Originally Answered: Tips or things a first time traveler should know before traveling to Europe?
There's always someone to ask at airports. And with a group gives you less chance of going wrong. Follow the group leader. Basically you check in at the airline's check-in desk (there may well be several) and hand over luggage except one bag to take on with you, go through security and get frisked or scanned, go through to the departure lounge and wait, when the noticeboards or screens show that your flight is ready for boarding, go to the gate number it says and follow airline staff instructions to get on the plane.
So the key is packing - no bottles of liquids over 100 ml in your hand luggage (but why would you want to? If you want a drink, you can buy that after going through security, or on a flight that long the airline will provide them) and know what else is not acceptable. Put anything electrical in your case. The airline's web site will help. The airline will have a weight or size limit on what you can take. Do NOT go over this limit! - if you do, you'll get a nastily large excess baggage charge. However, a normal suitcase mostly full of clothes won't be a problem.
Are you prepared with health insurance? Does your policy cover you abroad? If it doesn't, buy travel insurance, though the travel company should have sold you a policy anyway. I'd be very surprised if it hadn't!
How much money depends on whether you've already paid for hotels and food, or will have to pay for them when you're there - I assume that with a travel company tour you've already paid for that, so you're just thinking about snacks, drinks, admission fees to places, anything you want to buy to take home, that kind of thing. Remember both countries use euros so one way or another, you'll need to convert dollars. Debit and credit cards will be acceptable but maybe not in smaller shops, so it will help to have some euro notes and coins. It's good to have a card for emergencies, though. Also bear in mind any charges the card issuer will make for spending in a foreign currency. This is why I still like the good old-fashioned way to take cash, which is to take traveler's checks. You can change these into cash at a bank when you need more. Follow the instructions and they're theft-proof - that's the point of them.
Out of experience, it helps to brush up your mental arithmetic. I know how it is - you'll be looking at prices and thinking "what's that in dollars?" Currently one US dollar = 89 euro cents, or €1 = $1.12. Something might look cheap in euros but remember the dollar is a bit smaller. The way I'd look at this is forget the odd cents to make it easier. €1 = $1.10, so €5 = $5.50, €10 = $11, and you won't be far out. This is second nature to me now - I'm British, it's not far to other European countries, and the first time I left Britain was when I was 8. So I've been to several countries, and this technique of rounding up or down to make a rough conversion you can more easily carry in your head when you're shopping is one I've always found useful.
On arrival, you will need to show your passport, and possibly get quizzed about your visit. Go through to baggage reclaim, grab your case when it comes round on the conveyor belt showing your flight number, go through Customs, and you're out. Italy and Spain are both in the border-free Schengen zone so there will be no passport check or Customs when you go from one to the other. You'll have them again when you go home.
Talking of Customs brings me on to duty-free. This is a little traveller's perk which enables you to buy tax-free tobacco, alcohol, perfume and a few other things at the airport duty-free shop. But there is a limit on it. Basically you're looking at 200 cigarettes and one bottle of wine, any more and if Customs find it, they'll tax you on it. The way I'd look at it is if you smoke, buy a carton of cigarettes in the duty-free shop when you go to Europe and again when you come back, so you have 400 at a cheap price. And if you're over 21 and discover some nice Spanish or Italian wine, see if you can find it in the duty-free shop when you come home so you can share a bottle of this discovery with your friends! There is no duty-free between Italy and Spain, because they're both in the EU. The EU is a Single Market which makes it all one country for Customs purposes.
How's your Spanish and Italian? Both countries are fairly used to British tourists so people who regularly deal with them will know some English, but most people won't know much, and all the signs and menus you see will be in the local language. It might help to get a phrase book in each language.and read at least the first parts so you'll recognise basic words like entrance and exit. Both are "Romance" languages derived from Latin so you'll notice a lot of similarity between the two - for example Italian "uno, due, tre" = Spanish "uno, dos, tres" = "one, two, three". Maybe it'll help mostly with food - if you get faced with a menu that is entirely in a foreign language, what are you going to order?