Answers to commonly asked questions
We know planning an adventure vacation is no small decision, so we’re here to make the process as easy as possible for you. We've been doing this for quite a while, so we’ve got the answers to everything you need to know! Just click on the specific question you'd like to have answered below, chat to us online, or call us on the number that suits you:
1 800 661 9073 [USA and Canada]
1 800 661 907 [Australia]
0808 234 7780 [UK]
0800 234 726 [New Zealand]
0064 3 450 0414 [from anywhere else in the world].
We'd love to hear from you!
On your Europe trip you'll stay in a variety of places depending on the destination and activities. On all our trips you'll stay in nice hotels, rifugios while you're hiking in remote areas (although these rifugios are still hotels by most people's definition, with private bathrooms and all the mod cons!). In the main centres, you'll stay in locally owned, beautiful family run hotels in great locations, with private bathrooms, free wifi, great breakfasts and warm local hospitality.
Your transport will be a mixture of private van, private bus, bike, kayak and your very own two feet on our trips in Europe. You'll spend most time hiking, biking or paddling everywhere though! All your transport is included from the start of your trip and we'll drop you at the airport at the end. The details are all listed in the trip specific itineraries.
All your meals are included as described in the itinerary except on your free days. We have found that people enjoy checking out what is on offer by themselves sometimes, so you can go and see what's out there! On every other day and especially after any long hikes, we've chosen places to eat that can cater for our hearty appetites, work well with our small groups (they know we are coming) and provide us with an authentic destination specific culinary experience. There are always options for you, so you can either be brave or choose something more familiar. You can be assured that on all our trips we will make sure you are very well fed, and Europe's vast array of cuisine won't disappoint you!
Our trips are all led by an experienced Trip Leader. Our Trip Leaders are very proud to work with Active Adventures and often lead our trips for many years, for which we are very lucky and very grateful, as it means we're able to consistently offer a fantastic level of service. They work closely with our local specialist guides to provide you with a seamless, fun, exciting and memorable trip. They will happily share with you as much or as little as you want to know about the history, culture, social aspects and lifestyle of the country you are visiting.
How to book
Whenever you’re ready, it’s easy to book your Active Adventure. When you’ve done your research, driven yourself crazy with the choices and made your final decision, follow these steps:
1. Hold your place
The fastest way to reserve your trip is to give the experts a call.
Alternatively, fill out the Availability Request form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. To secure your place you’ll need a $500 per person deposit (the remainder of the balance is due 60 days before your trip start date), payable by credit card, cheque or wire transfer, whichever works best for you. Once you’re all signed up, you’ll receive a confirmation email giving you access via a login on our Active Adventures Club page where you can access your booking pages and fill in your trip details online.
2. Check your international flight options
Your booking pages and trip notes will outline where you need to be and when to start your trip, so you can move forward with booking your flights. If you’re lucky enough to have time, it’s nice to arrive a few days early to settle into the new place and get used to your surroundings. If you’re on a tight schedule it’s no worries, the trip start time will be outlined in your trip information.
We recommend using a variety of methods to search for suitable flights from your own research online (e.g. Skyscanner.net), to contacting a travel agent, to see who comes up with the best fares.
3. Complete your booking pages online
By logging into your online booking information via our club page you’ll gain access to your trip notes, destination information, a detailed gear list and all the information you need for your trip. There are a few things to fill in – medical and dietary information, extra accommodation requests, gear hire requests etc. – to ensure you are well prepared for your adventure vacation.
4. You're all set
You can now start packing your bags and crossing the dates off your calendar. We look forward to seeing you soon!
How do I get to Europe?
Various airlines have regular services to different European cities from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. From the United States, you can fly with any of the following airlines - American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Swiss Air, KLM, Lufthansa. From the United Kingdom, you can fly with American Airlines, KLM, Swiss air. From Australia you can fly with Qantas, Air New Zealand or Emirates.
For all flights coming from the USA we recommend contacting Going Places in San Francisco. Call Liezel on 510 848 9000. They know all about matching up flights with our schedules, and are often able to offer our clients some really good deals, so be sure and tell them that you are looking at taking an Active Adventures Europe trip!
Can I use my frequent flyer miles to get there?
Many of our clients have managed to get the international portion of their airfare or an upgrade to business or first class by trading in miles. There are two rules for doing this:
1. Get in early! Like really early - some fares open up a year or more before travel, so if you feel an exciting adventure coming on, call your airline frequent flier programme NOW!!
2. Things change! If you've called your airline, and they've said there's no availability for your frequent flier miles, don't worry too much. Call them back the next day... and the next... and the next…
What are the accommodations like?
You'll love the places you'll stay, though our trips are not designed as a tour of the world's fanciest hotels! We also occasionally make changes to the night stops (i.e. accommodation) because the nature of the places we use is such that they are not always available. In general you'll be staying in comfortable locally owned hotels with all the creature comforts. When we're in remote areas you'll be staying in clean comfortable mountain hotels with private bathrooms, warm hospitality and great views!
How fit do I need to be?
In general, you must have a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy yourself on our trips. Having said that, our trips are designed for real people, not triathletes! You don't have to be young or extremely fit (although if you are, you won't be bored), though you should be in the habit of doing at least some regular exercise. Age and experience are not important - we would rather have an older person with a good attitude, than a 22-year-old couch potato!
Will the altitude affect me?
No. even though we're in the Alps, we don't go into any areas where altitude is a major factor. The only place where you'll find altitude is a factor is on the trip up to Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix but you'll be taking a cable car up there and won't be there for too long!
Do I need a visa?
If you're a citizen of USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand - you will be issued a 90-day tourist visa upon entry into the European Union. Citizens from the UK and other EU countries obviously need not worry about this. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of your trip.
What about vaccinations?
Do you recommend buying travel insurance?
As an Active Adventures Europe traveller, you're required to have full travel insurance cover - please be aware that some insurance companies requireinsurance to be purchased within 7 days of deposit payment. We recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes medical cover, emergency repatriation, trip cancellation and other travel mishaps (e.g. flight cancellations or delays, trip interruption, theft or loss of luggage and personal effects).
Travel insurance can be obtained through local travel agents, some credit card providers or online brokers such as www.worldnomads.com or www.travelguard.com. These and other insurance policy packages can be compared at www.insuremytrip.com. We recommend keeping all travel papers (invoices, receipts, police reports etc.) when you travel in case you need them later to support a claim.
Do I need to speak French or Italian?
A little would be helpful, especially on arrival and for ordering food in restaurants, but it's certainly not required. Our local guides are all fluent native speakers so if you don't have time to learn a little before arrival you don't have to worry... they will take care of everything.
What type of plugs and voltage do you use in Europe?
European countries operate on a 220V AC system. If your country doesn’t use a 220V AC system (e.g. USA = 110V AC) you may need an AC converter (readily availablefrom travel stores and airport shops), however many appliances have in built ones these days (e.g. iPods, laptops and camera chargers). If in doubt, ask at your nearest camera or electrical store before you leave home. The wall sockets use the plug shown on the right, so you’ll need an adapter to fit your appliance, and plug adapters are readily available from travel stores and airport shops.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require a US$500 deposit per person per trip to secure your place on your chosen trip/s. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable to another departure date or trip. In the event that it becomes necessary for you to cancel the trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:
• Cancellation made over 60-days prior to departure date - US$500 deposit per trip
• Cancellation between 60 and 30-days of departure date - 50% of total trip fare
• Cancellation of any trip 30-days or less prior to departure date - 100% of trip fare
A cancellation will be effective from when Active Adventures receive written notification of the cancellation. This cancellation policy includes voluntary or involuntary early departure from a trip. No refunds will be given for missed or unused services such as accommodation, activities or meals. You are strongly advised to take out cancellation insurance that will cover cancellation fees at the time of booking.
What luggage should I bring?
We recommend bringing one medium sized piece of luggage and one daypack per person. We also recommend that you wear your hiking boots while travelling, and pack all essential items in your carry-on luggage (including your passport, money, eye wear, change of clothing, and medications) in case your luggage is delayed along the way.
I need to bring extra luggage with me to Europe, where can I store it?
If you're on a trip where you start and end in the same location then you can store excess luggage in the hotels where your trips begin, or alternatively you can store luggage at the airport too. If you're not finishing in the same location then you may be able to leave it in the back of the luggage compartment of your vehicle, depending on the trip, so please check this with us.
Do I really need everything on the gear list?
Yes, you really do need everything on the required gear list! We can hire you a sleeping bag if you let us know in advance. The gear list is carefully thought out to provide you with everything you need to be warm and happy, or cool and relaxed, whatever the weather! If you don't bring everything you need, we can't guarantee your comfort. On the other hand, if you bring much MORE than you need, lugging around all that luggage can be uncomfortable too! That's why our gear list is so specific - if you follow it to the letter, you will be equipped just right.
What should I wear while hiking?
We recommend wearing clothes made from the quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. There are a wide variety of these types of clothes available at outdoor stores such as REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated). Brands such as Marmot, Patagonia and North Face are quite popular, although some "no-name" brands can be just as good and more economical. We recommend you don't wear jeans for any activities as they get very heavy & uncomfortable if they get wet, which you will at some stage during your trip. The same clothing can be worn for hiking, cycling and kayaking.
We recommend wearing hiking pants or shorts, and shirts or t-shirts made from these quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. In cooler weather we recommend using thermal underwear - these are worn under your pants & t-shirts for an extra layer of warmth. On top we recommend sweaters made from fleece or wool - again because they keep you warm even when you are wet. As an outer layer we recommend a medium weight waterproof jacket. Jackets made from gore-tex or Marmot's PreCip are highly recommended.
Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?
Do I need to bring dress clothes to wear out to dinner?
It's not absolutely necessary to bring dress clothes for dinner in Europe, but the general expectation of dress while dining out varies for each trip. While on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc', we'll mostly be dining at the rifugios where we stay, and everyone knows we're on a hiking trip, so you can wear whatever you like. While in the Italian Lakes District, it's a good idea to have a set of smart, casual clothes to wear for dinner. The same goes for our 'Dolomiti' trip. Having said all that, you can whatever you like!
Is tipping expected in Europe?
Tipping is not expected in France, Italy or Switzerland. You might want to tip a little extra if you feel someone gave really fantastic service, but it's not really necessary. Many of our people also choose to tip their Active Adventures Europe trip leaders and local guides at the end of an awesome trip. We'd like to stress though that tipping is very much your call.
How much spending money should I bring?
You need to spend very little on your Active Adventures Europe trip. Our trips include all transportation, guiding, meals and activities (except where indicated on the itinerary). The only things you will definitely need cash for are drinks other than water (drinking water is fine to drink from the tap on all our trips), souvenirs and tips.
Generally speaking you'll need very little money on our trips, but we can't tell you exactly how much - it really depends on how many souvenirs you decide to buy!
Where can I get local dollars?
You can change currency on arrival at most airports in Europe, or at a bank of 'Bureau de Change' in your joining city. You may also be able to change currency at the airport you depart from. Money can also be changed, usually at an unfavourable rate, in most hotels. Your trip leader will advise you on the best places to change currency where ever we go. Usually the easiest thing to do is use your credit or debit card to withdraw money directly from your home account, in local currency.
There are plenty of ATM's and banks in larger towns in Europe, and ATM's will accept all major credit cards and many debit cards. Cash advances are the most convenient way to get cash.
Local currencies are Euros and Swiss Francs (Switzerland only).
Will I be able to call home?
Cellphone reception is available almost everywhere in Europe except for remote mountain areas. While on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc' trip, you will be out of phone contact on a couple of the days as you'll be in mountainous areas. While in the Italian Lakes District, cellphone reception is available almost everywhere we visit. In the Dolomites, you will have cellphone reception except while on the multi day backpacking portion of the trip. The major hotels on all our trips have phone access.
Will I have access to the internet?
Wifi is freely available at most of the places we stay on our Europe trips. There are a couple of remote places on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc' and 'Dolomiti' trips where there is no internet access but it's good to completely disconnect from time to time, even for a just a day!
Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me
Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.
Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: info-eu (at) activeadventures (dot) com