FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Overview

Whether you’re an experienced traveler, or have never left your hometown, we make it simple to participate in a Purpose Bound experience. Everything you need in order to plan your trip is conveniently located right here on our web site. Follow these simple steps, and before you know it, you’ll be taking off for your island or coastal adventure!

First, select and register online for the trip of your choosing. A $100 deposit will reserve your space. (A confirmation email will provide additional registration and trip payment instructions.)

Second, use the “Travel Planner” checklists and links (near the bottom of the Essentials page) to plan your travel details. We explain passport requirements, provide links to book your air travel, suggest popular pre- or post-session options, and advise you on what to pack and how best to prepare for your journey.

Third, as a registered participant, we’ll stay in touch with you as your trip approaches and provide various information to help you get the most out of your experience. We’ll also connect you with your travel companions and crew so that you can get to know them before you even arrive.

Fourth, simply arrive dockside on your voyage departure date, ready to begin your journey of a lifetime!

We can’t discern God’s will for you, but we can tell you the basic differences.

On our spiritual retreat experiences, you will take part in a sampling of missions work (e.g., on a weekend trip, serving an afternoon, or during a weeklong trip, serving 2-3 hours on several days). On our missions focus trips, you will spend most of your service time on a particular need or project (serving half days on about five or six days of your week). But on both trips, there is more. We also devote time to discussion-based lessons designed to help you understand what you are best called out to do, and we provide important background information about mission trips. In other words, not only will you have the opportunity for hands-on service, you will learn about missions from a broad perspective. All of our trips also specifically include a balance of elements of spiritual retreat, onshore exploration and fellowship activities. Of course, living on a sailboat during your trip makes our experiences unique.

On most pure mission trips, you will dive right in and serve all day, every day for a week doing a particular task, with fellowship, spiritual growth and cultural immersion being ancillary.

If you consider yourself a mature Christian and are already keeenly aware of your life purpose and S.H.A.P.E. for serving, then by all means choose a mission trip consistent with those. But if you are not yet completely sure what God has in mind for you, and are looking for a multi-faceted experience, then a Purpose Bound trip is a great option.

You should register as far out as possible so as to assure your spot on your preferred trip. If flying, this will also allow you to take advantage of advance airline fares, which are often lower. 

International travel is not as mysterious or difficult as it may seem, especially in the Caribbean. Everything you need to know can be found in the Travel Planner section of our web site. In general terms, you will simply need a passport and want to make sure you’ve had any recommended immunizations. But gaining a good understanding of international travel is a part of your Purpose Bound personal growth experience, so we ask that you do take the time to thoroughly read and understand the information provided on our web site, including the various links.

Rest assured that Purpose Bound is a professional organization headed by a seasoned corporate attorney (and parent himself) desiring to serve his fellow believers. Your child’s safety is of utmost importance, and we stand very available to answer any and all questions you may have. Simply contact us and we can set up a time to converse by phone.

As to content, whatever the stage of your son or daughter, we know you want them to be prepared for what the world will offer as they transition into their next phase of life. At Purpose Bound we place a strong emphasis on “classroom” knowledge mixed with real world experience in leadership and mission work. We define this learning process as an experiential education. We believe that classroom knowledge coupled with real life experience gives students a jump start on becoming the men and women God has called them to be. 

Cost & Payment

As a non-profit Christian ministry and service organization, we at Purpose Bound feel led to make our experiences affordable for as many growing believers as possible. Thus, we have a unique trip pricing model where we simply pass along our estimated costs (including a small contribution for our administrative role in the trip) to be shared among trip participants. This affordability philosophy continues with our payment plans, as well as our offering ideas to those doing fundraising to cover the costs of their trip.

Your Fixed Cost. The cost of your Purpose Bound experience itself is fixed and “all-inclusive”. In other words, all meals, studies, onshore excursions, water sports, entry visas, taxis, etc. are included in the overall cost, as are accommodations, since the boat will become your home during your experience. So, from the time you arrive dockside until you depart for home, you won’t need to spend a penny and there won’t be any surprises.

Your Variable Costs. In determining your total trip budget, there are only a few additional variable costs to consider, mainly consisting of airfare:

-Travel costs to and from the destination (airfare, baggage fees, airport parking, etc.)
-Passport and optional immunizations, if applicable
-Spending money for extra snacks, souvenirs, gifts, personal incidentals, and non-scheduled activities during your free time ashore
-Money for extra water sports rental fees, if desired, above the standard hour that is included on each of our water activity days
-Optional travel insurance and travel medical insurance
-Optional cash “emergency fund” recommended when doing any kind of travel

All of these items are explained in further detail in our Travel Planner.

Purpose Bound is a non-profit ministry, and this allows our trips to remain affordable so that as many people as possible can have this life-changing experience. Please see “Our Trips” for our trip costs.

It is hard to compare pricing, as there are so many options out there, especially if you are including secular travel. Even within the realm of Christian experiences, there are partial week retreats, mission trips, Christian cruises, Christian tours, and a variety of other experiences with pricing varying widely. This is due to many things, like location, length of trip, time of year, type of accomodations, meals, activities included, program aspects, overall quality of the experience, various intangibles, and the like.

In looking at any travel experience (including ours), always remember to factor in the cost of airfare and other travel expenses leading to the actual experience you are paying for. In comparing prices, note that Purpose Bound experiences are “all-inclusive”. Many other experiences have a base price, with desirable add-ons that increase the overall price of the trip as you actually envision it. You may also want to determine whether the organization offering the experience is a “for profit” company or a non-profit ministry, as this may be a factor in your decision. In the case of Purpose Bound, we essentially act as a “trip co-op” administrator, meaning individual trip participants simply share the estimated costs of the overall trip (including our small administrative fee).

Generally speaking, pure mission trips are the most affordable type of Christian experience (primarily due to location and rustic accomodations), and Christian tours are the most expensive. Christian cruises often offer a wide range of pricing depending on length of voyage and location of the room in the ship, with the less desirable lower floor and windowless smaller rooms being the most affordable, and upper floor larger rooms with ocean balconies being much higher priced. Purpose Bound experiences cost in the middle range of these various options.

People learning about our experiences for the first time are often immediately inspired, and we want to make it easy for you to take that important first step in acting on that inspiration. But we also want to give you time to prayerfully consider the decision. So, the $100 trip reservation deposit is fully refundable until the 10th day after you register for your trip. Simply contact us, and we can generally process the refund within 24-48 hours.
Once you register, both Purpose Bound and your fellow trip participants are counting on your attendance. If you have to cancel, you will not be entitled to a refund. However, if we are able to fill your spot (at full price or at a discount), we will give you a credit toward a future trip equal to the amount your substitute has paid. This credit must be used within one year of your original trip end date. Certain types of cancellations would be covered by optional travel insurance, which needs to be purchased separately, so you may wish to consider that.

First of all, we cannot offer tax advice, as individual circumstances vary and IRS regulations look at many variables to answer that question. However, generally speaking, we believe you will find the answer on our mission trips to be “probably” or “mostly”, and the answer on our retreat experiences to be “maybe” or “partly”. We suggest you speak to a tax advisor with knowledge or experience in this area and who may know of some special tax planning strategies. But for some general background on the issue, you might start with these IRS “Tips for Taxpayers Who Travel for Charity Work”,  these articles (not directly on point, but they give you an idea of the concepts involved in the decision), and this detailed information booklet from the IRS. In any event, shortly after year-end, we will provide to you a statement showing your trip cost. You should also retain your receipts for airfare and any other costs you incur related to your trip.

You can pay for your experience in a one-time advance payment, or elect our convenient payment plan. All trips require a one time deposit of $100 at the time of reservation. (This deposit is fully refundable until the tenth day following reservation, after which time it becomes non-refundable.) Payment of half of the total trip cost balance is due 90 days before the session date, and payment of the other half is due 60 days prior to the session date. If you are making your reservation within either of those time frame windows, the appropriate payment (half or full) will be due at the expiration of your ten day cancellation period. To make a payment, see below. (Please also see our FAQs regarding cancellations, “rain checks”, refunds, credits, etc.)
There are many ways to fund your trip, and we can offer you ideas on how to do so. Shortly after reserving your experience, you will receive a call from a staff member to answer any questions you may have. They will be happy to discuss fundraising ideas, as we don’t want you to miss this life-changing opportunity to partake of a Purpose Bound experience.

To make the $100 trip deposit, first register for a specific trip. As part of the registration process, you will be able to make the trip deposit. To make a payment on a balance owing for a trip you have already registered for, please mail a check to arrive before the due date to Purpose Bound, Inc., c/o 668 N. Coast Hwy. #1123, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. If you must use a credit card, please contact us well in advance of the due date for instructions on using PayPal. After visiting the PayPal site, you will simply need to enter the email address we provide to you for this purpose. An additional 3% fee will apply.

Safety & Security

At Purpose Bound, the safety and security of our participants and staff is our number one priority. In fact, every decision is made with safety and security in mind: from program design to sailing routes to state of the art boat design. While there is always some degree of risk when boating and engaging in other physical activities, our experienced staff are trained professionals and are well versed in emergency scenarios both at sea and ashore. All of this, along with strictly enforced safety and security policies, use of personal flotation devices and in-country local awareness strategies, sets a tone of safety and security for every aspect of the trip. If you have any additional questions about matters of safety and security, please contact us.

For our Caribbean trips, all of our vessels are chartered through the largest and most reputable professional yacht chartering companies in the world, like Moorings, Sunsail, and Footloose. These outfits are highly recognizable industry leaders that manage thousands of yachts from over 30 bases in over 20 countries around the globe. For our California coastal trips, we select from a variety of vetted charter or private rental resources. All of our vessel sources have a strong reputation for safety, quality and reliability, and their service to Purpose Bound is a critical component to making the experience a safe, comfortable and life changing one.

Purpose Bound charters all its yachts as “bareboat”, which is a fancy way of saying that the rental company provides the boat and Purpose Bound provides the crew, not dissimilar to renting a truck from Uhaul. These yachts are built and fitted by some of the worlds leading manufactures and are maintained to the highest safety standards. Each vessel comes equipped with the essential gear for the sailing conditions expected on each trip.

All Vessel Skippers hold either a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License or an International Yachmasters Certification. These credentials are of vital importance to the safety of our participants and staff because they establish a recognized measure of competency for the operation of power boats and sailing vessels. But when it comes to facing the elements at sea, textbook knowledge is no substitute for practical experience. Purpose Bound Vessel Skippers are not only properly certified, but are carefully selected based upon having significant actual sailing experience.

Trip Leader Qualifications. Purpose Bound trip leaders are bright and versatile individuals who bring not only their leadership expertise, but are trained in boating, facilitating physical activities and leading teams ashore.

First Aid Training. At Purpose Bound, all on-board staff members must be first aid and CPR certified, and each vessel is equipped with a first aid kit geared to handle a wide variety of scenarios. We also maintain current lists of emergency medical facilities in each area we visit, and for open water situations, the vessel radio can be used to summon help if needed.

Safety and Security Training. No matter what certifications our staff members may hold, they each participate in a safety and security training program upon hire. If a safety or security issue arises, Purpose Bound has standardized response procedures, including the involvement of the home office.

Daily Weather and Sailing Conditions. Our destinations are known for having some of the best sailing conditions in the world, and weather is not typically a major concern. However, we monitor the daily weather conditions and forecasts closely, both using on-board radios and equipment as well as from our home offices. For open sea sailing, our vessel staff can at anytime establish contact with our base via satellite phone and/or internet, and the vessel radio can also be used as needed. The prudent mariner is a prepared mariner and our Skippers and other staff have the training, ability and expectation to retrieve and discern local weather conditions daily and before heading out to sea.

Tropical Storms & Hurricanes in the Caribbean. For news reporting purposes, the Caribbean actually encompasses a vast area, meaning tropical storms and hurricanes impacting specific islands is much more rare than most would imagine. Nonetheless, extreme weather events are always a possibility, and Purpose Bound closely monitors the early warnings and storm tracking predictions. And we err on the side of safety. In the highly unlikely event we encounter unanticipated  extreme weather, our protection plan is designed to quickly and efficiently relocate and shelter participants and staff inland at previously designated safe locations. Purpose Bound remains familiar with local emergency procedures on each island we visit and we have multiple options in the event of a weather related emergency.

Prior to setting sail, all participants will receive safety and security training, and there will be continuing briefings throughout the course of the voyage based on specific activities. Purpose Bound’s safety and security procedures will be strictly enforced, and participants are expected to cooperate and strictly adhere to them. Participants are also expected to demonstrate common sense and awareness of their surroundings and environment (e.g., wet and slippery surfaces, mechanical parts, underwater hazards, foreign culture, urban/poverty culture).

Everyone on board our vessels is issued a SOLAS approved Type 1 personal flotation device as well as an ocean rated, auto-inflate personal flotation device and harness which they are required to wear while on decking when the vessel is underway. PFDs and harnesses will always be worn when sailing at night, in rough waters or anytime by those working outside the lifelines or higher than deck level

Motion sickness from things like boating, driving, flying, or riding amusement park rides actually affects a rather small portion of the population. While our destinations have ideal sailing conditions, seasickness can be a reality for those certain individuals more sensitive to motion. Our staff is trained in the known techniques that can help eliminate or reduce the severity of any sickenss. In additon, the vessel’s first aid kit contains over-the-counter motion sickness medication for unexpected cases. If you believe you are susceptible to motion sickness, we recommend you bring your own supply of over-the-counter medication (i.e. Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine) and possibly visit your doctor for a motion sickness patch.

Our destinations are often warm and sunny. And since our experiences mostly involve outdoor activities, participants can expect significant exposure to the sun. However, proper planning and use of essential sun protection lotion and gear will be encouraged and monitored by the staff. Each boat has sun protected areas available for use, as well.

At Purpose Bound, you won’t get lost in the crowd. We intentionally maintain a very positive staff to participant ratio for many reasons. Safety and security is at the top of that list. We also value the staff to participant relationships and try to make lasting connections.

The islands we visit have been specifically chosen with international travel safety and security in mind. They all maintain close ties with the U.S. and Western Europe, and are considered “America-friendly”. Even though they are mostly underdeveloped nations, millions of cruise passengers and other tourists safely visit these islands every year without incident. Of course, crime, terrorist acts and other acts of violence are unpredictable and can happen anywhere. Our staff has received special awareness and incident training that will be passed along to all participants at the beginning of the voyage. From a broader perspective, we regularly monitor the United States Department of State international travel web site, and ask that you become familiar with it as well.

Personal Conduct & Child Security

A Purpose Bound experience is a very special one, and we want each and every one of our participants to be able to get the utmost out of their journey. With many different personalities joining together and living in close quarters for the duration of their experience, certain guidelines for the benefit of the whole group are appropriate. As a Christian adventure, we look to general Biblical principals to be abided by, and accordingly our code of conduct can remain relatively brief. As fellow believers, we hope that common sense prevails. We do wish to draw particular attention to the following special areas:

Alcohol Consumption. While we do not believe that there is anything inherently wrong with occasional moderate alcohol consumption, we do believe that the nature of our experiences weighs in favor of an abstinence policy commencing with dockside arrival through disembarkation. Smoking. For the health, comfort and safety of all participants, smoking, vaping, marijuana and other tobacco use is not permitted during any part of the trip or program.

Drugs. With the exception of prescription and over-the-counter medications in original containers and used in accordance with instructions, drug use is strictly prohibited.

Our experiences often take place in warm and tropical climates where the norm can be very casual and even minimal clothing, and we engage in various water activities conducive to swimwear. Nonetheless, as Christians called to a higher standard, for the benefit of the group as well as others watching us, we require modesty in all clothing choices. In particular, female swimwear should be one-piece (i.e., no two-piece or bikinis) and male swimwear should be long/board shorts (i.e., no speedos). For the benefit of any of their weaker male brothers on the voyage, we also ask females to avoid tight-fitting and/or revealing clothing. For land excursions and service projects, an even higher standard of modesty is required. Especially in the Caribbean, local Christians can be very conservative compared to what we are accustomed to in the U.S. Please use your discretion, but understand that your trip leader has the right to require a clothing change.

We need to remember that we are guests in the areas we visit, and that people will be watching us as Christians. Also, some areas and/or missions partners are very conservative. While we are all about having some fun and enjoying our time on our trip, we also need to remember that we are ambassadors of our faith.

Purpose Bound has a special heart for orphans and other vulnerable children, and many of our experiences include orphanage visits or working directly with children. The welfare of these children is our number one priority, including their security, safety, privacy, dignity and other protections. Accordingly, we have developed this Child Security Policy. This Policy will be strictly enforced, including legal prosecution. All persons involved with our program in any way are deemed to have read, understood and unequivocally agreed to abide by this Policy, and to immediately report to us any violations by others (participants, staff, fellow children, etc.) that are observed or suspected. This Policy is subject to revision and enhancement, and should be referred to from time to time. Because the topics covered are either common sense for a Christian or covered by law, our policy statements will be rather brief.

Sexual Abuse. Kids can be cute and cuddly, and at the same time needy and craving attention, which can make them vulnerable to those with bad intentions. Any form of inappropriate touching or communication or otherwise will result in the harshest of consequences. While hugging and other forms of affirming touch are permissible, we simply warn you to exercise caution, as intentions can be misinterpreted by a child and by others around you, particularly when there may be differing cultural norms at play. Due to the importance of this issue, we trust you understand our need to take a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to any alleged violations.

Security & Safety. You are expected to always be concerned with the security and safety of any children we work with when in their presence or otherwise.

Privacy & Dignity. Any and all information you gain about an individual child should be held in confidence. Certain information, like last names and location addresses, may become known to you and should be held in the strictest of confidence. When working with children, your trip leader will let you know whether it is permissible to take photographs. If photographs are permitted, they should be for personal use only and should not be posted publicly on any web site, Facebook, Instagram, etc. However, you may post such photos on non-public portions of your Facebook or Instagram, etc., provided that no confidential information is included about the child. The plights of many of these children are unacceptable in modern world standards, but you agree to protect their dignity at all times. Exploitation, in any form, will not be tolerated.

Child Visitation & Communication Guidelines. You will be expected to adhere to site-specific rules and regulations established at each orphanage or other location where children are present, and to submit to the authority of local staff in all matters. Most significant is that you should NEVER be alone with a child; all visitation shall be in public view. In addition, all future contact with a child shall be channeled through Purpose Bound, and no direct contact (mail, e-mail, telephone, visitation) is permitted except where specifically authorized through us.

Any and all questions concerning this Policy, and whether a particular act may be in violation thereof, should be directed to us through our “Contact Us” page, using a subject heading of “Child Security Policy Compliance Inquiry”.

Except for the Vessel Skipper’s authority over safety and security matters while on-board, the Trip Leader has the top level of authority on all matters of participant conduct and behavior. The Trip Leader is granted broad discretion in determining the propriety of any action or inaction. Typically, the Trip Leader will informally address anyone acting outside of these guidelines. In severe cases, the Trip Leader has the authority to remove a participant from the trip, as is further explained in our Legal Disclaimers.

Living on a Boat

People often ask what the accomodations are like on a sailboat. Very loosely speaking, they are not dissimilar to RVs. Everything you need–from bathrooms to kitchens to bedrooms–are provided. Of course, quarters are tight, but most people find that adds to the uniqueness of the experience. Check out the example layout of a sailboat’s below deck area below. To learn more about the sailing yachts used on Purpose Bound Caribbean experiences, please see the links below.

 

 

            

Most of our scheduled trips consist of up to 8 participants per vessel, plus a trip leader and the vessel captain. During certain busier times, we may run simultaneous scheduled trips using separate vessels, but schedule certain activities as a group. (Custom trips can accomodate any size of group.) When possible, we attempt to group similar people together (singles with singles, families with families, younger with younger, etc.), and we sometimes offer specific trips for distinct groups of people (men’s trips, women’s trips, young adult trips, couples’ trips, etc.). Regardless, all participants are brothers or sisters in Christ, and the diversity of your trip companions should be considered an enhancement of your experience as you connect with people from different walks in life with unique experiences and backgrounds to share.

Part of the purpose of our trips is to help separate you from life’s day-to-day distractions so that you can focus on spiritual growth, starting with the time you arrive at your departure airport. Thus, we ask that you do not bring portable electronic devices other than your cell phone and a separate camera, if desired. Once you board the boat, the use of your cell phone will be restricted to emergency situations. You should let your family and friends know in advance that they will be unable to readily reach you, and that you will not be engaging in social conversations with them while you are gone. If you must monitor some important situation back home, you will be able to provide your trip leader’s and/or vessel skipper’s contact information for emergency purposes. While we are generally close to land and often have access to cell reception and Wi-Fi, understand that service may be spotty and expensive international rates may apply.

All of Purpose Bound’s experiences involve the adventure of living on a 40-50′ sailboat during the course of your trip. Very loosely speaking, sailing is similar to camping in an RV. Our vessels are configured and furnished for overnight sailing voyages with on-board cooking, but everything is packed into a relatively small space. You will be living in close quarters with fellow participants and crew, and sharing a small sleeping cabin with a same-sex fellow participant (except in the case of married couples and families). Bathrooms are very small, and you will hand-pump the water you use. Every boat is different, and they do not always offer air conditioning, but ocean breezes generally make for comfortable sleep. Meals and snacks will be simple, and on missions days, you may be eating a sack lunch. Sunburn and windburn are realities to prepare for, and certain people may be prone to motion sickness (see above). Though it’s not a luxury resort experience, virtually everyone finds a sailing voyage to be an incredibly peaceful and relaxing experience, and any inconveniences fade away with each passing day.

TRAVEL PLANNER

The following information is designed to provide to you everything you need to know in planning your Purpose Bound trip.  Each section contains important information, so please be sure to review each one carefully.

This page contains everything you need to know to plan your California Purpose Bound trip. Be sure to take care of items 1 thru 4 immediately.

(1) Register for Your Trip. If you haven’t already done so, register for your chosen experience and make the deposit payment. (Note: After registering, we will send you information that supplements the material on this web site.)

(2) Book Any Air Travel and Make Plans to Timely Arrive Dockside on Your Trip Departure Date. You will need to arrive dockside no later than 4:00 pm on your voyage departure date. In making travel plans, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to our dock and checked in for our strict boarding deadline. We recommend arriving much earlier,  to give room for traffic and any flight delays or checked luggage issues. There are plenty of things to see and do within short walking distance of our marinas. 

If you are traveling by air, as a general rule, the sooner you book, the more you will save on airfare. In booking your flights, we suggest first using the general travel sites to check general flight schedules and pricing (e.g., Trip AdvisorExpediaTravelocity). Then use that information to book direct with the particular airline(s) desired, as this will facilitate any future flight changes if needed, seat selection, etc. (If you are not comfortable booking your own flights, you are of course free to use a travel agent of your own choosing. Simply refer them to this web site for important travel information.) As soon as your flights are booked, please send your flight itinerary to us by email so that we can double-check your flight details and begin planning for your arrival.

If your Purpose Bound experience is based in Newport Harbor, the closest airport is John Wayne/Orange County (SNA). For experiences based in Marina Del Rey, the closest airport is Los Angeles International (LAX). Each is only approximately 20-30 minutes from the respective marina, but they are busy airports and traffic can be unpredictable. Please be sure to plan your scheduled arrival accordingly. Your outbound flight should be no earlier than 2:00 pm on your voyage conclusion date.

Once you register for a trip, we will be in contact with you and provide further information on getting to us. If you are coming from one of the above airports, we will reimburse you for the cab or Uber fare.

(3) Do Your Two “Homework” Assignments. There are two important assignments: (A) First, please read What On Earth Am I Here For – The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, as we will refer to it daily and expect you to be familiar with it. It is to be read one chapter a day for 42 days, with each chapter taking only about ten minutes to read. (B) Second, exercise. Our program is an outdoor adventure involving missions work, sailing, water sports, hiking, and other mildly strenuous physical activities. If you don’t already engage in a fitness routine, you will want to start one, even if it is as simple as a brisk walk a half hour per day 3-4 days per week.

(4) Prepare for Your Trip. The paragraphs below as well as the remaining links under our “Travel Planner” menu contain very important additional information about your experience. A trip like this is probably new to you, so you will want to learn as much about it as you can before departure so as to avoid any surprises as well as to get the most out of your experience.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

What to Pack. Please review our “Packing Checklist” below for a detailed list of items recommended or required to be brought with you, and limitations on the type of luggage to use.

Consider Optional Trip Insurance. Please review the “Optional Travel Insurance” information below so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase travel insurance and/or travel medical insurance.

Consider Optional Pre- or Post-Trip Travel Add-Ons. Please review the “Optional Excursions and Travel Add-Ons” information below if you are considering spending a little more time in the area either before or after your experience.

Review Our FAQs. The “Essentials” page contains other important information about your voyage.

This page contains everything you need to know to plan your Purpose Bound trip to the Caribbean. Be sure to take care of items 1 thru 7 immediately.

(1) Register for Your Trip. If you haven’t already done so, register for your chosen experience and make the deposit payment. (Note: After registering, we will send you information that supplements the material on this web site.)

(2) Book Your Flights. As a general rule, the sooner you book, the more you will save on airfare.

For our Virgin Islands experiences, you will be flying in and out of St. Thomas through the modern Cyril E. King Airport (STT) located in the southwest portion of the island (see map). You will need to arrive in St. Thomas no later than 2:00 pm on your voyage departure date to give you enough time to get to our dock and checked in for our strict 3:00 boarding deadline. (We recommend much earlier, or even the prior day, to give room for flight delays, or if you check luggage. It can be expensive for you to catch up with us once the trip commences!) Your outbound flight should be no earlier than 1:00 pm on your voyage conclusion date.

For our St. Martin experiences, you will be flying in and out of St. Maarten through the modern Princes Juliana International Airport (SXM) located in the southwest portion of the island (see map). You will need to arrive in St. Maarten no later than 4:00 pm on your voyage departure date to give you enough time to get to our dock and checked in for our strict 5:30 boarding deadline. (We recommend much earlier, or even the prior day, to give room for flight delays, or if you check luggage. It can be expensive for you to catch up with us once the trip commences!) Your outbound flight should be no earlier than 1:00 pm on your voyage conclusion date.

In booking your flights, we suggest first using the general travel sites to check general flight schedules and pricing (e.g., Trip AdvisorExpediaTravelocity). Then use that information to book direct with the particular airline(s) desired, as this will facilitate any future flight changes if needed, seat selection, etc. (If you are not comfortable booking your own flights, you are of course free to use a travel agent of your own choosing. Simply refer them to this web site for important travel information.) Travel tip: sit on the left side of the aircraft for the best chance for views of St. Thomas and St. Martin as you arrive.

(3) Send Us Your Flight Itinerary. As soon as your flights are booked, please send your flight itinerary to us by email so that we can double-check your flight details and begin planning for your arrival.

(4) Fulfill Passport Requirements. Travel to the Caribbean requires a U.S. passport with an expiration date at least 6 months after your return date. Applying for a new passport, or renewing an expiring one, is a simple process explained on the U.S. Department of State passport web site. For a new passport, most people can simply download the application form and then take it along with the following items to a local passport office: a certified copy of their birth certificate, some other form of ID, a passport photo and the fee. Renewals can generally be done by mail. Normal processing times are about 6-8 weeks, but there are various expedite options available if your travel date requires quicker turnaround. (Note: The visas required for you to enter the various foreign countries will be obtained for you by your Vessel Skipper and/or Trip Leader at the dock upon arrival.)

(5) Consult a Doctor about Immunizations/Vaccinations. This should be tended to at least 4-6 weeks in advance of your trip departure date or as soon as possible if your trip departs sooner than that. When setting up your appointment, be sure your doctor is familiar with travel medicine. If they are not, you can use the travel medicine doctor finder on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site. Either way, be sure to take your vaccination/immunization records with you. Your doctor will let you know of any additional country-specific immunizations required and discuss other travel health matters as described on the CDC web site.  In addition, if you are prone to motion sickness, you should consult with your doctor about a patch or other solution, which may be as simple as using an over-the-counter medication like Bonine, Antivert or Dramamine.

(6) Do Your Two “Homework” Assignments. There are two important assignments: (A) First, please read What On Earth Am I Here For – The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, as we will refer to it daily and expect you to be familiar with it. It is to be read one chapter a day for 42 days, with each chapter taking only about ten minutes to read. (B) Second, exercise. Our program is an outdoor adventure involving missions work, sailing, water sports, hiking, and other mildly strenuous physical activities. If you don’t already engage in a fitness routine, you will want to start one, even if it is as simple as a brisk walk a half hour per day 3-4 days per week.

(7) Prepare for Your Trip. The paragraphs below as well as the remaining links under our “Travel Planner” menu contain very important additional information about your experience. The combination of international travel, visiting underdeveloped areas and sailing is probably new to you, so you will want to learn as much about it as you can before departure so as to avoid any surprises as well as to get the most out of your experience.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Getting to Us From the Airport. For our Virgin Islands experiences, our vessels depart from Red Hook, which is on the east end of St. Thomas. For our St. Martin experiences, our vessels depart from Marina Fort Luis, which is in Marigot on the northwest side of the island. Depending on traffic, each is about a 25-30 minute taxi ride from the airport to our dock. Once you register for a trip, we will be in contact with you and provide further information on getting to us from the airport. We cover the cab fare.

Island Travel Facts. Please visit the “Special Travel Facts for Caribbean Trips” below to learn about weather, languages spoken, currency, banking, and other useful information unique to traveling in the islands.

What to Pack. Please review our “Packing Checklist” below for a detailed list of items recommended or required to be brought with you, and limitations on the type of luggage to use.

Consider Optional Trip Insurance. Please review the “Optional Travel Insurance” information below so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase travel insurance and/or travel medical insurance.

Consider Optional Pre- or Post-Trip Travel Add-Ons. Please review the “Optional Excursions and Travel Add-Ons” information below if you are considering spending a little more time in the islands either before or after your experience.

About International Travel. As long as you have your U.S. passport, travel in the Caribbean is quite simple compared to other foreign countries. Once you are on your voyage, the skipper or trip leader will actually handle all of your country entries and departures (including paying any fees and taxes). However, prior to departure you should become familiar with international travel requirements and procedures by reviewing our “International Travel Information” below. This should be considered part of your missions training, whether or not you plan on taking any foreign country mission trips in the future.

Review Our FAQs. The “Essentials” page contains other important information about your voyage.

Understand the Realities of Underdeveloped Nations. In planning your trip, prepare yourself for an adventure, perhaps unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. While parts of the Caribbean are not dissimilar to the U.S., other areas will seem very foreign, with modern conveniences lacking and poverty very evident. Vehicular travel can be interesting, because in most island countries, people drive on the left side of the road. Streets can be narrow and without lane markings and signs, and you may even be traveling on bumpy dirt roads and dodging potholes. Be cautious when walking, as vehicles believe they have the right of way over pedestrians. You may experience communication issues and language barriers, and agree or disagree to things without even knowing it. For those on trips with onshore overnight stays, or for those considering pre- or post-voyage travel within the islands, accommodations and eating establishments can be very rustic. Some of the local food is very different. You may be bathing/showering in treated rain water. Air conditioning may not exist. Power outages can occur, and Internet, if even available, can be slow and also subject to outages. Cell phone service can be erratic. If you are having your laundry done, don’t be surprised to see it hand-washed in rain water and hung outside to dry. Mosquitos, roosters crowing, donkeys honking, dogs barking, and general commotion may disrupt a good night’s sleep. If you are flying or renting a car, be prepared. Airline flights get delayed and even cancelled on short notice and without any apparent reason. Car rental reservations disappear, assuming the agent hasn’t closed early just because they had other personal plans. The good news is that it is all tolerable, and after the initial shock, you grow to even appreciate the simplicity and even humor in it all. And the best part is that the people you will encounter are a joy to get to know.

Pre-Trip Study Resources

Pre-Trip Required Reading:

The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For (Rick Warren) (Purchase from Amazon)

Recommended Reading to Further Enhance Your Purpose Bound Experience:

S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life (Erik Rees) (Purchase from Amazon)

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Francis Chan) (Chapters 4 & 5 are a must read) (Purchase from Amazon

Additional Book Resources:

So What’s the Difference?: A Look at 20 Worldviews, Faiths and Religions and How They Compare to Christianity (Fritz Ridenour)

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus (Kyle Idleman)

Courageous Leadership (Bill Hybels)

The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God Through Prayer (Charles Stanley)

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself (Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert)

The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission (Rick Warren)

The John Maxwell Leadership Bible

Additional Online Resources:

YouVersion – Online Bible and Bible App 

GotQuestions.org – Provides Bible-based answers to virtually any question you search

GodTube – Christian videos

Daily Devotionals:

Daily Hope (Rick Warren)

Men of Integrity (Christianity Today)

Jesus Calling (Sarah Young)

The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional (Gary Chapman)

Love Out Loud: 365 Devotions for Loving God, Loving Yourself and Loving Others (Joyce Meyer)

Everything Counts  (Steve L. Case)

The following travel facts will help you better prepare for your trip:

Weather: The weather in the Eastern Caribbean region is consistently warm and tropical, with daytime highs averaging in the 80s (F) year round, and nighttime temperatures dropping to the 70s. The area can be humid, especially in the warmer summer months. As in most tropical destinations, some clouds and scattered showers are to be expected from time to time, but extended periods of overcast skies and steady rains are rare. The threat of tropical storms and hurricanes is the highest in August and September, but with modern satellite forecasting, there is plenty of time to prepare or even evacuate if necessary. The following links provide more detailed weather information for Antigua, which is typical for the region:  Short-Term Local ForecastMonthly Temperature & Rainfall Averages

What to Wear: The island lifestyle is a very casual one, and the tropical weather suggests very comfortable clothing. Flip-flops, sandals and tennies are standard footwear, and shorts, t-shirts/blouses and even swimwear are daily staples. As Christians, modesty is always in order, and we have specific attire we ask of you while on-boat and on shore excursions. So before packing, please be sure to view our Dress Code.

Languages Spoken: English is widely spoken throughout the Caribbean islands we visit, though there may be areas on some islands where you will hear French, Dutch or Spanish. Expect a distinct and enjoyable Caribbean accent from locals. Overall, you should not find communications to be an issue in the Caribbean. When it is, relax, smile and enjoy the memory you are making.

Currency: On a Purpose Bound trip, you will be spending little or no money, so currency is not really an issue. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted throughout the Caribbean, as are major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard, particularly in the areas you are most likely to desire a snack or souvenir. On islands where there is a special currency, your trip leader will help with any currency conversions and make sure you are paying the correct amount and receive the right change. 

Banking: Banks and ATMs are readily available in the main port cities of all the islands we visit. However, it’s always a good idea when traveling in foreign countries to carry some cash for unexpected situations.

Electricity: Because you will be living on a U.S. or British based boat, the electrical current and plug variations that exist on certain islands should not be a factor. However, our vessels will carry a converter/adapter kit in case an onshore excursion or service project requires the use of an electrical device (i.e., laptop, phone charger, etc.). Extra battery packs for cell phones, cameras, and the like are highly recommended.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The best source of information about international travel is the U.S. Department of State travel web site, where you can use the drop-down menu to learn about each country you will be visiting or passing through. You should also review the embassy website for each foreign country you will be traveling in or through. The following third party web site also offers some good information and tips: http://www.tripresource.com/beforeyougo.htm

For your convenience, we also offer the following summary information, additional resources and helpful links.*

Entry Requirements: Every foreign country has specific entry requirements. Entry is generally a two step process: one called immigration and involving proof of identity and obtaining a visa (basically, an official permission slip to be in the country), and the other called customs, which confirms that you are not bringing anything into that country that it considers illegal or taxable. (Remember, the U.S. has similar laws when returning home.)

Immigration: To understand a country’s immigration entry requirements, you should first start on the U.S. Department of State travel web site. You should also review the country’s embassy web site, as it is that country’s law that governs entry into that country. A list of embassy web sites can be found here. You will typically need a U.S. passport (with an expiration date at least 6 months from your return date) and possibly a travel visa (which is “recommended” to be obtained in advance, though often is available at the airport upon arrival, particularly in the Caribbean).

Customs: Countries can be very strict on what they allow to be brought into their borders. You should consult both the U.S. Department of State web site as well as the destination country’s embassy web site for details. Click here for a list of foreign embassies. The simplest advice is to travel light and without plant or animal products, and to buy little or nothing other than basic souvenirs that you want to take home with you.

Immunizations and Other Health Matters: Travel to foreign countries, particularly developing ones, may expose you to various diseases, insects and other harmful things not found in the U.S. It is important for you and your doctor to understand the medical risks associated with any countries you will be visiting or passing through, and prepare accordingly. Specific immunizations/vaccinations may even be required for entry. Important Travelers Health information can be found on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. Any requirements or recommendations should be tended to at least 4-6 weeks in advance of trip departure. Also note that it should be assumed that tap water is not drinkable; you should avoid swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams; and you should avoid handling animals. As a precaution, you may want to take along over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication and anti-itch medication, such as Benadryl.

Register Your Trip with the USDOS: We recommend that you register your trip with the U.S. Department of State through its “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” so that you can be more easily reached in the event of an emergency.

Review U.S. Government Travel Security Alerts & Warnings: As you prepare to depart, you should check for any travel alerts or travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State for the countries you are visiting or passing through on your trip.

*The above information is believed to be reliable as of 9/19/2013, but is provided for informational purposes only and in no way constitutes an endorsement or guarantee, expressed or implied, by Purpose Bound, Inc. or any other affiliated entity or person. Travel requirements information is valid for U.S. resident citizens only; others should contact their country of residency/citizenship.

OPTIONAL TRIP INSURANCE

While we expect “smooth sailing” on all of our Purpose Bound trips, we see on the news everyday how the unexpected can strike at any moment. For this reason, we recommend that you consider trip insurance that protects your investment in your trip and your own personal health. Fortunately, because the risks are actually very small, you will find that trip insurance is a very affordable option.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of travel risks to consider. The first is the risk of trip cancellation and interruptions due to weather, airline issues, your own pre-trip illness, war, and the like. These types of risks are covered by travel insurance. The second is the risk of some medical situation while traveling requiring emergency medical transport services back to the U.S. This type of risk would be covered by travel medical insurance. You can learn more about both of these types of insurance on the U.S. Department of State web site, including additional travel health information found here.

If you wish to purchase trip insurance, popular travel/medical insurance sites with online quotes include SquareMouthTravelex, and InsureMyTrip.com. Others can be found on this Travel Insurance Review web site. These vendors are more than happy to assist you in determining what type of insurance may be best for you. (The foregoing is provided for your convenience only and in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, by Purpose Bound.)

OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
AND TRAVEL ADD-ONS

While in the area, you may wish to spend some time before or after your Purpose Bound experience visiting other particular islands of interest. The web makes it very easy to book flights, reserve accomodations, plan for ground transportation, and explore particular island activities. For your convenience, we are providing the following island information and links:

Popular Islands 

St. Thomas – St. John – Tortola – Virgin Gorda – St. Croix

St. Martin – St. Kitts & Nevis – Antigua

St. Lucia – Barbados – The Grenadines

Jamaica – Cayman Islands – Aruba

Caribbean Destinations Information

You can learn about these and the many other wonderful islands through the following general Caribbean travel links:

 

Flights, Accommodations & Rental Cars

For booking your own flights, accommodations and rental cars, we again suggest first using the general travel sites to explore flight schedules and hotel/car availability (e.g., Trip AdvisorExpediaTravelocity). Then use that information to book direct with the particular airlines, hotels or rental car companies desired, as this will facilitate any necessary reservation changes, preferences, etc.

An important tip to note is that there are various other local airlines not listed on the major sites that serve inter-island travel needs, often using “puddle-jumpers”, and thus making for a unique experience. (Enough “important” people travel in the Caribbean such that these airlines are considered safe, however note that they are not necessarily regulated by the U.S. FAA.) Several of the ones we know of are:

International Travel Reminder

In planning any additional island excursions, be sure to visit our International Travel page and consider the information for EACH island you plan on visiting or passing through. 

OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
AND TRAVEL ADD-ONS

While in the area, you may wish to spend some time before or after your Purpose Bound experience visiting other particular islands of interest. The web makes it very easy to book flights, reserve accomodations, plan for ground transportation, and explore particular island activities. For your convenience, we are providing the following island information and links:

Popular Islands 

St. Thomas – St. John – Tortola – Virgin Gorda – St. Croix

St. Martin – St. Kitts & Nevis – Antigua

St. Lucia – Barbados – The Grenadines

Jamaica – Cayman Islands – Aruba

Caribbean Destinations Information

You can learn about these and the many other wonderful islands through the following general Caribbean travel links:

 

Flights, Accommodations & Rental Cars

For booking your own flights, accommodations and rental cars, we again suggest first using the general travel sites to explore flight schedules and hotel/car availability (e.g., Trip AdvisorExpediaTravelocity). Then use that information to book direct with the particular airlines, hotels or rental car companies desired, as this will facilitate any necessary reservation changes, preferences, etc.

An important tip to note is that there are various other local airlines not listed on the major sites that serve inter-island travel needs, often using “puddle-jumpers”, and thus making for a unique experience. (Enough “important” people travel in the Caribbean such that these airlines are considered safe, however note that they are not necessarily regulated by the U.S. FAA.) Several of the ones we know of are:

International Travel Reminder

In planning any additional island excursions, be sure to visit our International Travel page and consider the information for EACH island you plan on visiting or passing through.