5c Gaol Lane
Downpatrick, Co. Down
Customer care & support
Can I cancel after being accepted on the programme?
You can cancel your trip at any time, however your Politrip fee, once paid, is non-refundable if you decide to leave the programme. Only if we have failed to deliver the trips as advertised are you entitled to a refund. This is because your fee will immediately be used to cover the costs involved in providing your trip, before you depart for your destination. Your flights may or may not be refundable depending on the airline.
We are able to consider requests to transfer onto a different trip or to a different state (for example, moving from Iowa 2019 to Summer 2020) on a case by case basis. Our ability to do this will depend on the number of places available in each state and requests to transfer should be made as early as possible.
The Politrip holding fee of £20 paid when you pass basic eligibility is only refundable in the case that your full application is rejected, not if you decide after paying to withdraw from the programme.
Why do I need to pay a holding fee?
Because places on our trips are limited, asking prospective Politrippers to pay a small holding fee ensures that, providing you pass basic eligibility, we can reserve you a place on the programme whilst you complete a full application.
This way we make sure no one’s time is wasted in the application process and the best possible candidates apply!
What training will I receive before I leave?
If your application is successful, you will be enrolled in a comprehensive training and support programme prior to your departure, ensuring you are ready to hit the ground running (or knocking – doors that is) once you arrive in your destination country.
We’ll make sure you’re trained in the local political context – that you know who your candidate(s) is/are, what their platform issues are, key local issues, state/county demographics, past election results, and how your race relates to the bigger picture within the national political context.
- We’ll also coach you through some of the main campaigning methods. Never worked a campaign before? No problem. Our management team have over a decade of combined experience working on campaigns. We’ll familiarize you with some of the main campaigning methods at your destination and make sure you’re well trained in phone banking, canvassing (knocking doors) and generally acting as a representative of a major political party.
- Also included is a training and induction pack will be information on the area you’ll be staying you’ll be staying, your candidate(s), who you’ll be working with, more detail on what tasks you’ll be working on, local sights, attractions, transport options, restaurants and bars (in the US it’s over 21s only remember!) and general information to make sure you get the most out of your trip.
What support will I receive when I’m in on a Politrip?
Each group of 4 or more (the minimum size of each group per location is 4 people) will have a paid, full-time Politrip staff member with them for the duration of the trip. This person will arrange your daily volunteering activities, drive your team around, organise social activities and be on hand for support if anything goes wrong
Additionally, Politrip management will be in-country during each trip and are always just a phone call or email away and will be happy to provide any additional support or advice you may need.
What happens if something goes wrong on my trip?
The safety and enjoyment of our Politrippers is of paramount concern, but we realize that sometimes things can go wrong, whether it’s a cancelled flight or someone falling ill. We strongly advise all Politrippers to take out a suitable travel insurance policy, and recommend they select ‘travel disruption’ as an optional add-on. For example, basic annual policies covering worldwide travel can usually be purchased for £30 and up, but expect to pay around £50 for more inclusive policies.
In addition to individual insurance, Politrip holds a full Tour Operator’s insurance, ensuring that if anything does goes wrong, we’ve got you covered. You will be provided with a 24/7 phone number and email address to contact in case of emergencies.
If I’m not enjoying my trip, what can I do?
We take feedback very seriously, and will do everything we can to address any issues in a timely and effective manner. You can use the emergency phone number and email address to relay any concerns directly to Politrip management.
All Politrippers will be covered under UK consumer law and will have a right to apply for a refund if Politrip fails to provide the service as advertised. Any issues should be raised at the earliest possible opportunity during or before your trip.
Will I always get my preferred trip?
In the 2020 Politrip programme we will be offering 4 trips in total. Once these trips are full we will no longer display them as live on our website, therefore we should always be able to give you your 1st choice of trip.
We do not guarantee that you will always get your first choice of candidate (on the Democratic Primary trips) or State (on the Presidential election trips) as this will depend on the candidates announcing/still in the race and the number of people applying for that state. Volunteers should be prepared to campaign for any candidates during the 2 Democratic primary trips, and those on the Presidential election trips should be prepared to campaign for whoever the eventual nominee is.
Politrip reserves the right to cancel or change any trip and offer a suitable alternative at no extra cost to the participant. If this occurs and you are not satisfied with the alternative you will be entitled to a full refund.
Is there a discount if I go on multiple trips?
Yes, Politrip is willing to offer a 25% discount for anyone taking part in more than one trip (the discount will be applied to the cheapest trip or trips)
How does the bursary scheme work?
As part of our commitment to providing life-changing opportunities for our participants, Politrip has committed to giving away 10% of our 2020 Programme places for free to individuals from low-income backgrounds.
Full details and eligibility for the Politrip Bursary scheme can be found on the Apply Now page. The total number of bursaries available will depend entirely on the number of regular places filled, and we expect that most bursaries may not be awarded until early 2020.
Where does my money go?
Politrip is a Limited Company and as such your Politrip fee not only covers the costs of the programme but the costs of operating as a travel company in general. Through booking with a registered legal entity you have the peace of mind that you will receive top class customer service and support throughout your Politrip experience.
In the interests of transparency we’ve even compiled this handy chart to show you where the money we make goes:
I'm not from an ESTA country but have a US Visa / can get visa-free entry to the US. Can I still apply?
We are willing to consider applications from non-ESTA countries providing they can arrange and guarantee their own entry to the US. Politrip only arranges ESTAs and will not take responsibility or provide a refund if you are not granted a visa/refused entry.
In all cases, we would prefer our volunteers to have a UK or Ireland address so that they can more easily take part in the training day.
We advise anyone thinking of applying from a non-ESTA country to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org before completing the online eligibility check.
Travel & logistics
What sort of accommodation will I be staying in?
The vast majority of Politrippers will be placed with local party members or supporters, with at least 2 volunteers of the same gender per house. Some hosts may be active volunteers who will be able to tell you a lot about the local issues you’ll be campaigning on and the candidates you’ll be campaigning for and against.
You could be staying in a guest house with the whole place to yourself, or in a spare bedroom. In some cases you may have to share a room with other volunteers, however we will always make you aware of this before arrival. Either way, we guarantee it will be an authentic experience, embedding you right in the heart of the community you’ll be campaigning in.
You will always get a chance to meet your hosts prior to departure via email, phone or video chat. We aim to make these introductions as soon as possible however final accommodation details may not be available until 1 or 2 weeks before departure.
How will I get around during the campaign?
Politrip will ensure that each team of 4 or more has access to a rental car and driver. Each location will have a paid staff member who will be the primary driver, and in larger groups with multiple vehicles, we will be offering a fee discount of 50% to any drivers over the age of 25 and 25% to any over the age of 21. There is an opportunity to state that you have a driver’s license in your application form. There is no guarantee that you will be selected for the discount and drivers may not be selected until a few weeks prior to departure.
Politrip will arrange ground transportation through our drivers to all of the formal programme activities and will be able to assist with transport outside of this, however any use of the car must be a group decision and alternative transport such as Uber or public transport may be required at times.
Volunteers must pay an equal share of all fuel costs. This is generally no more than $10 per person, per tank.
Why are flights not included in the programme?
Flights are not included in the majority of our programmes because we want Politrippers to have as much flexibility as possible when booking. We strongly encourage you to travel out to the US before your trip for some traveling, or stay after your placement to do more exploring!
Also, as we send volunteers all over the US in small groups from all parts of the UK and Ireland, coordinating group bookings would be a nightmare! This is quite common practice for most volunteer abroad organisations.
Flights are included in our Early Primaries trip in January/February 2020. This will include economy class flights from Iowa to New Hampshire from New Hamshire to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to your departure airport.
Do I have to travel home when my volunteer placement is over?
You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here!
Politrip has worked with local campaigns to provide accommodation until the end of your volunteer placement. After that, we ask that all Politrippers find their own accommodation if they are staying longer.
Politrip is about adventure and exploring new places just as much as working on campaigns, so we actively encourage all our volunteers to travel around the their destination country after their placement. For visa reasons, we advise everyone to ensure they have a flight booked out of their destination before they leave home, but this can be anytime and to anywhere – perfect for those going on a gap year or vagabonding adventure!
Can I volunteer on more than one campaign?
Short answer, no. To ensure you get the most in-depth, authentic experience and to maintain confidentiality across campaigns, Politrippers generally will only work on one campaign. This is to protect campaign confidentiality. However, in locations where we have multiple volunteering opportunities with the same party, there may be the chance to visit other campaigns during your trip.
Is Politrip formally affiliated with any political parties?
No. Politrip is not formally affiliated with any political party and does not fund or receive funding from any campaign. We are a separate legal entity operating as a Tour Operator, providing volunteer abroad opportunities. We communicate with local campaigns to arrange volunteer placements, but throughout your whole trip, Politrip will responsible for all the activities you undertake, not the campaign, candidate or party.
As you are traveling on a tourist visa, there are limitations to what you can do as a volunteer. You cannot for example be paid or claim expenses, you cannot fundraise or handle money and you cannot do any jobs which could reasonably be considered strategic (what someone would ordinarily be paid for). It is perectly fine for you to engage with any campaign as a regular volunteer ding tasks which other unpaid volunteers would ordinarily do.
Do you offer opportunities with all US political parties? (USA trips only)
No. We currently only follow the campaigns of the two largest parties, the Democrats and Republicans. Politrip is a non-partisan organization, however our Politrippers can be as partisan as they wish, and we strongly encourage people to get involved because they agree with the values and policies of a particular party or candidate.
Wherever possible we will seek to work with parties and candidates who broadly reflect values such as transparency, fairness and positivity. We recognize the diversity of opinion in politics and how our own philosophies and backgrounds affect our views, and believe now more than ever there is a need for mutual understanding, respect and dialogue between different parties and ideologies. However, we will not associate ourselves with any candidate who has expressed or endorsed views which are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic or otherwise awful.
For the two trips which cover the Primary campaign, we are currently only working with the Democratic Party, however this could change should the President have a Primary challenger. In your Politrip application form you will have the opportunity to apply for a trip with either party.
What is the minimum criteria for applying?
There are 4 basic eligibility criteria to be a Politripper:
- Must be 18 or over by the time your volunteer placement begins (meaning you can apply when you’re 17, could cannot travel until you’re 18)
- Must be a fluent English speaker
- Must meet the requirements for a tourist visa, ESTA or visa waiver in your destination country
- Must be willing and able to cover the cost of your trip (we will do all we can to support you with fundraising, but ultimately it’s up to you to self-fund your trip)
What else are you looking for in a Politripper?
There are 3 core values we look for in all our Politrippers:
Driven – you are committed to improving yourself and your opportunities, and enjoy taking on new challenges and solving difficult problems.
Ethical – you want to make a positive difference in your work and travel. You respect and engage with people from different backgrounds and with different opinions to your own.
Adventurous – you thrive on the unknown, love meeting new people, gaining new experiences and exploring new places. You are organised and independent, with excellent situational awareness.
As well as these core values, successful Politrippers should be able to meet the following essential criteria:
- Have a basic understanding of and strong interest in US Politics
- Excellent communication skills both written and verbal
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Comfortable working in a team
- Capable of working under pressure in a very fast paced environment
- Able to follow direction and undertake all tasks for the common good of the campaign
- Trustworthy and reliable
- Self starter and self motivated
Remember, as a Politripper, you will not just be representing the Politrip organisation, but also your home country and most importantly, the candidate and party you are volunteering for.
How competitive is the programme?
In 2018, our first year of operating, Politrip offered a total of 50 volunteer placements, and received over 100 applications. This is a competitive programme and prospective Politrippers should aim to make themselves stand out from other candidates during the application process. In particular, places on our Democratic Primary trips in Summer 2019 and early 2020 are extremely limited and will fill up fast!
For the 2020 Programme, we have introduced a 2-stage application process to make it easier to apply. If you pass basic eligibility there is a very good chance that you will be offered a place on one of our programmes, providing you submit a suitable full application in a timely manner.
Is it all work, or can I have fun too?
Of course, socializing and getting to know the people you’re volunteering with outside of your field office is a huge part of your trip, and any campaign! Each group will have a paid Coordinator responsible for making sure team-building social events take place during your Politrip, and we actively encourage all volunteers to use their evenings and days off to explore their local area.
Additionally, as part of the 2020 programme, every location will include a weekend away to a big city near where you’ll be staying. For those in Iowa in Summer 2019 this will involve a weekend in Chicago, and those on the Early Primaries trip in January 2020 will get to party it up in Vegas after their trip! Please see each trip description on the ‘Politrips’ page for more information.
When accepted onto the programme, your training manual will also have lists of local attractions, restaurants, bars and cultural activities carefully curated by the Politrip team. Most people hired to run ground campaigns in local field offices are millennials who also want to relax and have a good time to wind down after a hard day of campaigning.
How should I talk about Politrip on my CV?
We are happy to provide a formal reference for any of our Politrippers upon completion of the programme, and will work with your Team Leader or field organizer to prepare it. The training manual will have some top tips on how to include political volunteering on your CV, as well as some of the careers it can help with. Always be honest when talking about volunteering on your CV – if you knocked doors, that doesn’t make you an ‘Outreach Coordinator’ and if you penned a few tweets, you’re not a ‘Digital Marketing Manager’!
In most cases, US campaigns will use the term ‘Fellow’ to describe volunteers who show up everyday and contribute above and beyond what the average volunteer might (like you!). This term is considered to be above ‘volunteer’ or ‘intern’ and sets you apart as a super-volunteer!