Travel Tip Tuesday: Five Tips for Pre-Trip Planning

You’ve booked your flights. You’ve secured transfers. You’ve reserved the best hotels and B&Bs in the country. You’ve even made notes on recommended restaurants, bars and pubs.

But have you done it all?

The truth of the matter is it is hard, even for frequent travelers, to remember the vast amount of things needing to be done before an international trip.

So, I’ll help you out.

Here are the top five things most people forget to do before they head to Italy.

Travel Tips: Italy, Southern Italy, EuropePhoto: Nareakim0810

1. Talk to the Credit Card Company

To protect their customers, many banks place restrictions on where cards can be used. If you plan to travel to Italy, call your credit card compan(ies) and let them know. This will help you avoid any embarrassing moments and ensure you don’t lose a morning waiting for your American bank’s customer service center to open.

2. Copy and Distribute Important Documents

Many people know they should make copies of their passports before they head abroad-and that advice is right on. However, there are other documents you should copy, as well.

Make a copy of your driver’s license, social security card or any other important documents normally in your wallet and leave them in a safe place at home.

Also, make copies of the back of your credit cards-where international and customer service numbers are listed-and put them in a safe place. Don’t keep them in your wallet. They’ll be of no use to those wallet-grubbing thieves in there.

3. Fill Prescriptions

If you are embarking on a lengthy international trip-like to Italy, for example, then be sure you have an adequate supply of vitamins or important medication. Don’t forget to keep the doctor’s prescription with you and write down major ingredients of your must-have pills, in case you have to search for replacements abroad.

4. Double-Check Airline Luggage Restrictions

And this also means, their carry-on limitations. This is especially important if you plan to take flights within the country. One of my favorite low-cost airlines, Blu-Express, only allows five kilos in your carry-on. If that is too restrictive, you can plan to take the train, choose another airline or leave unnecessary items at home. But at least you will know this before you arrive at the airport.

5. Confirm Cell Phone Service and Rates

We’ve seen this happen again and again at our bed and breakfast. American travelers arrive in the bel paese, try to use their phone-which they’ve confirmed will work-and well, they can’t. Before you travel to Italy, stop by your wireless carriers store, show them the phone you plan to use and confirm their international rates and policies.

What other things do you think people tend to overlook when planning an Italy vacation?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

8 Responses
  1. Great post as usual! One thing I would add is to try your credit card/bank card at an ATM once you’re overseas. If it works, then chances are you’re good to go. If not, then you immediately have your red flag and can call your back as soon as you can.

    Also, be sure to have a spare card you can use. My mom’s first visit to Italy, she was told by her bank that her card would work and it didn’t. Luckily, my sister had given her another card (more well known and established bank-with her name added to the card of course) that she was able to use.

    Great tip, Sonia! That could have been a nightmare!

    .-= Sonia´s last blog ..Affogato al Cioccolato =-.

  2. Good tips that I will be passing along to our upcoming guests. My advice with the copied dcouments is if traveling with others divide the copies up. For example, I have a copy of your passport and you have a copy of mine.

    Great idea. We like to do that, as well as split up our clothes, too – you just never know!

    .-= Martha´s last blog ..The Cousins Visit Rome, Day 2 Part 1 =-.

  3. I thought that girl in the picture was you!

    Along with distributing important documents, I would suggest sending people copies of your hotel reservations, airline info, and your tentative itinerary, just in case someone back home needs to find you. And so your mom will rest easy at night. 🙂

    Good idea. Are you talking about your mom or mine? 😉

  4. AmyEmilia

    Just one more point on credit cards… Americans don’t always remember that your Discover card isn’t accepted in (most if not all) Italy. Make sure you take both a MasterCard AND a Visa card. We got stuck once when the entire MasterCard system went down and of course that’s all we had!

    Such a good point. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 1. Euros- I buy 200 here before I leave, with some smaller bills. When I land in Italy, I don’t have to worry right away about exchanging money. You can buy them at most banks, exchange rate not too bad. Get some smaller bills.
    2. Small spiral bound notebooks, I have a 6″x8″ and a 4″x6″, take the appropriate one on side trips to jot down notes, places, numbers, etc. Bring over a couple of pens and pencils.
    3. Large trash bag. For my dirty laundry. Separates it from the clean stuff in my suitcase. Carry it to the laundromat.
    4. Power adapters. Most chargers, electronic equipment, etc. can use 240 volts, but the prongs are different. Check your wall wart can take that 240 v.
    5. Small dictionary.
    6. Small 3″ camera tripod for time exposures or put the entire group on the self-timer.
    7. Empty room in suitcase. Most people overpack. Most Italians are clean, elegant, but not ostentatious. You don’t need a big wardrobe. You can wash some clothes in your sink every couple of nights and hang them to dry in the shower. You will need some room to bring back the neat things you will buy.
    8. Italian cell phone. I bought a real cheap one with a pay-as-you go plan in the States before I went there, with a SIM chip for Italy. Calls there were real cheap, and I did not have to worry about high rates on my US Phone.
    9. iPod Touch. If you are not going to have a computer, and have access to wireless some of the time, this is great. Check the weather forecast, your locations on Google Earth (zoom in on your hotel!), your email, Facebook and Twitter, news, unit conversion, exchange rates, sports scores, dictionary, iRail gives you the current train schedules between any two cities in Italy, with exchange cities, and with Skype you can call the US at $.025/min. (need a headphone with mic for that, $29)
    10. Lightweight nylon shopping bag that folds to the size of a hockey puck. Put it in your pocked. If you go to the market, you have something to carry stuff back.
    The above tips are not for everyone, depends on the length and nature of your stay.

    Awesome! Thanks for the tips.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Double check the luggage restriction is what I’ve overlooked and should be done when I book Ryanair from Rome to London for my trip to Europe.
    I’ve linked to your blog from mine since I find your blog should benefit my readers as well. Thanks.

    I hope it worked out ok on that RyanAir flight-they can be pretty picky! Thanks for adding my link, I’m going to check out your site today!

    .-= Cecil Lee´s last blog ..High Key Photo – The key to outstanding portrait shot =-.

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