FAQ Travel

Below you can find an overview of the most frequently asked questions about FairMail's photography trips. Plus this video gives you a nice impression of what you can expect. If you still have any questions regarding FairMail's photography trips, please get in touch with Peter by clicking here. We will call or email you back as soon as possible to answer your questions.

ABOUT FAIRMAIL PHOTOGRAPHY TRIPS

ABOUT TRAVELLING WITH FAIRMAIL

ABOUT TRAVELLING WITH THE TEENAGERS

ABOUT BOOKING FOR A TRIP

TERMS AND CONDITIONS


Why does FairMail organize photography trips?

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We have 3 main objectives to organize photography trips:

1)    To take pictures for on new FairMail cards. Normally our teenagers take photographs 3 times a week in and around the FairMail office. Like for any other photographer it is very inspiring to travel to new places and take pictures there. It keeps you fresh and inspired because you see new things, new cultures and different people. In fact the biggest part of the pictures on FairMail cards are taken during the trips.

2)    To allow the teenagers to get to know their own country. Most of the FairMail teenagers have never travelled before entering FairMail. And going on a holiday with their family just never happens due to the economic situation of their families. By going on a FairMail trip they finally get to see more of their own country. This broadens their horizon and gives them new experiences which we think benefits them when making their personal future plans.

3)    Team building. By travelling together for 10 days you really get to know each other. You wake up together, eat together, laugh and cry together. And we have so much fun too! It just energizes the whole group and strengthens the friendship within the group.


Since when has FairMail been doing this?

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We organized our first photography trip in Peru in 2007. We thought it would be an interesting experience for our teenagers to visit a fair trade coffee growing community in Northern Peru and see how different people their live compared to the city where our teenagers lived. We took along 2 volunteer photography trainers who had been travelling through South America for 6 months already. Afterwards they said travelling with FairMail had been the nicest experience of their whole time in South America. As we also noticed it was quiet expensive to travel with a big group it gave us the idea to organize paid photography trips. By inviting people to come along with us we would be able to finance the travelling costs of the FairMail teenagers.

In 2010 we started organizing the same trips in India. By now (2014) we have already organized more than 30 successful trips.


If I want to travel to Peru, how good should my Spanish be?

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We don’t have any minimal language requirements to join un on a trip. Generally the group members travelling in Peru will speak a mix of Spanish, English and Dutch. Of course it does make the trip more interesting for you if you speak a bit of Spanish. That way you can make more contact with the teenagers and other locals you meet during the trip. But if you have an extrovert personality you will be fine with just a few words and a lot of hand and arm signalling. Also you will pick up a lot of Spanish during the trip due to the interaction with our teenagers. If you want we can hook you up with a good and cheap Spanish teacher in Peru before you start your trip. 


Your trips seem quite adventurous, how do I know if I am physically apt to join you?

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It is true that our trips go to “off the beaten track” locations as this is where we can find the most beautiful and authentic images. This does mean however that there is little of a touristic infrastructure present and not much luxury. The hostel’s where we are staying are basic, we eat in the same restaurants where the locals eat and make use of public transport to get around. That is quite different from luxury hotels, touristic restaurants and private transportation you might be used to. In the detailed trip itinerary’s you can read more about how physically demanding each trip is. Some of our trips involve a lot of hiking, some are more relaxed. Also the height we travel to, the temperature and humidity differ per destination. In case you have any doubts if you are fit enough to come with us on a specific trip feel free to contact us.


Do I need to know a lot about photography to go on a photography trip?

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No, we don’t require any specific level of photography knowledge. However it is important that you have some interest in taking pictures as that is what our trips are about. Otherwise you might get bored. During the trip a long term volunteer photography trainer will travel with us and be in charge of the technical guidance of our teenagers. So you won’t be responsible for that, although you are free to provide input and help with the instructions given. During the trip you will accompany the teenagers on photo assignments. It is appreciated if you are willing to share your own pictures to show them what you as a foreigner like to see on photographs. And to give your opinion about the pictures the teenagers take. You will see that during the trip you learn more about photography yourself from the other group members.


What kind of camera should I take?

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It is all the same what kind of camera you take with you. Whether is it is a simple point-and-shoot camera or a big professional camera with extra lenses. All of our teenagers have started with simple digital cameras and managed to take postcard quality pictures with it. At this moment most of them own a DSLR camera.


What size is the group I will be travelling in?

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Depending on the amount of bookings the group will consist of 8 to 12 participants. Up to 5 teenage photographers come along, an English speaking travel guide, a long term volunteer photography trainer and a maximum of 5 foreign travellers.


What is the average age in a photography trip group?

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The FairMail teenagers are all in between 13 and 18 years old. The long term volunteer photography trainers are generally between 20 and 50 years old, just like the foreign travellers coming with us. Although we have had a 65 year old with us in the past. Much more important than your physical age is your state of mind. If you are flexible to adapt to new situations and you can appreciate being with teenagers you will love it no matter how old you are.


Which vaccinations do I need to get?

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It is safest to ask this to a specialized doctor. He or she will have the most up to date information about this. It is important to get good information about this though to prevent getting (seriously) ill during the trip. Do this in time as with some vaccinations you need to start up to one month before departure.


Do I need a visa?

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For Peru you get a tourist visa upon arrival which is valid for 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on how long you want to stay.

For India you need to apply for a tourist visa in advance. This is a bit more burocratic and may take 2 weeks, so start in time!

As FairMail doesn’t have any type of official charity status in both countries (we are a social enterprise, not a charity) don’t mention you will be volunteering for FairMail as this well delay your application or even cause rejection. Just mention you are a tourist travelling by yourself and you will be fine.

For both countries you need to have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months after arrival.


How safe is it to go on a FairMail trip?

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Generally safe. So far we have never had any safety issues. The parents of the FairMail teenagers trust us to bring back their kids safely after each trip so you can be sure we won’t do anything stupid that puts the group at risk. Of course you are travelling to a less developed country which means for example that road safety is a bit less. And due to the big differences in wealth there are more people who make a living of petty crime. But don’t worry, we and the street wise teenagers will take good care of you. If you just stick to a few simple rules and use your mind nothing serious will happen.


Is there medical care nearby if something happens?

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This depends on the destination so check the detailed itinerary of each trip. The FairMail offices where your trip starts are situated in big cities with good hospitals in the vicinity. However when we travel inland some of our destination are so much off of the beaten path that only smaller medical posts are available. If you are doubting if this is a problem for you please contact us first.


Does FairMail have a health insurance policy to cover costs if something happens?

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No, you should always carry your own travel insurance which includes any medical costs you might occur during your trip.


How do the FairMail teenagers benefit if I go on a photography trip?

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The teenagers coming on the trip benefit in different ways of you coming along.

Firstly because they enjoy meeting new people from new countries and having your company.

Besides that you can also easily show them what you, as potential western consumer, like to see on pictures for FairMail cards. This way they can further adapt their work to the taste of their clients.

Also by paying for your FairMail trip you also pay for the travel costs of one of the FairMail teenagers to come along on the trip. This way them going on the trip doesn’t jeopordize the profit FairMail makes, of which the teenagers get 50% to pay for their education.

Lastly the teenagers benefit by you, upon getting home, sharing your experience with FairMail to others. Who knows some of your friends or family may want to purchase FairMail cards or know of a new selling point for our cards.


Can I bring anything along for the teenagers?

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That isn’t necessary. Just you coming with them on the trip (and thus paying for the costs of their travelling) is already a huge gift for them. We wouldn’t like the teenagers to get used to getting gifts. We don’t see them as pitiful anymore, but as teenagers who by now have good chances of getting ahead in life. Instead of feeding them by giving them a fish it is better to give them a fishing rod so they can catch fish the rest of their life. That is why certain photographic equipment to be donated to FairMail is welcome. Perhaps second hand DSLR cameras, tripod’s, camera bags, reflector screen, flashes etc.. Also we can also use rain coats and travelling bags for the teenagers to use during the trip. They often don’t have these of their own as they aren’t used to travelling.

What often works really well as an ice-breaker in the beginning is to bring along a small photo album showing your life back home. You are fortunate enough to be able to come and visit our teenagers and get to know their lives. But you bet that our teenagers are just as curious about your. You can give an impression by showing some pictures of your house, family, work, friends, hobby’s etc. 


What is it like traveling with teenagers?

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Great fun of course, if you like being with teenagers. Past travellers have said they were so surprised about how motivated, friendly and interested our kids are. That is very nice to see and experience. You do have to realize that for these kids it is a mayor thing to go on a FairMail trip. They normally never travel with their families. So they are all very excited. You can compare it with yourself going on a school excursion or summer camp in the past. Also they like seeing the pictures that you took and showing theirs to you to ask for your opinion. So that does mean they can ask a lot of your attention if they are fond of you. You might want to consider if that is what you are after.


Will I be travelling with former street children?

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That is possible, but not necessarily the case. In Peru FairMail recruits part of its teenagers from a boy’s home for ex-street children. But we also work with other partners in Peru and India who work with at-risk teenagers. Either because they come from poor families, because they work on the garbage belt or don’t have access to quality education. Many of them have (had) to work to supplement the family income in some way or the other.


Are they really travelling for the first time?

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Some are and some aren’t. It all depends on how long the teenagers have already been with FairMail. All the kids that go on the trip are long term participants of FairMail which means they come to our photography classes a couple times a week for a number of months or years already.

 


How do I register for a trip?

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After deciding upon which is the trip for you just send us an email at info@fairmail.info requesting a booking form. We will send you one per mail which you can fill out and return to us. We will confirm your pre-booking with us and send you an invoice for a 50% down payment. As soon as this money is received by us your participation is confirmed and you can buy your plane ticket. The other 50% of the payment has to be in at least 30 days before the start of the trip. One month before the start of the trip we will also send you some extra information about your trip, how to prepare yourself and instructions on meeting us.


Is there a detailed itinerary available for my trip?

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Yes, on the Travel webpage you can find an overview of all the planned trip. If you click any of the trips you can download the detailed travel description in pdf-format.

This gives you the exact day to day program, what to take on the trip, what is and what isn’t included plus a lot more of background information. Be sure to read it well before booking your trip.


What is and what isn’t included in the price?

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What is and what isn’t included in the price can be found in the detailed travel description per trip which you can download from our website. In general all transport, accommodation and food costs are included during your trip with the teenagers. So your costs to get to and from the beginning of the trip near the FairMail office in Peru or India is generally NOT included.


I am booking alone, do I automatically get a single room?

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No, generally you will sleep in a two or three person room. This has to do with the limited touristic infrastructure in our destinations and due to the low budget character of our trips. However if you want (and if the hostals have them available) you can pay extra to have an entire room for yourself. The extra price is indicated in the detailed travel itinerary. You can indicate this on the booking form. We will then contact you to discuss which days it is or isn’t possible to arrange a single room for you.


Is it possible to stay longer and what would be the extra costs?

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Sure! FairMail’s trips are designed to start and end in the place where the local FairMail office is located. If you want you can choose to travel around the country before or after the trip. Or have some more time to acclimatize or participate in some regular FairMail classes. We can help you out with some suggestions or contacts to plan the rest of your trip if you want.


When can I be sure if the trip will go ahead or not?

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From the moment you pay the 50% down payment you can be sure your trip will go ahead. So you don’t have to worry about possible cancelation due to lack of other travellers and can just go ahead to book your plane ticket. FairMail takes the kids on a photography trip anyhow 2 times per year, with our without bookings. However the more bookings we get, the more teenagers we can take on our trips.


How much time in advance do I need to pay?

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Upon sending in the booking form you will receive an invoice for a 50% down payment. Only after paying this your place in the group is confirmed. The remainder of the costs has to be paid at least 30 days before the start of the trip.


How can I pay?

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By international bank transfer to FairMail’s Dutch bank account or with any major credit card. We will provide instructions with your invoice for the 50% down payment.


What are the terms and conditions for FairMail’s photography trips?

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You can find an up to date overview of our terms and conditions with this link.