Preparation – a successful trip depends on it.
What do you want to do; relax on a beach, go sight seeing, water or snow skiing or just go? You surely have a pretty good idea concerning what you want to do. My wife and I knew we wanted to go sight seeing in Scotland so we went. We also knew we wanted to go sight seeing in Italy, so we went. We did not just go, we (mostly my wife) planned the trip carefully so we knew what we were going to do when we arrived in Scotland and Italy. Creating a good plan takes effort to maximize your pleasure and releave the stress potential and will likely change as your trip progresses at your destination.
The first time we visited Scotland we had a general plan in hand and only the first night lodging booked in advance. Each day closed with a search for lodging. We had a great time, met a lot of nice people for bed and breakfast accommodations and traveled inexpensively. We knew what we wanted to see in Scotland and the general route we would travel driving a car. I was amazed by the friendliness of the people and the sights we added as we went along. We drove over 2000 miles on that trip to Scotland.
We took a bus tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and the entire trip, two weeks, was planned so all we did was follow the tour guide. This was a great trip but it cost considerably more. The bus tour was less stressful but did not leave much personal time.
A self guided trip is the best, without question. We took a self guided trip of Italy beginning in Rome, then to Pompeii, Florence and Venice. We booked all of our lodging in advance and knew where we would stay each night. We planned our itinerary for each day and managed to accomplish everything on the plan with time to spare for relaxing and miscellaneous activities. Some things we planned were cut short and some things were extended.
Our plan began with the idea that two weeks was a good stay for sight seeing. Skiing, beaches and other more active travel will vary. We split our trip to Italy into three venues, Rome, Florence and Venice with four days in Rome and three in each of the other locations with a day between for travel. We flew into Rome and took a train from there to Florence then on to Venice. We took a train from Venice back to Rome to fly home to save air fare. The savings are questionable and may be different now.
We had never been to Italy so were not sure what to expect from hotels. We stayed in the Hotel Apollo in Rome which was very nice and in the middle of all of the sights we wanted to visit. The Colleseum, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Forum and other places. When we walked out of the Apollo and looked left we could see the Colleseum. In Florence we stayed at the San Georgio Florence which was close to the train station, we walked, and was within walking distance of the museum where the statue of David is presented. We stayed in the Casa del Melograno in Venice which was a little difficult to find but was charming. All of the hotels we stayed in were small and seemed to be privately owned. We read the on line reviews and made our selections based on that and location. We discounted the reviews that sounded like complaints or ‘carping’. On line maps are the greatest.
We have learned that packing light is the only way to go. Clothing, especially undergarments, that are easily washed is the best. I like spandex or nylon undergarments because they are light weight and wash easily and dry quickly. I took enough undergarments and socks for one week knowing I could wash and dry them for the second week, I prefer wool slacks to cotton and denim, lighter weight for warm weather and heaver for cooler climates. People wear all sorts of clothing so denim is okay if that is what you like. Cotton shirts are good. I take about four pair of slacks plus the one I wear. I take five or six shirts plus the one I wear. I do not perspire much so I usually get by without laundering the shirts. I take one pair of good walking shoes plus the one I wear. I took an electric razor that runs on two AA batteries and it lasted fine. AA batteries are available everywhere we have traveled. I will take a charger and rechargeable batteries for my camera flash and the razor next time, just to be safe and convenient. Electrical adapters are a must and pretty simple to use. I took a volt meter with me last time just to check the outlets, it’s the engineer in me, and the voltage across the positive connections is 220 Volts and from one positive to ground is 110 volts, more or less. Most devices automatically select the correct voltage when you plug them in today so not to worry too much. I did fry a hair dryer in Scotland once, it had a 220/110 switch and I plugged it in set for 110 volts. It gave off a little smoke and burning smell and never worked again, even at home. HA
My wife will add her tips for a trip as applies to a woman’s preparation later so you must come back for that info.
We took jackets that were suitable for rain or shine with a built in hood plus, I always wear a hat or cap. I do not enjoy sunburn. We experienced a rainy day about once a week and it is nice to be prepared.
We carry cash and our passport in a money belt under our shirt or blouse. Have never, knock on wood, had a problem. There are a couple of interesting stories on the Travel Itinerary page.
This page will be expanding as we add more information so please come back soon and often.