Travel Tips. Just for you.
You’ve put so much thought, energy and time into picking your destination and finalizing your itinerary. Just as important as the big picture, the small details can make or break a trip. Select your destination and discover great tips, tricks, and hacks for making travel smooth and hassle-free.
Everything You Need to Know
Before You GO!
VISA AND PASSPORTS +
- Please check the expiry date on your passport: Travel outside of the United States requires a passport valid for at least the next six months.
- US citizens don’t need a visa to enter Latvia as long their stay is less than 90 days.
CONSULAR INFORMATION +
The US State Department provides Country Specific Information sheets for every country in the world as well as Travel Alerts and Warnings. For this information, call 888 407 4747 or 202 501 4444 or see travel.state.gov.
- Plan to visit your doctor or local travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before departure to allow time for any vaccinations to take effect or to fill any prescriptions.
- We strongly suggest purchasing appropriate trip insurance covering medical, baggage and trip cancellation as needed.
- In general, Latvia does not require specific vaccinations. However, before traveling to Latvia or any other destination, we recommend consulting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for up-to-date information on required and recommended vaccines and medications. Visit gov/travel or call 800 232 4636 for more information.
- For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO), which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
- If you received any vaccinations in preparation for your journey, pack your vaccination certificates in your personal carry-on baggage in case you are asked to show them on arrival.
- Make sure that any medications you require, as well as copies of your prescriptions, are packed in your carry-on luggage and not in your checked baggage.
- Special meals and allergies: If you require special meals for health or dietary reasons, please let your J2 operator know at least 60 days prior to your departure.
TRAVEL INSURANCE +
We strongly recommend that you purchase your own travel insurance. Please discuss land, air, and health insurance options with your insurance provider or contact Travel Insured at 1-800-344-6226, ext. 257. Some insurance programs provide more comprehensive coverage when the policy is purchased in close proximity to the initial trip deposit. We therefore recommend that you secure insurance within 14 days of your initial deposit payment date.
CURRENCY AND BANK INFORMATION +
- The currency in Latvia is the Euro (EU).
- Click here to obtain the most current exchange rates.
- Bank operating hours are (generally) Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Closed on Saturday and Sunday.
- The most convenient way to obtain Euro currency is through bank ATM machines. These are found throughout the country. Enter your 4-digit pin number and receive Euros debited in US dollars to your account. Exchange rates are generally reasonable at local banks.
- Exchange money only at authorized outlets such as currency exchange kiosks, banks, and hotels. Only exchange what you feel you will need while visiting. Save all receipts from any currency transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you leave the country, and these receipts are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
- While traveling in Latvia, we suggest you have some U. S. money that can be exchanged, if needed, for local currency and at least two major credit cards. Major credit cards are generally accepted in shops, hotels, and restaurants. To avoid any concerns about fraud, notify your credit card company of your travel plans prior to your departure.
- We recommend that you contact your bank in advance of departing on your journey to determine whether you will be able to use your ATM and credit cards while traveling. When contacting your bank, notify them of your travel dates so that they will anticipate charges being made outside of your hometown and do not suspend your cards for what may appear to them to be “suspicious” charges. We also recommend that you make a photocopy of the front and back sides of your ATM and credit cards to leave behind with someone at home who will assist you in the event your cards are misplaced, lost, or stolen.
- For more information about money, in Latvia click here.
- The electric current in Latvia is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. Most hotels provide hair dryers and virtually all hotel rooms have 110/220 volts electric shaver sockets.
- Electric shavers, traveling irons, phone rechargers, and other small appliances may require adaptors and/or converters, which you can purchase prior to your departure or at the airport.
TIME ZONE +
Latvia standard Time (GMT+3) is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, US. To determine current time in major cities around the world, visit timeanddate.com.
CELL PHONES +
Tips to avoid international roaming charges:
- Use your existing plan – contact your local carrier to find out plans and prices for data roaming.
- Rent a device – Rent a phone, download your information, and use the borrowed device as if it were your own.
- Get a local SIM card – Make sure your phone is “unlocked” before purchasing a local SIM card in your destination and using your phone on the local network.
- Wi-Fi only – Turn off your cellular data, switch your phone to airplane mode, and enable a Wi-Fi connection to access Internet hotspots in your destination.
INTERNATIONAL CALLS +
Because of the time differences between the United States and Latvia, some advance planning is in order so you can call at a convenient time and when calling charges are lowest.
For international calls from Latvia to US: Dial 00-1 – Area Code – land phone number. To call a cell phone number, dial 00 followed by 10-digit cell phone number.
Latvian cuisine originated from the peasant culture and is mainly based on crops that grow in Latvia’s climate. Rye or wheat, oats, peas, beets, cabbage, pork products, and potatoes are the staples. Meat features in most main meal dishes, but fish is also widely consumed due to Latvia’s location on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Latvian cuisine also offers a variety of bread and milk products. Here’s a recommended restaurant list to help you decide which of Riga’s many restaurants might suit you best. These are all popular places so we suggest that you plan ahead and make reservations in advance.
FACILITIES FOR THE DISABLED +
- In Latvia not all places are accessible for travelers with special needs; the consciousness of the need for it is less developed.
- Airports, public transportation, and many tourist sites are not as accessible as in other European countries.
- When making dinner plans, your hotel will be able to recommend restaurants that can accommodate your needs. Should you require specific equipment or facilities, please contact us.
Latvian, a Baltic language, is the official language in Latvia. The young generation can speak some degree of English and also German. Most hotels hire English speakers who can communicate with tourists. It is always worthwhile to speak a little of the local lingo so we recommend you click here for some useful Latvian words and phrases.
The months from May to August have the most days when the sun shines with monthly averages between 28 to 30 days. During this time the sun shines on average between 8 -10 hours per day. The year’s warmest month is July, its average temperature is +17.0°C, and average maximum temperature +21.5°C. By contrast, in November, December, and January in the 10-12 days per month with sunshine it shines on average only 2-3 hours a day. The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperatures are -4.6 and -4.7°C, and average minimums -7.5 and -7.9°C. So far, the highest observed temperature in Latvia is +36.4°C, the lowest: -43.2°C.
The average annual precipitation in Latvia is 667 mm. The months with most precipitation are July and August, in each of which average rainfall is 78 mm. The least precipitation is in February and March – each of which has on average 33 mm.
Confirm baggage limitations with your international carrier before packing. Remember that airlines can change their baggage restrictions at any time.
FLIGHTS & AIRPORTS +
- Be sure to reconfirm your international flight with your airline 24 hours prior to your departure.
- Passengers must check in for international flights from the US/Canada at least three hours prior to departure time.
Security checks are carried out routinely for your protection and safety. Expect to be asked about the contents of your luggage, about who packed it, whether anyone asked you to transport items for them, and whether your luggage remained with you before you arrived at the airport. Do not take any mail, packages, or unknown items from anyone either before or after arriving at the airport.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE TRANSFERS +
- If your package includes arrival and departure transfers, this will be detailed in your travel documents which will be e-mailed to you up to one week prior to your trip.
- If you deviate from the arrival and/or departure dates and time as specified in your travel documents, you will need to arrange your own transfers. Alternatively, you may request a transfer service up to three working days prior to your arrival and the cost of the transfer service will be added to your invoice.
- When requesting a transfer service, please provide us with your flight information. Your arrival transfer is guaranteed for up to one hour from your scheduled arrival time in order to compensate for minor delays.
- J2 Adventures or the transfer company will not be responsible for delays, for any reason, beyond one hour from your originally scheduled arrival time. In case of a delay, it will be your responsibility to contact J2 directly and/or to make other transfer arrangements, such as by taxi.
- Transfer costs are non-refundable and any additional expenses will be your responsibility.
CHECKING IN AT YOUR HOTEL +
If you arrive at your hotel before the customary 3:00 p.m. check-in time, your room may not be available. Store your luggage with the concierge and take the time to walk around, get a feel for your new city, or enjoy a cup of coffee.
PROTECTING VALUABLE ITEMS +
- Hotel safes are usually provided and can be used to protect valuables such as passports, medications, jewelry, money, and electronics. If you must carry valuables, keep them on your person at all times, be mindful of your surroundings, and take extra caution in crowds.
- We recommend photocopying the personal information pages of your passport and leaving one copy with a family member or friend and packing another in a place separate from the passport itself. You can also scan your passport and email a copy to yourself for easy, online access. This will help you to secure a replacement quickly should the need arise.
Where and whether to shop while traveling with J2 is a personal choice and shopping is never compulsory. If at any point during your journey you feel pressured to shop or make purchases, please immediately discuss the matter with your tour educator.
TIPPING GUIDELINES +
We recommend the following for tipping (amounts in US dollars):
- Groups of 20 participants or more:
J2 educator $8, local guide $5 and driver $3 per participant per day
- Groups of 10–19 participants:
J2 educator $10, local guide $6 and driver $3 per participant per day
- Hostess (when included):
$2 per participant per day or a minimum of $50 per group per day
- Security guard and/or a youth counselor (when included):
$1 per participant per day to each security guard or youth counselor
- Recommended restaurant tipping when lunch or dinner is “on own account”:
10%-15% depending on your satisfaction
Included in your package
- Groups of 20 participants or more:
We have everything you need to know before you go. Check out our Instagram my_j2adventures for cool updates and interesting tidbits.
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