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Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Frequently Asked Travel Questions (FAQ)
- Be sure your passport is current! Without a current passport, you will be turned away at the airport. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after your group’s return date. You need to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your departure time and with today’s heightened security measures at airports, at least three hours or more is highly recommended.
- Make 2 copies of your passport, leaving one at home with family or friends and the other to be kept with you in a separate place than your passport. Please either carry your passport with you or when available, store your passport in your hotel room safe. Never leave your passport unattended.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, hotel names with phone numbers and Pilgrimage Tours’ toll free number (800-278-1351) with family or friends. If you wish to travel with your cell phone, you should contact your cell phone provider about adding international calling to your phone.
- We recommend that you exchange money prior to your departure date, either at your local bank or through AAA travel services. There are also exchange shops located in international airports. If you need additional funds while traveling, you should be able to use an ATM machine, but please consult with your bank prior to leaving on your pilgrimage. Credit cards are accepted in most gift shops and restaurants worldwide and is recommended for your larger ticket purchases. For any credit cards you will be using, you should notify the credit card company of your travel plans.
- Please note that in foreign countries, there are different types of outlets with higher voltage standards than in the U.S. so consult your local electronics store, such as Radio Shack, to get the correct transformer and/or voltage adaptor needed for your destination countries.
- Make sure that all of your luggage is properly tagged and clearly labeled. You are permitted one piece of checked luggage and one carry-on luggage. Your carry-on must be able to fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. Due to space restrictions in your motor coach’s luggage bay, we ask that you restrict your luggage to just one checked bag and one carry-on bag. Any additional pieces of luggage or any oversized luggage, may be subject to additional fees by the airline. When you pack your carry-on, include such items as medications, valuables, toiletries and a change of clothing, in case your luggage does not arrive at your destination on time.
- Pack any personal items that could accidentally spill in a Ziploc plastic bag to minimize any potential damage caused by containers that might open during travel. Such items would include shampoo & conditioner, colognes, lotions and sunscreen. Please note that any liquids in your carry-on luggage need to be in a container size of no more than 3.4 ounces and must be stored in a clear bag, such as a Ziploc bag.
- Bring copies of your prescription medications. Please be aware that some over-the-counter medicines are not available abroad and should be brought with you if you deem necessary.
- Dress comfortably, especially with regard to your shoes. Be sure to wear shoes that you have already broken in prior to your tour. When visiting churches, modesty and respect is the rule. In general, shorts and sneakers are allowed inside the religious sites.
- Be prepared for all types of weather by packing clothing that you can easily layer. We recommend such items as hats, sweatshirts, sweaters, a rain slicker and light jacket. Also consider bringing a compact umbrella and sunscreen for those sunny days.
- Seat assignment requests for your flights will be handled by Pilgrimage Tours on your behalf, subject to availability and at the discretion of the airline. Any seating or dietary/meal requests should be submitted in writing to Pilgrimage Tours along with your final tour payment and copy of your passport picture page.
- Remember to wear your name badge at all times during your daily sightseeing, because it will help your group’s tour director/tour guide and your fellow pilgrims to learn your name. In addition, when it is time to enter the sites on your itinerary, local personnel will be able to identify you as a member of the same group.
- While on your pilgrimage, your group will be led by a Tour Director or Tour Guide, specializing in your group’s itinerary. They will be able to offer you good advice and answer your questions. Another source for any local information during your tour would be the front desk personnel at your hotel.
Whats included in a Catholic Pilgrimage Tour?
Your Catholic Pilgrimage Tour comes bundled to cover more than anything you will find in the pilgrimage market, at better prices for equivalent first class accommodations and services.
With all Catholic Pilgrimage Tours, we include the following:
Round trip airfare from your gateway airport, including airport taxes.
First class lodging with baggage handling.
Breakfast buffet and dinner daily.
Deluxe, air-conditioned motor coach.
All admission/entrance fees according to your itinerary, all gratuities for your tour director, local guides, motor-coach driver, porters, wait staff, housekeeping and front desk personnel. You never need to tip anyone ever.
Booking of daily, private mass during the tour.
Pay one price, no hidden charges.
Note: Check registration form of your Catholic Pilgrimage Tour brochure for additional details.
Packing Tips and Checklist
1) One checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item such as a purse or handbag is permitted per person on your pilgrimage. Specific sizes and weight specifications are included on your E-ticket for your specific airline. If you would like to take another checked bag, additional charges will incur. These additional bags are at your personal expense.
2) Light weight, soft fabric luggage can save you a few pounds per piece over more cumbersome hard luggage. If you dont need the protection that hard luggage provides, a quality travel duffel can give you enough of a weight advantage to bring back a few more mementoes from your pilgrimage.
3) If you want to lock your checked luggage, select only TSA approved locks. If your luggage needs to be inspected and has a normal lock, TSA will break the lock. An alternative is to close it with wire ties / zip ties, but if TSA cuts them they will not replace a wire tie when they are finished. Please click here to familiarize yourself with TSA approved locks.
4) Do a little homework on expected temperatures and precipitation before departure. Pack for seasonally appropriate conditions on your pilgrimage tour. Check conditions by clicking our Historical Weather link at our Travel Info page.
5) With any pilgrimage travel, places of religious significance often require that visitors cover up. Pack appropriate attire for churches and other traditionally modest attire places. For women, a sarong may be all you need to quickly wrap over. Both men and women should be able to have sleeves ready as needed. Outside religious venues, standard casual attire is considered appropriate virtually everywhere else.
Additional Travel Tips
Making Your Catholic Pilgrimage an Even Better Travel Experience
A Catholic Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, but is still travel in a foreign land. A few tips can smooth the experience (saving you unnecessary expense) and bring you back home free of unwanted hassles. Here are some insider tips that you’ll be glad you knew ahead of time, keeping yours a pilgrimage of grace, especially for infrequent international travelers.
1) Credit cards. Before you depart, call the customer service number on the back of your credit card to notify them youll be traveling internationally. They’ll need the dates of travel, otherwise, your card may be flagged for possible fraudulent use and be deactivated until they check with you.
While you’re talking to that customer service rep, check to see what kind of charges they assess for foreign exchange transactions. If you like to shop, you may find 3-5% exchange fees above the current exchange rate added to your total bill.
Chase Sapphire Preferred, American Express Platinum and some Capitol One cards do not assess a fee for international exchange purchases.
Note that Discover cards are rarely accepted overseas. Do not expect to use a Discover card at pilgrimage destinations.
2) Avoid Cell Phone Roaming Charges! Call your cell phone company ahead to ask how to make international calls and receive / send data without being assessed roaming charges during your pilgrimage tour. While there is usually a charge, it will save you over using your phone on a roaming basis. People who have missed this step have returned to phone bills in the hundreds of dollars.
If you are unable to have your plan set up for international use, it is best to turn your phone off at all times until you are back down on the ground, within the area of your calling / data use plan. Roaming charges may kick in any time you are in range of a foreign cell.
3) Currency exchange.Usually the best rates to exchange dollars to foreign currency are found at an ATM or bank, not at a booth at the airport where you land (although it may be the most convenient option). If you can take the time to change money at the bank youll save!
4) Convert only the money you’ll use. If you convert dollars into foreign currency and have a large amount left over, youll end up paying to have that currency exchanged back into dollars if you don’t spend it.
5)Laptops and technology… gadgets are often designed to immediately accept the electrical current of any country in the world. Check the voltage ratings on your device to see. If it will handle the range in the country you’re visiting, you can purchase a simple plug adapter (available inexpensively, at Radio Shack) instead of a more expensive, and cumbersome convertor.
6) Other electrical devices… often work with an appropriate convertor. Be careful with high current draw items, such as hair dryers. They can overpower the capacity of simple convertors and easily short or burn out the convertor as well as the hair dryer, etc.
What do I do if I need a new USA passport?
If you dont have a valid USA passport, or need to renew, click to go to the U.S. State Department Passport page.
How can I find out what the weather should be like on the pilgrimage?
Find the historical weather trend for any location, on any day of the year here: Weatherbase.