Know Before You Go: Spain & Portugal Getaway | EF Ultimate Break
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Spain & Portugal Getaway

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.

COVID-19

To view the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please 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 or business 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. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
    • Wi-Fi will be in hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and 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 Lisbon
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. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

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 or flights and can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. When sightseeing, be prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day!

Health

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

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.
  • Pick-pocketing is fairly common in bigger cities. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
  • 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

Consult your airline’s website for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but note that your airline ticket includes one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, plus one checked bag or larger carry on. In different cities you may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot. See more packing tips below:

Electronics: A power adapter – type “C” or “F”, or a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) for this trip.

Packing list

  • 1 light jacket or rain jacket between April - September, a warmer coat from October - March
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Comfortable sandals for the beach
  • 1-2 pairs jeans / shorts
  • 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
  • 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner, or a night out
  • 1-2 bathing suits
  • Beach towel
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to getting seasick
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash
  • Power adapter

Note: If you’ve purchased the Sagrada Familia optional excursion, you are required to cover your shoulders and knees when entering the basilica.

Also Note: June through August are peak temperatures in Spain ranging from 85-90 degrees during the day and dropping at night. Layers and staying hydrated are key!

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
Currencies used:

  • Portugal: Euro (€)
  • Spain: Euro (€)

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, but be wary of fees.
  • Let your bank and credit card companies know your specific travel plans (including every country you’ll visit and for how long) ahead of time to avoid potential complications or suspicion of fraud while abroad.
  • 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 10-15% tip if you received good service.
  • We recommend tipping your Tour Director $44 - $66 at the end of the trip.
  • For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of that tour.

Accommodations

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 617-619-1411, or connect with your Tour Director.

Language

It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local languages! On this tour, you'll encounter Spanish and Portuguese. Try out some of these popular words and phrases:

  • Hello: Hola (Spanish) / Olá (Portuguese)
  • My name is: Me llamo (Spanish) / Meu nome é (Portuguese)
  • How much is this?: Cuanto cuesta? (Spanish) / Quanto custa? (Portuguese)
  • Yes: Sí (Spanish) / Sim (Portuguese)
  • No: No (Spanish) / Não (Portuguese)
  • Thank you: Gracias (Spanish) / Obrigado/a (Portuguese)
  • Where is the bathroom?: Dónde está el baño? (Spanish) / Onde fica o banheiro? (Portuguese)

Local Life

Spain
Because of its geographic isolation from the rest of Europe and rich history, Spain is truly its own culture. You’ll find this reflected in the art, music, food, and more. Here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of Spain and feel like a true Spaniard.

  • Siestas are a midday break (1-4pm) when people gather with friends/family for a meal or nap.
  • Spaniards are night owls – nighttime is when the cities come to life with people talking, dancing, and eating!
  • Music is a key piece of Spanish culture with flamenco, classical guitar, and yes, EDM.
  • Spanish summers are hot, especially in the south. Stay hydrated and bring your sunglasses!
  • Socializing is a huge part of Spanish culture; Whether over coffee, drinks, or food, strike up a conversation!
  • The Spanish love to celebrate – if you’re lucky, there will be a festival event, or party while you’re there!

Portugal
From its tile-coated castles to its shimmering coastlines, Portugal is a gorgeous and unique country with a lot to be proud of. And, indeed, the Portuguese are proud of their country and its quirks, some of which are listed below.

  • Avoid comparing Portugal to Spain. Despite their historic and geographic proximities, these countries are much more distinct from one another than many people realize.
  • Portuguese people are big believers in fate, and this inspires their famous fado music that can be heard cafés and restaurants across the country.
  • Even though Portugal doesn't produce much coffee at all, the country has a robust coffee culture where espresso is the common drink of choice.
  • With an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year and most of the population living relatively close to the coast, it should be no surprise that Portuguese people tend to be warm, friendly, and laidback.

Food & Drink

First and foremost, the Spanish and Portuguese eat a late lunch (siesta), snack in-between, and dinner at 10pm - Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day. More likely than not, you’ll also have tapas on this trip. Tapas, or small plates are found everywhere, and are best shared among groups of new friends! Read on for more tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.

Portugal
Portuguese food is fresh, hearty, and delicious. Almost entirely surrounded by water, you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood including octopus, a must-have in Portugal. Plus, with all the walking you’ll do in the city of seven hills, you deserve to treat yo’self! See some must-haves below:

  • Bacalhau à bras: The national dish of salted cod with potatoes and eggs
  • Couvert: A simple plate of bread, butter, and olives - be aware that some restaurants may charge you for this, even though it looks complimentary
  • Arroz de marisco: Similar to paella, this is a dish of prawns, clams, and other seafood combined with rice, vegetables, and herbs
    Try and seafood stew cooked in a cataplana, a shell-shaped copper pan
  • Pastéis de Nata: A golden puff pastry circle with a rich custard middle-filling - the world’s best (and top secret) recipe is cooked up and served at Pasteis de Belem. Believe us, it’s worth the 10-minute cab ride out there.
  • Sardines: Especially during the summer, sardines are at their freshest, and they’re grilled right along the streets and usually served with wine, peppers, and potatoes.
  • Bifana: Thin slices of pork marinated in white wine with lots of garlic, fried, then served in a bun. Find it at any food stall or food truck in Lisbon!
  • Vinho Verde: Translated to green wine, is a Portuguese wine originated in the Minho province. Felicidades!

Spain
Cuisine in Spain is heavily influenced by surrounding countries, and has many Arabic elements. Kebabs are popular, and desserts are often prepared with almonds, honey, and cinnamon. Be sure to try Serrano ham, which is considered a regional delicacy, as well as the famous chilled soup known as gazpacho.

  • Jamon: Pronounced, hah-mohn, is dry-cured ham. It’s everywhere, and it’s delicious.
  • Paella: A well-known Spanish cuisine, it’s rice with veggies, paprika, saffron, and seafood
  • Wine, Cava, Sangria: Wine, sparkling wine, and wine with fun stuff.
  • Churros con Chocolate: Fried, sugary sticks served with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping. Need we say more? The best churros are found in Madrid!
  • Pan con tomate: Bread with tomato, olive oil, and salt. Simple, yet satisfying.
  • Croquettas: Similar to a mozzarella stick, but usually filled with cheese, meat, or veggies
  • Vermouth: A fortified and aromatized white wine, vermouth is an aperitif best served neat, chilled, and over ice with a lemon or orange.
  • Calamari: Squid or octopus – when in Spain, right?
  • Chorizo: A savory pork sausage treat that is usually served as an add-on to other dishes, or entirely on its own!
  • Patatas Bravas: A fan favorite for tapas, simply crispy potato wedges with spicy sauce and aioli

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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