Group travelGroup travel is a great opportunity for students to make friends from other states and cities. Unless your child’s group leader has chosen to be a private group, your child will be traveling with other students and teachers from the United States and Canada. It's important to keep in mind that traveling with others requires thoughtfulness, a good attitude and flexibility with tour and departure dates.
Tour and departure date flexibilityEF is dedicated to making travel affordable for as many people as possible. That’s why we always offer the lowest prices. We combine groups with similar tour and departure dates, so whether you're a group of six or 60, you benefit from the same low price.
Please keep in mind that your child’s exact tour and travel dates are not confirmed until 70 days prior to departure. Although we make our best effort to comply with the group leader’s first choice of tour, we occasionally have to offer the second or third choice. Also, based on the group leader’s requested tour date, we ask for a date range. This range is within two days of the originally requested date for tours departing October through April and within four days for tours departing May through September. Talk to your child’s group leader about the tour and departure date choices that he or she requested.
PassportsYour child should apply for a passport as soon as he or she is enrolled on tour, as it can sometimes take 14 weeks to process. (Check with the State Department for current processing time.) U.S. citizens traveling abroad must bring a passport that is valid for at least six months after the tour’s return and has at least three blank pages. You can find out all you need to know about passports at the U.S. government passport website. Airlines will not permit your child to travel if the name on his or her ticket does not match his or her passport exactly. Ensure that the first, middle and last name on your child’s EF account matches his or her passport.
VisasYour child may need a visa for the tour. Consult the destinations' and layover destinations' consulates for more information and specific requirements. For contact information, visit embassy.org.
Because the visa application must be completed by the applicant, we depend on the traveler to take care of this step. For your convenience, American citizens can call Visa Central toll-free at 1-866-788-1100 or visit www.visascentral.com/efvisas for assistance in obtaining the necessary tourist visas, which may require a fee. On the phone, mention account number "73032". Online, you should also enter account number "73032".
Parental authorization formsFor tours going to Mexico, Belize, or Brazil, children under the age of 18 require a parental authorization form to be signed and notarized within 30 days of the tour departure date. EF will send you the form a few months prior to your departure date. Please ensure that your child brings the form on tour because it is required to get through customs in these locations.
Paying for your child's tourFundraising is a great way to help you and your child pay for the tour. Websites like ChipIn.com or Firstgiving.com
make it easy for friends and family to help you fundraise. Your child can ask for a donation as a birthday or holiday present. It takes just minutes to set up an account, and friends and family can track the progress as your child collects donations. For other fundraising ideas, check out the fundraising section of our blog: http://equator.eftours.com/touring-101/tour-fundraising.
Students under age 20 will share rooms with two or three other travelers of the same gender, either from their own group or from other groups with whom they are traveling. Each room will contain single beds or occasionally shared double beds, or a combination of the two. Hotel styles and room configurations vary among destinations, so students who share a room in one city may not do so in the next. Students under the age of 20 who wish to have twin rooms will be charged an additional fee.
Adults (travelers 20 years or older at the time of the tour) will be roomed in twin rooms (with two single beds) with other adults of the same gender either from their own group or from other groups with whom they are traveling. Double accommodations (one large bed or two single beds pushed together) are also available. If any adults wish to have a single room, a single room supplement will be added to their account. Should you be traveling as a family and wish to room together, tell your group leader to note this on the rooming list that he or she will submit to EF. In some locations, hotels are not always able to accommodate such requests.
Rooming on night trains and ferries (if applicable)
Sleeping compartments on trains are very small and there are no single or double rooms. Adults and students will room in couchettes of up to six shelf-like beds that fold down from the wall. Bathrooms are located outside the compartments in the corridor. Single rooms are not available on overnight ferries, overnight trains or tours to Africa.
The deadline to submit rooming for all adults and non-standard student requests is 110 days prior to departure.
HotelsA good night’s sleep is important, so your child can count on safe, clean and comfortable hotels with private baths. And rest assured, we inspect every hotel personally. Some common differences from North American hotels:
- Rooms and beds are usually smaller and have single and/or shared double beds.
- Rooms seldom have air conditioning or televisions.
- Not all European hotels have elevators.
- Shower pressure tends to be much weaker and, in some locations, the showerhead may be a detachable, hand-held device, directly above the toilet or sink. Few hotels have shower curtains.
MealsBreakfast typically includes cereal, bread or rolls, jam, juice, coffee and tea. Lunch is the chance for your child to make culinary discoveries of his or her own; the tour director can provide recommendations. Included dinners will either be familiar dishes or local specialties. Students will be expected to pay for soft drinks and other beverages at dinner. Table water is always provided free of charge; bottled water is provided only in those locations where deemed necessary by locals (e.g. Egypt). Your child should expect food and portion size to be different than what he or she is accustomed to at home.
Tour paceStudents should bring comfortable footwear. Many sightseeing tours are on foot, so travelers will do a lot of walking. In addition, the use of public transportation often involves a lot of stairs and walking to and from the train platforms.
PunctualityNo matter where your child travels, there is a tremendous amount to see and do – and a limited time in which to cover it! For that reason, most EF itineraries are packed with activities. It is crucial that everyone makes punctuality a priority, for wake up calls, sightseeing tours, meeting times etc. It takes just one person showing up late to throw off a whole day’s schedule.
TransportationFlights may consist of multiple legs and, if your child is in a large group, everyone may not travel on the same itinerary.
On most EF tours, your child will travel by motorcoach from one destination to the next as well as on EF-included sightseeing tours and excursions. However, some itineraries include internal flights or travel by train, cruise ship or ferry. To travel to local activities or free-time options, groups will find it easy to use public transportation and may not have access to the motorcoach. Public transportation is more commonly used abroad than it is in many parts of North America. The EF Tour Director will help your child learn the maps and routes.
Special travel requestsIf your child would like to visit friends or family abroad before or after the tour, or fly in or out of a different U.S. gateway than the tour group, your child must submit a Special Travel Request by 110 days prior to departure. We will then do our best to accommodate your child’s request. Your child should not finalize any plans (or purchase airline tickets) until the tour and date have been confirmed (around 70 days prior to departure). Once the tour and dates have been confirmed, travelers should re-confirm special travel.
Please note that Special Travel Requests are booked separately from the group itinerary and therefore travelers may fly on an alternate round-trip itinerary. To submit a Special Travel Request, log in to My Tours and select "Special Travel".
CoverageWe recommend that all travelers sign up for the Insurance Coverage Plan. This plan is specifically designed to meet the needs of students traveling with EF. This covers your child in the event of on-tour medical expenses, baggage delays, tour cancellation and emergency tour interruption, if a student must leave a tour prematurely.
Money abroadWe recommend that your child brings the equivalent of $50 in the currency of the initial destination for expenses upon arrival. Your child should also be familiar with the exchange rates for US dollars to the local currency of the destinations of the tour. Your child should not bring traveler’s checks since they are difficult to cash. ATMs are the most convenient way for cash withdrawals since they accept a wide number of bank and credit cards. Check with your bank to make sure your child's card will work abroad.
Students need to keep money in a safe place at all times. Travel pouches that you wear under your clothes are always recommended. Also, advise your child not to save a lot of coins. Though they do make good souvenirs, they cannot be exchanged back into US dollars as exchange offices and banks will only change paper money.
Spending money and TippingYour child can plan on using $40 to $60 per day for spending money. The lower amount covers enough for lunches, soft drinks, postcards and stamps, while the higher amount covers some museum entrances during free time and souvenirs. These recommendations do not cover optional excursions or gratuities.
PackingStudents will be carrying their own luggage, so your child should pack light. We recommend one suitcase and one small carry-on per person. Students will be responsible for taking luggage on and off buses and into hotels, so make sure your child can easily carry his or her luggage up stairs. See our packing list for specific suggestions.
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