Untours European Vacation Rentals - Frequently Asked Questions
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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 ([email protected]) 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 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 rarely air conditioned. Some of our apartments do not have Wi-Fi. 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: 7-day Untours and 14-day Untours (both based in one location) and Untours Samplers, lasting 14-21 days with 7 days in each of two (or three) separate locations. You can also choose to stay longer by adding additional weeks.

On which days can my Untour(s) begin?

Untours generally begin every Wednesday from spring through fall (although Untours to Greece and Holland continue through winter). Most Untourists will depart the U.S. on Tuesday to arrive on Wednesday. Traveling mid-week is always less expensive than traveling on weekends. The Ireland Untour begins and ends on a Saturday with flights leaving the US on Friday.

Is there luggage service?

Untourists will need to carry their own luggage for short to medium distances. Please pack accordingly! Most apartments include access to a washing machine.

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 run year round as full-service Untours. Other Untours available, with reduced staff support (i.e. no transfer assistance or orientation), include the Holland Untour.

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. They like to have some independence but appreciate Untours' high level of service on site.

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 among multiple travelers. In general, the larger the apartment, the more expensive it will be for a solo traveler. You can shop for smaller, less expensive apartments on our website to help offset this.

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?

We can help you arange flights with our air partner Auto Europe. They have access to the best fares available. For more information on our air policies, please click here.

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 (Saturday-Staurday for Ireland), 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. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your scheduled return date to the U.S. or you may be denied entry at your destination.

U.S. citizens do not require visas for any European Untours destinations.

Also, some Untour Ventures 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?

How does pricing work?

Untour package prices include apartment, local transportation, transfer assistance, helpful planning information, and on-site service from knowledgeable staff. Prices are always quoted per person and are based on the number of persons staying in a particular apartment.

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.

We strongly recommend you purchase Trip Protection, and this insurance is at an extra cost.

Extra fees, port charges, tips, and taxes sometimes apply for cruises, safaris, and other Untours Venture 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 groceries in it when you arrival. Untourists often prepare breakfast and lunch or dinner at home, enjoying the other meal in a restaurant. You will save money if you cook, 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 10-40%.

Costs vary depending on fluctuations in exchange rates and the particulars of your destination. Prices are higher in tourist centers and cities 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.

Restaurant prices vary widely, with fancier restaurants in big cities 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. We advise against exchanging large sums of money ahead of your arrival, as you will pay a premium for changing dollars to foreign currency in the U.S.

Arriving at a European airport during the daytime, you will find ATMs, banks, and exchange services. 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. 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.
  • Most major banks add a 3% transaction fee on the amount of each withdrawal. Check your bank’s rate before you travel. Credit unions often offer lower fees.
  • Credit cards can be used for many purchases. Many companies charge a currency conversion fee, often 3% of the purchase price. Credit/debit cards from credit unions often charge lower fees. 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.

Can I pay for my Untour by credit card?

Yes, Untours accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

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

Most major carriers will offer coverage for travelers in Europe, though at a premium. You will need to make arrangements, check rates, and set up a plan before you leave the US. 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 international coverage 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 widely available in restaurants and cafes, and many Untours properties have it. Getting wireless data 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.

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

This can save you money on both phone calls and wireless data, especially if you will be in one country for a couple of weeks. It may be complicated if you are not somewhat tech savvy, however, depending on your phone. New iPhones are unlocked, so you can open your phone to change the SIM card. For other phones and different carriers, it may be more involved. 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 hotspot that can be used by an iPad, 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)

  • 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?

Rick Steves writes a detailed and very readable summary on the issues of cell phones and data in Europe. Please let us know if you have additional information that could be useful to other Untourists.

Page last updated 7/6/2018.

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, 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. You may do so, though the logistics and costs of traveling between the programs can be a concern. 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. For recommendations, shop for the first destination you wish to see, and you will find a list of Sampler options that combine with it. Or click here to read about some of our favorites.


Cathrin Baumbach
Director - Austria, Germany, Eastern Europe, Greece and Scotland 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.
Read more about Cathrin.
Read more about Untours' Staff.