Dr. Laura sat down with Robin, Kerianne, Billy and Eric from Grand Classroom to talk about air travel during Covid 19.
Q. What updates have there been regarding air travel in the last few weeks?
A. Both Harvard and the Department of Defense have released studies saying that the risk of getting Covid 19 on an airplane is virtually nonexistent. This is because of the mask mandate on airplanes and because the air filters on planes are able to clear 99.99% of airborne viruses from the air in the cabin every 5 minutes or so. While all travel has an element of risk, the risk of getting Covid 19 on an airplane is quite low according to these studies.
Q. Where have you traveled by plane since Covid? What airports did you use and what airlines did you fly?

Dr. Laura and Eric discuss what makes our Alaska trip such a unique experience. 


Q. Alaska is so vast - there are so many national parks and areas to explore - what parks and places does a Grand Classroom Alaska tour typically visit?
A. Our tours start and end in Anchorage with time to explore the museums and hike or bike the coastal trail to look for wildlife. We then head down to the fishing village of Seward - along the way we visit the Alaska Wildlife Center and do a cool train ride/rafting combo trip that takes you along Spencer Glacier. In Seward we spend time at Kenai Fjords National Park - we go for a kayak and also have the opportunity to hike on Exit Glacier. For the grand finale we head up to Denali, usually with stops at a dog sledding place and a gold mining spot. At Denali, you can take a guided bus ride into the park and/or hike at a variety of spots including the Savage River, Horseshoe Lake, and Mount Healy.

Naomi and Will talk about the Pacific Northwest trip where you get to see it all!

Here's the rundown:

Q. The Pacific NorthWest is a bit of a lesser known trip, but it's one of my personal favorites. Can you let people know what to expect on the tour?

A. In my opinion, the PNW is such an easy wind. Nature is right there in the City. You have a stratovolcano, you have Rainer looming over what really feels like an Emerald City. You also have access to the sound and all that has to offer, as well as the fantastic countryside if the group decides to travel down to Portland as well.  
Also, one of the absolutely most fascinating topics to explore in the area is my personal favorite, volcanism! It's wonderful seeing students realize we have active volcanoes in the USA. And just being immersed in the nature of the area is exhilarating. The weather also dictates much of the mood of the trip and provides a lot of magic.

Laura interviews Bernardo, our Puerto Rico expert. 

Here's a rundown of their conversation:

Q: Puerto Rico has so much to see and do. What areas does a Grand Classroom PR trip typically visit?

Every itinerary is customized so they are all different, but pretty much every group visits the bioluminescent bay in La Parguera, historical and cultural sites in Old San Juan, and the rainforest El Yunque.  We also like to get our groups off the beaten path to truly experience local culture and people. The people in Puerto Rico are incredibly friendly, and it gives groups an opportunity to practice their Spanish if they want to.

Naomi sat down with guide and group favorite, Will Puckett, to discuss a staff favorite, Yosemite and San Francisco. 

Here's what they said:

 Q. Please run us through what people could expect to do on their trip to San Francisco?

A. Well running through it is a great way to put it. Between all of the historical, cultural, sociological and geological areas to explore, the trip moves at a fast pace. However, there is enough variety that groups can pick and choose what interests them so it doesn't become overwhelming.
Q. Awesome. So What would you consider the highlights of the trip, for the teachers, the students and yourself?
A. The Bay area offers stunning vistas and many viewpoints where people can get a very tactile experience. The wind, the water, the lighting - all of it combined is very engaging. Often we become desensitized to our own environment, so it is a privilege when you get to experience it through the eyes of the guests.
Some of the specific highlights include whale watching, either from a boat or sometimes you can actually see humpbacks from the shore of SF, which is incredible. It's also very special to see an iconic cable car full of students zipping through the landscape of the City.

Laura and Naomi discuss Big Bend National Park - an underrated treasure!

Here's a synopsis:  

Q. Big Bend isn't as well known as parks like the Grand Canyon. Can you tell me a little bit about Big Bend - where is it located? And why is it a good destination for student travel?
A. Big Bend is located in SW Texas. It's about 10 hours from Houston and 8 hours from El Paso. It's an amazing National Park located on 196 miles of the Rio Grande - at a "big bend" in the river. It has incredible canyons carved by the river, big mountains (8,000 ft) and Chihuahan desert - very diverse ecosystems. There's great opportunities for outdoor adventure including camping, rafting, hiking and soaking in hot springs. It's really at the end of the road, so to speak, so the ability to unplug and unwind is unparalleled.