Frequently asked questions

Here is a list of questions and battle-tested answers, as taught by Prof. Experience of the International School of World Travel.

When and where?
Who had the nutty idea?
Are there Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to sign?
Can I bring a camera?
How should I dress?
Who can come, who can’t?
How much is the tour?
Are business class tickets available?
What is included?
Is the price for single or double occupancy at the hotels?
What about meals?
Who handles tour travel?
What if my bank can’t do a wire transfer?
Can I pay per credit card?
Is the tour tax deductible?
Why do I have to send a passport scan?
What travel documents do I need?
Do I need a visa?
What happens with my personal information?
Will the hotels have Wi-Fi?
Why do I need Signal as a text messenger? I already have Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp ….<
What about cell phone service?
What if I ignored the advice and want to buy a SIM at the airport after all?
Will I have access to ATMs?
Do I need to bring cash?
Do I need vaccinations?
What medications should I bring / can’t I bring?
Can I drink the water?
Can I eat the food?

When and where?

It’s all here.

 

Who had the nutty idea?

It’s all here.

 

Are there Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to sign?

This tour will provide you with access to areas and information normally off-limits to the public. There will be NO Non-Disclosure Agreements. You may write about your tour. The taking of pictures may be regulated per the policies of each OEM.

 

Can I bring a camera?

Please do. There will be a lot to photograph. There may be no cameras allowed inside of some plants, and in a few, you may have to hand over your cellphone for the duration, or get a sticker put across the lens, but that’s it.

 

How should I dress?

This will be November, so dress appropriately. Expected temps are (no guarantees):

Detroit 8-15C / 46-59F
Tokyo 15-20C / 59-68F
Beijing 8-18C / 46-64F
Germany 8-13C / 46-55F
UK 8-13C / 46-55F (Prepare for rain.)

Bring an umbrella and walking shoes. Men should bring a sports-coat for the evening. No hoodies.

For the factories, generally no open-toed shoes or sandals are allowed. Protective clothing (will be supplied) will have to be worn in a few plants.

 

Who can come, who can’t?

You must be over 18 to attend. To prevent “under-cover benchmarking,” this tour is not open to persons working for or at other automakers. No stopwatches, or hidden cameras! Participants will be vetted and may be prevented by certain OEMs from accessing parts of the tour. With your reservation, you must warrant and certify that none of the parties on your reservation are working for, or at other automakers. (The vetting has already started based on pre-reservations, and so far, nobody has been turned down.)

 

How much is the tour?

The price of the tour is EUR 5,875.- per person if paid by wire/bank transfer. To keep costs down, payment with credit cards or PayPal is discouraged, but possible.. It will cost EUR 6,228.-  to cover the exorbitant international processing fees.

Single segments can be booked at EUR 350.- per country segment. This does NOT include air/train tickets and lodging, you will have to tale care of this by yourself.

Are business class tickets available?

At special request, yes, but they will be <strong>extremely expensive</strong> and are in short supply.  We just accommodated one huge fan of the MagicalMysteryPlantTour, and his total, booking business for the two long-haul legs, was around EUR 14,600.- (Just goes to show what a great deal we negotiated for us lowly coach guys.) Amazingly, he took it, and he gregariously offered to send people in coach “some fruit…. maybe roll it down the aisle?”

 

What is included?

The price of the full trip covers air tickets (Economy), transfers, and hotels (incl breakfast as indicated) starting in Detroit November 1, and ending in Coventry, UK., November 17, in the morning. You are responsible for all travel to Detroit and from Coventry. The price also covers participation in all MagicalMysteryPlantTour activities, plant tours, access to executives, and seminars. The price does NOT include: Meals, drinks, incidentals. The price is very tightly calculated, there are no profits. The price is in Euros, payable in full to the travel agency H2 Events s.r.o. The booking is final and non-cancelable once it has been confirmed.

 

Is the price for single or double occupancy at the hotels?

The price of EUR 5,875.- (direct transfer) is per person, single or double occupancy, your choice. We won’t bunk you with a stranger. In some of the countries, they charge per person anyway, so we kept it simple. Simply specify your choice at booking.

 

What about meals?

Breakfast usually will be included, lunches and dinners aren’t. This is a fast-moving trip, and we’ll get a lot of airline food, or a quick bite at the factory canteen. We also have participants from all over the world with multiple dietary requirements, and we won’t get into managing those. Please dine a la carte.

Who handles tour travel?

All reservations are made with, handled by, and payable to H2 Events s.r.o. , a company with long experience in the auto sector, which donated its expertise to our cause. If you are worried about “sending money to some guys in Prague,” don’t  be:  H2 Events is a trusted event contractor for Volkswagen, Group, Skoda, Porsche, McDonald’s, and many more. If you pass the scrutiny of their purchasing depts., you aren’t golden, you are titanium.

 

How do I handle a wire transfer?

To keep everybody’s cost down, we have not budgeted for (sometimes exorbitant) international credit card fees. We strongly encourage you to pay by wire transfer. With your reservation, you will receive a small sheet with wire transfer instructions. Take them to your bank, or use the information to issue a wire transfer on-line. Make sure you pay in Euro, and make sure that all “Local and overseas charges are charged to debit account.”  H2 Events s.r.o. will not book unless the full EUR 5,875.- hit their account.

 

What if my bank can’t do a wire transfer?

Use Transferwise. You will receive instructions with your reservation. If you use Transferwise, the price will remain EUR 5,875.- per person. Setting yourself up with Transferwise may take a few days, so do it now. It is free, and it will save you a lot of money in the future on global payments.

 

Can I pay per credit card?

If you absolutely must, you can pay by PayPal or credit card. Use this option only if no wire transfer is possible at all. It will cost you more. To cover international conversion charges, and processing fees, the credit card/PayPal price would be  EUR 6,228.- See what I mean? We rather save our smart MagicalMysteryPlantTourists the money, instead of padding the bill for all to allow for the fees of a few.

 

Is the tour tax deductible?

Depending on the tax codes in your country, the price usually will be deductible as business, or seminar travel. H2 Events s.r.o. will issue a commercial invoice/receipt upon payment.

 

Why do I have to send a passport scan?

This is a complicated tour with multiple tickets and airlines. To prevent trouble at boarding, the travel agent will check the entered data against your passport, to make sure that the information is exactly the same. Passport scans will not be shared with anyone else, and they will be destroyed after the tour.

What travel documents do I need?

You need a valid passport. The passport should not expire until 6 months after then end of the tour – some airlines may deny boarding.

 

Do I need a visa?

Most of you won’t need a visa for the U.S., Japan, Germany, and U.K., but if you have an exotic passport, you may. Please check! China usually needs a visa, however, there is a 144 hours visa-free transit policy in Beijing. To qualify, your passport needs to be from one of the 53 countries listed here. Check the website. The 144hour visa-free transit will require some paperwork in Beijing, so if you want to avoid that, or if your country is off the list, go to the next Chinese consulate with the travel information you receive from H2 Events, and get a tourist visa.  It’s a painless process. You are responsible for having the proper papers.

 

What happens with my personal information?

The information collected during booking will be used to book flights and hotels. Please fill out carefully and double-check to avoid delays or denied boarding. Data will be kept in the strictest confidentiality and will be shared on a need-to-know basis only with the travel agency, airlines, hotels, and involved OEMs. Passport scans will be stored off-site and destroyed after the trip. For security reasons, data cannot be edited, or accessed by you after they have been sent. For changes, please contact admin{at}magicalmysteryplanttour.group immediately.

 

Will the hotels have Wi-Fi?

Sure, they generally do. Some may charge, some don’t. In general, do not expect public Wi-Fi to be as ubiquitous as at home. Be careful of the “Free Wi-Fi” in public places. Many are a data trap.

 

Why do I need Signal as a text messenger? I already have Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp ….

Remember, in some places, notoriously in China, all of the above are blocked. Regular text messages may not work, or arrive a day later. To stay in touch, we will use a SIGNAL Group while on the trip – with just one message, we and you will reach all participants. Great for help when someone gets lost!. Signal is a messenger application that transparently replaces your regular SMS app. It sends and receives SMS messages as usual, but when used with another Signal subscriber, it uses end-to-end encryption (which is a good idea anyway.) Signal also allows you to have free and encrypted voice communication with other people on Signal. Please right away install Signal on your Android or on your iPhone. You will have to have this when on the trip!

 

What about cell phone service?

To stay in touch with home, current affairs, and last not least the members of your group, you need to have mobile data access. To avoid being hit with a huge roaming charge after you have returned home, you should prepare for alternate mobile data access while on the trip.

Do not count on buying a SIM card on arrival. The rules are different in each country, and it’s not worth the hassle.

The overall most convenient solution is to get your provider’s global data plan. For instance, AT&T and Verizon offer you mobile data abroad for $10 per day. Other providers may (or may not …) have similar plans. With this solution, you won’t have to fiddle with SIM cards, and as a very welcome benefit, you usually are not subjected to the Chinese Firewall when in China. Your Twitter, Facebook, Gmail etc. will (well, should …) work in China.

The next-best solution is to buy a Travel SIM, like this one. For it to work, your phone needs to be unlocked. To stay in touch with home via your regular number, you should use the Travel SIM in a second phone.

 

What if I ignored the advice and want to buy a SIM at the airport after all?

At Tokyo Airport, you can buy a data SIM at stores, and at ubiquitous vending machines. Note, these are DATA SIMs only. No voice. No SMS. You need to be a legal resident for voice. Now you find out why getting SIGNAL was the right thing to do. SIGNAL uses your Internet connection, and you can send messages, and even talk to, other SIGNAL subscribers. MagicalMysteryPlantTour uses SIGNAL. It’s free. Use it!

At Beijing Airport, generally forget buying a SIM. Technically, it is possible, but it is a huge hassle, the language barrier is high, and often people end up with SIMs that run out of data after a few hours. Don’t do it. If you managed to get a local SIM after all, you will be behind the Chinese Firewall. Kiss your Google, Twitter, Facebook etc. Zai Jian. To make things extra interesting ,Google Maps may work in China, but it will give you a location a few hundred yards away. Buy your SIM at home, and the Firewall won’t exist for you (usually ….)

In Germany and the UK, it is possible to buy a voice and data SIM at phone stores. You might be asked for your passport and address. Use the address of the hotel.

 

What about VPNs in China?

You may have heard that you need a VPN in China to bypass the Chinese Firewall. If you use your provider’s global data plan, you probably won’t need it. Depending on the hotel in China, its Wi-Fi may go through also. Nothing is for sure in China, and things tend to change like the weather. Even your VPN may not work ….

 

Will I have access to ATMs?

Of course, they are everywhere, but …

Inform your bank that you are going on a trip. Your bank might block you if you don’t.

Be prepared for your card not working in every ATM.

In Japan, foreign cards notoriously don’t work at ATMs. Pro-tip: Use the ATMs in 7-11 convenience stores, they work.

In China, foreign cards are hit and miss at ATMs. Pro-tip: Use the ATMs of large global banks, such as Citi, HSBC.

Germany and UK: Everything works, usually.

 

Do I need to bring cash?

Do not count on using your credit card wherever you go. Keep cash. As a general rule, you should have enough local cash on you to last you two days. Bring $$ in cash. You can always exchange it when needed.

 

Do I need vaccinations?

We are traveling through civilized countries. Special vaccinations usually are not required, but check with your doctor.

 

What medications should I bring / can’t I bring?

A little Immodium goes a long way, especially when you ignore the next advices.

Please be aware that Japan can be quite uptight about drugs of all kinds, even some of the over-the-counter variety. Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers are famously banned, and that’s just for starters. Read this. For all countries, leave any recreational drugs at home. What may be legal in Colorado can put you in jail in China. There is no bail budget.

 

Can I drink the water?

In Japan, you definitely can. In China, you definitely should not. And why drink water in Germany or UK?

 

Can I eat the food?

In Japan, Germany, and UK, you can eat everything. In China, people without Asia-hardened stomachs should stay away from street food. Weeeell, in Japan you may want to stay away from uni and natto, unless you are extremely worldly.