Friday, May 15, 2015

Traveling My Way

I learned a few things on my recent vacation. And I would like to pass them along to the next unwary traveler. We decided it would be best to pack all our clothing in a carry-on bag and a tote. We were lucky enough to have laundry facilities at both the houses, so we decided we could take fewer bags. Also, we worried just how much space there would be in the car that we rented, so traveling lightly seemed like a good idea. Right? Not so much.
When I got to the airport, I decided to check my bag at the last minute. It was heavy, and I thought the layover would be much easier. Well, you can probably guess what happened. My bag eventually got to London, but not on the plane I was on. Tracking down my bag took several hours out of our first day. And, everything I had to wear was in it.
RULE ONE: Don't check your bag on the way there if you can help it.
We had a lot of trouble with our phones this time. Reception was not always good. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make calls to the US, but my phone carrier had assured me that I could send photos to Facebook if I had Wi-Fi available. My friend had bought a special package to be able to use her cell phone, but it barely worked.
RULE TWO: Do not be overly dependent on your electronic devices.
Credit cards are another thing that have changed since I was in England in 2012. All British cards now have chips. Many of the cash machines will not take a card without a chip. We were able to use our cards most of the time, but not always.  The little squares on the backs of our recent cards are not chips. I do not know what a chip looks like. The machines scan the cards, instead of swiping them. Some of the little villages we visited only have cash machines that scan the cards. Most of them are like ours, but when you need cash, that can be a problem. Especially if you find something that you really, really want at a village craft/junk/antique/show.
RULE THREE: Just tell your bank you want the card with a chip. And don't forget to notify them what days you will be gone.
I had planned to mail things home if I bought more than the fold up duffel bag I had packed could hold.. I always think I won't buy much, but I still like stuff. Somehow, I could never find a post office and box to mail said treasures back to Iowa. So the next solution was to buy a vintage suitcase at a local charity shop. Five pounds!! And with three locks and two straps, it looked pretty sturdy. And I tied a cord around it just to be safe. I am such a classy traveler.  HA. The picture above shows what it looked like when I saw it again at home. We watched them load our baggage. They are not gentle.
RULE FOUR:  Do not check a second bag. This idea cost me $100.00. I had no idea it would be so expensive. I won't forget this rule.
RULE FIVE: Just because you speak the same language doesn't mean you will be able to understand them. Everything is different, including appliances and food.
I loved it all and can't wait to do it again. Even with the little snags and snafus. More of my travelogue to come