Thank you for choosing Brendan! We have been welcoming travelers on our vacations for over 46 years and look forward to helping you have the travel experience of a lifetime.
We have compiled this information to provide you with as much assistance as possible in preparing for your vacation. If you don't see what you are looking for here, please check "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) sections, ask your travel agent or call your Brendan Specialist.
Also read Brendan's Terms and Conditions for more details and further information.
You will receive your travel documents and document wallet approximately one to two weeks prior to the departure of your Guided Vacation. These documents are valuable and contain a wealth of advice and essential information to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. Please read them carefully before your departure. If you are taking a Customized or Independent Vacation your documents will be sent electronically.
If you prefer paper documents mailed to you, there is a $10 fee.
Passports and Visas
All passengers require a machine-readable passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. Some programs require passport details be provided at the time of booking. You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. However, please note that certain hotels will need to hold your passport overnight in order to comply with local regulations.
All travelers, regardless of the passport they hold, must check with the consulates of the countries being visited to determine if any visas are needed. Some vacations may require multiple-entry visas for certain countries, depending on the itinerary. You must contact your travel agent or the applicable government authorities to get the necessary documentation.
It is the responsibility of each passenger to have a valid passport and necessary visas, as well as to comply with entry, health or other requirements of the countries visited.
We wish to take this opportunity to introduce VisaCentral. VisaCentral specializes in passport and visa services.
Brendan recognizes that many non-U.S. citizens travel on our programs and may require visas for the destinations they are visiting.
Brendan has included VisaCentral's webpage for review, as well as information on the Brendan programs that are currently requiring visas for U.S. citizens. As visa information changes constantly, please contact VisaCentral for the most up-to-date information.
Please note: Brendan has provided VisaCentral's information as a response to passenger inquiries asking for a visa reference source. All passengers are free to use the visa service company of their choice, or to obtain their own visas independently.
All passengers, regardless of the passport they hold, are responsible for securing all necessary passport and visa documentation. Brendan is not responsible for additional expenses or refund of unused services due to lack of proper documentation.
Travel insurance is a must! It is imperative that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy, which covers you the entire time you are away from home. Your policy should cover the following:
- Cancellation or curtailment of your vacation due to medical or other reasons
- Loss or damage to your property and baggage
- Loss of cash, credit cards, Travelers Checks, etc.
- Medical costs and personal accidents.
- Don't forget to pack a copy of your policy, contact phone numbers and instructions on how to claim, on the off chance it is necessary.
Baggage handling at hotels for one suitcase per person on Guided Vacations is included in the program price (not included for Customized or Independent packages). Due to limited coach capacity, this single bag should have dimensions not exceeding 30"x18"x10"(76x46x25cm) and weight not exceeding 50 lbs (23kg). A charge of US$6 per traveling day will be collected by the Travel Director or Local Travel Expert if a second piece of baggage is carried, or if the suitcase exceeds the established weight and/or dimensions. It cannot be guaranteed that more than one suitcase will be accepted on the coach.
Airline Baggage Policy - click here for a directory of airlines and baggage fee details.
Airlines may impose stricter weight and size limits for luggage and may also charge fees for checked baggage, including the first checked bag. Please check with your airline(s) directly for the most current baggage regulations and related fees. Brendan is not responsible for additional fees imposed by air carriers.
Hand luggage should be one piece per person and is limited in size (not exceeding 12"x11"x6" or 30x28x14 cm) so it will fit under your coach seat or in the small overhead shelf. These are the responsibility of each traveler. Note that luggage with telescopic handles and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartments and can therefore not be accepted as carry-on luggage for safety reasons.
Passengers should report any lost items to the Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan local host who will assist in completing a lost property form that can be used for any insurance claim in this matter. Brendan cannot assist in locating any lost items once the passenger has returned home.
Credit Cards and cash (converted to the local currency) are easy ways to pay for food and souvenirs. Automatic money machines (ATMs) are widely available. By using a Cirrus or Plus 1 card you can take money directly from your account in the local currency of the country(ies) you are visiting. This transaction, as well as credit card transactions, will be converted into US dollars at the current exchange rate when recorded by your bank. ATMs are a convenient way to get cash, however do not rely on this for all your spending money, as machines can be unreliable.
When converting cash, many banks charge a set rate, so it could be worth your while to cash more money, less often. Banks usually offer a better rate of exchange than hotels, restaurants and large shops. Please note that personal checks are not accepted unless you hold a bank account in the country of purchase.
Most countries have arrangements to accept many of the leading credit cards, although this is a matter for individual shops and hotels. The bill you sign will be made out in much the same way as at home, except that the total will be in the local currency. This will be converted into your home currency by the credit card company at the rate in effect when the transaction is recorded, then invoiced in the usual way. It is worth remembering that you can also use Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to obtain cash abroad, at the regular rate your credit card company charges.
Be sure to contact your bank or credit card company before travelling if you intend to use your card in the different countries visited on your tour. This will ensure your bank is aware that you are out of the country, so any transactions made abroad are valid and will not be declined due to increased global security measures.
How Much to Take
The most difficult question to answer is "How much money will I need?" Of course, this depends on many factors - the length of your stay, the extent of your travels, and, last but not least, your shopping and sightseeing plans.
We have two suggestions: first, plan your budget well in advance of your departure, and second, take more money than you think you will need rather than less - this way you won't be disappointed if you find a "must-have" item. To give you an indication of how much spending money to take, we list below the extra expenses you can expect to incur on your vacation.
Deciding what to pack is a difficult but essential process. The following is a list of helpful hints and guidelines to assist you.
Start by writing a packing list. When packing an item, think about how many times you are going to wear it - the more times the better.
Choose clothes that pack well and color coordinate.
Leave expensive items such as jewellery at home.
If traveling as a couple, pack clothing for both people in each suitcase - in the unlikely event the airline misplaces one of your suitcases, you will have something fresh to wear.
Ensure your personal and travel details are written on a label INSIDE your suitcase (including your phone number, departure and return flight details).
Write only your name and destination address on the outside labels.
Make sure that your luggage is in good, secure condition, and don't forget the TSA-recognized locks and keys!
NEVER ACCEPT packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry on board the aircraft.
Suggested items to pack:
- Clothes that can be mixed and layered (some dressy, mostly casual)
- Comfortable walking and dress shoes
- Toiletries - remember to pack 3-ounce sizes that fit in one 1-quart zip-top bag
- Passport with any needed visas
- Credit cards (only those needed)
- Cash and Traveler's Checks
- Local currency for the first country visited
- Money belt and/or shoulder or neck holster for passport and money
- Spare memory card for your digital camera or film
- Photocopies (carry 1 with you and leave 1 with someone at home) of your passport ID page, credit cards, airline tickets (if printed) and itinerary
- Extra passport photos
- Only those keys needed on return
- Medicine and spare prescriptions
- Extra glasses, contacts and prescription
- Plastic bags (zip-top bags)
- Elastic clothesline
- Travel alarm clock
- Earplugs and sleep mask
- Mini-first aid kit
- Mini-sewing kit (put in your checked luggage)
- Toiletries and tissues
- Adapters and voltage converter
- Patience and good humor!
For weather conditions pertinent to your itinerary, visit reliable and international-friendly sites such as www.weather.com.
During Your Vacation
Note: Some of the information contained here may only apply to certain vacation styles where a guided or escorted program is offered. For Customized and Independent Vacations, this information will apply only in certain situations. Speak to your travel professional or Brendan Representative for more information.
Many hotels supply hairdryers in rooms. If you take an electric razor you should find that there is a suitable socket in the bathroom. Outside of the US, electric voltages will differ from those at home, and adapters may be required. Ask your travel agent for more information. There are also a number of websites offering details on electricity around the world, including voltage and socket designs.
It is important that you take precautions when traveling. If hotel security boxes are available we recommend you use them for all your valuables; do not leave these items in your hotel room. Prior to leaving home, purchase a money belt and/or shoulder or neck holster to carry items such as your passport and extra money - make sure it is not visible under your clothing. Be wary of pickpockets! Wallets and purses should be kept out of sight, in front or inside pockets; carry your handbag and backpacks around your front. If you are unsure about security while on vacation, your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan local host will be able to advise you.
A World of Difference!
It is exciting to visit and explore new places and experience the cultural diversity across the globe. Of course, you will find that the food, customs and other aspects of daily life in Ireland and Scotland can be quite different from life back home. They can also vary considerably from one country to another. Some customs you encounter on your vacation may seem strange to you, but if you try to keep an open mind and simply enjoy the unfamiliar, you will have a more enjoyable experience.
Your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan Local Host
Your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan local host is there to help you, so if you have any questions or problems, talk to them. You will find them useful for the odd bit of translating, advising where to go (they know the best restaurants and shops in every town) and of course they are a wealth of information when it comes to historical facts and information about the places you will be visiting.
On Guided Vacations, traveling on board Brendan's modern motorcoach/mini-coach fleet is like taking a leisurely land cruise. Air conditioning or air ventilation is standard, and you will relax in comfortable seats with large panoramic windows that give uninterrupted views. Plus, the on-board stereo provides entertainment for quieter moments. For Private Chauffeur Vacations, you'll have your choice of luxury vehicle in most destinations.
Our seat rotation plan on Guided Vacations ensures you enjoy the views from the coach at a different vantage point each day.
For the comfort of our passengers, smoking is not permitted on board our coaches. Smokers need not worry; our itineraries are well-planned so that frequent comfort stops are made during each traveling day.
Food On Board
It would be appreciated (especially by your driver!) if you could bring the minimum of food and drink on board the coach. This will assist them in keeping the coach spotlessly clean at all times for the benefit and comfort of all passengers. We make frequent comfort stops where food and beverages can be bought and consumed before re-boarding.
No doubt you will want to capture all the famous sights of your vacation on film, so wherever possible the coach will stop to enable you to click away! But spare a thought for those passengers who are not budding photographers. It is impossible to stop the coach every few minutes for a view from a different angle. So please be guided by your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or local guide; after all they know their country like the back of their hand and can advise you of the very best shots to take. If you use a digital camera don't forget to bring additional memory cards. If you are using film, we suggest you purchase it prior to going on your vacation.
Holidays and Changes
Brendan constantly strives to improve itineraries and features. If such improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Religious festivals, holidays, trade fairs or other events occasionally cause changes from scheduled hotels and activities, and certain facilities such as museums, sightseeing tours, and shopping may be limited. Similarly, holidays, closing days and other circumstances may necessitate a change in the day of the week for scheduled Highlight Dinners, sightseeing or other activities. Departures in early and late seasons are potentially operated in cool weather conditions. As a result, slight itinerary variations may occur, and certain activities may not be available. If you feel your enjoyment might be diminished by such limitations, please check with your travel agent or National Tourist Office before selecting a specific departure.
Hotels In Ireland & Scotland
The tourist industry may be centuries-old in the area(s) you will be visiting, and hotels frequently reflect the varied traditions and cultures of Ireland and Scotland. Sometimes we have selected the best property available in a rural or remote area. So, don't expect hotels to be the same as those back home. Single rooms are often smaller than in the US, and rooms may not be ready for early check-in, as check-out times are usually mid-day. When selecting hotels, we try to balance traditional with modern, so you will enjoy the best of both worlds. It is sometimes the case that hotels do not provide washcloths in bathrooms so guests are advised to bring their own. Also, the term "private facilities" generally means a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom usually with a bath and/or shower. On certain occasions, for operational or local reasons, it may be necessary to change your hotel accommodation in a particular location. If this does occur you will be notified of such changes as soon as possible.
Hotel Check-In and Check-Out on Guided and Custom Vacations
Arrangements are made to ensure that check-in and check-out at hotels runs smoothly, and your Travel Director or Local Travel Expert will advise you in advance of this procedure before arriving at each hotel. Crowding the reception area usually hinders rather than helps, so it is suggested you remain on the coach for a few moments, or relax in the hotel lounge while waiting for your key to be handed to you. On departing the hotel, always remember to return your room key to reception before boarding the coach.
Personal Hotel Expenses
Any additional costs incurred during your stay at hotels (for example laundry, telephone calls and bar bills) are your responsibility. Please settle your account on the evening before leaving to ensure a smooth and speedy departure the following morning.
Meals included in your Guided or Custom Vacation arrangements can be "table d'hôte" (set) menus, buffets or a typical regional menu.
Freedom at Meal Times
Brendan's unique philosophy of a careful mix of free time and organized activities is extended to your meal arrangements. That is why lunches are not usually included on our itineraries. We believe you should be free to spend your lunch time in your own way, maybe trying a local dish or taking a light snack and using the time for additional sightseeing or shopping. Occasionally, our daily itinerary may require us to make a lunch stop at a recommended roadside cafeteria.
Freedom at Dinner
In certain major cities, dinners are not included. This is to give you an opportunity to dine out on your own, to sample regional dishes and eat in typical local restaurants. Your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan local host can help you make the best choice, whether you want to eat in a lively pub or romantic restaurant.
While tap water is perfectly safe to drink in many countries, we suggest you drink bottled water where available. Check with your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert, Brendan local host, or the concierge at your hotel about the water in their area. You may also wish to carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated.
When there is a two-night stopover, arrangements can be made for your laundry with the hotel (at your own expense). Please note laundry services are usually not available on weekends or local holidays.
On your travels you may encounter an air-conditioning system in public places, on ships and in hotels that might not be up to the standard you are used to back home. Just think positively and look upon it as part of the travel experience!
Sightseeing on Guided Vacations
Brendan includes a sightseeing or orientation tour in all major towns and cities visited on your Guided Vacation. These tours are generally conducted by local guides who are eager to share their vast knowledge and love of the local history and culture. In places where a local guide is not available, your Travel Director or Local Travel Expert will give you a brief orientation drive or walk to familiarize you with the locality, usually on the way to your hotel.
Sightseeing on Independent and Customized Vacations
Independent Vacations all include a hop-on hop-off all day sightseeing option in each city within the itinerary. Many of these sightseeing tours allow ample flexibility and are ideal for those seeking a more independent experience. On Customized Vacations, including Self-Drive Vacations, ask your Brendan Specialist for sightseeing options including passes to city attractions, hop-on hop-off tours and other interesting sightseeing options that can be built into your itinerary.
Our vacations are well-planned and include a lot, but we believe it is important for you to be able to personalize your Brendan experience. We have not included the cost of our optional excursions in the price of your vacation, as we want to ensure that you don't pay for activities you are not interested in.
Optional excursions not operated by Brendan are run by third party suppliers who have been approved and endorsed by Brendan. These excursions may be purchased directly from your Travel Director or Local Travel Expert, who will accept payment in cash in most major currencies (such as US dollars or Australian dollars) or in Travelers Checks. Credit cards are also widely accepted. Full details and prices are shown in your itinerary leaflet.
These vary depending on which vacation package you take. You can find the sightseeing highlights and travel features for your vacation in the relevant Brendan brochure. We try to provide as many highlights each day as possible, carefully balanced with relaxation and free time. There's an art to getting it just right, and we hope you will agree that we have.
What is Included in Your Vacation Package?
To assist you in planning your budget, we have listed exactly what is included in you Brendan vacation package. Accommodation, transportation, breakfast daily and a good proportion of your evening meals, a professional Travel Director or Local Travel Expert, hotel porterage and tips for included meals are all provided for in the price of your Guided Vacation. In addition, sightseeing in major towns and cities and special highlight features are also incorporated into your vacation price. For a full list of included features, refer to your itinerary page in Brendan's brochures. On Customized and Independent Vacations, you can expect accommodation, transportation between cities (depending on the package), breakfast daily, some sightseeing, the services of Brendan local hosts and/or guides (on Independent Vacations) and some transfers. Tips for Travel Directors, Local Travel Experts, Brendan local hosts, local guides and experts, drivers and private chauffeurs are not included.
All breakfasts and many dinners are included in the price of your Guided Vacation. However, lunch is usually not included as experience has shown us that the majority of our passengers prefer the flexibility of making their own choices. As a general guide, a lunch consisting of one simple dish with coffee, tea or beer costs approximately US$10-15 per person. In certain cities where there is an abundance of local restaurants, we do not include dinner so you have the opportunity to sample regional dishes. Costs will vary enormously depending on the country and the class of restaurant chosen. However, as a general guide we recommend you allow at least US$20-$40 per person.
Your best guide will be your Travel Director or Local Travel Expert who can advise you of restaurants which fall within your particular price range. On Customized and Independent Vacations, you will need to purchase lunch and dinner most days. Your Brendan local host or guide or the concierge at your hotel will be able to assist you in finding just the right restaurant for your tastes and budget.
Our Brendan brochures list all of the sightseeing and special highlight features included in your package. Brendan also organizes optional excursions in many places. You can find full details and prices for these in your travel document pack. Some optional excursions feature an evening's entertainment with dinner included. Others are half or full day sightseeing excursions to nearby places of great beauty or historic interest.
You may also wish to make additional sightseeing plans of your own for days when you are at leisure. Passengers with a particular interest in art galleries or museums should allow extra to cover the cost of visiting these places if they are not already included in the vacation price. As a guide, entrance fees to museums and art galleries can range from US$5-$20, plus taxi, subway or bus fare.
Personal Expenses and Shopping
Don't forget to include in your budget smaller items such as stamps, postcards, taxi, subway or bus fare, laundry expenses and calling home. We recommend you allocate at least US$7-$12 per day to cover such expenditures.
Naturally, you will want to take back home a few souvenirs and gifts of the places you visited - it is fun and part of the travel experience. It is difficult for us to guide you on prices for general shopping; you know your purchasing habits, so you will have to judge for yourself a reasonable amount to bring.
Your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert, Brendan local host or hotel concierge can advise you where markets and shopping areas are located. But remember, if you are planning on doing a lot of shopping not only will you need to allow for it in your budget, but you will also have to leave some room in your luggage.
It is customary in most of the world to tip when you feel you have received good service. On your Brendan Guided Vacations, we have pre-paid certain tips and gratuities for you, including all baggage handling at hotels and ports from the time you join your vacation, and gratuities for all meals included on your vacation. Tips for your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert, coach driver and local guides are not included. The suggested tipping rates for your Brendan team are: Travel Director or Local Travel Expert US$4-5 per day (or the equivalent in the local currency), Driver US$2-3 per day (or the equivalent in the local currency), local sightseeing guide US$1-2 per day/tour (or the equivalent in the local currency).
When you are on your own, we suggest the following tipping rates: local sightseeing guide US$1-2 per day/tour (or the equivalent in the local currency), Taxis: 10-15% of the fare on the meter, Restaurants and bars: 10-15% of the total bill. If a service charge has already been added there is no need to tip as much or at all.
Making Phone Calls
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones) if your cell phone is not set for international calls. Your Travel Director, Local Travel Expert or Brendan local guide can explain how to dial internationally if you are unsure.
International Country Calling Codes:
USA +1, Canada +1, Australia +61, Great Britain +44, New Zealand +64, South Africa +27, Hong Kong+852, Singapore +65.
Many hotels offer internet access (often for an additional charge) and internet cafés are found in many cities throughout the world. As a Brendan Bonus, many of the hotels we have reserved in Europe include free WiFi, making it easy and convenient to stay connected to family and friends back home.