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INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN TRAVEL

 

To make your trip as pleasant as possible, we would like to provide you with the following information and suggestions.

DAY OF DEPARTURE
You should always arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your scheduled departure. Make sure your luggage is tagged to your final destination. If you are a member of any frequent flyer mileage program, make sure that your account number is entered into your record when you check-in, so that you will receive credit for the flights. Remember your passport! It is a good idea to make a copy of your passport and carry it in a safe and separate place.

 

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE
Please always remember to consult your airline for specific rules, as sometimes allowances change, per airline. But in general most airlines allow international travelers to take two pieces of checked luggage with the maximum weight of each piece not to exceed 70 pounds. They also are allowed one carry-on bag (plus purse or small briefcase), and it must fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment.

Skiers are advised usually to bring one suitcase/duffle bag not to exceed 70 pounds in weight, one ski bag and one ski boot bag, for a total of THREE pieces. The boot bag, however, must be a legitimate boot bag, or you may be charged an excess baggage fee. We recommend that you purchase the new luggage on wheels, which have two different compartments to fit both your boots and clothes, to limit the number of bags you may need. This both makes personal transport of baggage easier and may help eliminate excess baggage charges.

 

DEVIATIONS AND EXTENSIONS
Deviations and extensions are allowed. If you plan on deviating from the group on arrival or departure, please coordinate your request with us no later than 45 days prior to your scheduled departure. We will be happy to assist you with any plans, including additional hotel reservations, car rentals and train tickets. A deviation fee will be charged, in addition to any other costs or fees. Please check the fee at the time of booking. Any unused portions of a group tour package are non-refundable.

 

CLOTHING AND PACKING SUGGESTIONS
Mountain Vacations during any season can bring a variety of weather conditions. Layering your clothes is a good way to handle changes in weather and temperatures. For cold weather skiing we would advise to start with a good pair of long underwear made of polypropylene or some other synthetic fiber that wicks away moisture. Don't wear cotton next to your skin. A light shirt or turtleneck (bring two or three) can then be worn over the long underwear. Finally, wear a sweater of wool or fleece for insulation and warmth. The outer layer will be your jacket and pants or a one-piece suit. Remember sunglasses, goggles and sunscreen. A fanny pack or backpack is also a good idea. That way, you have somewhere to store clothing if the weather warms up. A pair of sturdy, comfortable waterproof walking shoes is suggested, as there may be snow or wet conditions at any location.

Most Tourist Class and First Class (3 and 4-star) hotels in Europe and South America do not have rigid dress codes. However, in most places, tourists get dressed up for dinner. Jeans are fine for budget hotels, but are discouraged in nicer dining rooms. If your hotel has a pool, sauna, steam room or hot tub remember to bring along a bathing suit.

Electricity in both Europe and South America is 220 volts and you will need an adapter with a converter plug to match the different wall outlets in order to use a hair dryer, curling iron, shaver, etc. It is often difficult to find laundry facilities in resorts, or it can be quite expensive. We suggest that you bring along some laundry detergent to wash your small laundry items in the bathroom sink.

 

MEALS
All resort hotels in include breakfast in their rates. Most also include dinners. Typically, breakfast consists of a buffet with an assortment of hot and cold items such as bread, cereal, meat, cheese, yogurt, fruit, coffee, juice, and tea. Dinners are a minimum of three courses (starter, main course, dessert) and often are four or five courses. Usually, you have a choice of entrees. Eating dinner at your hotel is convenient and cost effective, and the food is usually excellent.

If you have specific dietary needs, please advise the hotel upon arrival so the kitchen can do its best to meet your requests. Breakfast serving time usually begins around 7:30 a.m. Dinnertime at the hotel is usually between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

If you decide to eat out on your own one evening, please advise the hotel in the morning, so that they can better plan the evening meal.

They may pack a lunch for you, but there are no refunds for unused meals.

 

SHOPPING
If you have been out of the U.S. for 48 hours or longer and have not claimed this exemption within the 30 days prior, you may bring in a maximum of $400 per person worth of duty free goods. There are special restrictions for liquor and cigarettes (check with U.S. Customs).

Many shops will offer tax-free shopping for tourists. There is a minimum purchase amount (approx. $100 per store per purchase) before you are eligible for this discount (from 15-25%, depending on the country). Due to the recent changes within the European Community, VAT tax refund procedures have changed. Make sure you complete all of the necessary paperwork and follow the procedures exactly, or you may not receive your refund.

 

LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALLS
Whatever you do, DO NOT call home directly from your hotel phone. A five-minute call to the U.S. can easily cost $80 or more. Make sure you have an AT&T, MCI or Sprint calling card. In order to use these cards in foreign countries, you must ask your carrier for the access codes for each country you will be visiting. These access codes are basically toll free numbers that connect you directly to your long distance carrier.

Your card will not work without these codes. Even when you use your calling card, your hotel may charge you a small fee. Ask for rates before you make a call if you are concerned. It is also possible to purchase calling cards for each country from the local post offices.

They can then be used in most public phone booths. The rates are actually quite good using this method.

 

FOREIGN CURRENCY
You can exchange money at all banks, but be aware that European banking hours are somewhat limited and usually closed on weekends. There is always a transaction fee. You'll get the best rate by using your debit card in a cash machine, of which you will find several in the resorts.

Remember your four-digit PIN code! Exchanging money at the local tourist offices or your hotel front desk is also possible, but you will not receive a very good rate. Since you will most likely be arriving on the weekend, it is a good idea to bring some foreign currency with you, in case there are no sources available upon arrival.

 

TIPPING
Clients always ask us about proper tipping etiquette. After many years of experience, we offer the following guidelines. These are only guidelines - there are no requirements. In the dining room, you will most likely be served by the same waitperson all week. If you feel you have received excellent service, it is appropriate to present a tip at the end of your stay to the person or persons who have assisted you. A suggested amount would be for each person in your party to give $20 - $35, depending on the hotel. It is also appropriate to leave a small tip for the maids. About $10 - $15 per room per week is appropriate. If you hire a ski guide, it is customary to give him or her a tip (5 to 10% of their fee) as well, if you received good service. Bus drivers and porters at hotels should be tipped $1-2 per bag.

 

LIFT PASS INFORMATION
Daily lift tickets are available in all resorts, but you will receive a much better value if you purchase a multi-day pass. Usually, these passes must be used on consecutive days and they are non-transferable.

Some require a passport-sized photo, so bring one along just in case.

You can purchase your lift pass or ticket with a credit card at the lift station. The average cost of a daily ticket in Europe is $35 per adult. A six-day pass costs an average of $180. Children and seniors always receive substantial reductions.

 

GUIDE SERVICE AND SKI INSTRUCTION
Ski guides and instructors can be hired through the local ski school office. Since most of the European resorts are so vast, you may want to hire a guide for a day to familiarize yourself with the area. The average cost for a guide is $250 - $300 per day, shared between 4 to 6 people.

f you have any specific dietary needs, please advise the hotel upon arrival so the kitchen can do its best to meet your requests. Breakfast serving time usually begins around 7:30 a.m. Dinnertime at the hotel is usually between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

 

SHOPPING
In most cases, if you have been out of the U.S. for 48 hours or longer and have not claimed this exemption within the 30 days prior, you may bring a certain amount of duty free goods. There are special restrictions for liquor and cigarettes (check with U.S. Customs).

Specific amounts will be stated with the airline you are traveling upon entering and/or leaving the country by flight. Many shops will offer tax-free shopping for tourists. There is a minimum purchase before you are eligible for this discount (from 15-25%, depending on the country). Due to the recent changes within the European Community, VAT tax refund procedures have changed. In all countries, make sure you read the rules and complete all of the necessary paperwork and follow the procedures exactly, or you may not receive your refund upon departure.

 

LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALLS
Whatever you do; DO NOT call home directly from your hotel phone. A five-minute call to the U.S. can easily cost $80 or more. Make sure you have an AT&T, MCI or Sprint calling card. In order to use these cards in foreign countries, you must ask your carrier for the access codes for each country you will be visiting. These access codes are basically toll free numbers that connect you directly to your long distance carrier.

Your card will not work without these codes. Even when you use your calling card, your hotel may charge you a small fee. Ask for rates before you make a call if you are concerned. It is also possible to purchase calling cards for each country from the local post offices.

They can then be used in most public phone booths. The rates are actually quite good using this method.

 

FOREIGN CURRENCY
You can exchange money at all banks, but be aware that European and South American banking hours vary from the U.S. and they usually closed on weekends. There is always a transaction fee. You'll get the best rate by using your debit card in a cash machine, of which you will find several in the resorts. Remember your four-digit PIN code! Exchanging money at the local tourist offices or your hotel front desk is also possible, but you will not receive a very good rate. Since you will most likely be arriving on the weekend, it is a good idea to bring some foreign currency with you, in case there are no sources available upon arrival. Always use credit cards for transaction as much as possible to save on transaction fees and hassle of money exchange. It also a good idea to carry approximately $200 in small US currency notes to use for tips and small last minute purchases.

 

TIPPING
Clients always ask us about proper tipping etiquette. After many years of experience, we offer the following guidelines. These are only guidelines - there are no requirements. In the dining room, the same waitperson or wait staff will most likely serve you all week. If you feel you have received excellent service, it is appropriate to present a tip at the end of your stay to the person or persons who have assisted you. A suggested amount would be for each person in your party to give $20 - $35, depending on the hotel. It is also appropriate to leave a small tip for the maids. About $10 - $15 per room per week is appropriate. If you hire a ski guide, it is customary to give him or her a tip (5 to 10% of their fee) as well, if you received good service. Bus drivers and porters at hotels should be tipped $1-2 per bag.

 

LIFT PASS INFORMATION
Daily lift tickets are available in all resorts, but you will receive a much better value if you purchase a multi-day pass. Usually, these passes must be used on consecutive days and they are non-transferable.

Some require a passport-sized photo, so bring one along just in case.

You can purchase your lift pass or ticket with a credit card at the lift station. The average cost of a daily or six-day lift pass is generally less than what you might expect in the US and children and senior citizens always receive substantial reductions. Some club hotels, seasonal specials and generally resorts in South America will include your lift tickets with your package price.

 

GUIDE SERVICE AND SKI INSTRUCTION
Ski guides and instructors and lessons for children can be arranged through the local ski school office. Since most of the European resorts are so vast, you may want to hire a guide for a day to familiarize yourself with the area. If you would like to book lessons for you or your children, we would highly recommend that this is arranged far in advance to your trip and lessons for all ages tend to fill up quickly.