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Frequently Asked Questions about HE Travel



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How many days and nights are on a trip?

Our trip officially begins at 6:00 p.m., with a reception and orientation, followed by dinner. We officially end after breakfast on the last day, although you can leave as early as you like. Or stay around all day, for sightseeing with your new friends.

Our "7-day" trip thus consists of 6 full days and two partial days. Some companies promote a trip of this length as being 8 days since it includes pieces of 8 different days. We feel it's more accurate to refer to this as 7 days.


Will the adventure trips be too strenuous for me?

Most of our trips are fun for anyone in good health who exercises regularly. A few are recommended only for people who have reached certain levels of fitness. The Mistral bike ride, for example, will be most enjoyable for those who are comfortable biking 40-mile days.

All of our tours have an at-a-glance rating system for physical challenge. A ranking of 1 is for leisure or cultural tours and a ranking of 5 is for extreme endurance and strength. Most of our biking tours have a ranking of 2 or 3 on that scale, and some hiking or adrenaline-filled tours will rank higher. Detailed information on the fitness challenge can be found on each tour page.

If, after the description we give with a trip, you still aren't sure whether it's right for you, please contact us. Time after time, people have told us their HE Travel Adventure was "the best trip of my life." We want you to feel the same way.

Whatever trip you take with us, you'll enjoy it more if you get in shape for it. That means a few enjoyable weekends of biking or walking or other activity in the two months before the trip begins. We'll send suggestions after you register.


What else should I see while I'm there?

For travelers with more vacation time, we are happy to make suggestions or arrangements for your adventures before or after our group tour. When possible, schedule your extra time after our tour. Chances are, others from the trip will do the same, and you can spend more time with new friends.

Many of our tours are organized to run "Back-to-Back", and when you sign up for two or more of our trips, you are eligible for a discount!


Can I bring my straight friend?

Each year we designate more of our trips as being for "gay men, lesbians, and friends." so we encourage any of our straight friends who enjoy traveling with an open-minded group to join these tours.

However, many of our trips are designated for gay men only or for gay men and lesbians. The company was founded because, even these days, gay men and lesbians sometimes encounter a cool reception from people who aren't gay, and many of us would rather take a vacation in an atmosphere where that's not an issue. Our groups are also mostly small and intimate (some with as few as six participants) and the camaraderie is as important as the scenery. So while we occasionally welcome friends and family to join us, we tend to keep our groups essentially for gay men. It has been our mission since the start and we still believe it is important to offer trips for men to be together without the pressures they may experience at home (in smaller cities) and in their jobs. At the same time, we also acknowledge a wider mix of participants and personalities can also make for a great trip and are willing to consider anyone who wants to travel with us.

So your friend is certainly welcome to travel with us. We think you'll have a great time, and the kind of people who come on our trips will enjoy having a friendly but wider mix of participants and personalities.


Who are your average travelers?

One of the nice things about an HE Travel group is the diversity of ages and backgrounds. Most of our tours are designated for gay men, but some are open to both men and women, as noted for each trip on our website.

The age of participants typically ranges from early 30's to 60's, although we occasionally see younger and older participants. Our tour members are mostly professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, college teachers, scientists and marketing representatives. We also have our fair share of artists, writers, musicians and their publicists, and occasionally surprises (good ones!).

Our tour members tend to be people who are seeking a personal, educational and even spiritual adventure with like-minded people. We also make a point to allow time to relax and have fun. Whether that means skinny dipping around our private huts in Tahiti or dancing at the bars in local clubs, there is always time for playfulness and high spirits. We are on vacation, after all!


How many people are in your average HE Travel group?

One of the distinguishing features of HE Travel is the intimacy of the group. We are not only a gay-friendly option for travelers, we are also an alternative for people who like companionship but cannot tolerate large buses and crowds of people. Consequently, our groups range in size from six to twenty participants. In the monasteries at Mount Athos we are limited to seven non-Orthodox visitors. On the SS Karim, our luxury stern wheeler on the Nile, we can comfortably accommodate twenty-five guests. On our other tours, we typically restrict our groups to 10-16 participants. This makes a nice experience in traveling (no giant buses-phew!), restaurants can seat us at one or two tables, and we can move our groups easily through attractions and sites without the impersonal 1-2-3 sheep type counting.


What is an adventure tour?

An adventure tour gets you up and about. We spend less time in buses, and more time exploring. Adventure tours can include activities such as hiking, biking, water-sports, rappelling, canyoning, camping, and so much more. An adventure tour can also incorporate several cultural or culinary elements. These tours are for our more active gay travelers.


When is full payment due?

90 days before departure on most tours.


Is a deposit required?

Yes, a deposit is required on all of our tours. The average price of a deposit is between $500 and $1000 depending on the trip. When a trip is less than 90 days from departure, the full payment is due.


Do I need special insurance?

We are one of the few companies that includes basic medical and evacuation travel insurance for all of our trips. In other words, we cover you for any illness or injury which occurs during the tour (except while in the water for scuba diving, for which we recommend DAN insurance).

We also recommend that everyone on our trips have personal medical insurance, in which case the coverage included with our tours is secondary coverage, which is intended to cover deductibles, co-pays and other costs not covered by your personal insurance.

To protect your financial investment, we also encourage you to add trip cancellation insurance to the tour fee for your trip, at the time of your deposit, or within 14 days after the deposit is paid. The price varies by trip, so please request a quote.

This coverage can be useful if you, your traveling companion, your business or life partner, or a family member have an occurrence that causes you to need to cancel your trip. Please read our Terms & Conditions carefully so that you understand our cancellation policy.

Many other companies offer this coverage as well. Be sure to read the policy carefully, so that you know what situations are and are not covered by the policy.


Do I sign a waiver?

Yes, you do. The waiver is due within 10 business days after you sign up for the tour.


What should I bring?

Once you sign up for a tour, we will send newsletters that give details about your destination, such as packing lists, safety tips, local currency, and tipping guidelines.


Do I need to speak a foreign language for your overseas trips?

HE Travel provides bilingual and/or local guides in any non-English-speaking destinations.

Most people who travel abroad with us don't speak the language. But we encourage you to brush up on any language skills you have that are relevant for the area you're going to, and to learn a few basic phrases, such as hello and thank you, in the local language. You'll find even a few words make a big difference in your interactions with local people.


Will your bike trip be too hard for me?

This is a tricky question to answer, since everyone has a different definition of "difficult".

We've had many people join us who had never biked more than 10 or 15 miles in a day. Most of them biked the full route every day, but they might have had more fun, and enjoyed some of our route options, had they done more biking in advance.

All of our tours have an at-a-glance rating system for physical challenge. A ranking of 1 is for leisure or cultural tours and a ranking of 5 is for extreme endurance and strength. Most of our biking tours have a ranking of 2 or 3 on that scale. Detailed information on the fitness challenge can be found on each tour page.


Won't I get tired of just biking?

You won't just be biking. The location for each of our bike trips was chosen because of its varied appeal. Cycling is a great vehicle for getting around at your own pace. But unless you take one of our longer route options, you'll rarely spend more than 3 or 4 hours on the saddle in a day. Interspersed with your bike ride might be an hour exploring a picturesque town; a leisurely picnic in a riverside park; an hour at a castle; an hour browsing at a street market; half an hour playing boules. Next thing you know, it's time for a two-hour dinner, then a late walk through the narrow moonlit streets of a medieval town.


What is bike touring all about?

A biking vacation brings you the best of many worlds. Cycling lets you move fast enough to enjoy a wide range of sights and terrains in a single day, yet you can easily stop to enjoy a view, to pick cherries in an abandoned orchard, or just to smell the flowers. It's easier to meet people when you're on a bike, particularly in countries like France, where cycling is a national sport. Enjoy a healthy, guilt-free appetite when you sit down to dinner, and return home feeling and looking better than when you left.



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HE Travel

HE Travel was established in 1973 as Hanns Ebensten Travel. In 2003 we merged with Alyson Adventures, which was established in 1995. Founder Hanns Ebensten is considered the "Father of Gay Travel." Each year the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) gives out the "Hanns Ebensten Hall of Fame Award" to the person or company that has done the most to make the world a better place for gay travelers.


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