Know Before You Go: Christmas Markets: Germany, Italy & Switzerland | EF Ultimate Break
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Christmas Markets: Germany, Italy & Switzerland

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 10 days ULTIMATE.

COVID-19

For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit this page.

Travel Documents & Tour Preparation

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 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
  • Visa: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less.
  • Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.

Tour Preparation

  • Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
  • Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
  • 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.
  • Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
    • Wi-Fi will be in most hotels, restaurants, and bars, though it may be slower than in the U.S.
    • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
  • Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.

Arrival Information & Transportation

Flight Preparation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

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.

  • If your flight is canceled 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 sleep in and miss 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.

Arriving in Venice
Welcome to Italy! Once you land, grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration.

Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!

If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel.

Getting from A to B
You’re traveling through Europe, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. All transfers between cities are via private motor coach and can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. When sightseeing, be prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day!

It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans Wi-Fi/ Cellular Data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.

Health & Safety

Staying Healthy While Traveling

Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:

  • Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially after spending all day in the sun!
  • Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
    • Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
    • What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
    • Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.

Safety While Abroad

With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.

Packing

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. Double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website, but we recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag.

You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot. See more packing tips below that will help you become an international, carry-on-suitcase, jetsetter.

Electronics: Type “C”, “F”, or universal adapter and converter for electronics

Packing Suggestions

  • 1 jacket (light/rain jacket if June – August, thicker/waterproof jacket for all other months)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • 4-5 pairs jeans / shorts
  • 5-6 shirts / t-shirts
  • 1-2 nicer outfits for Welcome Dinner, Farewell Dinner or a night out
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Small daypack for long days sightseeing
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport (we recommend making multiple copies of your passport and bringing one with you and leaving one with a trusted friend or family member in the States)
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses and/or hat
  • Electronics and chargers plus adapter/converters

Note: You’re required to cover your knees and shoulders in sacred places like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

Money & Tipping

We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.

Budgeting
We recommend budgeting $80-$100 per day for meals, gratuities, shopping, and free time activities.

Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.

Managing Money

Currencies used:

  • Italy: Euro (€)
  • Germany: Euro (€)
  • Austria: Euro (€)
  • Switzerland: Swiss Franc (CHf)

The rates at ATMs are usually the best, and you can find machines everywhere - especially with the help of your Tour Director.

It’s always smart to bring more than one form of payment while traveling, and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the Europe (with the exception of American Express and Discover cards). Please make sure to talk with your bank and credit card companies to let them know where and when you are traveling, and to go over any international transaction fees.

Do you have a credit card that offers zero international transaction fees? If yes, bring that to save money for purchases abroad.

Tipping
There is no tip required for taxis and nearly all restaurant bills that you receive already include gratuity, so additional tipping is not necessary. As it is customary to tip for services provided, we recommend the following for this tour:

  • Local Guides: $1-$2
  • Tour Director: $40-$60 given at the end of the trip

Accommodations

While you are in Europe, you’ll be staying in hotels and boutique hostels that are a bit smaller than American rooms. Accommodation details will be posted in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

  • 4-5 fellow EF Ultimate Break roommates of the same gender
  • Small, boutique hotels and hostels
  • One private bathroom per room that you’ll share with your roommates
  • Limited WiFi connection
  • Limited air conditioning – AC is popular in the U.S., but not in Europe!

If you have any questions about your rooming status or want to request a specific roommate you can do so in your online account up to 60 days prior to departure, by chatting in, or by giving us a call at 617-619-1411.

Language

While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases in Italian and German to get started:

  • Hello: Ciao (Italian) / Hallo (German)
  • Goodbye: Ciao (Italian) / Auf wiedersehen (German)
  • Thank you: Grazie (Italian) / Danke (German)
  • Yes: Sì (Italian) / Ja (German)
  • No: No (Italian) / Nein (German)
  • Where is...?: Dove si trova...? (Italian) / Wo ist...? (German)
  • Cheers!: Saluti! (Italian) / Prost! (German)

Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!

Local Life

Here are some expert tips to help you feel like a German guru, Italian stallion, Austria aficionado, and Swiss… miss?

  • Italians greet everyone with two kisses—one on each cheek; everywhere else shakes hands.
  • These countries take fashion seriously seriously; now is the time to break out your new shades and leather jacket.
  • When you cheers or toast, make eye contact—it brings good luck!
  • Unlike Germans, Austrians, and the Swiss, Italians tend to be fashionably late.
  • Germans and Swiss are more reserved; the less small talk, the better.
  • Public intoxication is frowned upon
  • No jaywalking allowed, especially in Switzerland and Germany.
  • As majestic as they are, avoid approaching the swans in Switzerland.
  • Switzerland has an early bedtime, so make the most of your day.

Food & Drink

You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you just must try.

Italy

  • For breakfast, try a sweet pastry and cappuccino instead of the savory continental breakfast you’re used to!
  • Iced coffee begone, espresso is your new friend. You’ll never find a bad espresso in Italy, but order and pay for your espresso at the bar to avoid paying more than the usual 1-2€.
  • Indulge in a long lunch and try the local pasta, meat, fish, cheese, fruits, wine, and more wine. May we suggest a bold Tuscan red?
  • Before dinner, try aperitivo—a light meal between lunch and dinner with snacks and wine, or a refreshing spritz like aperol or campari.
  • In Italy, dinner doesn’t often begin until after 8 or 9pm. More reason to enjoy aperitivo!
  • Try an after-dinner digestive liquor like limoncello, sambuca, amari, or apertivi.

Germany

  • With over 3,200 recognized types of bread in the country, German bread is the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Unlike Italy, breakfast in Germany is a savory spread of bread rolls, sausage, and cheese with coffee or tea.
  • Lunch, or mittagessen, is the main meal of the day, featuring potato salad, sausage, schnitzel, vegetables, fries, cabbage, and potatoes!
  • End your day with abendbrot, or “evening bread.” Yes. MORE BREAD. This meal consists of bread, cheese, pickles, sausage, and beer.

Austria

  • Wiener schnitzel and sausages are must-haves for any meat-eater in Austria, or if you love a good mac and cheese, try and find yourself some käsespätzle.
  • Rich desserts are aplenty in Austria - especially cakes. Two of the most famous are linzer torte and the sacher torte.
  • For beer, try a refreshing Hefeweizen from Weihenstephan, or Stiegl, the official beer of Salzburg. Prost!

Switzerland

  • Save your Swiss Francs for a block of frischschokolade—fresh chocolate, a praline, or a truffle for a chocolate foodie experience.
  • The Swiss recommend Gruyere, Appenzeller, Emmentaler; world-renowned cheese from all different regions of Switzerland.
  • Like Italy, the Swiss start their day with light pastries or cereal, followed by a mid-morning snack of bread or fruit.
  • Zmittag—lunch—is when locals enjoy hot international dishes.
  • Dinner, or Znacht, starts around 6-7pm and can consist of colder foods like cheese, meats, honey and jam.

Dining in Europe

  • Ordering food and drinks is a great time to practice the local language; it goes a long way with locals, and shows respect for their culture.
  • Restaurants ask you to choose between still or sparkling water, but remember sparkling water is an added cost.
  • The less special requests you make at a restaurant, the more accurate your dish will be.
  • It’s normal to seat yourself in a restaurant instead of waiting to be seated.
  • Wait-staff in Europe are not as attentive as in the US; don’t be afraid to flag someone over for help!

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.

Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.

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.

Bon voyage!

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