In our quest to make your travel as carefree as possible, we’re happy to provide the following essential travel tips:
- Taking the Train
- Money Matters
- Entry and Departure Taxes
- Passport, Visa, and Vaccination Requirements
- Safety Precautions
If train travel is new to you, the tips below from our team of seasoned travelers leave you feeling like a pro at the station.
- It’s best to arrive at the train station at least 45 minutes before your train is set to depart. This will give you enough time to exchange your electronic tickets for paper tickets and find your track number (quai in French, binario in Italian) without feeling rushed.
- The train number never changes, but the track number can. Therefore, double check your train number with the arrival and departure board before heading to the platform. Don’t board your train until 10 minutes before departure in the event that the track number has changed.
- Before getting on your train, you must validate your ticket at the designated machines located at the platform entrance. Simply stick your ticket in and you’ll hear your ticket being stamped with the time and date, which validates it for the journey. Failure to do this can result in a fine on board the train.
- If you’re riding a regional train, your ticket may not have your departure time listed on it. Therefore, it is important to know the exact time your train is scheduled to depart.
- If your ticket does not have a seat number on it, which is common on regional trains, then it is open seating, and you can simply choose any seat in your designated class of service. For high-speed trains on popular routes, you can find your designated seat number on the ticket.
- It’s important to know exactly what station you’re supposed to get off at because trains may not say your destination on their monitor.
- It’s also important to know exactly what time you are supposed to depart because the trains often don’t stop for very long. It’s best to set a phone or watch alarm for 10 minutes before your set departure time to give yourself time to prepare for departure. If you miss your station, please contact your guides as soon as possible so they can assist you.
- If you have questions about anything regarding your train trip, ask a uniformed attendant standing next to a big “i” sign. In the larger stations there is likely someone who can speak English who can assist you.
- Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget your train tickets at home!
Call your bank
Make sure you call your bank before leaving home to notify them of your travel plans. Not only will they be able to tell you what kind of transaction fees you should expect, but they can also ensure fraud alerts aren’t triggered that could make your card inactive.
No one wants to deal with a suspended credit card on vacation, so make sure you bring backups. Also, not all credit cards use the same technology, and it is possible one would work where another one would not. For example, some American credit cards do not contain the chip technology that is required in some automated ticketing machines in Europe.
Bring local currency
Having local currency upon arrival is handy so you can head straight to your hotel and not to a bank or currency exchange outlet. You can buy foreign currency from your local bank prior to departure, or often times at the airport. While abroad, ATMs are easily accessible and have more favorable exchange rates than banks and currency exchange outlets. However, it is important to note that transaction fees can add up with many small withdrawals.
It’s not uncommon for a country to charge either entry or departure taxes to its visitors. These taxes generally cost $25-200 per person and must be paid either prior to your arrival in the country or in cash at the airport. This is a particularly common practice in Latin America with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Costa Rica all implementing such taxes. While the policies and costs for these taxes can change, your Tour Coordinator will keep you as up to date as possible if you are traveling to a destination that utilizes entry and departure taxes.
The most up-to-date information on passport, visa, and vaccination requirements can be accessed through your local government. For US citizens, please visit http://travel.state.gov/. Canadians can view this information at http://www.voyage.gc.ca.
Many countries require that a passport be valid for at least six (6) months after the conclusion of your trip. Passports should contain at least one blank page for entry/departure endorsements for each country. Minors traveling alone must also carry a letter of permission signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). European Union nationals can carry either their passport or identity card for travel within Europe.
Most countries do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days for any US or Canada residents. However, Jordan is an exception and requires a visa for all nationalities, which can be obtained upon arrival at the airport.
It is rare for vaccinations to be required for entry to Europe and North America. The exception might be for visitors traveling from countries where a health epidemic has been formally declared.
Please remember these basic safety precautions to avoid being a target of crime while traveling:
- Make copies of your itinerary, passport and visas. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
- Never leave your luggage unattended.
- Do not accept packages from strangers.
- Store valuables and important documentation in the hotel’s safety deposit box.
- Avoid unnecessary displays of expensive jewelry and secure all cameras and other valuables.
- If in doubt about the safety of an area, ask hotel staff or a police officer for advice.
- Limit the amount of money you carry on your person.
- Plan your route ahead of time.
- At night, steer clear of dark, isolated areas.
- Ask your hotel or the nearest tourism information center to recommend a reliable taxi service.