Know Before You Go: Ultimate Earth | EF Ultimate Break

Ultimate Earth

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.

Getting There

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 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.


  • Verify your passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date. No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen
  • Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
  • 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.
  • Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
  • Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
  • Consult your Physician: Vaccines and other health precautions may be required for this trip, so make sure to consult your Primary Care Physician or local travel clinic at least 60 days prior to departure in case you need to schedule an appointment.

Visa Information

A Visa is required for all U.S. Travelers going to Australia and Brazil. As of June 17th, 2019, Brazil no longer requires U.S. or Canadian citizens to obtain a visa, but since you will arrive shortly after this date (June 19th), we advise you to consult VisaCentral for the most up-to-date information.

It is your responsibility to obtain all necessary travel documents before you board your flight from the United States. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:


Brazil and Australia Visas


  • U.S. and Canadian passport holders must purchase an individual visa from the Australian government’s Electronic Travel Authority website eta.immi.gov.au prior to departure.
  • As of June 17th, 2019, Brazil will no longer require a visa for U.S. or Canadian travelers staying less than 90 days. However, since your arrival in Rio de Janeiro is close to this change date, we strongly advise you to consult VisaCentral via your Trip Consultant to get the most up-to-date information on what is required.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions

When traveling to an exotic destination, vaccinations or health precautions other than your routine vaccinations may be required or recommended. Consult your primary care physician or local travel clinic at least 60 days prior to departure for the most up-to-date recommendations or requirements by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). While you're abroad, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:


  • With the exception of Europe and Australia, drink bottled water only and avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth
  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables in more exotic destinations unless they're cooked, washed, or you can peel them (like a banana)
  • Bring a small first aid kit that may include antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, etc,
  • If you have daily medication, make sure you have enough for each day of the tour plus some, in case of delays

Pack Like a Pro

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. Yes, even for a 54-day trip around the world! We recommend a standard carry on size bag (21.7” x 13.7” x 9” - 22.7” x 14.7” x 9.6”) plus a small backpack or purse, but be aware that some full flights may “gate check” your carry on anyway and give it back to you when you land.

Traveling with a carry-on is helpful because you'll need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot. If you’re worried about not having enough clothes, remember you’ll have the opportunity to do laundry throughout the trip. See more packing tips below to help you become an international, carry-on-suitcase, jet-setter:


  • See more specific suggestions and weather-related tips in the Country-by-Country section further down in this guide
  • 1 lightweight, water-proof jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
  • Comfortable sandals for beach days
  • 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
  • 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
  • 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
  • Bathing suit
  • Beach towel – we love the Microfiber travel towels ($10-$20, Amazon.com)
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • 1 reusable water bottle
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash
  • A power adapter – a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)

Respect the Culture: Modest dress is expected and sometimes required in regions of the world like United Arab Emirates, or the temples of Thailand. Bring at least one long pair of pants or skirt, and layers to cover your shoulders when you’re in more sacred places.


Hot Temps and Game Drives: In South Africa, weather ranges from 75-80 degrees (F) in June-September; Loose-fitting, breathable layers are best for this climate. This season is also the best time for animal-spotting, and we recommend muted colors as bright clothing may scare animals away!

Flight Preparation

Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.


  • 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 slept in and missed 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…

Internal Flights: This trip contains multiple internal flights, including three overnight flights. Your Tour Director has all the ticketing information for these flights, but please keep track of your travel documents (passport, visas) throughout the trip as you’ll need your passport for every flight

Your Tour Director and Staying Connected

Your Tour Director will be with you for the entire trip all the way from Rio to Sydney; They’ll tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip, so if there is anything you need, be sure to connect with them. Along the way, you’ll also have local guides in each area to help with city sight-seeings or other activities. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group or TD? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.

Use your Phone, Internet, and Electronics

We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider in order to stay in touch with your group, Tour Director, and your peeps back home. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t always as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.

Note: A staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)

On The Ground

Manage your money

Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted abroad, and ATMs are accessible in most major cities. We recommend starting with $100-$200 converted to Brazilian Real, and then budget $80- $100 per day from there on for meals, shopping, and free time activities. As you travel, it’s best to use a debit card and withdraw the local currency from ATMs.

Tipping is not customary outside of the U.S., but many locals leave the equivalent of $1-2 for exceptional service in restaurants, for taxis, or for local guides. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $216-$324 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
Currencies used:


  • Brazil: Brazilian Real (R$)
  • France: Euro (€)
  • Italy: Euro (€)
  • Greece: Euro (€)
  • UAE: Dirham or Emirati dirham (DH / Dhs)
  • South Africa: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Thailand: Baht (?)
  • Japan: Yen (JP¥)
  • Australia: Australian Dollar ($ / AUD)

Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your specific travel plans (including every country you’ll visit and for how long) ahead of time to avoid potential complications or suspicion of fraud while abroad.

Getting from A to B

Transfers between cities are via plane, train, and automobile, and they can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where it’s necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.

Note: It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you for transfer days, and for those internal flights we mentioned earlier! We recommend some worldly pieces of work like Eat, Pray, Love, The Art of Travel, or some classics like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Homer’s Iliad.

Optimize Your 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.Optionals on this tour include (prices increase on tour):


  • Taste of Italy Pasta-Making Class: $70
  • Burj Khalifa and Lunch: $110
  • Cliffside Wine Tasting & Village Excursion: $60
  • Surf Lesson at Manly Beach: $70
  • Robot Cabaret & Dinner: $120

Make the Most of Your Month

Almost two months abroad is exciting and life-changing, but to make the most of these 54 days without burning out, we have a couple reminders:


  • Stay Healthy: The pace of travel is fast and we include a lot of activities in your tour; Take advantage of down time to catch up on sleep, drink plenty of water, and take time for you whenever you need it.
  • Talk to your Tour Director: Your Tour Director is with you every step of the way from Rio to Sydney for a reason. If you need anything during tour, you can reach our team 24/7 at 800-766-2645, but remember you can talk to your Tour Director at any point too.
  • Rooming: Maybe you’re a night owl and your roommates are early risers. Maybe you find your new BFF on tour. Maybe your roomie is a snorer and you’re a light sleeper. Whatever it is, let your Tour Director know and they can try to rearrange room assignments at the next accommodation.
  • Carpe Diem: You’re traveling the WORLD! Make the most of every day and remember why you chose to travel in the first place. This is an epic experience, so make it yours.

Country-by-Country Guide

Curious about local culture, weather, or extra travel tips in each of the countries you’ll visit over the next two months? We’ve got the inside scoop on all the above and more. Keep reading and get excited that you’re just weeks away from becoming the ultimate world traveler!

Brazil

Language: Portuguese is the national language – not Spanish – and English is not commonly spoken among locals


Local Customs:


  • Kissing strangers on the cheek as a hello is normal

France, Italy, and Greece

Local Customs:


  • Expect service to be slower at restaurants while eating. It's a leisure activity in these parts. Also, to go boxes are not customary, so expect to savor your entire meal.
  • Don't forget your pleasantries – greet all shop owners, sales people, and servers whenever you enter or exit a store/restaurant
  • To blend in, lower your voice. The French customarily speak very quietly and frown upon noisy tourists, especially on the metro.
  • Plan to eat dinner late. Most restaurants don't open until at least 7pm. Expect meals to take a long time, as servers expect you to sit and enjoy your meal and will not rush you out. To go boxes are also not a thing.
  • Don't expect to split the check at restaurants. Plan to pay in cash or have one person in your party pay and Venmo them later.
  • Things move at a glacial pace here, expect to relax and go with the flow throughout your stay.
  • Try ouzo! It's a anise flavored licquor that you must try at least once. To properly cheers, look your drinking buddy square in the eye, say "Yamas!" and throw back your shot.

Dubai and South Africa

Local Customs:


  • Dress modestly. Yes it's super hot in the summer (temperatures up to the 100s) but women should cover to their knees and shoulders and men should wear at the very least shirts and shorts. If you're on the beach or at the pool normal western bathing suits are totally fine.
  • Don't take pictures of people without asking. While it can seek harmless to snap a shot you might think is interesting of a local in front of some landmark, this is culturally rude and illegal. Taking photos of buildings, your food, and your friends is fair game.
  • You'll have the opportunity to go out and have fun with your new friends but keep in mind that it is illegal to be drunk in public in Dubai. So at the end of the night, hop in a cab instead of wandering the streets.
  • If you're a man, don't extend your hand to shake hands with a Muslim woman. Some Muslim women will shake hands with men, some won't so to be safe, if you're a man, wait for her to extend a hand. She will either to do that, or she may place her hand on her chest and give a slight head bow, in which case you can greet her by returning the gesture.
  • Exercise caution while flying into and out of Johannesburg. We recommend putting a lock on back or get it plastic wrapped at the airport.
  • Do not plan to go exploring on your own. Your Tour Director will help guide you through areas and you will have transportation provided to help you get from place to place..
  • Be sure to try wine from Cape Town and also Castle beer. South Africa is also known for potato salad and restaurants that serve a wide variety of game such as buck, boar, and crocodile. Let your Tour Director know in advance if you have dietary restrictions or allergies..

Thailand and Japan

Local Customs:


  • Though the modest dress etiquette is more relaxed in the areas you are visiting, you will need an outfit for visiting the temples. Women should cover their knees and shoulders and men typically wear collared shirts and long pants
  • Be aware of how you use your hands—pointing is considered very rude, so you can use your palm as an alternative. In Cambodia the left hand is considered to be reserved for "dirty" tasks, so use your right hand when eating out with others.

Australia

Local Customs:


  • Since Australian seasons are flipped, you'll be in Sydney during their mild winter. Though the weather is still pleasant, we recommend carrying an extra layer at night for when the temperatures drop..
  • Australia has a thinner ozone layer, making it easier to get a sunburn even on cloudy days. Make sure to wear and reapply sunscreen so you can keep enjoying the outdoor activities. Don't be surprised if you are approached by a lifeguard who tells you to reapply, it's basically in their job description.
  • Attention coffee lovers: Aussie's are very proud of their coffee culture and they take their own spin on it. If you're picky, you may want to find out exactly what you're ordering before you do it. You're iced coffee quite possibly may be served with a scoop of ice cream.

Health and 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 to Athens 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 or Uber, 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.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +16176191411

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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