Additional Information About Travel to Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
For itineraries including Bulgaria and Romania, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home.We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
The flights for tours beginning or ending in Romania and Bulgaria will arrive or depart from Bucharest or Sofia. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. While most destinations on your tour are accessible on foot, some cities may require some use of public transportation. Buses serve most cities and surroundings. Taxis are also available. Make sure the meter is running and always ask for a cab number and receipt.
You will use the Bulgarian lev in Bulgaria, the Serbian dinar in Serbia, and the Romanian leu in Romania. Better rates of exchange are usually better overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take credit cards and dollar bills in small denominations. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don't confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges and freeze your account. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour. Travelers checks are difficult to exchange, and should be used only as a last resort.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
Bulgaria and Romania are two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). When it’s 9am in California, it’s 7pm in Bulgaria and Romania.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to this country. At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may be banned in one or all of the countries on this tour. Importing these drugs can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to departure to ensure that any drugs you may want to bring with you are legal in all countries you will visit. If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us by calling 855-355-8728 at least 30 days prior to your departure.
In Bulgaria, fresh vegetables are often readily available due to the area’s warm climate, and salads will be an integral part of most meals. Other mainstays are chorba, a bean soup, and tarator, a cold cucumber soup. Pork is the country’s meat of choice, and you’ll find it in countless combinations of soups, stews, and mains. When raising a glass with your fellow travelers, be sure to try some of the local spirits, such as rakia or menta. Serbian food typically incorporates influences from central Europe as well as flavors borrowed from the East. Meals usually center around meats like pork, lamb, and goat. Serbians also love pastry, often in the form of varieties of pie. Romanian food takes much of its influence from the Balkans, Hungary, and Turkey. Throughout the country, sour soups called ciorbă are available in endless varieties and are the perfect way to start any meal. Along the Black Sea coast, fresh fish is prevalent, but the area’s true culinary delight is salata de vinete, a salad made from grilled eggplant, onions, and sunflower oil.
Clothing and Packing Tips
We advise that you pack in layers. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended for exploring the cities. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket is advised. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen, sun hat and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities..A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania operate on the European standard 220-240 volts and use Types C or F plugs with two small, round pins. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The strength of the air conditioning in European hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.