I have decided to join BTSA on an adventure! How do I reserve a space?
First, call Cynthia (707-939-8874) or send us an e-mail ([email protected]) to make sure there are spaces available. Our trips feature small groups; 12 people is maximum, and some fill up fast.
Then, download, print and fill out the BTSA Info Form and the Trip Contract; click the links in blue, below. When you confirm interest in signing up, we’ll send you an invoice for the deposit. You can scan and send by email or send the actual papers by post to the address on the invoice.
- The $500 deposit is due when you sign up, and holds your place on a trip. We will send everyone a ZOHO (secure payment/accounting system) invoice to you by email. The invoice can be paid by personal check or easily by card, online with a link on the invoice; details below.
Let us know if you can’t download the forms and we will send them by USPS mail.
Note that paying a trip deposit by sending a check, without first finding out if there is room on the trip, does not assure you a spot!
All travelers joining a BTSA trip must show that they have had TWO vaccinations against Covid19. We want to protect local populations where we travel. Furthermore, if someone in our group falls ill and has to go to a local hospital, it delays the whole trip for everyone, while the guide deals with the situation.
Travel insurance/trip cancellation insurance is now also mandatory, to be sure your trip is worry-free. Here below are a few companies we have heard are good; we are not responsible for recommending an Insurance Company. Do your research to see what sort of coverage you need and what is included/excluded. Naturally the policy should include epidemics or pandemics.
- Travel Guard http://www.travelguard.com/ (link in USA) and the international link (www.travelguardworldwide.com)
- World Nomads https://www.worldnomads.com/usa/travel-insurance
- Travelex Insurance http://www.travelexinsurance.com/
Deposit for a trip:
It is possible to pay the $500 deposit and final balance by check OR with ZOHO, a secure card payment system. (We chose ZOHO as one of the easiest and most secure systems to use.)
We have waived the ZOHO fee for deposits and balances, forever! So if you pay either by check or by card with ZOHO, there is no payment fee.
We will send you an invoice for deposit and final balance payments. When you receive the invoice by email, you just click, fill in details and pay. Final balance is due 75 days before departure. You will receive a reminder notice about 2 weeks before due date.
OR you always have the option to send a personal check; when we have received your check, the invoice will be marked PAID in the ZOHO automatic billing system. Make deposit checks payable to BTSA and send to the address on the invoice.
The deposit is non-refundable but remains good for any trip, anywhere, forever. See the Contract to be downloaded above, for details.
After receiving your $500 deposit, we will confirm your reservation and send the first of various info documents by e-mail, so that you can print them or download onto an iPad. You will receive the full trip itinerary, a list of what to bring, list of hotels, maps, suggested reading, weather conditions, and more details.
Note that should you need to cancel, the deposit is non-refundable, but good for any trip at any time in the future. Specific cancellation terms and conditions are detailed in the Contract.
Please note that if signups don’t equal the the minimum number of travelers, the adventure may be subject to re-pricing or cancellation/postponement. Contact us to find out if the minimum has been reached before buying your plane tickets! We rarely cancel a trip, but very occasionally it is necessary to re-price for a smaller group.
Frequently Asked Questions
INDIA 2018: Happy day at the salty lakes of northern Rajasthan; we had just seen a herd of wild asses!
Who goes on these trips?
Active, interested, friendly folks of all ages join Behind the Scenes trips. To see past groups, click here for 75 BTSA group photos taken over the past 25 years! And there is always someone willing to talk or email with you about his or her experience on a trip with us. Let us know if you want to hear a glowing report from a happy traveler who went to your destination.
What is generally included in the tour price?
- Note that each trip is different and offers different activities and events. See individual itineraries for details.
- Any domestic flights as noted in itinerary
- All internal transportation, usually by private van, occasionally first-class bus or train
- Internal flight(s)
- All lodging (double rooms with private baths)
- All meals and tips in restaurants (unless otherwise specified).
- Entrance to museums and archeological sites on itinerary.
- Textile experts and/or professional guides accompany all tours.
- Guided tour explanations by specialized, local, English-speaking guides who have all the latest information about their site – at places such as Machu Picchu, Blue Mosque, Registan, or Angkor Wat.
- Workshops, lessons and classes (and sometimes materials) as indicated on the itinerary.
What are the Accommodations and Meals like?
We’ll stay in charming boutique or best available hotels, and eat in a variety of good restaurants serving typical, local or continental cuisine. Usually, you will be able to order your choice of dishes from the menu in restaurants. Occasionally we will order family-style to enable you to try as many traditional dishes as possible. And sometimes we will have a picnic lunch along the route. We will send you information about food and translations of favorite dishes.
You can request to travel with, and share a room with, a friend or relative.
An optional single supplement is available for most trips and that price is on the website with trip price. If you are traveling alone, and want to share a room, we will find a friendly trip participant to be your roommate!
If there is no roommate available for you, you will need to pay the single supplement price which varies by trip–and you will then have a private room and private bathroom. However a single room may be smaller than a double room; you are paying for peace and quiet, not necessarily a better room!
Please note that international airfare, alcoholic beverages, airport departure transportation, departure taxes, guide tips and tips for porters are usually not included, unless noted.
If you have further questions please contact us regarding the details of the adventure you are interested in.
Is it possible to talk with a past Behind the Scenes trip participant about his or her experience?
Of course! We have a list of past travelers who will be glad to answer specific questions about the tours. Just ask, and we will send you the phone number or email of someone in your area.
How much experience do the BTSA trip leaders have?
Cynthia herself has organized and led group tours around the world for the past 25 years. She began leading field research expeditions (UREP) for the University of California. Many of these research trips were textile and festival trips to Bolivia during the time she was working on her MA in Art History at UC Davis. Cynthia also traveled alone extensively in Bolivia and Peru while she was writing her book Andean Folk Knitting (1993).
She began Behind the Scenes Adventures with the first knitting/weaving tour to South America in 1996! Then she began branching off and organizing trips to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Mexico; Morocco is a favorite destination, added in recent years. Local guides and other trip leaders assist Behind the Scenes in both South America and Southeast Asia; see Trip Leaders. They are all experts in their fields of ethnic art, indigenous textiles, cuisine and culture, and so forth.
Barou Samake, Behind the Scenes’ West Africa Specialist, leads the Ghana and Senegal adventures. He is from Mali, and speaks Bambara, French and English. Barou has led a dozen West African tours. This extensive experience ensures that everyone stays safe and has the absolutely best African adventure!
All BTSA leaders receive rave reviews from past trip participants for their enthusiasm and knowledge. See past travelers’ accolades.
I am concerned about my personal safety in an unfamiliar country. What precautions does BTSA take to keep their adventures as safe as possible?
Naturally, we make every possible effort to keep BTSA travelers safe and happy! We work with known and trusted travel companies in the destination countries. You will be met upon arrival at the airport, by a BTSA representative/driver and will be escorted back to the airport when you depart. We stay in secure and atmospheric hotels whose owners we have known for dozens of years.
During the trips, we make a point of using trustworthy and known van and taxi drivers and bus companies. With all our contacts over 25 years of taking groups ot exotic destinations, we have many friends who drive the rented mini-vans and other transportation.
BTSA’s trip leaders are all experienced and savvy travelers; we also give safety rules and pointers along the way to prevent petty thefts and pickpocketing, problems that actually aren’t common at all in the countries where we travel.
How do I make my plane reservations to arrive and depart at the right times?
BTSA provides you with a complete itinerary well in advance of your trip, so that you can schedule your international flight with the help of a travel agent or a website. We often search for prices on Expedia.com or Orbitz.com…then we use the airlines’ own website to make our reservations to be sure we get customer service and miles from the airlines’ Frequent Flyer plans. Delays and problems are more easily solved by the actual airline than by some cheap-0 travel company. An airline’s offices are usually open 24/7 for help also.
Some itineraries are complicated. In this case, we recommend that you work with a travel agent.
For many years, we have worked with Nancy Smart in Berkeley, California. You can e-mail her at [email protected] or call her office 510 843-1000 on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Other days, call 510 658-8188.
Nancy knows the dates for our trips and is happy to make suggestions, and discuss your flight itinerary should you have any questions. A good travel agent can be a real friend, finding you the best connections, prices, seats, and upgrades.
Specific information about arrival and departure options and arrangements will be sent several months before departure, with your emailed material.
You will be met at the destination airport on arrival, either by a BTSA tour leader or by a hotel representative/driver with a BTSA sign with your name.
How many people will I be traveling with?
Our maximum group is usually twelve people. This group size allows us to visit remote villages and sites by private van and to interact on a personal level with the artisans of these locales. Occasionally the groups are smaller. Travelers often remark that it’s like traveling with a bunch of friends!
What will the weather be like? What clothes should I bring?
Once your deposit is paid, you will receive a reading list, detailed information about the weather, foods, textiles, what to take, background information on the culture of the country or countries to be visited, etc. After reading this material carefully, e-mail or phone us with any additional questions.