I will be traveling to Europe in Oct. for my honeymoon (Stuttgart, Salzburg and Paris) and am looking for practical advice of what i should and shouldnt pack.
I usually never (overpack) but want to make sure i take the basic things and also somethings that are overlooked.
I am keeping it to 1 checked piece and one carryon for both my wife and i.
So any direction or ideas will be greatly appreciated.
One thing that I always do is:
Take along some "Older clothes and shoes", that are going on a "One way trip"!
Usually, I will free up some luggage space by giving clothing items to the maid. It is better than taking them to Goodwill!
Likewise, it is sometimes nice to "Pack a bag, within another bag". This can give you more flexibility when returning home, You can put "Gifts or dirty clothes in the extra bag". Consider a light "Duffle Bag", they usually are easy to pack.
Just a thought.
Don't forget to pack a power converter as most European hotels will not be using 120 volt electrical systems and you will not be able to charge your camera, laptop, phone etc., without using one.
Also make sure to have very comfortable and NOT brand new walking shoes and like jerrycoin writes 'bag within a bag".
Have a great trip and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
Can you recommend a good power converter/transformer? There's so many that are just adapters and don't step down the voltage, one's that don't seem to work, etc.
I have a Dynex that is white box on the top row, 7th to the right, got it at Best Buy.
The good news is that all of your small electronics, such as your phone, camera, tablet, mp3 player, etc. do not need a power converter (expensive - $35-$50 and a bit weighty), since these devices are manufactured with automatic dual voltage. The only thing you will need is a plug adapter, which usually costs less than two bucks. For your fiancee, she might need a converter for a curling iron or flat iron, but a better option would be to purchase a dual voltage iron. I found a dual voltage full wattage (1875) hair dryer at Target for under $18 a couple of months ago (thanks profchiara), and took it with me on my last trip. It worked great (a lot better than those wimpy wall mounted hotel hair dryers.) In my experience, I found that I had to be careful with using power converters with the curling irons and hair dryers, because if you don't follow the instructions, you can ruin your appliance. Or your hair. To wit, my mom used one with her iron once, and it literally burned the section of her hair that she wrapped around the iron black and right off her head, sticking to the iron. That was when we decided a trip to Darty's (French version of Best Buy) for a European curling iron and flat iron were in order. Now, I don't even bring a power converter anymore. I also picked up a round adapter at a Carrefour (which are everywhere) in Paris a few years ago that has come in real handy ever since. In fact, I'd like to get a second one (maybe even three), as everyone that I travel with is always wanting to borrow mine. They're only about 4€, and worth it. They're very solid and stay in the wall socket real well. I can take a photo of it if you'd like.
This last trip that I took was 19 days. I wore 4 pairs of pants (and a fifth pair - dress slacks - which I only wore once for a Mozart concert), but I packed 7 pairs. I also packed a dress, which I didn't wear, since I opted for the dress slacks. For tops I packed probably 9 or 10, and again, didn't wear them all. I did wash clothes. Once or twice in the bathtub (you can buy laundry "sheets" to take with you - light and compact) and once in a laundromat (the clothes turned out great). I don't mind going that route to save lugging around lots of heavy luggage, but that's just me. I took three pairs of shoes. I wore them all. I finally got that right (I used to take 5!) The moral of the story about telling you what I packed and wore vs. didn't wear is that after much improvement over the years in terms of over packing, I still tend to over pack. A number of years ago when I first read Rick Steves article on packing - that you never need more than a carry-on - I thought he was nuts; oh ya, easy for a guy maybe, I thought, but with experience I am growing to find that he is quite right. Last trip I was down to two carry-on sized bags, and considering what I didn't use/need, I think I am finally ready to take my maiden voyage with the one carry-on next trip. Ditching the excess baggage is SO FREEING!
Two other items that I find handy and worthy of packing when traveling to Europe are: 1) an umbrella (I've never been to Europe when it didn't rain at least one day). 2) small pair of binoculars. My cousin has a really slick pair of lightweight binoculars/camera all in one. Very cool.
Don't bring lots of toiletries, OTC medications, etc. There's a pharmacy on every corner in every decent sized city in Europe. You can pick up anything you need. Well, a few bandaids might come in handy in case of a blister or two, but that's all.
This last trip, I downloaded the full versions of the apps City Walk Prague and City Walk Vienna. $4.99 for the full version, and totally worth it. Great walking tours, and you don't need internet access. The GPS in your tablet/phone will take care of it. The apps worked great.
I too wish you a great trip and marriage!
You are so correct pluto77, great catch as the adapter is what I was thinking as you suggest. Agreed, be FREE and the one carry-on is perfect, we've been all over the place with each of us taking our roll-a-board .
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU,
Wow what a vast array of first hand knowledge!
I do truly and deeply appreciate the time you took in sending all of this info, we normally pack light, but will surely put this info to good use.
I already have 2 adapters.Have umbrella and binoculars already on the list.
Good heads up though on the OTC meds etc.... a good piece of advice to have.
Did you do the Mozart concert in Vienna or Salzburg?
The first part of my honeymoon will be in Salzburg, i already have the Mozart dinner/concert booked!
Looks to be a very fun and interesting evening.
Also like you i read Rick Steves, i found out thru his books that some of the places you may be going may be in one of his books, he has it worked out that if you show them his book with the name of a hotel or tour group etc... you will receive a discount anywhere from 10-15%
I am using the book to get a discount at the Bloberger hof in Salzburg and also Bobs Special Tours in Salzburg.
Thanks once again for all the info and the warm wishes
You're welcome, and it sounds like taking the book will pay dividends. I went to a Mozart concert in Vienna, at the Musikverein. It was excellent. Newhiltonmembr recommends the concert/dinner at St. Peter's in Salzburg. Is that what you have booked? Anything that she recommends you can take to the bank, in my opinion. Also, I think both Salzburg and Vienna are meccas for top notch music groups with top notch musicians, so I don't think you can go wrong. If it's a reputable venue in either city, you are bound to hear good music.
I'm glad you chose the C-E in Paris. You are in for a GREAT vacation!
pluto77 welcome back from your trip! Looking forward to hearing all about your trip!
Thanks very much for your kind comments! I'm flattered!
Thanks, Nhm. I will post when the dust settles from the review contest (and when I can ever get my - not so great - terribly dark, because the weather was bad - photos organized). I did journal each day, and still plan to blog about it. I started blogging on the trip, but it got away from me.
I learned something on this trip. He who possesses the rental car contract and holds the steering wheel has control of the itinerary. And that is all I will say about that!
It's just that I recall you and I having a brief conversation about traveling alone vs. w/companions, and I caught some first hand insight into a previous comment of yours, regarding having the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want, for as long as you want, when traveling alone...
One conversation on our trip:
Me (in the back seat): "How far are we from Munich?"
Driver: "Munich? Why do you want to know about Munich?"
Me (in the back seat): "Well, aren't we going to stop in to Munich for a few hours?"
Driver: "No, Munich is the other way."
Me (in the back seat): "Oh."
Driver: "We're headed for Prague. Praha, baby. Why did you think we were going to Munich?"
Me (in the back seat): "Well, we talked about it. Remember? We were going to go to Munich so that Johnny and Janie could at least see the Marienplatz, since they've never been."
Driver: "We're not going to Munich. We're going to Prague, baby!"
Me: "Righty Oh."
Fast forward 5 days later.
Me (in the backseat): "Are we going to drive through Cesky Krumlov? Like we talked about?"
Me (in the backseat): "Why not?"
Driver: "It's too far out of our way. Besides, we're going to Brno to eat sushi at Koishi."
Me (in the back seat): "Shall we do both?"
Me (in the back seat): "Why not?"
Driver: "It's too far out of the way."
Me (in the back seat): (Groan.)
As they say in the Land of Oz, Streuth!
Oh, pluto, I am so sorry!!! You have the patience of a saint!
I would have been kicking the back of the driver's seat! "Yes, we are going to C. Krumlov and you are going to like it!!!!!"
I hope Brno was very pretty and the sushi was really tasty. It's a terrible shame that you didn't get to visit C. Krumlov, it is so very charming and the baroque theater is really something to see as it is one of the very few remaining today.
Looking forward to your blog!
i don't know if your itinerary is set in stone yet but if not, you may want to consider Hallstatt and St. Wolfgang. Beautiful towns in the lake region of Austria. Highly recommend a night or two in each! Google them for gorgeous photos.
Also, the Melk Abbey and surrounding Durnstein area are beautiful! Absolutely stunningl
There are many SOM sites within Salzburg that are not on any tour. Check out Rick's guide to find them. To see the stage they sang on before "fleeing" Austria climbing every mountain (fictional - they walked to the train station close to their home the following day and took a train to Italy), you can take a tour of the festival houses... the third and final stage will be that one. Locate Maria's abbey, walk up the many, many stairs to reach the Nonneburg Abbey (where Maria was a novice). Bring change to light up the marvelous frescoes in the rear of the church. Go to St. Peter's cemetery on which the "hiding in the abbey's cemetery scene" was based.
Have a wonderful trip!
Tons of great advice in this thread already. The only thing I can add is to consider having a phone to use. When I travel abroad I take an unlocked, quad band GSM phone and buy SIM cards from local providers. You can grab a basic, used, working one from ebay for under $50 if you don't have one. You can find providers that offer cards aimed for local access, ones aimed at calling back to the US or other countries and some that provide cheap data access, most start around 10-15 euros. Its nice to have that level of access while walking around, making reservations or calling for information as well as being in touch with friends/family back home. A bit of advice on phones there using prepaid cards. Data can be expensive and in short supply depending on the plan you buy. If you are shopping for a cheap phone to use while you are there, just get a basic phone without the "smart" features. Also buying from a place like Vodafone, Orange, or other large carrier might save you from buying a new card in each country. Check before you buy though just in case, sometimes having the "local" card can save you if you use it a lot.
Most US cell carriers will rent/provide international access on your existing plan, but look carefully at the costs. Most have a high per minute fee, some add connection fees, etc and they change costs based on countries you use them in. Definitely ask and know all the fees, I've seen some friends get shocking bills a month or two after returning from abroad. If you have a smart phone, you can find some good apps for local services, translation apps and converter apps. There are plenty of free wifi hot spots in most larger cities that you can jump on and dive into those apps. Also skype and vonage have some free calling options for calling folks at home free (if they also use the apps) across the hotel wifi.
Currency is another thing to think about. XE.com is often considered a good resource for current exchange rates. Those rates are a good base so you don't get swindled at places. Check it the week you are there (it doesnt change drastically day to day) and keep it in mind.
Things to check:
1 - Do you have a no foreign transaction fee credit card?
2 - Do your cards have an option for a chip/pin setup?
3 - Call your bank and see if they have any relationships with any EU banks.
4 - Does your bank provide foreign currency for sale?
Many places will offer you the option to charge you in USD vs Euro and at their conversion rate. They do this generally as the convenience to tourists but you can wind up paying too much. I have found some places that only use the chip/pin for cards vs swiping, not usually in major city areas but you might run into it. As for money, its very very helpful to have local currency when you walk off the plane. You can certainly change USD into local in the airports but the fees you pay can be high.
I found Bank of America offers foreign currency for sale at a decent rate, usually 7-9c more than the XE rates, which isnt a bad deal. They also have "sister" banks across the world that allow for no/reduced fee ATM withdrawals and reduced charges on foreign money conversions. You probably dont want to walk around with too much cash but being able to find the local deutsche ATM is pretty easy.
Hope that helps, have a great trip!
zukracer that is some excellent advice on the phone. I've used my existing Verizon smart phone in Europe and South America in the last year and found it to be quite useful however; as you mention watching the costs is not to be taken lightly. I had no issues with data as I'd always turn the wifi on so I wasn't getting charged for that just international calls which in South America seemed to be around $2.30/min, slightly less in Europe if I remember correctly.
I also would recommend B of A for currency transfer, we got a much better exchange rate before leaving for Italy and Germany last summer. It only took them two business days to have the amount of Euros we desired in the bank so we could pick them up.
Thanks for the great advice.
I couldn't get the links to work earlier at the office but here's the ones for BoA where they have foreign bank relationships, their "Global ATM Alliance" is defined as
Bank of America is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, a group of financial institutions that has created the world's first international ATM alliance.
Use your debit card or ATM card within the Global ATM Alliance in the countries shown with no ATM operator fees or Non-Bank of America International ATM Fees. An international transaction fee of 1% may apply when converting your currency. Some ATMs may be located in countries other than the country listed in the coverage area. Only ATMs in the country listed are considered part of the Global ATM Alliance."
|Bank Name||Coverage Area|
|Bank of America||North America|
|Scotiabank||Canada and the Caribbean. Caribbean countries include: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles (St Maarten), St Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands|
|Westpac Bank||Australia and New Zealand|
When I upgraded my Cap One checking account to their high yield checking, I was told they would reimburse me for any ATM fees upto $15/month for any ATM transaction in any country.
I use ATMs in the arrival airport or town to withdraw local currency. You get the best conversion rate at ATMs as long as you don't accept the dynamic currency conversion option as someone talked about above and your bank doesn't charge excessive fees.. The DCC, either on ATM withdrawals or credit card transactions, will add an additional 3-6% fee to your transaction. It is not for tourist's convenience, it is a big money maker for the DCC transaction processing company and the vendor you transacted with. Refuse it! And, if the vendor says they don't know how to circumvent it, there is a button on the cc machine that they have to push to accept the DCC option during the transaction. Tell them you know about it and make them void the original transaction and re-process it while you watch every step and button pushed. Still no luck? Make them void the transaction and pay in cash!
I go to Europe each year on vacation, so I do make sure that I bring 100 euros or so home with me so I don't need to hit the ATM at the airport when I arrive.
Be sure to take a couple of sweaters and a jacket- I use a trenchcoat- doubles for rain and warmth in fall. Also a little first aid kit-hotels never seem to have band-aids or little things like that. And take things that can be washed out and re-worn or pressed at the hotel. I have a bad habit of overpacking. In the fall weather you can probably wear the same pants or skirt 2 or 3 times without washing and then a good rinse in the sink will take care of them. A versatile silk dress is also good, too, for evening fun.