This will be my very first trip out of the country and my very first solo trip. I thought I would just dive right in. :) I am VERY excited and a little bit overwhelmed with all of this wonderful information RS has provided. One of my concerns is clothing & shoes, specifically for September. If anyone has been on a BOE 14 day tour in mid September, what type of clothing & shoes did you bring? Also, is there anyone else out there going on this tour as well? I can't wait!
We just complete this tour a few weeks ago. You're going to love it. If you look on the tour page it has info on temps you can expect in each city based on time of year. In short, you can expect temps comparable to what we experienced in late May. We found a light jacket useful until Italy, at which point it got very warm. Also, in Switzerland you will ascend to higher altitudes where it will get very cool. Given the range of temps, plan for layers.
Next, plan to pack LIGHT. Take the packing tips on this site very seriously. In many hotels you will be ascending narrow stairways to your room. In Venice you will hoof it a few blocks to your hotel. Several members of our group overpacked with large suitcases and were purchasing new luggage after a few days. We used the Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on backpack for everything and it worked great. Highly recommend that or similar.
As for clothes and shoes -- I'm a 50 year old guy, so not going for fashion here:
5 shirts -- 3 short sleeve and 2 long sleeve
1 pullover fleece (layers!)
1 lightweight rain repellant jacket
2 pairs of lightweight khakis
1 pair of shorts
5 full sets of undies and socks
1 pair of comfortable walking shoes
That's pretty much it. Sink wash every few days and laundromat in Munich were all I needed. You might consider adding a swimsuit for Tuscany.
What about shampoo, does the places you stay provide that?
Pndldy, every place we stayed had shampoo and soap, but none had washcloths. We brought a small bottle of soap/shampoo just in case, and also anticipated the lack of washcloths so brought some fast drying travel cloths. You'll also want to bring some super concentrated laundry soap and a travel clothesline for sink washing clothes.
You will have so much fun! While I have not done the 14 day BOE, I did the 21 BOE last Fall. Finished in Paris Sept 15, spent some more time in Paris then went back to Italy for Village Italy.
Shoe-wise I took 2 pr of Altra Zero Drop athletic shoes and wore them the whole time. My feet held up well to 10-12 (or more) mile days in Rome and Amsterdam. I have had bouts of plantar fasciitis and heel pain and these shoes plus a pressure point system of rolling my feet kept them in good shape. I am too old to worry about cute shoes any more, lol!!
I overpacked for my 8 week trip. For 2 weeks I would take 2pr pants, 1 pr crop pants (was still pretty hot to me in Italy in early Oct), 4 or 5 short sleeve shirts shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt for Switzerland, 1 cardie that goes with all shirts/pants and a waterproof (not water resistant) jacket. I would also pack light gloves/glove liners for Switzerland. If you are cold natured you might consider a polarfleece vest as an insulating layer. Take 2pr of shoes (wear 1/pack1).
I also did a Trip Report of my trip with my packing list. Its in this forum but is 4/5 pages back. I am on my phone so unable to link it if you are interested.
RS tours are great fun for solos!
I went on the 14 BOE tour last September. Bring a pair of sneakers and a pair of comfortable shoes. Also bring a rain jacket with a hood. I took some light weight long sleeve tee shirts and a few light weight long sleeve blouses. I wore them in Germany and the Swiss Alps. But Italy should be very warm! It rained in Germany and in the evening in the Swiss Alps so I was happy I layered. Do not wear sleeveless tops or very low cut tops in the churches in Italy unless you have a jacket to cover your shoulders. Do not wear shorts in the churches in Italy. Bring a small suitcase and a small overnight bag that you can carry. You will need to do so as you need to roll your bags from the bus to the hotel. If you are a female, bring a cross body pocketbook, not a hand bag. You need to have your pocketbook in front of you and be able to have your hands and arms free, so you can take photos or hold the railing walking down stairs or whatever. I brought a pair of jeans, black slacks, tan slacks and comfortable tops. I did not bring dresses, skirts, dressy clothes, as it is a very casual tour. I did bring a few scarves to dress up the tee shirts and tops. Do bring a watch as you need to know what time it is to meet the tour. If you only thing you will wear it, dont bring it, as you need to carry your suitcases. You will have a great time, it is an amazing trip!! Do rip out the pages of the RS Europe book ( don't bring the whole book) but you do need those pages!!!! And maps.
One piece of advice is to plan to arrive 2-3 days before your tour begins so that you will be feeling good ( over any effects of jet lag) when your tour starts.
On the question of clothing and shoes, I've been to all the places you'll be visiting in September so some general comments.
I've found that September can generally be warm for the most part, but be sure to pack some rain gear as that's also possible. I've encountered rain storms in September of "biblical proportions". The suggestion to layer is a good one as it sometimes gets a bit chilly in the evenings. You may also need slightly warmer clothing if you plan on visiting any of the higher mountain attractions in Switzerland (Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch). Good shoes (well broken in) are important!
I definitely agree with a previous comment that it's a good idea to arrive a few days prior to your tour, in order to get over jet lag and get used to being in Europe. I also travel from the west coast, and it always takes me a day or two to start to feel "normal" again. Of course you'll have to pay for your own accommodations until the tour starts. Plan some light touring for those few days, of sights that aren't covered on the tour.
Regarding shampoo, I've found that some hotels provide that but not all. If you're used to a particular brand, I'd suggest packing some along (place it a well sealed zip-lok bag in your checked luggage).
As this is your first trip out of the country, you'll need to keep a few other things in mind....
- Be sure to notify your financial institutions that you'll be travelling so they don't "freeze" your cards when they detect transactions in Europe.
- Check with your Bank to determine which account you'll be accessing with your ATM card. If possible you may want to pack along a "backup" ATM card in case of any issues with your primary card (I've had that happen).
- If you're travelling with any electronic or electrical gadgets, you must check EACH ONE to ensure they're designed for use on 220 VAC electrical systems.
- You WILL need Plug Adaptors to connect electrical devices in Europe.
Hubbie and I will be on this tour and we are first time folks as well... Anyone else responded to you? K from Atlanta
K from Atlanta, nope haven't gotten any responses from others going on this particular trip on the 12th. Maybe as the time gets closer we may hear from others. I look forward to meeting you and your husband! I'm originally from Atlanta. All of my family lives there. :)
Thank you all for your responses. Nerves are calming. I'm thinking its just the excitement! Thank you again!
Bring a light-weight bag - like a gym bag. You can put just enough for a 1 or 2 night stay and the rest of your stuff in your suitcase on the bus, so you don't have to schlep a full suitcase in Venice, for example. When you are taking your suitcase into the hotel, you can leave stuff you won't need (like the warm clothing for the mountains or the spare pair of shoes) in the gym bag on the bus.
My daughter and I will be on the sept 21 trip, thanks to all the helpful advice
Just checking in. Is there anyone out there going on this BOE 14 day trip 9/12-9/25? I noticed that the status on the Tour page for these particular dates went from "filling fast" to "sign-up." I'm really looking forward to it! :)
My husband and I are leaving Sept.12 but it's the MY WAY 14 day Europe Tour! Maybe we will be in the same hotels. the trip looks to be the same except we go to cinque terre and you go to florence!! Can't wait!!!!!
Don't be too disappointed if none of your tour participants answers this. Most of the people who take the tours, even veterans, are not aware of the travel forum.
mused12 re: packing. It is helpful to recognize that anything you need in the way of toiletries, extra socks - anything you might be tempted to bring, can be found there. No need to pack a 32 oz bottle of shampoo, (like someone I know), when you can buy it there, often in familiar brands. Same if the weather changes and decide you need a sweatshirt, umbrella, rain jacket, etc.
We are Janice and Gary and this Sept. 12 BOE is our first trip to Europe, also. Can't wait to meet everyone and we have been struggling with packing and the logistics for the trip. A little concerned the hotel in Munich is not town center.
To those going on this Sep 12 adventure, you'll have a great time. We just took this trip in July and it was fantastic!
As to the Munich hotel question/logistics, guessing you're staying at King's Hotel (this tour routinely does) and it's only a few blocks' walk to Marienplatz area and Viktualienmarkt. Heading in the other direction, it's maybe a ten-minute walk to Augistiner Beer Garden. So you're as centrally located as you can be, without noise/bustle of being in the eye of tourist-area storm.
Actually the hotel is Ibis, a chain hotel with about 200 rooms. We are sure we will have a great time even though we are in a different hotel than what the tour usually books.
Ah, good intel on Ibis. Just occurred to me (duh! ) that you're in Munich during Octoberfest! That may be the reason for hotel-shuffle but should likewise add a GREAT element to your Bavarian visit. Prost !!
Octoberfest starts the 19th,according to the itinerary you'll be in Munich the 17 and 18th.19th in Venice.So you may wanna plan to take the metro to see things.