Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need travel insurance?
Things happen, before and during travel that can force you to cancel your trip, pay unexpected medical costs or return early due to an illness or accident.
If you have an accident and are unable to travel, cancellation fees or your entire tour cost may be nonrefundable unless you have purchased cancellation travel insurance.
Is travel insurance included in my tour package?
What does travel insurance cover?
Most companies offer 2 types of travel insurance policies. The first is comprehensive and includes cancellation as well as trip interruption and medical coverage. This includes reimbursement of prepaid, non-refundable payments made to Cultural Tour Consultants, when cancelling for a covered reason.
The second does not include the cancellation coverage and covers only post departure issues, such as medical costs, trip delay, baggage loss or delay, and trip interruption. You should thoroughly review the policy inclusions and address specific questions to the insurance company.
Passports and Visas
Who needs a passport?
Every US citizen traveling outside the borders of the United States needs a valid passport.
Which countries require a visa for entry?
US citizens traveling to European Union 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 or may be obtained on-line. 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 a visa is required for entry. 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. For international travel, airlines do not charge a fee on the first checked piece of baggage.
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. Checked luggage is weighed at airport check in. Any charges assessed by the airline for oversize or overweight luggage is the individual’s responsibility.
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 as well as applicable 2nd bag fee and oversized/overweight fees.
Will my mobile phone work when I’m out of the US?
Phone service and texting: 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 global calling capability included in your contract, you can use your phone for voice and text however rates may be quite high. International plans offered by your cell-phone service provider may reduce the international calling rates but they will remain higher than U.S. rates. We recommend you disable international roaming on your phone when departing the U.S.A. You can also save money by making phone-calls only in WiFi zones using WhatsApp, Skype, Google Talk or other internet-based applications.
Data service: We recommend you disable international data roaming on your phone when you depart the U.S.A. and limit use of the internet to times when you have WiFi service. Wherever you have WiFi service you can access E-mail accounts, surf the net, and use voice/video apps such as Skype, Google Talk, or WhatsApp, installed on your phone. WiFi access is readily available in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores. Ask a staff person for Username and Password.
Your smart phone camera will always work.
Can I use Skype or other internet phone services in Europe?
If you bring your laptop or smartphone with you, it’s possible to use Skype, WhatsApp, Google Talk or other applications, wherever you have a WiFi 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 adapter 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. Hotels generally have WiFi in the hotel lobby and increasingly throughout the hotel.
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. You may not pack your computer in your checked bag if it contains a lithium ion battery. All lithium ion batteries and chargers must be packed in carry-on luggage.
How can I get internet access on my computer in Europe?
Internet and WiFi access is readily available in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores. Ask a staff person for the Username and Password.
What if I don’t want to take my computer or smart phone? 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 a debit card to get cash on tour?
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. Debit or Money cards are your best source for cash while traveling. Debit cards are connected to a bank checking account. Money cards are not connected to a bank account. 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 discuss transaction fees. 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 some issuing financial institutions 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 IN AN ATM 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 an electrical converter will not be needed. If your appliances are not dual voltage, you may need a electrical voltage converter. All appliances will need an adapter plug in order to plug your appliance into the wall socket. Adapters are available in department and travel stores. Make sure you get the one appropriate for the countries you will visit. Most electronic charging cables (for cellphone, digital cameras, tablets and computers) adapt to different electrical voltages.
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 on board 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, etc) and email the images to yourself or store them on your cellphone/computer where you will have access to the documents during your travels. Or take photocopies of these documents. Bring the telephone numbers of your credit card companies or banks that can be called if the item is lost or stolen. Keep one credit card separate from the others so that you are never completely without funds. The phone app of your bank or credit card company may allow you to disable the card should it be lost or stolen.
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.