My wife and I are taking our third RS this spring (we've done 14 days in Ireland and Paris and Heart of France). The 21-day BOE trip, being longer, has us thinking even harder about preparing and packing for the trip. For anyone who has taken the 21-day BOE, what suggestions do you have? Anything you regretted taking along with you? Anything you wish you would have taken but left behind?
You will love this trip! We went 2016, starting May 1. We got there several days early and they had a record cold snap. Overall, I planned 7-8 shirts and repeated them, with mainly short sleeves and light sweaters for layering. I brought jeans, long pants and crop pants. I brought knit gloves (used in Amsterdam), 2 scarves ( I like having a scarf on the bus if it gets a little cool) and my lightweight down vest for the cooler weather. It was cool in May—pleasant really. I brought a tank top that didn’t get used. I could fit all in my rolling bag, but brought a backpack for Venice and Beaune. When not using it, I kept the cooler weather clothes in it, out of the way. I did bring 2 pairs of shoes and sandals —wore one and packed one plus sandals. I did bring a baseball type hat.
After out tour, we stayed in Paris, then went to Belgium and then Scotland for another tour! Same suitcase, same clothes. It worked out well in Scotland—I had figured it to be cold, but they had dry, warm weather so I was prepared.
Don’t forget, they have stores all over and a T-shirt, scarf or hat is a good souvenir. Have fun.
Early spring or late spring can make a difference in my advice, but
1] DO make sure you have a waterproof layer
2] DO make sure you take a warm base layer top. Yeah, while you can shop for needed items it may mean missing out on something you wanted to see/do. We had to skip some touring and dinner in Rothenburg (not that it hurt us any lol) to walk outside of the old town to find a sweatshirt that was affordable and wasn't a size XS. Our overall temps ranged from the 70's down into the 30's.
3] DO pack the scarf, gloves, cap.
4] Although I never wore my short sleeve shirt the whole time I do suggest packing at least one. More if your temps should be warmer.
5] DO test wash/dry your clothing before making a final choice about what is going in the bag. Most of your laundry is going to be done by hand. As I recall, there was an opportunity for self laundry in Ruette and a laundry service in Monterosso. I only did laundry when we were to stay two days. As soon as our rooms were assigned I used the 30 min. downtime to quickly do laundry and get it hung. We each took two shirt hangers and one clip pants hanger in our bags and were glad we did as we needed them.
6] We each took a backpack and then a smaller side bag that we packed two days of clothing in for Venice so we could leave our big bags on the bus.
I went on this tour in 2016 through June into July. I agree with above statements. There isn't anything I recall regret with taking. Now I did another trip and took my laptop and hated having it with me, it took up too much space and was heavy. I would take a tablet or use just your phone if you need something to write emails or skype with. I agree on a waterproof layer, and make sure it is always with you. I do regret having extra shoes. In spring the Cinque Terre is not going to be warm enough for swimming so you likely won't need flip flops or beach shoes. Take one good pair of walking shoes, wear this on the plane and then if you need it a pair of slip ons for when you are at the hotel.
My big piece of advice is to repeat what someone else said, have an overnight or weekend bag. It will be handy for Venice and your one night stays. I was able to do just a carry on roller bag with me but took just my backpack with a couple days of clothes to our shorter stops or one where we had to leave the bus behind. Several of the hotels have laundry service, about 10-20 Euros depending on the hotel and it is super convenient drop it off and then later pick it up when it is done. I remember getting laundry done in Reutte and Cinque Terre and your guide will likely mention it. I honestly think it is worth it to go with just a backpack, and a carry on roller bag. I ended buying a 15 Euro bag to back some of my souvenirs in because I ran out of space but it was worth not having to have a huge piece of luggage to lug around.
That is all I can think of for now. I will keep at it and see if I remember anything else.
Good point Nance about wet weather ware. We were lucky with minimal rain, though we had rain just before and after the trip. That was one reason I brought 2 pairs of shoes as I hate wet feet. I tried the recommended wool socks. They dried well, but they did not agree with my feet. Also had Cotten/blend ones so no problem.
We took the 21 day BOE May 7-27, 2017 A very busy and fabulous trip. Due to all the great walking I wish I would have invested in extra nice Asics athletic shoes. I ended up with heel pain that I could not wish away. I wish we had not packed reusable water bottles. We toted them around and only used them once. We used all our layers in Amsterdam and Switzerland. Packing cubes were so helpful. You will not have much down time - and keeping our bags organized was essential. I took a old travel sized shampoo container and filled it with liquid detergent and used that for our room laundry. Most rooms had a towel warmer so that was very helpful for drying. As mentioned above we had 2 easy laundry opportunities. The hotel in Reutte, Austria had 4 washers/dryers in the basement. You purchased tokens at the front desk. Was not cheap - I believe it was $16 for a load. The dryers were free. So our jeans got washed in the machine and I took advantage of the dryers for some sink wash stuff. Note to self: Covertly ask when you check in and obtain your token(s). Beat the crowd. We didn't used the laundry service in C.T. but everyone who did was very pleased. My biggest challenge was packing for the changing of temperatures. I made a calendar with the average temps on each day - and had our trip mapped out with "free time" noted, bus time, and dinner provided or not. That helped me a lot.
Should this time time frame match with your trip - you might check the calendar and see if the Liberation Day festivities are there for your time in Haarlem. That was so exciting to see all the Jeeps rolling in and people dressed in their period clothes.
Let me know if I can answer any other questions you have. Diane G.
Wow, thanks for the tips, Diane! We're taking this tour in April, so the weather notes are relevant. I figure all layers will be worn in Switzerland, for sure. I don't want to take a coat, but a few years ago we were in London for the RS Best of London tour, and we managed well with layers. And silk long underwear.
Gosh, glad this got bumped up as I missed it first time around.
I'll agree with everyone's suggestions, particularly packing the small bag for Venice. That trip I had a tote bag I used for my bus bag - water, snacks, extra layers, RS guide book, Kindle, etc. I just packed away some of that stuff and put my Venice clothes in a packing cube along with minimal toiletries and used the tote for the 2 nights in Venice. It is SO much easier than trying to get your bag on and off the vaporetto and then over the bridges to the hotel. The bridges are actually steps which you don't really notice in photos but believe me you notice when you are trying to move your luggage over them! I actually did the same for Monterosso because you have to take the train and it just seemed easier. I did the small bag for the overnight at MSM on the Paris and HOF trip too!
I'd take a pr of small binoculars if you have them. They are so helpful to look at details in cathedrals!
Do some homework on what you want to see in your free time. I knew what I wanted to see in Florence and Rome but didn't have a plan for Venice or Beaune. I was just looking at the sightseeing supplement booklet you'll get and realized how much I missed in Beaune!
Packing cubes!!! The best way to stay organized AND to control how much you are taking.
I hand washed the whole time, including jeans. I so agree with Nancy to check the air drying times on garments at home. It is really weird that garments with seemingly the same fabric content can have extremely different drying times. Only the ones that dry overnight my my travel team!
Some way to journal your trip. You will see SO much variety covering all these countries that it's hard to keep it straight. I take a Moleskine notebook and jot down notes, keep track of my spending and list ideas for next time for myself as I go. I'd never remember it otherwise.
If you haven't already gotten your plane reservations, I hope you are going in a night or 2 ahead of the tour. I did not allow enough time for Haarlem and Amsterdam. I also had time after in Paris which I recommend if you can swing it. I wound up doing the Best of Paris back to back with the BOE and that worked out really well. I see you've done Paris and Heart of France but I would still do more days in Paris if you can.
I did the 21 day BOE in September, 2017. We stayed in Amsterdam for two nights prior to the trip, but could have used another day or two. We stayed in Paris for two more nights once the tour was over. Again, we could have used another night or two. There is so much to see in both places. I'll do it differently next time. When traveling so far and for so long, what's a few more nights? Of course, that's easy for me to say. I'm retired.
I may have been on the same trip as Katsrad!
All great advice given so I have nothing to add but to have a great trip. It is a wonderful tour!