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DIY Train and Other Travel Tips

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Based upon 20-some trips to mostly Italy and France, here are a few tips. Our trips regressed from two 50ish full of beans travelers who thought nothing of walking all day, to 1 asthmatic widow. Any additions or clarifications much appreciated.

Bring along something else to read if you have forgotten to charge your device. In 2016, I saw plugs on first and second-class trains but cannot say if plugs are everywhere. You don't need to be told about adaptors do you?

I wish I had bought a cheap phone in addition to my Kindle Fire. Twice I needed a taxi and trying to connect with friends got complicated. Wifi wasn't always available when I needed it to confirm or change itinerary.

Don't schlep a bunch of luggage. It makes one yearn for more arms and inconveniences everyone else trying to climb over you. You might have to put big pieces on out-of-your-sight shelves.

Make sure you are on the right train. Match departing time and train number that appear on your ticket with those on the screen. Also, the track number might change--it only happened two times to us but would have been inconvenient. The only time DH and I actually understood the entire public speaker announcement, they repeated it in English.

Can anyone say why 1st class is a better option on French or Italian trains? I thought Eurostar 2nd was nice also.

Allow always enough time to pack, check out of the hotel, get to the station, buy your ticket, watch the departure sign, find your gate, and walk to it. The train won't wait for you.

Be prepared for stairs! I always say you will know you are too old to travel if you cannot carry your bags up stairs or pee standing up whilst holding your purse and your skirt.

See if you can find the name of the stop just preceding yours. I actually wished for an alarm clock on a train ride with several stops.

If you must buy train food, get it sooner than later. They ran out of sandwiches on my recent TGV to Paris. Fortunately, I had smuggled a croissant from breakfast.

Just remember that we all need the same things. In larger towns and cities, you can find anything necessary for your trip. No need to pack most toiletries.

Confused? Concerned? Just ask!

Watch for landmarks so you don't get lost finding your hotel or bus stops.

Always have cab fare.

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