Frequently Asked Questions
I have compiled a list of most frequently asked questions about private tours and custom itineraries to help you find your answer. If you have other questions or would like further clarification, contact me and I will be glad to discuss with you other aspects of your customized private tour to Europe. Thank you for your interest!
The definition for a private tour is an itinerary designed exclusively for you and your family or friends. On a private trip, everybody you travel with will be somebody you know. Private tours are more flexible when it comes to your group size, travel dates and what your trip includes. You will have the added bonus of making tweaks to our already fabulous ready-to-book itineraries, and taking every day at your own pace.
Want to stay longer to soak up the scenery? Or an impromptu stop to quench your cappuccino craving? Looking to go all out for that special someone? – Then Private Travel is for you!
A long weekend tour can be three or four days, while a round-the-world trip might take several months! The best thing about private tours is that they can be completely planned around how long you want to travel. Let us know the duration that works best for you, and we’ll create an amazing itinerary to fill it.
• Multigenerational families wanting to spend quality time together
• Couples celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary
• Groups of friends wanting to explore a destination together
• Special interest groups who want their trip to have a very particular focus
All private tours are led by our your local host Audrey, who has spent a lifetime traveling, working, studying and living in the destinations you are visiting and has a better insider knowledge than anyone. If you want to explore independently on some days, we can incorporate this into your itinerary.
All private tours also include private guided tours with local expert guides. Tours by locals is one of the things that set our trips apart from other companies, who fly in tour leaders who don’t understand the region like a local does, or have local guides who are only around for parts of your trip.
- For private groups of multi generational families of 8 or more guests, I am the tour manager and arrange luxury mini-buses (10-15 seaters to 19-24 seaters), or 2 vans depending on the size of the group and locations visited.
- For groups 4 to 6 guests I am the driver-guide using in a comfortable van.
Traveling with a tour manager means you have a built-in concierge during your trip. The tour manager makes sure the logistics of your trip go smoothly, helps you with special requests along the way, offers cultural information and travel tips, orients you in each city, walks you to that market or site that might be hard to find on your own, recommends favorite restaurants, and helps you arrange your plans for your free time.
Like traveling with a friend away from home.
That's the wonderful thing about our service and what makes it 'click' with so many of our clients. You don't need to 'fill up' a bus in order to go. With Travels with Audrey, you are the 'group,' even if it is just you, or you and your partner or your family. We never mix and match strangers just to fill a tour. Most of our trips are with just two people - that's right, two. This means maximum attention and flexibility to go where you want to go, at your pace, according to your unique and personal interests. We use our lifetime of experience of European travel to work with you on the details.
We are proud that we prefer and have never booked a group larger than 12 people. We believe the best way to enjoy a new place is with the outmost attention from your local host and local expert guides and not in a large group. We promise you will never feel lost in the crowd! Instead the intimacy and care you receive will immerse you in the local culture, allowing you to feel a little more like a local with everyday that passes during your stay.
The answer is, “Yes, all of the time!” In fact, more than half of the 10-15 trips we design and lead each season (March through October) are with repeat clients, couples, who have been completely spoiled by our easy-going style of travel. They may have been cruisers or bus tour fans in the past, but no more. Now they’re completely addicted to the Travels with Audrey method of authentic travel and adventure, the comfortable road, and not the “Europe Through the Back Door” experience of some of the hapless people we see being led around by a non-stop talking guide at a racetrack pace through Europe. Ever wonder where the “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium” saying comes from? Bus tours! Is this a cheap way to travel around Europe? Absolutely not. As with any custom-designed service or product, our trips are priced at a level which takes into account the personal service, the planning, the easy pace and the excellent accommodations and food that our clients love.
You cannot join another person/group’s tour. We only offer and advertise private tours, and the majority of our clients book with us for this very reason, so we are unable to add additional people to their tours.
Great! Our guests travel with us because they’re looking for an authentic experience, something that they simply cannot pull-off on their own. Think of this as the kind of trip planned by your local BFFs who just happen to be local experts.
Anyone can plan their own vacation, or book a tour, but it takes a lot of time and research to be able to put together unique itineraries, making all the difference between simply a good vacation and a very special one.
I work closely with clients seeking a fun, unique, hassle-free vacation. Clients who would like to plan a special vacation, but busy with work and family obligations and overwhelmed by the work involved in planning a customized group vacation.
Clients who are looking to experience Europe from a local’s perspective and not just seeing it, wanting a personalized and private experience, to be taken care of instead of having to manage the myriad of details of an amazing vacation themselves; knowing that everything is taken care of for them so that they can stop thinking about logistics, language barriers and missing out on the unique things.
Together with my in-country associates we tailor every itinerary based on your specific desires. In fact, we only put together tour packages after having had an in-depth conversation with you. Even the simple itineraries like Rome, Florence and Venice are custom designed with specific tours based on your interests. Every itinerary, like our clients, is unique and specially crafted.
Whether you choose to travel with a tour manager or have an independent travel experience, my team and I take care of every aspect of each person's vacation from planning to on-site activities, arranging everything to their specifications. The clients I work with want to savor every moment of their vacation, treasure time spent with family members or friends and that's what I enable them to do: Truly let go!
Return on your investment is in 3 parts:
1. Time saved during the planning process: To organize a trip to Europe with the level of organization and detail you will need, plan on spending about 8 hours per travel day if you are going to do it yourself. A 10-day trip would therefore take about 80 hours for an average person to plan (including internet and guidebook research, time spent on the phone to your destination country in Europe, booking time, and double-checking everything). By contrast, plan on 2-3 hours spent via phone or email with Audrey. For a 10-day trip, that’s about 77 hours of time saved. How much is your time worth per hour?
2. Time used more efficiently on the trip: when a trip is well-organized ahead of time, you won’t waste time getting lost, showing up at the train station and realizing that train doesn’t run on Sundays, fixing errors due to the language barrier during the booking process, or waiting in line for hours for a museum that could have been pre-booked. We estimate that travelers with customized itineraries can accomplish 20% more in a day. When Audrey is taking care of all the details for you, you are able to accomplish more in a single day, all at a lower stress level, with more enjoyment and time to create memories with loved ones.
3. Avoiding tourist traps: It’s likely that you’ve heard more than a few horror stories about tourists who were blatantly overcharged at popular attractions—Venice is a well-known hot spot for these kinds of activities, for instance. On a Travels with Audrey itinerary, you will always be directed to reputable and trustworthy establishments and likely save more than a few Euros along the way.
Cost is a legitimate concern for any major purchase. Is this a cheap way to travel around Europe? Absolutely not, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. I sell an experience not a tour.
Think of the difference between a frozen TV dinner and one that has been prepared for you by a chef using the finest ingredients. Therefore, the cost is higher than the large bus tours. However, when you think about how much time those on bus tours spend just waiting for other people, plus all of the other cons associated with mass produced travel, I am the right choice for a select group of travelers who want more out of their travel experience. I work with fewer than 65 people per year, so those who choose to travel with me are members of a very exclusive family.
The price you pay is all-inclusive, with no unexpected expenses. Since all tours are customized to your specifications, I do not know the precise cost until I have designed the itinerary. Guests are often pleasantly surprised that we can offer a private departure for less than you would pay for another company's standard tours.
My guests look for quality over quantity and they place knowledge and service ahead of price. A vacation is a very special, important part of my clients' lives—a time to discover and relax, creating memories with loved ones!
Maybe you don’t have time to plan your own European vacation. Perhaps you’ve never been to Europe and aren’t sure where to start. People hire professionals for tasks like lawn care, interior decorating, house cleaning, dog walking, and many other jobs they don’t have the time, interest, or expertise to do themselves. It can be the same for making travel plans. Travels with Audrey saves you time, so you can have an amazing European vacation without the stress of handling all the research and the many details.
This Wall Street Journal article does a great job of outlining four reasons you should use a travel consultant:
When should you reach out to a travel agent?
- If you want someone to call when things go wrong: Nearly 70% of affluent consumers who use travel agents say what’s most important is that an agent protect them or help them when things go wrong with a trip, according to a study by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing. “Travel agents are a kind of insurance,” Taylor say. For many agents, this means being on call at all hours.
- If you’re pressed for time or just want to avoid hassles: About one in three travelers feels overwhelmed by the amount of travel information online, according to the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker, a survey that looks at Americans’ spending and saving habits. If you’re in this group, or simply don’t have time to deal with trip planning, travel agents can do it all for you. Tell them where you want to go and the types of things you like to do, and they can put together a list of options for you and book them, saving you time. Agents are particularly useful to travelers who plan to take complicated trips, or go to multiple destinations or with multiple generations, says Gonchar.
- If you want more of a local experience: Good travel consultants have relationships with locals in your destination, experts say, so they can do things like arrange for you to have dinner with a local family, recommend restaurants and pubs that residents like but tourists don’t tend to know about, or find a tiny B&B for you to stay at where you can get to know the owner.
- If you want a highly customized experience: More and more travelers are asking for one-of-a-kind trips specifically tailored to their likes, says Gonchar. A foodie might want something like a private cooking class in Italy, a meet-and-greet with a chef she’s been reading about and a table in the private wine room of a restaurant. While she might not have the connections to get this done herself, a travel agent with deep local knowledge might be able to make this happen for her, Gonchar says.
Taking a vacation can be expensive! But a vacation is an investment in memories. Travel changes your perspective, alters your worldview, and influences your perception of your future. It’s also a lot of fun! Like any other investment, you want to spend your money wisely, and it’s a good idea to hire someone who can make sure you do just that.
If you’re not experienced in making travel plans, you may not know where to look for the best information. Maybe you're not sure of the passport and visa requirements in different countries, or how long you can legally stay there (free lesson: with a US passport, you can stay for up to 90 days in most European countries, so you’ll be fine if you're planning to be there for just a few weeks). You want to hire a team who has been where you’re going. You want a team who’s interested in doing the research, and who’s willing to take all your preferences, budget, ideas, and dreams, and make them a reality. If Travels with Audrey can help you spend your travel funds wisely, our services are indeed a good investment.
This depends a lot on what time of year you want to travel, and how long you plan to be in Europe. For example, if you want to travel to Europe in the summertime (tourist season) contacting us 6 months to a year ahead of time will give you the best chance to reserve your first choice of hotels, restaurants, and activities.
Italy, France and Spain receive millions of visitors each year and even though we can plan in less time, we run the risk of missing out on the availability of our favorite hotels, guides and other providers. We always want the best for our clients and the more time we have the more we can guarantee just that.
It takes a lot of work to plan and follow your itinerary. Due to the amount of time involved we prefer to orchestrate the entire itinerary which includes the hotel reservations, and do not accept assignments where only the guides, drivers, and special arrangements are needed
As you might imagine, it is not cost effective for us to arrange a one day experience. For cruisers, we will assist you with shore excursions from your ship if it is in conjunction with a pre and or post tour package which includes hotels.
Travels with Audrey does not book air travel. There are several reasons why. My clients are from all over. Therefore, we want to give our travelers the opportunity to choose their own flights. Many people have air miles they want to use or they may choose to upgrade to first and business class.
When crafting your personalized itinerary, I will always recommend which airports to fly in and out of.
If you are planning on using frequent flyer miles, the sooner the better. The longer you wait, the more you will run into black-out dates, seat unavailability, or having to make multiple connections. If instead you are buying your ticket, the typical “ideal window” for best airfare deals is between 5-3 months prior to departure. Please ensure you have travel insurance in case you need to cancel your tour with us for any reason, since Travels with Audrey will not refund airline tickets should you need to cancel your tour.
IMPORTANT: All flights from the U.S.A. and Canada to Europe are overnight flights, so you will arrive the day after your departure. Make sure to book your flight accordingly. When you return, you’ll arrive back in the USA or Canada on the same day you leave Europe.
Example: to arrive in Italy on Sunday (the first day of the tour) you will need to leave Saturday from the US or Canada. On the way back, let’s say the tour ends on a Friday (last day of tour) you will depart that day to arrive in the US or Canada on the same day. Also, keep in mind that most private customized tours start in one city and end in another.
Travel is an investment, so we strongly recommend our clients to purchase insurance for their trip. Insurance protects you against unforeseen circumstances that could otherwise spoil your travels and protect your travel investment. Coverage should include medical expenses and repatriation in the event of accident or illness. In addition, we also strongly recommend that you have coverage for personal belongings, delay at your outward or homeward point of departure, personal liability, overseas legal expenses and cancellation.
Insurance can save you a lot of money in the case of a family emergency popping up, when we have already paid or committed to pay for dozens of services and lodgings.
While Travels with Audrey highly recommends travel insurance to all our guests, for peace of mind, we do not sell travel insurance directly, nor are we experts in this field.
North America's travel insurance providers are:
NOTE: Please ensure that details of your insurance are carried with you at all times. You may be asked to provide details of your medical insurance or a payment guarantee in some counties before medical assistance will be provided.
We rarely leave our accommodation before 8.30 am – in fact most days begin around 9 am. Each itinerary on our pre-packaged tours is thoughtfully planned to avoid packing too much into a day. We prefer to make our discoveries at a more leisurely pace with time to socialize with the tour manager or local guide and appreciate the local settings or delve deeper into attractions on your own. Certain visits are pre-planned and are included in the price of the tour, and sometimes you’ll have an afternoon, a morning or even a day at leisure. We also try to keep long drives to a minimum. We want you to experience your destinations by walking, getting up close and personal. We travel on scenic roads whenever possible, and on some itineraries we enjoy taking the train or even the ferry!
Some of the most memorable sightseeing can only be accomplished on foot. Cities like Venice and Florence, to name a few, are made for walking. You must be able to sustain extended periods of time walking and standing (anywhere from 3 to 4 hours).
Many historic cities and towns prohibit motorized transport, meaning that your driver will need to park some distance out of the center and you will be walking into the town or city center with your driver-guide or tour manager.
Traveling in North America most sites are handicapped-accessible and within easy reach with a car. That is not the case in Europe. European countries do not have stringent disability laws as in the United States/Canada.
All Travels with Audrey’s customized itineraries have planned time on your own, time to enjoy your local guide, a photo op or a gelato, but it has been our experience that most guests would like to see and experience as much as possible while on vacation with us. We're adaptable to any speed, but if you're not used to walking on your own power for three or four blocks at a time without stopping to catch your breath, you may have problems enjoying Europe.
TIP: Also keep in mind, that most European villages, including historical city centers, have cobblestones and uneven surfaces. It is essential that you have good walking shoes with a thick rubber sole, especially in the summer due to the heat coming up through the bottom of your feet. To enjoy your private customized tour to Europe with us, you should be able to walk reasonable distances, often over unpaved and uneven surfaces. The countries we travel to are home to innumerable historic buildings and sites, many dating back to antiquity. Therefore roads, walkways and sightseeing locations may present difficulties for some guests with physical disabilities.
NOTE: If you have a mobility concern, you may not find our private tours suitable. Please contact us if you have any doubts. Please also check our Terms and Conditions for more detail.
Each one of our tours offers a culinary journey of renowned local cuisine and traditional dishes that are harmoniously paired with local, organic, or award-winning wines. All our tours include tastings of local wines paired with charcuterie and regional specialties. All the meals that are included on our tours use partners that take pride in selecting local, top quality ingredients that represent the best of what is in season. Throughout your time with us, you can expect anything from a hearty four-course meal at a local Agriturismo to refined dining that brings a modern take on regional historic dishes giving any Michelin starred chef a run for his money!
On self-guided private custom tours the only meal included is breakfast. Of course, we can include special experiences from wine tours and tastings, exclusive private dinners, cooking classes and visits to farms, to name a few and we certainly will include recommendations for places to eat in each location you visit on your itinerary.
On private guided tours: We feel that it is in your best interest not to have all meals included in your itinerary as this gives you more control on your budget. We also find that most clients want to have their dinner alone for much-needed private time to talk about the day and about personal matters. Your guide needs those few hours in the evening to have needed down time and for planning the next day. The number of included lunches or dinners of course differ based on client's personal wishes.
During stays at villas, clients enjoy dinners prepared by local cooks and chefs – each with a specialty that focuses on local, fresh, and incredibly flavorful meals. I
Character and Quality: Tasting the local cuisine is an important part of any holiday and Travels with Audrey ensures that an emphasis is placed on local specialties. Our included culinary experiences, only available on guided private tours, enable you to enjoy truly authentic, locally sourced and produced cuisine. Take cooking classes using regional ingredients, visit local farms, enjoy food and wine tastings at local producers. Furthermore, throughout our private tours you’ll dine in small, authentic restaurants, frequented by the locals and guaranteed to give a true reflection of the tastes of the region.
Some of our meals will be in towns we visit along the way, while others are in countryside locations with breathtaking surroundings. The locations we select for your included exclusive culinary experiences are authentic locations, most often family run, farm-to-table establishments, 'agriturismi', Michelin star fine cuisine, upmarket establishments, but also typical cafes and 'auberges' allowing you to truly experience slow-food & zero-km dining from where it all began.
Most often, you will be able to order from an open menu where you can freely choose 'à la carte', but a number of the restaurants we work with; prefer to have a set menu. In this case, we send you the choices and you will let us know what your preferences are. The 'set menu' will always reflect the cuisine and beverages of the region and not the typical "beef, chicken, veggie or fish" options on mainstream tours. We want you to truly taste the lands you are traveling through. We also feature a handful of unique culinary and chef-prepared dinners that feature specific menus exclusively prepared for our guests. Bottled water, tea or coffee is included with all meals. Wine is included with some meals. Beer, soft drinks and cocktails are not included.
For the optional lunches and dinners, you are free to make your own gastronomic explorations or join your tour manager, driver-guide.
NOTE: One thing to remember is dinner times in Europe are later than you might be used to, 7:30 PM at the earliest and often later in some locations in France and Italy (Spain).
NOTE: Vegetarian? Gluten intolerant? For those clients who require a special dining experience, our chefs and cooks can accommodate nearly every need.
How much driving depends on your personally chosen activities and locations on your customized itinerary package. Generally, we design our private tours so that there is as little time as possible in the vehicle and plenty to see. We travel along the scenic route wherever possible, meaning you’ll see more of the countryside and local village life. Inevitably, there are days when traveling between locations may involve freeway driving and more mileage. Generally we try to do at least two to three attraction stops and comfort, meal stops. It would be as if you had rented a car, without having to drive or concern yourself with directions, maps and the possibility of getting lost or not speaking the language.
For those clients who select an itinerary that highlights a region so that they can experience a more authentic vacation, driving would only be done as day trips to explore the area. Clients in this case would only unpack once, or stay several days in each location instead of being in a different location each night.
Customized itineraries can include different forms of travel all dependent on location, chosen sites and activities. Forms of transportation can vary from trains and ferries to private vehicles with professional drivers. Travels with Audrey hires licensed professional drivers. Depending on your group size:
- For 2 to 3 people it would be your own driver with a sedan vehicle or SUV
- For 6 to 7 guests a comfortable minivan (i.e. Peugeot Expert Tepee, Renault Espace, Mercedes Viano, Ford Tourneo)
- In some cases a separated dedicated luggage vehicle is chartered for increased comfort (this is included in the quoted tour price)
- With more than 8 guests we operate either 2 vans, a 10-15 seater or mini-bus (19 or 24-seater)
In Italy, Spain and France any vehicles larger than a 9-seater van will not be able to enter small towns or historical centers. So we always choose vehicles as indicated above that allow us to access areas of towns and cities where larger vehicles would be restricted. Choosing smaller vehicles also allows us to travel along local roads and across breathtaking mountain passes to find charming villages and picturesque vistas which lie beyond the well-worn tourist trails. For added convenience, we usually drive into the center of small villages and old towns to park beside charming accommodations and intimate local restaurants.
Private transfers to and from the airport can be arranged as part of your all-inclusive land arrangement.
On some itineraries and dependent on group size you may have Audrey as your personal driver-guide, so you are in good hands!
Italy, France and Spain are for food lovers, and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy good food. We welcome food and wine lovers of all kinds.
Just come with an empty stomach and have your taste buds ready for the culinary adventure of a lifetime!
HOW MANY WINERIES DO WE VISIT?
Quality over quantity is our motto. On average you’ll visit 2 – 3 wineries during a 9 day tour, depending on the regions chosen for your itinerary. The winery visits are more than just tastings – they are Wine Experiences that put you in touch with the people, cuisine and culture of our territory. Each wine experience will offer an array of products with the number of wines paired with the local, organic, and seasonal cuisine. On average you’ll be offered between 3 and 5 per tasting at every winery you visit! Each wine experience will give you the opportunity to learn about how the wines are produced, as well as, meet the owners of the wineries we visit, see the local production first hand, and ask your burning questions about the local vino directly from the expert winemakers.
WHAT KIND OF WINE PRODUCERS DO YOU VISIT?
World class wine producers that represent the benchmark of wine making and are recognized nationally and internationally for the quality of their work. Many of the wineries we visit offer organic and bio-dynamic wines and grow vines in full respect for the land. Often the owners will be greeting us and showing us around the cellar and the vineyards rather than a hired host as found in other busy regions of Italy. We ONLY work with very small producers to offer a more authentic experience that puts you in touch with the people, our cuisine, and culture of our territory.
CAN I PURCHASE WINE DIRECTLY AT THE VINEYARD AND SEND IT HOME?
Every single producer we will visit allows you to purchase wine directly and at a very favorable price. Unfortunately, we are not a a licensed importer and cannot ship your wine home for you. As far as sending it back home this will all depend on where you are from. As always we are here to assist you and will offer our advice on bringing that must have vintage home.
We pride ourselves in seeking and selecting unique accommodations, boutique properties with fewer than forty rooms in most cases and mostly small family-owned establishments instead of chain hotels. You can rest assured I have personally selected all our hotels for their quality, cleanliness, comfort and location.
Our accommodations (whether a villa situated in a stunning location in wine country, a boutique hotel, a castle hotel, a property in the historical heart of cities, 'Paradors', charming inns, B&B's, 'agriturismi' or traditional farmhouses) are carefully selected to always reflect the authentic local character and charm of the destination without sacrificing comfort and service. Rather than going by the official grading (based solely on facilities rather than the standard of the accommodation), we base our choices on location, quality and warm hospitality.
In cities, we will select hotels in historical centers and within walking distance of major sights, shopping and museums. Most are historical buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries. On most of our tour itineraries we have also opted to stay in country villas/inns or castles to better appreciate the region and savor the countryside. All of the rooms have private bath and air-conditioning. In some of the country estates, villas or castles, there are spas and swimming pools for you to relax and enjoy.
- At time of booking, please let us know whether you would like a twin room (two single sized beds in a room) or a double room (one standard sized bed for 2 people) or single room. Room sizes in older buildings may vary and each room could have its own unique style and character.
- We do not include porterage as most properties do not offer that service and quite honestly it is actually faster in most cases to bring up your own, even if they have a hotel porter on duty to help you with your luggage.
Additional notes on accommodations:
- In historic buildings that have been converted to hotels, the strongest intent during renovations was to respect and preserve the original structure as much as possible. So we ask for your patience and flexibility as most rooms will be a different size, layout, and view (which is not guaranteed until time of booking) and may be smaller than you might be used to in newer chain hotels. Also, if you are staying in a hotel located within a city center, please know that there may be a certain degree of noise that is higher compared to other accommodations in more remote areas (Cars, pedestrians, mopeds).
- Lifts, if any, are usually very small, due to space constraints in older historical buildings, and your shower may not be as big as the one at home. In many cases this is due to regulations concerning protected buildings, but this will be more than offset by the charm, unique character and history which can be uncovered in these locations.
- Please do not communicate directly with the hotels prior to your vacation, as it could cause misunderstandings. If you have particular requests or concerns, please let me know and I'll make sure to notify the hotels. Thank you for your understanding.
- Most accommodations will have air conditioning, but it will not run as cool as in North America, and may not run all day. Generally, Europe does not adhere to the same spacious rooms that one might be used to in Canada or the United States. They are also, along with some other European countries, some of the most environmentally conscious.
- In regards to bathrooms: sometimes you will have a large bathroom with shower and bathtub, sometimes just a small shower stall that you can barely turn around in. This is just helpful to know in advance, knowing what to expect when traveling to European countries, but that will certainly not take away from your enjoyment.
NOTE ON ACCOMMODATION TAX: Various European countries or cities have what's known as a Tourist Tax Europe. This fee is paid at the hotel reception desk at checkout. Because this tax is charged and collected by your hotel and is payable in cash only when you check out, we are unable to collect this tax in advance or include it in your price when you are traveling independently. This tax is included in the tour price for clients traveling on an escorted tour accompanied by a Tour Manager who is able to pay directly to the hotel on your behalf.
A valid passport for US or Canadian citizens which does not expire for at least 6 months after the trip return date (a requirement to enter many countries). You are not required to obtain a visa for the short duration of your private tour.
If you are a citizen of another country traveling internationally, you should contact an embassy or consulate to determine what travel documentation is required.
We recommend that you make at least two photocopies of all the travel documents that you bring with you. Keep a copy of your scanned passport (photograph page) on your email while traveling as well as copies of the photo page of your passport that contains the date of issuance, the date of expiration and your citizenship. Secure one set of copies in the safe of your room while sightseeing and leave one set behind with someone at home who will assist you in the event your documents are misplaced, lost or stolen.
- Any minors traveling without both legal parents or guardians need to travel with a notarized letter of consent.
- The name on your airline tickets must be identical to the name that appears on your passport.
Each of our guests may bring one piece of main luggage of a standard size of no more than 158 cm (when the length, width and height is added together) and weighing no more than 20 kg. You may also bring one small carry-on bag per person.
Although oversize bags and wheeled carry-on luggage are acceptable on mainstream airlines, they are often not convenient or appropriate for mini-bus/van travel or for many on-tour flights and train travel. Most of our transportation vehicles offer limited space. Space under seats or in the overhead rack is typically small, and designed to accommodate items like coats, hats, purses and small camera bags.
Space is limited even on our mini-buses and vans so for the comfort and ease for all members of the group, we ask that you please limit your checked luggage to one suitcase per person weighing no more than 50 lbs (23 kg) and with overall dimensions (length + width + height) not exceeding 62 inches (158 cm). When our transportation is a van, luggage allowance is one roller bag (this can be no larger than 26 x 17 x 11 including rollers).
For your day to day travel while on tour, we recommend that you limit your hand luggage to a small, soft-sided carry-on piece, and that you bring only those items you need handy during the day such as make-up, medications, cameras, etc. We must stress that available space in our vans is very limited! On some itineraries, you will be responsible in handling your own luggage, such as traveling by train, loading and unloading the van (if we have a mini-bus this would not apply). In some cases you may have to pull your bags a short distance to your hotel and a possibility of stairs.
If you exceed this limit, there may not be space in the van or mini-bus to transport your excess luggage, and it will need to be stored at your own expense.
Besides complying with the Travels with Audrey restriction noted above, you should also be sure to research and comply with all airline baggage restrictions relating to your flights to and from your destination. Airlines have become much stricter in enforcing size and weight limits in recent years, and luggage exceeding airline standards for size or weight may result in expensive fees.
Airlines are free to revise luggage policies without notice, and certain airlines have different baggage allowances for different classes of service. Researching and complying with airline luggage restrictions is the responsibility of the guest, and Travels with Audrey cannot be held responsible for any costs or disruptions to travel caused by the failure to research and comply with airline policies.
Although every effort is made to handle your luggage carefully, we cannot be responsible, assume liability or accept claims for loss or damage to luggage and personal effects due to breakage, theft, or fair wear and tear through hotel, airline and private transportation handling. It is important for your own self-interest and protection that you make certain you have adequate insurance to cover for these eventualities. Lost luggage is an unfortunate possibility in today's world of airline travel.
We suggest the following:
- You can purchase an inexpensive bag in your final city for all your new purchases or ship them home.
- Pack at least one change of clothing in your carry-on bag.
- Split your items between your suitcase and a traveling companion's suitcase.
- Do not pack any vital medications or valuables in your checked luggage.
- Confirm that your luggage is checked and tagged to your final destination at airport check-in.
- Place your luggage claim tags in a secure place for your flight.
- File a claim for any missing luggage immediately before leaving the baggage claim area at the arrival airport.
- Secure a case number and contact information for follow-up communications. Make certain that the airline has your onward itinerary.
- Your tour manager may assist you with airline and other carrier communications, if there is a language barrier, but he or she has no inside contacts to guarantee or expedite recovery of lost luggage.
- All recovery costs, including communication costs, are your responsibility. Check your travel protection details for covered expenses.
Bringing the right clothing for your vacation is important. A suggested packing list will be provided in your pre-departure information. A private tour with your loved ones is a relaxed friendly and casual atmosphere.
Dress for comfort and convenience with a wardrobe that is adaptable, allows for layering in case you get chilly or hot and protects you from a rain shower. Generally during the day, casual, comfortable, cotton clothing is recommended. In Europe, especially in finer restaurants, where I occasionally like to take my clients for a fine dining experience, it is generally customary to dress somewhat formally. Slacks or a dress for women and a jacket for men are acceptable dining attire. It is advisable to avoid wearing old Jeans, sneakers or shorts for dinner. You may also wish to dress up for the welcome dinner and farewell dinner, but by all means be comfortable. A sports jacket is not required.
Many day trips start after breakfast and end before dinner, sometimes after, so you do not always have a chance to change into evening cloths. You can also bring extra cloths and shoes to leave in the van/mini-bus/car if you so wish.
The times that you might want to wear something a little more elegant would be in cities like Paris, Malaga, Florence, Venice, Turin, Rome to name a few (larger cities) where people are more fashion-oriented.
It is best to arrive with clothing that will allow layering and provide protection from changing weather conditions. Most of your clothing should be comfortable, with some options for elegant evening wear.
- Please note that you will not be able to enter any of the churches if you wear pants or skirts above the knee, and/or sleeveless shirts. The same goes for men! So, if you are wearing a tank top, you may want to bring a light sweater or scarf that you can put over your shoulders so you can get inside the church.What matters is that you have a good time and that you are comfortable, so the strongest memories of your trip are those of beautiful places you visited and not the pain that the cobblestone streets gave you while wearing the wrong shoes. Think lightweight, comfortable, quick drying, soft and nothing that will feel tight or not let your skin breathe.Many people ask us what to wear so they can fit in and not stick out like a tourist. Just wear what is "you" and what makes you comfortable. As a general rule, French and Italians do not typically wear bright colors or patterns, but stick to neutrals like blacks, grays, whites, navy.
- Most accommodations provide hair dryers. If you bring any electrical appliances (hair dryer, flat iron, electric razor, etc.) please ensure they are dual voltage. The electricity supply is 220 volts, which means your appliance should have a switch that you can turn to the correct voltage. If it does not, you will need a converter because an adapter alone will not be sufficient. Laptop computers, camera chargers, cell phone chargers, i Pods, and other electronics only need an adapter.
- We recommend that you pack an adequate supply of your prescription medication in its original container to last through the entire vacation, together with a copy of your doctor's prescription or a letter from your health-care provider on office stationery explaining that that the medication has been prescribed for you, a list of the generic names of your medication, your travel documents and a change of clothing in your carry-on bag to avoid any inconvenience in the event that your flight or luggage is delayed.
It is best to arrive with clothing that will allow layering and provide protection from changing weather conditions. Most of your clothing should be comfortable, with some options for elegant evening wear.
Following is a list of recommended items to pack for your trip:
- Casual daytime wear: shorts, slacks, skirts, long and short-sleeved shirts, sun dresses
- An optional jacket and tie for men
- Casually elegant evening wear for ladies
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
- Gym wear
- A light sweater or jacket for higher elevations or a breezy night
- Insect repellent (depending on time of year)
- Camera, lenses, batteries, memory cards
- Lightweight, comfortable, sturdy walking shoes that have already been broken-in
- Battery-operated travel alarm clock
- Rain poncho and collapsible umbrella
- Day-pack for camera equipment
- Sundries and toiletries that may be difficult to find en route
- Copies of your travel documents that should be secured in the safe in your hotel room while traveling
We do not accept credit cards. Your personal check or a wire transfer is welcomed. Payments are made at the contract signing stage, and then at the 60 days prior to your trip. We have led many trips in our career, nearly half of those with people coming back for a consecutive trip or trips. We not only take care of you, we spoil you!
As much as we hate to have our guests miss out on such a wonderful and unique experience, we understand that unexpected things can happen. Regardless of reason, cancellations result in costly charges from our hotel providers covering penalties and fees incurred by cancelling confirmed bookings. Please carefully review our Terms and Conditions regarding refunds in the event of a cancellation on your part.
Purchasing a Travel Insurance policy is highly recommended with Travels with Audrey for unforeseen circumstances such as cancellations, missed flights, inclement weather, health emergencies, etc. This will not just cover the cost of your trip, but it will also give you peace of mind. There are many companies out there and we strongly recommend that you shop around and research the coverage that is right for you.
Yes, we are always happy to collaborate with travel agents.
I am very careful with privacy and personal information. But for serious queries, I do have permission from past customers for prospective clients to email or talk with them.
If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please feel free to contact me by email! I will happily answer any questions you might have about my services or about how I can help you with your European travel plans.
Proud Member of the National Tour Association
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