Fees & Contributions

People before profits

Operation Groundswell is a not-for-profit social enterprise where revenue is re-invested back into the organization through curriculum design, program planning, and modest salaries. We maintain a lean and sustainable organization, and think about our partners and participants’ best interests, not our bank account. When you join an OG program, you can be sure that you’re investing in people before profits!

In an effort to be radically transparent, we differentiate our fees and contributions so that you know exactly where and how your money is being used.

Sign up Stress Free

We want to make your decision to travel again as easy as possible. That’s why we have flexible, transparent policies that will ensure you can join us on an OG program when you are comfortable and able to.

Universal Deposits

Your deposit with OG is universal and guarantees you a place on an OG program, period. If you need to change your travel plans, you can, for any reason, no questions asked, and at no additional charge. We promise! 

No Change Fees

Sometimes plans change and we need to change with them. So, if you need to postpone or want to switch your program, just let us know and we’ll help you rebook at no additional charge. 

Flexible Instalments

We try to make our programs more accessible by collecting program payments in three easy instalments but everyone’s situation is different. We can work with you to make a personal payment plan. 


Refunds & Credits

If your program is cancelled due to COVID-19, you’ll get a 110% credit voucher towards another OG program or your money back on eligible payments. Learn More.

PROGRAM + Membership Fees

Our organization was founded on the principle of financial accessibility. We’ve set out to develop the most affordable programs possible, while still packing them with off-the-beaten-path adventure, cross-cultural immersion, and meaningful service.

The program fee covers all your expenses on the ground including group travel, accommodations, three meals a day, daily excursions, caring Program Leaders, and all the magic that happens on program.

But OG is more than just a program. We are a community of artists, activists, and educators  pushing to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. By joining us on an OG program, you become a member of the larger OG community. The membership fee covers communications and outreach, ongoing program design, curriculum development, leadership training, lots of alumni activities, impact monitoring and evaluation, financial support, and so much more.

From the modest office space where we get the planning started all the way to that delicious plate of pad thai you’ll be drooling over in the Big Mango, your program and membership fees help us develop the best programs we possibly can!


Financial Support

We know that the cost of international travel can be high. That’s why we’ve set up a number of financial support options to help make this opportunity possible. We want to ensure all of our programs are as accessible as possible for everyone.

what's included

A comprehensive program itinerary and curriculum designed to help you explore the region and examine important local and global issues

All of your group accommodations throughout the program

At least three tasty local meals every day.

All of your group transportation on the ground

All your group toursentrance fees, and excursions


Experienced and caring program leaders there to support you 24/7

Regular workshops and discussions to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever and wherever you need it

what's extra?

There are a few things your program and membership fees can’t cover and we like to be upfront about any extra costs you might expect. So, here you are…

International flights to & from where your program begins and ends

Your vaccinations, Travel visas and trip insurance (cancellation or medical)

Your expenses during Independent Travel Time (if applicable)

Your personal souvenirs and extra drinks and snacks


Operation Groundswell’s programs are priced in Canadian dollars for all Canadian citizens and U.S. dollars for all other nationalities. Fees and contributions are collected in three easy installments, and have been developed in consultation with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario to protect you as a consumer and ensure that our programs are financially accessible.


The first installment is a non-refundable Universal Deposit, which secures your place on a program and is used to begin making commitments on your behalf. You can use it towards any OG program for two years from the date of receipt.


The second installment is a Membership Fee, which is used to support our organization as we prepare for your program and mobilize the greater OG community that you’ll soon be a part of! The Membership Fee also includes a variable Community Contribution which goes to support our local partners on the ground.


The third and final installment is a Program Fee which covers the rest of your on-the-ground costs, and is held in trust for that purpose. Every Program Fee also includes an Environmental Contribution which goes to ensure that your adventure is completely carbon neutral.

Read our Program Booking Terms & Conditions Here


There’s more that goes into every OG program than you may think. Your experience on the ground is just part of the magic, but there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes. Expand the sections below to see the details.

Program Fee

A huge chunk of your program fee covers all of your costs on the ground including meals, accommodations, excursions, local transportation, and stipends for your awesome program leaders!

Membership Fee

To learn more about Community Contributions, click here

That comfortable room with your host family? That delicious local dish? That mind-blowing activity? Those impactful experiences with our partners? We’ve been working year-round to design your program, plan your itinerary, develop your activities and create conditions for all that magic to happen on the ground!

OG spends precious time and resources reaching out to schools and other hotbeds for curious minds to find potential backpacktivists like you! Once you’ve joined our team, our staff supports you throughout your whole journey, from helping you apply for visas to answering your packing related questions.

Even after your program, we’re still here for you! We work hard to connect you with other engaged alumni making an impact in their home communities.

Risk management training and resources for all of our staff, Program Leaders, regional coordinators, and local partners.

Running a lean organization like we do means some pretty savvy budget setting and careful financial administration.

To make all of this possible, we need some of the basics! A small portion of your program fee goes to enabling our personnel around the world to work in spaces conducive to productivity and collaboration…that means office rent, utilities, and of course, phone and internet!

A part of your membership fee even lends a helping hand to your fellow backpacktivists! Through our Financial Accessibility Fund, we provide grants for participants who might not otherwise be able to join us due to financial constraints.

Community ContributionS


Every Membership Fee includes a variable Community Contribution. These funds go to support the amazing local grassroots organizations with whom we work on the ground. From youth empowerment to environmental stewardship, from education to healthcare, our partners are creating positive change all around the world.

Environmental ContributionS

We Have a responsibility to our planet

Every Program Fee includes a variable Environmental Contribution. These funds are invested with dedicated environmental organizations to offset the negative effects of your international flights and reduce our travel footprint on program. This is just a small, necessary part of our commitment to environmental justice.

the world is waiting. are you ready to meet it?