How to prepare for your Pilgrimage
Thanks for visiting our Know Before You Go resources! Our Mission at 206 Tours is to take care of all arrangements so that you can focus on preparing spiritually for a holy Pilgrimage! The information below details everything you need to know before your pilgrimage!
Do I need to know the local language?
Your Guide/Tour Escort will conduct the pilgrimage in English but is multilingual and able to communicate locally should you need any assistance.
How can I prepare for my pilgrimage?
- Prepare Physically: If you are not accustomed to physical activity, begin walking 1-2 times a day. We recommend pilgrims can walk up to 2 – 3 miles with no discomfort.
- Prepare Spiritually: If possible, attend daily Mass or spend some quiet time in Church. Begin, or continue, to pray the Rosary daily.
How should I raise questions/concerns during my pilgrimage?
If you need help during your pilgrimage, your guide is there to assist you at any time! Please communicate any problems, concerns, or complaints directly to your tour escort immediately so that we can best address your needs. Your guide is at your disposal for any issues, such as hotel accommodations, meals, transportation, etc. There is very little that can be done to rectify a concern once you return home – most concerns can be dealt with swiftly once brought to your guide’s attention. If you feel your tour guide does not adequately address your concern, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org
General Info About Your Documents, Flights, Arrival & Travel
Please visit www.tsa.gov for the most up to date travel restrictions
Passports and Visas
All U.S. citizens must travel with a valid passport to enter Turkey. Your passport MUST be valid at least 3 months upon your scheduled return date to the USA.If you have not yet obtained your passport, or just noticed that it will not be valid months after your return, URGENTLY contact your local passport office and apply for an expedited passport/-or passport renewal.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for entry into Turkey.
For those who hold a passport from a foreign country, please be advised that it is the passenger’s responsibility to reconfirm if any visas are required. Below please find embassy information on the country you will be visiting.
Emergency Telephone Numbers in Turkey:
Emergency Police: 155
European General Emergency Code:
Do I have to check-in for my flights online?
Yes, we strongly advised all pilgrims check-in online prior to travel. We also recommend downloading the smartphone app and/or visiting the website of the airline(s) you are flying on. This will allow you to digitally check in for your flights at least 24 hours prior to departure. This will also enroll you to receive any urgent notifications regarding upgrades or changes to your flights.
How do I check-in at the airport?
First, you must obtain your Ticket, in one of two ways
- Smartphone App: If using your airline’s app, your ticket will be provided as a QR-Code.
- Kiosk: If you did not use an app, go to the Kiosk in the airport and enter your E-Ticket number located on the Flight Itinerary 206 Tours provided to you. A ticket stub will be printed by the kiosk.
You must personally check in your own luggage at the airline counter. Advise the check-in agent of your final destination to ensure that your luggage will be checked all the way through. This will eliminate the need to claim your luggage between flights and re-check in before your connecting flight.
How early should I arrive at the airport?
- Domestic Travel: Arrive at least two (2) hours prior to flight
- International Travel: Arrive at least three (3) hours prior to flight
Where are my flight itineraries?
206 Tours provided your flight itinerary via email as well as printed in your final documents package. This itinerary shows airline, flight number, departure and arrival times, and seat/meal information. It is recommended to save a copy either printed or on your smartphone for quick reference.
How are my flights arranged?
206 Tours books airline reservations in accordance with TSA rules, regulations & routings. We do our utmost to provide the most convenient flight schedule available. All pilgrims will be traveling independently on all flights.
Why does my plane reservation say one airline, but the plane reads another?
Many airlines participate in special agreements to share aircrafts. For example, your ticket may show one United Airlines as your carrier even though you are actually seated on a Lufthansa plane. These are called “Code Share” flights and your itinerary will show this with the message: “Flight Operated by (Airline)”.
Who decides the connection time at airports?
The airlines determine the minimum connection time required to transfer from one gate to another for a connecting flight. 206 Tours does our best to provide ample connection time based on available flights and in accordance with our scheduled group transfers.
Flight Delays & Arrival Transfers
What if my flight is delayed or canceled?
If your flight is delayed or canceled, you must work DIRECTLY with the airline agents at the airport to arrange for alternate flights or protection. Once you check-in for your flights, 206 Tours can no longer make any adjustments to your flight itinerary. After check-in changes can only be made by the airlines.
In this scenario, please be persistent with the airline agent you are working with to rebook. Keep in mind that the situation is not the agent’s fault and try your best to remain calm and courteous to receive speedy assistance. The airlines are not required to offer reimbursement for personal expense of overnights when delays/cancellations occur due to weather. If you find that you’re unable to receive adequate assistance from airline personnel, please contact the 206 Tours emergency line and we will do all we can to assist remotely.
TIP: Once the airlines have rebooked you, text/call your guide to advise them of your new arrival time so transfer arrangements can be adjusted. (Your guide’s phone number can be found in the digital confirmation emailed to you by your account manager.)
What if I miss the group transfer upon arrival?
If you miss your group transfer due to flight delay, missed connection, or another reason, you may:
- Take a taxi to the hotel at your own expense
- Contact your guide and ask for 206 Tours to arrange a private transfer at an additional cost
*Be sure to obtain a receipt of your transportation – upon returning home, you may wish to file a claim to seek reimbursement for the cost if the reason for missing the transfer was due to airline problems.
What if I want to make a last-minute change to my ticket?
If you would like to make changes to your airline ticket once it has been issued, you MUST work DIRECTLY with the airlines. You will incur additional costs – a minimum of $400 per person, for such changes.
If your Pilgrimage includes a Cruise:
*Cruise Lines requires a proof of Vaccine and Covid test 24 hours prior to embarkation.
Arrival Procedure (In Turkey)
After disembarking from the plane you will clear immigration, and proceed to the baggage claim to locate your luggage. You will exit the baggage claim through customs into the “arrivals hall/ lounge.” Look for the 206 Tours representative who will be holding a sign with your name and/or “206 Tours.” You will be transferred to your hotel where you will meet your guide and the rest of your group. Please remember to look for the sign!
What do I do when my flight lands?
After deplaning, you will go through customs and proceed to baggage claim – the location will be displayed on a screen noting your flight number. Retrieve your luggage from the conveyor carousel and proceed to the Arrival Hall by following signs that say “Exit” or “Arrivals Hall”.
Look for the “206 Tours” Sign!
In the Arrival Hall, you will be greeted by a 206 Tours representative holding a “206 Tours” sign. They will escort you to your hotel where you will check-in and have time to refresh before meeting the rest of the group later in the day.
TIP: Make sure to wear your 206 Tours Lanyard, Nametag, and Bag so that the tour escort can identify you.
If your luggage is missing, proceed to the Baggage Office in the Airport Terminal to complete a “Missing Luggage Form”. Please make sure to save all paperwork and tracking information given to you by the Airlines. Upon locating your baggage, the airlines will bring your luggage to your Hotel. It is important that you provide them with the correct address and dates that you will be at your hotels (noted in your Digital Confirmation.) You may also provide the phone number of your Guide, also noted in the Digital Confirmation. If your baggage is delayed for over 24 hours, and you purchased insurance, you may submit a claim upon your return to the US (only applicable to passengers that purchased Travel insurance through 206 Tours).
*206 Tours strongly suggests that Pilgrims carry one change of clothes and medications in carry-on luggage.
How to Overcome Jet Lag
Traveling through time zones affects people differently – some get quite tired. Here are some suggestions that may help you beat jet lag.
- Pack at least two days ahead of time
- Make sure to go to bed earlier than usual the night prior to travel
- Hydrate! Drink more water than normal to avoid dehydration on the flight
- Try to sleep a bit on the plane!
- Think in “Local Time” – reset your watch to the local time of your destination
- Stay busy: When you arrive at your destination, try to stay busy and go to bed at an appropriate time that night. Pacing is key!
- Eat fresh, healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and coffee to keep you alert. Heavy, greasy, or high-carb meals will make you tired.
- Exercise – take twenty (20) minute walk in the morning, stretch before getting on the plane, and get up and walk during the flight. Moving gets your blood flowing and wakes up your body.
- On the day of return, get out of bed earlier than normal, hydrate, and try to get sleep on the flight home.
Carry-on Bags: 3 – 1 – 1 Liquids Rule
Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be:
- 3.4 oz bottle or less (100ml)
- All bottles must fit into one (1) quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.
- Gallon-size bags or fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed
- 1 Bag per passenger screened on its own
For additional information or clarification please visit: www.faa.gov
Containers of any size are allowed in Checked Bags. Any container larger than 3.4 oz (100ml) must be in checked baggage, regardless of the amount of product inside.
Exceptions to the Rule:
The following exceptions are permitted to exceed 3 oz
- Baby formula, breast milk, juice for infants/toddlers
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications including eye drops and saline
- Water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a doctor’s note
- Products for medical/cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras containing gels/liquids
- Gels/frozen liquids are required to keep medical items cool
Declare the above items for inspection at the security checkpoint – the TSA officers may need to open items for additional screenings.
Any liquids purchased inside the airport after security are allowed on the airplane. If you have a layover and are re-screened, the liquid rule will apply.
Personal Items Carry-on Checked All Make-up – You are allowed to carry any liquid/gel/cream makeup item provided that the container is up to 3 oz., as per the 3-1-1 rule. *mascara, chapstick, lip gloss, etc are all considered liquids. Yes Yes Safety Razors – includes disposable razors Yes Yes Saline Solution – You are allowed to carry up to 3 oz., as per the 3-1-1 rule. Volumes greater must be declared to the Security Officer. Yes Yes Tweezers, Scissors, Nail Clippers – plastic or metal with blunt tips or metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches in length. Yes Yes Shampoos & Conditioners – must be in 3 oz. or smaller container inside your 1 qt Ziploc bag Yes Yes Toothpaste – 3 oz. or smaller container inside your 1 qt Ziploc bag Yes Yes Umbrellas– allowed in Carry-On baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed. Yes Yes Walking Canes – allowed in Carry-On baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed. Yes Yes Electronics Carry-on Checked Camera Equipment – the Checked Baggage Screening Equipment will damage undeveloped film in camera equipment. We recommend that you pack undeveloped film in your Carry-On baggage. Yes Yes Laptops, Smartphones & I-Pads Yes Yes Food & Drinks Carry-on Checked Beverages – from Home or purchased before reaching the Security Checkpoint in containers LARGER than 3 oz. No Yes Beverages – from Home or purchased before reaching the Security Checkpoint in a 3 oz. or smaller container and in your quart-size bag Yes Yes Beverages – purchased after Security Screening Yes Yes Medication, Baby Formula/Food, Breast Milk, & Juice – allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3 oz and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint Yes Yes Canned or Jarred Goods – such as soup, sauces, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and jellies (3 oz. or smaller container) Yes Yes Cheese – in pressurized containers (3 oz. or smaller container) Yes Yes Duty-Free Alcohol and other items (some restrictions apply) Yes Yes
Currency & Money
The The Turkish Lira (TRY) is the currency of Turkey, however the US Dollar and Euro are widely accepted., though the US dollar is widely accepted. For most current exchange rates please visit www.xe.com.
Visit www.xe.com for current “pure” exchange rates (pure rates do not include bank fees)
Where can I exchange money?
- Airports (there will be a convenience fee)
- Major Boulevards in destination (there will be a small exchange fee)
- Your Bank – Visit your bank ahead of travel for the best rate
- ATM Machine – while abroad, it is the more practical, and cost-effective, option. Utilizing your ATM card or Debit Card, you can also get cash advances on your credit card at an ATM, but there will be high fees.
Can I use my credit card abroad?
Yes! We highly recommend using your Credit Card as it offers convenience, security (you can cancel them if they are lost!), and reasonable exchange rates. Visa and Mastercard are the best options, as they are accepted in most stores or restaurants. American Express and Discover are not widely accepted in Europe. Your guide can also advise you where the ATM machines with the lowest fees are located.
IMPORTANT: Before you leave, inform your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad so they do not flag, block, or suspend your account due to international transactions.
How much money should I bring?
This is totally subjective based on how much you’d like to spend on souvenirs and meals not included. Keep in mind what is included in your pilgrimage package. We recommend you bring at least 100 euros per person (keep 50 euros with you and 50 euros in your checked bag).
How does tipping work?
Tips are an important part of earnings for your Guides and Bus Drivers. While tips are included throughout (Restaurants, Local Guides, Porters, etc.) – Tips to your Guide and Driver are at your discretion, via the Tip Envelopes with your Travel Documents.
When do I give the guide/driver their tip envelopes?
We suggest you tip the Tour Escort and Bus Driver the day prior to your return. We provide labeled tip envelopes within your final documents package.
How much should I give?
Tip according to your discretion and satisfaction. We note a recommend an amount per person/per day in your Digital Confirmation. Tipping in local currency is preferred, however, they will gladly accept US Dollars as well.
Do I tip the spiritual director?
This is not required, but some pilgrims opt to give a small gift or donation.
ATM Machines (In Turkey)
ATM machines can be found at most bank branches, post offices, train stations, airports, shopping centers, etc. and are accessible 24 hrs/day. Most banks charge a commission when you withdraw money, especially if it is from the network of another bank. You should ask your bank for information about where you can use your card and what commissions are charged for withdrawing money. Most US banks assess a $2.00-$5.00 international ATM fee in addition to the ATM’s usual fee of 1-3 euros. Your bank will utilize an exchange rate that is a couple percent above the “true” exchange rate.” Be sure to find out your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. You can also get cash advances on your credit card at an ATM. Credit card companies try to protect themselves from theft by limiting the funds someone can withdraw outside their home country, so call your credit card company before you leave home. And keep in mind that you’ll pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time..
U.S. Customs (In Turkey)
U.S. citizens who have been in The Holy Land and Europe for more than two days may return to the United States with up to $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. For those who wish to bring more home with them, a flat rate of 3% duty is levied on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. It’s a good idea to retain the receipts from your purchases should they be requested by a Customs Inspector upon your return to the United States. For details visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel.
Value Added Tax (VAT) (In Turkey)
There is 18% value added tax on most goods and services in Turkey. At retail stores, this tax is always already included in the price. Upon making a purchase of $50.00 or more at a gift store that has an agreement wit the VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the store and have it stamped there. You will be eligible, upon presenting the form and the item, for a 18% refund at the airport prior to departure. Do not pack these gift items in your luggage. They should be kept in your hand luggage. By the way, tourist services, such as hotel accommodations and meals taken in hotels, paid with foreign currency are exempt from VAT tax.
How to Get Your VAT (Value Added Tax) Refund:
Turkish sales tax, or VAT (value-added tax), is 18%, but you can get most of that back if you spend € 175 (EURO) or ($274.54 USD as of March 27, 2008) or more at any participating retailer. You must be over 15 years old, and you must present a passport. The name of the refund is détaxe, meaning exactly what it says. You never really get the full 18% back, but you can come close. After you spend the required minimum amount, ask for your détaxe papers. Fill out the forms before you arrive at the airport for departure. Be sure to have the forms stamped at the airport customs desks. The customs official may ask to see your purchases so it’s best to have them in your carry-on bag. Mail the stamped forms at the airport (the store provides an envelope) and the refund process has begun (note – this is only if Turkey is your final point of departure back to the U.S.). For additional information on the VAT refund http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_added_tax. All refunds are processed at the final point of departure from the E.U., so if you’re going to another E.U. country, you don’t apply for the refund in Turkey. Mark the paperwork to request that your refund be applied to your credit card so you aren’t stuck with a check in Lira or Euros. Even if you made the purchase in cash, you can still get the refund on a credit card. This ensures the best rate of exchange. You can get cash in some airports, but if you don’t take the cash in Lira or Euros, you’ll lose money on the transaction. If you’re considering a major purchase, ask the store policy before you get too involved — or be willing to waive your right to the refund.
Tips are an important part of earnings for your guides and bus drivers. Although you should tip according to your discretion and satisfaction, we recommend that you bring the money and place in tip envelopes (included in your final documents package) as follows:
Tour Escort in Turkey – $10. Per Person Per Day
Local currency or US Dollar is acceptable
Bus Driver in Turkey – $5. Per Person Per Day
Local currency or US Dollar is acceptable
Spiritual Director/ Your Priest - Gift or donation to the Spiritual Director is at your own discretion.
Tip envelopes are enclosed for your convenience. Almost all restaurants include tax and a 15%service charge (service compris) in their prices. If a meal or service has been particularly good, leaving another EUR1 (or 2) is customary, as is leaving the waiter the small change from your bill if you pay in cash. If service is not included a 15% tip is appropriate. In hotels, tip porters is included of EUR 2 for each bag and chambermaids. If you are using a Taxi, drivers should be given 10-15% of the metered fare. Tip hairdressers 10%, assistant 5%. Small tips are reasonable for cloakroom and washroom attendants, ushers and museum tour guide. When and if your group has a completely free day(s) and escort sees them only for a couple of hours or during the dinner time, then it is really at your discretion what amount you should tip them. As normally most clients calculate a total amount of tip for escort for total days serviced – when, escort does less hours it normally compensates the days with longer hours, which often happens when escorts are touring.
Luggage & What to Pack
How much luggage can I bring?
Your Pilgrimage Includes:
- One (1) piece of Checked Luggage
- One (1) Carry-On Luggage
- One (1) Personal Item
Checked luggage: is the bag containing the bulk of your belongings – upon check-in at the airport, this is the bag you give the agent that gets stored underneath the plane.
- Size Allowance: Checked Luggage
- Length + Width + Height cannot exceed 50lbs & 62 inches/158cm
- Economy Class: One (1) Checked Bag at 50 lbs/23kg
- Business Class: Two (2) Checked Bags at 75 lbs/32kg
TIP: If you cannot pick it up, it is too heavy!
Carry-on Luggage is the bag you bring on the plane with you – this must fit in the overhead bin. Airlines are strict about the size of a carry-on bag – if it is too large or overhead, you will be subject to fees.
- Size Allowance: Carry-on Bag
- One (1) Piece – Length + Width + Height cannot exceed 42 inches/106 cm & 17 lbs (8kg)
TIP: Our 206 Tours Bag meets the measurements. It will also make it easy for the Guide/Driver to spot you in the Arrival Hall.
A Personal Item is permitted in addition to your carry-on bag – this can be a laptop, iPad, book, small pocketbook, etc.
Wheelchair Assistance (Within Airports)
During registration, pilgrims are offered several selections for wheelchair requests, including gate-to-gate assistance, or all the way through to the seat. If you made a wheelchair request, 206 Tours will secure this service for you and it will be included on your airline record – an airport representative will meet you at the check-in desk to assist you.
Travelers bringing a CPAP machine should contact the airlines ahead of travel. (Your airline will be shown on flight itinerary provided digitally via email and within your Travel Documents).
If you are traveling with oxygen, you must visit your doctor ahead of travel to obtain the necessary paperwork. Only FAA-approved tanks can be checked, talk to your doctor about Department of Transportation Approved battery-powered oxygen concentrators which are permitted on flights.
Car Seats & Strollers
Most airlines allow car seats and strollers for families traveling with young children at no additional cost, however some have restrictions, so it is advisable to call the airlines ahead and ask.
What to Pack
We understand that packing can be challenging or stressful – it can be difficult to determine what is essential to bring, and what can be left home. Here are some helpful tips to help you pack.
What items can I leave at home?
At no time will you need Formal Attire – so refrain from packing any fancy clothes, suits, dresses or dress shoes, etc. To avoid loss or theft, aside from the jewelry that you wear every day – we recommend you leave your nice watches, jewelry, money clips, cuff links, etc. at home.
What type of clothing should I pack?
Pack smartly by reviewing the itinerary activities and checking the expected weather. Days are packed with sightseeing and walking throughout, so comfortable clothing and sneakers are best. Best intentions aside, you will not have enough time to go to utilize the Hotel Gym or Pool, so you can skip the gym clothes and swimsuits.
- Bottoms: Comfortable pants or shorts/skirts no shorter than knee length
- Tops: Long or short sleeve tees, blouses, button-downs, polos, or sweaters that are seasonally appropriate. Shoulders should be covered.
- Layers: Undershirts, light sweaters or cardigans for layering are great for cooler mornings or evenings
- Jacket: A weatherproof rain jacket is great to
- Socks, undergarments, pajamas, belt, hat, scarf, sunglasses, etc.
- Accessories: wallet, purse, portable umbrella, etc.
*If you forgot something at home, you can always buy it on the Trip. Ask your Guide.
TIP: Count the number of days you are traveling, and divide it in half. You can always wear Pants/Shirts twice.
*206 Tours uses First-Class Four-Star Hotels which include all the necessities you are used to at home. Hotels will provide pillows and blankets, shampoo, conditioner, soap, towels, Wi-Fi, dry cleaning services, and more.
- Travel size deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, body wash/soap, lotion, gel, hair spray, shaving cream, mouth wash, sunscreen, etc.
- Toothbrush, comb, nail clippers, razors etc.
- Travel Size Kleenex
- Pen – (to complete Custom Forms on Plane)
- Over-the-counter medications (if applicable to you)
- Aspirin/Advil, etc.
- Antibiotic Cream
- Laxative and Imodium
- Tums/ Pepto Bismol tablets
- Sominex or sleep aid
- Allergy/Cold Medicine
*All the above can be purchased on your Pilgrimage. Inquire with your Guide or Hotel Front Desk, and they will supply you with what you need, or point you in the right direction to buy it.
Should I pack clothes in my carry-on bag?
Absolutely! Pack at least one change of clothes, socks, and undergarments in your carry-on bag in case your baggage is delayed or lost. You may wish to bring toothpaste, a toothbrush, and deodorant to refresh during your travels as well.
What should I wear on the plane?
Wear comfortable loose-fitting clothes for your flights. Your feet may swell due to altitude, so wear flexible shoes and bring a pair of slippers or socks.
What electronics should I bring?
- Cellphone and charger (consider a portable Power Bank too.)
- Camera and charger (unless using Camera on Phone)
- Small Flashlight
Recommended Clothing to pack (In Turkey)
For Winter, Early Spring, and Late Fall: be sure to back a warm jacket, a hat, scarf and gloves. Just in case.
For Summer, Late Spring, and Late Summer: Bring a sunhat and plenty loose-fitting clothing. Don’t forget a lightweight sweater for the evenings as some places may be a little cooler than others.
A note about summer attire; shorts (or mini skirts) and bare shoulders are considered inappropriate at some religious sites. For men, shorts that can be transformed by zippers into trousers may be convenient.
Bring an all-weather coat, just in case. We strongly recommend that women bring a shall or sarong which can be placed conveniently in their day bag, so that they may drape their shoulders, or tie around their waists in the more religious sites.
Mid-summer advice: Wear a sunhat and loose-fitting clothing, drink at least one liter (one quart) of mineral water a day if you can (carry a small bottle in your hand luggage); avoid eating too much ice-cream and reduce the amount of ice in drinks. A small battery-operated fan may be useful in warm weather.
General Clothing for Men:
Jeans, casual slacks, short and/or long sleeve shirts, socks, undergarments, and light jacket or coat.
General Clothing for Women:
Jeans, long skirts, casual dresses, casual slacks, short and/or long sleeve, socks, stockings, undergarments, and a light jacket or sweater is suggested.
Other Suggested Items to Bring
Will there be time to shop?
Yes, time has been set aside during your pilgrimage for shopping! The reason it has been pre-planned is that, with so much sightseeing, a pace must be kept in order to see all sites. Ask your Tour Escort local specialty items. Small, light items that you can easily carry home make splendid souvenirs & gifts. Don’t forget to buy something nice for yourself too.
What if I am looking for something specific?
Check with your Guide/Escort – they are aware of all of the shops, and what you may be looking for. If by chance they are not aware of what you are looking for, they will be able to find out for you.
How much should I bring for shopping?
It depends on what you are looking to buy, how much, and how big. There is a big price difference between purchasing a rosary compared to an icon. All shops accept major credit cards, and prices are comparable to similar items sold in the US (except many of them can only be purchased at the sites or will hold sentimental value.)
Shops at a Shrine/Church/Basilica: Cash Only
Some Holy sites have small gift shops run by clergy – at these shops, all proceeds are donated to the upkeep of the site – but often credit cards are not accepted. For these reasons, be sure to have cash handy.
What if I purchase something that is big/heavy/fragile?
Arrangements can be made at the shop or hotel to have items shipped to your home. Speak with your Guide/Escort, and they will be happy to help!
What should I avoid when shopping abroad?
Always be aware of your personal belongings when shopping in crowded areas. Try not to take out your money/credit cards in public areas, unless at the time of making a purchase.
Transportation is by private motor coach:
You will be on the same bus from the time you arrive at the airport, until your transfer back to the airport for your return flights home. The duration of driving time between cities/countries can range extensively depending on your itinerary. Some days may include only short transfers on the bus from your hotel to the Shrines, Churches, Museums, Restaurants, or similar. Other days, you may drive a couple of hours to travel from one city to another. Depending on the itinerary and location of sites, your day may require up to 8 hours of driving – broken up by visits, Mass, etc. Regardless of the itinerary for the day, rest assured that the coach will stop for bathroom/stretch breaks (approximately every 2-3 hours), as well as a lunch stop.
Is the motorcoach “Modern”?
Yes! All of our motorcoach buses are either brand new or a few years old. They have new upholstery, emergency and safety settings, seatbelts, USB chargers, and a cooler up front for water bottles.
Does the motorcoach have a restroom?
No, due to local laws and concerns with chemicals, etc. Multiple stops have been planned out during each day for restroom use. If it is an emergency, just let your guide know, and they will be happy to advise you of the nearest restroom/or plan for a stop. Keep in mind that many of the Churches, Museums, and Restaurants along the way also have restrooms.
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Istanbul Low 37 37 40 47 54 62 66 67 61 55 47 42 High 46 47 51 60 69 78 82 82 76 67 57 50 Ankara Low 20 23 29 38 44 49 55 55 47 39 30 26 High 35 40 50 60 67 76 82 83 76 65 51 40
About Europe & Travel Abroad
The official language of Turkey is Turkish. English is widely spoken, and many signs appear in English too.
Hotels / Accommodations (In Turkey)
The standard size of European gotel rooms may be smaller than you are used to in the USA. King size beds are rare in Europe. In some hotels, key cards operate the room lighting systems and/or the elevator. Fixtures in bathrooms and bedrooms are not standardized so you may have to search for a light switch or outlet. While most hotels do offer a hair dryer in the bathroom, we recommend bring one if it is essential to you. Most hotels do toiletries (shampoo, lotion), we strongly recommend that you bring an adequate supply with you. Mini-bar items and access to pay TV channels are at your own expense.
Please note that while we do request non-smoking rooms for our clients, hotels are less stringent about enforcing these rules outside of the USA.
Remember to frequently check your hotel bulletin board for important information, suggestions, or any last-minute changes from your tour escort.
Adapters, Converters, & Electricity
Will I need an adapter?
When traveling abroad, you will need to bring an adapter to use electric outlets. The voltage used is 220 volts AC, single phase 50 cycles (the U.S. uses 110/120 volts). The best option is to bring a Universal Travel Adapter with Dual USB Ports – this will allow you to utilize a number of outlets at one time.
Adapters are sold as Combos – 3-in-1
Will I need a Converters?
Converters are rarely needed as most electronics are built to convert the voltage. All hotels have hair dryers, so you would only need to bring a converter if you were bringing your own hair dryer or a curling iron/hair straightener (which are not necessary on a pilgrimage). If you have a laptop – check with the manufacturer. Newer models of most laptops and iPads have a converter built-in. Converter kits that include the entire range of plugs can be purchased online or in stores.
What type of hotels are we staying in?
206 Tours uses first-class four-star hotels throughout. These hotels have all the local amenities you come to expect at home. Hotel rooms may be smaller than typical American standards. All rooms are comfortably appointed with a private bathroom. Mini-bar items and access to paid TV channels are at your own expense. King-size beds are rare abroad, therefore, couples should anticipate queen-size beds in most hotels.
Travelers sharing a room will have two (2) twin beds in their hotel room. Many hotels use key cards to operate the room’s lighting, electricity, and/or the elevator. Rooms will have large towels and hand towels. It is not customary for hotels to provide washcloths.
TIP: Feel free to look at the websites of the hotels listed on the pilgrimage website, flyer, or in your digital confirmation. There you can view pictures, videos, and specific notes about the properties.
How will porterage work at the hotels?
Do not worry about having to carry your luggage between the bus and your hotel room. Porterage of one (1) piece of luggage per person is included in the cost of your pilgrimage. The Porters will do their best to bring your luggage to you in a timely fashion upon checking into the hotel. At times there may be a short delay due to the size of the group arriving. To make it easier for porters to identify your luggage make sure your 206 Tours luggage tag is clearly visible. If you prefer to bring your own luggage to the Hotel, please wait near the bus as the driver and porters unload the luggage for you to identify your baggage and bring it with you to your room.
Can I use my smartphone on the pilgrimage?
Yes, you can use your smartphone on the pilgrimage. Be sure to contact your service provider and inform them that you will be traveling overseas. Most providers offer an “International Plan” that you may sign up for. This will allow you to make calls to the United States while you are out of the country. Some providers offer a plan known as a “Passport Plan” where you pay a flat fee per day and allow you to then use your phone normally without roaming or data fees. With this plan, you will be able to utilize calling and texting features as well as apps that allow you to call home for Free while utilizing WiFi.
*Refrain from using Hotel Phones. They are available for convenience but cost substantially more than using a cellphone.
How do I call/text home from a European Telephone?
If you use a hotel or local phone in Europe to call a US telephone number, you will first need to dial “00” – then dial the Country Code (1 for the US and Canada) – then the local area code and telephone number.
How does someone in the US call/text me while I’m in Europe?
If someone in the US tries to reach you at your cell phone number while you are traveling, they will dial you as usual. (See notes about cell phone plans above)
If someone in the US tries to reach you at a European telephone number, they must first dial “011”- then the European country code of where you are located – then the area code and phone number.
Country Codes: Italy +39, Germany +49, France +33, Switzerland +41, Poland +48, Greece +30, Croatia +385, Hungary +36, Austria +43, Ireland +353, Vatican City +379, Lichtenstein +423, Portugal +351, Spain +34, Israel +972, Mexico +52
Can we bring laptops / iPads?
Feel free to bring them with you as all of the Hotels have complimentary WiFi available.
Calling from Turkey to the USA
To make a direct international call, first dial “00” and then dial the country code (1 for the US and Canada, just like at home), then the local area code and telephone number.
Calling from the USA to Turkey
If your family wishes to call you during the pilgrimage from within the US, you must first dial 011, then then the country code (90) in Turkey which is then followed by the local area code and telephone number.
Terrain (In Turkey)
Europe is based on a myriad of old buildings, and there are split-levels and uneven surfaces everywhere; please watch your step! Due to the structure of old buildings, access to some establishments may not be convenient for wheelchair use, and facilities for the disabled in general may be limited. Many areas are pedestrian only and have cobblestones. High-heeled shoes are not suitable for cobblestone streets; rubber-soled walking shoes are recommended. Many streets in Europe and The Holy Land are narrow, and due to strict traffic regulations, the buses are not always permitted to drop groups off directly in front for their destination. Please be prepared to walk.
Taxis (In Turkey)
Be wary of any person approaching you offering unofficial taxi services. If you do not have an airport transfer included and you need transportation, make your way to the official taxi desk or to the regular taxi line outside the terminal; choose only those vehicles with a meter and a taxi sign. We recommend you pre-negotiate the fare, as taxi drivers in some countries may attempt to overcharge unwary travelers.
Local Customs/Social Conventions
A different way of life in some countries may take you by surprise, but if you travel with an open mind and respect local customs, you should find it easy to adapt to and enjoy your new surroundings. Due to cultural differences, you may not be greeted quite as cheerfully as back home; smiling is generally reserved for intimate friends. Be especially wary of people presenting themselves as “instant friends” and never accept food or drink from strangers.
Meals / Food (In Turkey)
Most European and The Holy Land countries tend to dine later than we are accustom to. Please expect that your dinners will be scheduled around 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Most breakfasts are buffet style. Unlike in the USA, it is frowned upon to take food out of the breakfast room. Most dinners will be served “sit down” with a pre-determined 3 or 4 course meal. Your meals include iced tap water and coffee or tea. All other beverages, including bottled water, will be at additional cost. While some restaurants may be able to provide for a special diet, such as vegetarian or salt-free, there is no way for us to guarantee this. Please note, vegetarian meals tend to lack variety and imagination.
Check with your tour guide or concierge for a list of good restaurants. Food is generally safe to eat. Should you want to feel “at home”, many American franchises now operate in Turkey and France: Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and more.
Can I drink the local tap water?
Generally, most local tap water will not hurt you, however, due to differences in mineral and micro-biotic levels. We recommend that you avoid consuming local tap water, as it may upset your stomach.
TIP: Bottled Water is available on your Tour Bus throughout. Also, Mineral Water is included with most meals (as noted under “Your Trip Includes” on the website). You may wish to bring an empty portable water bottle with a filter for use on your trip.
Shopping (In Turkey)
Most stores and businesses are closed on Sundays through out Europe. Many stores in The Holy Land are also closed from sundown on Saturdays. Stores are open daily from Monday to Saturday. Some observe a “siesta” from 1pm to 4pm, re-opening until 7pm. Some malls close later in the day and are open Saturdays after sundown. Ask your tour escort for regional specialties products which the countries/cities in your itinerary are known for (i.e. Paris is known for fashion, Venice is known for hand blown glass, Santiago de Compostela for the pilgrim shell, etc.).
Enjoy some stress-free Christmas shopping during your travels; small, light items that you can easily carry home make splendid and festive gifts. Don’t forget to buy something nice for yourself too, to take home to evoke pleasant memories of your vacation abroad.
If you purchase a video or DVD, please check very carefully that it is compatible with your home viewing system (for USA and Canada – VHS NTSC and DVD region 1; for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific – VHS PAL and DVD region 4).
Sales tax or VAT (value added tax) is already included on price tags; VAT refunds, if applicable, may sometimes take up to three months to process.
Whenever traveling abroad, be aware of your personal belongings when shopping in crowded areas.
Department stores are open Mon-Sat 9:00-6:30. Some shops close 12:00-2:30. Food shops open 7:00-6:30 or 7:30. Some food shops (particularly bakers) open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day Monday or Monday afternoon. Hypermarkets are normally open until 9:00 or 10:00.
"What If" & Commonly Asked Questions
Useful travel links:
Airline Tracker: www.flightarrivals.com
Calling Codes: www.countrycallingcodes.com
Currency Converter: www.xe.com
Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov
Emergency/Disaster Information: www.redcross.org
Flight Delay Information: www.flightaware.com
Flight Tracker: www.flightview.com
Foreign Language Basics: www.fodors.com/language
Frequent Flyer Programs: www.webflyer.com
International Health Information: www.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list
Internet Access/Hotspots: www.skyroam.com
Language Translation: translate.google.com
Last-Minute Travel Preparation: www.paperplanesblog.com/getting-ready-for-a-trip-last-minute-travel-prep
Passports & Visas: www.projectvisa.com
Physical Disabilities Travel Information: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-with-special-considerations/traveling-with-disabilties.html
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program: step.state.gov/step
Time Around the World: www.time.gov
Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov
Travel Planning: www.worldtravelguide.net
Travel Planning (Religious Sites): www.sacred-destinations.com
Trusted Traveler www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs
US Customs: cbp.gov
US State Department Travel Warnings: www.travel.state.gov
Weather Around the World: www.weather.com