Trip Details

How Long: 7 weeks

When: January 22 - March 12, 2011. (That's summer in the southern hemisphere!)

Where: Argentina, Peru, and Chile. (Fly into Buenos Aires, out of Cuzco or Lima.)

Domestic Arrival/Departure City: Miami

Who: 8-10 students (ages: 15-19) plus trip leaders Blake and Julie.

How Much: $4,750 all-inclusive (room, board, and activities).

Students will additionally purchase international airfare through our travel agent. Estimated roundtrip airfare cost from Miami airport: $900-1100. (And don't forget, you've got to get yourself to Miami!)

Application Status: Both the trip and waitlist are full.

Priority Application Deadline: April 30, 2010. Check this page and the Facebook fan page for enrollment updates.


Trip Purpose

Every Unschool Adventure trip is created with a specific purpose in mind. Here's what we'll set out to accomplish:

1. Experiencing South America from Multiple Perspectives

Many visitors to South America only see one face of the continent: the big cities and major tourist attractions, insulated from the everyday lives of actual South Americans. Our group will experience South America from multiple perspectives by emphasizing homestays and activities that connect us with locals.

Perspectives you'll experience include:

You'll experience many different climates and biomes of South America:

2. Learning Spanish

This trip is the opportunity of a lifetime to learn Spanish through both immersion and instruction. Roughly half of the trip (3 weeks) will include small-group lessons at Spanish language schools combined with homestay accommodations. Your homestay families will only speak Spanish. Our other activities -- from learning to surf to working on a farm to getting bus directions from locals -- will additionally provide informal opportunities for honing your skills. Be excited to speak Spanish often and learn through mistakes!

No prior Spanish language experience is required, but an introductory course (either self-study, like Rosetta Stone, or a class) is recommended. Spanish school group size will be four (or fewer) students per class, grouped by ability level.

3. Photoblogging

Snapping photos is a straightforward way to record your travels, but it's too easy to forget the stories behind the photos once you get home. We end up asking ourselves questions like: Who was that guy? Why were we all laughing just then? How did Blake fall into a mud pit for the THIRD time?

Photoblogging is the solution. Each student and staff member will take photos and keep a running journal on each day of the trip. It's not necessary that you write pages for each day of travel--a few sentences or paragraphs can do the trick. The writing will explain the photos. And once a week (or more often), we'll dedicate time at an internet cafe to uploading photos, typing up journal entries, matching entries to photos, and posting it all in blog format. These "photoblogs" are great ways to remember the details of your trip, hone your writing skills, and keep friends and family at home updated.

Visit this website that Blake's old college roommate created for photoblog examples.

4. Unplanned FUN

When not pursuing our planned activities, Unschool Adventures trips always strive to provide unstructured time for our students. We keep a flexible schedule that leaves room for spontaneous adventure, exploration, rest & relaxation, and student-suggested activities.

Some of the questions that we ask ourselves when considering applicants are: Is this the type of person who can handle unstructured time, create their own entertainment, and never say "I'm bored"? By carefully selecting teens who have the maturity appropriate for our type of trip, our groups are always full of vibrant unschoolers who can create their own fun.


Trip Itinerary

Day 0: Meet in Miami International Airport and fly together to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Week 1: Tango in Buenos Aires. Stay in a rented apartment. Bus to Bariloche, Argentina.

Week 2 : Stay in beautiful Bariloche, nestled in the foothills of the Andes. Homestay, Spanish lessons, and beginner rock climbing (taught by Julie, Blake, and local instructors). Bus to coastal Chile.

Week 3 : Stay on the Chilean coast and learn to surf. Homestay and Spanish lessons. Bus to central Chile.

Week 4 : FLEX-WEEK (student-designed travel). Possible example: Volunteer and stay on a Chilean vineyard or farm. Bus north to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Week 5 : Explore the Atacama desert and salt fields in Northern Chile. Stay in a youth hostel. Bus to Arequipa, Peru.

Week 6 : Soak up the culture of "the white city", Arequipa. Homestay, Spanish lessons, and perhaps a visit to a Shaman! Bus to Cuzco, Peru.

Week 7 : Spend our last week in & around Cuzco, Peru. Take the train to Machu Picchu and climb Huayna Picchu. Bus to Lima, Peru.

Last day: Fly from Lima to Miami International Airport, and catch your connecting flight home. Shed tears, share stories, and show off your tan.


Everyday Activities


Frequently Asked Questions

Who's leading this adventure?

Blake Boles and Julie McPherson are your experienced trip leaders. Blake has led three Unschool Adventure trips in addition to extensive personal travel in South America, New Zealand, Europe, and North America. Julie has led wilderness trips for students at UC Davis since 2007. Both are Wilderness First Responder safety certified and have spent multiple years guiding trips for children and teens through Deer Crossing Summer Camp.

Will we be able to keep in touch?

Students will have access to e-mail and Skype during most periods of the trip (potential exception during the farm stay). Trip leaders will be available via e-mail and carry an international cell phone in case of emergency.

Are these parts of South America safe?

The parts of Argentina and Chile that we will be visiting are prosperous and comparable to the United States. Peru is a less prosperous country but has a booming tourism sector, and we will only be staying in populated safe areas. Blake has traveled across many parts of itinerary and approved them for safe teen travel.

Will there be drinkable water, showers, toilets, and electricity?

Argentina and Chile possess the same household amenities as North America: drinkable tap water, showers, flush toilets, and electricity. In Peru we'll drink bottled water but otherwise enjoy the same amenities, with the occasional "squat toilet" (nothing to fear except a new experience!).

What's your plan for health safety?

Our trip itinerary keeps us close to the large hospitals and ambulance services of Chile, Argentina, and big-city Peru, and trip leaders will always have international cell phones for contacting hospitals & parents in the case of emergency.

For everyday health safety, Blake and Julie will always be available for dealing with illness and injury. Blake is a former Emergency Medical Technician and both Blake and Julie are Wilderness First Responder certified. Blake has previously worked as the primary medic for outdoor education programs. Students should expect that a case of "traveler's stomach" may be possible as they adjust to new foods.

What about malaria and yellow fever? Are special vaccinations required?

We will not be traveling in any areas with a high risk of mosquitos carrying malaria, yellow fever, or dengue fever. No special vaccinations are required.

What is your policy on drugs, alcohol, and smoking?

We have a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs (including non-prescribed medications), alcohol abuse, and tobacco products. Violating this policy is grounds for immediate dismissal. The only exception to this rule is the occasional glass of wine that homestay families provide with dinner as part of their culture (subject to parent or guardian approval).

My student has special dietary restrictions.

Omnivores fare best in South America. Vegetarians can survive, and sometimes thrive. Vegans and gluten-free will have a difficult time and must be willing to eat simple and often repetitive meals. Sorry, that's the breaks! When cooking for our own group, we typically cook diverse, nutritious vegetarian meals with an occasional meat option.

What does my student need to bring?

Students will carry normal clothing (appropriate for cold, hot, dry, and wet weather) and toiletries in a small backpack. No sleeping bag, pillow, or linens are required. We will provide a full packing list with the enrollment documents.

How do I reserve a spot?

Apply by filling out our online application. We'll then get in touch and do a phone interview. Enrollment will be offered beginning on the date of the Priority Application Deadline (see above). After being offered enrollment, a $500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot.


Ready to Enroll?

Please visit our Enrollment page to learn more about joining our adventure!


Have More Questions?

Contact us via e-mail or phone and we'll be happy to answer your questions.