Europe Travel Tips

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Casual clothes are accepted everywhere. Some caution is necessary, however, when
visiting religious sites. Care must be taken to insure that shorts (men and women), short skirts, (above the knee) sleeveless tops, flip-flops not be worn in European large cities. You will not be allowed entrance into most Churches dressed in these items. Be safe and wear cropped slacks, capris, tee shirts and regular sandals. If you are wearing a sleeveless top for the day, make sure to
have some covering with you before you attempt to enter a Church.

Etiquette

  • Do not wear shorts, short skirts, skimpy tops or sleeveless tops in churches. In fact, in most of Europe these items are acceptable at the beach only.
  • Do not intrude while church services are in progress. Bargaining is no longer appropriate in shops – although in markets it is acceptable

If you are traveling with a companion, cross-pack. Put half of your items in your companion’s luggage and vice-versa. This will ease the frustration of lost luggage. Don’t forget these travel sized necessities: sewing kit, first aid kit, tissues, toiletries, notebook and pen. If your camera uses film or batteries, please purchase them here in the USA. If you are using a digital camera, make
sure you have an extra sim card and battery or battery charger – You will be taking more pictures than usual.

Do not over-pack – leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs. For the flight

It is recommended that you wear loose and comfortable clothing when traveling. If you are traveling more than 3 hours, it is further recommended that you purchase bottled water before boarding your international segment to keep yourself well hydrated during flights longer than 5 hours because airline air circulation is very dry.
You may want to purchase snacks to eat if you are traveling on flights shorter than 3 hours.

Shoes

It is strongly recommended that you wear tennis/athletic shoes so that you can loosen the ties during the flight – expect your feet to swell. In most US airports, you will be required to remove your shoes and place them in a plastic bin with the contents of your pockets, etc. Wear socks to protect your feet.

 

If your passport is new, please sign it!

  • Make several photocopies of your passport. Trinity Travel requires a copy of your passport before airline ticketing. Your name must appear on your airline ticket exacy as it appears in your passport. Travel with at least 2 copies making certain to pack each separately. If your passport is lost or stolen, take a copy to the nearest American Embassy (Paris) or American Consulate (Marseille) to obtain a certified copy of your passport so that you may travel home.
    Special Note: Send a copy of your passport to Trinity Travel and we will give this information to the hotel for you in advance so that you do not have to submit your passport.

It is not unusual for hotels to request your passport when you arrive to check-in. You must surrender your passport so that they can copy all of the pertinent information. Don’t forget to ask for your passport before you check-out of the hotel.

Common sense should keep you safe.

  • Always carry cash in a belt or pouch – never in a pocket
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash: use credit cards & traveler’s checks
  • Wear your camera and never put it down on café tables – beware of strap cutting thieves. Be aware of your cell phone too. Do not put it down on a café table, instead put it safely away.
  • Do not flaunt valuables, better still, leave them home
  • Women should carry handbags across their front, never from their shoulder where they can be easily grabbed.
  • When driving, never leave valuables or luggage in the car. Be careful of pickpockets where large groups of people congregate. Be watchful too of gypsy kids who will jostle you and rifle through your pockets like experts
  • You may bring home $800 per person of foreign goods duty-free, provided you have been out of the USA for more than 48 hours and haven’t made an international trip within the last 30 days.
  • Each member of the family is entitled to the same exemption, and exemptions may be pooled within the family.
  • For the next $1000 of goods, a flat 10% is charged. Over $1400, duties vary with merchandise. Antiques and works of art are duty free.
  • Gifts under $50 may be mailed duty free to stateside family and friends – limit 1 parcel per person per day. Mark each package as “unsolicited gift”
  • One liter of alcohol, 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes, and one bottle of perfume trademarked in the United States are permitted to travelers over 21 years old.

The current is 220v, 50 cycles with plugs of the two round pin types. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. , you will need an adapter. (Radio Shack, Best Buy, even Walmart are a good sources for the adapter and the plugs or any good luggage store) The plugs look like this:

You will need a plug adapter for all US electronics and electrical appliances.
Note: Plugs do not convert electricity. They simply allow a dual-voltage appliance, a transformer or a converter from one country to be plugged into the wall outlet of another country. The plug of a Continental USA appliance will not fit into an outlet in a foreign country without an adapter.

Converters
Converters and transformers both step up or down the voltage, but there is a difference in use between them. Converters should be used only with “electric” products. Electric products are simple heating devices or have mechanical motors. Examples are hair dryers, steam irons, savers, toothbrushes or small fans. Converters are not designed for “continuous duty” and should only be used for short periods of time (1 to 2 hours). Additionally, most converters can only be used for ungrounded appliances (2 pins on the plug). Converters must be unplugged from the wall when not in use.

Safe to drink unless marked “non potable” You may ask waiters to bring you a pitcher of tap water vs paying for bottled water. There is no additional fee for this. Most Europeans only drink bottled water, but that is expensive. All of Western Europe (and now most of Eastern Europe) has safe drinking water from the tap. If you choose bottled water, you must order “Still” or “with gas” for carbonated.

Wash Cloth – or Shower sponge – bring one in a zip locked bag – Europeans don’t use them.

Personal Wipes – personal wipes are recommended for use while sightseeing and away from your hotel during the day. Playtex and Kleenex/Cottonelle make good ones for travel in individually sealed envelopes.

 

Do not carry large amounts of US cash. You will need US currency only in the United States to use at airports and for an emergency “stash” fund.

We recommend that Euros be purchased in advance by one person for the group. Banks charge hefty fees for this service, so pay the fees only once. That ensures that the kids will have the necessary spending money from day #1.

Otherwise, arranging for your student to have access to your ATM account overseas will guarantee the best exchange rates..

Once you arrive in Europe, clear local customs and immigrations and proceed to the ATM outside of the secured area. Use your ATM card with your pin number to receive Euros. This is the best exchange rate available. Check with your bank before you leave to see how much you can withdraw at one time. The amounts are limited and generally you can expect to be able to withdraw about €300.00 maximum at a time.

You may purchase traveler’s checks in US currency or Euros. It is definitely more convenient for you to purchase them in Euros vs. US dollars. American Express traveler’s checks may be cashed without an additional fee at any American Express office. (There are several in Paris and other large cities, but may not be available in Vitre or Rennes.) You will find American Express offices
in every major city of France.

Please note: It is not possible to receive US dollars $$ from a foreign ATM. You may be able to access US $$ in an French bank – The French bank would consider that you would be asking to purchase foreign currency. (It would be the same as purchasing foreign currency in the US before travel to Europe.) You will pay fees and higher conversion rates. I do recommend that you carry a small amount of US $$ when you travel to any foreign country. I always have $100 just in case I cannot access my money through an ATM machine, for some reason. I have never been unable to do so, however.

The least expensive way for you to access Euros is by using your ATM card.

**Important** – Deposit enough funds in your checking account as spending money for this trip. Advise your bank that you are traveling and will be accessing your money at ATM’s. There is a nominal fee for this service – usually $2 to $3 per transaction. Verify this amount with your bank and ask your bank which Italian bank you should use to access your money.

Visa and MasterCard are the two most accepted credit cards in Europe. Now, Discover Cards are beginning to be acceptable – but that is not as wide spread yet. American Express is also accepted on a limited basis. Some credit card companies are charging you a conversion fee when you are purchasing items in Euros that must be changed to dollars on your credit card bill. Capital One is an example of those not charging you a fee. There are others as well. Check with your credit card provider.

Please be sure to make contact with your credit card companies and your ATM bank to tell them when and where you are traveling. I cannot tell you how many Americans who have not done this and have lost their credit cards in ATM machines or been embarrassed because their purchase has been denied. Always verify that a restaurant will accept credit cards. The credit card logo
on the door may only be decoration. Ask before you eat!

Americans heading to Europe should be careful before powering up their iPhones abroad. AT&T and other carriers offer various data plans for European travel, and almost all of them are too expensive to be a serious option for budget travelers. The easiest tip: Switch your budget-minded travelers. Switch your settings to “Airplane mode” and turn on your Wi-Fi connection. You
You’ll only be able to access email when you have a Wi-Fi connection, but free connections are increasingly easy to find (for example, McDonald’s)

Another option is to download VIBER for free texting. Just remember that whoever you are texting must also have VIBER.

Public Telephones are disappearing in France as fast as they are disappearing in America due to cell phones. You can always find a pay phone at the rail station. Calls made from a pay phone require .10 .20 .50 or 1.00 Euro coins or a prepaid telephone card.

Purchase a prepaid telephone card at kiosk for €3.00 or €5.00. To use the card, bend back and break the bottom left hand corner of the card before using it for the first time.

To call the USA from Europe dial 001-areacode-telephone number

The most economical way to call home is to purchase an international telephone card before you leave the USA or purchase a prepaid card at a kiosk that sells newspapers. One of the best and easiest is Vectone’s Europa card. 5.00Euros buys you about 350 minutes of conversation to the USA or Canada. You can even use it within Europe or within France.

Europeans don’t generally tip in restaurants or cafes, except for leaving a euro or two for particularly good service – the tip is more than covered by the service charge that is added to the price of the food and drink. We usually leave a few €1 coins on the table for the waiter. They are very grateful.

In taxis, it’s usual to round up to the nearest euro: if he fare is €7.85, give the driver €8.00. He won’t be expecting it, so he’ll be surprised and grateful.For guides and other service providers for our group, you have already paid their tips. No other tip is required or expected. A simple “thankyou” is appreciated, however.

Carry your medications with you onto the aircraft. Do not pack them in
your large suitcase that you will check-in. Make sure that you bring sufficient medication for the length of our trip plus one or two days. If your meds are non-narcotic, you may pack them in small travel baggies called EZY DOSE Pill Pouch. (Walgreens and CVS carry them or order through Amazon.com)