Each summer around 600 students join us from 45 US States and 30 countries! Coordinating everyone’s travel is a huge task, and not one that we take lightly.
Since AQ students come from all points of the compass, we don’t include the cost of travel to and from the program start location in our tuition. That said, we do work closely with you to ensure you select an itinerary that works for both you and the program.
For this reason, we teamed up with Leah Hernandez from TRC Travel Center. Leah is a very knowledgeable Travel Coordinator with over 15 years of experience booking travel for our students. She arranges group seating and provides close monitoring on travel days in case of flight difficulties. Leah provides us with all of your travel details so that we know when and where to meet your student; she also updates us with any changes that may occur due to flight delays or schedule changes. This is an invaluable service should your student run into any difficulties on the travel days.
Leah Hernandez – AQ Travel Coordinator
Toll Free: 800.329.9000
As airlines often change their schedules, ActionQuest cannot be responsible for the coordination of air flights that were not booked through TRC Travel Center.
Travel to the British Virgin Islands
One reason the BVI has remained one of ‘Nature’s Little Secrets’ is that there are no direct flights. All travel to the BVI connects through another Caribbean island. Students may select from one of these two travel options:
1. Fly via St. Thomas (airport code STT):
98% of students select this route. Flights direct to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands are typically reasonably priced, and once arrived, students make their way to Tortola under staff supervision, which is about 25 miles away by ferry.
On scheduled travel days we station two or three staff members in the St. Thomas airport to meet and greet the students.
2. Fly to Tortola via San Juan, Puerto Rico (airport code SJU):
Typically a more expensive route, an alternative way to arrive in the BVI from the US is via San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On travel days a local driver will greet the incoming students and arrange for ground transportation to the vessels. Since we do not have staff support in San Juan, this route cannot be considered for any student designated as an Unaccompanied Minor by the airlines.
Travel to all non-Caribbean Destinations
Most non-Caribbean programs include internal air flights within the destination country so students enrolling for our programs must book through Leah in order to ensure that all students are on the same flights at the same time.
Please visit the web pages and Nitty Gritty sections specific to the programs that interest you for more information on flights, transportation and the use of frequent flyer miles.
Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) are young travellers, defined by the airline as being too young to travel without direct supervision. Depending upon the age of your student on the day of their flight (inbound or outbound) they may be designated as a UM by the airline. Some airlines define UMs as those under the age of 12 while others define UMs as those under the age of 15. The airlines designed these programs to help provide additional security to your student while they travel. If your student is originating from points outside of the US, this may not apply.
The following overviews your responsibilities should you find that your student is designated as a UM for any leg of their itinerary:
- Your child must take UM status if they are defined as such. It is mandatory based on age unless the student is flying with a family member who is older than the designated UM age, or a non-family member over the age of 18.
- You must pay for UM status for BOTH the outbound and return flights while checking in for the outbound leg. If your student becomes “of age” during the program then this will not apply for the return leg.
- You will need to provide the name and contact details of the Program Representative in the arrival airport during the check-in process. We will email this to you a few days prior to the program start date.
- You must ensure that the entire trip uses a single airline carrier on both the outbound and the return itineraries.
- You must confirm with the airlines that your student is not flying on the last flight of the day. Airlines will not take responsibility for an Unaccompanied Minor overnight.
- If joining a BVI program, understand we can only accept UMs flying to St. Thomas because we will not have a staff representative in the San Juan airport.
If you have any questions regarding UM status, please feel free to give our office a call at 1.800.317.6789 (+1.941.924.6789). In addition, our travel Coordinator, Leah Hernandez, or your airline should be able to answer any questions on specific regulations and requirements.
Passports & Visas
All students are required to travel with a valid passport during their program. Additionally, many countries require that the passport be valid for up to 6 months after the return date of the program. Please confirm that your passport will be valid for the required time frame. If it is not, begin the renewal application immediately as the process can take many weeks. ActionQuest cannot be held responsible for ensuring the validity of a student’s passport.
Students traveling on U.S. passports
For the most part, visas are not required for students travelling on US Passports to our program destinations. Australia is an exception however, and an electronic visa will be issued by the airline when the ticket is booked through our travel coordinator Leah Hernandez. For the most up-to-date and thorough information, please visit travel.state.gov and navigate to your destination via the “Learn about your destination” search bar.
Students travelling on non-U.S. passports to the British Virgin Islands
Students travelling on non-US passports should first verify the BVI visa requirements for their nationality by reviewing the list found HERE. PLEASE NOTE: If you are required to have a visa, the correct visa to apply for is either an Overseas Territories visa or specific British Virgin Islands Visa, not a UK visa.
The specific British Virgin Islands Visa Application can be downloaded HERE, and for more information on how to submit this form for processing you should call the British Virgin Islands Government on +1.284.468.3701 and ask to speak directly with the Visa office which is located in the main government building.
Students traveling on non-U.S. passports to other destinations
Please verify passport and visa requirements for your nationality by contacting the local embassy or consulate for your destination country. The websites embassy.goabroad.com and www.embassyworld.org operate handy directories of embassies and consulates around the world.
Visas For Non-US Students or Canadian Students Transiting the USA
If you are a non-US student and you have to transit to your program destination through a US port (including Puerto Rico or St. Thomas) then you will likely need to apply for one of the following US visas:
- ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) – Students from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who need to transfer flights within the continental U.S., Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands are required to apply for an ESTA through the US Customs and Border Protection website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. This is an online application and the fees can be paid by credit card.
- Transit Visa – Students from Non-VWP countries may need to apply for a specific Transit Visa. More information on these visas can be found at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/other/transit.html
Arriving a day early or staying late
For those students heading to the BVI from countries other than the USA, we understand there are times when it is impractical to get all the way to the BVI in a single day. For this reason, we make special provision for those who may need to arrive a day early or stay a day late.
When arriving early, students either overnight with us aboard the vessels in Tortola or, as is often the case, overnight in St. Thomas with a staff member and then travel over to the BVI by ferry the following morning. While we ask that parents cover the direct costs of any hotel rooms that we book on your behalf, we do not charge any additional fees for this service.
Please contact us on +1.941.924.6789 for more information on either arriving a day early or staying a day late.