Renowned for its warm welcome, literary genius, live music and green fields, Ireland is a small isle with enormous character. It's compact enough to explore easily, yet also incredibly diverse. On Mainly Vacations tours of Ireland, you'll see Ireland's amazing scenery, including the 668-foot Cliffs of Moher; the spectacular Ring of Kerry with its sparkling seascapes, winding lanes, and mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses; and awe-inspiring Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. But we don't stop there. We also include unique experiences in each Ireland tour package, such as a horse-drawn jaunting car ride through Killarney's national park, a baking demonstration at a typical Irish, family-run farm guest house or the boisterous character at the local pub. It’s often a chance encounter or rare moment that makes our tours to Ireland special. As the natives will tell you, “go where Ireland takes you.” No matter if you have always dreamt of strolling the streets of a picturesque village or exploring a stately castle, Ireland, and its people eagerly await your arrival.
A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, and driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last throughout the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.
Cell Phones & Calling Cards
You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.
When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.
Wireless Internet Access
Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Passengers requiring internet access can often locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.
Staying Healthy While Traveling
All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.
There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.
Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment
Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.
Climate & Clothing
Spring and Autumn: 55–75°F; Summer: 75–90°F; Winter: 35–55°F. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, clothes you can layer and an all-weather jacket. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).
Airline Seat Assignments
As a courtesy service, airline seat assignments are requested on your behalf and, when available, are displayed in order of Passenger #1, #2 and so on. Assignments reflect the best available seats at the time of booking. Some airlines and/or fare types do not allow for pre-seating and require this be done at airport check-in only; in which case the display shows “N/A”. Seats are subject to change by your airline(s) including, for example, when there is a schedule change or equipment change after your initial booking; this may cause seat assignments to be changed or even canceled. In the event that you change seat assignments directly with your airline, changes will not be reflected on this display. At the time that Intrepid Vacations documents are issued, the currently assigned seats will be listed based on the assignments stored in your airline reservation at that time. Even when seats are pre-assigned, we recommend that you contact your airline directly to reconfirm your seats approximately 72 hours prior to departure. Should you have questions regarding your assignments, please contact us at 800-505-5497
Although luggage sizes are now fairly standard, each airline does have specific requirements based on the route and aircraft size. Please contact your airline for specific requirements.
Intrepid Vacations land only tour packages allow for one piece of luggage per person plus a carry-on bag. Intrepid Vacations is not responsible for loss or damage to luggage and personal belongings. Therefore you must report any loss or damage immediately at the time of the incident and obtain a written report from the local authority for submission to your insurance provider. Avoid placing valuables in your checked luggage. If your luggage is lost or damaged by the airlines, a baggage claim form must be filed with the carrier before leaving the airport. Any cost to retrieve luggage will be your responsibility and you should retain receipts to submit to your insurance provider.
If your flight itinerary displays a flight as “Operated By” another carrier, you should check-in at the desk of the “Operated By” airline. When you arrive at the airport, check the airport monitors for updated check-in desk listings.
Please check in at least three hours prior to the scheduled departure time for international flights and two hours prior for domestic flights. Many airlines do not permit check-in less than one hour prior to the scheduled departure time.
Passengers connecting from another point within the USA should check their luggage through to their final destination. Although problems with lost luggage have been minimal, it is a possibility. Certain carriers do not allow baggage “interlining,” and luggage must be checked separately for each flight. When you check your luggage, please verify where your luggage is being sent. If you are connecting from a domestic flight which is delayed for any reason, causing you to miss your international flight, asks the airline for assistance in getting you to your destination. Since all airline tickets are issued on special fares which carry restrictions and penalties if changed, you must have the airlines responsible make alternate arrangements on your behalf as Intrepid Vacations has no authority or control over airline activities and policies. Do not leave the airline check-in desk until an alternative itinerary has been confirmed.
The Transportation and Safety Administration
The (TSA) has increased security measures drastically since September 11, 2001. Plan to arrive no fewer than two hours prior to a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight. Check the TSA website www.tsa.gov. to find out the current list of acceptable items you may bring on a plane before packing.
Foreign Domestic Flights
If your tour program includes foreign domestic flights, and those tickets are not included together with the e-ticket itinerary in these documents, a separate voucher(s) confirming those services will be included. You will receive those tickets at your destination from an Intrepid Vacations representative.
Avoiding Jet Lag
In order to minimize fatigue and general restlessness caused by jet lag, there are a few steps you may take including switching to your destination time zone when you board the plane, by sleeping and eating according to the new schedule, avoiding heavy eating, caffeine or alcoholic beverages before or during your flight, and by drinking plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying. Try to sleep on overnight flights and then, upon arrival, avoid the temptation to nap until nighttime.
Frequent Flier Programs
Passengers are responsible to contact their airline directly regarding mileage eligibility and accrual. Airline frequent flier programs determine whether to award miles in part or total based on their own rules which are updated frequently. Some discounted or promotional airfares, as well as some code-share flights, are not eligible for mileage accrual. Some private airfares are not eligible for mileage or may qualify for reduced mileage, even if the same airline class of service is eligible for full mileage when sold as an “Instant Purchase” published airfare. Not all published airfares are eligible for mileage. Intrepid Vacations will record frequent flier numbers when provided by the passenger prior to travel documents being issued. However, the addition of frequent flier numbers to airline records does not guarantee mileage eligibility which is at the sole discretion of each airline. Airline schedule changes may result in flights which were originally eligible for mileage accrual no longer being eligible. We highly recommend passengers to provide their frequent flier account information whenever checking in online and/or at the airport check-in desk. After travel has commenced, it is often not possible to apply for frequent mileage credit. Passengers are also responsible to determine whether previously earned mileage may be applied to flights to secure upgrades.
Arrival & Departure
Upon arrival, please complete immigration formalities if necessary and claim your luggage. If your program includes airport arrival transfers, check your voucher for specific instructions, as they vary with every destination. In most cases, you will be met after collecting your luggage or passing through Customs by the local representative who will be holding an Intrepid Vacations Travel sign and/or a sign with your name on it. In some instances, you will be instructed to walk a short distance to a transportation counter. The company's name and location will be printed on your voucher. If for any reason you do not connect with the Intrepid Vacations transfer personnel, go to the Tourist Information Desk and ask them to page the Intrepid Vacations representative or phone the number on your voucher.
What To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed
Airlines do not share flight manifest information. Therefore, the only way we may learn of a delay or schedule change while you are traveling is from you, the traveler. The sooner you are able to contact one of our offices, overseas or in the USA, the better we can respond. Intrepid Vacations is only able to guarantee pre-reserved arrival transfers for up to one hour from the scheduled time, no matter the cause. In case you are delayed for any reason and are unable to follow the instructions on your voucher, please make independent transfer arrangements and retain your receipts. Unused tour services, including transfers and hotel nights, are not refundable. Upon your return home, you will need to contact your airline and/or insurance carrier to investigate the possibility of reimbursement for any unused tour services.
If your program includes departure transfers, instructions will be stated on your voucher or provided locally. Due to local traffic and other extenuating circumstances, we ask that you allow 30 minutes from your scheduled transfer time for our representative to arrive. This includes hotel, airport and cruise transfers. Such possible delays are taken into consideration in scheduling transfers and you should, therefore, have no concerns about arriving late for your tour, flight or cruise. For transfers from a hotel, let the hotel reception desk or concierge know that you are waiting for a transfer. In the case of a missed transfer, reimbursement for your out-of-pocket expenses will be considered provided you obtain a written statement from the hotel's front desk verifying the length of time you waited, and the time you left the hotel and a receipt for your transportation with time and date.
Escorted tour programs include transfers, providing you have purchased airfare from Intrepid Vacations to arrive and depart on the scheduled tour dates. If you are traveling independently, you may purchase the transfers from Intrepid Vacations or contract your own method of transportation to the hotel or cruise ship.
The cost of an Intrepid Vacations transfer is more expensive than hiring a taxi. Often the places of call (airports, seaports, hotels) demand entrance and parking fees, where drivers may have to wait for up to an hour. Passengers comfortable hiring a taxi on their own and do not require assistance will save money.
About Your Accommodations
Intrepid Vacations has carefully selected each hotel based on overall quality, location, price, food, service, and cleanliness. All rooms are standard twin-bedded (two single beds) rooms with private facilities unless you have specifically requested and paid for an upgraded room category. Special requests such as bed types, smoking preference, and connecting rooms are subject to availability. Room selection in all cases, unless otherwise reserved, is strictly at the discretion of the hotel's management on a run-of-house basis. Triple rooms consist of standard twin beds or one double bed plus a sofa/folding bed or cot for the third person except in the U.S. and Canada, where triple rooms often consist of two double/queen beds for three persons; a fee may be charged by the hotel for the addition of a cot/rollaway. The number of persons accommodated does not dictate the room size.
Check-in time is usually 4 pm or later. Check-out time is 12 noon. If you will be arriving early in the day or departing in the evening, hotels will usually allow you to store your luggage in their luggage room. Ask at the front desk if the hotel can check you in earlier, or let you stay later.
At Your Destination
One of the many benefits of tourism is the shared cultural knowledge and ultimate elimination of negative behavior through education. We rely on your good feedback to enable this element of symbiosis. As you travel to and learn about foreign cultures, we ask first and foremost that you practice tolerance and respect for local customs.
About Your Sightseeing
To ensure a pleasant and fair experience for passengers on our escorted tours, there is a mandatory seat rotation policy on our motor coaches which will be organized by your Tour Manager. When travel dates coincide with religious holidays and national celebrations, some monuments and sites may be closed, sometimes without prior notice. On these occasions, escorted touring itineraries may be amended to reflect these closures. Occasionally, during holidays and certain periods, and/or due to other unforeseen circumstances including weather conditions, there may be last-minute changes, sometimes after arrival, which may affect the sequence of the tour and locations visited. National monuments and tourist sites regularly undergo renovations, which can obscure the monument's view. No tour will be canceled due to renovations; however, Intrepid Vacations will decide based on the conditions whether to amend an itinerary.
Land Only Passengers (Escorted Tours)
Your tour manager will contact you after your arrival at your hotel. Passengers who have not purchased arrival transfers from Intrepid Vacations should proceed directly to the hotel for check-in. The details of the hotel can be found in your documents.
Purchasing Tours Locally
On escorted tours, the guides will generally sell optional tours to passengers who have not pre-purchased them. Payment can be made by cash or credit card unless otherwise noted below. This does not apply to Independent packages. Please see Intrepid Vacations Terms & Conditions for more information.
Independent Activities - Intrepid Vacations itineraries may contain suggestions for activities for your leisure time; these suggestions do not constitute a recommendation nor an endorsement of any specific service provider and the decision to participate in any such activities should be made independently and with due consideration. Intrepid Vacations is not responsible for any activities not expressly included in its programs. Caution should be exercised when selecting certain activities that may require physical strength, coordination or exertion. Particular care should be taken when considering animal rides, such as on camels, mules or horses
About Your Spain Rail Tickets
Your travel documents will include vouchers for your rail tickets which would be provided upon arrival by an Intrepid Vacations representative. When you receive the rail tickets, please ensure that you keep them in a safe place as they are non-refundable if lost or stolen. If you are traveling on multiple train journeys, you will receive actual live tickets for each different rail segment you have booked. Do not cut or alter any of the printed areas. You will not need any other documents for the train. We are not responsible for the cancellation of trains, diversions or maintenance work which might create delays. However, we provide emergency contact numbers and will always endeavor to assist if there are any delays or associated problems.
The Euro is the official currency of Spain.
We suggest getting a small amount of currency for the first country you're visiting before you leave the U.S. It is a good idea to carry a chart with you to help you convert U.S. dollars to the local currency. It's also a good idea not to carry too much money. Many countries have ATM machines that accept most U.S. ATM cards, but be sure you know your ATM password in numbers-the keypads on foreign ATMs doesn't always have letters. ATM machines will only dispense cash in local currency. Check with respective consulates to learn current currency allowances and requirements. Use your credit card whenever possible. Should you decide to carry cash or travelers' checks, exchange them at banks where the rate is more favorable than at hotels or exchange bureaus. Please note that many banks and most vendors will not accept or exchange $100 bills. We suggest carrying $20 bills or smaller. In many destinations (except Western Europe), we suggest bringing $50 to $100 in $1 bills which may be used to pay gratuities.
While credit cards are accepted in most destinations, it is advisable to carry local currency. Inform your credit card company that you are traveling to avoid your card being blocked for security reasons.
Most US-issued credit cards rely on magnetic-strip technology rather than embedded microprocessor chips which are increasingly common overseas. These “chip-and-PIN” cards require users to punch in a personal identification number (PIN) instead of signing for a purchase. For example, many automated ticket kiosks, such as those commonly found at train stations, gas pumps and parking garages, don’t accept cards without a chip and PIN. Most cash registers are equipped to handle American cards but if you encounter difficulties, offer an alternative credit card or politely insist that the cashier keep trying to swipe the credit card. ATMs typically recognize and accept the US issued debit cards. For travel to Europe, should you anticipate using ticket kiosks or purchasing train tickets locally, you may consider buying tickets and other basic purchases prior to departure.
Most people enjoy bringing home at least one souvenir from the countries they visit. However, some find any amount of shopping to be too much while others never find enough opportunities.
We have built into our Escorted itineraries a few shopping stops at recommended spots. These stops are designed to enhance your experience by providing an opportunity to see first-hand quality locally-crafted merchandise which you may not be able to find alone. Shops are checked to ensure the quality and authenticity of the products they offer, and we limit guides from visiting other locations. In some cases, we plan these stops to provide an opportunity to use clean bathrooms and to stretch your legs.
While shopping independently, we advise you to exercise care and common sense when making any purchase. Always get a formal receipt. And remember that, just like in this country, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Smaller shops usually open in the morning, close in the early afternoon for siesta, and re-open in the late afternoon, Monday through Saturday. Larger stores do not close for siesta. Most stores, regardless of size, are closed on Sunday. Additionally, many cities feature permanent markets, offering another way to shop for interesting goods. Items of particular interest include porcelain, fine leather, woodwork, ceramics, and paintings.
U.S. Customs & Shipping Charges
You may carry items with a fair retail value totaling $800 into the U.S. Taxes may be applied to the next $1,000 worth of merchandise. U.S. Customs determines the value of your items, often honoring a genuine sales receipt. Items which are shipped home are always subject to duty when received in the U.S. (in addition to shipping charges). Some shops may offer to include shipping and duties in the price but this typically means shipping only to the customs facility closest to you and payment only of the export duties; you would still need to collect the item and pay U.S. import duties. Please be aware that it is illegal to import products made from endangered animal species. U.S. Customs & Border Protection will seize these items, as well as most furs, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, feathers, plants, and items made from animal skins.
Your Safety is Very Important
If you've purchased an escorted tour program, your travel documents will include telephone numbers of local Intrepid Vacations Travel representatives who will do their utmost to assist you in the event of an emergency. The numbers are printed on your Intrepid Vacations Travel vouchers. Please copy the numbers. Once you relinquish the voucher, you will not have this information. Passengers traveling independently should employ the services of hotel concierges and local authorities.
Tourist Street Scams
Pickpockets and thieves can destroy an otherwise wonderful holiday. Be mindful of these precautions to help avoid being scammed or robbed:
Local Emergency Phone Numbers
General Emergency: 112
Languages: Spanish is the local language. Limited English is generally spoken in tourist areas.
Please note: The U.S. uses 120 volts and you can purchase a converter and transformer at most hardware stores for your 120V appliances.
Spain - The voltage used is 220 volts.
Code of Conduct
In general, casual but tasteful clothing is acceptable public attire, but beachwear and shorts should be confined to the beach and poolside. Personal appearance is important in Spanish culture. The Catholic faith is the dominant religion in Spain and retains a strong cultural influence. Common courtesies should be practiced. Conservative clothing should be worn when visiting religious buildings, meaning legs and shoulders should be covered. Meal times in Spain are later than in many areas. Lunch is not served before 1:30 PM and dinner are not served until 9:00 PM. Some restaurants in main tourist areas may open earlier. In Spanish culture, it is considered bad manners to leave food uneaten, so take this into account when ordering. A waiter can explain portion sizes to help avoid this. Smoking is now restricted to open outdoor spaces, such as streets or parks that are not near children's play areas or schools.
Tipping is always a matter of personal discretion. For your convenience, please use the summary below as a guideline for recommended gratuity amounts. Gratuities may be paid in U.S. Dollars or local currency equivalent. Please be aware that tipping is considered by many locals to be a part of their normal remuneration and some may approach you for additional "compensation." There is no need to be intimidated by the request, nor should you feel pressured to pay more than recommended. If you become uncomfortable by any behavior you encounter, please advise your tour manager or phone our local office. Numbers are provided in your documents for your convenience.
Suggested Tipping: Escorted Tours
Tour Manager (Coordinator; may or may not act as a guide): $10 per person per day
Driver (Provides chauffeur services and limited assistance with luggage): $3 per person per day, $2 per half day
Local Guide (Offers in-depth information at specific locations. There may be one or many guides along a tour program): $3 per person per day of sightseeing, $2 per half day
Housekeeping: $3 per room per day
Hotel porters and wait staff: Included
Gratuities are appreciated and expected for good service in restaurants and other places that cater to tourists. Restaurant bills often include a service charge.
Food and Meals
As specified in each itinerary. Meals are based on the hotel's or restaurant's buffet or set menu. In general, beverages are not included, unless specifically stated. Although Intrepid Vacations cannot make guarantees, every effort will be made to honor special dietary requests submitted at the time of booking.More...