Our WanderRock guides are here to help you have the best trip you possibly can. They come from many walks of life, from yoga instructors to outdoor adventure guides to people who have worked helping high school & college kids be more independent, and bring their expertise with them to help guide you through the trip.
All WanderRock Guides are thoroughly background checked and trained in first aid, CPR, conflict resolution and basic outdoor survival in addition to thorough training on the specific trip itinerary.
On travel days, you will be split into 1 of 3 different groups, each with 4 travelers and 1 guide, and you are expected to follow their instructions on trains, planes, buses and other modes of transit.
This trip is planned for the summer of 2022, and we expect that the world will be mostly back to normal by then. Japan is on pace to have their population fully vaccinated by winter 2021. However, we expect all travelers to fully comply with any restrictions that may be in place during the trip dates, such as social-distancing, wearing a mask or showing proof of vaccination to enter the country.
Behaviors That Aren't Tolerated
Abuse & Bullying: Everyone has the right to feel safe & accepted when on our trips. For that reason, verbal abuse, physical abuse, bullying and sexual harassment focused on any person (whether thats a fellow traveler, guide or local person) will not be tolerated, and our trained guides will deal with those situations swiftly. Should a traveler be found to be in violation of this policy, they will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home.
Sexual Relations: No sexual relations are permitted between anyone going on this trip. Should a traveler be found to be in violation of this policy, they will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home.
Sex Tourism: Patronizing sex workers isn't tolerated on any WanderRock trip. Anyone who is found to be in violation of this policy will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home.
Drugs & Alcohol: Use or possession of illegal drugs (as determined by the laws of the country we are in) is not tolerated on any WanderRock trip. Consumption or possession of alcohol is not permitted on this trip.
Recklessness: We expect all of our travelers to maintain situational awareness and keep themselves safe. Any traveler who has consistently demonstrated an extreme lack of judgement when it comes to keeping themselves safe will be removed from the group and escorted to the nearest international airport once arrangements have been made for them to travel back home, for their own safety.
Note that we are talking about "walks out into the middle of traffic repeatedly" type recklessness, not "forgets to lock the hotel room door".
Rigors of Travel
World-wide travel can be a stressful & amazingly exciting experience at the same time. All travelers need to make sure they are ready to handle the rigors of jet lag, long plane flights, and disruptions to their normal routine, and need to be healthy enough to go on the trip.
Flexibility is a key trait that will help you have a great time. You may have to let go of some preferences you have back home, as we may not be able to accommodate your requests, and may have to change our itinerary at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances.
Food & Dietary Requirements
When traveling with us, you'll experience the vast array of food available in the world. Some of it will be extremely foreign, and some extremely familiar. We'll do our best to work with your preferences and make sure that you always have something that you can eat, but can't make any guarantees.
If you have certain food allergies, we'll work to the best of our abilities to help you eat food that is safe for you, but can't make any guarantees for many reasons, including language barriers, lack of control of the supply, cultural differences, and lack of choices. If having a certain type of food is a life or death situation for you, this probably isn't the trip for you.
That being said, the locations we are going to are big enough to generally provide as much choice as you are used to at home.
Vaccines & Diseases
All WanderRock trips avoid areas that have incidents of Yellow Fever and other tropical diseases like Zika and Dengue Fever. On this trip, you'll need to take the same sort of precautions you do at home. Make sure to wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, and maintain proper hygiene.
Please consult your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website for guidance on specific vaccines you may need.
Crime & Theft
We are traveling to areas that have little to no violent crime, and very little petty theft, but it is still important to be aware of your surroundings, especially in cities and on public transportation. We recommend carrying a safety whistle and a lock for your bag.
Problems & Emergency Contact Info
Should problems arise, whether that be an illness, injury, emotional overwhelming event, or lost baggage, the WanderRock guides accompanying you on your trip are your first place to turn to for help. If, for some reason, you don't feel safe turning to them for help, you may call our Stateside Support phone number for assistance, where someone from the WanderRock office will be standing by to help resolve your issue.
All travelers will also get the number for our travel insurance company, and our emergency response service, that can provide services ranging from translation to repatriation, depending on the circumstances.
We plan for every known contingency, but unexpected things can and do occur when traveling. If such emergencies occur, we'll do our best to resolve the situation. This may include re-routing part of our itinerary due to natural disaster or health concern, extending or shortening the length of our stay in certain locations or other remedies as the situation requires.
Whatever happens, you can be assured we'll keep parents & travelers advised of the situation, and will communicate as much as possible. Please see "Problems & Emergency Contact Info" section above for more details about personal issues such as Illness, Meltdowns or Injury.
Passports & Visas
A valid passport with an expiration date AT LEAST 6 months out from the END of the trip is required. Please make sure the name on your passport is your full legal name & matches the name on any airline tickets you book separately (such as to/from our start or ending destinations).
Please make a copy of your passport and other important documents, and bring 1 copy with you, leave 1 copy at home, and email yourself 1 copy.
United States Citizens do not require a Visa to travel to Japan, but there are duration limits that apply for how long you can stay in Japan in a given year period, so if you have previously been to Japan within the past 365 days before the trip start date, please let us know.
Ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Contact us if you need assistance.
Due to conditions such as weather, transportation schedules, public holidays, availability or other factors, we may make minor changes to this itinerary before or during the trip. We will advise you of any such changes as soon as possible.
At the end of the trip, we'd love your feedback on what went well, what you liked and what you didn't. It'll help us improve for next time and inform the development of future itineraries.
Except as noted below, you will have roommates on this trip. While you will have your own bed, you will be sharing a room with at least 1 other person (sometimes more than 1). We'd recommend bringing earplugs & an eye mask in case they snore.
We will be staying in a wide variety of accommodation types during our trip. It's important to be aware that our accommodations may differ very significantly from what you are used to at home, as we tend to stay in local style accommodations in order to experience the local culture. This is especially true in Japan, where Japanese-style accommodations differ substantially from western-style hotel rooms.
Please read the below descriptions of our accommodations in detail to avoid surprises. Depending on transportation schedules, we may need to stay the night in a hotel by an airport or train station as well.
Los Angeles, CA: We'll stay in a standard, chain hotel such as a Hilton.
Tokyo, Japan: To make the arrival in Tokyo as seamless and stress-free as possible, we'll also be staying in a Hilton. This is the last time we will be staying in western-style accommodations on the trip.
Hakone, Japan: We're staying in a scaled-up version of a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn. All visitors are expected to remove their shoes and socks upon entering, and will be given a Yukata (Japanese robe) to wear around the facility and grounds. The rooms themselves are small, with room for a small table and chairs. During the evening those furnishings are pushed aside, and sleeping futons are made up in that space.
That means that, although still very comfortable, your bed may be slightly firmer than you are used to, and will be lower than a traditional western-style bed. You should free of major back problems and easily able to get on and off the floor.
While all rooms contain a sink and toilet, you may or may not have a shower or bath in your individual room. It is traditional in a Japanese Ryokan to use the Onsen, or public hot spring bath. Don't worry, we'll guide you through the process, and you'll quickly realize it is quite enjoyable and relaxing. Due to the length of our stay and for the comfort of all travelers, we expect everyone to maintain proper hygiene.
Osaka, Japan: We'll be staying in "pod" style hotel. This hotel style is famous for the smaller version of these rooms, called "capsules". We'll be staying in a slightly larger pod style. Each individual traveler will get their own area with a futon bed, and nightstand. These areas are small and just designed for sleeping, so there are ample common areas with manga and computers, tv filled with Anime, and lounges to relax in. This hotel style also includes an onsen.
Traveling With Other People
Life on the road means that you may not get as much privacy as you are used to back home. You'll be sharing a room with at least 1 other traveler. You'll be expected to keep your sleeping area neat (ish), and may only have a locker to put your things in at times (depending on the accommodation type). You'll also be expected to practice daily hygiene (brush teeth, shower, deodorant) so that you don't cause discomfort to your fellow travelers.
Our daily itinerary is split into morning/afternoon/evening periods and we aim to allow for daily downtime during one of these periods every day (excluding travel days of course). This is your time to do laundry, call home, play games with your fellow travelers, explore the area, do some shopping or whatever else suits you. WanderRock guides will be available during downtime should you wish to go outside the grounds of our accommodation.
This trip involves flights to and from Japan, which is on average 11.5 hours long each way. You'll be in Economy class and there may or may not be entertainment options available on the flight, so plan accordingly. On the ground, we will primarily be traveling by train, including Japan's famous Shinkansen bullet train, and will have a few train trips that are 2+ hours in length. You should be in good health and easily able to sit for multiple hours at a time.
A WanderRock trip includes daily expenses such as food, snacks, lodging & transportation, but you should still bring some extra cash for emergencies, shopping & optional activities. We also highly recommend not bringing one large sum of money, but having some cash on hand and access to an ATM card to withdraw more as necessary.
Daily expenses are covered in the trip fee.
Unlike 99% of the tourism & travel industry, we do not get commissions from local vendors for bringing our travelers to them for purchases. This allows us to recommend activities based on genuine fit, rather than who will make us the most money.
A complete guide to packing, including a packing list, will be sent to you closer to the trip date. For now, here's some basic guidelines and requirements: We require all of our travelers to pack for Carry-On only, which means no checked bags are allowed. You should plan on packing 7 days worth of clothes, as there will be plenty of laundry opportunities along our itinerary.
As far as suitcases and luggage are concerned, we HIGHLY suggest that you bring a backpack of no more than 40L in size as your main bag. You'll find it much easier to handle a backpack than a rolling suitcase. We will provide guidance on specific brands, sizing & more in our packing guide, which will be sent to you after enrollment.
Laundry services may not be available every day of the trip. Your guides will advise you on the best days & times to do laundry, and assist as needed.
We'll be traveling during the summer to places that can get moderately hot, and we may be outside all day so you should plan accordingly. There will be opportunities to buy sunscreen once we arrive in Japan. Some of the parts of Japan we are going to will be in the middle of their rainy season, so a lightweight and packable raincoat is essential. We aren't going to stop just because it is raining!
It's also worth mentioning that bringing a reusable water bottle and keeping well hydrated will be an essential part of surviving and thriving in the heat & humidity.
We expect all travelers to behave in a way that is respectful of the cultures, places & people that we are interacting with, and to be respectful of the other travelers and their preferences. Should issues arise, our guides are trained in conflict resolution and will do their best to diffuse and resolve the situation. In extreme situations where a travelers behavior is a consistent and major disruption to the group, or in cases of concern for the health & safety of any of our travelers, our guides may, at their discretion, remove a traveler from the group, without a refund. In that case, we will escort the traveler to the nearest international airport and assist them with arranging for transit back home.
What training & experience do the WanderRock guides have?
All WanderRock guides are thoroughly background-checked and trained in First Aid, CPR & conflict resolution skills, in addition to the obvious of detailed knowledge of the itinerary and local areas we will be visiting. They come from various walks of life including yoga instructors, backpacking guides, college & life skills coordinators and more.
We try to keep our guides the same ages as our travelers because we aim to have the feel of a group of peers traveling, rather than a dynamic of the adult authority and the children that follow.
What outcomes can I expect my child to get out of a WanderRock trip?
Our trips are designed around our main ethos of putting more life into our travelers lives. In plain English, that means that, for us, travel is just the delivery mechanism to cause maximum maturity, growth, perspective & life experience in the minimum amount of time.
Our curriculum is focused around having our travelers gain 4 distinct types of skills: executive functioning skills, perspective & wisdom building skills, self care & emotional regulation skills and social & community engagement skills. You can read more about our curriculum here.
What types of follow up happen before & after the trip?
Starting 3 months before our trip starts, we'll get all of our travelers together via video chat to get to know each other and go over logistics such as what to bring. We'll also have a 1-on-1 session with each traveler to help them overcome any concerns they have and start to focus on what they'd like to get out of the trip.
After the trip we will extensively follow up with both group and 1-on-1 sessions to make sure that our travelers and settling back into regular life well and integrating what they've learned.
How big is the group on each trip?
Our groups have 12 travelers and 3 guides, which provides a 4:1 ratio.
Do you have a trip for teenage girls?
Not currently, but it is in the works. This trip is only for guys.
What happens if my child turns 18 during the trip?
For legal & liability reasons, all travelers must be either 16 or 17 years old for the duration of the trip dates.
Can my child come if they turn 16 on the trip?
No, for legal and liability reasons all travelers must be either 16 or 17 years old for the duration of the trip dates.
What makes a WanderRock trip different then other travel programs?
A WanderRock trip is unlike any experience out there. We believe that new experiences, deep connections to place & people, and experiencing different ways of life are some of the best ways to improve your life, get unstuck and build life skills. Unlike most other programs that have a therapeutic focus and are staffed by therapists, doctors and other medical professionals, our WanderRock guides are travelers, outdoor adventure education guides, yoga instructors and more.
Our trips are unique because we focus on:
Small Groups: All WanderRock trips are a maximum of 12 travelers and 3 guides, which allows for a tight knit social & support net to form. No one will get lost in the crowd with our 4:1 ratio.
"Lived It" Personal Experience: WanderRock was founded by neuro-diverse people who deeply understand what its like to live with Asperger's, ADD, Anxiety, Depression, etc... because we've lived it ourselves. We take that personal experience into consideration when designing our trips so that they induce growth and provide challenge... but aren't completely overwhelming or overstimulating.
Pre & Post-Trip Follow Up: Starting about 3 months before each trip starts we connect all of our travelers together in a series of video calls to get to know each other, teach travel skills and help allay perfectly normal pre-travel jitters and anxieties. Unlike other programs, we have an extensive & thorough post-trip follow up program to make sure that all of our travelers are settling into regular life well.
How do I know that I'm going to have a good time?
The number 1 key to you having a good time is a willingness to be flexible. Traveling to new places is ALWAYS different than you imagine it to be in your head, because no matter the amount of pictures, videos & guidebooks you look at, the only way to truly know a place is to go there.
So if you are someone who has a strong idea of what you are expecting, but you aren't willing to change or re-evaluate that idea then you might not have a good time. But as long as you remain flexible and take the day as it actually is, instead of how you think it should be, then this will be the trip of a lifetime.
Especially in Japan, where the culture is distinctly not western, it is important to be accepting and willing to try new things. Remember: you are a guest in another culture.
Who are the other people going on this trip?
Broadly speaking, they are other people aged 16 and 17 who are also interested in getting more life in their life. We carefully screen everyone through an application process to make sure that they are a good fit for both the trip and the group that is forming to make sure that everyone will get along, have a great time and be able to handle the stressors of around the world travel.
How do I know if this trip is right for me?
All WanderRock trips share a few characteristics, and you can read about our overall program ethos here
, which describes the type of person that usually goes on our trips (as well as some legal and logistical requirements, like age requirements).
As far as this trip specifically, we suggest you read the Itinerary
and Important Notes
and ask yourself if what we've described sounds like something that interests you. If you have any questions or want to talk to someone, you can contact us here.