TRAVEL PREPARATION AND SAFETY
You have just been accepted to a project. You’re very excited for the new adventure, but, at the same time, you are a little bit apprehensive. It’s your first time traveling with people you have probably never met before, it will be your first time on a plane or your first time in a certain country! Whatever the case, we have compiled a list of everything you need to know and prepare before leaving.
ID, Passport and/or Visa
EU citizens can travel to any member state with only a valid ID. If you go to a country outside the EU, make sure your passport is valid and in good condition! You should ensure your passport has at least 6 months validity after your return date.
Not sure if you need a Visa for the country you are traveling to? Check MFA's website!
*Fun fact: What makes a passport powerful? Check out the video!
As a sending organization, we offer the participants our full support with booking the flights and we always try to find the best deals. You only need to remember to do your check-in online (airlines have different policies regarding the check-in, so make sure you are aware of that) and to be informed about the baggage policy of the airline you are traveling with.
If the participants buy the plane tickets themselves, the booking must be made directly on the airlines website, with the exception of the case in which the GEYC team suggests buying from an online tourism agency because of a discount (ex. avion.ro). Cash payments are strictly forbidden, all tickets must be purchased by credit card.
If you buy the plane ticket by yourself, please pay attention not to add any extra services (such as reserved seating or meals on board), because those are not reimbursable! You do not need to reserve your seat when booking your flight. When you do your online check in, a seat will be assigned to you.
Pay attention to the size of your cabin baggage! Carefully read the airline's policy and make sure your baggage does not exceed the measurements. Oversized cabin baggage will be refused at the boarding gate and placed in the hold of the aircraft for a certain fee. And you certainly do not want to waste your money on that, instead of buying nice souvenirs from the places you'll visit! If that happens, ensure that you remove any valuables from your carry on bags at the boarding gate.
Usually, you can bring 1 small bag with you on board (like a laptop bag or camera bag) besides the cabin baggage, but again, things differ according to the airline.
The carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels into the security restricted area of an airport and onboard the aircraft is controlled in accordance with current EU Security Requirements.
TRAVEL MEDICAL INSURANCE
EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD
It's a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.
Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.
Important – the European Health Insurance Card:
is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.
INSURANCE OFFERED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (ESC VOLUNTEERS)
Every participant in a cross border activity must be enrolled in the insurance scheme of the European Solidarity Corps or in the host country’s national health system. The insurance complements the coverage of the mandatory European Health Insurance Card and/or national social security systems.
The beneficiary (host) organization is responsible for the management of its project in the IT tool provided by the European Commission for the management of projects (Beneficiary Module). The beneficiary must encode all information about the activity the participants are involved in. The enrolment of the participants to the insurance scheme is done automatically through the system and based on the information input there. The enrolment to the insurance must be done before the departure of the participant(s), the beneficiary must therefore input the information in the system prior to the start of the activity.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need urgent medical care:
The first thing you have to do is to call the insurance company. The phone number is on the front of the membership card. You also have to show the card to the hospital.
The company will then send a ‘Guarantee of payment’ to the provider within a few hours (24/7 availability). This document states whether or not the treatment is covered and what portion of the expenses will be invoiced to them directly.
Most of the time, the insurance company will settle the bill directly with the hospital. You only have to pay your portion of the costs.
Maybe you will not even have to use your medical insurance, but it's better to be safe!
Money-wise, Europe has never been easier. Thanks to the universality of cash machines and the widespread use of a single currency, gone are the days of having to go to your hometown bank for travelers' checks or foreign cash. It is always a good idea, though, to arrive in a country with some local currency - not all airports, or even countries, have ATMs.
If you do need to exchange money, look for places that don't charge a fee. Note the difference between the rates for buying (the bank buys foreign currency from you to exchange into local cash) and selling (the bank sells foreign currency to you). A good rule to keep in mind: the difference between the buy and sell rates should be less than 5%.
Pay for most items in cash (use a bank that charges low rates for international ATM transactions, and withdraw large amounts at each transaction — keeping the cash safe). When using a credit card, use a card with low international fees, and make sure your transactions are charged in the local currency. Revolut is a very popular app especially with people who are traveling, because you can exchange money with no hidden fees.
Accomodation, travel and meals are covered with the support of the European Commission, so you only need to take with you enough money to buy souvenirs for everyone that asked you to! :)
WHAT TO PACK?
We’re going to tell you something that you have probably heard many times before: pack light! It’s the most valuable piece of advice that we can give you when traveling. If it’s your first time abroad, you may feel the need to overpack and take things “just in case”. Once you get into the swing of things , you realise you really don't need much at all. That's why we have put together a list of the things you will certainly need:
Clothes ( try to be reasonable and to combine clothing articles to create more outfits!);
Socks and underwear (wouldn’t want to forget those);
Your own towel, if the accommodation will not provide you with some;
One extra pair of shoes in the bag;
Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, body wash, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner);
Phone, camera, phone charger & camera batteries.
Also, you need to take into consideration that you will probably buy a lot of souvenirs and items from the place you are visiting, so leaving your home with an already full bag is not a good idea!
If you are still not convinced that light travel is happy travel, check out these videos!