August 2017

The Balkan Peninsula

Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macdeonia, and Albania!

Learn More

Winter 2017

Australia & New Zealand

Learn More

In May of 2010, Calvin started The Monsoon Diaries as his personal travel blog where he would post daily updates to let the world (and his mother) know he was okay. As his readership expanded, a large humble following of good people asked if they could join on his adventures.

So what began with a trip for a few friends now has blossomed 5 years later into the popularly recognized travel style known as monsooning, and has featured on TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, National Geographic, Business Insider, and Rachel Maddow. Every few months Calvin himself, and some of his most dedicated repeat monsooners, will lead scores of international young-at-heart travelers on their premier expeditions around the world.

Take a look at any of the offered trips below and sign up even if you’re just curious about travel; we will take care of the rest!

August 2017

The Balkan Peninsula

Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macdeonia, and Albania!

Belgrade, Serbia

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kotor, Montenegro

Mount Ostrog Monastery

Podgorica, Montenegro

Peja, Kosovo

Prishtina, Kosovo

Gracanica, Kosovo

Skopje, Macedonia

Ohrid, Macedonia

Tirana, Albania

The Balkan Peninsula

August 12th – 29th, 2017

Next August, The Monsoon Diaries returns to its roots with an ambitious itinerary that covers 7 countries in 2 and a half weeks, paying homage to the region that started World World I. We begin in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia where we orient ourselves for a few days and explore Beogradska Tvrđava, a fortress that bore witness to the emergence and fall of the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian and Austrian empires. We’ll then explore the eerily infamous and abandoned Bobsleigh and Luge Track from the 1984 Winter Olympics by Sarajevo, which happened to also be the very city where the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand ignited our First World War.

Next we’ll arrive at the magical fairtytale city of Mostar, the cultural capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and distinctive for its 16th century Ottoman Bridge of Stari Most. Afterwards we’ll attempt to unseat the Iron Throne at the actual film location of King’s Landing from “Game of Thrones”, aka Dubrovnik, Croatia. We’ll then spend a night at the photogenic coastal town of secluded Kotor, Montenegro before making a pilgramage to Mount Ostrog Monastery, famous for being carved in the large rock of Ostroška Greda

The 2nd half of the trip then begins at Podgorica, formerly known as Titograd of Yugoslavia, from where we’ll take an overnight bus through the mountains to surreal Peja, sitting at the foot of the impressive Bjeshket e Nemuna and its adjoining valley. We’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gracanica Monastery, before spending a day in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo. From there we’ll continue onto the cosmopolitan capital of Macedonia, Skopje, having survived through Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule up to this day. Afterwards we’ll visit the seaside jewel of Macdeonia, Ohrid, before celebrating the end of our 2 week adventure in Albania’s capital Tirana. If timing permits, we may then extend the journey with an optional tour into the rest of Albania.

  • August 12-14: Belgrade, Serbia
  • August 14-16: Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • August 16-17: Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • August 17-18: Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • August 18-19: Kotor, Montenegro
  • August 19-20: Podgorica, Montenegro
  • August 20: Mount Ostrog Monastery, Montenegro
  • August 21-22: Peja, Kosovo
  • August 22: Gracanica, Kosovo
  • August 22-23: Prishtina, Kosovo
  • August 23-25: Skopje, Macedonia
  • August 25-27: Ohrid, Macedonia
  • August 27-29: Tirana, Albania

How do I pay?

A 50% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, or Venmo.

What is the situation with food?

Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions beforehand and we can totally accommodate.

What are accommodations like?

Boutique, top-end, safe hostels all with running hot water, good people, and great amenities.

How are we traveling country to country?

Mostly by bus (average length of 3-4 hours at a time between cities), 3 overnight buses, and perhaps a 4 hour train in Macedonia for the views.

Can I join for just a part of the trip?

Of course! If you have a specific set of dates in mind, we’ll pro-rate the cost so you’ll only pay for the days when you’re with us.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

If you’re doing the full trip, plan to arrive in Belgrade, Serbia (BEG) by August 12th at the latest. If you’re doing the 2nd week, plan to arrive in Podgorica, Montenegro (TGD) no later than August 19th.

Please confirm with Calvin directly before purchasing tickets, however!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We boast expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime.

So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, cardiac, diabetic, lactose intolerant, peanut allergies, etc.)?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

No if you’re a passport holder from the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, mostly EU countries, Taiwan, South Korea, and many others. Regardless, we will provide full visa guidance.

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do I need travel insurance?

Up to you! Some credit cards already include some sort of travel insurance (check with them). We tend to find the cheapest ones at: http://www.travelinsurance.com/

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions.

 

BOOKING POLICY

  • A 50% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 4 weeks before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY

All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 8 weeks (60 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 15 – 60 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-14 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS

As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason.

If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE

In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund.

What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company.

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.

 

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS

MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.

 

TRANSIT VISA

In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Group A: Week 1

August 12th-20th
$800/pax
  • Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro!
  • The early bird deadline has passed. Prices can increase by another $100-200 USD after July 15th, 11:59pm EST.

  • You can secure the cheaper price by submitting a 50% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!

Group B: Week 2

August 20th-29th
$800/pax
  • Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania!
  • The early bird deadline has passed. Prices can increase by another $100-200 USD after July 15th, 11:59pm EST.

  • You can secure the cheaper price by submitting a 50% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!

Price inclusive of:

  • All required transportation in the region
  • Airport transfers with the group
  • All Accommodation
  • All entrance fees
  • Listed itinerary
  • Visa guidance
  • Guide fees

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights to begin and end the trip
  • Personal expenses/souvenirs
  • Most food/drink
  • Personal and/or optional cab rides/public transportation/Uber rides
  • Optional activities/day-tours/excursions
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa Fees (if applicable)

Interested in joining us?

E-mail us at calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com if you want to sign up for updates (replaced bracketed text with appropriate punctuation, obviously).

Winter 2017

Australia & New Zealand

Sydney, Australia

Cairns, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef

Alice Springs, Australia

Uluru, Australia

Auckland, New Zealand

Rotorua, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

New Milford Sound, New Zealand

Australia & New Zealand

Winter 2017

In the winter of 2017, we plan to tick off the continent that has long eluded us: Australia.

Although our 2014 trip to East-Timor Leste counts as a visit to Oceania and thus ensuring that we’ve been to all 7 continents, we all know that doesn’t hold us up to snuff until we’ve been to the mainlands of Australia and New Zealand. So come join us on a dream trip of a lifetime as we start our trip by celebrating New Year’s Eve in Sydney before heading off to visit the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns. Then it’s off to see the enigmatic Ayers Rock (aka “Uluru”) in Alice Springs to finish off our week in Australia.

For week 2 we begin north in Auckland, New Zealand from where we’ll take a quintessential road trip southwards, visiting Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown along the way. Then we cap off 2 epic weeks with a visit to one of the most photogenic and beautiful places on the planet: Milford Sound.

  • December 31-January 3: Sydney, Australia
  • January 3-5: Cairns, Australia & The Great Barrier Reef
  • January 5-7: Alice Springs, Australia & Ayers Rock
  • January 7-8: Sydney, Australia
  • January 8-10: Auckland, New Zealand
  • January 10: Rotorua, New Zealand
  • January 11-12: Wellington, New Zealand
  • January 12-13: Christchurch, New Zealand
  • January 13-15: Queenstown, New Zealand
  • January 15: Milford Sound
  • January 15-16: Queenstown, New Zealand

How do I pay?

A 30% down payment is needed to secure your spot on the trip. We accept credit cards, cash (in person), mailed check, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash, or Venmo.

What if I have dietary restrictions?

Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions beforehand and we can totally accommodate.

What are accommodations like?

Boutique, top-end hostels, or boutique hotels all with running hot water, good people, and great amenities.

What days should I book my flights to arrive?

Depends on what part of the trip you sign up for; please confirm with Calvin directly before purchasing tickets!

Do you provide flight advice/support to get the cheapest flights?

Yep! We boast expertise in this area and would be happy to assist you in booking the cheapest flights, finding hack fares, or work with loyalty mile programs to getting you free economy, business class, or first class flights.

I’d love to come, but I’m limited on budget.

Contact us anyway and we can come up with a deal or financial aid packages.

Can I come alone?

Yes, many of our monsooners have joined our trip by themselves and end up meeting a whole new group of friends. We usually attract people who come from a range of backgrounds and have different levels of experience with travel.

What if I don’t usually like traveling with people?

Our trips are designed by independent travelers with independent travel in mind — we want to provide everyone with the opportunity and experience of traveling alone should they choose to. Therefore, there’s zero pressure to stick with the group anytime.

So if you want to venture off to a museum or try a different restaurant, by all means: Do it! The group will only be expected to stay together for transportation between cities.

Will you accommodate food restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, cardiac, diabetic, lactose intolerant, peanut allergies, etc.)?

Of course. Just tell us ahead of time when you sign up and we can make accommodations easily.

Do I need visas?

Depends on your nationality and type of passport. People with USA and EU nationalities do not need visas. Otherwise, we can help you with this if you need any visas. Please ask!

Will someone provide me with a list of tasks I need to complete for visas or pre-entry credentials

Yes, of course!

Do I need travel insurance?

Up to you! Some credit cards already include some sort of travel insurance (check with them). We tend to find the cheapest ones at: http://www.travelinsurance.com/

Terms and Conditions between The Monsoon Diaries LLC, henceforth called “MD,” and the customer, henceforth called the “customer.” Booking a tour with MD acknowledges customer understanding and agreement to the following terms and conditions.

BOOKING POLICY

  • A 30% deposit is due upon booking confirmation and is non-refundable. The balance of payment is due 4 weeks before the tour commences. Following receipt of deposit customer is required to send relevant details for issuing of relevant permits.
  • Failure to send true and correct information may result in refusal of visa, or permit, and thus results in forfeit of deposit.
  • Should visa, or permit be refused through no fault of the customer, the customer shall receive a full refund minus associated banking costs.
  • In the event of personal injury, or bereavement that prevents the customer taking part on the tour, MD reserve the right to increase the deposit minus associated fees.

CANCELLATION POLICY

All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of receipt by MD. Tour refunds will be given according to the table below.

  • 8 weeks (60 days) prior to the tour customers receive a 100% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 15 – 60 days prior to the tour customers receive a 50% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • 8-14 days prior to the tour customers to receive a 10% refund, minus associated and unrefundable costs.
  • Cancellations received on the day of or within 1 week of departure are non-refundable

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

  • MD may change these Terms & and Conditions at any time. MD will notify customers if changes to the booking terms and conditions are made.
  • It is the responsibility of all customers, regardless of nationality and destination, to check with the consulate of the country they are visiting for current entry requirements. As visa and health requirements are subject to change with-out notice, we recommend that you verify health and visa requirements with the appropriate consulate prior to departure.
  • Price quotations are subject to change without notice, until a booking has been confirmed.
  • MD fully reserves the right to change or amend all itineraries on a case by case basis depending on the situation on the ground. MD will always provide a suitable replacement for anything cancelled on an itinerary.
  • Train, and flight tickets are subject to availability. MD reserve the right to change the mode of transport depending on availability.
  • If for any reason, a client does not complete any portion of their tour or abandons their scheduled tour after departure, MD will not grant a partial refund, nor shall there be any credit given towards future travel.

VISAS

As with all travel there is always a minor chance that a visa will be refused. MD has an excellent track record for visas with a relatively insignificant amount having ever been turned down and all were with good reason.

If the customer has provided accurate information to us and their visa is refused and refunded, MD will in turn grant a full refund of any payments made to MD minus associated transfer fees and costs but will not be held responsible for any costs incurred by the customer in traveling to Beijing, Kuala Lumpur or any other location from which their tour was scheduled to depart. In the event you have intentionally misled us in an attempt to enter a country, we will retain your deposit.

FORCE MAJEURE

In the event of an uncontrollable event, such as war, revolution, and or natural disaster, the customer shall be entitled to a full refund.

What constitutes force majeure is decided solely by the company.

Note: With all refunds the company shall not be held liable for any bank, and or associated fees linked to transferring refund, with sole responsibility being borne by the customer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Medical treatment in many destinations is not free, and it is strongly recommended that the customer take out their own travel insurance, AND check with the issuer whether it is valid in the country of the tour. MD does not provide, nor imply provision of health/travel insurance.

LOCAL LAWS

  • Customers are required to follow local laws and regulations at all times. In the result of a breach of local law, MD will not be held in any way responsible and the customer will take responsibility for any consequences, financial or otherwise, that arise from their actions.
  • Customers are required to follow the guidance and company rules of MD at all times. MD reserves the right to expel customers from the tour who do not follow company rules, without refund.

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Due to the nature of travel/tourism of certain countries, itineraries do not provide or imply a guarantee of the tour’s contents. Though we will make every effort to keep itineraries as described and to find suitable replacements, the company reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary in response to unforeseeable events.

 

TRAVEL EXCEPTIONS

MD reserves the right in extreme cases to refuse service to anyone we deem unsuitable for one of our tours, in the event that MD deems you unsuitable prior to a tour any payment made to MD will be refunded minus associated transfer costs.

 

TRANSIT VISA

In the event the customer intends to travel to and from a country using a transit visa they bear full responsibility for ensuring the transit visa is organized correctly. MD will of course offer assistance in the event of issues arising with customer’s transit, but will in no case be held liable for any costs incurred in arranging customer exits.

Group A: Australia

December 31st - January 7th
$1800/pax
  • New Year’s in Sydney, The Great Barrier Reef, and Ayers Rock/Uluru!
  • Prices may increase after September 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. They may increase even further the longer you wait!

  • You can secure the this lower price by submitting a 30% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!

Group B: New Zealand

January 8th-16th
$1050/pax
  • Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Milford Sound!
  • Prices may increase after September 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. They may increase even further the longer you wait!

  • You can secure the this lower price by submitting a 30% down payment before then and pay the rest when the trip begins!

Price inclusive of:

  • All Transportation AND flights in the region
  • All Accommodation
  • All Entrance fees
  • Listed itinerary
  • Excursion to Milford Sound
  • Visa guidance
  • Guide fees

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights to begin and end the trip
  • Food/drink
  • Personal expenses/souvenirs
  • Personal/Optional cab rides, public transportation, and/or Uber rides
  • Optional activities/day-tours/excursions/scuba dives
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa application process & fees

Interested in joining us?

E-mail us at calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com if you want to sign up for updates (replaced bracketed text with appropriate punctuation, obviously).