New Year’s in Amsterdam: Highlights 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 these 24 days ULTIMATE.
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 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date. No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- 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.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
Pack Like a Pro
Consult your airline’s website for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but note that your airline ticket does include one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, and one checked bag or larger carry on; In different cities you may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, and remember that you’ll have the opportunity to do laundry throughout the trip. See more packing tips below:
- 1 lightweight jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- Comfortable sandals for beach days
- 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- A hat or gloves for our Swiss Alps excursion
- Toiletries, medicine
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter – a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
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
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…
Note: 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
When you exit customs and baggage claim you will funnel in to the main arrivals area of Heathrow airport. Notice which terminal you are arriving in to. Below, you will find where your driver is located depending on your arrival terminal. Please follow these directions carefully.
- Terminal 2: If you arrive in Terminal 2, walk over to Terminal 3. The Tristar desk is in Terminal 3 (T3). You will find your driver there by stating your first and last name.
- Terminal 3: Walk directly to the Tristar desk in front of you. Please note, the Tristar symbol is not as big as the other signs. It will be right next to the Virgin Atlantic desk. You will find your driver there by stating your first and last name.
- Terminal 4: You will be met by a chauffer with your first and last name on a Tristar sign. You do not need to walk anywhere.
- Terminal 5: You will be met by a chauffeur with your first and last name on a Tristar sign. You do not need to walk anywhere.
Note: If you have been waiting for over an hour for your driver, please call Tristar at **0044 1895 432 000.**Tell them your name, terminal, you’re waiting for your driver, and you’re travelling with EF Ultimate Break. If you don’t have cell phone service, Heathrow Airport has free Wi-Fi for a set amount of time that you can use for this!
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t always as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
Note: A staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
Manage Your Money
Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Europe, and ATMs are everywhere. Budget $80- $100 per day for meals, shopping, and free time activities. Tipping is not customary in Europe, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro for exceptional service. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $100-$150 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- Spain: Euro (€)
- France: Euro (€)
- England: Pound Sterling (£)
- Netherlands: Euro (€)
- Switzerland: Swiss Franc (CHf)
- Italy: Euro (€)
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
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 5,000km 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.
Note: 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!
Optimize Your Free Time
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.Optionals on this tour include (prices increase on tour):
- Amsterdam Waterland Bike Tour: $50
- Oxford & Windsor Castle: $130
- Taste of Italy Pasta-Making Class: $70
- The Italian Riviera & Cinque Terre (seasonal): $80
- Trip up the Swiss Alps: $95
- Versailles: $80
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.
Make the Most of Your Month
Almost a full month in Europe is exciting and life-changing, but to make the most of this trip without burning out, we have a couple reminders:
- Stay Healthy: The pace of travel is fast and we include a lot of activities in your tour; Take advantage of down time to catch up on sleep, drink plenty of water, and take time for you whenever you need it.
- Talk to your Tour Director: Your Tour Director is with you every step of the way from Rome to Barcelona for a reason. If you need anything during tour, you can reach our team 24/7 at 800-766-2645, but remember you can talk to your Tour Director at any point too.
- 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.
Live Like a Local
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
- Pickpocketing. It’s unfortunately an issue in major European cities; Keep an eye on your things at all times
- 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!
Wine and Dine
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 city.
- 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!
- London: Afternoon tea, sticky toffee pudding, bangers & mash
- Amsterdam: Herring, stroopwafel, bitterballen, and poffertjes
- Paris: Baguette (no-brainer), steak frites, crepes, and a café au lait
- Lucerne: Racelette cheese, any Swiss chocolate, and some zopf (Swiss bread)
- Venice: Baccala mantecato (fish-based antipasto), and a glass of prosecco
- Florence: Chianti Classico for wine, gelato, and to feel fancy a Florentine Steak
- Rome: Cacio e pepe, artichokes, and all the pizza
- Barcelona: Paella, patatas bravas, and pa amb tomaquet
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and 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.
- 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
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.