First time to Europe, please advise on how dress. We are going in 2 weeks for 2 weeks. Also can women carry an over the shoulder bag in front or is the money pak bag under your clothes the only option.
It'll be warm in Italy, so pack lightweight breathable clothes. Make sure you have something to cover your shoulders to enter churches, if you're wearing sleeveless shirts.
I carry an over the shoulder bag with a lock but that's only because my husband is willing to wear the moneybelt. He carries our passports, the majority of our cash and credit cards.
Cheryl -Bring lots of lightweight tops - it will be hot and you'll go through them quickly. I wear lots of the cami style shirts with a cotton or linen shirt to put on top for both sun protection and to wear in Italian churches. I like skirts for summer travel as they are lightweight and cooler, for me, than pants. But if you are not a skirts person then light summer capris are also good. Leave the jeans at home, too hot (probably) to bring them now.
And yes, I do bring a regular purse for my European travels. I like the very lightweight zipper top bags with outside pocket for water or guidebook. But you need to be truly aware of your surroundings, especially on public transport. Probably most other posters will advise that you wear a money belt, but just letting you know that many female travelers bring purses.
Thank you Karis and Karen for your advise. I was planning on shorts, good idea to to wear skirts. Are white athletic shoes a no for my husband? and are shorts OK for him considering the temps?
Shorts & White shoes - two of our favorite clothing topics. You'll get answers like "doesn't matter, be comfortable", but my personal opinion, and what has worked well for my family, is:
Shorts - Dress code for ALL Italian churches is - knees must be covered. Now, others will tell you that not all churches enforce this dress code and that is true. The ones who do, however, are the ones you will want to see in Italy, i.e. St. Peters. So if you plan on seeing the major cathedrals of Italy, your husband should wear long pants for that day and your skirt should be below your knees. And, as I said before - you also need to be sure your shoulders are covered. No tank tops for men or women unless you put a shirt, scarf, etc. on top.
Shorts are definitely appropriate for hiking, climbing ruins, being out in the country. And there is not a dress code for Paris churches like the ones in Italy. Having said that, we usually adopt a slightly more upscale look than shorts & tee shirt for walking around European cities.
White shoes - I've given up trying to convince my husband to leave them at home. My daughter on this last trip (she was in Strasbourg for the year) asked me specifically to tell her dad to not bring them. He always takes one pair and again, for being out among ruins, beaches, etc. he is fine. In the cities he wears walking sandals or plain leather shoes.
Finally, with regards to clothing - My desire to wear what I feel is more appropriate has to do with me feeling good walking around, not looking like a total fashion nerd. Others in my family don't care about this and also, all bets are off when it comes to people age 15-25 - they can get away with almost anything. But when my daughter returned home last week she told me that she could pick out all the American girls coming off the plane because they were dressed in pajama bottoms! One year in France has made her more aware of the image she is projecting, especially when traveling.
I just returned last night from a trip to London, Paris and Rome.
Light weight capris I feel are the way to go. They help you blend in with the crowd. You usually only see shorts on tourists. You can pack sleeveless tops for both places. Just pack (or buy at a stand there) a very light weight pashmina, toss it in your bag and toss it over your shoulders when you go in. There are many people who did just that and it worked fine.
I saw many guys with the convertable pants that are long pants and zip off for short pants. They were light weight and worked well. You could just carry the longer leg part and re-attach them before getting to the church.
I used the pac-safe mero 200 purse for my trip. It was WONDERFUL. The side pockets strech to fit a water bottle (it does not look like it but it really really does) It has the cables to prevent the strap from being slashed, the zipper locks to keep it from being opened and was big enough to carry what I needed. I wore it slung across my body. I LOVED IT. I felt safe about my money and belongings. The only thing I would change about it would be taking the padded cover from my laptop strap and putting it on the strap of the pac-safe.
I used the money belt until Rome. I wore it below the navel under the top of my pants. I felt it was safe and unseen. Rome was hot... 90 in the shade. They money belt then was soaked after a couple hours and very uncomfortable and chaffing. So I gave up wearing it.
I did see shorts on some Italian and French people, believe or not.
As for white shoes...yes, we did see some and they were not Americans. My daughter took white shoes (Nike, cute with satin laces) and everyone looked at them, and asked her always for directions! Mine were black and looked more dirty than hers did.
It's hot in Rome and I found capris to be a lifesaver. Tank tops came in handy (with something light over them), and please avoid black. I can't understand anyone wearing black clothing in that heat.
You will see everything being worn. Please take colours, and don't worry about small logos (Polo, Tommy, Lacoste) will be seen on European travellers. It's a big myth that all your clothing must be logo free. I saw middleaged gentlemen wearing pink, purple, striped shirts (Europeans), and even others wearing coloured pants (yellow, green).
Cheryl - it was over 90' F here in Rome today and HOT! So wear whatever you will feel comfortable and cool in. My wife prefers sun dresses (something about "the breeze," at least that's what she tells me?). I wear shorts often as it's just too darn hot and many buses/trams DO NOT have AC - so know that when you get here, you move, you perspire! (Heck you don't even have to move on days like today!).
We have friends coming in August (God help them) and I've already warned them that I will be in shorts and a loose shirt!
My wife carries a purse or backpack on her shoulder usually but always has her money and credit cards in an interior pocket zipped up... She's been here over a year and no issues!
You'll have a GREAT time - dress for your comfort - and relax... that's what Italy is all about!
I had my wallet taken from my purse during a visit to London. The purse was closed, worn across my body & with the flap against my body. I was waiting for the tube & noticed it almost immediately as the wallet was heavy with pound coins. There were a lot of people around with no way for me to know who took it.
I travel alone. If my money cards had been in the wallet, my trip would have been spoiled. My cards, my passport, & most of my cash was in my moneybelt. I would never carry anything important in my purse while traveling. If my wallet is taken at home, a few phone calls & things will be replaced. If I'm in another country, what am I going to use for cash if my ATM/charge cards are taken? Recently, I've been using my room safe for items I don't need with me which make the moneybelt more comfortable.
This is long because I feel strongly about it. I'd suggest you prepare for the worst - hopefully, it'll never happen.
Thanks to all for your advice. I have decided to go with capris and tops. Still looking for good walking shoes that do not like sneakers....Purchased a money belt from Eagle Creek and will use it...promise!
Cheryl - sounds like you're making the right choices! Regarding walking shoes - there are a ton of recommendations on the board if you do a search. Currently with the heat of the last few days EVERYONE is wearing sandals (although you still see boots - AMAZING!).
Bata, Birkenstock, and Mephisto have a strong presence here in Rome. My wife just bought a pair of Birkenstock in a small store near Sant' Eustachio Caffe' for about 32 Euro (She told me that was a GREAT deal???)
The current fad is a "gladiator-look" sandal that many women are buying, with a "loop toe" (not sure if I'm saying that correctly). But as with any shoes you're going to spend all day in, make sure they are broken in and comfortable! And as of late - cool!
Ron, Rose, Eli, Jacqui,
Ron you are so good to describe the new sandal fashion! And yes your wife got a DEAL for Birks at 35 Euro!She saved you money with that purchase....At least that's how explain my bargains to my husband of 25 years of marital bliss.....Maybe we can propose again on the Spanish steps???Isn't that a famous place. A friend of our with family in Italy has mentioned a place to eat: after Trevi fountains. near Spanish steps look across and there is a small restaurant?
Any knowledge of the Golden Air Shuttle service? I am going to use them in Paris to our condo.
I just got back from Itay and it was wonderful. I carried a bag that went over my shoulder or I could wear it across my body. It had a flap over it so it wasn't something anybody could easily put their hand in. I've also carried a purchase with a zipper on it.
When I get in big crowds I just always put my hand over the flap or keep my purchase extra close, just in case. I haven't had any problems yet. You just need to be aware of your surroundings.
Don't take too much. Things that are lightweight and quick drying will be more comfortable and easier to wash and dry overnight. Plan on doing handwashing -- it's so much easier than hauling around too much luggage.
I also took a pair of linen trousers. They were great - a rumpled, chic, summery look and my legs were covered.
I noticed black sandals (and my feet) ended up very dusty walking in the Tuilleries Gardens (and Pompeii).
I used a daypack with a money belt when I was travelling between cities. Otherwise, just the daypack -- I also was hauling around a 6 month old baby. I figured no one would rip off a woman with a baby (hahaha). No one did, btw.
Cheryl - I think the restaurant you are referring to might be NINO. It's located the next block over from the Spanish Steps on Via Borgognona, 11. They are open a few hours at lunch and then again, starting at 7:30 PM. They have INCREDIBLE white bean soup (not to be missed). At night you will need reservations, so telephone (06) 679 5676 and yes, they will handle your call in English!
Good luck and Congrats on 25 years!
Ron-Thanks for name and phone # of Nino's/ New Question of the day-----What should we do about a cell phone? ours will not work there. Do we rent. if so where from. Some people around here have mentioned purchasing a throw-away phone---??
Sandra--thanks for your input. It has all helped.
I agree with Rose... after my husband's wallet was pickpocket on the train from Zurich airport at the beginning of a trip a few years ago we both use some sort of money belt. He has one that attaches to his belt and flips inside his pants in the front. I have one that goes around my neck, We feel it is better to be safe now. I am extra careful in train stations, buses, and crowds. I am less cautious in the contrysides. Make copies of you passports and driver's license and give it to each other in case they get lost. Write you credit card #'s and the contact phone # for each card down and give it to someone you trust at home to hold onto in case you do get pickpockted. You can call them for the #'s to put you card on hold if something does happen.
My 17 year old and I just got back from 3 weeks, London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome and a number of countryside places in between. We were on a Rick Steves tour for 2 of those weeks and were constantly admonished to wear moneybelts. She and I rebelled from the rest of the group and only tried it one day (finding them hot and clumsy). I had a very small shoulder back looped across my body sitting in the front and held my hand on it. No one was going to get it without a fight :-). My daughter carried a larger bag under her arm, with her arm wrapped around it. I noticed at least one pick pocket looking for targets in our group and a number of others trying to get us to talk to them (and potentially be distracted). We just acted smart, stayed aware and made ourselves difficult targets. Also we looked out for each other in crowds. The people with money belts spent so much time fumbling with them, that I think it actually made them less secure (RS might not agree). Thing is, the locals don't wear money belts, but they are very aware. My daughter and I spent some time sitting in a park in Rome counting the people who would be easy to grab something from (all tourists, mostly American). If you go to a big city in the US, the situation is not that different.
Lastly the dress advice given so far sounds good. It was very hot in Italy and capris/skirts were perfect. Scarves were being sold everywhere, so we bought some nice ones which worked well for churches or dinner out! Several people in our group brought clothes from REI (which I personally liked, daughter would only wear jeans!). I wouldn't even try to not look a tourist, just try to look like a fashionable one :-))
We just got back from 3 weeks in Italy and it was HOT!!! I wore my skirts 90% of the time. When it's on average 95 F in the shade and humid I can't wear any top for more than a day and it needs washing. I was glad I had quite a few along to change daily.
If you spend a lot of time in the sun and are not sure how much shade you'll get be careful with sleeveless tops. My shoulders got a little burned the very first day it got hot even though I used loads of sun screen. After that, I wore my sleeveless tops mostly in the evening.
And yes, Birkenstocks for 35 Euro are a great deal! Sandals by Ecco, Mephisto and Birkenstock are worn by many Europeans and can be very fashionable these days. I'm waiting for the end of the season to replace my worn sandals with Ecco ;-)
We just returned from Italy as well, and it was HOT. We have a new definition for hot at our house- ROMAN FORUM HOT.
We used a system where my husband wore a money belt containing our passports, money and credit card. It was not at all inconvenient for him to get out money for souveniers, etc. When possible, we put the pports in the room safe.
I carried a cheapo camera bag that I kept my camera, lens, scarf, sunblock, and small water bottle in. When I didn't need to get in it, I tied the strings on the zipper pulls together.
We did get hit by pick pockets in Pisa (unsuccessfully) but the young girls were bold enough to stick their hands right into my husband's pants pocket.
I would definitely suggest carrying a scarf. It was nice to cover up when needed, but it also was an impromptu head cover at the Forum and Palatine Hill when I needed a little less sun.