New Year's in London: London, Paris & Amsterdam
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 as soon as it opens! 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
Consult your airline’s website for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but note that your airline ticket does include one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, and one checked bag or larger carry on; In different cities you may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, and remember that you’ll have the opportunity to do laundry throughout the trip. See more packing tips below:
- 1 lightweight or rain jacket – especially for London
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- 1 pair of dress shoes for nights out (some bars and clubs don’t allow sneakers)
- 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter – a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
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 Amsterdam
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. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t always as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
Note: A staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
Manage Your Money
Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Europe, and ATMs are everywhere. Budget $80- $100 per day for meals, shopping, and free time activities. Tipping is not customary in Europe, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro or pounds for exceptional service. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $40-$60 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- England: Pound Sterling (£)
- France: Euro (€)
- Netherlands: Euro (€)
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
On this trip you’ll experience standard rooming, unless you purchased a private room upgrade. Standard rooming is in European hotels or boutique hostels and you’ll room with up to six fellow EF Ultimate Break travelers of the same gender per room. What to expect for standard rooming:
- 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, call us at 800-766-2645, or connect with your Tour Director.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via train and they take between 2-4 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. In London, this pass is called an “Oyster Card”. Hold onto this for every journey as you need to scan the card before and after you ride the “Tube”. While you’re at it, don’t forget to mind the gap!
Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. In Amsterdam you may even replace driving and walking with biking! Just make sure you don’t mistake the bike lane for the pedestrian lane in Amsterdam; locals take biking seriously and it’s considered the main mode of transportation. In any case, we’ve packed a lot into your tour, so prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
Note: It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you for transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, The Dinner, by Herman Koch, or The Bourne Series!
Air Conditioning and Accommodations
The strength of the air conditioning in European hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
Accommodations in France, especially Paris may be smaller than what you’re used to in the U.S. or Canada. Beds, bathrooms, and elevators are typically built smaller in European hotels, and some amenities like towels or hair-driers may be limited. Remember you can always talk to the front desk or your Tour Director for help!
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. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
Note: If you want to visit sites like the Anne Frank House during your free time, make sure to book your ticket in advance. check with your Tour Director before the tour for the best time and date to do so.
Live Like a Local
As you prepare to spend time in new cities, countries, and cultures, here are some expert tips to help you live like a true European.
- Public transportation is very popular in Europe. In London, you’ll have an Oyster Card (their metro pass) for the “Tube”, in Paris and Amsterdam you’ll take the Metro! Taking public transportation is a great way to get to know a city
- Public restrooms in Europe sometimes require a small fee – hold on to your coins!
- Unlike the U.S., everything (hotels, meals, appliances) is smaller. After all, less is more!
- Practice the local language when greeting people or ordering food - It goes a long way with the locals
- Water is an added cost at restaurants, and you have to choose between still or sparkling
- Avoid making special requests at restaurants, it’s not as common in Europe
- Feel free to seat yourself in restaurants instead of waiting to be seated, and don’t be afraid to flag your waiter or waitress over for help
- When in London do not stand on the left of an escalator in the London Underground – the left is for walking, the right is for standing
- Visit one of London’s many free museums or galleries like the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, or the Sky Garden
- British and French people are more reserved, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t strike up conversation right away. Though, you might find more friendly faces in the pubs!
- Paris is known for its fashion. Now is the time to break out your new duds!
- Smoking is still very popular, especially in Paris. Don’t be surprised to see large amounts of locals with lit cigarettes!
- Biking is the main mode of transportation in Amsterdam. We encourage you to try it out if you feel comfortable, but remember to respect the road rules and local customs
- Debit and credit cards are surprisingly common in Amsterdam, where cash is not
Wine and Dine
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you just must try.
- English Breakfast: This traditional morning meal includes eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, and most importantly, TEA.
- Afternoon Tea: The average Brit drinks 3 cups of tea per day. Try an afternoon tea with light sandwiches or pastries at Covent Garden or Soho
- Fish and Chips: Chips are actually french fries in this traditional dish with lightly battered fish. It’s common as a takeaway treat, too!
- **Pie and Mash:**A classic comfort food of pie served with a pile of mashed potatoes
- Eton Mess: This is a classic British treat of crushed merengue, cream, and strawberries
- Beef Wellington: A filet steak wrapped in puff pastry and cooked.
- Sticky Toffee Pudding: Moist sponge cake stuffed with raisins or dates, covered in toffee sauce served with ice cream or custard. YUM.
- Pubs: Try out Covent Garden and Soho, a locally-brewed beer at a traditional English pub, or a glass of champagne at The Ritz or The Savoy
- Baguettes: Now is your chance to walk around the streets of Paris with a baguette in hand. YOLO.
- Fromageries and boulangeries: Specialized cheese stores, and bakeries! The combination of delicacies from these two types of stores can only be improved with French wine
- Chocolate for breakfast: Pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissant, is the perfect breakfast staple in Paris
- Cheese: In Paris, cheese is cheap, plentiful, and delicious.
- Steak Frites: Grilled steak with various sauces and fries will hit the spot. Guaranteed!
- Crepes, Macarons, Chocolat, oh my!: Try a street stand crepe as an afternoon snack, a fun-flavored macaron, or any form of chocolate you can find. It’s all delicious!
- Champagne: It’s originated in France, after all…
- Croque-monsieur: Kind of like an extreme grilled cheese, this is a crisp grilled ham and cheese sandwich usually with bechamel sauce.
- Escargot: A.k.a., snails doused in butter and garlic. When in Paris, right?
- Herring: Yes. Herring. Try it from a herringhandel (herring cart), or have it served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions
- Food markets: Multiple street markets are open around the city during the week; check out the Albert Cuyp Markt, or the Dappermarkt for some fresh stroopwafls, herring, and more.
- Stroopwafel: A sweet treat of two waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup. Try one from a street market or bakery!
- Beer: In the Netherlands, beer is traditionally served in small glasses called vases or fluutjes – unlike the German-style steins or pints!
- Bitterballen: Delicious, deep-fried meatballs with mustard. A fantastic pub or late-night snack!
- Poffertjes: Fluffy, battery, pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. What more could you want?
- More cheese: Visit a ‘kaas’ shop – a top spot to find cheese like Gouda, Geitenkaas, or Maasdammer.
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 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. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and 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!
- 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.