How fit do I need to be?
This type of travel is unique. We utilize trains, buses, trams, gondolas, the occasional taxi and walk a lot, often miles a day!! We travel like a local! Travelers must be fit enough to handle their own luggage on and off public transport (pack light) and walk up a flight of stairs with all your luggage (since in European train stations this is often the only way to exit or enter the track area).
Will accommodations all have private bathrooms?
All rooms in hotels will have private bathrooms. On some trips we stay at villas or large apartments, in this case we may share bathrooms but that information will be clearly stated on the trip itinerary.
Will accommodation have wifi and TVs?
All hotels will have wifi and most will have TVs.
How big is a Single Room?
The European hotels will be smaller than American hotels. The rooms are often small with narrow beds.
How big is a Double Room?
European hotels most commonly have a double bed made up with separate pillows and duvets, and often separate mattresses but they are pushed together to save room and are placed side by side in a single bed frame, so when a tour is based on double occupancy you would be sleeping fairly close to your travel partner. Here is an example of a double occupancy.
Can you accommodate special Dietary Needs?
Most restaurants accommodate dietary needs.
The luggage you bring is a very important part of your trip! Your bag is your travel partner and the wrong one can make you tired and grumpy! Remember you will be getting on and off trains and buses with all your luggage. Practice at home by packing it all up, walk around your block and going up and down the stairs. This should give you an idea if you have packed too much! It is better to find out before you go!
Bring a bag that is a carry on bag size. The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. You will not regret bringing a small bag!! Bring as lightweight a bag as possible and either a backpack or a rolling bag are fine, whichever you prefer. A rolling bag must have sturdy and easy to roll wheels to go over the cobblestones. Lift up the bag and spin the wheels. They should spin freely and quickly and not wobble.
I suggest that you also bring a daypack that can be a backpack or a messenger bag that you fill up and use as a “purse” or personal bag on the flight, too. I often use a small purse or wallet that I slip in my day pack instead of carrying an extra medium to large size purse. You are allowed one carry on and personal bag so this allows you more room to pack your things.
Versatile, low maintenance clothing is important to packing light. The clothing you bring should be suitable for layering.
If you are traveling to a cool or cold climate, I suggest a pair of silk underwear to layer under your clothes. This is lightweight and will keep you warm on chilly days. I always wear my jacket on the flight and use it to double as a blanket or I just pop it in an overhead compartment.
Nina Trimboli of Hosteling International says to consider these 5 factors that make an article of clothing desirable when traveling and aim to have each piece you bring satisfy at least 3 of them:
- Comfortable for touring around, but can be dressed up for the evening
- Is appropriate for cool or warm weather
- Doesn’t show stains
- Folds up small
- Coordinates well with almost everything else you’re bringing
By following these guidelines, you’re maximizing the usage of each article of clothing, so you can bring less.
You do not have to buy special travel clothing. Many items in your closet will work just fine!
I suggest a money belt to protect your passport and valuables while traveling in big cities. In the countryside you can just be alert and leave the empty money belt in the hotel.
When packing toiletries remember that it is easy to pick up anything you need as you travel. Remember all liquids must be in 100 mg or 3 oz containers or less and packed separately in a clear zip lock bag. All prescription medications should be in their original bottles or tubes.
Some inflight tips and my favorite items to bring on the airplane:
- eye shades
- blow up pillow
- lip balm
- hand & face cream (less than 100 mg or 4 oz)
- headphones (noise canceling are wonderful!)
- warm socks
- a scarf that can double as a wrap
- You may take a 1 to 3 mg melatonin tablet for sleeping but discuss with your doctor first. Melatonin is available over the counter (Don’t take any prescription sleeping medications on a long flight, many people suffer unpleasant side effects and disorientation).
- Lavender essential oil is very calming. put a few drops on your mask or pillow
- Some healthy snacks to nibble on when hungry
- Bring a large bottle of water on the plane with you. You can purchase a water bottle in a gift shop past security or bring an empty one from home and fill it up after you are through airport security.
- As tempting as it may be don’t drink alcoholic beverages in or before the flight, it will dehydrate you and may also interfere with your sleep.
My favorite packing list is a Rick Steves list that I have used for years.
I promise you that if you follow these tips and guidelines your travel will be much more pleasant!
Hotels, many cafes and restaurants have wifi, WhatsApp, imessage, Facetime, and Google Hang Outs are all free ways to text, video chat and call. Many US cell phone carriers offer reduced rates or free data in Europe. You must contact your provider and inquire about their European Travel plans. If you have an unlocked phone it is easy to pick up an inexpensive sim card with a local number in Europe that you can use while you are traveling.
I suggest coming to Europe for 2 weeks if you can manage it at all. Most of my tours are 10 days and you could spent 4 additional days traveling on your own. Contact me and I can give you all kinds of suggestions for extending your itinerary In Europe.