Know Before You Go | Spain, Morocco & Portugal | EF Ultimate Break
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Spain, Morocco & Portugal

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

COVID-19

To view the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please this page.

Travel Documents & Tour Preparation

Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
  • Visa: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less.
  • Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.

Tour Preparation

  • Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
  • Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
  • Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
  • Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
    • Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
    • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
  • Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.

Arrival Information & Transportation

Flight Preparation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.

  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
  • If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.

Arriving in Madrid
If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfer to and from the hotel to the airport is included. Note that you’re responsible for going through customs, gathering your luggage, and leaving the arrivals hall on your own. Your Tour Director will tell you where to meet them or another EF representative in the airport.

Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!

If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.

Getting from A to B
Transfers between locations are via private motor coach or ferry, and they can take anywhere between 2-8 hours with stops in-between. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.

When you cross the border between Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, you’ll be required to present your passport. Your Tour Director will explain this process further when you’re on the ground.

Note: It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans Wi-Fi/ Cellular Data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.

Health

General Recommendations
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:

  • Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Be Prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
    • Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
    • What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
    • Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.

Destination-Specific Information
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Spain, Morocco, or Portugal. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips for staying healthy below:

  • Drink only bottled water in Morocco. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering. Tap water in Spain and Portugal is safe to drink.
  • Temperatures in many of the places you're visiting can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit – hydrate and use sunscreen!
  • Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any drugs you want to bring with you are legal.
  • Public restrooms in Morocco can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you. And be sure to keep some coins on hand, as you may have to pay to use public restrooms in Spain, Morocco, and Portugal.

Safety

With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Pick-pocketing is fairly common in bigger cities. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
  • Scams are particularly common in Morocco.
    • One example it that locals might approach you and offer their services as a tour guide. We encourage you to decline these offers, because often they will lead you to their family’s shop and expect you to pay for the tour services or make a purchase.
    • Other examples include telling you somewhere you're going is closed or offering to help you navigate the maze-like medinas.
    • Children can often be involved in these scams as well.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411

Women in Morocco

While there are chances of being harassed in Spain in Portugal, women from the United States are unlikely to face treatment all that different to them while traveling there. Morocco, however, has some notable differences:

  • Local Moroccan women are expected to dress modestly, especially in rural areas. In larger cities like Marrakesh and Fez, it’s more relaxed. Visitors aren’t expected to dress like Moroccans, but showing respect for the local culture goes a long way.
  • If you have hair that isn't black or brown, you may get more attention from locals. These aren't common hair colors in Morocco, so be prepared for looks or questions.
  • As a woman, it’s very common to be catcalled in Morocco. Years of feedback and advice tell us that it’s best to ignore the calls and keep walking forward. Even if they follow you a fair distance, remain calm and duck into the nearest shop for a moment.
  • Walking in groups of more than two, or with a man, will help deter harassment.

LGBTQ+ Community

Spain and Portugal are some of the most accepting countries of the LGBTQ+ community in the world, but Morocco is a different story. Same-sex relations are illegal in Morocco, and being found guilty can land someone in jail. And although neither transgender nor gender non-conforming individuals are mentioned in this law, authorities often conflate gender identity with sexual orientation. Discretion in Morocco is highly advised.

Money & Tipping

We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.

Currencies used:

  • Spain: Euro (€)
  • Morocco: Dirham (MAD or dh)
  • Portugal: Euro (€)

Budgeting
Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.

Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.

Managing Money
On this tour, you'll be dealing with different currencies and cash cultures. See some money tips below:

  • Most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Spain and Portugal, and ATMs are everywhere.
    • That being said, cash is still very helpful to have on hand as some smaller businesses or market stalls don't accept credit cards.
  • The Moroccan dirham (MAD or dh) is a closed currency. This means that you can only exchange your USD to the local currency once you arrive in Morocco. You cannot exchange to this currency in the United States, so we recommend exchanging your dollars to dirhams at a Bureau de Change in the airport upon arrival, at a local Morocco bank, or in most hotels.
    • You should also bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks if needed. However, note that cash is preferred in Morocco.

Tipping

  • For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $68-$102 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
  • You will also have a local guide in Morocco -- we recommend tipping 5-10 euros per person for the entirety of the time spent with your group.
  • Tipping is not customary in Spain or Portugal, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro or pounds for exceptional service.
  • Tipping is not customary in Morocco either, but many locals just leave 1-2dh, for exceptional service for guides or taxi drivers, and 3-5dh in restaurants.

Packing

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. Double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website, but we recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag; You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot.

Please note: The internal flight on the tour has different luggage requirements and only allow one checked bag OR carry on item and personal item. Travelers are responsible for any additional baggage fees incurred.

See more packing tips below that will help you become an international, carry-on-suitcase, jetsetter.

Packing Suggestions

  • 1 light jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes or sandals to keep cool during city sightseeing
  • Closed-toed shoes for activities in the desert
  • 4-5 pairs jeans / shorts
  • 5-7 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
  • 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner, or a night out
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • Sunscreen - you could bring two travel-size sunscreens in your carry-on
  • Sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash

Note: Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing you can easily layer to accommodate high and varying temperatures.

Electronics
We recommend a universal adapter; the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) for this trip.

Language

It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local languages! On this tour, you'll encounter Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese. Try out some of these popular words and phrases:

  • Hello: Hola (Spanish), Salam (Arabic), Olá (Portuguese)
  • My name is: Me llamo (Spanish), Ismi (Arabic), Meu nome é (Portuguese)
  • How much is this?: Cuanto cuesta? (Spanish), Bekam Hada? (Arabic), Quanto custa? (Portuguese)
  • Yes: Sí (Spanish), Na’am (Arabic), Sim (Portuguese)
  • No: No (Spanish), La’a (Arabic), Não (Portuguese)
  • Thank you: Gracias (Spanish), Shukran (Arabic), Obrigado/a (Portuguese)
  • Where is the bathroom?: Dónde está el baño? (Spanish), Ayn el-merhad? (Arabic), Onde fica o banheiro? (Portuguese)

Local Life

Spain
Because of its geographic isolation from the rest of Europe and rich history, Spain is truly its own culture. You’ll find this reflected in the art, music, food, and more. Here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of Spain and feel like a true Spaniard.

  • Siestas are a midday break (1-4pm) when people gather with friends/family for a meal or nap.
  • Spaniards are night owls – nighttime is when the cities come to life with people talking, dancing, and eating!
  • Music is a key piece of Spanish culture with flamenco, classical guitar, and yes, EDM.
  • Spanish summers are hot, especially in the south. Stay hydrated and bring your sunglasses!
  • Socializing is a huge part of Spanish culture; Whether over coffee, drinks, or food, strike up a conversation!
  • The Spanish love to celebrate – if you’re lucky, there will be a festival event, or party while you’re there!

Morocco
Morocco is well-known as the “gateway to Africa”, and it lives up to its name. As you prepare to spend time in a new continent, country, and culture, prepare yourself for ancient cities, mouth-watering cuisine, and other-worldly architecture. Read on to learn more about Moroccan and Muslim culture and see specific tips to help you make the most of your trip.

  • Morocco is a Muslim country; 99% of its population identifies as Sunni Muslim, but religious minorities are widely respected.
  • Cities like Marrakesh and Fez are more relaxed with clothing, but Morocco is a conservative and religious country so you should be mindful of covering more “private” body parts on this trip.
  • Any gesture you make in Morocco should be done with your right hand. The left hand is considered impure and is saved for bathroom duties and cleaning chores.
  • If you are not Muslim, you are not allowed to enter most mosques in Morocco. You should also be wary of taking photos or peering through windows of mosques
  • Moroccans are extremely friendly and hospitable. It’s common to converse with locals and be offered a cup of hot mint tea or couscous.
  • Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people, especially women, might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. Also note that taking photos of royal palaces, guards, and police is off-limits. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them.
  • Haggling is part of the culture, especially in the souks markets in Marrakesh. Be prepared for a lot of back-and-forth when purchasing an item, especially if you don’t want to pay 4x too much! A rule of thumb is to start bargaining at 1/3 of the price you’re initially quoted. Give it a try!

Portugal
From its tile-coated castles to its shimmering coastlines, Portugal is a gorgeous and unique country with a lot to be proud of. And, indeed, the Portuguese are proud of their country and its quirks, some of which are listed below.

  • Avoid comparing Portugal to Spain. Despite their historic and geographic proximities, these countries are much more distinct from one another than many people realize.
  • Portuguese people are big believers in fate, and this inspires their famous fado music that can be heard cafés and restaurants across the country.
  • Even though Portugal doesn't produce much coffee at all, the country has a robust coffee culture where espresso is the common drink of choice.
  • With an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year and most of the population living relatively close to the coast, it should be no surprise that Portuguese people tend to be warm, friendly, and laidback.

Food & Drink

Spain
Cuisine in Spain is heavily influenced by surrounding countries, and has many Arabic elements:

  • Jamon: Pronounced, hah-mohn, is dry-cured ham. It’s everywhere, and it’s delicious.
  • Paella: A well-known Spanish cuisine, it’s rice with veggies, paprika, saffron, and seafood
  • Wine, Cava, Sangria: Wine, sparkling wine, and wine with fun stuff.
  • Churros con Chocolate: Fried, sugary sticks served with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping. Need we say more? The best churros are found in Madrid!
  • Pan con tomate: Bread with tomato, olive oil, and salt. Simple, yet satisfying.
  • Croquettas: Similar to a mozzarella stick, but usually filled with cheese, meat, or veggies
  • Vermouth: A fortified and aromatized white wine, vermouth is an aperitif best served neat, chilled, and over ice with a lemon or orange.
  • Calamari: Squid or octopus – when in Spain, right?
  • Chorizo: A savory pork sausage treat that is usually served as an add-on to other dishes, or entirely on its own!
  • Patatas Bravas: A fan favorite for tapas, simply crispy potato wedges with spicy sauce and aioli

Morocco
The piles of spices you'll see in the souks of Morocco are a great indicator of the fantastic cuisine you're in for

  • B’ssara: This is a cheap, local soup of dried broad beans with olive oil, cumin, and fresh bread
  • Tagine: A tagine is the clay cooking pot that serves a variety of dishes. Try a chicken or kefta tagine; You’ll find it at roadside cafes, restaurants, and homes! And of course, served with bread
  • Couscous: We know you’ve heard of this one. Couscous is a fine wheat pasta rolled by hand. Usually it’s steamed and served over a stew of meat and veggies, garnished with a raisin preserve or buttermilk
  • Zaalouk: Zaalouk is one of many Moroccan vegetable salads. It’s is a smoked aubergine dip seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Best served with… you guessed it… BREAD.
  • Mint Tea: Mint tea is THE drink of Morocco. It’s usually sweetened with sugar from a sugar cone, and poured into a tea glass from a tall height in order create the famous froth
  • Bread: If you’re on a no-carb diet, we have bad news. Moroccan khobz (bread) is typically served at every meal, and you may even see families baking their dough at communal wood-fired ovens around town
  • Olives: Morocco is the 5th largest producer of olive oil in the world, and you may get a small bowl of spiced olives before every meal, or find olives in almost every dish!

Portugal
Portuguese food is fresh, hearty, and delicious. Almost entirely surrounded by water, you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood:

  • Bacalhau à bras: The national dish of salted cod with potatoes and eggs
  • Couvert: A simple plate of bread, butter, and olives - be aware that some restaurants may charge you for this, even though it looks complimentary
  • Arroz de marisco: Similar to paella, this is a dish of prawns, clams, and other seafood combined with rice, vegetables, and herbs
    Try and seafood stew cooked in a cataplana, a shell-shaped copper pan
  • Pastéis de Nata: A golden puff pastry circle with a rich custard middle-filling - the world’s best (and top secret) recipe is cooked up and served at Pasteis de Belem. Believe us, it’s worth the 10-minute cab ride out there.
  • Sardines: Especially during the summer, sardines are at their freshest, and they’re grilled right along the streets and usually served with wine, peppers, and potatoes.
  • Bifana: Thin slices of pork marinated in white wine with lots of garlic, fried, then served in a bun. Find it at any food stall or food truck in Lisbon!
  • Vinho Verde: Translated to green wine, is a Portuguese wine originated in the Minho province. Felicidades!

Free Time

If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.

Bon voyage!

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