ABC's of European Travel

The ABC’s of European Travel for Simpson's 2016 Student tour of Europe

 

Phone chain

 

a.      For the phone chain, we need the traveler’s  name, home phone, the name of a relative to call, their home number, work number, or cell number (indicate a.m. or p.m. number).  If you just want called in case of emergency, indicate that as well.  Please include cell phone numbers, and work numbers, for yourself and your contact person.

 

b.      We will use the phone chain to contact you, the traveler, if we have any message to pass on to all members of the group quickly.  I always use this a day or two before our departure, to remind everyone when and where the bus will be picking us up.

 

c.       On our way back home on day 12, if you want us to call your contact person, we will call the phone chain on our return bus trip home, an hour or so before we arrive back in Clfd and DuBois, to let them know what time to meet us at the Walmarts.

 

d.      If you do not want us to call your contact person, other than in cases of emergency, please indicate that on the sheet on your table.

 

e.      This phone chain will be printed and mailed to you early in April with info about the final meeting.

 

 

 

Airport: 

a.   We have chartered a bus from Anderson Bus Co. to take us to Dulles Airport outside of        

      Washington DC       

 

b.  Shortly prior to our April meeting, we will ask for a price from Anderson’s, and divide it evenly

 

among all those traveling.  You must let us know prior to April 1 if you are providing your own transportation to the airport.   We will collect the money for the bus at our April meeting.  Once you have paid for the bus, that money is non-refundable, even if you decide at the last

 

      minute to drive to the airport yourself.

 

Luggage

 

a.      Limited to one suitcase and one carry-on per person.  Recommend soft-sided luggage (easier to pack in bus) with wheels and pull handle.  You will be handling your own luggage.  No porters.

 

b.      Size and weight of suitcase is determined by airline.  For our flights on KLM it is 

50 pounds.  We will have scales at WalMart parking lot on departure day.

 

c.       In addition to one carry-on, may have one small item – purse, camera bag, laptop, etc.

 

d.      As of right now, there is no charge for one suitcase per person on international flights.  That could change by June.  We will keep you up-dated at the April meeting.

 

e.      All luggage, and carry-ons, must have at least one luggage tag.  EF provides one per person.  Put one inside for spare in case outer one is torn off. (already filled out).  I have two tags outside on my suitcase, and one on my carry-on (it’s a student-sized back pack.

 

f.        Airlines do not allow you to lock your luggage during flights.  You may lock it when leaving luggage in hotel rooms.  (There is a special “TSA approved” lock if you want yours locked during flights – see amazon.com. For a set of four, it costs $9-10 – maybe share?)  Walmart is supposed to carry them.  We never lock ours.

 

g.      Put one-days’ worth of clothes in your carry-on for flight over, and 2 days’ worth in someone else’s suitcase (your roommate?), in case yours is lost.  Usually arrives in 1-3 days. 

 

h.      We put fluorescent orange/green/pink ribbons on all suitcase handles to identify as our group.

 

i.        If you have a pull-strap, it must be put inside suitcase at the airport counter at check-in.

 

j.        Pack light.  There will be no porters.  There will be times when you have to carry all your own luggage.  Hotels almost always have elevators, but there may be exceptions. 

 

k.      I have provided a  packing check-off list.  These are just recommended items, but there is usually a good reason for them.

 

 

Carry-on luggage

a.      Size determined by airline – maximum weight 50 pounds, 62 inches by adding the height, width and length.

b.   Carry-on – maximum size 10 inches by 13.5 inches.  You may take one small accessory, such as a purse, laptop or camera bag.  The combined weight of both items must not exceed 26 lbs.  Both items must fit overhead in the storage compartment, or under the seat in front of you.                           

 

c.   A school sized backpack, or SMALL gym bag works well as a carry-on.  EF provides a     

 

small nylon backpack.  We will distribute them at the final meeting in April, but you do not   

 

have to use it if you prefer to use your own (and not look so much like an American tourist.)

 

d.      Small purses do not  count as a carry-on, but we don’t recommend taking one.  Fanny  

 

packs work better, and aren’t so easy to steal. Our destinations are not huge pick-

 

      pocket areas.

 

e.      Suggested for in carry-on:  camera/film/batteries, small umbrella, sweater or sweatshirt, book for flights, handy-wipes, snacks, contact lens case and solution for flights, a few plastic bags, water bottle (empty for flights), list of hotels and phone numbers, itinerary, plastic bag with Kleenex or toilet paper ( don’t laugh), stain-remover wipes, medications. 

 

f.        Airlines’ rules are constantly changing.  Do not put knives, scissors, needles, etc. in your carry-on.  You can put them in your suitcase for the flights, then in your carry-on during tour.  For flights, any liquids must be in 3 oz. sized container or smaller, and ALL in ONE quart-sized zip-loc bag.  You must present this bag separately going through security checks at the airports. We will have an up-dated list of what is forbidden in carry-ons when we have our April mtg.

 

g.      This “carry-on” is not just for flight days – you’ll take it with you every day – may leave it    on bus for parts of day if you don’t want to carry it with you every where.

 


Handling luggage

 

a. When loading or un-loading the bus, or removing luggage from the luggage carousels at the airports,  the bus driver, Ben and a group of the guys will physically put the suitcases into the bus, or remove them from the bus or luggage carousel.  (We take turns.) There is not enough room for everyone in our group to get up to the bus or carousel.  If a few people are standing directly behind the crew of guys, giving the bags to them, or passing them back to the rest of the group, it will be much smoother.  Get your suitcase, then move back out of the way.

 

 

 

Passports and Valuables

 

a.      You MUST keep your passport with you at all times.  You will need it every time you go to the airport to get your boarding pass, when you go through the gate to get on the plane, and every time you go through customs.  Also when you pay for a purchase with a credit card.

 

b.      Do NOT ever put it in your suitcase.  Do NOT ever leave it in your hotel room, unless locked in a safe.  American passports bring in a lot of money on the black market. 

 

c.       Money belts or small fanny packs are good ideas.  They can be found at most travel agencies, LL Bean catalogs, and often in department stores in the luggage/travel section.  You should wear any fanny pack in front of you instead of the back, especially when in crowded situations, such as on a subway.   Watch out for each other!

 

 

 

Safety of valuables

 

a. Another great place to keep money and passports is in a zippered or Velcro pocket in front of your shorts or pants, or down the pant leg.  Don’t put valuables in the back pocket of your pants.

 

b. Before leaving home, remove all un-necessary papers from your wallet, such as drivers licenses, plastic cards you won’t be using, etc. and leave them at home.

 

c. Before leaving home, make a list of phone numbers of your bank and credit card companies, in case your cards are stolen.  It is impossible to make a toll-free/800 call from Europe.  Make sure you get their regular phone number (non-toll-free).  Keep this list of numbers somewhere other than in your wallet.

 

 

 

Clothing

 

 a . Wear comfortable clothing and shoes (Take one extra pair of shoes/sandals).  Sneakers work

 

great.  Do NOT wear cheap flipflops other than in hotels.  They fall apart too easily.

 

b.      Bring casual clothes that do not need ironed.  Jeans are acceptable.  Shorts are most of the time, but are not acceptable in a few places, such as some cathedrals.  We will warn you the day ahead if we are going to some place where shorts are forbidden (some cathedrals do not allow sleeveless tops or shorts that show the knee.  Capris are always fine).

 

c.       Dress clothes are not necessary, but you may want to take one nice outfit.  There may be an opportunity to attend a church service on the weekend. Not required as group activity.  We usually try to have a nicer dinner for our last evening in Europe.

 

d.      Student dress code – No strapless tops, no spaghetti string tops, no bare midriffs.  Tank tops are fine.  No short shorts, skirts, or dresses.  No inappropriate sayings.  You won’t want to wear any of my clothes if I don’t think yours are acceptable.

 

e.    Last trip, we designed a t-shirt for the day we fly over to Europe.  It was easier to see who

 

was in our group as we got spread out through the airports.  I would like to do this again,

 

so students need to start designing a shirt, and we’ll vote in school.  Adults may purchase

 

one (we’ll have the design at the April meeting) but they don’t have to.

 

 

 

 

 

Weather

 

a.      will be mostly be like ours here in PA during June, slightly cooler, possibly wetter.    There

 

      have been extremes both ways. 

 

b.      Bring a light jacket/sweatshirt/sweater, and something for two layers if  needed.  (you will

 

definitely need a warm sweatshirt for the trip  up the Schilthorn Mountain in Switzerland.)

 

           

 

Electrical gadgets

 

            a.  To use certain electrical devices on this tour, you must have a converter that changes electric   current from 230 to 110 volts.  Some newer gadgets have this built in, like cell phone chargers and camera battery chargers.  Most of you WILL NOT NEED ONE OF THESE.  A hair dryer or curling iron WILL require one. (anything that makes heat, for example) Chargers for cell phones, digital cameras, and Bi-Pap and C-Pap air machines do NOT. Check your owners manual or the back of the device.

 

            b.  You must also have an adapter, for any electrical gadget, because their outlets have differently  shaped holes - plugs have two round pins  instead of two flat ones.  You can buy a multi-country kit at Radio Shack, which will cost around $24.  (Back of the package will tell you which countries they work in)  Or, you can purchase an individual European adapter at Amazon for $3.00.  If you want, I can order a bunch altogether and save you the shipping (and make sure you get the right adapter).  See me after the meeting.                

 

            c.   We highly suggest not taking anything electrical if at all possible.  Even with the converters,    hairdryers and curling irons seem to have only half the power.  It takes twice as long to dry your hair, and some of them have actually burnt up during use.

 

            d.   Most newer technology items can charge with just the adapter, no converter needed.  This

 

includes cell phones, camera battery chargers, and bi-pap and C-pap breathing machines. 

 

                 

 

 

 

Medication:

 

a.      If you are taking any type of medication, prescription or OTC, it must be in the original, labeled containers.  (We always take the 7-day plastic divided pill carriers, but technically all       medication should be in it’s original marked container.  Do as we say, not as we do :)

 

b.      Keep it in your carry-on in case your suitcase would get lost in flight. For important prescription  medicines, bring  an extra copy of your doctor’s order to be filled in case you lose your pills. 

 

c.       Take several extra days’ worth in case your return trip is delayed for any reason.

 

d.      If you have any serious medical problems that could occur during the trip, please make us aware of it before-hand.  These types of surprises are not fun. 

 

e.      Ben carries a first-aid kit with him 24-hours a day, so please ask if you need something. 

 

f.        A note to the girls and women - take extra sanitary supplies along, even if you don’t expect to need them. 

 

g.      it’s often difficult to reach a pharmacy in the middle of a tour.  If you might need a certain

 

      medication, bring it with you. 

 

h.      If you wear glasses or contacts, take along an extra pair.

 

i.        If you take injections, they are not a problem.  Keep syringes and serum in containers labeled by pharmacy, and keep in your carry-on during flights. 

 

 

 

Hotels

 

a.      Our hotels have ranged from brand-new

Holiday Inn Garden Courts to 700 year-old buildings full of beautiful antiques.  They are clean.  Each room will have its own   private

bath with  shower and/or tub.  Showers

usually have a hand-held shower wand

instead of being mounted on the wall.  Be

careful you don’t spray the entire bathroom.

 

b.      Adults will be in rooms of two, unless you

have requested a family room in writing and sent

it to EF, or requested a private room.  (additional charge of $320 for private room)

 

c.     When we arrive at the hotel, the tour director

will go to the desk and get the keys,then

hand them out in hotel lobby.  There is

usually one key per room.

 

d.       Hotels provide one bath towel per person,

but no washcloth.  Bring your own (bring 2-3 old ones that you could throw away if they are

damp too long and get mildewed).  We

usually bring a small extra towel, since you will have only one in your room per person.

 

e.      European hotels do not provide washcloths, and often no small bottles of shampoo. 

 

f.        Some hotels will have refrigerators with mini-

bars, stocked with pop, candy bars, and

alcohol. Very expensive.  You will be

charged for whatever you consume.  The

hotel staff will check each room before

our bus leaves in the morning.  They will find

out exactly what hasbeen removed from each

hotel room, and comeon to the bus to receive payment if you didn’t pay when checking

out.

 

g.      Hotel keys are to be left at the desk in most cases if you leave the hotel even for a short time.    There is only one key per room – so be

considerate of your roommate if you are leaving your      room with the key.  Sometimes you will need your key to get into the hotel late at night.  Our tour director should make us aware of any

such rules.

 

h.      Not all hotels will have wake-up calls, and some of them haven’t been really dependable.  At least one person per room should have an alarm clock.  (If you don’t have a cell phone with a loud alarm, get a small alarm clock that runs on batteries, so you need one less outlet.  Many hotel rooms have only one-two outlets per room.  This is a serious difficulty in a room of four students if everyone needs to charge something at the same time.

 

i.        Quiet hours usually begin around 10 p.m.  Please be courteous to other guests. 

 

j.        Our student curfews are usually 10:00 to 10:30 p.m.  The chaperones come and knock on each student door, and must see each student.  If you are in the shower, you have to stick your head out.  We also take turns sitting out in the hallways for a few hours after curfew to keep you in.

 

 

 

Time zone difference

 

a.      All the countries we will visit are 6 hours ahead of us, so if it is 5 p.m. in Clearfield County,  it would be 11:00 p.m. in western Europe.  Please take this into consideration when making phone calls. 

 

b.      The best time to call us at the hotels is after 9:00 p.m. Europe time.  Many hotel desks close down after 11:00, and no calls can go out or come in after that time.  After eating breakfast in the hotels in the morning, we will not be back to the hotel at all that day until later in the evening. 

 

 

 

Long distance phone calls – there are several ways to call from Europe

 

a.      The worst way is to call from your hotel room and charge it to your room.  It is extremely expensive. 

 

b.      Verizon offers a special plan and will convert your own cell phone into an international cell phone with your original number during the trip. All calls cost 99 cents a minute.  Check you own cell phone provider.  Be careful of texting fees.  Again, check with your provider.

 

c.       New Cell Phone capabilities – many of the new cell phones have international capabilities.  Many of my students last summer were able to make calls from their personal phones.

 

d.      What almost never works are phone cards you purchase here in the US at a local pharmacy, Walmart, etc.  You can use them to call Europe from the US, but MOST will not work to call from Europe to home.   Even if the back of the card says you can call from Europe, you will never find a phone which accepts them.

 

f.    Realize that all countries where we will be are in Central Europe Time Zone, and are

 

six hours ahead of us (1:00 p.m. in PA would be 7:00 p.m. in Germany, Switzerland, etc.)

 

Each traveler will receive two copies of the hotel list at our April meeting.  This will include all hotel names, phone numbers, and addresses.  Take one list with you, and leave one at home with your family in case they want to get in touch with you.  They can call direct, following the directions below:

 

   to Germany:  first dial 011  44  then local      number

 

   to France:  first dial 011 33 then local number

 

   to Switzerland:  first dial 011 41 then local number

 

g.     To cal the US from Europe, dial:   001-area code, then the number.  Sometimes just dial

 

         1+ area code, instead of 001.

 

 

 

 

 

Using foreign money

 

a.      You will need a small amount of American money, only for the trip to Dulles  airport when we stop for lunch, or while you are waiting at the airport (over & back).  We may also stop for a meal/snack break on the way home.  You cannot use US cash in Europe.

 

b.      All the countries we will visit use the Euro, except Switzerland, which uses the Swiss Frank.  The Euro is divided into 100 cents; the Frank into 100 Rappen.  At our April meeting we will have charts and pictures of all the currency so you can get familiar with them.  Our tour director will tell us when and where the place time and place will be to get cash,

 

c.       You do not need to get Euros or Franks before the trip.  Local banks in DuBois and

 

Clearfield do not carry much in foreign currencies, and have to order it in from a bigger city.             

 

      Your rate of exchange will be much worse if you do this here instead of waiting like the rest of  us until we arrive in Frankfurt Germany.  Our Tour Director will tell us when and where to get                

 

      the Swiss Franks.

 

d.      We require all travelers to obtain an ATM/debit card  to get cash (as opposed to travelers checks.)  This card must be attached to a checking account, not a savings account.  ATM machines are easy to find in cities and airports and most are available 24/7.  The exchange rate is very favorable, and the time required to use the machine is so much shorter than standing in line for a bank teller.  Also, banks in Europe have much shorter hours of business than what we are accustomed to. (no evenings, no Sundays, no Sat. afternoons)  Students can take their parents’ ATM cards, or can open a checking account of their own with an ATM card.  Savings accounts with ATM cards do not work at most European ATM machines. 

 

e.      Major credit cards are accepted in larger stores, (we have used Master Card and Visa both,       but many places will not accept American Express).  You must show your passport with photo ID, so a student would not be able to use his parent’s credit card.  Restaurants and small sidewalk shops usually do not accept credit cards.

 

f.        ****Call your local bank and credit card company prior to the trip, and inform them where you are going, and the dates you will be there.   Increase the daily limit for withdrawal if necessary.  If your credit card company sees a charge from Europe, and you haven’t told them in advance, you may not be able to use your card.

 

g.      We ask that you do not take travelers checks.  We cannot always get to a bank when you need cash.  You may go 2-3 days into the tour before you can get to an open bank.   It takes a long time to cash your travelers checks.  Banks often have only one or two tellers working, and when a large tour group walks in with travelers checks, it takes 1 ½ hours!

 

h.      As of Oct. 25, 2015, one Euro was equal to $1.10.  One US dollar was equal to € 0.91.  One CHF (Swiss Frank) was equal to $1.00.  A few days prior to our departure, we will make up a conversion chart for each person with the latest exchange rate.

 

i.        Remember that in Europe, they use the decimal point where we use a comma, and vice versa.  €5,60  is how we write $5.60.

 

Please note - at the end of the trip, you can exchange all foreign paper money back into      American dollars at the airport in Zurich,Switzerland.  You can NOT exchange coins into another currency.  

 

 

 

Meals

 

a.      Breakfast is always in our hotel.  Tour Director will tell us when to eat. (Typically, wake-up call might be at 7:00, breakfast at 7:30, leave hotel at 8:00).  Breakfast is included in price of trip.

 

b.      If you are a vegetarian, or require a no-salt diet, please let us know IMMEDIATELY, so we can inform the airline and restaurants.  

 

c.       Lunch is your chance to go out and try what you want.  It is not included in the tour price. The big cities will have American fast food, but we encourage you to try the local cuisine, unless you are in a hurry.  Drinks tend to be very expensive.  Tap water is NOT available in restaurants.  You have to pay for bottled water, and make sure you request that it is NOT mineral water (carbonated - “without gas”)  The tap water is fine for us to drink, but Europeans do not normally drink it.  We drink it on every trip, and have never had any problems.

 

d.      At our evening meals, the group will eat together, all receiving the same meal (except the       vegetarians). Cold tap water will be served in pitchers for us at our group dinners, because EF has arranged it with the hotel restaurants in advance.  Don’t expect to see it when you are on your own for lunch.  You will have to pay for your own drinks at supper, so drinking water, if it is provided, is one way of saving money.   Pop is very expensive.  ($4-$5 per small glass)  

 

e.       No ice (except American fast food restaurants) and NO FREE RE-FILLS anywhere!

 

f.        The only US brands of softdrink available will probably be Coca Cola and Diet Coke (Coke Lite).   Once in a very great while you may see Pepsi or Mt. Dew.  They’re starting to catch on.

 

g.       Tipping is not as  expected in European restaurants as nuch as it is in the US.  In Europe, for example, most diners round up to the nearest Euro or 5 Euros.

 

h.      The waiter/waitress will not be insulted if you want change back.  They usually want paid at the table instead of you going to a cashier, and they carry a black leather wallet for that  purpose.  Our group will often have only one waiter/waitress for the entire meal. 

 

i.        They work very hard, but are in a big hurry, and don’t have time to come back every five minutes to see if every thing is ok.  (Plus there is no incentive to be extra courteous, since they aren’t expecting a tip.)  You have to really go out of your way to get their attention if you need something else.  You won’t see a waiter coming to ask if everything is ok, or if you want dessert.

 

j.        They don’t bring the check promptly like in the US – eating out in Europe is a social event.  If you are in a hurry, make sure you let them know ahead of time.

 

k.      Another hint for restaurants - once you are done eating, please use the restroom right away, instead of every one waiting until we are ready to leave, then standing in line. 

 

 

 

Laundry  no time to do laundry on the trip, and there are not many laundromats available.  It could easily end up costing over $20 to do one load of clothes (including taxi fare).  You can fit 10 days worth of clothing into one suitcase.  Wear jeans/slacks/shorts 2-3 days each, and mix and match as much as possible (travel light).

 

 

 

Mail

 

a.      Mail will take 2 weeks to arrive home.

 

b.      If you buy postcards and stamps in Germany, you must mail them from Germany.  Don’t wait until we are in Switzerland and try to use a German stamp. 

 

c.       If you want to buy a large item, that is too big to fit in your suitcase to bring home, you can have the store where you purchase it ship it home for you.  You will have to pay for shipping and insurance.  It will take approximately six weeks to arrive home, but it’s guaranteed to be in one piece. There will be no tax on anything shipped home from the store where you purchase it.

 

 

 

Shopping

 

a.      Store hours are shorter than in America.  The only stores open on Sundays are smaller tourist-souvenir type shops.  Stores close earlier in the evenings Monday-Saturday than in USA.

 

b.      The sales tax is very high – 19% in Germany.  You can ask for a form from the salesperson when you make a purchase to get the VAT (Value Added Tax) back.  (they won’t bother with it unless it totals at least $50-100.)  The clerk will not automatically give the VAT form to you – you must ask for it.

 

c.       To  get that tax money back, you must bring the receipt for the items, the completed VAT form, and the items themselves with you to the Zurich  airport on the day of our departure.  We will do this prior to checking in to come home.   You will have to present these things at one office to get the tax form stamped, then go to a separate place to receive your money.  Then you have to have those Euros/Franks changed back into American dollars.   (sometimes they will ask you if you want the money in Franks or dollars.)  If we do not have a lot of time, it is also possible to mail the stamped form to the country once you get home.  (must be at least stamped at the airport.)  Once in a while we do not arrive at the airport in time to go to the VAT office.  If an item is too expensive for you with the tax, I suggest that you do not buy it.

 

d.      Watch out for your backpack in narrow aisles of stores.  It is very easy to knock off expensive merchandise with a backpack.  You will probably have to pay for broken items.

 

e.      Remember that you have to have room (and muscles!) to bring home everything that you buy.

 

f.        It’s a good idea to take some bubble wrap from home to wrap up any breakable items for the trip home.

 

 

 

Public Restrooms

 

a.      To find a public restroom while you are on your own, look for a “WC” sign.  It stands for “water closet” and is a universal symbol in western Europe. 

 

b.      It is usually fine to enter a restaurant just to use the restroom.  (You’re expected to tip the cleaning lady.)  You can also find WC’s at the entrances in most public buildings. 

 

c.       There will possibly be a cleaning person standing at the entrance (or even inside) with a plate or bowl for you to leave a small tip.  (this could include a cleaning woman in the men’s room.)

 

d.      Sometimes you will be required to pay a small amount to use a public restroom.  Keep a handful of coins handy for this reason.  It’s usually 50 cents.

 

 

 

Getting separated from group (lost):

 

a.      If you become lost or separated from the group at any time, please do not panic. 

 

b.      Our tour director may give you his/her cell phone number at the beginning of the tour.  If you don’t have a cell phone yourself, go to a place of business, explain that you are lost and ask if you can use their phone to make this call.  Offer to pay for it if necessary.

 

c.       We will also have an international cell phone, and will have the number at the April mtg.

 

d.      Keep your itinerary and hotel list with you at all times.  If you absolutely cannot call any of us on our cell phones,  call the number of the hotel we will be in that night, give your name and group “EF”, and tell them where exactly you are, and which phone number you can be reached at.  As soon as we realize that you are not with us, we will call the hotel and make arrangements to get to you.  So PLEASE keep your hotel list and itinerary with you.

 

 

 

Film, cameras, taking pictures:

 

a.      Buy all your film and memory cards here in the states.  It’s much cheaper (by 50%).

 

b.      If you are taking a new camera along, or borrowing one from some one, practice taking several pictures before-hand.  Learn how to use the camera and all the settings you will need.

 

c.       It’s a good idea to take a small notebook to write down what it is you are taking a picture of.  By the time you get home, you may forget.

 

d.      You do not have to worry about film going through the x-ray machines in the airports.  They are now low enough dosage that it will not harm your film.

 

e.      If you have a digital camera with re-chargeable batteries, you will need to bring along an adapter.  You will definitely want at least one extra set of batteries to use when one is re-charging.

 

f.        Bring along enough memory -  You will be taking a lot of pictures.

 

g.      Don’t waste battery time by looking through your digital pictures on the camera while you are in

 

Europe. Delete un-wanted photos after you are home and can easily re-charge batteries.

 

 

 

Bus travel –

 

a.      Please reserve one front seat of the bus, behind the driver, for  the two Simpsons, and the other front seat for the tour director.  We need to discuss many things with the tour director and bus driver while we are traveling.  After the first day or two, we may be able to let others sit up front for the better view.  The Tour Director usually sits in the front seat opposite the driver.

 

b.      Please take turns with the other front seats, to give everyone a chance to sit there. After the first day, we will ask the adults which of them would like to be included in a rotating-list to have the front seats, or which prefer to keep the same seat in the middle of the bus.

 

c.       There will be narrow over-head storage space on the bus for your  back packs, jackets, etc. 

 

d.      Even if there is a restroom on the bus, many drivers do not allow it to be used, because it is not part of their contract to clean them.  

 

 

 

Swimming

 

a.      Most of the hotels will not have swimming pools, but some may.  Bring a suit if you want to.

 

 

 

Daily itineraries

 

a.      Each day our tour director will post the itinerary for the following day in the lobby of the hotel, which will include what all we will be doing, but also the time for breakfast, and what time the bus is leaving the hotel.  Please check this list daily. 

 

b.      You will have at least 2 copies of the day-by-day itinerary.  Keep it with you always.

 

c.       During our walking tours, or any time we are out in public, please do not bunch up on the side-

 

walks.  This blocks other people from getting past us.

 

 

 

Smoking

 

a.      EF policy and MY policy is that there will be no smoking on any of the busses during the trip.  There will be no student smoking at all.  Anywhere.

 

b.      You will find that a higher percentage of Europeans smoke than Americans  do – especially noticeable in public.

 

 

 

Flexibility/Cooperation

 

           

 

Please be flexible.  We will not be in America.  Europeans do many things differently.    We do our best to keep everyone happy.  Sooner or later, something will happen to require a change in plan.  We will work together with our tour director and with you all to try to come up with the best solution.  If you have a suggestion how to improve something, tell us.  Maybe it never occurred to us.

 

 

 

Airport procedures

 

a.      We will not know with which airline(s) we are flying until we receive our flight schedules 6-8 weeks prior to departure.  We will give each of you a copy of the flight schedule as soon as we receive it (probably in the reminder newsletter about the  April meeting.) 

 

b.      Our flight will probably leave Dulles Airport around 5:00- 9:00 p.m. June 14. 

 

c.       We need to be at the airport no later than three hours prior to an international flight. 

 

d.      We will have electronic tickets, meaning that we will not have a paper ticket.  The airline will scan our passports at the counter, and all flight info will be entered in their computers.  You and the person(s) you want to sit with will go up together to get your boarding passes and check in suitcases. 

 

e.      Our seats will already be assigned by the airline.  You will not be able to contact the airline prior to the departure to request seats.  (people with last names will usually be seated together.)  You may request a window or aisle seat if they still have any.   If the person at the counter  cannot change your seat, wait until we board the plane to trade with someone.

 

f.        If we have paper tickets, as soon as you receive your boarding pass, give me or Ben the booklet with the remaining tickets. We will go TOGETHER AS A GROUP through the airport to the gate.  Once every one gets to the gate, and we announce what time you must all be back to board the flight, you may leave and go look around. 

 

g.      You must keep your boarding pass and passport with you to get through the security check.  DO NOT LOSE either one!   This could mean you don’t fly over with us.  Usually a few members of the group take turns sitting at the gate area, keeping an eye on carry-ons for every one so they don’t have to drag them around. 

 

h.      Your seat row and number will be printed on your boarding pass.  Once you enter the plane, go to your seat and put your carry-on up in the over-head compartment.  We will not be all sitting together as one big group, but usually the seats are in groups of 2-4, and if somehow your seat is not next to your friends, we can try to trade around until you are sitting with them.

 

 

 

Flights:

 

a.      The flights will all  be non-smoking. 

 

b.      We will possibly have one lay-over before landing in Frankfurt Germany. A flight from Dulles to Frankfurt Germany is 7 hours 55 minutes. 

 

c.       Shortly after take-off, and the plane reaches cruising altitude, you will be served drinks and  supper free of charge.  There are usually two choices of main courses. 

 

d.      Most airplanes now have a small screen on the seat back in front of you, so you can select your own movies to watch.  If you can’t figure it out, ask a young person nearby

 

e.      Try to sleep as much as possible.  By the time supper is over and cleaned up, there may be only 4-5 hours left of the flight.  Once we land in Frankfurt, it will probably be early morning, and we have a whole day of touring ahead of us.  Some of that will be walking.  You need some sleep.

 

 

 

Customs

 

a.      On the flight home, one person from each family must fill out a custom’s declaration.  This includes students.  You are allowed a total of $800 of souvenirs per person before you have to pay a 10% tax on the rest. 

 

b.      You are not allowed to bring the following items through customs (on either trans-Atlantic flight):  fresh fruits and vegetables (dried fruits are OK), meats (even smoked), plants, or live animals.  If you are bringing home items with a value slightly over $800, ask someone else to carry a few items home for you, so you don’t have to pay the extra money and delay the group.

 

 

 

Departure day

 

a.  Monday, June 13  - we will meet the coach bus at the Clfd. Walmart parking lot at a time to be announced later   

 

b.      We’ll put ribbons on luggage, then load in bus

 

c.       Passport check, hand-out any last-minute papers

 

d.      We usually stop for lunch  shortly before airport.  (We need to arrive at airport at least 3 hours prior to departure, and I try to “pad” our travel time by at least an hour in case of traffic or mechanical problems.  Please don’t be upset if we arrive so early that we have a 2-3 hour wait)

 

e.      when we arrive at airport, you bring your own luggage and carry-on with us as a group and go to the ticket counter.

 

 

 

For TSA approved luggage lock – Walmart carries them, as well as amazon.com