Europe Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

View all Europe activity »
  1. 1 Greece
  2. 2 Trip Report This Pirate goes to Penzance, and then on to the land of Fire and Ice
  3. 3 Surprise 30th Birthday Trip... ideas?
  4. 4 Please help with Carry-on Question--CDG!
  5. 5 Iceland france spain
  6. 6 Help on ancient history route
  7. 7 Amalfi coast in august
  8. 8 Lake Como- Which villa has the best garden?
  9. 9 RS view on & the like
  10. 10 (Repost) Overall cost of three weeks in Scotland??
  11. 11 Split, Croatia Itinerary help
  12. 12 Hiking lake Como
  13. 13 Prem fares (again)
  14. 14 Please help: Swiss Pass/Lucerne/Engadine?
  15. 15 Charming hotels in Paris, please help.
  16. 16 Top Tapas Tascas
  17. 17 Frankfurt to Achen travel by train
  18. 18 Fly out Venice or Rome
  19. 19 If your site isn't working because of the update, just take it offline
  20. 20 Dolomites Sept 2017 express bus schedules
  21. 21 Italy- dolomites and cinque terre
  22. 22 Trip Report Incredibly Beautiful, Fira, Greece
  23. 23 Renting a car in Greece
  24. 24 tickets for Wimbledon
  25. 25 Trip Report Capri is for vacationing, la Dordogne is for living
View next 25 » Back to the top

Preparing for a Trip--My Drill

Jump to last reply

It doesn't matter where I go, my trip preparation is always similar.

If it is a language where I don't have elemental conversational skills--and maybe one where I do and want to review--I crack open the Pimsleur about 3-4 months in advance and get to work. This year I have worked on Polish. I will take Turkish with me and perhaps do a few of the lessons in Poland and Belarus. I had some Russian in high school and chose not to review this time because I just did not have the time to deal with more than Polish and Turkish. In Sweden almost everyone speaks English so foreign language preparation is not as essential. I am not worrying about it. I have been to Turkey before and did Pimsleur before that trip. The second time through, you remember quite a bit and it goes a lot faster.

I then focus my reading and film watching on books about the country/countries I will be visiting. This includes both history and literature. Sometimes fiction is a greater window into the culture than history books are. Films can be wonderful as trip preparation. Mostly I scour Amazon Prime to see what I can watch without paying more than my basic membership. I just watch whatever looks interesting.

I set up files on my computer for each destination so I can easily retrieve reservations and information on the location of each home exchange. I then develop a trip "book" that is really not a book. It's a series of envelopes or folders on each part of the trip. I never take guide books with me. Some are downloaded to my Kindle. For the actual books I possess I copy the relevant pages and leave the books at home. As the trip proceeds, I can toss the pages I am done with and still have the books for research when I get home.

I check all my medications and make sure I have enough of each to last me for the trip. If I am going to run out of a prescription, I get an advance vacation refill.

I makes sure when I book odd reservations, etc., the credit card company is advance notified, so my card does not get blocked.

Before I leave on the trip, I notify all credit card suppliers and my bank of where I am going to be. I make sure to check my currency pouch for any currency that might be useful and pack it in hand luggage.

I have a secure backpack and purse that are difficult to get into (and difficult for me too!) and are made of cut resistant material. They are a good investment if you travel frequently.

My typical trip to Europe is from 2-12 weeks depending on the number of home exchanges I have. You may not have to be as organized as I am if your trip is just to one location, but I can be going to several.

For summer 2014 my trip will be to Krakow-Warsaw-Brest & Minsk, Belarus-Istanbul (side trip to Ephesus)-Stockholm.

When I book plane fares, I look for both convenience and price, but I don't look to where I get the most air miles. I am much more interested in paying less than on traveling on a particular airline. I would rather save the money up front. This summer I am (so far) flying American/Air Berlin to Krakow, Polish Lot Airways from Minsk to Istanbul, Pegasus Airways to Izmir (to go to Ephesus), and Turkish Air from Istanbul to Stockholm. If I return from Stockholm, I will use Icelandair--which participates in no one's air miles program but its own (not worth bothering with).

I make mistakes but usually not the same mistake twice. I do get better and better at this the more times I do this--and so will anyone who is a frequent overseas traveler. I never use a travel agent unless it is a specialized leg of the trip. For example, Belarus is an unusual destination and not a country in which I would feel comfortable being on my own plus my focus is going to see three villages in SW Belarus where some of my family came from. I have a guide and driver for 3 days in the Brest area. Once I am put on the train to Minsk, I'll be on my own until I leave 3 days later. With most of my nights in home exchange homes, I splurged. I have some basic Russian skills but it would take me awhile to read the road signs and who wants to be stressed out like that? I hired someone who knows the places I want to see--three tiny villages and then we'll go to Marc Chagall's house. The rest of the time she can show me what she wants as she knows what I might be interested in there.

Belarus requires a visa--and that was the first thing I did working up the trip. It was a real pain in the butt, but you either want to go or you don't. It also was $160. Those visa fees are generally reciprocal so there is no use complaining.

If any of you have some tips from your trips, I can always learn new things.

My trips are not everyone's cup of tea because I love going to places where I have not been before. Some of you go back to the same countries (or even the same towns) over and over again. Europe is a large menu and you can either try new things or go with the old reliables. I did home exchange in France and Spain last year, so I don't mind more conventional destinations either. I did Toulouse-Bordeaux-Salamanca-Madrid. The first 3 destinations were home exchanges. Madrid was a few nights in an inexpensive hotel.

Next year, who knows?

7 Replies |Back to top

Sign in to comment.