Sunday, August 1, 2010

Europe: Stuff you should know (part cinq)

Packing and Stuff:

Try to pack as light as possible. Taxis are very expensive and elevators/escalators are not always available in stations and buildings. You will most likely have to lug it around yourself. Some people might volunteer their services but be careful of who you say thank you to. Always be on alert and keep your eyes and ears open.

Keep a change of clothing and toiletries in your carry on when possible. It is better to have something on hand than to have to dig through your luggage when you all you want to do is sleep not to mention if your check-in luggage is not in the same country you are (oh the horror!).

If you are bringing two pieces of luggage, try and spread the contents evenly among them. I.e. if you are bringing two pairs of pants, put one in each luggage. That way if anything happens to one of the luggages, you will not be left with no pants to wear.

I also like to put my clothes in vacuum bags. (Available at most dollar stores) Not only does that save space, it also saves my stuff from getting wet. All electronics/chargers are also given the same treatment. An acquaintance was once stuck at an airport due to heavy winds and rains. While she waited inside, her luggage was outside in the rain waiting to be transported to the plane. The contents of her luggage were soaking wet and smelled when they finally reached their destination.

Keep a copy of your itinerary, travel documents, contacts, etc., hidden in each piece of luggage you have. Also keep additional photos for travel documents in case you need any of them replaced. Leave copies with your family at home and give your itinerary to your neighbour or somebody else you trust in the foreign country. Basically, somebody should know where you are at any time and if you do not show up when expected, they will know to alert police.

Bring wet wipes or anti-bacterial gel. Soap is not always available in washrooms.

Buy or make a money belt that can be worn under your clothes. Keep your important travel documents and money in there.

If you take medications regularly, you should take an adequate supply, provided they are not perishable. Keep your medications in containers that clearly show your name, the prescribing doctor's name, and the prescription number. Doing this means easier clearance of customs and being able to refill prescriptions by mail. Do not mix different pills in one container. Another method is to ask your doctor to provide you with a note of the diagnosis and the recommended medication so that an overseas physician can fill your prescription properly.

Same deal with glasses or contact lenses. Bring an extra pair and extra contact lens solution.

Kind of personal matter but bring pads or tampons. You may not always be able to find the brand or type that you usually use and even if you do, it is probably expensive.

Mentioned the sheets and pillowcases previously but you should also bring your own towels. I would suggest bringing something old that you could throw away when you leave.

Some safety items: whistle, flashlight, kiddie alarm (noise goes off when you pull it). Keep these on you when possible and have the whistle or alarm and your cell phone in your hands at night.

Bring adapters and voltage converters. If you have space, bring an extension cord. Buildings in Europe may not have enough outlets for your needs.

Depending on what brands you use, it would probably benefit you to bring your own skincare products. You never know what you might have an allergic reaction to and being in Europe is the worst possible time to have an allergy breakout. That being said, there are a lot of great skincare lines over there, especially in France. Vichy, Caudalie, Avene, etc. are cheap there. There is a reason why French women have such great skin. (Well, there's several but that is for another day)

This is important enough to have its own paragraph. Make sure you have SUNSCREEN! For your face, body, eyes and lips. Does not matter what season it is, you need to be wearing it every day. Do forget about your eyes and lips because the skin there is the thinnest on your body. If you leave it alone, you will soon discover your lips getting darker and the wrinkles beginning to appear.

For makeup, keep it simple. Do you seriously need thirty different eye shadows? Stick with a basic that compliments your features. Brown is a great choice. Bring a pencil eyeliner that you can also smudge to create a smokey eye perfect for a night on the town. If your eyes are oily like mine, you will also need to bring a liquid eyeliner for quick application in the morning and to endure the long days. You can also make do with a good lash curler and mascara.

Even if you have a hardy constitution, you should bring a couple bottles of water to help you slowly adjust. Begin the first day with just bottled water and then gradually add in local water until you are drinking only local water.

Bring some stationary and hangers. Save the time and money. Hostels do not provide anything. If you have the room, take an umbrella with you.

Some general tips:
- put socks in your shoes to save space
- if you are bringing any suit jackets or shirts, pack everything else first and then lay on top to prevent them from being crushed and wrinkled
- put heavier items in the bottom (as in when the suitcase is in standing position) so that it will not tip over when you finish packing

*realized how long this post is getting. Will put "stuff" in next post.

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