Traveling in a Covid-19 world

The health and well-being of our travelers, our guides and the communities we visit is always our top priority. For more than 30 years, we've worked tirelessly to exceed the health and safety expectations for every trip we run. That continues today, as we adjust our programming and policies in response to Covid-19.

Updated September 30, 2020

We have suspended most trip departures through November 15th, 2020. Our travel specialists are working directly with all affected travelers to transfer them to future dates or issue full refunds.

Anyone who'd like to cancel or postpone their trip because of health concerns around Covid-19 can do so with no financial penalty. Some exceptions apply to cruise programs, as those are run by partner operators. If you have any questions, contact our travel specialists—they'd love to help. And if you have future travel plans, please continue to review the travel advisories or warnings from the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

We’re examining every aspect of every trip, to ensure that we meet or exceed appropriate guidelines, requirements and recommendations of the U.S. State Department, CDC, WHO, and local governments. Any changes to trip itineraries or activities will be communicated to travelers as soon as we make those decisions.

Read on for details about specific changes we're making to every trip.

Health & Safety Protocols

Health assessment

All travelers and guides will participate in pre-trip health assessments as well as ongoing health assessments while traveling. If a person needs to cancel their trip due to illness or potential exposure prior to departure, they can do so without financial penalty.


For lodge-based trips, we will closely assess all accommodations for appropriate sanitation. When camping, tents are assigned for the duration of each trip and cleaned between every departure.

Dining and food preparation

Guide-prepared meals will follow food-handling guidelines and be served by the guides, rather than self-serve or family style. When dining out, we will ensure adherence to local requirements, and accommodate travelers' seating preferences and level of personal comfort to the best of our ability.

Sanitized vehicles and equipment

In our vehicles, high-touch surfaces are sanitized frequently during the trip, and the entire vehicle gets thoroughly cleaned between groups. Gear and equipment intended to be used by one person for the duration of the trip will be issued on an individual basis. Everything gets cleaned and sanitized after each trip, or is regularly cleaned throughout, depending on its use.

Social Distancing

Small group sizes

REI has always exclusively offered small group travel. Because of the pandemic, we are reducing group sizes even further to comply with local guidelines. Small groups also create more space in vehicles, and let us spread out more during meals and activities.

Appropriate spacing during activities

Whether on the water, on the trail, on the bike or on foot, guides will help ensure adequate spacing during activities whenever possible, as well as appropriate use of face coverings.

More spacious vehicles

Small group sizes ensure more space between travelers during vehicle transfers. If needed, we'll also use larger vehicles (or more of them). Face coverings will be required for guests and guides during any provided transportation.

Protecting Local Communities

We'll closely assess the risk to every community we visit, and avoid traveling to the most vulnerable communities until it is appropriate to do so.


The health and well-being of travelers, guides and the communities we visit are our top priorities when making these decisions. As destinations around the world continue to adjust travel restrictions, quarantine orders and the availability of essential services, travel can be affected with little notice. If you receive a cancellation notification from our team, it means that current conditions and/or the latest health & safety guidance is preventing us from running your trip as scheduled.

Our knowledgeable guides offer field-tested backpacking advice and introduce you to the history, flora and fauna of the Smokies.