Daily Archives: January 28, 2014

Planning to Travel Soon? Here are some ideas to make it better!!

Planning to Travel Soon? Here are some ideas to make it better!!

I am going to be traveling again to Europe, and want to make it a truly lithe experience, so I have been doing my research, here are some of the ideas I hope you may find useful:

Money/Credit Cards/Cash

If you are going to be traveling for an extended period, check if your current bank has a relationship with any banks in your destination country. Often, the ATM fees will be waved, along with conversion fees. You can then use the banks more often and not have to carry lots of cash all the time. Also, if something happens, you can get money transfers more easily. When my daughter did study abroad, we opened up a new savings and basic checking account for her at another bank. She had two bank accounts and used different cards in different countries. Saved her a lot of money.

Before you go, see if you can get at least one credit card that has a CHIP (if you can get one with a pin, even better). Many places in europe and asia use and prefer these cards, and its much harder to steal information from them. Ask your bank what their options are.

And of course, notify your banks of your travel plans, and now is the time to set up those online bank accounts and make sure your transfer options are set up. Make photo copies of all credit cards, with phone numbers, and leave with a relative or friend, along with your itineary. If a card is lost or stolen, it may be easier for them to call in the lose or theft from home, as its all automated now. When you are in a panic, its nice to have one person to call who knows what to do and has all the information (ie last four of social security if needed)

Get some of cash, if possible, for the country you are visiting before hand (most banks will order it for you at a minimal fee) Its good to have some transportation cash with you when you land, it can be confusing at the airport or train station finding a the ticket machines, and even more so using a credit or debit card. The money conversion office may be closed as well if landing at off business hours.

When traveling around, carry money in a couple of different places, same with credit cards. Have small bills easily accessible, if you need to move things around, us a restroom or dressing room.

Walking Around Smart Ideas:

First, no need to be paranoid, just be smart and cautious and not make yourself a target for pick pockets, thieves, or other nefarious souls:

Carry around the minimum you can, a small over-the-shoulder purse you can rest on your lap or hold in you hand as well for your money, copies of passport, room key and credit card is best. If you have to bring more items, use a casual shopping totes, something light, the kind used in the country you are visiting. Use that for your sunscreen, bottle of water, scarf, sweater, guidebook, map etc. When you need cash, you won’t have to dig around in your big old purse, and you will easily be able to check that you have everything of value. This is also how I travel at the airport.

When you sit to eat, put your tote bag either on your lap or between your feet, the most a pick pocket may get is a sweater or snack. Your small bag can sit on your lap as well.

Whenever you leave anyplace you used money or credit card for, double check you have it all in your wee purse. That’s another benefit of having the small bag, you can stick stuff in it quickly and find it quickly. As well when riding on public transportation like a very crowded subway, the purse can be worn in the front. We are going to Spain, number one in the world for pick pockets, so these recommendations aren’t over the top.

Here are some of the tricks of the trade pickpockets and thieves use:

Brushing against you, or saying you have bird poop on your shoulder, to distract you. Try it with a friend. It works. Another one is asking if something on the ground is yours, they will pick up a “gold” ring or a credit card and ask if you dropped it. A new one is coming to you while you are eating and either laying something on your sell phone, like a menu or newspaper, asking you to buy something, and voila phone is gone. Again, why that small bag is useful, no need to leave anything of value on the table.

Wear a watch, no need to look at phone all the time.
If you are shopping a lot, don’t parade around town with tons of bags, its like an advertisement to thieves. Consolidate bags, uses nylon bags instead.

Lithe Packing:

I will be using Ryan Air a few times on this trip, and traveling by train, car, boat, whatever. Ryan Air is notorious for forcing you to either travel very light, or pay big fees for luggage. I am going the ultimate travel light route. Two small bags, with very specific dimensions that must fit in a box that rumor has it is actually smaller than the given dimensions. (More on my wardrobe later and more on Ryan Air)

What this means is that everything needs to be planned out well, down to the kind of toothbrush, and what can be bought there, and then given away or left.

First, I bought an inexpensive but useful small duffle bag, no wheels. Did I mention the weight limit of 22 pounds? Yeah, so my bag weighs 1 1/2pounds. That’s why no wheels. I am used to carrying a gym bag around, so this won’t be an issue. If you are ordering a bag, doublecheck the dimensions, especially for soft sided bags. The one I looked at had a couple of different dimensions listed, and those few inches can make a huge difference. I will also use packing cubes as well. It will really help keep stuff packed tightly and not “bulge” out the bag.

During the months ahead of trip, I am gathering up free samples of bath and grooming items. Those flat packets of shampoos, shower gels, etc are perfect.

Look for good walking shoes, I don’t want to wear “sneakers” but a good pair of flats with good support. Shoe inserts are a must. Break in your walking shoes before you go. Yes, brand new shoes looks spiffy, but a nicely broken in comfortable pair (or two) is the best. If you are like me, I can walk twenty miles every day touring, and taking care of the feet is imperative. I will wear socks with my shoes as well.

Here are a few of the “extras” I bring along as well

Small flashlight, great for power outages, and map reading when lost at night

Small locks, good for bags on trains

Ziplock bags, of various sizes, I have been saving the small ones for earrings and necklaces

Paper clips

Baby wipes

Reading glasses

Power adaptor that includes USB ports

If traveling alone, a door jam

Whistle with compass

Eyes/Sleep Shade

Air freshener you hang (like for a car-I have been in some funky rooms and train compartments)

A couple of those zip ties

Extra shoelaces (for a variety of uses)

Pages from my favorite travel books-Eyewitness Travel, no need for whole book or covers

Part 2 Tomorrow

Wardrobe, Food, Airplane and Airport Hacks,