Father James Gould, Pastor, Saint Francis de Sales

Heart of Italy

St. Francis de Sales Nov. 26 - Dec. 5, 2023

Final Confirmation Information

Thank you for reserving your space for the Heart of Italy Pilgrimage with Father James Gould.

Make sure to download the Final Travel Documents onto your phone or computer. Printing is optional.

In addition, kindly scroll down to the bottom of the page and thoroughly review all the essential information provided.

Due to the smaller group size (22), we decided a meeting was not necessary. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

I look forward to seeing you at Dulles Airport on November 26 at 7pm.

Kind regards,

Dan Callahan
Pilgrimage Director
dan@jmjtours.com

Final Documents (PLEASE Click to Download)

Please see the final trip documents below. They are PDF format and now available for you to download and print if you wish.

Click here to download all 3 final trip documents

Departure Day Meeting (Orientation, Final trip packet and Prayer)

Date: November 26, 2023

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Dulles Airport (IAD)
In front of Lufthansa Desk (Close to the windows)

I will distribute the final packet at the airport meeting:

  • Special Luggage Tags
  • Trip Badge
  • Itinerary
  • Check into flights

Father Gould will lead us in a pilgrimage prayer

Additional Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the Travel Checklist (above for download) for a summary of important information. The questions below provide additional information.

LUGGAGE

From Washington to Rome:

Weight / PiecesDimension (width+height+depth)Fee
1st checked bagUp to 50 lbs / 23 kgUp to 62 inch / 158 cmFree of charge
1st checked bagUp to 50 lbs/23 kgUp to 62 inch/158 cmUSD 100.00

From Florence to Washington:

Weight / PiecesDimension (width+height+depth)Fee
1st checked bagUp to 50 lbs / 23 kgUp to 62 inch / 158 cmFree of charge
1st checked bagUp to 50 lbs/23 kgUp to 62 inch/158 cmUSD 100.00

SHOULD I PACK A CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN MY CARRY ON?

Certainly! It’s highly recommended to include at least one set of clothes, along with spare socks, undergarments, and your essential medications in your carry-on bag. This preparation ensures you’re equipped in case your checked baggage encounters delays or goes missing. Additionally, consider packing toothpaste, a toothbrush, and deodorant for your comfort and convenience during travel.

SEATING ON THE FLIGHTS

Our reservation on the flights is a group reservation. Group reservations are made 6-11 months in advance. With a group reservation the airline computer blocks seats in advance at that time. (Note: The seats are not always together in one section or area of the plane).

  • 60 days prior to the trip departure date, we provide the names. The computer assigns the names to the pre-assigned seats in the group reservation.
  • 30 Days prior the airline requests any final name changes and processes the group electronic reservation as a whole.
  • Once the names are officially assigned to the flights in the group reservation. We are permitted to make requests.
  • It is the airline policy that those requests are for the seats within the pre-assigned original group seats. Thus, we have a limited number of aisle seats, window etc within the group reservation.
  • We first request couples or roommates traveling together be seated together. Then we request any special requests for an aisle or window etc.
  • Due to the nature of the group reservation with the computer generated blocked seats, those requests are not always granted.
  • Finally, once the group is at the airport checking-in we advise couples, those traveling together or those with special needs (window, aisle etc) check their seats with the agent at the counter. Typically if your request is available they will make the change.

WHAT DO I NEED TO CHECK IN FOR MY FLIGHT?

  • Valid U.S. Passport with at least 6 months remaining before expiration.
  • (Optional) Frequent flyer membership number for Star Alliance airlines.

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ARE THERE MEALS ON THE FLIGHTS

Meals on the flights are indicated on the Final Flight Info Document above for download.

TIPPING FOR MEALS ON THE PILGRIMAGE

Tips for meals provided on the itinerary are included.

Tipping for meals on your own in Italy for is not expected or mandatory. In Italy a tip is generally considered a bonus for excellent service.
If an Italian receives exceptional service they sometimes leave a small tip.

Tips for Bus drivers and guides are not included in the cost of the pilgrimage.

TIP GUIDE FOR BUS DRIVER AND GUIDES
(Not included in the cost of the pilgrimage)

U.S. Cash or Euros is acceptable

Suggested amount for full trip (estimated) total per person:

  • Bus Driver $50-60 per person (Estimated total for the duration of the trip) ($7-8 per day per person average) More if you desire
  • Main Guide (From Italy): $70-90 per person total  (Estimated total for the duration of the trip) ($8-10 per day per person average) More if you desire
  • Local Guide: $10-20 (Estimated total for the duration of the trip) ($5 avg per person per tour) More if you desire

Procedure:

BUS DRIVER & GUIDE

At the appropriate time nearing the end of the pilgrimage, we will pass around (1) envelope for the Bus Driver and (1) for the Guide. (U.S. Cash or Euros is acceptable)

LOCAL GUIDES

Please present your tip and thank you to the Gide at the conclusion of the short tour individually.

CASH AT AN ATM IN ITALY

We recommend using only ATM machines at official banks. Not private ATM’s at stores, airport, restaurants etc.

The cash you receive from the ATM will be in Euros.

TRAVEL ALERT for your credit card & debit card. Please be sure to notify your bank you will be traveling Nov 26-Dec 5 in Germany and Italy.

HOLY MASS DONATIONS

It is customary that as a pilgrimage group to pass a basket or leave a donation at each church where we celebrate Holy Mass. Suggested donation $5-$10 per person

HOW CAN I EFFECTIVELY VOICE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS DURING THE PILGRIMAGE?

While on your pilgrimage, your guide is available round the clock to support you. Feel free to express any issues, worries, or grievances directly to your tour guide promptly for the best resolution of your needs. Your guide is dedicated to assisting you with hotel stays, meals, transportation, and any other assistance required. Addressing concerns during the pilgrimage ensures timely solutions as rectifying problems once you’ve returned home becomes challenging. Most issues can be swiftly resolved when communicated to your guide without delay.

WILL THERE BE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SHOPPING?

Yes! We’ve set aside specific, limited time for shopping during your pilgrimage. This scheduling is essential to maintain the pace needed to cover all the planned sites. Feel free to consult your tour guide for recommendations on local specialty items. Small and lightweight items that are easy to carry make fantastic souvenirs and gifts. Don’t forget to treat yourself to something special too!

Tip: When shopping, consider using your credit card for added security. This helps protect your purchase, and if any issues arise, you can address them accordingly.

For gift shops situated at shrines, churches, or basilicas: Cash only? Some of these holy sites have small gift shops managed by clergy, with proceeds directed towards maintaining the site. Typically, these shops might not accept credit cards, so it’s advisable to carry cash for purchases at these locations.

Concerned about purchasing big, heavy, or fragile items? Arrangements can often be made at the shop or hotel to have these items shipped directly to your home for your convenience.

What precautions should I take while shopping abroad? Be cautious in high-traffic areas, especially well-known tourist spots, as they can attract pickpockets. Always remain vigilant about your personal belongings in crowded places. Try to avoid displaying your money or credit cards in public areas, except when making a purchase.

WHEN DO WE GO THROUGH IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS?

We go through Passport Control for the EU in Munich, Germany

On return from Italy we go through customs and immigration at Dulles Airport on return to the U.S.

U.S. CUSTOMS INFORMATION

For U.S. citizens returning from Europe after a stay of more than two days, you can bring back up to $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. Beyond that, a flat rate of 3% duty applies to the next $1,000 worth of purchases. It’s advisable to keep receipts handy in case a customs inspector requests them upon your return to the United States. For more detailed guidelines, please refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel.

VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) REFUND

In Italy, there’s a 22% value-added tax on most goods and services, already included in the retail price. When making a purchase of $200 or more at a VAT-refundable store, ask for a refund document, usually called détaxe, and get it stamped. Non-European citizens over 18 years old presenting this form and the item purchased can receive a 22% refund at the airport before departing. However, note that the actual refund may not be the full 22%, but it’s close. Tourist services paid in foreign currency, like hotel accommodations and meals, are exempt from VAT tax.

Steps for Obtaining Your VAT Refund:

After spending at least $200 at a participating retailer, request détaxe papers. Ensure store policies align with your refund expectations. Complete the forms before arriving at the airport for departure to the U.S. Refunds are processed at the final E.U. departure point, not in Italy, even if you’re traveling to another E.U. country. Have the forms stamped at the airport customs desks and pack your purchases in your carry-on for inspection. Mail the stamped forms using the provided envelope at the airport to initiate the refund process.

Tip: Opt to have your refund applied to your credit card for the best exchange rate. Even if you made a cash purchase, it can still be refunded to your credit card. While cash refunds are available at some airports, rejecting Euros may result in a loss during the exchange.

CAUTION! LANDSCAPE & TERRAIN IN ITALY!

Landscapes across Italy often feature varying elevations and uneven terrain. Exercise caution while navigating as some areas may have split levels and irregular ground surfaces. Accessibility to certain establishments might be challenging for wheelchair users due to the layout of old buildings, and facilities catering to the disabled community might be limited. Additionally, numerous pedestrian zones in Italy are paved with cobblestones, making high-heeled shoes unsuitable. It’s advisable to wear rubber-soled walking shoes for comfort and stability.

It’s important to note that many European streets are narrow, and stringent traffic regulations may prevent buses from dropping groups directly at their destinations. Expect to walk short distances and be prepared for this while planning your itinerary.

CELL PHONES

You can use your smartphone throughout the pilgrimage. Before departure, it’s advisable to contact your service provider and notify them about your travel plans to Italy. Many providers offer convenient “international plans” specifically designed for such occasions. These plans enable you to make calls back to the United States while abroad. Additionally, some providers offer a “passport plan” where you pay a fixed daily fee, allowing normal phone usage without incurring roaming or data charges. This plan typically covers calling, texting, and the use of certain apps (like WhatsApp) that enable free calls over WiFi, offering an efficient way to stay connected with home.

Tip: It’s recommended to avoid using hotel phones as they often incur significantly higher costs compared to using a cellphone for communication purposes.

IS IT SAFE TO DRINK THE LOCAL TAP WATER?

Typically, local tap water is considered safe, but variations in mineral content and microorganisms might affect some individuals. To err on the side of caution, it’s advisable to refrain from consuming local tap water as it might cause stomach discomfort. Bottled water is recommended.

Tip: Utilize travel and meal times as opportunities to stay hydrated. Mineral water is usually included with most meals.

Protect your pilgrimage trip investment and cover yourself while on the trip.

BASIC CLASSIC PLAN Benefits include:

Trip Cancellation protection
(FULL PRICE
OF TRIP)

Emergency Medical
and Dental benefits
$10,000

Medical
Transportation
$50,000

Baggage ($500),
Baggage delay protection
$500

24-hour travel
assistance,
and more

This BASIC CLASSIC PLAN also includes SmartBenefitsSM which can simplify the claims process with no receipts required.

To purchase, get full coverage info and additional policy details please visit this link: jmjtours.com/insurance

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