I and two long time friends are planning a trip to Italy in May 2015. We have made arrangements to stay for at least a month. We started making arrangements about one year in advance. I will be blogging on travel issues to assist any fellow consumers on a budget. Our plan is to save monies by sharing the costs among 3 travelers associated with lodging and taxis. We have set a goal for $100 per day, per person for the daily expenses of lodging, transportation costs and food as well as an additional shopping allowance per person of $700. Our total per person monies spent should be about $5500 which includes the above costs plus $1588 per person for our airline tickets. I will let you know how well we succeed in keeping our expenditures at a reasonable level. Before starting our trip, we have taken several steps which I am happy to share.
1.) If possible, you should renew any expiring passport about nine months ahead of any planned international trip. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your travel dates. Some airlines will not permit you to board their planes unless this requirement is met. I have footnoted below, the best link for just about any questions or issues you may have regarding the obtaining or renewing of a passport. An added tip is for you to carry your passport on your person if at all possible and at least separate it from your purse. Pick pocketing and theft does occur. Replacing a lost or stolen passport can be time consuming which makes for a very unpleasant experience. Just to be on the safe side, write your passport numbers on a separate piece of paper.
2.) Yes, I recommend travel insurance. This expense is worth it if you have to cancel a trip due to a medical or other emergency situation. It is also beneficial if you experience a medical need while you are overseas, such as a broken leg and/ or if you need to return home early. However, if you are in good health you can shop around for insurance that does not cover the expensive portion which is coverage for a pre-existing condition. I recommend that you contact “World Nomads” for travel insurance. Again, I have footnoted a link below. One of my friends traveling with me mentioned that she recently contacted Delta Airlines, and she was able to purchase travel insurance through them from Allianz Travel Insurance for $139. Another friend said she has a Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has the free benefit of travel insurance. I looked up this credit card enhancement on their website which advertises, the “TRIP CANCELLATION/TRIP INTERRUPTION INSURANCE,” if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
3.) For our trip to Italy, we did purchase our airline tickets a year early because Milan, Italy is hosting the World’s Fair this year of 2015 and it is open to the public in May. There is no way that these Delta Airline ticket prices would be lowered. We paid about $1588 per person which includes premium seating. Coach seating can be very constricting during a long flight. For a little extra, you can purchase seating in coach with extra leg room. This way we were able to confirm great seats.
When you are traveling on vacation and with a family, and if you are taking a connecting flight, please allow for about a 3 hour layover. Most Airlines offer only one to two flights per day to international destinations which means that if your domestic connecting flight is delayed, you and your family could be stuck in the connecting city. If the domestic flight is delayed due to weather conditions and you miss your international flight, you will not have any added expenses covered by the airlines. Before you step onto the plane for the first leg of travel, make sure there is enough time for you to make that connection. If not, it is better not to take it and make the airline representative work on alternate arrangements which are satisfactory to yourself. For international travel, you should arrive at the airport about three hours prior to your scheduled flight departure. If you want a more pleasant travel ambiance due to a long layover, most airports will allow to you to purchase a day’s pass to one of their club lounge areas.
3.) Travel light. Carrying lots of luggage becomes a burden very quickly. We all selected luggage that is light in weight with spinner wheels. I was able to purchase my luggage on the HSN TV show where the carry on attaches to the luggage handle of the larger piece which cost me $130. We will be traveling by train from Milan to Venice; from Venice to Florence; from Florence to Naples; and from Naples to Rome. Handling cumbersome, heavy luggage would make this trip a nightmare while we take them on and off the trains, especially since we ladies will not have assistance.
4.) In Italy, I know that we will be walking many miles. It is crucial that you wear comfortable walking shoes or else your adventure will become a very painful one. I have footnoted several links below.
5.) Some important tips include making sure that you always carry a packet of Kleenex with you. You will find out soon enough as to why; make sure you carry cash because not all stores accept credit cards. If you are ever asked at a place of business if you would like them to charge you in U.S. dollars instead of Euros, the answer is no, thank you. You will not be getting a good deal in the conversion rates.
6.) In Europe the American Express card is not accepted at many places, and so you may want to travel with master card as well. Verify if your credit card company charges less than 1% for converting monies while you are in Europe. If not, there are credit cards which charge you nothing to convert your monies from U.S. dollars to a foreign currency. I prefer the USAA World master card and the USAA American Express card which are available to anyone who has ever served in the military with interest rates starting at 9.9%, no annual fees and limited travel insurance but their cards charge 1% for currency exchanges. For non military consumers, I like the Gold or Platinum Delta American Express card and I have been referring to the blog, Nerd Wallet for their recommendations. Their favorite cards are the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite master card, the Barclay Arrival World master card, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred master card. If you intend to carry a balance on your credit card, my friends have done some research. As of February, 2015, they have determined that the credit cards with the lowest interest rates are the Capital One travel credit cards. The Citi preferred card starts their interest rates at 12.99% but the first year of usage interest is -0-and there are no annual fees. Barclays interest rates were starting at 14.99% interest. In Europe, the credit cards have a chip for added security. You can request this chip card from the above companies or which ever banking institution you are using. It is a good idea to write down (in a coded way) your credit card numbers along with the international contact number. There is a link below with a comparison table for credit cards which is current for 2/ 2015.
7.) As per the In Italy online blog which I have footnoted below, you should check with your cell phone carrier to verify that your phone has the 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies – also called bands or networks. If your phone has these required frequencies, then you will be able to use your cell phone which will be expensive but okay if you intend to use your phone only for emergencies. International rates vary from $0.99-$1.29 a minute plus the tax which will cost you an additional 15-20% and this is for incoming AND outgoing calls. If you want better access to your cell phone, then the blogger suggests, “another much more affordable solution, which is to purchase an Italian SIM card. Besides the unlimited FREE incoming calls from anywhere in the world, outgoing rates are just a fraction of those of a North American provider.”
8.) Don’t forget to bring a couple of adapters so that you can recharge your camera and cell phone in Europe. I recently purchased 5 from Rick Steve’s Europe online store at $1.00 per adapter. He does add the suggestion, “Make sure your appliances have built-in 110/220-volt converters. If not, you’ll need to buy a voltage converter (which we don’t sell!) to use our plug adapters. Imported.” Wal-Mart sells the voltage converter for about $20.00.
We plan to fly into Milan, Italy and out of Rome. This adventure will be continued in my next blog.
This blog was updated on 2/23/15.
Frequently Asked Questions – Bureau of Consular Affairs, travel.state.gov/…/passports/…/passports/FAQs…Bureau of Consular Affairs
World Nomads – Explore Your Boundaries www.worldnomads.com/ Travel insurance for independent travelers from more than 150 countries. Trusted by Lonely Planet – buy, extend & claim online. 24hr worldwide assistance
Comfty Walking Shoes to Wear in Europe for females – Paris Forum …http://www.tripadvisor.com › … › Paris › Paris Travel Forum TripAdvisor LLC Want to know what brands of shoes to wear for walking in Europe. … buy some decent walking shoes and break into them before going on a trip. …. The main difference in hiking shoes is the sole thickness and upper material (synthetic is best).
The Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Europe | Fabulous …http://www.fabulousafter40.com/the-most-comfortable-walking–shoes-for-euro…Apr 11, 2014 – Well not to worry because fashionista Aliceann Toole has this look at the best walking shoes for Europe or wherever else you might travel to …
Best Walking Shoes for Travel – Articles | Travel + Leisure www.travelandleisure.com/…/best–walking–shoes-for-travel…Travel + Leisure Finding chic yet comfortable walking shoes is easier said than done. Here, our picks for classic ballet flats, preppy loafers, and booties that will give you a leg up.
Comfortable shoes to wear in Italy this summer and … – Fodor’s http://www.fodors.com › Forums › Europe Fodor’s May 17, 2013 – 100+ posts – 57 authors Wear good walking sandals and you will be fine. Closed shoes …… The Best shoes for being comfortable and stylish are NAOT.
NerdWallet’s Best Travel Credit Cards, 2015 – NerdWallet www.nerdwallet.com/…credit–cards/nerdwallets-best–travel…NerdWallet.com With a travel card, you can take advantage of awesome rewards like nights at top-tier hotels, … Best airline miles credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
How to Use Your Cell Phone in Italy (Yes, You Can!) http://www.walksofitaly.com/…italy/cell–phones–italy-country-code-mobile–phone…May 30, 2011 – Brought your cell phone with you to Italy? Great. Now, how the ….. What is the best and least expensive way to do this?
Cell Phone Options for Italy – In Italy Online http://www.initaly.com/ads/cellrent.htm I have been writing articles on cell phone service in Italy since 1998 and … Here is the most effective way to take advantage of the cellular service they offer.
100+ Things to Know If You’re Going to Italy | Italy In SF www.italyinsf.com/100-things-to-know-if-youre-going-to-italy/ Italian women always keep a travel pack of Kleenex in their purses for this reason. … You will need to carry a cell phone for anything you need, from calling the …
Compare credit cards’ trip cancellation, trip interruption …http://www.creditcards.com › Credit Card News Oct 14, 2014 – Are you covered if you have to cut your vacation short or cancel it all together? Before taking out travel insurance, check your credit card …