New Year’s in Budapest: 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.
To view 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 cancelations. 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 Berlin
Welcome to Germany! 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
Transfers between cities are via bus, and 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.
It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans wifi/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.
Many of the former Eastern Bloc countries have been slower to to accept and protect the LGBTQ+ community than much of Western Europe. Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany are considered bright spots that have made a lot of progress in recent years. Vienna, Prague, and Berlin in particular, are rather safe cities with vibrant LGBTQ+ scenes.
Hungary is a bit of a different story, with less protections, less rights, and less-accepting public opinion. Despite Budapest being a more LGBTQ+-friendly area of the country, discretion remains generally advised for travelers.
Poland offers even fewer rights and protections, as well as more anti-LGBTQ+ laws popping up in recent years. Discretion throughout the country is highly advised.
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:
- A warm, waterproof coat
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- Waterproof shoes (such as rain boots)
- 5-6 pairs pants, shorts, or skirt
- 6-7 shirts / t-shirts
- 1-2 dressier outfits for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- 1 bathing suit for the thermal baths in Budapest
- Toiletries, medicine
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
- 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.
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.
The local currencies on this trip vary. Berlin and Vienna use the Euro, in Krakow it’s the Polish Zloty, 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
- 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.
- Tipping etiquette varies in Europe from country to country, but for the cities you are visiting, it is common to leave a 5-10% tip if you received good 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.
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 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!
Food & Drink
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.
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.