Each time I travel to Italy for a month, I learn more about making it easier and simpler.
1.) Pack lightly. The photo above is actually luggage for 3 women staying for 9 nights in Italy during my Italy Retreat for Women to Live La Dolce Vita. This is not easy for most women, and it was not easy for me, but I have learned to do it and it is such freedom. International size for a carry-on suitcase is 22″x14″x9″. You are also allowed a personal item that must fit under your seat. Be sure you have a strap that connects this to your carry on with wheels, so you can save your shoulders. Having the weight lower on the carry-on lightens your load moreso than placing your personal item on top of your carry-on.
You can bring a folded bag or duffel inside your carry on, for souvenirs on the return trip. Or buy a small suitcase in Italy, and check it on the way home, but again, take heed if you will be on a train hauling your luggage. There are no porters, and the steep flights of steps at the train stations (and often your hotel) are daunting, even if you are in shape. In addition, you have to lift your luggage above your head to store in overhead shelves on the trains and planes.
2.) Traveling with Money: Traveler’s checks are no longer used. You cannot spend them! Best to use an ATM card. I cover the screen (in case there’s a camera sneakily installed by a thief) when I punch in my password, while making sure no one is looking over my shoulder or across the street. Tell your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling to Italy and any other country, and the dates, so you will not be blocked.
Some hotels and restaurants will not accept credit cards, and American Express, is not always accepted either.
3.) Be flexible. The food, beds, culture are different than what you are used to. If you are in Italy, enjoy the food! You don’t want to be looking for American, Mexican or Indian cuisine. One reason to travel is to experience other cultures. Ingesting and enjoying their food is a perfect way to imbibe their culture and customs.
I see so many travelers lugging 70 pound suitcases that they literally cannot lift up the steps. Remember, in the train station you may have to traverse up and down 2-4 flights of stairs as you change trains, sometimes running to catch the next one!
(Since I teach a transformational workshop during my Italy Retreat For Women, I see the metaphor being the same for ‘emotional baggage’, stories we tell ourselves, anger or resentments, that keep us in turmoil. Dissolve what is weighing us down. The steps to happiness and peace may be as simple as ‘traveling lighter’ by changing the beliefs or thoughts that cause the unhappiness!)
4.) Learn a few phrases in Italian. Buy a phrase book as most of them are color coded by word category. Italians love it if you try to communicate in their language.
5.) Public bathrooms: Carry tissues so you can always have toilet paper because I have found that lacking in public bathrooms in Italy, and other countries. Most of the time you need to pay to use the toilet, so have some coins with you at all times .50 and 1 euro. Also, when you see a public toilet, use it then, even if you don’t think you need to, because they are not so easy to find.
6.) Liquids: The hotels provide lovely shampoos, conditioners and lotions, and you can purchase toothpaste when you arrive in Italy. I travel with powdered toothpaste. In addition, It’s easy to wash your clothes in the sink, using shampoo provided. Remember, all liquid containers for carry-on can only be 3 ounces or less, and must fit into a 1 quart-size baggie.
During any travel experience, enjoy the adventure and be well prepared. Do you have any tips you’d like to share?