Make sure your passport is up-to-date. Your passport may not expire until after your trip Ė but some countries will not honor a passport if itís due to expire 6-months after your return. Check with your destination countryís consulate or the U.S. State Department website.
Participants of the European Cooking Trip will get a unique apron which is allowed to get dirty.
Be considerable in what you have to take along with you in your baggage. There wonít be any prom night or royal banquets, so keep the high heels home and save the space for only the necessarities. A maximum of 20 kilograms (44lbs) of baggage and one small piece of hand luggage or small backpack should be enough.
- ear buds or silencers (in case you donít want to be waken by cow bells or birds)
- small backpack for day trips (remember a rain cover)
- proper walking shoes and reserve shoe laces
- lip cream
- thin, light wind jacket and/or rainwear (poncho, suit or cape)
- world plugs or adapters for any chargers (see www.electricaloutlet.org)
- quick dry towel(s)
- DEET mosquito repellent (for when itís warm and humid, you never know)
- traveling clock with alarm
- two copies of your passport (one for your tour guide, one for you to keep)
- photo camera
- a great sense of enthusiasm
EUROPEAN MONEY AND CURRENCIES
The euro is the legal tender for around 329 million people in 16 EU countries (Estonia joins in as the 17th country on January 1, 2011). The symbol for the euro is Ä.
The euro notes are identical in all countries but each country issues its own coins with one common side and one side displaying a distinctive national emblem. All the notes and coins can be used in all EU countries that have adopted the euro.
Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City have adopted the euro as their national currency which also gives them the right to issue a certain number of euro coins with their own national sides.
Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom do not currently use the euro. The eight countries that have entered the EU since 2004 are committed to adopting the euro when they are ready.
The following countries in the European Cooking Trip are all connected to the monetary standard of the European Union and all use the same Euros: France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Germany.
Countries that do not use the Euro currency:
For Croatia you can exchange Euros at any money exchanger in exchange for the Croatian Kuna. For Hungary you can exchange Euros in exchange for the Hungarian Forint. For the Czech Republic you can exchange Euros for the Czech Koruna (Crown).
CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS
You can pay with VISA, American Express or MasterCard at many European locations and even withdraw from the ATM. Know that you will need a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you donít have a PIN for your credit card, apply for one at your credit card supplier. Without the PIN your credit card cannot be used in most locations in Europe.
If you have a savings account and a debit card from your bank, you can withdraw money at any ATM that bears the Maestro logo, just as your debit card should have.
It might also be a good idea to mention your trip to Europe to your credit card supplier. It seems that these days many credit card companies are quick on the trigger to reject transactions outside of the normal activity they usually see. They might see a totally sudden withdrawal in a small French village as a possible fraud and block your card until you contact them again yourself.
Citizens of the United States of America, Canada and Australia do not need a visa to enter the countries that are included in the European Cooking Trip. All travelers must although have passports which are valid at least 90 days after their departure from Europe. All the mentioned countries have an open-border policy with neighboring EU-countries. Visitors from non-European and other countries than mentioned above should contact me about their possible visa requirements.
You are responsible for your own adequate travel and medical insurance that completely covers your activities.
The European Cooking Trip highly recommends World Nomads. World Nomads travel insurance is available to people from over 150 countries and is designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation and baggage.
World Nomads also believes that travelers have an obligation to contribute to the communities which they travel. With this they get assisted by the Footprints Network. When you arrange an online insurance with World Nomads, you can select which program deserves the Ä 2,- donation.
MOBILE PHONE HOME
You can use your mobile phone anywhere in Europe thanks to the EUís GSM technical standard. Mobile phone users abroad have enjoyed significant savings of around 60% thanks to the EU roaming regulation which sets limits or 'Eurotariffs' on international roaming rates for voice calls. Per second billing has been introduced after the first 30 seconds for calls made and from the first second for calls received. The cost of sending a text from abroad has also been substantially reduced and now costs no more than 11 eurocents (excluding VAT).
All roaming customers now receive an automated message with the charges that apply for calls, texts and data roaming services such as surfing the web or downloading movies Ė in that particular country.
Postage stamps can only be used in the country in which you buy them, even when priced in euro.
Take your prescription with you if you are carrying prescribed medicines. Do not exceed the quantities needed for your personal use during the trip, as large quantities of drugs can create suspicion as customs. Please inform your tour guide on your medication.
To contact the emergency services in any EU country from any phone, fixed or mobile, dial 112, free of charge.