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Things you wish you knew/did before you traveled to Europe

Things you wish you knew/did before you traveled to Europe

Old Mar 30th, 2011, 11:06 AM
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To answer the question in your title, I wish someone had told me that you have to ask for the check in Italian restaurants. You don't ask, they don't bring it. And even when you do ask, it can take a while.

Also I pack a clothes washing kit, which include tube soap (allows for varying wash sizes), inflatable hangers, a clothesline, and a plastic disk which acts as a drain stopper for any size drain. I suspect you will be doing lots of washing out clothes in your room.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Don't pull the string in the bathroom in Italy unless it's an emergency and you want the hotel staff to show up.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 11:40 AM
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Jazzzy If I followed your logic, I would be 'wiping down' daily on trains buses and the underground. I only know of one peron who got MRSA...elderly and in hospital.
Am epidemic of MRSA from gyms and aeroplanes?.....first I've heard

It is not better to be 'proactive' as you call it, you are lowering your immune system..... Yes wash your hands after going to the toilet and also before preparing food, that's called hygiene, but anitbaterial stuff all the time, er, no.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 11:44 AM
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Great thoughts, all. For those of you wondering, I am American (Kansas City). I haven't been to Europe in about 15 years. I went 3 times with different Youth Orchestra's - so not only has it been awhile, but we are planning this on our own. Thanks for the tips about the bathrooms. I have been to Beijing, so trust me I will be able to survive the toliets on this trip!

@ grassshopper - Done! I'll double check, too.

@ Huggy - I read about this before. I have it on list to ask about when we pick up the car. Thanks!

michele_d - Thanks. I figure it wouldn't hurt to start a discussion about this. Afterall, we all have had some kind of questions and it is helpful to know what I actually need vs. think I need.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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alihutch: Yes, MRSA in gyms and airplanes. From your answers, I know that you're not in the medical field, but you must have access to google? Search MRSA in gyms or airplanes. You will get hundreds of thousands of articles on both. A lot of these articles are in layman's terms...

My logic is based on medical research and published data. No, dont wipe down trains and buses, unless you plan on eating and sleeping there for many hours (as one will en-route to Europe).

< It is not better to be 'proactive' as you call it, you are lowering your immune system..... > this statement is obsurd! You cant lower your immune system by wiping down anything! Obviously, you can keep denying it, but it won't make the fact any less true!

That's all I will say about that and good luck with a very eye opening research session...
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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"I'm a firm believer in exposing myself to as much bacteria as possible. Perhaps that explains why the last time I was even a tiny bit sick was more than 30 years ago."

Amen, St.Cirq. I'm convinced of that as well. It seems most of the people I know who are always getting sick or always bothered the most with food and travel issues are the ones who never allow themselves to get exposed to anything. I even firmly believe that a lifetime of drinking tapwater (well, not in third world countries) even helps me out. Those who refuse to drink anything but bottled water and make sure they are exposed to nothing are the ones who get really sick when they do.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Am I missing something??? Nowhere do I see plastic ponchos..If you are rained on, especially in CT you will know the you have been doused!!! cheap little thingys in small pacs..but worth their wieght and yours in gold. It's hard to find a plastic bag to put on your head in CT. And the Italians just roar with laughter!!!
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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"Don't pull the string in the bathroom in Italy unless it's an emergency and you want the hotel staff to show up"

Hahahah very true! We learned that on our last trip

Also, for our trip to Spain I wish I packed hair conditioner. Everywhere we stayed had only shampoo and by the time I decided I really needed conditioner I didnt want to pay $$$$ for it and our trip was nearing the end.

Tylenol, Qtips, bandaids (especially the blister kind), a travel sewing kit, extra ziploc bags, and a nail file are all things I wish I had brought or were very happy to have.

travel alarm clock. some of our rooms didnt have a clock.

More for Spain but I put together a mini food glossary from a bunch of other lists with the basics. Most lists out there have so many obscure things that I just wanted to know chicken/beef/pork/veal/etc, major vegetables, things I knew I wouldnt eat or would be seeking out, and a few terms like "what is this?" "may I please have the check?" etc. I kept a copy in my purse and found it helpful.

call your credit card company and let them know in advance that you will be abroad so they dont put a fraud alert on your card and cut off access.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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@summer08bride....Tylenol in Europe is Panadol. No problem getting it.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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It was after seeing this and other stories on bedspreads, TV remotes, etc. on the nightly news that I started cleaning my hotel rooms. I bring Clorox wipes.

http://www.divinecaroline.com/22250/...inking-glasses
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:45 PM
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"I'm a firm believer in exposing myself to as much bacteria as possible. Perhaps that explains why the last time I was even a tiny bit sick was more than 30 years ago."

Hmmm, I do what Michele_d does and I use wipies before I eat in restaurants....and I haven't been sick in probably 30 years either.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 08:54 AM
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On the subject of laundry - I have found that hand soap and a gallon-sized zip-lock bag work very well for washing smaller things. I put clothes in the bag with water and soap, then close it up, let it soak for a couple minutes and then agitate the bag with my hands. After a couple minutes of agitation, I drain the water and add fresh to rinse the clothes. This method doesn't work well for large things, but it is great for undies, socks, and tops.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 08:54 AM
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On the subject of laundry - I have found that hand soap and a gallon-sized zip-lock bag work very well for washing smaller things. I put clothes in the bag with water and soap, then close it up, let it soak for a couple minutes and then agitate the bag with my hands. After a couple minutes of agitation, I drain the water and add fresh to rinse the clothes. This method doesn't work well for large things, but it is great for undies, socks, and tops.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 10:20 AM
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wow - from reading some of these replies, you would think you are going to the moon! Its Europe. Things are pretty clean there, they have laundry facilities, shops, pharmacies, etc... Lots of things could go wrong, but you need to consider the odds that they will actually go wrong.

granthammommy - offered some sound advice. Here's some more tips - don't over pack and don't over plan. leave stuff at home, buy things when you get there. Don't have every day planned out, give yourself a chance to do something different, something you didn't expect to do. Don't be afraid to get lost every now and then. Things that will help you:

ATM cards. Have a backup account, just in case. for some reason, my CapitalOne money market ATM suddenly stopped working on my last trip, luckily I had a second account to use for cash.

I brought a small, "netbook" computer. This was a huge asset. Finding free WiFi was easy, I was able to use it to call home via Skype, save/catalog photos, check for things to do, confirm travel arrangements and use online banking to help transfer funds to deal with my ATM card issue.

Finally - something I wish I had done before leaving. Get to know the local language(s). The time you spend before your trip learning a few key phrases, etc... will really pay off. If, for no other reason, it will give you some added confidence to attempt a conversation with the locals.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Someone mentioned bringing an extra pair of glasses and I want to reinforce this recommendation. Mine were stepped on and crushed on the plane going over as I slept. Luckily I had my prescription sun glasses with me, and was able to get a new pair of my regular glasses made in Rome - but it was terribly expensive and I was lucky to find a place that could do it in only three days. I will NEVER travel without a spare pair again.

If checking my main bag, I bring at least one full change of clothes in my carry-on luggage, and preferably two. This is especially necessary if you are a plus size woman, a very large man, or are otherwise hard to fit. I ignored this standard advice, and was very sorry when my luggage was lost for the first three days of my trip to Turkey. We shopped, but were unable to find clothing that would fit.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 02:58 PM
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If you have a friendly family doctor I would ask for a prescription for an antibiotic....general antibiotic. Z Pak or something like that for upper respiratory problems....the planes always seem to cause some issues with people. You can always turn it back in (mine usually gives me a week of samples to take, but having the prescription bottle is probably a better idea).
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 03:38 PM
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If you wear glasses or contacts, take a copy of your current prescription.

If you take prescription medications, take copies of your prescriptions (or at least take the medications in their original containers).

Make sure you have the "generic" name of each medication (Prescription or OTC) you take. Even better would be to find out what that name is in the countries you will visit. The odds are likely quite small you will need that information, but it takes up little space on a paper or in an email to yourself. And in the event you either run out/lose the supply you brought or you fall ill/have to be admitted to the hospital, you will be glad you have the info.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 04:05 PM
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A pair of small, light opera glasses. A lot of the art is high up.

Take at least a week's worth of extra medication. I was stuck at Heathrow for a week in December and was lucky that I could get what I needed from a nearby pharmacy but the dosage wasn't exactly what I'd been using at home. Plus eight billion other stuck travellers were at the same pharmacy.

And I'd suggest that you can buy most of the stuff you need (tissue, headache tablets, etc.) as needed wherever you are. But do carry tissue in your purse.
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 06:55 PM
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Make sure both you and your husband have a copy of the names and locations of where you are going to stay. My husband and I made our 9th trip to Europe, always traveling on our own, 3rd to Rome last spring. Usually he takes care of transportation arrangement, and I take care of lodging. For the first time in all our travels, we were separated on the way from the airport to the hotel.

I was so thankful we both had a copy of where we were headed. Long story, but despite his going back to to the train station where we were separated, and my staying in place, we did not find each other. Not sure what we would have done if we both had not known the location of the hotel. Have fun. PJK
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Old Mar 31st, 2011, 07:32 PM
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Oh, and that reminds me. Pick up a business card as you leave your hotel and carry it with you. In a city where you don't speak the language, it's easy to just hand the card to a cab driver.
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