Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need travel insurance?
Things happen, before and during travel that can force you to cancel your trip or return early due to an illness or accident. If you have an accident and are unable to travel, cancellation fees or even your entire tour cost is nonrefundable unless you have purchased travel insurance. Worse yet, if you have an accident in a foreign country and have to return home, not only would you lose the tour cost, but you would be responsible for the additional cost to get home and the medical treatment needed. Thoroughly review your personal health insurance coverage to determine if you need to purchase additional insurance.
Is travel insurance included in my tour package?
Review the inclusions page for your tour. This will clearly state if group insurance is included in your tour package and what is covered in the policy.
Can CTC recommend travel insurance companies?
We do not sell travel insurance, but we have provided a link to Travel Ex, a reputable company that we have used for many years. You’ll find the link on the left side of this page. Policies can be purchased online directly from this link. Some policies must be purchased within a set number of days following your tour deposit in order to cover preexisting conditions. Questions regarding policy specifics should be directed to the insurance companies.
What does travel insurance cover?
Generally speaking there are 2 types of travel insurance available for purchase. The first is comprehensive and includes cancellation as well as trip interruption and medical coverage. The second does not include the cancellation coverage and covers only post departure issues, such as medical costs and airfare for an early return. You should thoroughly review the policy inclusions and address specific questions to the insurance company.
What is the difference between group and individual policies?
Travel insurance can be included in the tour cost for all participants. This is generally the most cost effective way to buy travel insurance, but must be purchased for the entire group. The policy can include full cancellation coverage for all participants or be limited to post departure trip interruption/medical coverage. We would be happy to supply additional information and pricing for group insurance on request.
Passports and Visas
Who needs a passport?
Every US citizen traveling outside the borders of the United States needs a valid passport.
What countries do I need a visa to enter?
US citizens traveling to EU countries do not need a visa. A visa is required of US citizens to enter South Africa and Turkey and this is purchased at the point of entry into those countries. If your itinerary includes other countries that have visa requirements for US citizens, you will be advised by CTC.
Travelers holding a passport from any country other than the United States, must contact the consulate of the countries to be visited to determine if you need a visa for entrance. It is the responsibility of the individual traveler to determine the visa requirements and apply for the appropriate documentation. CTC will assist by providing backup documentation as requested.
When and where should I get my passport?
It’s recommended that you apply for your new passport or passport renewal as soon as you make the decision to travel. Complete information on applying for new passports or renewal of existing passports can be found here:
How long does my passport have to be valid after my return?
Passports must be valid for 6 months AFTER your return date. As an example: if you return from your tour on June 1, your passport must be valid until December 1.
How much luggage can I take on tour?
You are limited to one piece of checked luggage and one carry-on bag. You may also carry on one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag.
What are the size and weight limitations for checked and carry-on bags?
Size and weight restrictions vary according to carrier and you will be advised before departure on your carrier’s guidelines. Generally, checked bags must be no more than 62 linear inches (width+length+height) and no more than 50 pounds. Maximum carry-on bag dimensions are generally 42 dimensional inches and no more than 18 pounds, however this varies greatly between carriers.
What should I pack in my carry-on bag?
Your carry-on bag should have items you’ll need during the flight plus necessary toiletries, medications and a change of clothing in the unlikely event that your luggage is delayed. Never check anything that you can’t lose.
Should I lock my luggage?
Do not lock your luggage unless you are using TSA approved locks.
Do you have a packing list?
Here is a helpful list to get you started.
What about my musical instrument?
The baggage size and weight limitations given above refer to personal luggage, not to instruments. If you are traveling with an instrumental group on a performance tour, your music director will be advised of size and weight limitations and applicable 2nd bag fee and oversized/overweight fees.
Will my mobile phone work when I’m out of the US?
Check with your cellular phone service provider to see if your phone and contract allow foreign use.
If your American mobile phone will work in Europe and if you have a global calling plan this could be an option for you. If you have a smartphone, disable data roaming or switch to an international data plan through your carrier.
If your American phone won’t work in Europe, consider buying a new phone when you reach your destination. If you’re planning to visit multiple countries, make sure it’s an “unlocked” phone so you can change SIM cards as you cross borders.
If you don’t absolutely need a cell phone, you can easily get by using public pay phones. Purchase a pre-paid phone card either before you leave or when you arrive. Make sure that it can be used in all the countries you plan to visit.
Can I use Skype or other internet phones in Europe?
If you bring your laptop with you, it’s possible to use Skype wherever you have a broadband connection.
If you plan to use computers in business centers or internet cafes, set up a Skype account in advance and make sure you have credit on the account. You can then use Skype at any location that has it installed on their computers and has a broadband connection.
Will my computer work in Europe?
Your laptop should function properly in Europe provided you have a plug adaptor for the electrical socket.
Will hotels have WiFi?
Log into your group’s page. Your itinerary notes your hotels and their websites. You can check the websites of the hotels where you will be staying to learn if WiFi and internet are available
Can I take my computer through security at the airport?
Yes, you must take your laptop out of your bag before placing it on the belt or carry a TSA approved laptop bag.
How can I get internet access on my computer in Europe?
Internet access is readily available in hotels and internet cafes. Free WiFi can be found at many cafés, restaurants and bookstores.
What if I don’t want to take my computer? How can I check my e-mail?
Most hotels have a business center including computers with internet access for guests to use. Go to your group’s tour page and check your specific hotel websites for this option. Sign up with a web-based email service such as Yahoo or MSN’s Hotmail and it will be easy to use a cyber café or the hotel’s business center to get online and check your e-mail.
Should I take US dollars, travelers checks or an ATM card to get cash on tour?
Generally exchanging US dollars is difficult and expensive. Bringing cash should be kept to a minimum and should not be your primary source of funds. Travelers checks are a thing of the past and should not be brought on tour. ATM cards are your best source for cash while traveling. ATMs are widely available in Europe and dispense local currency. Check with your bank to make sure your card is good for worldwide use and ask them if they have international partners where ATM fees are waived. Many foreign ATMs only accept four-digit PINs, so if your number is longer change it before you go. If you use a word to remember your PIN, memorize its numerical equivalent as many overseas ATMs don’t display alpha characters.
When should I use a credit card?
Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in Europe however most charge international transaction fees from 1% to 5%. Check with your credit card company for charges on international purchases. Make sure your credit card limit is sufficient for your trip. Advise your credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad so that they don’t flag unexpected foreign activity as possible fraud and freeze your account. DO NOT USE YOUR CREDIT CARD AS AN ATM CARD UNLESS IT’S AN EMERGENCY. Frequently ATM withdrawals on a credit card are treated as cash advances and incur substantial fees and interest.
Will my electrical appliances work in Europe?
Check the voltage requirements on any appliances you plan to bring abroad. Most newer appliances are dual voltage. If the electrical input requirements displayed on your appliance read something like 100/250 volts, the appliance is dual-voltage and a convertor will not be needed. If your appliances are not dual voltage, you may need a voltage convertor. In any event you will need an adaptor plug in order to plug your appliance into the wall socket. Adaptors are available in department and travel stores. Make sure you get the one appropriate for the countries you will visit.
What can I do to make clearing airport security easier?
While you cannot make the security line any shorter, there is much you can do to make the process easier.
Follow 3-1-1 rules when carrying liquids, gels and aerosols on board: use travel-size containers of 3 oz or less that fit easily in 1 quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag. 1 bag per person.
Plan to arrive at the airport well in advance of scheduled flight departure times.
Have your passport and boarding pass ready as you approach the checkpoint.
Place coins, keys and other metal objects in your carry-on bag or jacket.
Wear loafers or other shoes that are easily slipped on and off during screening.
What can’t I take through security?
Check the TSA website for items that cannot be brought onboard the aircraft: www.tsa.gov
Should I have copies of important documents with me?
Scan your important documents, (photo page of your passport, credit cards, planet tickets etc) and email the images to yourself so that if you lose them, you can go to any internet cafe, log into your email, and print out the documents you need. Or take photocopies of these documents. Bring the telephone numbers of your credit card companies or banks where you should call if the item is lost or stolen. Keep one credit card separate from the others so that you are never completely without funds.
Will my hotel have hairdryers and swimming pools?
Go to your group’s tour page for the websites of your specific hotels to check hotel amenities.