The Americans, part 2

f504cdae11c3501f00451c035b990dd6We’ve been ready for this trip for WEEKS. All of those important details that everyone freaks out about? I handled those months ago. I don’t think I need to read another trite blog post about the importance of packing ziplock bags and compression socks.

Instead of the oh-my-god-could-you-be-more-obvious travel tips, here are a couple things I’ve stumbled upon:

  • Book the Travelers Lounge. We have a very long layover in London-Gatwick before our jumper flight to Rome. To help beat the jet lag, we have planned on buying a day pass to the travelers lounge. After 7 hours of sleeping in a chair, sleeping horizontal and not having to worry about my luggage sounds good. We can also use this layover time to buy International SIM cards, Oyster cards, get cash and freshen up before our next flight.
  • One Day at a Time. I had a moment last week when I was trying to map all of the metro stops for everything on our itinerary, forgetting that the Paris metro system is vast and not exactly straightforward. There was also no accounting for distance scale, how much we’ll be walking around, or weather. Instead of trying to plan out my every step, I stopped and decided to just take logistical planning one day at a time. Our hotels and apartment all have WiFi and the SIM cards give us Google Maps. The purpose of this trip is really to take everything in. If we spend a few extra minutes waiting for a train, it’s not a big deal in the long run.
  • Nice Americans. There are so many movies that show American tourists in foreign countries asking for Ranch dressing and refusing to speak the native language. Hate to tell you, but this is completely true. Be humble. You’re in someone else’s hometown. Plus, your traveling to experience somewhere other than America. Don’t try to Americanize everything.
  • Plan Dude Stuff. Europe has always been the place where I wanted to go shopping, look at priceless art and eat pastry all day. However, that is probably not what Troy had in mind. So I’ve planned some things that are more “manly”: A Gentleman’s Tea in London, whiskey and specialty cocktail bars, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and jazz clubs.

No surprise, but I won’t be posting anything for the next two weeks. In the meantime, check out the instagram @CoxswainPatti.

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The Americans, Part 1

Patti Travel_01 When Troy and I decided not to have a wedding reception, one of the compromises was that I wanted a two-week honeymoon instead of a one-week. That decision was made last June. In the eight months since, I’ve had blogs and spreadsheets and travelogues on the brain, trying to put together the trip of a lifetime. How many cities, for how long, and what exactly is our budget? I like to think I’m particularly gifted in time management and organization, because so far this trip is going to be a whirlwind. A European crash-course in London, Paris and Rome. Now that we are three months out and starting to actually buy things (flights, passes, hotels), here are some of the things that have saved my life and my time.

  1. Google Maps + Excel: I created a multi-page spreadsheet to track our itineraries and budget. From all of the articles and blog posts and travel books, I made a master list of everything we wanted to see and do in each of the three cities we chose.  I divvied them up by location/arrondisement and created a custom google map for each day. Now we can see explore each part of the city, see the main attractions, and not waste time in transit. A screen shot of our Paris Google Map is in the graphic above.
  2. TravelPro: I’ve been traveling for work for 7 years now. I’ve had two roll aboard bags and yesterday, I just order us new ones. In December, I stopped in to the TravelPro Outlet store to check out new luggage, since Troy’s bag was out of commission. My salesman was great and picked out two models that would survive the European cobble streets: the TravelPro Maxlite for Troy since he doesn’t travel as much and packs fairly light, and the Crew for me, the kind that pilots and flight attendants use. We were able to get the latest 22-inch models of each bag at a great price. They both have considerable packing space while still being considered a carry-on. If you are considering buying a new roll aboard, get the 2-wheeled models, not the 4-wheel spinner bags. Two wheels allow for easier transportation and they give you much more packing space.
  3. AirBnB: Thanks to work travel, Troy and I have accumulated an obscene amount of Hilton and Marriott Reward points. This will make our London hotel entirely free, and our Rome hotel deeply discounted. But for Paris, I wanted to rent an apartment not only to take advantage of the open food markets, but also to have a washer and dryer. We found a cute two room apartment in the 19th, six days for $650 on AirBnB. We booked the apartment 2 weeks ago, so now our trip finally feels real. This has completely freed up a lot of our budget, and we don’t have to pack nearly as much. Awesome way to travel light!
  4. The Paris Pass and the Roma Pass: Yes, the Paris Pass is expensive, but this is our honeymoon after all. A six-day pass for six days in Paris, the Paris Pass includes free entry and express admission to all of the museums and monuments on our list, as well as open access to the Metro and public transit. In this case since we’re trying to hit all the big things in a limited window, we do save money and time. On our next trip to Paris, since we would’ve already seen the major attractions, we probably won’t need to buy a Paris Pass again. The Roma Pass offers complimentary entries and fast passes to our first two attractions in Rome and discounted entry to the attractions after. This Pass is considerably less expensive and also perfect since we will only be spending three nights in Rome. Both passes make my trip planning so much easier.

What are your favorite MVPs for trip planning? Bon Voyage! ~Patti