1 week to go...

Hello Helpliners. Well its almost here. We're almost completely packed, we've worn our gear, we've secured our reservations, we've got the money. I think we're ready! 9 days in Ireland, 8 days in France, 6 hours in Germany and 11 days in Italy. Any last minute pointers? Suggestions? Comments? Well wishes? Is it too early to pop the Bon Voyage champagne? :)

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
862 posts

How exciting for you. Remember to do next to nothing two days before you leave...rest rest rest as much as possible. Take sanitary wipes on the plane and wipe down everything you could possibly touch, tray table toggle, window shade, seat belt buckle, arm rest yada yada. Haven't been sick after flight since I became a wipe down weirdo. You must be dancing in place. What fun you will have!

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3077 posts

Call the bank/credit union and remind them you will be abroad (tell them the countries) so they won't freeze your cards. Double check that your passports are where you won't forget them. and.... SMILE.... and.... breathe... I am so jealous...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
22090 posts

Jennie, A few last minute pointers that come to mind.... > Don't forget to check that you've packed Plug Adapters for the countries you'll be visiting (it's a good idea to pack at least one "spare"). > Check that you've notified your Bank and Credit Card companies, and that you have your travel funds in a Chequing account. Having a "backup" ATM card is a good idea. > The day before you leave, be sure to charge iPod's or whatever gear you're taking on the trip. > Check to make sure you have enough Memory Cards for your Camera(s). > Above all, have a great time! (Yes, it probably is too early to open the Champagne).

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
423 posts

Try to get plenty of rest. Eat well and drink lots of water. Have a great time!

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1432 posts

Jennie, you completely forgot to put ME in your carry-on bag! (I am currently grieving because 3 months ago yesterday I arrived in Provence!)

Posted by Crash
Vance, Alabama
146 posts

Jennie, That means you will be in France for Christmas! How great will that be?!? And you will be going from a nice temperature of around twenty degrees in Montana to a balmy forty degrees in Ireland. Yeah. A few things.... >If going to Paris, are you eating at the Eiffel Tower in either restaurant? If so, you might need reservations now. Both are pricey, but hey, Christmas time in Paris. Also, Je The' Me Restaurant has roast duck, and Baba Rum Cakes to die for in Paris. And Frenchies restaurant was great too, but in looking now, it seems the Plat du Jour has doubled in price from 30 to 60 euros, since we ate there, after Anthony Bourdain went there on his show. >Do you buy a lot of souvenirs? We have a UPS account with pre-printed labels that we take with us, and send stuff home if we buy too much. You can always find boxes. UPS will come to a lot of hotels and pick it up. >Can you lighten up your one carry-on at all? (I hope you guys just have one carry-on each.) If tired, can you go up and down stairs in the train stations, hill towns, etc, easily? If you have just a carry-on, you are held to the three ounce liquid rule, which makes you a lighter traveler by the way. >Do you have a day bag? Money belts? Passport copies? Small pack of wet wipes? (Finding toilet paper can sometimes be a quest.) >Do you have a watch, phone, or travel clock with an alarm? You might have to catch an early flight or train. Nice to have. That's all I got. We are so jealous, you are going to have the time of your lives.
Oh, and we have 79 days, 16 hours before we leave. Happy Travels.

Posted by Marilyn
Mentor on the Lake, OH, USA
251 posts

Have a splendid time, don't fret when things don't go as planned.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1578 posts

Hello Jennie. Reading this discussion thread that you started is fun ! At a big airport where you check in for a flight, if your bag does not have wheels, I recommend renting a cart for baggage. It costs One Dollar, U.S. Put all your baggage in the cart, push it to your Flight departure gate (or near your flight departure Gate). (That is what I do. I do not use a bag that has wheels).
At the airport Security scanner place (it might have a human body scanner, known as a "nude o scope"), you must hold your Airline boarding paper in your hand. Holding a Passport is not required when you are in the scanner, but I hold my Passport there. Do you know the suggestions for getting through the airport security place ? During the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I recommend getting up from your seat, and walking the length of the Airplane (the parts of the airplane that you are allowed to be in), breathing deeply, once every two or three hours. If your flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe is at night, I recommend, after you arrive at your first destination in Europe, get some sleep. Many people posting replies at the Traveler's Helpline, emphatically and adamantly recommended not sleeping the day you arrive at Europe. That is for the purpose of adjusting to the different time Zone in Europe. They talk about "Jet Lag". When a person arrives at Europe, after an all night flight from the North America Continent, the worse problem is likely to be a lack of sleep. Experiencing sleep deprivation, and being a stressed zombie in Europe or Ireland, is not a good way to start a trip there. Do you want to have a lack of sleep while you are on vacation ? Bon voyage ! Buon voyagio !

Posted by Jennie
Missoula, MT
76 posts

YAY! Thanks for your replies. I'm on the brink of exploding from happiness. We have been planning/thinking about this for almost 3 years now and its all about to happen. Ken: plug adapter: check. CU and CC notification: check. 2 memory cards each: check. Thanks for your suggestions. Crash: actually we have Christmas in Ireland but we planned it so we will be in Paris for New Years!!!!!! one carry-on a piece whose weight is sustainable for walking: check. day bag: check. money belt: check. copies of important docs: check. I will be sure to gloat when I return :):):):)

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
22090 posts

Jennie, In addition go "gloating", don't forget to post a Trip Report!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8502 posts

While Ken made some good suggestions, trip reports are not allowed on the helpline.

Posted by Deb
Sioux Falls, SD
120 posts

Since Montana is such a pretty state (my sister lives in Helena), take some Montana postcards along to hand to Europeans you meet as a little gift or momento. And it is not too early for champagne...you know the addage...it's always 5 pm somewhere! Have fun.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1578 posts

On the topic of reports of trips, the former manager of this website (www.ricksteves.com) said to me, several months ago : they plan to start a new section at this helpline, for trip reports.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8502 posts

Richard, the helpline I was referring to is this one .... Traveler's Helpline. The helpline is supposed to be for travel questions, not trip reports. Trip reports that are posted are removed by the webmaster.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
12537 posts

Trip reports that are posted are removed by the webmaster They are?

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
571 posts

With one week to go, you're likely very excited and you keep reading and rereading the travel guides you've purchased. So be sure when you depart that you haven't left them on the kitchen counter or in your favorite reading chair. (Been there, done that!). Bon Voyage!

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
974 posts

If you are using the RS books, tear them up. Separate the sections so you can carry just the area you are in. Have a great time!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8502 posts

Yes, Nigel, they are generally removed. There was one recently from Natalie (or something like that) from South America that was removed, as well as another recent one about a trip to Weihnachts markets. The helpline is supposed to be for questions only.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5544 posts

I posted a short trip report about 6 months ago, but I sneakily phrased my title as a question. It's still around. I know that at least one of my trip reports posted here was removed, but I don't know how long it was up. Probably a few months. Jennie - the only thing I recommend is to make a checklist of all the last-minute things to do. . . . and enjoy the excitement. Champagne? Definitely. Why ask? :-)

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
3277 posts

Where in Italy are you traveling? If you know your itinerary and can commit to trains, make reservations now and get the mini fares. Saved us lots of money (we are in Italy now and until end of Dec). Watch for seasonal closures. There are shorter hours in winter so plan accordingly. The Italians are great and happy to have our business since their economy is so bleak. Learn a few words if you are able. It goes a long way to be pleasant and patient and drop a few well-pronounced words. Watch for strikes (sciopero) and adjust accordingly. We hit one this week (started last night at 2100), and because we figured it out in advance, were able to change our train tickets and hotel reservations to avoid the strike day. Enjoy your trip!