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Answers to commonly asked questions

We know planning an adventure vacation is no small decision, so we’re here to make the process as easy as possible for you. We've been doing this for quite a while, so we’ve got the answers to everything you need to know! Just click on the specific question you'd like to have answered below, chat to us online, or call us on the number that suits you:

1 800 661 9073 [USA and Canada]
1 800 661 907 [Australia]
0808 234 7780 [UK]
0800 234 726 [New Zealand]
0064 3 450 0414 
[from anywhere else in the world]

We'd love to hear from you!

What's included?

Accommodation

On your Europe trip you'll stay in a variety of places depending on the destination and activities. For the most part you'll stay in nice, locally owned, beautiful family run hotels in great locations, with private bathrooms, free wifi, great breakfasts and warm local hospitality. Whilst in more remote areas we use rifugios or backcountry cabins - in the Alps these rifugios are more like hotels with private bathrooms and all the mod cons! Whereas in Iceland they're more rustic with outhouse bathrooms (flush toilets) and gas heating. 

Transport

Your transport will be a mixture of private van, private bus, bike, kayak and your very own two feet on our trips in Europe. You'll spend most time hiking, biking or paddling everywhere though!   All your transport is included from the start of your trip and we'll drop you at the airport at the end. The details are all listed in the trip specific itineraries.

Meals

All your meals are included as described in the itinerary except on your free days. We have found that people enjoy checking out what is on offer by themselves sometimes, so you can go and see what's out there! On every other day and especially after any long hikes, we've chosen places to eat that can cater for our hearty appetites, work well with our small groups (they know we are coming) and provide us with an authentic destination specific culinary experience. There are always options for you, so you can either be brave or choose something more familiar. You can be assured that on all our trips we will make sure you are very well fed, and Europe's vast array of cuisine won't disappoint you!

Trip leaders

Our trips are all led by an experienced Trip Leader. Our Trip Leaders are very proud to work with Active Adventures and often lead our trips for many years, for which we are very lucky and very grateful, as it means we're able to consistently offer a fantastic level of service. They work closely with our local specialist guides to provide you with a seamless, fun, exciting and memorable trip. They will happily share with you as much or as little as you want to know about the history, culture, social aspects and lifestyle of the country you are visiting.

How to book

Whenever you’re ready, it’s easy to book your Active Adventure. When you’ve done your research, driven yourself crazy with the choices and made your final decision, follow these steps:

1. Hold your place

The fastest way to reserve your trip is to give the experts a call.

Alternatively, fill out the Availability Request form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. To secure your place you’ll need a $500 per person deposit (the remainder of the balance is due 60 days before your trip start date), payable by credit card, cheque or wire transfer, whichever works best for you. Once you’re all signed up, you’ll receive a confirmation email giving you access via a login on our Active Adventures Club page where you can access your booking pages and fill in your trip details online.

2. Check your international flight options

Your booking pages and trip notes will outline where you need to be and when to start your trip, so you can move forward with booking your flights. If you’re lucky enough to have time, it’s nice to arrive a few days early to settle into the new place and get used to your surroundings. If you’re on a tight schedule it’s no worries, the trip start time will be outlined in your trip information.

We recommend using a variety of methods to search for suitable flights from your own research online (e.g. Skyscanner.net), to contacting a travel agent, to see who comes up with the best fares.

3. Complete your booking pages online

By logging into your online booking information via our club page you’ll gain access to your trip notes, destination information, a detailed gear list and all the information you need for your trip. There are a few things to fill in – medical and dietary information, extra accommodation requests, gear hire requests etc. – to ensure you are well prepared for your adventure vacation.

4. You're all set

You can now start packing your bags and crossing the dates off your calendar. We look forward to seeing you soon!

How do I get to Europe?

Various airlines have regular services to European Cities from the United States and the United Kingdom. From the United States, you can fly with any of the following airlines – American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Icelandair, Swiss Air, WOW Air, KLM, Lufthansa. From the United Kingdom, you can fly with American Airlines, KLM, Swiss Air, Easyjet, Icelandair, WOW Air. From Australia you can fly with Qantas, Air New Zealand or Emirates.

For all flights coming from the USA we recommend contacting Going Places in San Francisco. Call Liezel on 510 848 9000. They know all about matching up flights with our schedules and are often able to offer our clients some really good deals, so be sure and tell them that you are looking at taking an Active Adventures Europe trip!

Can I use my frequent flyer miles to get there?

Many of our clients have managed to get the international portion of their airfare or an upgrade to business or first class by trading in miles. There are two rules for doing this:

1. Get in early! Like really early - some fares open up a year or more before travel, so if you feel an exciting adventure coming on, call your airline frequent flier programme NOW!!
2. Things change! If you've called your airline, and they've said there's no availability for your frequent flier miles, don't worry too much. Call them back the next day... and the next... and the next…

What are the accommodations like?

You'll love the places you'll stay, though our trips are not designed as a tour of the world's fanciest hotels! We also occasionally make changes to the night stops (i.e. accommodation) because the nature of the places we use is such that they are not always available. In general you'll be staying in comfortable locally owned hotels with all the creature comforts. When we're in remote areas you'll be staying in clean comfortable mountain rifugios or cabins, sometimes with private bathrooms, and always with warm hospitality and great views!

How fit do I need to be?

In general, you must have a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy yourself on our trips. Having said that, our trips are designed for real people, not triathletes! You don't have to be young or extremely fit (although if you are, you won't be bored), though you should be in the habit of doing at least some regular exercise. Age and experience are not important - we would rather have an older person with a good attitude, than a 22-year-old couch potato!

Will the altitude affect me?

No. even though we're in the Alps, we don't go into any areas where altitude is a major factor. The only place where you'll find altitude is a factor is on the trip up to Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix but you'll be taking a cable car up there and won't be there for too long!

Do I need a visa?

If you're a citizen of USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand - you will be issued a 90-day tourist visa upon entry into the European Union. Citizens from the UK and other EU countries obviously need not worry about this. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of your trip. 

What about vaccinations?

You don't need any vaccinations for Western Europe. Easy!

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

As an Active Adventures Europe traveller, you're required to have full travel insurance cover - please be aware that some insurance companies requireinsurance to be purchased within 7 days of deposit payment. We recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes medical cover, emergency repatriation, trip cancellation and other travel mishaps (e.g. flight cancellations or delays, trip interruption, theft or loss of luggage and personal effects).

Travel insurance can be obtained through local travel agents, some credit card providers or online brokers such as www.worldnomads.com or www.travelguard.com. These and other insurance policy packages can be compared at www.insuremytrip.com. We recommend keeping all travel papers (invoices, receipts, police reports etc.) when you travel in case you need them later to support a claim.

Do I need to speak French, Italian, Icelandic or Norse?

A little would be helpful, especially on arrival and for ordering food in restaurants, but it's certainly not required. Our local guides are all fluent native speakers so if you don't have time to learn a little before arrival you don't have to worry... they will take care of everything.

What type of plugs and voltage do you use in Europe?

European countries operate on a 220V AC system. If your country doesn’t use a 220V AC system (e.g. USA = 110V AC) you may need an AC converter (readily availablefrom travel stores and airport shops), however many appliances have in built ones these days (e.g. iPods, laptops and camera chargers). If in doubt, ask at your nearest camera or electrical store before you leave home. The wall sockets use the plug shown on the right, so you’ll need an adapter to fit your appliance, and plug adapters are readily available from travel stores and airport shops.

What is your cancellation policy?

We require a US$500 deposit per person per trip to secure your place on your chosen trip/s. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable to another departure date or trip. In the event that it becomes necessary for you to cancel the trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:

• Cancellation made over 60-days prior to departure date - US$500 deposit per trip
• Cancellation between 60 and 30-days of departure date - 50% of total trip fare
• Cancellation of any trip 30-days or less prior to departure date - 100% of trip fare

A cancellation will be effective from when Active Adventures receive written notification of the cancellation. This cancellation policy includes voluntary or involuntary early departure from a trip. No refunds will be given for missed or unused services such as accommodation, activities or meals. You are strongly advised to take out cancellation insurance that will cover cancellation fees at the time of booking.

What luggage should I bring?

We recommend bringing one medium sized piece of luggage and one daypack per person. We also recommend that you wear your hiking boots while travelling, and pack all essential items in your carry-on luggage (including your passport, money, eye wear, change of clothing, and medications) in case your luggage is delayed along the way.

I need to bring extra luggage with me to Europe, where can I store it?

If you're on a trip where you start and end in the same location then you can store excess luggage in the hotels where your trips begin, or alternatively you can store luggage at the airport too. If you're not finishing in the same location then you may be able to leave it in the back of the luggage compartment of your vehicle, depending on the trip, so please check this with us.

Do I really need everything on the gear list?

Yes, you really do need everything on the required gear list! We can hire you a sleeping bag if you let us know in advance. The gear list is carefully thought out to provide you with everything you need to be warm and happy, or cool and relaxed, whatever the weather! If you don't bring everything you need, we can't guarantee your comfort. On the other hand, if you bring much MORE than you need, lugging around all that luggage can be uncomfortable too! That's why our gear list is so specific - if you follow it to the letter, you will be equipped just right.

What should I wear while hiking?

We recommend wearing clothes made from the quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. There are a wide variety of these types of clothes available at outdoor stores such as REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated). Brands such as Marmot, Patagonia and North Face are quite popular, although some "no-name" brands can be just as good and more economical. We recommend you don't wear jeans for any activities as they get very heavy & uncomfortable if they get wet, which you will at some stage during your trip. The same clothing can be worn for hiking, cycling and kayaking.

We recommend wearing hiking pants or shorts, and shirts or t-shirts made from these quick drying, "breathable" fabrics. In cooler weather we recommend using thermal underwear - these are worn under your pants & t-shirts for an extra layer of warmth. On top we recommend sweaters made from fleece or wool - again because they keep you warm even when you are wet. As an outer layer we recommend a medium weight waterproof jacket. Jackets made from gore-tex or Marmot's PreCip are highly recommended.

Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?

You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not good enough. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, therefore your boots should have full ankle support and a stiff sole with a high profile tread. As far as your gear goes it's a great idea to get those boots broken in. For boot type, as long as they have full ankle support and a stiff sole with high profile tread they should be fine. I wouldn't be too worried about gore-tex liners, though if that's the ones you want then go for it!

Do I need to bring dress clothes to wear out to dinner?

It's not absolutely necessary to bring dress clothes for dinner in Europe, but the general expectation of dress while dining out varies for each trip. While on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc', we'll mostly be dining at the rifugios where we stay, and everyone knows we're on a hiking trip, so you can wear whatever you like. While in the Italian Lakes District, it's a good idea to have a set of smart, casual clothes to wear for dinner. The same goes for our 'Dolomiti', 'Stelkur' and 'Lundi' trips. Having said all that, you can whatever you like!

Is tipping expected in Europe?

Tipping is not expected in Europe. You might want to tip a little extra if you feel someone gave really fantastic service, but it's not really necessary. Many of our people also choose to tip their Active Adventures Europe trip leaders and local guides at the end of an awesome trip. We'd like to stress though that tipping is very much your call.

How much spending money should I bring?

You need to spend very little on your Active Adventures Europe trip. Our trips include all transportation, guiding, meals and activities (except where indicated on the itinerary). The only things you will definitely need cash for are drinks other than water (drinking water is fine to drink from the tap on all our trips), souvenirs and tips.

Generally speaking you'll need very little money on our trips, but we can't tell you exactly how much - it really depends on how many souvenirs you decide to buy!

Where can I get local dollars?

You can change currency on arrival at most airports in Europe, or at a bank of 'Bureau de Change' in your joining city. You may also be able to change currency at the airport you depart from. Money can also be changed, usually at an unfavourable rate, in most hotels. Your trip leader will advise you on the best places to change currency where ever we go. Usually the easiest thing to do is use your credit or debit card to withdraw money directly from your home account, in local currency.

There are plenty of ATM's and banks in larger towns in Europe, and ATM's will accept all major credit cards and many debit cards. Cash advances are the most convenient way to get cash.

Local currencies are Euros (France & Italy), Swiss Francs (Switzerland only) and Krona (Iceland only).

Will I be able to call home?

Cellphone reception is available almost everywhere in Europe except for remote mountain areas. While on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc' trip, you will be out of phone contact on a couple of the days as you'll be in mountainous areas. While in the Italian Lakes District, cellphone reception is available almost everywhere we visit. In the Dolomites, you will have cellphone reception except while on the multi day backpacking portion of the trip. While in Iceland you will have cellphone reception except limited while on the multi-day backpacking portion of the trip. The major hotels on all our trips have phone access.

Will I have access to the internet?

Wifi is freely available at most of the places we stay on our Europe trips. There are a couple of remote places on the 'Tour du Mont Blanc', 'Dolomiti', ‘Stelkur’ and ‘Lundi’ trips where there is no internet access but it's good to completely disconnect from time to time, even for a just a day!

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.

Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: info-eu@activeadventures.com

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16037 reviews)

    IT’S THE GUIDES

    Mt Blanc is a giant rock. And this trip is essentially you walking around it. Doesn’t sound too FIVE star does it? Well, as rocks go it’s pretty spectacular. And you get to go through three countries where they speak a bunch of non-English languages that I’m sure I was supposed to learn in high school and use TWO currencies … (Really Switzerland? With the Franc … Get over yourself). Although there are other trips and other providers that will guide you around this rock, the Active trip is better because the people that work for Active are awesome at what they do. We worked with Lynette in NZ to book the trip and although we never met, we are pretty much best friends now. I can think of no better indication of a good business than return customers. Of the twelve people in our group, ALL of them were return Active customers. Why? The Guides.

    For this trip, we had three French guides from Companie des guides de Chamonix and one Kiwi from Active. The French guides were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and fun. I would recommend all of them without hesitation, especially Jean-Marie our driver (see below). But Kiwi Nick from Active was the Difference Maker. He is so incredibly nice that you know he has a wonderful girlfriend back in New Zealand. And they do all these wonderful couple activities that are super cool. Like paddle boarding. And you can’t wait to hang out with them because they’re awesome. And they booze, of course, because couples that DON’T booze should not be trusted #lifelesson. And you may say, ‘Well Neil that’s not appropriate saying that about a guide’s personal life’ ... but whatever. Lynette is not going to take it out of this review because we are best friends. Nick handles all his guide responsibilities extremely well but it feels like he is a part of the group. He’s experiencing and sharing this trip along with you rather than just showing you Mt Blanc. Rarely will a guided trip like this go EXACTLY to plan. Weather, injuries, construction, conflicting personalities among the group, etc. are just some of the problems the guides need to be prepared to deal with quickly. Thankfully we had few of these issues, but Nick was always attentive to our enjoyment. I’m still not sure how he put up with me. I know how horrible I am. I live me every day.

    Beyond the guides, the trip is strong.
    ACTIVITIES: Although you are hiking in a relatively compact area the hikes are varied and challenging enough to make that post-hike beer taste awful nice. The kayaking day was beautiful but marred by our decision to use a double kayak. Or as they should be known, “Murder Boats”, because after about 5 minutes in a double kayak you want to bludgeon each other to death. Get the single. The last day we did the rafting option because the rope course was rained out. Not only did we not die, we ended up having a lot of fun cruising on glacial water through downtown Chamonix. On the free day in Courmayeur, I did the via ferrates up Mont Chetif, which was fun. The hike to the top was the toughest hiking of the trip. I would recommend planning your off day before the trip rather than on the fly. The via ferrates does sell out.

    MEALS: There was cheese LITERALLY everywhere. If you don’t like cheese like me, just keep quiet about it. Those French obsess over cheese like there is alcohol in it. The lunch spots were transcendent. That’s when you could feel truly present in the Alps. Whatever crap you had waiting back home, like say … Ellen in HR who is pretty much just the worst (don’t worry, she’ll never read this. I bet she drowns kittens on vacation. She. Is. The. Worst.), all that stuff melts away. The dinners were local and delightful.

    HOTELS: The accommodations are essentially ski lodges. We had hot showers, warm beds and beers. A few places had pools & hot tubs. They were all close to our hikes which cut down on van time, which I’m sure disappointed my trip mates because they probably enjoyed my daily dissertations on the importance of hair metal in American culture #Cinderella.

    Overall, these Active folks know what they are doing and you will have fun on this trip. Maybe I’ll get to meet you on one of their other trips I’m sure we’ll be signing up for in the future … Patagonia hmmm? I’ll be the one talking about David Lee Roth.

    Best,
    Neil C
    ~~~
    Jean-Marie (Driver): I think they based the “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign on this guy. If he is a part of your group, sit next to him during meals and buy him wine. Get him to talk, his life is amazing. We had a guy on our trip that did 28 marathons, 33 triathlons, was a licensed pilot, spoke French, played hockey … ON ICE and that dude wanted to hear more from Jean-Marie. I shouldn’t even be allowed to read his biography (and there was a rumor he was going to write one)! He’s THAT interesting. One of the day off options should be, “Go drinking with Jean Marie”. I’d do the trip all over again if they added that. It was an injustice that he carried my bags. At least my bag was light #manpacking
    Neil Crossan Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, October 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16037 reviews)

    Tour du Mont Blanc

    This was a wonderful trip around Mt. Blanc with scenery that never quit (except that one rainy day!) The organizing was well-done, even though it is a new adventure for Active. Having the French guides added wonderful flavor and knowledge for the trip. The accommodations were all very satisfactory and we really didn't tire of cheese or chocolate! Highly recommend!
    Louise Burpee Review Image
    – South Carolina, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, September 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16037 reviews)

    Hiking in the Alps

    The trip with Active Adventures to the Mount Blanc area was great. The scenery is unbelievable in all three countries. The hikes were all wonderful and yet very demanding. That made the trip even more rewarding for us. We got to do things we never have done before on the off day. Paragliding in Chamonix was a first and fabulous. All of the small towns we travelled to were lovely. The accommodations in these towns were great. Nice small hotels that all were so much a part of those towns. All of the meals were also great. The lunches were just the right amount and much of the local food such as cheese. All of the dinners were very good.
    Our tour guides were great. Jean-Marc knows the Mount Blanc area so well. Andy was always available and helpful. Together they made the trip a pleasure.
    Harry Dickens Review Image
    – CA, United States
    Tour du Mont Blanc, July 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16037 reviews)

    Dolomiti

    This active adventure was wonderful for me. In fact, one of the best trips I have ever taken. I loved the trekking, fellow trekkers, guides, food, history, etc. All of it. What an amazing, beautiful, fun vacation. I feel so fit!
    Jenny Wada Review Image
    – Hawaii, United States
    Dolomiti, July 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16037 reviews)

    Stunning

    Stunning is the first word that comes to mind. This was my 4th trip with Active and as usual it was 5 stars across the board. When I first heard about the trip I called Phil to learn more. He told me the Dolomites were the most stunning, picture perfect landscape he's seen and he wasn't exaggerating. I've never said WOW so many times before. Every turn would lead to a breathtaking scene.
    The trip was managed very well as are all Active trips. The guides were great, within days feeling like long time friends. The food and accommodations were excellent, luxury mountain hiking with 5 course meals, electricity and plumbing to be found at every stop!
    The Dolomites are a must visit and I can't think of a better group to do it with than Active Adventures. Looking forward to my next adventure with them.
    Boris Diskin Review Image
    – New Jersey, United States
    Dolomiti, October 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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