 days with a lot of activities happening in a short amount of time. Before I knew it I was back on the bus and on our way to the next destination. We stopped over at a small town with amazing natural hot springs and more views of the amazing stars.

We finally got to my favourite bit of the trip. Yosemite! This place was breathtaking. How we went from the coast to cities to desert to massive forests and mountains in the same trip was unreal. While in Yosemite I was breathless the whole time (might have been something to do with the hiking...) but the knowledge from Ryan of the trails that would give us the best views was invaluable! This was my highlight, natural beauty everywhere! On the way to Yosemite, we stopped off at a beach for lunch (Yes more wraps) and swimming surrounded by granite hills at 3000m altitude.. you read that right, sounds perfect right?

So we made our way to San Francisco, my favourite city of the trip, I recommend attending the city tour. Unfortunately Karl the Cloud (Yes that's his name) was lingering over the GGB the entire time we were there but didn't make the visit any less amazing! Also you got to find the XOX cafe! It's worth it!

To finish off the tour we headed down the Pacific Coastal Highway, which has the best coastal views I've seen, this was the last big trip before the end of our amazing 2 weeks. We ended the tour at the famous Venice Beach/Santa Monica. Bit worse bit of the trip was coming next, I had to say goodbye to the small family I had made with the amazing people on the tour! I never would have thought at the start that leaving for the UK was going to be so difficult. This has without a doubt been the best experience of my life, I've gained life long friends and shared unforgettable memories with amazing people!

If you want to see America/California and make new friends along the way, this is hands down the best way to do it. Choose camping as this gives you more time to mingle with the people and bond quicker which will enhance the experience.

Lily Andrews
Westerner 2

fun, hardwork, unmissable

Reviewed August 2019

Wonderful and lovely tour leader (Erin Rowland), fun group and fantastic route and sights

James M
Westerner 2

An amazing and unforgettable trip. You won't want it to end!

Reviewed June 2019

This trip was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a non-stop, fun-filled and inspiring two weeks, and I wouldn't have changed anything. Not only do you get to experience sights such as the Grand Canyon by helicopter, Vegas by party bus, Yosemite on foot, and San Francisco by boat, but you get to do it all with a group of people that quickly become friends to share it all with. We had a great tour leader who was lucky enough to have our nutty group as her first tour, but it didn't show at all. She gave us great tips for each stop and really bonded with the group.
I can't recommend this tour enough. It has something for everyone and you won't be disappointed!
Roll on Trek number two!

Julia Rose
Westerner 2

Great New Friends on A Crazy New Adventure!

Reviewed May 2019

I really loved this trip!
I went on my own and pretty much immediately we bonded as a group which really did make the trip because it made the amazing experiences (grand canyon, yosemite, vegas and so much more) even more amazing because I got to share them with great new friends.

I really recommend this trip if you love a mix of outdoor adventure, city breaks and sightseeing and particularly if you want to make friends! I honestly can't recommend it enough and if you get Richard as a tour leader you are a very lucky bunch!

Phillippa
Westerner 2

Trip of a lifetime!

Reviewed April 2019

I had wanted to do a West Coast USA road trip for as long as I can remember and after hearing about this particular trip via social media, I decided I wanted to do the trip with Trek America - best decision ever! This trip has a very full itinerary, each day full of 'wow' moments and iconic landmarks. Visiting places that for years I had looked at online, and dreamt of visiting, and then there I was actually seeing these places for myself. I loved that the tour had a mix of both cities (San Diego, San Fran, Vegas) and national parks (Yosemite & Grand Canyon). For me, going on a camping version of this trip made the whole experience way more memorable. Setting up camp together, cooking as a group and eating s'mores around a campfire - it was these little things that made the trip so special and meant that our group bonded so well. My trip had 11 trekkers and 9 of us were solo travellers, but honestly we all got along so well it literally felt like we had known each other for years. What was great about this was that each day you could hang out with different people, depending on what activities you wanted to do. Huge shoutout to our tour leader Brad who was amazing and had lots of great information for us. He helped us to book tickets for attractions we wanted to visit (baseball in San Diego) and dropped us off at specific locations on our free days depending where we wanted to be - this was greatly appreciated. He also ordered pizza for us to eat whilst we watched the sunset over the Grand Canyon (not many people can say they have done that), it was one of my highlights of the whole trip! The trip might be considered 'expensive' but after doing the trip I can say it was 100% worth every penny. I booked this trip 9 months before I actually went on the trek, meaning I had time to initially save for the trip itself and then even more time to save for flights and spending money. I The first thing I did when I got home, was order a new brochure - I can't wait to go on another adventure with Trek America!

RLSouthorn
view profile
Westerner 2

Best trip ever

Reviewed February 2019

So I had already done my first trek which was in canada. In the Rockies. My god I didn't think anything could come close to that... westerner 2 was in another league of its own. The hike and helicopter tour over the grand canyon was just absolutely incredible.. getting stuck in the Arizona desert in the sweltering heat was not amazing... but it was amazing too haha. Honestly it was the best tour and I had the best leader. I only hope I can get 3rd time lucky as I'm off doing the best of the East trip July 2019!!

jess b
Westerner 2

The absolute best way to travel the west

Reviewed January 2019

Westerner 2 was honestly the best trip I've ever done. I've made friends for life and visited so much in such little time. The memories, trek jokes and experiences I had with on W2 were indescribable. If you are considering this trip then go for it because you won't regret it. The itinerary was jam packed with things to do, the accommodation and camping was great and the west really is one of the coolest places to visit. There was so much to do and see and even driving from place to place in the van was thoroughly enjoyable. Chatting round the camp at night was so much fun and I wouldn't of changed a single thing about my whole experience. I loved it so much I'm sure I am going to go again. Walking to Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon was a crazy experience and camping under the stars in Yosemite is going to be a hard experience to beat. W2 is a trip of a life time. Go Go Go!!

Liam H
Westerner 2

Best way to see West Coast USA!

Reviewed September 2018

My trek tour left June 7th 2018 and was my first time experiencing travelling alone at the age of 18. I highly recommend pre-accommodation with trekamerica. They had us stay at Aloft, the hotel right next to the Fairfield; which in my opinion was much more modern.

My tour guide, Anya, was so incredibly knowledgeable of the geographical locations of each of the cities we visited, I still can't believe it was her first time! As for my trek group, it was fantastic traversing the west coast with a bunch of outdoor-oriented and adventurous souls. Being 18, I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to include myself in the activities that the 21+ year olds would be able to do, but my group made sure (when necessary) that we went to bars suitable for all ages and found activities that were also age inclusive.

I could not have asked for a better experience travelling alone in California, Nevada and Arizona. I'm so glad I decided to this tour and I'm so happy with the friends and memories that resulted from me going on it!

If you're heading to work at USA summer camps, I highly recommend booking with these tour providers as the dates they offer for tours can work around camp start/end dates.

HANNAH L.
Westerner 2

More incredible than I ever imagined!

Reviewed September 2018

So you’re gonna read a lot of reviews about how apprehensive people were to book and how glad they were that they did. I read a lot of similar reviews before I booked and was probably as skeptical as you are reading mine but it’s impossible to put into words how utterly incredible this trip is you just have to give it a go and see for yourself! I had the most amazing 2 weeks everywhere we stopped I was convinced it couldn’t get more beautiful and nothing else could surprise me but every time it did! From trekking the Grand Canyon to sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset I couldnt quite believe I was really there. Our trek leader Steven was so helpful and just felt like one of the group. I made great friends and loved getting to know everyone.

I’ll leave you with a quote I learnt along the way “freedom awaits you on the breeze in the sky, you ask what if I fall but oh my darling what if you fly?” And so if these reviews are to be believed surely that’s worth taking a chance and booking cause I guarantee you’ll be flying the whole time!

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