Frequently Asked Questions
About Go Native America Tours
About travel arrangements
You will travel in comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles, ranging from 4-wheel drive vehicles (Range Rover/Jeep Sport Utility or similar) to 15 seat passenger vans. All modes of transport are spacious enough for our tour members to travel in comfort. However, luggage space is of a premium, therefore we urge you to read and comply with our 'Packing Checklist'. And remember you should only bring what you can carry comfortably yourself. Our guides and tour leaders cannot carry anyone's luggage for them.
Please note: ALL VEHICLES ARE STRICTLY NON-SMOKING ZONES!
You will stay in a range of accommodations on any Go Native America journey. We use good quality accommodations because traveling can be tiring and all need to rest well. Rooms usually are en-suite as standard; many have swimming pools and often laundry facilities.
We choose from established hotel chains, log cabin styles, or properties with the ambiance of the 'Old West'.
Please note: WHEREVER POSSIBLE, WE SUPPORT TRIBALLY OWNED AND/OR OPERATED PROPERTY FIRST
About Single Supplements!
Many of our tour members embark upon journeys solo and, therefore, on select journeys we do not charge single supplements. Neither do we request that anyone on those tours share rooms, however, should you intend to share with a friend or partner, we will endeavor to reduce your Tour Membership Fee.
For those traveling alone who would prefer a room share to save on costs, please mention this to us upon booking and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Do I need a passport to go onto the reservation?
No, but Americans, please be aware that if your tour includes Canada, you will need one to cross the border.
Anyone coming form other parts of the world please know you are responsible for any and all visas you may need for your journey.
Please check with your flight agent, or embassy in good time before you are due to travel.
Please know from the get-go that a good breakfast is important each day because when we get out on the road, food stops are not a priority for most people on Go Native America tours. We do not stop at noon daily for lunch and it is important to remain flexible about meal times. On occasion, the group gets engrossed in an activity, we hit a traffic detour, or a guide may throw in an extra stop. So stopping regularly at eateries is not always possible both because of time, and lack of convenient restaurants. In lieu of this we sometimes order box lunches from the hotels on your behalf. Hotels are predominantly on a bed-only basis but many have restaurants for your breakfast and dinner requirements.
Why is food not included? Because flexibility is important on our trips and if we arrange food, we also have to set and keep times when you will eat it. Imagine for example that you have just caught your first ever sight of a grizzly bear, but dinner is served in 10 minutes and we have to leave! Additionally, meal packages at some hotels can be pricey, and you could finish up eating a $40 dinner nightly when you'd have really preferred a $7 burger. We prefer to leave the choice and the budget to you.
On Go Native America journeys we try to offer you the unique opportunity to experience traditional Native American foods or meals in a culturally appropriate environment.
Most Indian cultures have a deep reverence for the relationship between the People and Mother Earth. In that spirit it is our company policy to use hotels that both conserve and recycle earth resources, and not least, water. You can help conserve resources in many small ways; taking short showers, re-using towels, not asking for unnecessary changes of bed linen, or just mentioning to your servers at meals that they needn’t bring jugs of ice water if you intended to order soft drinks anyway.
The western states of the US have been on drought warnings for many summers now and although the situation affects mainly farmers, and people who raise cattle, sheep etc., native farmers have been badly hit since few can afford to buy in hay for their animals at the presently much-inflated prices; consequently many have had to sell their livestock at rock bottom prices. Traditional Navajos who raised sheep for the wool for weaving are suffering, as are many Plains peoples who are not able to feed their horses.
Please be aware of the situation here, and use water thoughtfully.
Please peruse our website carefully – most of what we do and how we operate is clearly stated on the site and we are unlikely to be able to change anything just because a tour member was unaware because they did not read about it. You will also receive information before you embark upon the journey you choose and we ask that your please read that carefully because it will contain information that will help you enjoy your experience. Don’t forget our FAQs page, or our Native FAQs page, or Terms and Conditions.
We want you to know as much about how we run our award-winning Native American tours as possible.
About Traveling from Outside the US
For visitors from outside the US we have special advice that will enhance your experience of Native America. You can read it HERE. If you need more help with any aspect of your booking or journey, please ask. We are always happy to assist as best we can, and as the saying goes, the only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.
For your own comfort, please travel light! With frequent hotel changes and limited room available in the vehicles it is important that everyone travel as unencumbered as possible. The West is informal; jeans, tees and sweatshirts are acceptable everywhere we visit. Thinking realistically, you will return home with far more luggage than you left with, the less you start with, the less you have to carry. And of course, hotels have laundry facilities (which take about an hour to run)
Please bring a small, soft holdall/sportsbag. Suitcases, especially hard cases can be very difficult to pack in our vehicles. If you arrive with oversized luggage, you may be asked to split it and leave the excess at the hotel for later pick-up.
You will need:
Strong, comfortable walking shoes and alternative footwear.
Jeans, tees, a sweatshirt and a fleece
About Additional Activities
We do sometimes coordinate additional outdoor activities, for example Jeep trips, horseback riding etc. All are optional and supplementary to the journey itineraries. Costs are minimal, often ranging between $15-80. We will endeavor to let you know about these options ahead of time.
Go Native America ethics are important to us, to guides and traveler alike. We don’t encroach on the livelihoods of Indian people, and where there are Indian-run businesses/guiding services, or individuals who agree to meet with our tour members, we take you to meet such folks, and you pay them direct. Some tour operators call this 'ground costs' and actually charge these fees for themselves. We do not.
Remembering that we operate on a Fair Trade basis, the reason we don't incorporate these costs into your tour fee is because we prefer tour members to see exactly where that money goes - 100% of it.
We much appreciate our local guide’s time and expertise, and these are great experiences, which although again are optional, it would be sad for anybody to travel that far and not join in – opportunities like these don’t arise often in your lifetime.
Please understand that these costs are not always available until shortly before the tour starts for various logistical and sometimes cultural reasons.
Go Native America itineraries are comprehensive in order that tour members see and do as much as possible through their trip; most people do return with us but we recognize that for some this is their trip of a lifetime, and those folks have no time to waste. We often do long days, we rarely run on a 9-5 basis, nor do we work by the clock.
Because most tour members like relaxed mornings we only do very early departures for specific reasons (eg. bear watching).
So it is not unusual for our tour days to stretch into the evenings, and if this kind of trip does not suit you, please call the office for advice on your best options BEFORE booking. We will not be able to amend tour days to suit one traveler.
Traveling light does not need to mean traveling unprepared. Go Native America tours are planned for optimum weather conditions; however especially in these days of climate change please take nothing for granted because across the plains and deserts things can change very quickly. You will need good sunscreen and sunglasses, a sunhat and a fleece jacket.
Be prepared, and expect the unexpected.
About Arts and Crafts
Our tour members are often are often attracted by Native American jewelry and art, but please take advice from your guides before you buy since the market is overwhelmed by mass-produced fakes which pour in from sweatshops in the Orient, Mexico and many other areas. The Indian Arts and Crafts act of 1990 (public law 101-644) made it illegal to sell goods under the label Native made if they are not, and yet three quarters of the market comes from foreign and domestic imitations.
This erosion of one of the few economic lifelines for many Native Americans is an insidious threat to their very survival, and so on most Go Native America Journeys we facilitate opportunities for you to buy direct from the artists.
We ask that you bear this in mind when buying items, and please do not be tempted to bargain people down for their goods. In all probability, the visitor has forgotten the few dollars saved on a transaction by the time they reach the next town, but the vendor artist may have had to sell himself down the river because he desperately needed a replacement car part to get his children to school. We are members of the strictly governed watchdog body AICA -American Indian Crafts Association, and strongly recommend that if you are not buying art direct, that you buy from members of this excellent organization.
Should I bring gifts for the Native people I’ll be meeting?
Please feel free – people everywhere love to receive gifts, and something that is from where you live…maybe cookies or candy, tea, coffee or other such items from your own corner of the world are always appreciated. However, this is NOT OBLIGATORY! You don’t need to bring sage, cedar or tobacco offerings. When those are appropriate for elders, your group leader will usually do that on behalf of the group.
When should I book my flights?
Please do not book any flight without consulting with the Go Native America office first. You must have a written confirmation from the Go Native America office before you book, and we will not be not responsible for any costs incurred, or inconvenience if your flight does not work for your journey. We want to be sure your trip has been confirmed as departing (most are), and we want to know there are no mistakes in the times or destinations. It’s easy to make a mistake and costly to correct it. It’s also important to be sure your flights work with our plans. If you can save yourself $10 by flying via Reykjavik and Outer Mongolia, but doing so means you have to leave for the airport by 4 am, everyone else may also have to . . .which will make you highly unpopular, or late!
When will my journey be confirmed as departing?
As soon as we have the minimum number of people required for a journey, Go Native America will be in touch regarding your flight bookings. IF the journey you chose cannot run due to lack of numbers, we will consult with you and arrange a place for you on your second choice journey.
Can I add extra nights to my tour?
Sure you can. Often people come in early to relax from the flight before the start of the journey. Some stay on for a few days after and often avail themselves of a privately guided tour arranged by Go Native America.
We are always happy to help with extra hotel bookings.
Can I take a part trip instead of the full itinerary?
You can’t join any trip part way into the itinerary, but you can leave early although we don’t recommend that you do; partly because having to go early will be very hard on you, and probably the rest of the group too since our groups are very close-knit and often make lasting friendships pretty quickly. Also bear in mind that because we cannot pro-rate part trips, you would be liable for the full fee since we could not invite another tour member to join for the days you were not staying.
Can I bring my kids?
Depends on which trip. We don’t encourage kids under 16 on the fully guided 10-14 day tours. The information load is high, the road travel is great for adults who want to relax and unwind, but active kids don’t usually enjoy that aspect of the journey.
However, if you choose to take the family on one of our custom adventure, you will all have a great time – activities are designed to cater to the whole family and we welcome kids with open arms when we are prepared for them.
What is the weather like in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota?
Well locals say 'if you don’t like the weather here, wait 10 minutes . . .' simultaneously assuring you that 'the Wyoming wind isn’t always like this…sometimes it blows from the other direction!' Jokes apart, the Great Plains are a vast expanse of land where conditions can change quickly. We expect it temperate in May, most of June, July heats up, August can be hot (but a dry heat - much easier to manage than what you generally experience in Europe) and September and October are just great. However, add climate change to the pot, and no-one can guarantee anything anymore.
How should I tip in the US
15% is a rough ideal in restaurants, but it is not an exact science and maybe it’s good to put yourself in the position of your server who relies on tips to supplement dreadful wages (often less than £3 p/h). We understand that tipping is not a system that folks from other countries are used to, but here, please comply with the local ways anyways. The way to think of it is that you buy food from the restaurant, and you buy service from your server, so when you look at the menu, consider the extra 15% as part of your choice.
Some of the worst delays we ever experience on the road happen when groups decide to eat at a large table, don’t pre-warn the server that they want separate tickets, then try to work out their exact ‘debt’ from the large bill and pay it, to the penny, into a kitty. To expedite everyone’s experience, please be prepared to approximate on occasion – it’s only money, and its pennies here and there!
Again, do remember to consider your tip! Group bills usually have an 18% tip already worked in, but check because if not so, the person who hands over the cash could be left to pay the 15% over the odds out of their own pocket.
About Internet access on the road?
Many hotels have wireless access in the western states. However, they don’t all have computers – they often expect the traveler to bring their own…and we ask you not to. We won’t have room for an extra bag, we can’t guarantee the safety of a laptop in a vehicle and unless you want to carry it about all day, it will get very hot left in the van.
What about my cell phone?
We have yet to meet a single visitor from abroad whose cell phone coverage works well in WY, SD or MT. We know - your mobile service provider assured you your phone will work here but a) cell phone coverage areas are sparse outside of the towns, and non-existent on some reservations and National Parks, b) most people find that the only time their phone connects to a compatible network is in major cities which usually means at the airport.
Using an overseas cell phones here is usually expensive anyways . Best advice – don’t bother. And in any case, we do ask all tour members to remember that cell phones should never be used when you are in the company of the group and your guide (preferably including in the vehicles too, unless its an emergency).
Instead, think ahead and before you leave home download an app such as 'WhatsApp' and be sure eeryone you may need to contact back home while you are away also has it. That way you can use free wifi to make and receive FREE phone calls, and even video calls at most hotels.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag, or towels?
No, remember we need you to travel light? Of course there are facilities and amenities at all the hotels we stay at.
What about currency?
There are ATMs all over in the Western states. Hotel lobbies, gas stations, stores, high streets. Its unusual for you not to be able to get cash as you need it, however, please remember that you MUST have your PIN number, and if you have not already set the PIN in your country of origin you will not be able to use that card here in the US.
For the large part you could manage most purchases on your trip with a debit/credit card. However sometimes local Native artists will not have a credit facility and you need cash for that special item you can't leave without. Its also useful to have small bills with you for tipping purposes. We can't advise on your specific situation for getting best currency rates, but a great site to check out is https://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/
Cameras, and taking photographs?
Your trip is going to be a visual feast. Don't forget your camera, but especially, don't forget your charger and an adapter! Many people use their phone cams and that's great but be sure you have a way to upload your images to the cloud because you may quickly run out of space otherwise. Dropbox is a great service which will give you your first gig of storage free.
However, of course there will be times when photography is inappropriate. Your Go Native America guide will let you know when you should put your camera away at sacred sites where photography is frowned upon, but using a little common sensitivity will also ensure you don't get this wrong. If you plan to put images online, of course don't take pics of Native people's kids! Remember that your image of a run-down home (despite your intention only to draw attention to the unfairness of abject poverty on reservations) could cause embarrassment to the resident, and although at a powwow shooting into the arbor is fine, grabbing pics of people outside the arbor (no matter how amazing their regalia) is not unless you ASK first.