COVID-19 Updates

Navigating this New “Normal”

For the last decade, it has been our absolute privilege to inspire more than 6,000 past volunteers to travel with purpose and empower our host communities to fulfill their positive visions for the future. In April of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to temporarily pause our international programs in order to keep our participants, staff and host community members safe. This was the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make, and the months following it have proven even harder. However, if there’s one thing GIVE truly believes in, it’s the collective power of humanity to overcome our world’s greatest challenges, and we can now see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

As our host countries begin to reopen their borders and we continue to develop knowledge, resources and strategies to effectively mitigate the risks of COVID-19, we are ready, able and so excited to begin reopening all of our international programs safely and responsibly in May 2021. As always, we will continue to adapt our protocols according to the guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories, the World Health Organization (WHO), reputable local and international media outlets, travel and industry experts, and first-hand reports from our partners and staff in-country.

As a planet, we need each other, now more than ever. COVID-19 may separate us physically for the time being, but the time will soon come to reconnect our fractured world, rebuild our interconnected economy, and reclaim our intrinsic connection with one another. The time will soon come to travel again and, when it does, we sincerely hope you will choose to travel with purpose, with GIVE. Together, we can help to heal ourselves and our planet.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ’s

Whether you’re currently signed up to travel with us, considering traveling with us, or have a loved-one planning to travel with us, you likely have important questions that need to be answered. Hopefully we’ve answered those questions in the FAQ’s below, but please do not hesitate to call, text or email us with any further questions.

 

Future & Newly Registered Volunteers

How is COVID-19 affecting scheduled trips - are they still happening?

As of right now, all of our future trips from May 2021 – August 2022 are scheduled to run as planned. However, the safety of our volunteers, staff, and host communities is our top priority, so we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and follow the guidelines and recommendations of public health and safety experts. If our trips are ever deemed unsafe, then we won’t hesitate to cancel them or amend the itineraries. We have canceled trips before and will not hesitate to do so again to protect the health, safety and well-being of our volunteers, staff, and host communities.

I want to register for a trip, but I'm concerned about how COVID-19 might affect my trip. What should I do?

In response to COVID-19, we’ve not only enhanced our safety protocols but we’ve also implemented a worry-free booking policy that protects your investment with GIVE and ensures your funds are always valid towards a future trip. While your trip and add-on deposits are non-refundable, they are good for life and can be transferred to any future trip, along with all trip payments, at no additional cost. So, if the trip was postponed or you needed to reschedule for any reason, your trip payments could be transferred to any future trip at no additional cost as long as you let us know within 70 days of your trip start date.

In short, if this is something that you know you want to do at some point in the next few years, then you can place your deposit worry-free knowing that you have the flexibility to reschedule to a new date or location, if necessary.

What if I register for a trip and it's canceled by GIVE?

If GIVE decides to cancel your trip, we will contact you as soon as possible to rebook you on a new trip date and/or location that works best for you, free of charge. Furthermore, we are now waiving our trip transfer fees and giving you the flexibility to change your trip dates and/or location as many times as you need, free of charge, up until 70 days prior to your trip start date.

If you’re not able to select a new date/location when we contact you about rebooking, we will provide you with a travel credit equal to the dollar amount you have already paid towards your trip to be used on any future trip. These lifetime travel credits can be used on any trip at any time in the future with GIVE. Furthermore, you can now transfer your travel credits to friends and family who haven’t previously registered for a GIVE trip, or you can choose to donate the dollar amount of your travel credits to the GIVE Foundation’s COVID Relief Fundraiser.

If we cancel your trip for any reason other than a Force Majeure Event (see below for details), then you are eligible to request a refund of your trip payments, less your nonrefundable trip and add-on deposit(s) and a Refund Administration Fee of $50. Please note that if your trip is cancelled by GIVE due to a Force Majeure event – an event that occurs outside the reasonable control of either party, such as a pandemic, natural disaster or act of war – then all of your trip payments will be nonrefundable due to the unrecoverable losses we will face. In these rare cases, we will provide you with a lifetime travel credit equal to 110% of the amount you have already paid towards your trip to be used on any future trip with GIVE.

Is it safe to travel with GIVE?

GIVE is dedicated to exceeding industry standards when it comes to participant safety and risk management. With over 6,000 participants since 2012 and over 900 reviews from past volunteers, our safety record is unparalleled.

All Trip Leaders are certified in Wilderness First-Aid and CPR, and trained in Risk Management, Outdoor Leadership & Teamwork, Mental Health First Aid, Wilderness Skills & Decision-making, and Cultural Awareness. We also employ local guides in each of our destinations, who act as a critical link between our volunteers and the communities we empower. So rest assured, you’re in very good hands.

We fully understand and respect the severity of COVID-19 and have implemented expanded measures to increase the health and safety of our volunteers, staff and host communities, such as smaller group sizes, private transportation, social distancing requirements, personal protective equipment, and various other health and safety precautions. We are following the COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations of the CDC, WHO, Adventure Travel Trade Association in concert with the Cleveland Clinic, and local authorities.

Our Risk Management Team is constantly evaluating the safety of our trips, including the COVID-19 situation, and are continuously updating our protocols to reflect the most current recommendations. As we enhance our protocols, we’ll be sure to send you updates along the way. International adventure travel has inherent risks and we recognize that complete elimination of risk is not possible, but our comprehensive risk management plan built over the last decade has prepared us to facilitate these safe, life-changing excursions with confidence.

Should I wait to purchase insurance until I book flights?

In order to best protect your investment, GIVE recommends booking travel insurance right away (you’ll receive an email with instructions shortly after registering!). GIVE requires all volunteers to purchase International Travelers Insurance and Medical Insurance. This covers you for many unforeseen events that can happen before and during your trip, so you can put your mind at ease during your excursion. We offer an insurance policy through our trusted partners on our website under the “Travel Details – Insurance” drop down.

I just registered for a trip, when can I book flights?

We typically recommend booking flights 4-6 months prior to your trip. However, due to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, we ask that you hold off on booking flights until GIVE contacts you via email. Our dedicated flights agents are monitoring airlines to let us know when is the best time to book with changing circumstances.

Will there be a quarantine requirement?

GIVE has been closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and always strives to exceed industry standards when it comes to safety. Depending on where you are traveling to and from, there may be additional requirements prior to your trip based on the regulations of local authorities. We will do our best to keep you fully informed of any local rules and regulations you will need to prepare for, but we also recommend you do your own research on country-specific regulations closer to your trip date. While we aren’t currently operating any programs, our Risk Management Team is constantly updating our own safety protocols and will keep you informed about any changes you will need to be aware of.

Current Volunteer

What about your trips? Do you have any confirmed cases in any of your host communities?

GIVE’s trips operate seasonally and currently, we do not have any volunteers on the ground. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our host communities. We’re thankful that our partner communities have not been affected by COVID-19. We’re continuing to communicate closely with our local community leaders for updates on their health and well-being.

Is my trip confirmed to run as planned?

We are closely monitoring this rapidly changing situation. We have canceled trips and will not hesitate to cancel additional trip dates for the safety and well-being of our volunteers, staff, and host communities. You will receive both an email and text/call from GIVE if your trip is canceled.

Please know we are carefully considering every decision to ensure the best conclusion for volunteers, staff, host communities, and international programs. We are committed to continued evaluation of COVID-19 developments and how this virus impacts international travel, including GIVE programs. We’re closely monitoring how our collective global response to isolate COVID-19 affects the virus’ spread.

When would GIVE cancel my trip? What happens then?

Under no circumstances will we operate trips if we believe your safety will be compromised. We will cancel your trip if closer to your trip departure date, we determine that continuing will be unsafe for you, our staff, or partner host communities. In addition to email updates, we will contact you if your trip status changes.  If we are forced to cancel your trip for safety reasons, we will do our best to give you as much notice as possible.

In the event that we cancel your trip, we will notify you, then work with you to transfer all amounts paid towards your GIVE trip cost to a different trip or hold your funds until a later date. You will not lose payments made to your GIVE trip. GIVE will work with you to protect your financial investment in this program and re-accommodate you on another trip in the future.

With the changing status of COVID-19, it’s difficult to determine an exact timeframe. We will provide more information in email updates. We appreciate your understanding during this uncertain time.

What happens to my trip payments if GIVE cancels my trip?

If GIVE decides to cancel your trip, we will contact you as soon as possible to rebook you on a new trip date and/or location that works best for you, free of charge. Furthermore, we are now waiving our trip transfer fees and giving you the flexibility to change your trip dates and/or location as many times as you need, free of charge, up until 70 days prior to your trip start date.

If you’re not able to select a new date/location when we contact you about rebooking, we will provide you with a lifetime travel credit equal to the dollar amount you have already paid towards your trip to be used on any future trip. These lifetime travel credits can be used on any trip at any time in the future with GIVE. Furthermore, you can now transfer your travel credits to friends and family who haven’t previously registered for a GIVE trip, or you can choose to donate the dollar amount of your travel credits to the GIVE Foundation’s COVID Relief Fundraiser.

If we cancel your trip for any reason other than a Force Majeure Event (see below for details), then you are eligible to request a refund of your trip payments, less your nonrefundable trip and add-on deposit(s) and a Refund Administration fee of $50. Please note that if your trip is cancelled by GIVE due to a Force Majeure event – such as a pandemic, political unrest, natural disaster, act of war, or any event that occurs outside the reasonable control of either party – then all of your trip payments will automatically be converted to a lifetime travel credit equal to 110% of the amount you have already paid towards your trip. Please note that travel credits cannot be exchanged for cash value, but can be applied towards your rescheduled trip or any future trip with GIVE. 

Why is the deposit non-refundable if my trip gets canceled?

Your trip and add-on deposit(s) are nonrefundable, but they are good-for-life and transferable to any future trip. Essentially, your deposit(s) is a lifetime travel credit that can be used on any trip at any point in the future with GIVE. It’s important to remember that your trip deposit(s) is not only funding your volunteer program, it’s also funding the substantial pre-trip work that goes into making your trip possible. For example, your trip deposit(s) helps to fund our HQ operations and full-time GIVE staff, who maintain our partnerships overseas, continually improve program itineraries and risk management practices, and help to answer your questions regarding fundraising, booking flights, preparing travel documents and so much more prior to your trip.

Furthermore, in the rare cases that we do have to cancel our volunteer programs, these funds are a critical lifeline for all of our project initiatives around the world, ranging from literacy education, sustainable agriculture training, wildlife conservation, women’s empowerment, community infrastructure development, computer science education and forest restoration. Essentially, your deposit guarantees that, even if our volunteer programs must be temporarily suspended, GIVE’s project initiatives and HQ operations will endure, and you will have a lifetime travel credit to apply to a future trip whenever you’re ready.

How does GIVE determine whether to run trips?

GIVE closely monitors guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories, the World Health Organization (WHO), international and local media outlets, travel and industry experts, first-hand reports from our partners and staff in-country, and various other reputable sources.

It’s important to note that our host communities are located in rural areas that have not been affected by COVID-19. However, most of them also lack sufficient healthcare infrastructure to combat the disease on a large scale. Under no circumstances will we operate trips that risk introducing or transmitting the virus to our partner communities.

GIVE takes necessary precautions to mitigate risk and maintain strong emergency preparedness, including multiple backup plans and available resources in the event that we need to alter itineraries. We also monitor applicable layover airports to your travel destinations and most international airports have implemented enhanced health screenings and precautionary measures to increase the safety of travelers. With the constantly changing circumstances related to COVID-19, we will continue to diligently monitor the situation and assess the safety of our trips.

How will my flights be affected?

With the changing status of COVID-19, our dedicated travel managers at Corporate Traveler are monitoring traveler’s itineraries to keep us informed of affected flights or layover airports. They’re proactively checking upcoming flights, receiving daily alerts and notifications from the airlines, and, if needed, checking for applicable travel waivers. Some travelers may be required to change their airport layover(s) based on the CDC’s COVID-19 risk assessment as a safety precaution for volunteers and our host communities.

If your flight itinerary requires changes, GIVE will contact you. Please note that change or cancellation fees do apply if they fall outside of an airlines waiver policy and GIVE does not have control over airline policies or government travel regulations. For flight questions, you can contact our dedicated flight agents by email or submit a form here.

What happens if my flight gets canceled?

In the event your flight is cancelled and you are unable to rebook a new flight to your destination, GIVE will assist you to transfer to another date or location. Your trip cost will be transferred to the new trip without any transfer fees.

What if I go on the trip, but my flights are delayed home?

GIVE has staff on the ground to assist you if you’re unable to travel home on your original departure date, whether because of flight changes/cancellations, you’re feeling ill, or another unforeseeable circumstance. Our staff will ensure you have accommodations, food, and resources until you can be re-accommodated to fly home. This includes assisting you to the doctor if you are sick, coordinating with your travel insurance, and rebooking your flights (if you booked through GIVE’s dedicated agents).

What if I want to cancel my trip?

First of all, we truly hope that you choose to postpone your trip with GIVE, rather than canceling altogether, and have therefore provided you with increased flexibility regarding when and where you can travel with us. For example, we are now waiving our trip transfer fees and giving you the flexibility to change your trip dates and/or location as many times as you need, free of charge, up until 70 days prior to your trip start date. Furthermore, if you don’t foresee yourself being able to travel in the future, you can now transfer your travel credits to friends and family who haven’t previously registered for a GIVE trip, or you can choose to donate the dollar amount of your travel credits to the GIVE Foundation’s COVID Relief Fundraiser.

If you choose to cancel your trip, you are eligible to request a refund of your trip payments, less your nonrefundable trip and add-on deposit(s) and a Refund Administration Fee of $50. Please understand that your trip deposit(s) is nonrefundable, but it is good-for-life and transferable to any future trip. Essentially, it’s a lifetime travel credit that can be used on any trip at any point in the future with GIVE.

What can I do now until my trip?

It’s essential that we all take COVID-19 extremely seriously and take necessary precautions to limit the spread of this dangerous disease, no matter your age or health. It’s our collective human responsibility to flatten the curve and help bring about an end to this pandemic as soon as possible. Those who are young and healthy may not show significant symptoms, but can still carry the disease into vulnerable populations who are at a higher risk of suffering serious complications. COVID-19 can be life-threatening for people with preexisting health conditions, lung disease, compromised immune systems, or the elderly.

Read more about how to protect yourself on the CDC’s website. Here’s some ways to monitor your daily habits between now and your trip:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • It is especially important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces, especially “high-touch” areas like doorknobs, counters, light switches, or remote controls.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • If you have a fever and cough and have difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.
  • Do not travel if you are sick or are showing symptoms.
  • Quarantine yourself at home for at least 14 days if you come in contact with anyone who’s infected with COVID-19, or you suspect is infected. If you start to show symptoms, seek medical advice by phoning the appropriate local emergency telephone service.
What if I have more questions, what's the best way to contact GIVE?

We are a people-first organization and will always be here for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require any additional information at this time. We’ll be sure to provide our participants with all necessary updates as we start to reopen our programs.

A Final Note:

Why should I postpone my trip, instead of canceling altogether?

We ask that if you decide not to travel this year – Please consider postponing your travel
plans, not canceling them completely. Check your email for our updated terms and conditions with options to reschedule your trip in response to COVID-19.

This short article by Juliet Kinsman resonates deeply with us, and we hope that you will take a few minutes to read it. She encourages that, “changing the date of that booked holiday could be the kindest thing to do right now. Rather than seeking a refund, simply postponing plans might be a greater help than you could imagine. It may not feel right even thinking about travel right now – but we will want to. And until we do, there are a lot of people out there relying on us.”

When you choose to postpone your trip instead of cancel, you are providing a critical lifeline to our partners and projects around the world. Local teachers will be paid, houses will be built, students will fill the classrooms, community gardens will be planted and nurtured, and GIVE’s mission will ultimately persevere. And next year, or the year after, or the year after that – whenever you’re ready to volunteer abroad with us – you will be welcomed into these communities with open arms, and you will get to see that impact firsthand.

We will share stories of these trying times, and we will celebrate making it through them together. As human beings, we share a collective responsibility to look out for one another, to show up for one another, to lift each other up, and to face uncertainty together as one team – Team Human. Kinsman closes her article reminding us that, “what this crazy, untamable virus has shown us is we’re all connected.”

From your GIVE family across the globe: ruam mer gun from Thailand; puak hao from Laos; tupo pamoja from Tanzania; sabai sangai jahnae from Nepal; and estamos juntos from Nicaragua.

We’re all in this together. – Your GIVE Family