An important part of your trip preparations is planning your budget. Take care of these things before you depart:
Many ACIS trips offer a limited number of optional excursions. You pay for them before you leave, so they are not part of your out-of-pocket budget on the trip. The group leader decides for the group whether to participate in optional excursions, and then you are invoiced for them prior to departure. In addition, your ACIS Tour Manager may have ideas for extra excursions during your tour. You should budget for these accordingly.
Your ACIS Registration Fee includes Basic Protection Plan coverage. For a premium, you may purchase the Ultimate or Comprehensive Protection Plan designed specifically for your travel needs. Most participants choose to purchase additional coverage.
The amount of spending money you'll need depends on personal habits, but a good rule of thumb is $50 USD a day. This allows for lunch, snacks, soft drinks, postage, souvenirs, free-time activities and optional excursions not already included in your itinerary, and local transportation during your free time.
Tour Manager and Touring Bus Driver Tips
It is customary to tip your full-time ACIS Tour Manager a minimum of $6 per person per day and your Touring Bus Driver $4 per person per day. If their performances are outstanding, additional tips are at your discretion. Since spending money tends to run low at the end of the trip, your group leader will collect the minimum standard tips before you depart and keep them safe.
Cruise Personnel Tips
On cruise ships, the expected tip is $12 per person per day, which is given to the Purser and covers the whole crew, and $1 per person per day given to the local guides for shore excursions. If an ACIS Tour Manager accompanies you on a cruise, he or she is tipped at the normal daily rate. Your group leader will collect the tips before departure.
Credit Cards & ATM Cards
- You may obtain cash with your credit card or local bank card at ATM machines. ATMs generally give a wholesale exchange rate, as much as 5 percent better than banks. You may want to check with your bank to review their fees for withdrawals from international ATMs.
- Most big department stores and restaurants in major cities will take U.S. credit cards, and these cards give you the best exchange rate.
- Be sure to memorize your 4-digit personal identification number (PIN) to use your bank card. Plus, check with your bank or credit card issuer to make sure your card is compatible with international ATMs.
- If you don't already have a PIN number for your credit card, you'll have to call to get one.
If a logo for PLUS or CIRRUS is on the back of your credit card or bank card, you can probably use the card for cash at ATMs. These are the major money networks overseas. Call either PLUS (1-800-843-7587) or CIRRUS (1-800-424-7787) for ATM locations around the world.
Please note: ATM cards may not work in Japan. Participants should bring cash and exchange on arrival or bring local currency.
The Euro, the single currency of the European Monetary Union, began circulation on January 1, 2002. The Euro has replaced the national currencies of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The old national currencies have been withdrawn.
For more information about the Euro, please go to: http://www.xe.com/euro.php
Coins — Foreign countries don't exchange coins, either U.S. or foreign. Generally, only banknotes are convertible. Leftover foreign coins in your pocket are good souvenirs for family and friends.
Changing Back into Dollars — The rate changing back to dollars will not be as favorable as changing into foreign currency, so try to avoid having large amounts of foreign cash left over at the end of your trip.
Taking Care of Your Valuables
Your common sense will take you a long way.
Never leave money in your hotel room. Keep your money, passport and other valuables in a hotel safe when available.
Use a money belt or neck pouch for carrying money. Strap purses and cameras diagonally across, not over, your shoulder and preferably under your clothing.
It is a good idea to leave expensive cameras, fancy sound equipment and jewelry at home.
The maximum benefit payable under the Ultimate Protection Plan for lost electronic and photo equipment is $200 per person. The Comprehensive Protection Plan will cover up to $100.
THE BEST ADVICE IS:
IF YOU CAN'T BEAR TO LOSE IT, DON'T BRING IT!