What to know before you go to
Many seasoned travelers are not aware that their health insurance may not cover them outside of the country. If you need to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, most of your trip may be non-refundable if you are not insured. In the event you become ill during your travels, finding and receiving medical care may be very frustrating without insurance. Travel insurance also covers lost baggage and worldwide emergency assistance. For a minimal amount of money, travel insurance is a must.
US citizens need a valid US passport for entry in Italy. Make three photo-copies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with family and carry the other separately from your original. Due to new airline regulations, a copy of your passport must also be sent to Pilgrim Tours.
currency in Italy is the Euro. Check
the travel section of your newspaper or the Internet for the most recent
exchange rate. If possible,
exchange currency at a US bank before you leave.
ATM machines are available in the major cities throughout Italy.
However, in smaller towns, ATM cards, traveler’s checks and
credit cards may not be accepted. Please
be advised that the ATM machines dispense money in EURO ONLY - NOT US
Electricity is 220 volts. You will need to bring along the necessary converters to operate any 120 volt appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, etc.
If you are required to take medications, you should notify the leader of your group in the event of an emergency. Ask your doctor to write an extra prescription to take with you if your medication is lost. All medication must be kept in its original container, including over-the-counter medications.
Due to the size of baggage compartments in touring coaches, each passenger is restricted to ONE suitcase and ONE carry-on bag (in addition to your purse, camera case or video camera). Be sure your luggage is clearly tagged on the inside and outside. If you are traveling with a tour group, you must use the baggage tags provided along with your own.
Airlines limit carry-on luggage to ONE piece not to exceed a 45-inch dimension, as it must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.
Six hours ahead of EST and one hour ahead of GMT.
Leave your travel information with a family member or friend, including a copy of your passport, your flight itinerary, travel itinerary, hotel names and phone numbers. In the event of an emergency, family members may contact Pilgrim Travel at 800-322-0788.
Dress comfortably for the flight, wearing clothes that allow freedom of movement and shoes that slip on and off easily.
When at the airport, never leave your luggage unattended for any length of time…no matter how short. Do not accept packages from strangers to carry on to the plane for them.
Check-in time for international flights is normally two hours prior to departure. When checking in at the airport, a valid passport is needed as proof of identification for international travelers.
Bring along a moisturizer as the air in the plane cabin is extremely dry.
In order to avoid jet lag, avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Rather, opt for natural fruit juices and water.
What to Pack:
Comfortable, casual clothing that can be layered to match the weather is a good suggestion. Planning your wardrobe around one or two colors is also helpful. You may choose to bring along one dressy outfit but it is not necessary. Be sure to include comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight jacket for mornings and evenings.
A raincoat and rain hat (or poncho) are easier to use when sightseeing than an umbrella.
Be sure to keep important items such as documents, money, medications, keys, etc. on your person or in your carry-on luggage. Never pack these items in your checked luggage.
Do not make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry. A good way to conceal your money and valuables is by purchasing an inexpensive, lightweight pouch that attaches around your waist and is worn under your clothes.
Do not over-pack. Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
If you are traveling with a companion, cross-pack. Put half of your items in your companion's luggage and vice-versa. This will ease the frustration of lost luggage.
Take along a small backpack. When you are touring, fill it with bottled water, tissues, paper and notebook. It will also come in handy for carrying souvenirs.
Don't forget these travel sized necessities: sewing kit, first-aid kit, tissues, travel clock, toiletries, notebook and pen, pre-printed address labels (for sending postcards), plastic "zip-locking" bags (for storing open bottles and containers).
Purchase your film and batteries in the US. Remember to bring extra for your video camera.
A service charge is often added to the bill in hotels and restaurants. However, if it is omitted, a tip of 10-15% is customary. A usual tip for tour bus drivers is $1.00 per person, per day and a tour escort usually receives $2.00 per person, per day. Hotel maids receive $1.00 per person, per day. Tip taxi drivers at least 10-15% of the fare. This is simply a general guideline. Tips and gratuities are earned for services rendered in a courteous and professional manner.
For meals that are not included, check with your group leader or the front desk at the hotel for suggestions (be sure to mention the price range you are interested in). If you like Italian food at home, you'll like it even more in Italy. Besides the traditional pasta dishes, dine on seafood, polenta (fried cornmeal mush), pastries and gelati (Italian ice-cream).
Check with your group leader or the front desk for the best shopping areas. Specify that you are interested in purchasing items that are known for their local and cultural appeal. Shop for leather goods in Florence and Milan, alabaster glass and jewelry in Venice. In Vatican City, you can purchase lockets containing pieces of Pope John XXIII's clothing.
If you have free time between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., don't be surprised if everything is closed. This is just Italy's two-hour lunch break.
Take advantage of rest-rooms. They are often difficult to find and some even charge to use them. Be sure to pack tissues.
Bring along plenty of film. There is no shortage of beautiful scenery, ruins and works of art in the entire country.
Dress conservatively when visiting churches and cathedrals.