Things not to bring on your trip

  • The cute shoes that you can’t walk very far in need to stay home
  • Likewise clothes that need to be ironed because irons and ironing boards are not available everywhere
  • Good jewelry that you would hate to lose
  • Your smart phone with cellular data turned on (You’ll pay a fortune in roaming costs every time an application updates or the timeshare people call with another offer)
  • That heavy book you were always going to read
  • A lock for your canvas duffel bag (thieves have knives and scissors)
  • All of your hair care and cosmetic products—pare down!
  • Every medicine you might conceivably need (they have pharmacies most places); just bring any prescription meds and maybe leave the vitamin regimen at home
  • Stuff you know you’ll use only one time.  For instance bring the dress or shirt that doesn’t wrinkle to wear several times instead of a fancy outfit for the one night you’re going to a play
  • A bathing suit if no one has seen you in a bathing suit in two decades
  • Photocopies of your passports (give a set to your traveling companions)
  • Pictures of your kids, grandkids, pets, etc.  (That’s what your cell phone is for and you don’t need to have the cellular data on to access photos if you do it right.  I don’t know how to do it but there is a way.)

Things to bring on your trip

  • Sunglasses (and probably a hat that packs flat if you’ll be in any sun)
  • A camera that you can charge
  • Converters so you can charge electronics and use your curling iron or blow dryer
  • Your smart phone with cellular data off an a prepaid plan for emergency phone calls (or just buy a phone with minutes when you get there)
  • Maybe a small blow dryer as the ones we encountered ranged from hair singeing heat to the equivalent of a person’s breath
  • A map of the countries you’ll visit
  • A GPS with downloaded app for countries you’ll be visiting; be sure to get it in your language (your Siri or Google map on your phone is probably too expensive to use)
  • A small umbrella and/or waterproof windbreaker
  • A purse or backpack that you can wear across the front of your body
  • Washcloths—you don’t get those in Scotland, England or France (make up remover wipes will work too)
  • More than one pair of shoes so you can switch off or change if you get wet
  • A tiny first aid/utility kit—Band Aids, antiseptic lotion, safety pins, stain remover
  • A large scarf or pashmina—I cannot emphasize this enough.  I wore my pashmina with everything through rainy days in 3 countries; I put it over my legs when the AC on the planes was too cold, bundled it up for a pillow on plane rides, and laid it on the beach like a towel.  Just sayin’

Things you need to accept

  • There will be lots of pictures of you wearing the same thing
  • You will probably get lost once in a while and take more time to get somewhere than you wanted to
  • Some people don’t want to take a picture of you and your traveling companions; probably because they don’t know what you’re asking (“You want me to steal a camera???”)
  • You’re a tourist so you’re really a guest in another country.  Behave accordingly.
  • Customs are varied so watch and learn although you have my permission to be irritated with anyone who recommends a restaurant that would cost $200 a person
  • You deserve decent service and courtesy because you’re paying for it; don’t be afraid to ask questions or state your needs (like for a washcloth.  You won’t get one because they don’t have them but you can ask.)
  • There’s nothing wrong with eating ice cream every day when you’re in a country that has ice cream for sale on every block
  • That cute shirt you bought in France may have been made somewhere else, so if that’s important to you, look at the label
  • There will something along the way that you didn’t do or didn’t buy that you will regret.  C’est la vie!
Pont des Arts, Paris

Pont des Arts, Paris