Sage Advice from a Veteran “Exploring Europe” Traveler


Jason Duckett is a friend who has traveled to Europe many times with me.  He is heading off on his own with a group from Jacksonville, Florida to meet up with me next week in Rome.  He, wrote this email to his group members offering the following pre-departure advice:




Oh boyoboyoboyoboyoboy, it’s almost here everyone!
I just scanned the weather for the first few days in Italy; it will be normal temps (low to mid 80’s) and I can promise you the humidity will be much lower than here in Florida and free of hazy smoky grossness as well.  Switzerland in the 60’s, France in the 70’s.  Aaaahhhh…….
Lorin and I did a practice pack the other day.  I have so much room left in the suitcase, I might even bring one more shirt.  Actually, I wont because I know the foolishness in overpacking.  For the first time travelers, I beg you, please fight that urge to get out the bigger suitcase!!  You dont need it and it throws off the schedule in Rome BIG TIME if we have to wait for your luggage at the baggage claim.  Furthermore, I shudder to think what would happen if your bag didnt make it at all. Trade three of those extra outfits you’re cramming in the suitcase for a tiny bottle of detergent, rinse out some things in the Cinque Terre or Switzerland, and smile!  Nobody will point and laugh that they have already seen you in that shirt.  We are all friends here.
Some more random thoughts…
Tomorrow I will start getting to bed early and getting up earlier; I found adjusting my body clock here made it easier once we got overseas.  Lorin will do it a little bit as well, but she seems to make the transition better than me.  To fill those early, early mornings, I plan to walk.  If you are not a big exercise person (and I am not), at least try to do some walking before we go.  I mentioned it before but it bears repeating: we will walk a LOT on this trip.  David walks at what I would refer to as a “band director pace,” which others might define as a moderate jog or as one person put it a few years ago, “I wish that #$*&@% would slow down!”  We have lots to see so I cant blame him.  We do cover a lot of ground though, especially in the big cities and in the hills of the Cinque Terre, so be ready.
Last time I was in Florence, I found an old opera score in a used bookstore.  I thought and thought about buying it but didnt.  Later I decided to go for it, but we got turned around and couldn’t find the store.  Yuck!  If you see something you love, get it!  You may never be there again.  Volterra is full of alabaster and marble.  Switzerland is great for watches and clocks (and chocolate).  Wine is everywhere.  Beaune has amazing food.  Florence is great for leather and pashminka wraps.  Jewelry is all over Italy and Paris is, well, Paris.  Don’t go crazy, but do find something memorable to bring home.  I WILL find that bookstore this time!
Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards front and back, in case the unthinkable happens.  Consider leaving a copy with someone at home, so they can make calls if needed.  The money belt is a MUST HAVE on this trip.
When I called my cell phone company to let them know when and where I would be traveling, I got confirmation of the cost of phone calls (reasonable), texts (sort of reasonable), and the use of the internet, which was very very very unreasonable.  If I had left my smart phone on for this trip and done the facebook posts, email checks, etc., the cost would have been in the hundreds of dollars!  Confirm and reconfirm what using your phone will cost over there and adjust as needed.  You might be able to buy an international plan (for a month then cancel) and every carrier is different.  Call the bank and credit card companies to let them know of your travel or you might get denied when you want to make a purchase.
See you Monday bright and early at the airport. DONT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!


About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Annette Webb Reply

    What a cool summer job!! I’m jealous.

  2. Sally Reply

    Jason: It’s me. Sally. Susie’s friend from Italy 2007. Did we have fun or what!?! Tell Lorin hello from me. Hope you have a fabulous trip this summer!

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