New Year’s in Berlin: Highlights of Eastern 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.
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
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. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See more packing tips below:
- 1 rain jacket, 1 warmer jacket from October - March
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- Waterproof shoes (such as rain boots)
- 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
- 2-3 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- 1 bathing suit for the thermal baths in Budapest
- Toiletries, medicine
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Type “C”, “E”, and “F”, power adapters. Or, a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
Note: Eastern Europe has multiple seasons; Summers are hot, Winters are cold, and there’s rain in-between. Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rain-wear.
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 Berlin
Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group.
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. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter. Read more tips below about using your phone and electronics abroad:
- Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply.
- There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
- Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
Note: You need types “F”, “C,” and “E” adapters/converters on this tour. A staff favorite is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com), which is compatible with all countries.
On The Ground
Manage Your Money
The local currencies on this trip vary. Berlin and Vienna use the Euro, in Warsaw it’s the Polish Zloty, in Krakow it’s the groszy, Prague uses Czech Crowns, and in Budapest you’ll use the Hungarian Forint. Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip:
- When exchanging money for this trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but be wary of fees
- Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- Tipping is not customary abroad, but if you feel inclined it’s ok to leave 10%. or a few euros for exceptional service.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $68 - $102 at the end of the trip. For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
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 bus, can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in cities where its needed. In any sense, we’ve packed a lot into your tour, so prepare for long bus transfers and lengthy walking (between 4-8 miles per day), especially when sightseeing.
Note: Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting for long transfer days. We recommend The Book Thief, Galicia, or Fatelessness.
Optimize Your Free Time
Not sure how to fill your free time? Lucky for you, we offer “optional excursions” for just that! 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. However, to avoid increased prices for these activities on tour, you should purchase these optionals before your trip begins. Optionals on this tour may include:
- Auschwitz Concentration Camp
- Czech Yourself: Beer Flights & Bohemian Feast
Live Like a Local
Eastern Europe is dripping with contentious history, innovative art, beautiful scenery, grunge, and more. Prepare to experience an equal mix of medieval and modern culture while in Eastern Europe, and leave with a greater appreciation for all that this region of the world has to offer! Read below for more tips to help you live like a local:
- Take advantage of the museums, guided visits, and more on your trip; Eastern Europe’s history doesn’t speak for its present modern culture, but it’s important to understand the past events that transpired.
- Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in E. Europe, especially Germany. Do not walk in the bike lane if you want to avoid being scolded by locals or bike bells!
- Avoid jaywalking. Similar to the bike lane, if you jaywalk you can expect to be scolded. Instead, abide by the walk signals and cross-walks.
- Sundays are a day of rest. Expect shops to be closed on Sundays, but you will find cafes, restaurants, and galleries are still open on Sundays
- In Poland, the old school locals will greet women with a kiss on the hand. Otherwise, expect a handshake when meeting someone new, a kiss on the cheek for acquaintances, and 3 kisses for family.
- Polish locals don’t ask questions or give answers they don’t mean. When you ask or are asked “how are you”, expect an honest answer!
- Unlike in Germany and Austria, it’s illegal to drink in the streets of Poland. Stay cognizant of this regulation.
- Smoking is still popular among locals, especially in Austria. Some places have designated smoking areas, but many do not.
- Many public restrooms require a small fee for use - hold on to your coins!
- When dining out, you may have to ask for the bill since waitstaff doesn’t proactively bring this - they don’t want to interrupt your meal!
Wine and Dine
The cuisine in Eastern Europe is no joke. Savory, sweet, and hearty, your stomach and your wallet will thank you (yes, it’s cheap too)! Read on for all the tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try:
- Apfelstrudel: This classic sweet treat is a drool-worthy combo of pastry, breadcrumbs, tart apples, and thick cream.
- Palačinky: Similar to pancakes or crepes, try a palačinky savory or sweet. It’s a win-win either way!
- Wiener Schnitzel: If you try one thing before you leave Austria, it has to be schnitzel. This national dish of breaded and pan-fried veal cutlet will not disappoint.
- Goulash: Goulash, a stew of meat and vegetables mixed with spices plus bread on the side, is especially popular in the Czech Republic - give it a try!
- Gołąbki: Otherwise known as a cabbage rolls, gołąbki is a Polish treat of cabbage leaves stuffed with savory minced meet and served over tomato sauce.
- Somlói Galuska: Try this trifle in Hungary - it’s a pile of sponge cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. What more could you want?!
- Trdelník: Trdelník is best described as a grilled dough with sugar and walnut mix, but you have to see it to believe how beautiful and delicious it is. When in Prague, right?
- Pierogi: The Polish know how to do a pierogi. Pierogi is a dumpling that’s filled with either savory mashed potatoes, meat and cheese, or berries and cream.
- Beer: Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier in Germany, Ciechan Pszeniczne in Poland, Pilsner Urquell in Prague, Dreher in Budapest, and Kellerbrauerei Ried Naturtrüb in Austria… and that is literally just to name a few.
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in 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. 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 or Uber, 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.