Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Cambie House of Travel Ltd.
aka CHT Cruises and Tours
Travel In Europe
Having traveled in Europe extensively we can offer the following advice to make your trip more enjoyable. The list is by no means all inclusive but the questions answered are those we feel are most important for the traveler.
Most European countries are safe to travel in. However use your common sense and avoid situations which could become troublesome when traveling in any country. Please be aware of your surroundings at all times especially in regard to pickpockets. Unusual activities could be used as diversionary tactics. Experiences in such diverse locations as Greece, Spain, Israel and South America have taught us to carry only as much cash as we can afford to loose in an easily accessible location. The remainder including, passports and other valuable papers go into a money belt carried under the clothing. A fanny pouch is not to be recommended since it advertises the location of your valuables. Zippered pouches or backpacks are not an assurance and hotel room safes are not totally invincible. We would also recommend to make two sets of copies of the passport main page and credit or bank cards. Leave one set with a relative at home and take the other set with you for easy reference should anything un-to-ward occur.
For peace of mind we recommend to buy travel insurance both medical and trip interruption. Credit cards have a certain amount of insurance but please read the fine print as to what is covered and what the limits are as well as the definition of terms they use. Our experience has been that this type of insurance comes up short in many cases. This also applies to car rental insurance in Europe. It is advisable to buy this insurance in your home country since it generally works out to be less.
Car rental and Train passes
Purchase car rentals and Europe train passes in North America. You usually will save money.
Europe's hospitality industry is centuries old, and its hotels often reflect the varied traditions and standards of their respective countries. While comfortable, do not expect European hotels to be the same as in North America. Single rooms in European Hotels are often smaller than in North American hotels. Also, when booking a triple room, the third bed may be a 'rollaway' cot. The room may be the same size as a standard twin room.
Dinners that are included in your tour package are generally table d'hote, or "fixed" menus; on occasion, there may be a choice. Tea, coffee or other beverages are not included except on first class tours and at breakfast. Nor is it custom to serve butter with bread, except at breakfast. In some European countries, continental breakfast is the norm, consisting of tea/coffee, rolls and butter, jam/marmalade. Hotels may charge extra for a hot or buffet breakfast and fruit juices. Check out your tour itinerary to see the type of breakfasts offered on that particular tour.
Most operators limit passenger baggage to one suitcase and one carry-on per person. The size of luggage is shown in the brochure conditions.
Tour companies often include gratuities and service charges as part of the tour package. These include: Baggage handling, meal service for all meals included, and hotel service for all normal service, but not room service or tips to local guides, the Tour Director and Driver. Please remember that the US$ is worth less than the euro so tip accordingly not with US$
Recommended Tipping per person:
- Taxi-fare on meter 10-15%
- Restaurant - total bill 10-15%
- Tour Director euro 4.00 per person per day.
- Motorcoach Driver euro 2.50 per person per day.
- Local Sightseeing Guide euro 1.00
Since switching to the Euro it has become easier to travel with one currency through Europe. We recommend that while in Europe you have an adequate supply of 1 euro denominations for tipping. Traveller cheques are difficult to exchange in Europe. Other than taking an adequate supply of euros in cash we recommend that you take your credit card and bank card. ATM machines are widely available throughout Europe. Please make sure that your bank card has a 4 digit access code since this is the only code that will work in european ATM's.
Travelers checks and currency can be changed at airports, sometimes your hotel, a local bank and at "Bureau de Change" locations throughout Europe. However there may be hefty service charge.
Also, have some travellers checks in each person's name. If one person is unable to sign the check, the other still has access to money. Never carry all your travellers checks together.
The majority of larger restaurants, shops, hotels, theatres, etc. in Western Europe, and in many Eastern Europe countries, accept most major credit cards. The bill you sign will be in local currency. This will be converted into US or Canadian dollars by the credit card company and invoiced in the usual way. You can use American Express, Diner's Club, Visa, and Mastercard to obtain cash abroad.
Carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against loss or theft in hotels. For added protection, keep a photocopy of your passport in your suitcase. Hotels are sometimes required to hold your passport overnight to comply with local regulations.
It is the law in some European countries to have some form of identification on you.
Almost all hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be high, especially for international calls. It is always cheaper to use public telephones (pay phones) or an international calling service such as AT &T 'USA Direct'. Your tour director will advise you how to use the telephone if you are unsure. Ring late UK/Europe time, it's cheaper. In France and Britain use prepaid phonecards for a set amount of phone time - no change required and no big bills. Available from tobacconists, phone exchanges and Post Offices.
Electrical currents vary in Britain and on the continent of Europe. Some appliances have dual voltage, but if not, we suggest you carry a convertor for your electric shaver, travelling iron and other small appliances. Also, pins, holes and plugs differ everywhere, so buy a universal electrical travel adaptor before you go to prevent accidents and damage to your appliance. See our link world electric plugs on the side bar.
Wake up calls are always given to passengers when on tour. Should the call not go through, or heavy sleepers not hear it, your own back up alarm clock is a good insurance. One that is lightweight and simple to operate. It's nothing to be alarmed about but Tour Directors adore passengers who are on time.
Instructions for couples: never pack one suitcase for one person and one suitcase for the other person. Split belongings between the two cases. If one case goes astray neither person is left without a change of clothes and necessities.
For those of us that can not live without the internet and email we would suggest that you leave your lap top at home and use one of the internet cafes that are located in almost any of the European cities. We found charges in Italy, Greece, Germany and even the island of Santorini on a 1/2 hr basis to be very reasonable. If you happen to fly business class most lounges have free internet access. Not taking your laptop prevents the stress of taking it through airport security, an extra piece of hand luggage and with the new restrictions probably the only hand luggage you will be permitted. Reminder: Before you leave home make sure you know the codes required to access your email account.