Before your trip

Before your trip

Europe

 

PASSPORT / VISA / TRAVEL DOCUMENT

  • Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the return date of your trip. Make sure your passport is not too full. Most countries require between two and four blank pages in your passport. 
  • No visa required for US passport holders to tour Europe with Peony Tours except Turkey and Russia. (Exception: Tour PGA passengers visiting the port of call in Kusadasi on cruise do not need entry visa for Turkey). It is the responsibility of non-US citizen travelers to obtain proper visas of all countries in a timely manner. Passport, visa and travel-advisory information is available from the State Department's Consular Affairs site at http://travel.state.gov. 
  • Permanent Resident Aliens need both passport and Alien Resident Card for re-entry to the States. 
  • Passport and visa are always the sole responsibility of travelers. Peony Tours is not responsible when travelers are denied entrance for any reason at any foreign country in spite of valid passport and visa. Our tour fare does not include any fees of passport and visas. 
  • Keep travel documents, passport, credit card and valuables with you at all times while on tour. Carry emergency contact person’s name, address and telephone number with you. It is strongly suggested that you make a copy of all your travel documents and keep them in a safe place. 
  • It is recommended that your travel documents, passport, air tickets, and cash not be kept together, so you would not lose everything in case something happens. Be sure you have everything with you before leaving for the airport.

CONSULAR INFORMATION

The U.S. Department of State provides Country Specific Information Sheets for every country in the world, as well as Travel Alerts and Warnings. Find this information by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the U.S. & Canada, 1-202-501-4444 from Overseas, or visiting its website at travel.state.gov. If you are overseas and in need of emergency assistance contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. ​

HEALTH & TRAVEL INSURANCE 

  • For your own protection and peace of mind, travelers are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance prior to departure.
  • It is important to familiarize yourself with any potential health issues or concerns related to your destinations, and so we strongly recommend consulting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for up-to-date information on required and recommended vaccines and medications. Visit them online at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel or call 800-232-4636. 
  • Plan to visit your doctor or local travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before departure to allow time for any vaccinations to take effect or to fill any prescriptions.
  • If you are taking prescription medication, please pack in your hand luggage sufficient quantity for the duration of the trip and make sure it is fully labeled
  • It may be useful to bring aspirin, over-counter medicine for flu, indigestion, motion sickness, pain, pain, band-aids, etc. 
  • In case of illness, please immediately advise your tour conductor and / or local guides for further assistance. However, Peony Tours is not responsible for any medical expenses.

BAGGAGE 

  • Peony Tours assume no liability for loss, delay and / or damage to baggage in transit to or from a tour or while on tour. All baggage and personal effects are, at all times and in all circumstances, at the risk of the passengers. Baggage allowance varies by airline and is subject to change at any time; for up-to-date baggage allowance and policy please check with your airlines before departure. Passengers are responsible for paying for any checked baggage, hand baggage and/or excess baggage charges. 
  • Do not over pack, leave space for purchases in Europe. To avoid over-loading your suitcase, the less is the better. Any luggage must have a baggage tag and a TSA recognized lock. Do not lock baggage before security check unless your lock is TSA accepted and recognized. 
  • For more information about U.S. airport security and TSA recognized locks, Please check U.S. TSA's website at www.tsa.gov. 
  • Use luggage tags provided by Peony Tours listing the name, address in the US, telephone number as well as the tour code, for easy group identification. 
  • Baggage Allowance on coach: Baggage is at the owner’s risk throughout. Due to the limited capacity for luggage storage on the coach, passengers are allowed to bring one suitcase and one carry-on bag per person. Any excess luggage will cause additional charges.
  • Consider including one night’s essentials for whole family in one of the suitcases or in your carry-on bag to void inconvenience in case of loss or delayed flight. 
  • Keep your personal necessities and valuables with you at all time instead of packing them in checked luggage. Never leave your valuables on the bus. Neither Peony Tours nor the bus company bears responsibility for any loss, theft, or damage of your valuables. 
  • The tour fare does not include any porter service. In order to make appropriate arrangement, please notify the tour manager in advance if you need porter service. The charge varies by hotels, and approximates 5 USD per piece each hotel. 

WEATHER 

When preparing for your trip, it is important to keep any eye on the forecast at your destination. Before you go, visit Weather Channel Service at weather.com to find weather information and average temperatures on European cities durig your travel times.

 CLOTHING 

  • Choose clothing wisely for the season. Go casual, simple and light when you travel. It is indispensable to always carry a waterproof jacket, a raincoat or umbrella with you for all seasons. 
  • Definitely wear comfortable and casual clothes that can be layered. 
  • Bring a warm jacket, scarf, gloves, and hat for mountains and glaciers in Switzerland and Norway, even in summer. 
  • Casual attire and good walking shoes are on order during the day. Avoid shorts, flip-flops, tank tops when entering churches, museums, casinos, or certain occasions such as concerts. 
  • Dress code on the cruise: Most nights are smart-casual, meaning sport shirts and slacks for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. When dining in the main restaurant on “Captain’s Night” and “Gala Evening”, passengers are suggested to dress up. 

THINGS TO CARRY 

  • Casual attire, comfortable walking shoes, slippers, sunglasses, hat, sun-block lotion, insect-spray, swimwear, rain coat, solution for contact lenses, and shaver, etc. 
  • Books, magazines, iPad, tablet, snacks, etc. 
  • Camera, camcorder, cell phone, battery, charger, power bank, and extra memory card, etc. You may have no time to look for these items while on tour, it is advised to bring these along if needed. Note that these items may be more expensive overseas. 
  • The importation of certain goods, such as animal skins, counterfeit and pirated goods, are prohibited for all travelers whether you are exiting or returning to the US. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure you do not break the law. 
  • No matter the country from which you are departing or entering, it is always important to understand airport and airline safety and security, remembering to cooperate with airport, airline and customs officials. 

CURRENCY / CREDIT CARD 

  • Traveler’s checks are perhaps the safest form of currency to carry while traveling overseas. If lost or stolen, they are replaceable at no charge by the issuing company within a short period of time. However, traveler’s checks today are not the most convenient way to get currency in Europe. Some merchants and banks do not accept them. In addition, the exchange rate for traveler’s checks is lower in some European countries. It is suggested that you prepare sufficient US dollars. 
  • Credit cards are widely accepted in Europe except for Discover Card. It is suggested to bring two major credit cards and to notify credit card's company of your trip before departure. Write down phone numbers for your bank and credit card companies. If you have problem using your card or it is stolen, you'll have the phone numbers handy to call and cancel it. 
  • ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) are popular in Europe. Call your bank before your trip and let them know that you will be overseas so your funds do not get cancelled while you are travelling. Your bank will also be able to advise whether your bank card/credit card will work where you are going. It’s best to take a mixture of money – credit card, debit card or traveler’s check, cash card, plus cash just in case. If all else fails, have someone you can depend on for an emergency transfer. 
  • All travelers entering or leaving the EU with a sum equal to or exceeding 10,000 Euros have to declare the amount in writing to Customs without being individually requested to do so. 

ELECTRICITY 

  • Europe's electrical system is different from the U.S. in two ways: the voltage of the current and the shape of the plug. European appliances run on 220 volts. (Three rectangular prongs plug in England, Scotland, and Ireland) (Two round prongs plug in most Continental Europe) 
  • You'll need European converter and plug adapters. 
  • Bring your own hair blower and shavers. Do not forget the chargers for your cell phone, camera batteries, and perhaps your laptop. 

WHEN YOU ARRIVE ARRIVAL 

When you arrive at the destination airport of the tour, you need to clear customs, collect your luggage and exit. Meet Peony Tours representative at the Arrival Hall (Exception: for Tour PGA, when arriving at Greece Airport, our representative will be waiting for you inside the Baggage Claim Area). Do wear Peony Tours’ Badge for easy identification. Be aware that our representative will pick up passengers between terminals, please allow some time for the representative to meet you.
  • Land Package Travelers: You are responsible for arrival airport transfer (to hotel) and departure airport transfer (from hotel). 

a) As a courtesy Peony Tours will provide complimentary arrival airport transfers (except tour PEN, PMR) with certain transfer schedules and conditions. To reserve this free service, Land Package customers (except tour PEN, PMR) have to contact Peony Tours at least 35 days prior to departure. However, if your flight is delayed for any reasons, our tour guide and bus will not wait, you must contact our tour guide or local representative upon arrival and follow instruction to transfer to the meeting point or hotel by yourself. In this case the cost of transportation from airport to meeting point or hotel will be your own responsibility. No reimbursement will be made. 

b) If your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, AND, you are covered by the Travel Insurance Plan, you may claim directly with a proper receipt for a refund or reimbursement from the insurance company after the tour.
c) Departure airport transfer may be provided at no charge to you as well, only if you have the same flight schedule and same airport as the main group.

  • Land & Air Package Travelers: What you should do in the event that your flight is delayed beyond its scheduled time of arrival? 

a) Short Delays (within one hour): Claim your luggage and clear the Custom as quickly as you can. Our tour guide or local representative will be waiting for you at the arrival hall. 

b) Long Delays (more than one hour): Contact Peony Tours' tour guide upon arrival. Follow instruction to transfer to the meeting point or hotel by yourself. The cost of transportation from airport to meeting point or hotel is traveler’s responsibility. However, those who are covered by Travel Insurance, AND, flight delay for more than 3 hours, may claim directly with a proper receipt for a refund or reimbursement from the insurance company after the tour. For more information about trip delay, please refer to insurance policy. 

HOTELS 

  • Many European hotels now go smoke-free (including e-cigarettes). All hotel guests are required to follow the smokefree policy. 
  • To protect the global environment, European hotels rarely provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, or slippers. Please prepare for yourself. 
  • Never leave your purse or valuables on the chair while you are waiting in the hotel lobby or eating in the restaurant. 
  • Cooking is not allowed in any hotel in Europe. 
  • Always be cautious when staying at a hotel. If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside. Keep your room door locked at all times. Never allow strangers into your room. Meet visitors in the lobby. 
  • Typically, elevators in Europe are small compared to American standards. And the European pace of life is different to what we're used to in America - much slower. Be patient when waiting for elevator or luggage in hotels. 
  • Air conditioning / Heaters: Please be aware air conditioning is not always available. 
  • Do not enter the hotel swimming pool when it is closed. 

MEALS & ENTERTAINMENT 

  • Meals will be provided as specified in detailed itinerary. 
  • Mineral water and drinks are not included in tour fare. Travelers have to pay for soft drinks and beverages at meals. 
  • Tap water quality may vary depending on where you are in Europe. Bottled water is generally safe, but only in sealed, tamper-proof containers. No hot water or dispenser will be provided in the hotel room. Bring your own hot water bottle if you like hot boiled water or hot tea. 
  • Breakfast is based on the European style in the hotel. Please note that some hotels may arrange specific time and facility seperately from other groups or individuals to facilitate the operation of our group
  • It is of customer’s own decision to join in and pay for any optional sightseeing tour / local specialty cuisine dinner arranged by the local operator or tour manager. Peony Tours’ online purchase window will be open until 7 days prior to departure for European tours except tour PEN, PGA, PRD, PRI. Passengers may have the opportunity to purchase optional items in advance and enjoy the advantage of convenience.
  • $1,500 - $2,000 in cash is generally enough for each person while on tour (not for purchase of big or brand-name items or entertainment). 

TIPPING 

  • Tipping is at your discretion. As a guideline, Peony Tours recommends the following gratuities (GBP in the United Kingdom, EURO in other countries of Europe): 

Tour conductor - 7 EUR or 7 GBP per guest per night 
Long distance coach driver - 3 EUR or 3 GBP per guest per night 
Local guide - 1 EUR or 1 GBP (half day), 2 EUR or 2 GBP (full day) 
Local driver - 1 EUR or 1 GBP (half day), 2 EUR or 2 GBP (full day)

  •  For European river cruises (Tour code: PRD, PRI), tipping is separate from the above. The cruise company recommends 8 - 10 Euros per passenger per day. 

  • Tips for service on Aegean cruise portion (Tour code: PGA) are included in the tour fare.

  • For tips on the overnight ferry crossing the Kattegat Strait (Copenhagen-Oslo) and the Baltic Sea (Stockholm-Helsinki) in tour PSF, please refer to the ferry company’s tipping guideline if there is any; otherwise, you are suggested to tip like at the hotel or restaurant. It’s totally at your discretion. 

SHOPPING

  • Shopping souvenirs is always a great joy when visiting foreign countries. Peony Tours’ tour guide is happy to assist you with any shopping inquiries while on tour. 
  • In most European countries, a foreign tourist is allowed to claim back the GST (Goods and Service Tax) or VAT (Value Added Tax). Tax rates and conditions may vary by country. Please inquire your local guide for the most up-to-date GST or VAT conditions of the scheme. 

SAFETY & NOTES 

  • Keep an eye on personal belongs and valuables at all times. Beware of pickpockets. Don't leave valuables in the hotel or in the car. 
  • Respect other group members, your tour manager, tour guides and drivers. Do not travel alone at night.
  • It is very common in Europe that travelers have to pay to use restrooms. It is advised that you bring some coins at all times. 
  • Ten front seats on each tour bus are reserved for travelers who would like to purchase preferred seats for personal or physical needs, with a fee of $50 or $100 per seat. And for the fairness and general comfort of other group members, rules of daily seat rotation will be set. 
  • In Europe, passengers must fasten seat belts in buses and coaches. 
  • Be mindful and respectful of local customs when visiting cultural or religious sites. Most cathedrals, churches, and mosques, and museums expect visitors to have their shoulders and knees covered. Watch for signs telling you to put your cell phone or recorder away. 
  • For the protection of your own interests, read carefully your itinerary and hotel information before departure. Leave a copy for your family members in the US. 
  • A nice & smooth trip counts on every tour member’s high cooperation. It is important to follow the indicated meeting time and meeting point punctually. 
  • For all flight delay, flight cancel or any other emergency, travelers should immediately contact Peony Tours for assistance: 

US Area/During Office Hours
Headquarters 626-289-2450
Los Angeles 626-289-1010
San Francisco 650-259-9983 
New York 212-973-1998 
US Area/After Office Hours 626-592-8448 
London/During Office Hours 44-207-089-0600 
London/After Office Hours 44-771-692-7886 
*If we miss your calls, please leave your message with your name and phone number. Your message is very important to us. We will call you back as soon as we can. 

EXCHANGE RATES 

The following exchange rates are as of October 2019 for your reference only. For current rates, you may check the website. 
 
COUNTRY UNIT OF CURRENCY USD 1- EQUALS
Austria Euro (EUR) 0.91
Belgium Euro (EUR) 0.91
Czech Republic Czech Koruna (CZK) 23.36
Croatia Croatian Kuna (HRK) 6.73
Denmark Danish Krone (DKK) 6.77
Estonia Euro (EUR) 0.91
Finland Euro (EUR) 0.91
France Euro (EUR) 0.91
Germany Euro (EUR) 0.91
Greece Euro (EUR) 0.91
Hungary Hungarian Forint (HUF) 300.99
Ireland Euro (EUR) 0.91
Italy Euro (EUR) 0.91
Latvia Euro (EUR) 0.91
Lithuania Euro (EUR) 0.91
Luxembourg Euro (EUR) 0.91
Monaco Euro (EUR) 0.91
Netherlands Euro (EUR) 0.91
Norway Norwegian Krone (NOK) 9.13
Poland Polish Zloty (PLN) 3.89
Portugal Euro (EUR) 0.91
Russia Russian Rouble (RUB) 64.31
San Marino Euro (EUR) 0.91
Slovakia Euro (EUR) 0.91
Slovenia Euro (EUR) 0.91
Spain Euro (EUR) 0.91
Switzerland Swiss Franc (CHF) 0.99
Sweden Swedish Krona (SEK) 9.81
Turkey Turkish Lira (TRY) 5.92
U.K British Pound (GBP) 0.78
Vatican Euro (EUR) 0.91

TELEPHONE & TIME DIFFERENTIALS

  • Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time): All countries in the European Union (EU) obverse Daylight Saving Time (DST). But the precise time of the switch differs from country to country. 
  • If you plan to use your US mobile phone or smart-phone in Europe, contact your phone company for international roaming plan and fees. You may use phone card or buy SIM card in Europe to use on your tri-band unlocked cell phone. 
  • For direct dialing to Europe, the International Access Code, Country Codes and time differences are listed below for your reference. Hotel telephone costs high. You may want to bring your cell phone. Your tour conductor or local guide will assist you in this matter. 
    From USA to Europe, dial: USA int’l access code (011) + country code + city code + local number
    From Europe to USA, dial: Int’l access code + USA country code (1) + city code + local number
 
Country International Access Codee Country Code Time difference with New York
U.S.A 011 1 -
Greece 00 30 +7
Netherlands 00 31 +6
Belgium 00 32 +6
France 00 33 +6
Spain 00 34 +6
Portugal 00 351 +5
Luxembourg 00 352 +6
Ireland 00 353 +5
Finland 00 358 +7
Hungary 00 36 +6
Lithuania 00 370 +7
Latvia 00 371 +7
Estonia 00 372 +7
Monaco 00 377 +6
San Marino 00 378 +6
Vatican 00 379 +6
Croatia 00 385 +6
Slovenia 00 386 +6
Italy 00 39 +6
Switzerland 00 41 +6
Czech Republic 00 420 +6
Slovakia 00 421 +6
Liechtenstein 00 423 +6
Austria 00 43 +6
U.K 00 44 +5
Denmark 00 45 +6
Sweden 00 46 +6
Norway 00 47 +6
Poland 00 48 +6
Germany 00 49 +6
Russia 00 7 +8
Turkey 00 90 +7