UNTOURS: EUROPEAN VACATION PACKAGES
Independent Travel With Support Since 1975

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions that people often ask. If you can't find an answer to your question, you can always contact us by email (travel@untours.com) or phone (1-888-868-6871).

What are Untours apartments like?

Untours apartments are private and furnished, typically equipped and decorated according to local custom. Your Untours apartment will be your convenient "home-away-from-home" and has been carefully chosen to be close to major sites and countless day trip possibilities. Towels and linens are provided, although maid service and daily linen changes are not. As is typical in European homes, Untours apartments are not air-conditioned. Expect your apartment to be clean on arrival. You need only leave your apartment in neat, orderly condition on departure. All Untours apartments have been carefully inspected by our staff and are visited regularly to insure quality.

Are there minimum rentals?

Untours last a minimum of 7 days. We offer you three options to fit your schedule: Mini Untours, lasting 7 days; Classic Untours, lasting 14 days in one location, and Untours Samplers, lasting 14-21 days with 7 days in two (or three) separate locations. In addition, you can choose to stay even longer with our One-Week Add-Ons option. See question section on Samplers/One-Week Add-Ons for more information.

On which days can my Untour(s) begin?

Untours generally begin every Wednesday from spring through fall (although Untours to Greece, Holland, and Buenos Aires continue through winter). Please refer to each Untour's web page for information on specific arrival dates. Most Untourists will depart the U.S. on Tuesday to arrive on Wednesday. Traveling mid-week is always less expensive than traveling on weekends. Since we want to save you money, we have structured our Untours to begin and end on Wednesdays. Quebec City Untours begin and end on Saturdays.

Is there luggage service?

Unlike travelers on more costly tours, Untourists will have to carry their own luggage for short to medium distances. Please pack accordingly!

Are overnight guests allowed in Untour apartments?

For 2-week Untours, guests may stay up to 6 nights.

For Sampler or one-week Untours, guests may stay up to 3 nights in each destination.
Please give us the name of your guest and the nights of their stay so we may inform the apartment owner. Guests are subject to owner approval. Most owners charge on a per-guest basis and all are subject to per-guest taxes and other expenses, so we must charge a guest fee:

Untours guests pay $55 per person, per night

Swiss Untour guests pay $79 per person, per night

Any guests staying longer than these limits will be billed at the full Untours price, and the per-person price will be adjusted for the higher number of people sharing the apartment.

Do you have Untours year round?

Our normal season runs spring through fall.

We do have some Untours that run through the late fall and winter. Untours to Greece and Buenos Aires are run year round as full-service Untours.

What are your typical clients like?

Untourists are most typically in their 40s - 70s, although our guests' ages range from 20s to 90s. Our guests generally share a deep curiosity about the world and the culture of the country they are visiting, whether it is their first or 50th trip abroad.

What options are available for single travelers?

All Untours and all apartments are available for singles. There are no additional charges for singles on Untours. However, Untour packages are more expensive for singles because the cost of the Untour apartment is paid by one person instead of being divided amongst multiple travelers. In general, the larger the apartment, the more expensive it will be for a solo traveler.

If you're interested in finding a travel companion, visit the Untours Café (www.untourscafe.com) or become a member of Idyllchat, a lively listserv comprised of friendly, helpful Untourists.

Will Untours make both domestic and international flight arrangements?

On request, we can research the best itinerary and fare for you. For more information on our air policies, please click here.

Will I earn frequent flyer miles on my airline ticket?

Any airline tickets we purchase for you should qualify for frequent flier credit on a cooperating airline. We can add your frequent flier account information to the reservation, but we always recommend that you verify the information with the airlines directly when checking in for your flight.

Can I extend my Untour and/or my time in Europe?

Yes. Sometimes our guests like to extend their stay by adding nights at the beginning or end of their Untour.

While your Untour apartment rental dates are fixed on a Wednesday-Wednesday schedule, we can often help you with hotel reservations or suggestions in your arrival city or other nearby points of interest. We can also make suggestions for transfers and transportation.

And if we make your flight arrangements, we are happy to shift schedules to accommodate your extra days. Please let us know your plans at the time of booking.

Do I need visas or a passport?

You must have a valid passport for European travel or travel to Canada. U.S. citizens do not require visas for any European Untours destinations except Turkey where a visa must be purchased at the airport upon arrival. Untourists of other nationalities should check with the local embassy of the country they will visit to see if additional documentation is needed.

For entry into Argentina a fee of $160 must be paid before arrival in the country. More information can be found here.

Also, some Untour Marketplace products, including cruises and safaris, may include destinations which require visas. Please inquire for details.

How can I talk to others who have traveled Untours?

There are four easy ways to get the scoop from Untourists:
  1. Hop on the Untours Café (www.untourscafe.com) and view photos and videos, read trip logs and blogs, and peruse the forum where people ask questions and have discussions.
  2. Try IdyllChat, our listserv group that discusses Untours, Europe, or travel in general. You'll find a community of more than 500 people who can tell you about their experiences.
  3. Browse our archive of Untourists' Trip Logs. Read detailed reports written by Untourists detailing their own experiences. Click here to visit the Trip Log Archive.
  4. Give us a call. We may be able to find someone who lives near you who has traveled on an Untour and is willing to talk with you.

How long has the company been in business?

Untours has been in business since 1975.

How do I contact Untours for more information?

How does pricing work?

Untour package prices include apartment, local transportation, transfer assistance, helpful planning information, and on-site service from knowledgeable staff.

Are there taxes or extra charges for Untours?

All local taxes are included in the price of your Untour package. There are generally no extra charges other than optional upgrades you may wish to add.

In driving programs, there are normally extra fees for additional drivers, and you will have options to purchase extra insurance and upgrades.

Guests to Istanbul are required to purchase a visa on arrival at the airport, and Buenos Aires guests must pay an entry fee in advance.

Also, extra fees and taxes sometimes apply for cruises, safaris and other Untours Marketplace products. Please inquire for details.

Are meals included in your prices?

Meals are not included with Untours packages. However, your apartment will have a kitchen, and you will find a small stash of "welcome supply" groceries in it upon your arrival. Typically, Untourists prepare breakfast and either lunch or dinner at home, taking the other meal in a restaurant. You will save money by utilizing your kitchen. And you will get to know more about the local culture when you go food shopping in supermarkets, outdoor markets, and specialty shops.

How much should we expect to spend on food?

Your food expenses will vary widely depending on the location of your Untour and your personal style. Someone intending to dine out regularly in Paris will spend considerably more than someone who will prepare meals at home in Germany. Consider what you would spend on a daily basis if traveling in the U.S. Then round up another 30-50% to account for Europe's generally higher prices.

Costs vary depending on fluctuations in exchange rates and the particulars of your destination. Costs will be higher in tourist centers than in smaller towns. (The same meal will cost much more in Venice than it will in a small town in Umbria.)Groceries in Europe tend to run a little higher than in the U.S. Budget travelers can cut food costs dramatically by using their Untour apartment's kitchen.

Restaurant prices vary widely, with fancier restaurants in big cities or tourist centers running high. Simple family restaurants in smaller towns will be comparable to their US counterparts or a little higher. Look for daily menus of local favorites to save money in restaurants.

Do I need to exchange currency before my departure?

We recommend you purchase a small sum of foreign currency ahead of your arrival. You can find Thomas Cook and other currency exchange stands in the international terminals of major airports. Having 100 euro in hand upon your arrival is a good idea, just in case you encounter problems with airport ATMs in country. In most cases we strongly advise against exchanging large sums of money ahead of your arrival. Typically, you will pay a premium for changing dollars to foreign currency in the U.S. If you arrive in a major European airport during the daytime, you will find ATMs, banks, and exchange services at the airport. But having a small amount of local currency in hand is helpful in case of unforeseen complications.

What is the best way to change currency overseas?

You have multiple options for local currency and purchases.
  • ATM Cards are your best bet for cash. ATMs accept debit and credit cards; Visa or Mastercard are most widely accepted, as are bank cards on the PLUS or Cirrus networks. You can get your money when you need it, at the best wholesale bank rate. For security reasons, some US banks use 6-digit pin codes for their debit cards, but longer pins do not work in Europe! To assure your credit and bank cards work overseas, call the issuing banks before departure to tell them your travel plans. Fraud protection could block your card for use otherwise. Also, be sure you know your pin as numbers--not letters--because European keypads only display numbers.
  • Some banks add a 3% transaction fee on the amount of each withdrawal. Check your bank’s rate before you travel.
  • Credit cards can be used for many purchases. However, most companies charge a currency conversion fee, often 3% of the purchase price. Credit/debit cards from credit unions often charge lower fees. And cards from Capital One and The State Department Federal Credit Union charge no fee. Credit cards can also be used in ATMs to obtain cash, but you’ll often start paying interest immediately.
  • Travelers’ Checks in US dollars are a less desirable option because of bad exchange rates and the inconvenience of limited bank hours for exchange. The same drawbacks apply for US dollars.

Can I pay for my Untour by credit card?

Yes, Untours accepts Visa, MasterCard and Discover. We do not accept American Express.

Can I use my U.S. cell phone to make and receive calls when I'm in Europe?

It depends. If you have a phone from T-Mobile or AT&T, the chances are good that you can use it in Europe. If you have a phone from any other carrier, it will depend on the type of phone you have. Call your carrier for more information.

Will it cost me an arm and a leg to make and receive calls in Europe on my U.S. cell phone?

Probably. Most carriers charge very high roaming rates, although many companies do offer a somewhat lower rate if you sign up for a roaming plan before you leave. Call your carrier for more information.

Can I get Internet on my U.S. phone in Europe?

Probably. Just like in the U.S., there are two ways to get Internet on your phone. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more commonplace even if many Untours properties don't yet have it. Many restaurants and cafes offer free Wi-Fi. You just need to ask the waiter for the code. Getting wireless data (3G, 4G, etc.) is a bit more complicated and, if you are not careful, can be ridiculously expensive. Most carriers include a special data rate in their international roaming packages. Be very careful, though, because it is easy to use far more data than you realize. Many smartphone apps use the Internet constantly even if you are not using them. You should be careful to disable any such apps if you will be using and paying for wireless data in Europe. If you aren't sure, the safest thing to do is to disable data roaming.

Are there any U.S. phone companies that offer a better international package than the others?

In 2013, T-Mobile announced a new international roaming plan that is much less expensive than any other carrier at the time we write this. Calling rates are low, texts are free, and data is free. The major catch is that the free data is extremely slow. T-Mobile offers faster data speeds for an additional fee.

I've heard that I can save money by getting a "SIM card" in Europe? How does that work?

This is indeed a way to save money on both phone calls and wireless data, especially if you will be in one country for a couple of weeks. It can be a bit complicated if you are not somewhat tech savvy, however. If you have a phone from T-Mobile or AT&T, your phone has a SIM card. It's not difficult to remove or replace, but you sometimes have to open the phone to access it. Here is a list of steps involved in using a European SIM card.
1. Call your carrier and ask them to "unlock" your phone. Unless your phone is unlocked, you cannot use any other SIM card.
2. When you get to Europe, go to a mobile phone store. You will need to buy a pre-paid SIM card. Some stores sell only one brand of card and some sell multiple brands. It shouldn't matter very much. Prices are usually pretty similar. The store will want a copy of your passport. If needed, ask for a SIM card with a data plan.
3. Refill the credit as needed, usually by buying additional credit at tobacco or newspaper shops. The cards often expire after 3, 6, or 12 months. Decide whether you want to keep adding credit when you are back in the US in order to be able to use it again on a future trip. If you do, check in with a phone store in Europe to find out how that can be done.

My apartment in Europe does not have Wi-Fi. Is there a way for me to get Internet in my apartment?

Aside from the mobile data options mentioned above, you could invest in a "pocket Wi-Fi" device. These devices create a "Wi-Fi hotspot" that can be used by an ipad, a laptop, or a smartphone. So far we have only tested a device called PocketConnect that can be used in Switzerland. It worked, though connections could be spotty.

Should I consider buying a phone with an international SIM card before I leave for Europe?

There are several Internet companies that sell phones and SIM cards that work all over Europe or even all over the world. The roaming rates are generally better than you would get from your own carrier, but not as low as you would pay buying a single-country SIM in Europe. Some of these phones use a "callback" technique that can be much less convenient than simply dialing a number as you are used to. Some companies require that you purchase a minimum dollar amount of credit in order to activate the phone. Be sure that you understand all the details before going this route. Some online companies also sell single-country SIM cards. If you want a single-country SIM, you will pay much less by purchasing it yourself in Europe.

Can I use my smartphone's GPS in Europe?

Yes, but be very careful. If you use it with a program like Google Maps, you will need access to wireless data as well. Unless you understand clearly what you are paying for wireless data, it could be very expensive. There are some offline GPS navigation apps available, but we have not tested them. In theory one of these apps could work with your GPS and provide you with a navigation option that would not need wireless data. Keep in mind that using the GPS on your phone will use your battery more quickly. If a GPS is important to you for driving navigation, the better option would be to bring a dedicated GPS device with the appropriate maps pre-loaded.

What kinds of apps would you recommend for our trip?

We have only scratched the surface and would be very interested in your suggestions, but here are some apps we have used:

  • Rick Steves has a useful app with his excellent audio tours. (does not need data)

  • SBB (Swiss Railways) has a great rail schedule app that can be used for schedules all over Europe. It is easy to use and, for Swiss trains, can even predict how crowded a train is likely to be. (needs data)

  • GPS navigation app (see above)

  • Map apps like CityMaps2Go allow you to download city and regional maps to use off line. (does not need data)

  • City transportation apps. We have used apps for Paris, Venice, and Rome. Some of them do need data access.

  • Compass. Make sure you have a compass app as a basic navigation tool. (does not need data)

  • Flashlight. You never know when you'll need it. (does not need data)

  • E-reader. Buy books or borrow them from your library to read on your phone. (does not need data)

  • TripAdvisor can be a great way to find a restaurant near your location. (needs data)

  • TripAdvisor City Guides can be downloaded for specific cities and off information on restaurants and attractions near your location or by neighborhood. (does not need data)

  • UnitConverter to convert metric to and from the US system of measurement. (does not need data)

  • A translation app like GoogleTranslate can be very useful. (needs data)

  • A weather app like TravelBug can help you plan your indoor and outdoor excursions. (needs data)

  • A wine app like Vivino can be a fun way to record the wines you taste. (needs data)

  • Skype or Facetime can be great ways to communicate with friends and family. (needs wi-fi data)

  • Rick Steves has a useful list of apps

Can you recommend any additional resources?

Here are some sites that we think could be helpful if you would like to learn more: Rick Steves writes a detailed and very readable summary on the issue of cell phones in Europe and a shorter one on smart phones and data roaming. For much more detailed info on pre-paid SIM cards, including an active user forum, try this site. Please let us know if you have additional information that could be useful to other Untourists.

Page last updated 1/20/2014.

What are Samplers?

Samplers combine two or more Untour locations in one trip, with a week in each destination. These combinations are hand-picked by Untours staff to offer you a broader experience in your limited time, but with easy transfers. Samplers include everything that comes with an Untour (apartment, ground transportation, on-site staff support) in each destination. Transfers between locations are arranged by Untours.

Can I combine any two programs to create a Sampler?

We have created Samplers to combine the destinations that work best together, with an eye for ease and logistics. Samplers include transfers between destinations. You may wish to combine destinations that are not part of an existing Sampler. In many cases, you may do so, though the logistics and costs of traveling between the programs may be a concern.

To construct your own combination, add the One-week Untour price for the first destination with the cost of a One-week Add-On from another destination. We will do our best to accommodate your desired combination and make recommendations for transport between sites, but the cost and responsibility of making those arrangements will be yours.

What Samplers are offered?

Samplers combine two or more locations in one trip, with a week in each destination. Please see this page for a list of our current Samplers: http://www.untours.com/pricing.html

What are One-Week Add-Ons?

If you’d like to add an extra week onto your one or two-week Untour, you can choose from any of our destinations. To see pricing and options for add-ons, visit our, Add-On Page. Some date restrictions may apply.

What is The RIGHT Vacation Rental and how does it differ from Untours?

The RIGHT Vacation Rental is a property-only product. An Untour is a vacation rental package that includes an apartment, ground transportation, transfer assistance, and staff support. Untour offers a combination of phone, e-mail and in-person support while The RIGHT Vacation Rental is entirely web based.

There is also a difference in cost. With The RIGHT Vacation Rental, we have found the best possible properties throughout Europe for you to rent, put detailed information on our web site, and kept the prices as low as possible. This means The RIGHT Vacation Rental is perfect if you are independent and looking for a bargain. It is not right for you if you need the support services Untours offers, or want someone to handle all travel details. Untours is a travel service. The RIGHT Vacation Rental is a property rental service. Prices for The RIGHT Vacation Rental are not quoted per person, but per apartment.

What locations does The RIGHT Vacation Rental serve?

For a current list of available locations, please click here: http://www.therightvacationrental.com/regionlist.html

Can an Untour be combined with a stay in one of the properties from The RIGHT Vacation Rental?

Yes. You may combine an Untour with a rental week booked through The RIGHT Vacation Rental. Normally TRVR apartment rentals run Saturday-Saturday, so we will need to inquire with the property owner if you need to shift your arrival day to better match the Wednesday-Wednesday Untour rental. If you are arranging your airfare through Untours, an air itinerary can be created to accommodate your entire trip. You will need to make your own arrangements for transportation to or from your RIGHT Vacation Rental apartment, and for local transportation during your stay there. Please remember that The RIGHT Vacation Rental does not offer on-site service and staffing as Untours does.
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MEET OUR STAFF

Cathrin Baumbach
Team Leader - Austria, Germany, Eastern Europe, Istanbul and Greece Untours
I greatly enjoy the diversity of my responsibilities at Untours, the company's values, and the opportunity to connect with people from other cultures.
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