World War II Tours: Help Desk
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Category: Helpful Travel Tips
  1. Travel Tips for Europe Travel in Europe
    Helpful Travel Tips for Europe

  2. Cellular Phone Rentals
  3. Travel Insurance
  4. Photography and Video
  5. Money in Europe
  6. Internet Access
  7. Shopping, Shipping and Customs
  8. International Toll-Free Phone Codes
  9. Calling Home

  10. Travel Tips for Russia Travel in Russia
    Helpful Travel Tips for Russia

  11. Getting Around
  12. Money in Russia
  13. Russian Entry Visa



  1. Travel Tips for Europe Travel in Europe
    Helpful Travel Tips for Europe

    The Basics

    Alpventures® Tours visit sites in Europe up close and personal (mostly on foot). Because much of the tour will be walking, we recommend a good and comfortable pair of walking shoes. Most hotels will provide shampoo and soap; however, it is common that they are combined together in a "shower gel." Bringing your own shampoo, a bar of soap and a small washcloth is recommended. (A pocket package of Kleenex, a few "Wash-n-Dries" or little bottle of Hand Sanitizer also come in handy). Calling Cards such as AT&T, are the easiest way to call home to the States; however, some prepaid Calling Cards don't work from Europe. For details about contacting your friends and family while you are away, click on the Calling Home link.

    What to Wear / Weather

    The climate in Central and Western Europe is very similar to that in the Pacific Northwest (of the U.S)---the summers can be hot and they can be wet. September tends to be milder, with generally more pleasant and milder weather than in summer. The fall can also get cold. Alpine weather tends to be even more dramatic than in the rest of Europe. We recommend to be prepared for anything: Bring a “Parka” (windbreaker with hood) in case of inclement weather. It is best to pack lightweight clothing (layers), such as denim jumpers and jackets, jeans and a few tops---rather than bulky sweaters. One nice outfit for our Farewell Dinner, otherwise casual clothes only, not requiring ironing.

    Your Luggage

    Two free personal luggage tags are provided to Alpventures® Tour Guests prior to tour departure, and we strongly recommend that these tags be placed on your bags prior to traveling. They will also assist us when handling your bags at each hotel throughout the trip. Porter service will be provided at all hotels on Alpventures® Tours. Most airlines still allow two pieces of “checked” luggage and two small “carry-ons,” however we highly recommend that you limit your luggage to one checked piece and one carry-on. All bags are subject to search, due to heightened security measures at airports worldwide. Avoid bringing (or buying) anything in your luggage that could even remotely be construed as a weapon. If you plan to do a great deal of shopping on the tour, we recommend to pack a large, empty hand-bag in your checked luggage, to use on your return flight as your “carry-on.” (We also recommend a small shoulder bag, money purse or money belt for your Passport, Credit Cards, etc. while traveling).

    Electrical Appliances

    The voltage in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria is 210 / 220V. Hair dryers will be provided in most of our hotels; however, if you plan on bringing your own appliances such as hair dryers, curling irons or battery chargers, please make sure your appliance is 110 / 220V (compatible). Some appliances will need to be manually switched from 110V to 220V on the back or bottom of the appliance. The wall sockets in Europe are also different. Adapter Kits (U.S. to European) may be purchased at most Radio Shack retail stores, electronics stores, travel stores or online at Teleadapt USA.




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  2. Cellular Phone Rentals

    Rent a Cellphone and be in touch on Tour.

    Your loved ones here at home (and your important business concerns) are only a phone call away while you are traveling with a global cellular phone rental. Leave the hassle of being reached only in your hotel room behind and have a cell phone with you all the time. For less than $30 a week, you can have the comfort of knowing you can be reached at any time while you are away from home. In addition, whether it’s an emergency or you just want to let a friend know how much fun you’re having, you can call the U.S. for the lowest rates in the industry. Have the cell phone delivered to your door before you depart, and provide your friends and family with your number in advance. For more information, current rates and to reserve your phone online, please visit Travelcell.com.





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  3. Travel Insurance

    We strongly Recommend Travel Insurance.

    Alpventures® partner insurance professionals, insuremytrip.com, offer a different packages to suit your needs from over 40 vendors, covering delayed / lost luggage to personal injury and even death while traveling away from home. Our vendors have also increased their services to provide coverage for delays and cancellations due to acts of terrorism. Protect your trip investment and travel with peace of mind. For an online quote in minutes or more information and details click on the logo here.


    Click for a Travel Insurance Quote





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  4. Photography and Video

    Photography and Video

    You are encouraged to bring cameras on all Alpventures® Tours. On the World War II Tours, photography at the Concentration Camp Memorial Sites is allowed, however we strongly recommend discretion be used at all times. Photography inside the memorial museum is prohibited. Panoramic cameras are recommended at the Normandy beaches, the former Nazi Rally Grounds in Nuremberg and at the Eagles Nest. Film and batteries can be expensive throughout Europe, so bring plenty of extra film with you. For information about the voltage for battery chargers, click on the “Electrical appliances” link above.




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  5. Money in Europe

    How to get Money

    The Euro is only used in those countries that belong to the European Union. This makes things much easier for foreign travelers. The value of the Euro is very close to the U.S. Dollar, which makes shopping easy because the Euro prices listed are almost the same as the Dollar. On Tour with Alpventures®, you will have the opportunity to do banking at the airport before we depart for our first destination. Remember, most banks in Europe close for 1-2 hours at lunchtime and they are not open on weekends. Traveler’s checks are not difficult to use in Europe, however they can be very expensive (unless cashed at an American Express office), as most merchants will charge a fee per check used. It is our recommendation that you bring Credit Cards or Debit Cards while traveling for your source of money. (Don’t forget your “PIN” numbers for the cards! Some Credit Card companies and Banks have a different PIN number for outside the U.S. Check with your Bank or Credit Card company before you leave). ATM’s (Automated Teller Machines) are very convenient and easy to use while traveling abroad; you can find one just about everywhere and they can be used in the English language. There will be a minimal fee for using the ATM’s. (On Tour, you are welcome to bring U.S. Dollars in cash as well, however banking opportunities to exchange currency will be less frequent than ATM’s).


         


    Currency Converter

    Take a look at how the U.S. Dollar is doing in the foreign exchange before you travel abroad. Our Currency Converter is easy to use: Enter an amount, select the currencies to be converted, and click the 'Convert' button. Your converted currency will be displayed in the same window.

      • Open the Currency Converter




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  6. Internet Access

    Getting on the Web

    While traveling in Europe, you may wish to access the Internet in order to check and send email, or surf the web. The easiest and most convenient way to get online is most likely at your hotel.

    At your Hotel
    Most hotels now offer some type of internet access, either 1) via a wireless or a DSL connection in your room, or 2) on a hotel PC, usually near the lobby. Some hotels have a "Business Center" or "Internet Corner" for this purpose. Getting online at your hotel could be expensive, so be sure to check rates before jumping on the web.

    Internet Cafés
    The cheapest solution is to visit an "Internet Café" or "Cyber Café." These are located in most European cities, and they are popping up in many smaller towns off the beaten path. Internet terminals are also located at many rest areas along the freeways and at Tourist Information Offices. Typically, you have to buy either a password or token in different increments of time (15, 30, 90 min., etc). These can run anywhere from $1-up for 15 minutes of online time. Most cafes use common web browsers, or at least browsers that work like Internet Explorer or Netscape. Alpventures will provide details of the locations, prices and opening hours of Internet Cafés while you are on Tour.




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  7. Shopping, Shipping and Customs

    Shopping and Taxes

    Most European countries have a 15% - 25% VAT (value-added tax), or sales tax on merchandise. The good news is, it is usually included in the price, and in some cases, as a non-resident of that country; you are eligible to either have the tax taken off or get part of that money back. Many merchants are now using the "Global Refund"; formulas that are easy to fill out and can be submitted at their airport offices in Europe. All details including minimum purchase amounts, customs authorization stamps and the location of Global Refund airport offices will be provided by Alpventures® while on Tour.

    The main things to remember are:

    1) have your Passport with you when shopping
    2) keep all your receipts and tax-free forms
    3) have the goods with you before check-in with the airlines
    4) obtain a customs authorization stamp at the airport

    Shipping Goods to the U.S.

    Postage in Europe is extremely expensive to the United States. We recommend packing lightly so you have room in your luggage (and carry-on) for any items purchased on the tour (i.e., souvenirs, books, videos, etc.). Some merchants will ship your goods directly to the United States; Postage, handling and insurance charges will vary.

    U.S. Customs Official Policy

    As a returning U.S. resident, you are allowed to bring back $450 worth of merchandise duty free (without declaration). The next $1,000 worth of items you bring back with you into the country for personal use or gifts are dutiable at a flat 10% rate. For further information, including laws, regulations, and helpful traveler information, click the following link:


      • Visit U.S. Customs & Borders Official Website




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  8. International Toll-Free Phone Codes

    International Toll-Free Direct Access Codes

    Most European hotel rooms are equipped with private telephones. It is easy and convenient to call your friends and families at home, and you can either use Calling Cards (not Prepaid Calling Cards) or have your calls billed directly to your room. (NOTE: If you plan to use a Calling Card, make sure your card includes international calling before you leave). Some hotels will have a different number for dialing an “outside” line, and you will be provided these numbers at check-in. Keep in mind, calling the U.S. from your hotel can get very expensive. A list of hotels including telephone, fax numbers and email addresses (when applicable) will be provided prior to departing on an Alpventures® Tour.

    In order to use a Calling Card, you will need to reach your long distance phone carrier for the call to connect. Here are the toll-free International Direct Access Codes* that will connect you with an American operator without any charge:

    Austria Belgium France Germany
    Sprint 0800-200236 0800-100-14 0800-990-87 0800-888-0013
    AT&T 0800-200288 0800-10010 0800-990011 0800-2255288
    MCI 0800-200235 0800-10012 0800-990019 0800-8888000


    * The telephone companies can change these Direct Access Codes at any time. Alpventures® takes no responsibility for problems resulting from the use of these numbers. For current Access Codes, or to find codes for other countries not listed here, please visit your telephone company's website.






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  9. Calling Home

    Plan Ahead when Calling Home

    Remember, when calling the U.S. from Europe, there is a difference in time zones. In order to prevent calling your party at an inconvenient time, plan your call. Germany, Austria, Italy and Belgium are located in the CET (Central European Time) zone, and are ahead of the U.S. Early morning in Central Europe means nighttime in America (the night before). In Germany, we will be 6 hours ahead of the East Coast, 7 hours ahead of the Midwest, 8 hours ahead of the Rockies and 9 hours ahead of the West Coast. Europeans also use the 24-hour, or Military Clock. Here are a few examples to help:


    Pacific Mountain Central Eastern CET
    2100 Mon 2200 (10 p.m.) 2300 (11 p.m.) 2400 (Midnight) 0600 Tues
    0300 Tues 0400 (4 a.m.) 0500 (5 a.m.) 0600 (6 a.m.) 1200 Tues
    0900 Tues 1000 (10 a.m.) 1100 (11 a.m.) 1200 (Noon) 1800 Tues
    1500 Tues 1600 (4 p.m.) 1700 (5 p.m.) 1800 (6 p.m.) 2400 Tu-We




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  10. Travel Tips for Russia Travel in Russia
    Helpful Travel Tips for Russia

    The Basics

    Alpventures® Tours visit sites in Russia up close and personal (mostly on foot). Because much of the tour will be walking, we recommend a good and comfortable pair of walking shoes. Most hotels will provide either shampoo and soap or a hair and body "shower gel." Bringing your own shampoo, a bar of soap and a small washcloth is recommended. (A pocket package of Kleenex, a few "Wash-n-Dries" or little bottle of Hand Sanitizer also come in handy). Calling home to the States from Russia is very expensive - especially at Hotels and with your own cellphone. (A dual-band, GSM phone will work in Russia if you have international roaming; however, the Russian cellphone network charges are out-of-sight).

    Your Luggage

    Weight limitation on Luggage: Officially there is a weight limit on luggage for foreign travelers. The duty free limit is 50 kg (100 lbs.) per person; however, if a traveler has only two suitcases with him the luggage is usually not weighed.

    Electrical Appliances

    The electric current in Russia is 220 volts. Sockets normally take Continental-type pins; electric razors and hairdryers need a plug adapter. You can buy adapters and adapter travel kits at Radio Shack and other electronics and travel stores.

    Travel Insurance

    Alpventures® partner insurance professionals, insuremytrip.com, offer a different packages to suit your needs from over 40 vendors, covering delayed / lost luggage to personal injury and even death while traveling away from home. Our vendors have also increased their services to provide coverage for delays and cancellations due to acts of terrorism. Protect your trip investment and travel with peace of mind. For an online quote in minutes or more information and details click on the logo here.


    Click for a Travel Insurance Quote




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  11. Getting Around

    Travel on your Own

    In case you decide to go somewhere by yourself you can use the Metro (subway) or taxi. Subways operate from 5:30 am until 1:00 am. Taxis are your best bet – as all the subway signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. You can order a taxi through your hotel; although it is always cheaper to catch a cab from the street. Russian cabs usually do not have meters; so it’s advisable to set the fee with the driver before taking the ride. Almost any car in Russia can be a taxi. The common rule is not to take a cab or a car if there is someone else inside except the driver. General precautions should be taken to escape unpleasant situations. Do not leave valuables in your hotel room - use hotel safes, avoid dark areas and parks at night, avoid talking to strange people, be discrete when counting your cash and carry cash in your inside pockets. In case you decide to go somewhere by yourself we recommend you inform your roommate or the tour leader where you are going and approximately the time when you are planning to be back. Be very careful when crossing streets because the cars in Russia do not wait for pedestrians.

    Train Travel

    A good 1st or 2nd class berth on a Russian sleeper train could prove more civilized than one in Western Europe, as they’re often larger and more comfortable. They also have a remarkable on-time record. The regular, long-distance service is a fast train (skoyry poezd). It stops more often than the typical intercity train in the West and rarely gets up enough speed really to merit the "fast" label. The best skoryy trains often have names. The name trains (firmennye poezdy) generally have cleaner cars, more polite attendants and mor convenient schedules. They also often have fewer stops, more 1st class accommodation or functioning restaurants. With a train reservation, your ticket will normally have the numbers of your carriage (vagon) and seat (mesto).



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  12. Money in Russia

    About Money in Russia

    The official currency in Russia is the Rouble. There are 100 Kopecks in one Rouble. There is an exchange office in each hotel; although the rate of exchange in hotels is usually much lower than those found in exchange offices ouside the hotel. You must show your Passport to exchange money. You cannot use foreign currency in shops or restaurants; although shopping at Izmailovo fleamarket or Arbat Street Dollars and Euro are accepted illegally. Credit cards are accepted in many places but this is usually a feature of an expensive place. We recommend you bring new, crisp banknotes. Some banks and exchange offices (especially outside the big cities) will not accept marked, damaged or soiled notes. When tipping in restaurants; a normal tip in restaurants is 7-10%. Porterage tips in hotels is usually $1 per bag or suitcase.

    Currency Converter

    Take a look at how the U.S. Dollar is doing in the foreign exchange before you travel abroad. Our Currency Converter is easy to use: Enter an amount, select the currencies to be converted, and click the 'Convert' button. Your converted currency will be displayed in the same window.

      • Open the Currency Converter




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  13. Russian Entry Visa

    Russian Visas and Customs

    Proper Tourist Visa are needed before a trip to Russia. There are different types of visas; a Tourist visa is a small document listing your entry and exits dates, your Passport number, place of issue and any children that are traveling with you (when applicable). According to Russian law, you must register your Tourist visa within 3 working days upon arrival to Russia. (On Alpventures® Tours, we will provide you with the proper Tourist visa forms / instructions and we will register your Tourist visa for you).

    How it Works
    Russian Visas are applied for by either the Traveller or his/her Tour Operator or Travel Agency. The Visa is an important travel document that is placed in your Passport by the Embassy of the Russian Federation, and it costs a fee.

    Visa Registration
    Once you have secured an entry Visa, it must be registered once you arrive in Russia. Registration can be done either in the hotel where you stay or in the police station. If you plan to stay in a hotel, your registration will be completed by the hotel and the fee is usually included in the cost of the room. The visa serves as your exit document, too, so always keep it in a safe place when traveling.

    Arrival in Russia
    Upon entering Russia, fill out the Declaration Form and make sure the Customs Officer stamps it. You can bring as much money to Russia as you want; however, if you plan to take any money (i.e., USD, Euros, Pounds etc.) out of Russia you must have a proof of origin of the money. For Tourists, your stamped declaration form serves as proof of origin. (The Customs Officer has the right to confiscate the money you have if you do not have proof of origin). Other proof of origin of money is a "Spravka" from the bank, which states that you cashed your credit card or received the money by other means.

    Russian Customs
    It is forbidden to take works of art such as paintings, sculptures or antiques painted/made before 1950. This includes military souvenirs, relics, weapons or other items which are clearly from the war. Only 2 cans of Caviar and 1 Liter (usually 2 bottles of Vodka) of Liquor are officially allowed to out of the country per Person. No one is permitted to take Rouble Banknotes out of the Russian Federation.



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