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> Any more travel advice would be appreciated. What are your best tips and
> no-no's? This is my first time to Europe and we are going for 3
> weeks...(Anniversary celebration). You can send to my personal email.
This is an open letter to Marsha because others mentioned they were
Having traveled in a couple dozen countries over the last 20 years, I can give
you some pointers which I've learned through trial and error. Since I usually
travel alone, my #1 tip is: pack light. If I can't handle my bags myself, I
know I've got too much. Like most of the packing guidelines say, lay out
everything you want to take and then halve it. The new Supplex pants and
shirts are very light, easily washable in a sink, and dry overnight. A couple
pairs of pants, one a little dressier than the other, plus about four shirts,
will get you through. If you're a skirt wearer, there are Supplex skirts
made, too. Rayon washes and dries easily, also. Cotton weighs more and
doesn't dry as quickly. Avoid jeans like the plague; they are heavy and take
forever to dry. Don't bring an umbrella--too bulky. If you must have
rainwear, a long poncho is more versatile. You are not going to a desert
island; there will always be a building to duck into if it starts to pour.
Bring a light jacket and two pairs of shoes. I have a "travel jacket" with
inner pockets for valuables or maps or guidebook pages.
2. Avoid taking shorts unless you're going to be at a beach resort. Shorts
in the cities scream TOURIST, and you may not be able to get into some
cathedrals wearing them. The same goes for sleeveless shirts. This goes for
your husband, also.
3. I recommend not using a daypack; this also screams TOURIST, and trust me,
you really don't need to carry all that stuff every day. You're not carrying
an umbrella, bottled water is available everywhere, you needn't carry the
whole guidebook with you. Just pull out the relevant sections (as a confirmed
book-lover, this killed me the first time I did it, but it sure lightened the
4. Learn a few basic phrases in one of the languages; knowing, or at least
trying, some French goes a long way in France, even if the bulk of your
interactions are in English. Learn at least "please," "thank-you," "hello,"
"good-bye," and "Do you speak English?" instead of just jabbering away in
English because you assume everyone speaks it (they don't, and even if they
do, they won't necessarily volunteer to speak it.).
5. You get a better exchange rate getting cash from an ATM, and charging
other purchases. Carry only enough traveler's checks for emergencies.
6. Be aware of your surroundings and who's around you. I've never been
robbed, and have had only one close call. in all these years. Get photocopies
of all important documents: passport, travel insurance, credit cards,
traveler's checks receipts, vouchers, etc, and keep them separate from the
7. Take plenty of your favorite film and an extra camera battery. Take the
film out of the canisters and put it in a Zip-loc bag. Hand it to the airport
security and request a hand inspection. "They" say that the Xrays won't
damage slow or medium speed film, but it does have a cumulative effect. I
also like to keep a simple point and shoot with built-in flash in my camera
bag in case something happens to my regular camera. Here's where _I_ scream
TOURIST: I wear my regular 35mm camera around my neck most of the time, using
a harness-type strap I got at a birding store. Much easier on the neck, and
more complicated to snatch off my neck or to cut the strap. The camera bag
can also hold a few extra things like a notebook or small bottle of water.
8. Be low key, be friendly, be patient. The locals are dealing with cranky
tourists every day in the summer. I tell myself, even in third world
countries where I stick out like a sore thumb, "I can't look like I'm from
here, but I can act like I fit in."
Have a wonderful trip. After the year you've had, you certainly deserve it!
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