Thursday, November 1, 2018

Travel Life -- Planning and Packing

So, you're going on a trip! Let the planning begin.

I think planning can be part of the fun of travel. It's exciting to look through the guidebooks and internet and determine what things you'd like to see. So, the first thing I did was make a loose itinerary -- more on that later.

It's less fun picking places to stay and making travel reservations. And packing!

Reservations -- Planes, Trains and Beds! 


Once we had our dates more or less in mind, we got our air reservations and we opted (somewhat courageously, I think!) to go with a budget airline called WOW. This alarmed many of my friends but the price was $700 less per person compared to major carriers and that was money that could be used to book better or more convenient hotels.

There were pluses and minuses to this. The plus was the price and it was worth it. The staff was great (the landings smooth), the seats comfortable (as comfy as seats in coach can be -- and with good leg room.) There were two minuses to bear in mind, should you decide to use them. To me, they were minor.

The first was as a budget airline, you could book tickets in a variety of categories to allow for baggage or not (and this was nice). But everything else cost. No food is provided, though you can buy a coke for $3.50 and other items. This wasn't a problem for us. We brought food for lunch/dinner and picked up beverages after security in the airport. I give that a no-problem.

The second is the flight time. The WOW planes all go to Iceland where you change planes to the final destination. That adds considerable flight time. It wasn't bad going over -- we left at 1 a.m. and promptly fell asleep on the plane. When we arrived in Paris it was 5:30 p.m. and by the time we made it to the hotel and then ate, it was bed time and we adjusted well to the jet lag. The return home was more challenging.

All in all, I give them a thumbs up, but bear that in mind. (And besides, the planes are purple, inside and out! What's not to love about that!)

I screwed up booking the Eurostar from Paris to London because I didn't realize 7:30 was 7:30 a.m. not p.m. (They use military time!). No harm done but it was an expensive change. A very expensive change.

As for hotels, more on those as we travel along. All were booked in advance and most were very good; no disappointments.


I watched Rick Steves videos on packing and was impressed that I was gone for three weeks with just a carry on suitcase (and a fold-up bag for coming home). But it was still a lot to lug. Here's what I took, after looking at the projected weather report (which is somewhat worthless).

Three long-sleeved tops (black, teal, print); two short-sleeved tops (fuchsia, aqua), a button-up cardigan in a print; a black (unbuttoned) cardigan; a dress-up jacket; a dress-up open shirt that was lightweight to wear like a dress-up jacket; three scarves; two pair of black pants and one pair of casual pants; a raincoat; a t-shirt and yoga pants; three pair of socks; 10 pairs of undies, two bras, tenny-walking shoes and dress-up shoes (I wore them and was miserable). Plus, meds, supplies, etc. (Those supplies include bubble wrap, plastic bags, band aids, scissors, etc., along with maps, power converters, cameras, chargers, pocket umbrella, trip info and a book for the plane.)

I also had a long, wide, loosely knit scarf -- more like a shawl -- and a pillowcase. I used the shawl both to wear and to stuff in the pillowcase for the plane or when the hotel pillows were too big.

Rick had five shirts, a pair of jeans and a pair of Dockers (and maybe a third pair but I don't think so) and two pairs of shoes, along with all the underwear and such. Hey, he's used to packing in two paniers for the back of his bike -- and that includes his sleeping bag, tent and stove, so I can't really make comparisons!)

Let's just say that when the October weather was hitting 70 or higher, I got REALLY sick of those two short-sleeved tops (which were washed, should you think we were slackers!) And the last few days that printed cardigan got a work out!

It wasn't bad. But next time I need to rethink a few things on the wardrobe line. (I could drop one pair of black pants, for example, and the dress shoes.) Still, for me, that was a miracle!

Of course, by the time I started buying books and things... well... luggage gets heavy. I know. I could have shipped it. I didn't want to!

Travel Tips

  • When checking airlines, consider budget airlines but be sure you know what you are getting and if you are willing to sacrifice a little time along the way.
  • Make sure that if you are doing reservations you are clear about a.m. and p.m. and/or military time!
  • Rick and I disagree on this but I would rather pay a little more for a hotel that is conveniently located that continually being farther afield from tube or metro or bus stations. Make sure you have figured taxes into the budget (most of the ones we used included tax in the price). Remember, most hotels (and B and Bs) include breakfast. Eating a lot in the morning can save you a bit later in the day (unless you are Rick and want lunch.)
  • Remember, European hotel rooms in older hotels tend to be much smaller than what we might be used to at a Mariott or Quality Inn. Don't be surprised if your room is very cozy!
  • If you need a lower-floor room, be sure to ask when you reserve. The first floor is one flight up (and so on) so if steps are a problem, keep that in mind.
  • When packing, remember that weather is fickle. And watch out for the shoes, which take up a lot of space and may not be worn enough to matter.
  • This is me, but I found both Paris and London to be far more casual than they were six years ago. And besides, you're not going to see most of those people again anyway. Be comfortable because if your feet aren't comfy your whole body will be off for weeks.

Next time, Paris!


~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I read this word for if there will be a test at the end. I would love to travel abroad and like your ideas! Thanks for sharing your experience!

William Kendall said...

I think it's very common in Europe to go by the 24 hour clock as opposed to AM/ PM.

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

Love that purple plane!

Interesting list of travel clothing. I would have never dreamed of packing that many tops and so few pairs of socks. You are right about the planning and packing for trips is part of the fun.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I am not sure that military time is an appropriate definition. Most of the world operates on a 24hr clock and it would never occur to me that 0700 was anything other than seven o’clock in the morning, and I would suspect that would be true for most international travellers. As for travelling light I was once on a birding trip to Guyana with a dentist from Cambridge, MA. He had an Adidas bag with one change of clothes in.....we were in the rain forest for almost three weeks and he figured that was all he would need. And you know what? He was right. Took him ten minutes each night to do a little laundry and he was good to go.

Joyful said...

I love your holiday tips. I don't know if there is a really a budget option for me from Canada to Europe and beyond. I will check it out next time but I do know I spend oodles of time looking for the least expensive option. Since some of my trips have been very long, I spend a bit more to cut down on the time it takes to get there or back. The last time I stayed in Europe I had a huge room. Very huge which was a nice surprise but the elevator was so tiny it barely fit me and my suitcase, lol. I was just glad we did fit and they did have an elevator. I know it's very popular these days to pack everything in a carry on. Somehow I don't think I can get to that point but I keep trying :-)

My name is Erika. said...

Nice article about the planning. I think you have really done your homework and then used it and made it your own. I agree about planning. It is a lot of fun! And a lot of work too, but good work. Before I went to Japan I went out and bought some light weight easy to unwrinkled clothes. It made a huge difference. It's also hard to pack for winter travel. I think packing is the worse part of the planning. Can't wait to see the next post. Hugs-Erika

Lynne said...

Liking your tips.
The purple WOW deserves my looking into. Quite a savings . . .
Packing is my challenge on every trip. Getting better, improvement always needed.
My best travel tip . . . comfortable walking shoes . . .
No doubt about, when traveling, more walking!

Thelma said...

I travelled to London from Canada in Sept. It's the first time I packed only a carry-on. Some of the clothes and a pair of shoes, I didn't wear. We walked a lot and I wore my running shoes all the time. Thanks for the tips.

NanaDiana said...

I read it all--every detail. I think you did a marvelous job packing into one suitcase. Good job. I am with you- I would rather be closer to the area I am going to visit even if it costs a bit more--because time is worth money in some instances.
LOL on the PURPLE plane. At least you can spot your plane on the runway!
I know you had a marvelous time. xo Diana

Sami said...

I'd never heard of WOW but the savings were worthwhile for sure!
I read your packing list with interest, as I've booked our next trip to the Philippines in December to visit our daughter and didn't pay extra for luggage as I think we can bought just take a carry on for 2 weeks, but my husband doesn't think so.
I always find after every trip that I haven't used half the clothes I took, so why bother taking so much. I've still got to do a test run just to prove him it's possible :)
Looking forward to your travel posts Jeanie.

Iris Flavia said...

A purple plane inside out. What can I say but "WOW"! :-)
Never heard of them and our flights are booked already, too.

Oh, you made me laugh big here with "military time"!
I remember that episode of Home Improvement where Tim´s FIL says, "we eat at eighteen hundred!!" and poor Tim had no idea when that was meant to be!

And it can be weirder, too.
When my colleagues from East Germany gave me a time I often had no idea as they say it the other way round as we from the West.
Yes, still today!

Another wow for the luggage!

BeachGypsy said...

So glad you are safely home! Girlfriend, I can't WAIT to see all the pictures! This was a great post with lots of great tips. I've never heard of this airline, but I do like the pretty purple planes!!! I bet you are plum worn up and get settled back in!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I never take more than a carry on bag. If I can't get it in that, it doesn't need to go. Layer, layer, layer is my motto. And I never take more than one pair of shoes. Save the space for other things. My only concern is how to get all those necessities (toothpaste, shampoo, etc) in the little quart bags that must pass inspection or be thrown out. Great tips, even though WOW doesn't come anywhere near my area. We were lucky to get Southwest last year and had to pay them to come.

Tracy said...

Jeanie.. so glad to see you here with travel fun! WOW... LOVE the PURPLE WOW planes...that is fun! SO interesting to hear how your experience has been with this low budge airline. The no food wouldn't bother us either, I don't think, as plane food is usually boring. The journey home is always a bit of a struggle when flying across time zones, and especially if there is a stop. But it gets you there, right?! ;) Very much admiring your well-packed case and I think your items were pretty sensible, really, given you were slated for 3 weeks away. It's hard to plan for so many days away, and weather can be changeable. Love all your tips! We're at an age now where comfort is most important while away. Paying that little bit more for a convenient hotel and easy access to public transport (if we're not driving at all) is top... comfort all the way is top! haha... We're getting too old for trekking blocks and blocks away to the nearest tube, and too old for uncomfy hotels... :) Can't wait to see more from your trip!! ((HUGS))

eileeninmd said...

Hello, wonderful post and travel tips. Thanks for all the great suggestions.
I love traveling, I wish I had more money to go all the time. I have seen some cheap airfare on Iceland Air, I have not heard of WOW airlines. We have taken Iceland Air to Iceland and then on to Luxembourg years ago. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend!

Joanne Huffman said...

Everyone's packing list gets personalized as you make adjustments from past trips. I am proud to say I can do up to three weeks with a carry on and then on the way back I usually check the carry on and use my fold up bag as my carry on to accommodate what I've bought. It's a continual process.

La Table De Nana said...

I remember mentioning don't worry what you wear..tourists abound everywhere! So who cares? I am not a tourist dresser,because I don't have stuff like that at home really.My camera is the giveaway.
We're not movie stas followed by the papparazzi so our pic won't be on
Every airline is different.
Our 1PM flight was changed to 5.30 AM w/ Air a budget carrier.
Never any food on planes except to Europe..
2 biscoff cookies and a the most you can expect.
Air Canada had movies but you had to buy USB earplugs..not our usual kind.
I always find staff nice..
Some planes American Airlines Boeing 737..yikes..old.
So far I like Transat.Yet I was livid when we went to Paris and they confiscated my mustard.
I learned my lesson.
The only time I have had damage to luggage was Air Canada in collab w/ who? ..
Welcome home!
Paris was my only negative city:( Imagine that.

Linda d said...

Great post Jeanie! Welcome home.

Silver in AZ said...

Fantastic tips! And I love the idea of a purple airplane! LOL

Danielle L Zecher said...

Thanks for all of the great packing tips. I'm a terrible over-packer. I think it comes from overcompensating for my parents' complete lack of preparation and planning for everything when I was growing up, but I'm pretty bad. You're inspiring me to try to do better.

What are the laundry facilities like? Did you have to take time from your trip to find a laundromat to keep your clothes washed? Or did most hotels and B&Bs have facilities?

I love the plane. Purple is such a great color. :-) We've flown a budget airline (Allegiant) to Florida before, and were very happy. I think they're very upfront about what you do/don't get. I think in some ways the budget airlines are more upfront about it.

I can't wait to hear about more of your trip.

PS You were one of the people who liked the idea of my wedding cookbook. I'm doing a drawing to give one away, so make sure you enter. :-)

Linda @ A La Carte said...

It is all in the planning to me. I also watched videos about packing and did quite well with room for my treasures to return home with me. I would agree about hotel being closer to where I want to be, but then my walking days are limited so I want convenience. Great post!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Great post! I have never heard of WOW! It sounds like the tickets were significantly less than what I'm used to paying on Delta so it seems like it's worth it! Airline food is pretty awful anyways and I often can't eat what they serve due to my gluten intolerance. But if you are prepared to not have food available it doesn't seem like a big deal (and isn't worth hundreds more!).

I'm like you and really value the location of a hotel/airbnb! Especially when you aren't going to be in a city for very long. If I was spending a longer period of time in Paris, like 2-4 weeks, I would be willing to stay a bit further out but for a week or less in a city, convenient location is most important.

I can't wait to hear all about your time in Paris. I've been 5 years since I was last there which seems like forever ago. I don't see us going there anytime soon but someday I will get back there!!

Haddock said...

Nice pictures. I love planning, but hate packing.

Karen said...

I always pack too much, you did an amazing job! I've not yet been to Europe, looking forward to your photos! said...

Wow to the Wow purple plane and Wow to your organized packing! I'm very impressed!

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, as I was reading your post I received a comment from you. Great minds think alike. Wow a purple plane! Thanks for the great travel tips and packing info. I always pack way too much, I still can’t get that down pat. Can’t wait for more, have a nice weekend!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Great tips, Jeanie! I never heard of WOW Airline. I will have to check them out. Wealso try to pack light when we travel. It makes it so much easier. Welcome home!

Marilyn Miller said...

Welcome back! Good tips! I love Rick Steves and use his books alot when planning an overseas trip.

Running on empty said...

Good advice there, I hope your feet are getting better.

Blondie's Journal said...

Girl, these are the best traveling tips I've heard in a long time! And I try to be as thorough as I can. Long distance trips, not so familiar with, so thanks for the airline tips as well as packing. I always overpack but like you say, the weather is always a variable. Layers? I think so.

I've been absent. I hope I haven't miss the details of your wonderful time!!! :D

Jane x

Victoria Zigler said...

Purple is good. Also, I think the inconveniences were worth the lower cost. So thanks for that tip.

TYah, the weather never does as it's supposed to.

I can't speak for Paris, but London is definitely more casual than it was just a few years ago.

Valerie-Jael said...

Travel is always an adventure. I love the idea of purple planes. Hugs, Valerie

Jackie McGuinness said...

We're very light packers and still end up with something we don't need. It's usually those "dress" shoes, that you end up wearing once.
I like to splurge on a good hotel in a good spot.Too often I skimp and we both end up miserable because I bitch and complain.
I've really cut down on buying any souvenirs, I will find one thing I want, dont care if it is cheap, that I can display on our travel wall.

tlcukjourney said...

I do agree that taking a budget airlines, leaves you with a lot more money for travel. But I honestly had such a bad experience with WOW, I will never fly them again. Well... I Shouldn't say NEVER.. but it will be unlikely! I hae also made booking mistakes that cost me a fortune, I get so upset with myself when I do that.
Great travel tips as well!
Tammy x

Sally Wessely said...

Thanks for the tips! Every single one of them is excellent, and I read them well and made note. We are traveling to Israel in February. We are already stressing about what to take as neither of us are travel lightly. I am determined to pare back and only take the necessities. We both have to take CPAP machines. What a pain that is when trying to lighten the load, and I really must take at least two wigs. (Who would have ever thought that would be a challenge?) Shoes are always a big problem. I am already trying to decide just what to do there. I agree about the dress shoes. Who really needs to worry about those these days?

Our travel arrangements are being made for us as we are going with a group from our church, so I don’t have to worry about that, but I think one should still be informed on what could go wrong.

The French Hutch said...

Fall and Spring are never an indicator of how to pack. I always pack more than I need and use. I try every trip to do better. My last trip, a few weeks ago to DC. I was looking forward to wearing some fall things and it was so hot had to wear the same few light clothing I packed. Still, I know you enjoyed your trip like I did mine. I love the savings you found on the Wow airline. That one is new to me too. Thanks for all the tips........

Olka said...

I totally agree - it's better to pick cheaper way to travel. I also prefer to spend these money for something else like entering some interesting place or buying some souvenir or good coffee.
When I'm travelling to the other continent I always pick the plane, but recently I travel mostly with a car (in Europe). It's convenient for me - I can always change my plans a bit and visit more interesting places.
And the most often it's cheaper than using a plane.

Speaking of the hotel - we usually pick a hotel which is far away from the city center but well connected with the public transport. We're mostly using a car on our trip but when we want to go somewhere without a car we can easily use an underground etc. Hotels which are locaded far from the city center are usually cheaper and comfy :)
You can also try to look for private places. When we were travelling to Scotland we were booking "last minute" hotels via (there was always some nice option) or a flat via airbnb. Flats are sometimes cheaper and bigger than the hotel room. The most oftrn you have a self-service to get the keys (it's popular in Euope to leave the keys in the small safe box). After your check-out you're leaving the keys in the same box. Is it the same in the USA?

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