Grand Tour of Europe
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Passport: In order to enter Europe, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
- Visa: A visa is not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens on this tour.
- Travel Insurance: While Travel Insurance is not required to enter Europe, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Arrival Information & Transportation
Prepare for your Flight
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case…
All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
Arriving in London
Once you land in London, you will be met by your chauffer driver (fancy, right?) who will take you to your first accommodation. Here are steps on how to find your driver depending on the terminal you arrive in.
- Terminal 1: Your meeting point will be the arrivals hall outside of customs, your driver will be holding an EF Ultimate Break sign
- Terminal 2: Your meeting point will be the arrivals hall outside of customs, your driver will be holding an EF Ultimate Break sign
- Terminal 3: Your meeting point will be at WH Smith’s located in the terminal, your driver will be holding an EF Ultimate Break sign
- Terminal 4: Your meeting point will be the arrivals hall outside of customs, your driver will be holding an EF Ultimate Break sign
- Terminal 5: Your meeting point will be at Costa Coffee located in the terminal, your driver will be holding an EF Ultimate Break sign
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Please note it is common to wait about 45 minutes – 1 hour for your driver as they may be stuck in traffic. They have all of your flight itineraries and will group 1-6 travelers together if people are arriving together. If you aren’t able to find your driver and have been waiting for more than 45 minutes please call at +44 203 813 3957 (Heathrow has free WiFi), let them know your name and you are an EF Ultimate Break traveler.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via plane, train, and automobile, and they can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. As you journey from country to country with stops in-between, you’ll cover over 6,000km of the most beautiful air, land, and sea in Europe. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you for transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, anything by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Origin), or The Bourne Series!
A month in Europe is exciting and life-changing, but to make the most of this trip without burning out, we have a couple tips and reminders:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Be Prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
- Rooming: Maybe you’re a night owl and your roommates are early risers. Maybe you find your new BFF on tour. Maybe your roomie is a snorer and you’re a light sleeper. Whatever it is, let your Tour Director know and they can try to rearrange room assignments at the next accommodation.
- Carpe Diem: You’re in EUROPE! Make the most of every day and remember why you chose to travel in the first place. This is an epic experience, so make it yours.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Pick-pocketing is fairly common in major European cities. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
You’ll stay at hostels hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. This backpacker-style of accommodation means you may be sharing a room with up to 10 fellow travelers of the same gender from your group.
- Complimentary towels may not be available for use, but can typically be rented for a small fee. We recommend packing your own, along with shampoo and conditioner. Microfiber towels are a great option; they pack small and dry fast!
- Bed-making services may not be provided. You may find sheets placed on your bed for you to apply to the mattress, and the beds won’t be remade daily by hostel staff.
- Hostels tend to offer simple breakfast options that are easier to take on the go. You’re more likely to find items like breads, cereal, fruit, or yogurt than hot items like cooked eggs and proteins. Options may be limited.
Traveling like this ensures maximum convenience and affordability, without sacrificing any safety. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. Though you do have this checked bag, years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. In different cities you may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot.
- A light jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- Comfortable sandals
- 4-5 pairs pants, shorts, or skirt
- 5-7 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- A bathing suit
- A couple nicer outfits for Welcome and Farewell Dinners or nights out
- Underwear and socks
- A hat and gloves for the Swiss Alps excursion
- Toiletries, medicine
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Power adapters / converters
Note: You’re required to cover your knees and shoulders in sacred places like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In Europe, you will need powers adapters/converters to plug in your electronics. A staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com).
Money & Tipping
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
Budget around $80- $100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Europe, and ATMs are everywhere. Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
These are the currencies you will be dealing with:
- England: Pound Sterling (£)
- France: Euro (€)
- Netherlands: Euro (€)
- Germany: Euro (€)
- Switzerland: Swiss Franc (CHf)
- Italy: Euro (€)
- Spain: Euro (€)
- For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $120-$180 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- Tipping at restaurants is not customary in Europe, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro for exceptional service.
- Tipping for taxis is not common practice either, though many people simply round up the fare.
As you prepare to spend time in numerous new cities, countries, and cultures, here are some expert tips to help you live like a true European.
- Siestas. Many Europeans take a long midday break and close shops from 12-2pm to spend time with friends and family
- Europeans are night owls. Nighttime is when cities come to life – embrace it!
- Dress the part. Europeans dress to impress. We recommend comfortable clothes and walking shoes, but now's the time to try your new sunhat, fancy shades, and the latest trends.
- Embrace the culture. Unlike the U.S., water isn’t free, customer service is more hands-off, and everything (hotels, meals, appliances) is smaller. Instead of comparing, dive all in!
- Speak the language. Attempting the local language when greeting people, ordering food, or navigating a new city shows respect and goes a long way with locals!
Food & Drink
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining out in Europe, and delicacies you must try in every country.
- Practice the local language when ordering - It goes a long way with the locals.
- Water is an added cost at restaurants, and you have to choose between still or sparkling.
- Avoid making special requests at restaurants, it’s not as common in Europe.
- Feel free to seat yourself in restaurants instead of waiting to be seated.
- Don’t be afraid to flag your waiter or waitress over for help!
- England: Afternoon tea, sticky toffee pudding, and bangers and mash
- France: Baguette (no-brainer), steak frites, crepes, and a café au lait
- Netherlands: Herring, stroopwafel, bitterballen, and poffertjes
- Germany: Weisswurst, pretzels, schnitzel and currywurst
- Switzerland: Racelette cheese, any Swiss chocolate, and some zopf (Swiss bread)
- Italy: Cacio e pepe, Chianti Classico, gelato, and all the pizza
- Spain: Paella, patatas bravas, and pa amb tomaquet
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
Note: If you want to visit sites like the Anne Frank House during your free time, make sure to book your ticket in advance. check with your Tour Director before the tour for the best time and date to do so.
Regarding the Vatican Optional: Following the guided tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica is typically entered via queue from the square, it could take up to 1-2 hours for entrance. Depending on timing and guide availability, the guide may not accompany you inside the Basilica.
Regarding the Colosseum Entrance: Due to time restrictions on this tour, travelers are unable to enter the colosseum at this time.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.