We put together a helpful list of common questions people have when preparing for their travel experience of a lifetime…

Note: If you are traveling with a group package, many of these issues do not apply, since they are taken care of by Living Kraków.

Q: Is Kraków safe?

A: Kraków is a beautiful university and cultural center that was not destroyed during the War. It’s center dates back to the 13th Century. It is a place where you can walk safely at night or day. There is some danger of pickpockets, but normal precautions are sufficient. ATM’s are everywhere, so you need carry very little cash. When you travel with us, you are provided with comprehensive guide of Travel Tips Custom prepared for your itinerary.

Q: Do I have to speak Polish?

A: You will have little or no trouble speaking only English in Kraków. There are university students everywhere and they all speak excellent English. Not only that, but they will go out of their way to help you. However, if you really want the warmest welcome, learn to speak some Polish. Just try, and they will treat you as family. Living Kraków can arrange for a quick course in Polite Polish for you and your family. Download free Google Translate for your smaartphone, play with it an learn, Be Not Afraid. You’ll be fine.

Q: Cash, Credit Cards? Traveler’s checks?

A: In the past I advised travelers to use ATM or Bankomat to change $USD to Polish money. This may no longer be the best solution because of new charges. Since this is an ever changing situation email me at mike@livingkrakow.com for current information.

We don’t recommend travelers checks.

Q: What if I need medical care?

A: Even though you have medical insurance, do obtain a Traveler’s Medical plan that will pay local hospitals and doctors, then seek reimbursement from your US plan. These are cheap considering the Peace of Mind. Look on the US State Department website for contact. You should also consider a plan with a Medical Evacuation feature that will transport you to the US in the event of a serious emergency. Basic Medicare does not cover travel abroad, so it is especially important for you to consider one of these plans if you are under Medicare. Quality of medical care in Poland is excellent. Many people travel to Poland from places like UK for elective medical and dental services. You can purchase medicine from an Apteka Pharmacy. You might want to have backup prescriptions written by your doctor: in case you lose medication, you can have them filled quickly and easily at the Apteka. Our expert Travel Desk can help you arrange optional insurance, and all plans are not equal, either in coverage or in claim handling.

Q: How much does it cost? (for service? per day?) if I travel independently.

A: The largest part of your daily expense is typically Accommodations. Since you have many options with Living Travels (Our independent and small group travel option), you have control over this aspect. Contrast with a prestructured tour, where you have a charge based on double occupancy. One size fits all. If you are a family or a small group choosing to share an apartment, this cost can be cut 50% or more.

You will have a dependable budget when you complete the Living Travels planning process, a budget tailored for you.

It should be noted, though, that value remains one of the significant benefits in traveling to Poland as compared with Western Europe. Prices are still substantially lower. This window will close in just a few years, as Poland becomes a full member of the European Union. I lived like a king in Poland last summer for less than $100 a day. A family can do much better. This is constantly changing, if you dream of Poland, don’t wait too long and miss this opportunity window.

Q: How will I get around?

A: You can walk to 19 Catholic Churches or 300 underground clubs and restaurants in 10-15 minutes from a typical apartment adjacent to the Old City. Trams are fun and cheap. If you want a day trip, we can arrange it. Trains are great for trips between cities in Poland and very CHEAP. There is no need to rent a car in the city, and no advantage. Please note, for our group plans all transportation and transfers are arranged and provided for you.

Q: What are the major sites?

A: Because this is a highly individual perception, our Living Travels interview process is intended to identify the sites most relevant to your interests. This is not one size fits all travel planning. However, the emphasis is on cultural and/or spiritual discovery.

Q: What is the weather like?

A: The climate is very similar to Chicago, but without the winds.

Q: What should I bring?

A: Part of Living Kraków custom planning is a packing checklist. Travel light. Group pilgrims are provided with a free jacket appropriate for the season, hooded, water resistant, lined in cool weather season, also with it’s pockets, becomes an extra carry on bag during flights.

Q: Can I call home?

A: Check with you provider. My plan has an overnight rider for no extra base charge, no data charge and only 20 cents a minute for voice. Each provider has numerous plans, so shop. Another option is an old phone and purchase a prepaid SIM card for $15 in Kraków, probably all the minutes you’ll need. Internet is available in the hotels, so VIP apps will work, also.

Q: What Internet services are available?

A: There is a free wi-fi in the city square, just sit by a fountain or at an outdoor café and login. Many businesses also provide free wi-fi. If you are traveling without a laptop, there are Internet cafes all around the city at reasonable rates. Your hotel, B&B or apartment will probably offer free Wi-Fi. All hotels used by our group pilgrimages have hi speed internet.

Q: What about special diets?

A: There are some very outstanding vegetarian restaurants in Kraków. One, with multiple locations, is called Vega and features a buffet format at very reasonable prices. Vegetables served in Poland are still grown at local farms, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. If you are too young to know the difference, you will be delighted. For the rest of us, what memories are evoked! When I stayed with a family in Jarocin, we picked fresh strawberries and made jam the same hour. I promise you, I have not had strawberries such as these for 50 years in the US. All our Group pilgrimages offer alternate meals that will meet your diet restrictions; just note this as provided on your registration. No charge for this service

As a diabetic, I had no trouble accommodating my personal diet requirements.

Q: What about Cuisine Choices? Is it all meat and potatoes?

A: Kraków is a Cultural Center, a favorite holiday spot for travelers from all of Europe. As such it has attracted the best chefs from many countries and an amazing variety of cuisine is available.

But, for lunch, I like the milk bars, the cheap eating-places favored by locals. Food is displayed in a glass case. You choose, and then include a glass of wonderful Zywiec Beer (piwo in Polish). You will need a big appetite to spend more than $5. Then, for a real fine experience, look around the room, choose a friendly face, and ask if you can share his or her table. Here is where I really first discovered Poland.

Kraków is noted to be one of the finest dining venues in Europe by various rating services. (Even McDonald’s is better here, no additives in the beef or fries.)

Q: Can I travel with my kids?

A: You will build cherished family memories. By avoiding a typical tour, you can share an apartment instead and save considerable money. Poland is a Catholic country and children are loved. Most group pilgrimages include a limited number of family rooms and special rates for maturity appropriate kids and itinerary flexibillity so you can arrange alternative activities as needed or desired.

Q: Are there any group or family discounts?

A: Savings, realized by planning for a family or a group, are passed on to you. we do not accept “referral commissions” as is common in the Travel industry; instead negotiate discounts for you.

Q: What are my lodging options?

A: There is an unlimited range of options depending on your preferences and physical limitations and your budget. Hotels from Budget to 5-star, Board and Breakfast or pension, apartment; all are available. Perhaps even accommodation with a family in a private home can be arranged, especially if you can speak a little bit of Polish.

Q: Is it easy to find a Sunday Mass?

A: There will be a Catholic Church within a short distance no matter where you are staying in Kraków. You will be comfortable because, even though celebrated in Polish, it is Vatican II liturgy and you will know what is going on. You will notice the reverence of the congregants. The Church will be full. One difference, most churches in Kraków still do not offer communion in the hand. There are also many other religious accommodations (e.g. Eastern Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish). We can provide you with bi-lingual Mass Books. St. Giles Church on Grodzka Street offers English Masses.

Q: Is it easy to make friends with local people?

A: Polish people tend to be reserved, but as soon as they feel they can trust you, they will fall all over themselves to make you feel welcome. I have found the best way to show respect is to try to speak a few words in Polish. It is their country, their native language, put yourself in their place. You don’t have to speak much, because they will speak English, but try! Here’s an example, say “Mam pytanie” Sounds like mom pee tan eeya. Means: “I have a question”. Then ask your question in English and you will get all the help possible. Other important words Prosze (Please) and Dziekie (Gee kee ah) (Thanks)

Polish families I have met in local restaurants or similar settings have invited me to their homes on numerous occasions. I have stayed with local families met in this way in six different Polish cities in the last several years. In general, Poles love Americans, our value of freedom. They don’t like our visa laws which they consider unfair, and for good reason.

Q: Is it safe for a woman to travel?

A: Because it is a university town, Kraków is one of the safer destinations for women traveling alone. Of course, take normal precautions and select accommodations at or near the old city or the university. By the way, Jagelonian University, the most prestigious, dates to the 13th century and its alums include Copernicus and St. John Paul II. We can arrange accommodations in a convent or Pilgrims House, as well.