Some Travel Tips - Then and Now

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Feb 6th, 2018, 11:27 AM
  #1
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Some Travel Tips - Then and Now

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

Be sure to have enough plug adapters for your country and your devices. Ask about the number of sockets in the room. Recently at Union Station Hotel in Nashville TN, the desk lamp had a plug hub on its base. Bedside table also had a USB slot. Things are changing?

Consider a little wad of TP or kleenex as train toilets can be out.

Make sure you pay with local currency when using credit cards.

Tables are so little in many restaurants, you carry a lot of stuff at the risk of knocking into others.

Figure out how to turn on the shower before you are naked and have to call front desk for help. OTOH, be prepared to get your arm (or more) wet.

Bring along something to read if you have forgotten to charge your device. Again, I have seen plugs on first and second class trains but cannot say if plugs are everywhere.

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. Ok, ok, who doesn't bring a phone?

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 shelves that are out of your sight.

Make sure you are one 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.

See if you can find the name of the stop just preceding yours. I actually wished for an alarm clock on one longish ride.

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. Often the same brand!

Don't over tip.

Last edited by TDudette; Feb 6th, 2018 at 11:31 AM. Reason: typos
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Feb 6th, 2018, 11:41 AM
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Good list.

>>Figure out how to turn on the shower before you are naked and have to call front desk for help. OTOH, be prepared to get your arm (or more) wet.<<

Ain't that the truth One place I stayed actually had an instruction manual for the very modern and too complicated by half shower gizmo.
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Feb 6th, 2018, 12:44 PM
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"Or pee standing up whilst holding your purse."

I have the first part down pretty well but will add in the purse and see what happens.
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Feb 6th, 2018, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Ok, ok, who doesn't bring a phone?
I'm still in the running to be the last person on earth without a mobile phone.

Great tips and thoughts about changes over time -- thanks!

And FWIW, I have full confidence in xcountry's ability to master this new challenge.
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Feb 7th, 2018, 08:54 AM
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Add to purse, a bag of purchases!
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Feb 10th, 2018, 04:16 AM
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Great Tips!
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Feb 10th, 2018, 07:06 AM
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Thanks to all.

kja, I have a smart non-i-phone and I use it......only as a phone! However, I have used the camera feature to take a shot of something I see when shopping, then email it to the person of whom the product reminds me.
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Feb 10th, 2018, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
I have a smart non-i-phone and I use it......only as a phone! However, I have used the camera feature to take a shot of something I see when shopping, then email it to the person of whom the product reminds me.
Another great tip!
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Feb 12th, 2018, 02:18 PM
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Please don't walk down the street staring at your phone or a map.
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Feb 13th, 2018, 05:27 AM
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Too true alwayssouth.
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Feb 16th, 2018, 04:59 AM
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Thank you!
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Feb 18th, 2018, 09:48 AM
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Pants with elastic or leggings for travel days---nothing worse than tight denim, buttons, and zippers when you have to be seated for many hours

always bring a scarf or light cover-up top---im always amazed by how quickly temperatures can drop --- and in many places in Europe and Asia a little extra modesty is required to enter cathedrals or temples (no bare shoulders or arms)

bring a mini pharmacy with you- tylonel, tums, bacitracin, bandaids, Dramamine etc---why waste valuable time on a vacation being uncomfortable or looking for a pharmacy. If you are going to travel in developing countries an antibiotic prescription isn't a bad idea either in the event of a more serious infection

2 camera batteries--- truly sucks to see the sad out of battery signal start to flash when you are taking photos mid adventure. Always bring a back up
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Feb 19th, 2018, 09:26 AM
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Good ones, trailandtide. Please add elastic waists! LOL

On a tour around Aix area, our guide said he hated the weather in Paris--one never knew to what extreme it would go. I was happy for an travel umbrella until it proved useless. DH bought ponchos--we never needed them but they would provide better protection to the things one is carrying.

In addition to the battery in the camera, I always had one battery charging in the room, and 1 in my day bag. Some newer technology may have changed that?

In most larger towns, the pharmacies are ubiquitous and have everything one needs, but yes, come prepared (as you carry what's not a TSA no-no). Bring a copy of your prescription in case you need an emergency refill.
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Mar 2nd, 2018, 09:38 AM
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Found some more on the Madrid/London TR. Some are repeats:

Be sure to write down where you parked your car and note the color of the courtesy bus.

Keep in mind that you will need change to tip people. Always get change and have some available.

Leave a daily tip for cleaning staff since the same person may not be doing it.
4. Give yourself time to find a parking space if you are using the economy lot on a holiday.

5. At USAirways, if you aren’t checking bags, you can simply swipe your opened passport in a machine that stands just before the check-in people. There will be a couple of questions to answer by touch and then your ticket is provided. Go on to Security check. Note above about the TSA pre-check (Global entry).

6. Pay attention to your paperwork. Being at the wrong gate number could test your heart and lungs.

7. Even if your driving company asks for your departure date, confirm and double-check that they will pick you up the next day for overnight flights. In Madrid, taxis should charge a flat rate.

8. Just take a taxi if you can afford it. No worries about long lines in customs.

9. Get change for tipping whenever possible.

10. Concerned about noise? Do ask for a quiet room when you make your reservations. Refuse the room if it doesn’t suit.

11. There is an ATM in the lower floors of the Thyssen-Bornemisza
.

12. There are 2 routes on the Madrid HO-HO bus—make certain you get the one that goes by Royal Palace.
Tips from Day 2:

13. If you buy the Art Pass for the 3 galleries in Madrid online, you must go to the Prado first to trade in your paperwork for a ticket.

14. Get to venues as early as possible—you’ll beat the crowds most of the time.

15. Try not to rush the servers. They are so busy. And don’t try to befriend them unless invited—many times they don’t have the time and only know your language well enough to read the menu.

16. See number 6.

17. The Reina Sofia’s permanent collection is on the 2nd and 4th floors. “Guernica” is on 2nd floor in room 206. Lonely Planet says room 6 so don’t get confused.

18. If you need an elevator in the Prado, use the Geronimo entrance after you purchase your ticket at the Goya entrance, walk out,from ticket area, take a right and another right once you get to the edge of the original Prado building. Good café, shops, and a sit down resto (I didn’t try).

19. There are several places to rent audio guides in the Prado. If main one in Geronimo addition is busy, walk toward the red wall and see another shop on your left.

20. If you have forgotten your alarm clock, and must get up early, ask the front desk, or use their auto wake up system. Test it the day before you actually need the wake up call.

21. Don’t forget to tip the concierge and the room cleaners.

22. Madrid airport is huge. Allow extra time for a ½ hour walk to your gate.

23. Don’t get confused if your gate number is R,S,T—it isn’t 3 different gates-- it’s one!

24. If you hire a driving service, build in time to go through customs, go to john, pick up luggage and maybe change money. For me, a taxi seems fine as long as there is a firm airport rate.

London has provided more hints:

25. To turn on the shower, you must first turn off the bath faucet in my room in the Strand Palace Hotel. The outer part of the shower’s escutcheon is the turn-on wheel. Point the showerhead toward the wall first or you will have a small flood.

26. The laundry near the Strand Palace Hotel is on Betterton Street. With your back to the hotel, take a left on the Strand, a left on Wellington and walk for about 15 minutes. You will pass a ballerina statue. For an extra wash and fold fee, you can leave your laundry. Service took about 2 hours and is close enough to Covent Gardens for a good stroll in that area whilst waiting.

27. Google New Row for list of pubs, hotels and plays. Looks like a great area.

28. Liberty (so probably others) will help you fill out your VAT refund form. You can turn it in at airport or send it (I presume while you’re still in Europe) in the postage already paid envelope.

29. Always eat when you can.

30. Always use the loo when you can. They are often on a lower level without a lift. Be aware if stairs are a problem for you.

31. One can eat and drink in the London Theatres I visited. £2,50 for a bottled water at one. Floors were covered with trash after. Tsk Tsk.

32. The 87 bus, not the 6 as shown on Google Directions, is the bus from Strand to Tate Britain. I have alerted google folks.

33. There is a free shuttle boat between Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

34. Museums may have not entrance fees, but special exhibits will have a charge. £16.30 for Matisse.

35. Design hint: Don’t use suede cloth wallpaper near a table where one inadvertently shoots a watermelon seed.

36. No commuter traffic on Saturday a.m. make trip to Heathrow a breeze. Security lines also breezy.

37. Global Entry (trusted traveler) is great!
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Mar 2nd, 2018, 06:19 PM
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Slight clarification: >>28. Liberty (so probably others) will help you fill out your VAT refund form. You can turn it in at airport or send it (I presume while you’re still in Europe) in the postage already paid envelope. <<

There is a postage prepaid envelope . . . But you can't mail it in town. It must be stamped by the Customs officer at the airport. Then you can drop it in the nearly post box.

Which is why I often just have the merchant ship my purchases for me. If the merchant participates, the VAT comes off the top and that will usually more than pay for the shipping charge. Another advantage is you don't have to lug it around during the trip nor mess with it at the airport.
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Mar 3rd, 2018, 06:09 AM
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https://www.ebay.com/itm/General-3-1...72.m2749.l2649

I have bought so many of these now for friends that see mine and want one or two. We seem to get hotels and apartments with few wall plugs so these are great.

Steps in the metro stations. I felt like we walked underground a lot more this last trip. I do like the moving sidewalks but those steps are still there. I pack light and have yet to convince a certain traveling companion to do the same. She actually wanted me to take some of her stuff as it seemed I had room in my suitcase at the end. I was like I have duty free coming up.
Janis, my friends did that with beautiful clocks and they were all broken. The store was not responding and they had to take it up with their credit card company. Three different purchses for Christmas presents, all broken from Garmisch.
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Mar 3rd, 2018, 08:26 AM
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>>Janis, my friends did that with beautiful clocks and they were all broken. The store was not responding and they had to take it up with their credit card company. Three different purchses for Christmas presents, all broken from Garmisch.<<

Oh -- that's sad

I've done it countless times and the only mishap was once in a large box of miscellaneous things from Fortnum & Mason (candles, enamel box, Christmas ornaments, tea, etc etc ) one pottery jar of marmalade was broken. I contacted F&M - they asked me to e-mail a photo of the broken item and the replacement was on my door step in California 4 days later.
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Mar 3rd, 2018, 02:03 PM
  #18
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Thanks for the clarification, janisj. Glad you had good luck with Fortnum & Mason.

And thanks for the 3-plug link, Macross. I have taken my power strip to U.S. hotels.
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Mar 3rd, 2018, 10:19 PM
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Do laundry while the front desk is available. Because sometimes it may be difficult to figure out directions even with pictures.

bring stuff on the plane that you need. The food may be indescribable, and for whatever reason, they may be sold out of those 3 dollar headphones for your 10 hour flight.

i especially like the scarf and train tips. Scarves turn out to be so useful. I never wore them before I started traveling and now I feel naked without one. And added to the train thing- don’t book the last train if you need to make a convenient connection. If it runs late, you’ll miss the connection. You could be stuck for a while!

Write down before you start travel all of the reception hours just in case. Know which ones that need to be notified in case of delay, know which ones are a lost cause in case of delay.
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Mar 4th, 2018, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Based upon 20-some trips to mostly Italy and France, here are a few tips. Our trips progressed from two 50ish full of beans travelers who thought nothing of walking all day, to oldsters. Any additions or clarifications much appreciated.

Be sure to have enough plug adapters for your country and your devices. Ask about the number of sockets in the room. Recently at Union Station Hotel in Nashville TN, the desk lamp had a plug hub on its base. Bedside table also had a USB slot. Things are changing?

Consider a little wad of TP or kleenex as train toilets can be out.

Make sure you pay with local currency when using credit cards.

Tables are so little in many restaurants, you carry a lot of stuff at the risk of knocking into others.

Figure out how to turn on the shower before you are naked and have to call front desk for help. OTOH, be prepared to get your arm (or more) wet.

Bring along something to read if you have forgotten to charge your device. Again, I have seen plugs on first and second class trains but cannot say if plugs are everywhere.

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. Ok, ok, who doesn't bring a phone?

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 shelves that are out of your sight.

Make sure you are one 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.

See if you can find the name of the stop just preceding yours. I actually wished for an alarm clock on one longish ride.

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. Often the same brand!

Don't over tip.
It would also help to bring tissue when taking a bus long distance because the lavatory doesn't provide toilet tissue.
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