Questions about NOLS travel

2020Vision

Member
My plebe son will be in Alaska for NOLS during third block this summer. We just learned he is responsible for his own travel arrangements, and he has received some minimal travel info from NOLS. However, to complicate matters, he has his cruise during second block. At this point, he says he only knows he will be somewhere in the Pacific. So, how is he supposed to arrange travel from his cruise to Alaska, when he doesn't yet know where he'll be traveling from -- or when??? I've heard tales of mids learning about their cruise assignments and schedules very late in the game -- and then the plans change at the very last second. I am fully on board with the notion of letting him handle his own arrangements, but it's coming out of my pocket, so I have a vested interest in ensuring the arrangements are as cost-effective as possible (especially in light of how much we are already out of pocket for the NOLS adventure itself). Does anyone have experience with this situation from years past?
 

pleber16

USNA 2016
5-Year Member
My plebe son will be in Alaska for NOLS during third block this summer. We just learned he is responsible for his own travel arrangements, and he has received some minimal travel info from NOLS. However, to complicate matters, he has his cruise during second block. At this point, he says he only knows he will be somewhere in the Pacific. So, how is he supposed to arrange travel from his cruise to Alaska, when he doesn't yet know where he'll be traveling from -- or when??? I've heard tales of mids learning about their cruise assignments and schedules very late in the game -- and then the plans change at the very last second. I am fully on board with the notion of letting him handle his own arrangements, but it's coming out of my pocket, so I have a vested interest in ensuring the arrangements are as cost-effective as possible (especially in light of how much we are already out of pocket for the NOLS adventure itself). Does anyone have experience with this situation from years past?
I'm surprised he knows Pacific. Usually they won't release embark/debark ports until a few weeks before the actual cruise. I know that is less than ideal, but this won't be the first time you're waiting last minute to makes travel arrangements. I would recommend booking the return flight from NOLS now. The date and airports for that should be known. As far as the trip to Alaska, you probably won't know for awhile. As far as plans changing, book Southwest as much as possible. If you can't book Southwest, get trip insurance.
 
I'm surprised he knows Pacific. Usually they won't release embark/debark ports until a few weeks before the actual cruise. I know that is less than ideal, but this won't be the first time you're waiting last minute to makes travel arrangements. I would recommend booking the return flight from NOLS now. The date and airports for that should be known. As far as the trip to Alaska, you probably won't know for awhile. As far as plans changing, book Southwest as much as possible. If you can't book Southwest, get trip insurance.
What is NOLS?
 

Dad2020

Member
My plebe son will be in Alaska for NOLS during third block this summer. We just learned he is responsible for his own travel arrangements, and he has received some minimal travel info from NOLS. However, to complicate matters, he has his cruise during second block. At this point, he says he only knows he will be somewhere in the Pacific. So, how is he supposed to arrange travel from his cruise to Alaska, when he doesn't yet know where he'll be traveling from -- or when??? I've heard tales of mids learning about their cruise assignments and schedules very late in the game -- and then the plans change at the very last second. I am fully on board with the notion of letting him handle his own arrangements, but it's coming out of my pocket, so I have a vested interest in ensuring the arrangements are as cost-effective as possible (especially in light of how much we are already out of pocket for the NOLS adventure itself). Does anyone have experience with this situation from years past?
They aren't told where their cruise will be. It's not even in the system yet. Curious where your mid got that information.
 

alaska66

USCGA Admissions Partner
5-Year Member
My plebe son will be in Alaska for NOLS during third block this summer. We just learned he is responsible for his own travel arrangements, and he has received some minimal travel info from NOLS. However, to complicate matters, he has his cruise during second block. At this point, he says he only knows he will be somewhere in the Pacific. So, how is he supposed to arrange travel from his cruise to Alaska, when he doesn't yet know where he'll be traveling from -- or when??? I've heard tales of mids learning about their cruise assignments and schedules very late in the game -- and then the plans change at the very last second. I am fully on board with the notion of letting him handle his own arrangements, but it's coming out of my pocket, so I have a vested interest in ensuring the arrangements are as cost-effective as possible (especially in light of how much we are already out of pocket for the NOLS adventure itself). Does anyone have experience with this situation from years past?
Members of the Alaska All Academies Association have in the past provided transportation from the Anchorage airport to the NOLS facility in Palmer, along with providing overnight accommodations and meals if necessary. Have your DS check with the USNA NOLS contact or PM me. We have hosted several mids previously. This can at least help with that part of his journey.
 

2020Vision

Member
They aren't told where their cruise will be. It's not even in the system yet. Curious where your mid got that information.
Let me rephrase that: He was told by his company officer that he will almost certainly get his requested cruise location, somewhere in the Pacific. Since he's a plebe, this is all new, so I may have misspoken. I realize they don't learn ports/ships until much closer to time.
 

NotCollegeMom

New Member
Off topic - a few weeks ago in the midst of reading about what to do with college savings NOLS was mentioned. After looking it up I knew that DD would be all over that and if I was still 20 I'd be all over it too.

Back on topic - Can you purchase part of the plane ticket and then the remainder after he knows where he'll be travelling from? For example, to get to Alaska many flights will go through Seattle. Maybe you buy the Seattle to Anchorage portions and then figure out how to get him to Seattle at a later date. Obviously if he was coming from the Pacific Seattle should be a good connector and if coming from the Atlantic it should still work.

And travel insurance could be your friend. Read the policy carefully. Some provide for change under almost any circumstance, some for work related, and some for just medical issues.
 

2020Momof3

New Member
Can you make recommendations for specific travel insurance plans/companies, please? I have a daughter going to NOLS Wyoming this year and looked into one that only covered medical changes and that wouldn't have helped so I kind of gave up hope on that. Would like to get travel insurance because the Southwest Flight I have tentatively booked did not have military rate option for refund and the second leg of the flight is not Southwest and refundable ticket was 2 1/2 the cost of the one I booked.
 

parentalunit2

5-Year Member
To do a side by side comparison of travel insurance policies you should go to insuremytrip dot com. You can check off the features you want, compare plans, and click through to purchase. Super easy. We have always ended up going with Travelex, but your needs may be different. Out of curiosity, why is NOLS not paid for by USNA? Are there many other summer options that are not paid for by the academy?
 

Sydney C.

5-Year Member
Out of curiosity, why is NOLS not paid for by USNA?
Good question I don't have the answer to but NOLS Alaska trip was on our dime while I believe, but can't say with certainty, other NOLS programs are covered by USNA. DS was fortunate to get a partial scholarship to cover some of the expense but the rest was covered by my "so much for buying those new Callaway clubs" fund.
 

pleber16

USNA 2016
5-Year Member
None of the NOLS programs are funded by the academy. They're expensive and aren't considered one of the essential programs designed to meet the goals of academy summer training.
 

SDMom2019

Member
There are scholarships that Mids can apply for, both through NOLS and the Naval Academy Foundation.

My son did the Wind River trip in Wyoming last year. I think they were out for 25 days. He had a great time and learned a lot. They will receive training on leadership and take turns leading their group. On my son's trip, they later chose their own leader and went off on a trip without the NOLS instructors for several days. The leaders choose the route and are responsible for the team. The experience drives home some of those leadership lessons about how you can't move faster than your weakest member, how to motivate those who are convinced they can't do more, etc... They will be graded on several leadership qualities by the NOLS instructors. They also get pretty good at land navigation.

On the Wyoming trip, they had a chance to do some fly fishing. My son caught lots of fish. Sadly, he didn't catch a golden trout. So, he failed to catch one of each of the types of trout they have in their streams.

They will send you a list of the gear needed for the trip. What you don't have can be rented or purchased when you show up. The list will tell you how much the items will cost to rent or buy there.
 

2020Vision

Member
Can you make recommendations for specific travel insurance plans/companies, please? I have a daughter going to NOLS Wyoming this year and looked into one that only covered medical changes and that wouldn't have helped so I kind of gave up hope on that. Would like to get travel insurance because the Southwest Flight I have tentatively booked did not have military rate option for refund and the second leg of the flight is not Southwest and refundable ticket was 2 1/2 the cost of the one I booked.
NOLS offers some travel insurance you can buy through them for about $340. Not sure if it covers flight changes though. If you look for coverage elsewhere for the NOLS trip itself, be sure to read the fine print to ensure it covers "adventure" or "extreme" travel like mountaineering. if that's what your Mid is doing.
 

LongAgoPlebe

5-Year Member
Although the thread is about NOLS travel, I want to put in a plug for NOLS. After I left USNA and graduated from college, I became an instructor for NOLS. The alignment with USNA and Fleet leadership development is very tight. As SDMom2019 mentioned, mids and civilians alike learn lessons about what works in leadership: humility, humor, making sure everyone wins, practicing when to cajole and support and when someone needs a swift kick in the a** - and how to do that professionally/respectfully. Everyone, everyone gets that chance to practice.

The other important lesson that's a lot like USNA/Fleet is that we all think we know how we'd respond to a given stressor, but until you actually have to respond, you're just speculating. Most participants have no idea how being cold and wet, or hungry, or exhausted, or dehydrated, or injured, or some combination of those things changes the way your brain works and therefore changes the way you make decisions. At those times is when you learn either to fight through that "get there now" drive and STOP; or you learn when you cannot and should not be in charge of making decisions. It is humbling for strong, driven people to get to a point where they recognize they are not making good decisions and need to rely on their teammates, but that is one of the best things we can learn.
 
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mjm

5-Year Member
My mid did NOLS Alaska his plebe year. He had cruise 2nd block and NOLS third block. He made his plane reservation to Alaska and from Alaska out of BWI .... If you go onto the NOLS site you can usually find the dates they need to report in Alaska.... it is usually the night before. He should be able to make a plane reservation to arrive the night before the program starts.
My mid flew in and shared a hotel room with another mid..... everything is pretty close so they took cabs and walked. He ended up sleeping in the airport on the backend of his trip because the NOLS portion ended and he was not flying out till the day after. He didnt have any money so slept in the airport and got snacks from the USO at the airport.
 

greeneagle5

10-Year Member
My Mid did the Alaska NOLS- Sea Kayak expedition in 2010.....the Summer tourist season in Anchorage means hotel rates sky rocket in price...and most commercial flights from the lower 48 arrive in Anchorage around mid-night.....so a hotel room can be very pricey for just a few hours....my Mid took an easy 20 minute taxi ride to Elmendorf AFB and the AF Lodge on base( similar to a NAVY Lodge)....he had a priority reservation since he had USNA travel orders.....just another safe and inexpensive($60) lodging option.
 
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