Getting Ready For Your Trip to Italy
You have made your plane and hotel reservations. You know where you will be going and where you will be staying.
There are some other things travelers need to consider. Anyone traveling abroad should be aware of any effects the local landscape and climate may have on them. If you are sensitive to pollution or to humidity, or to other conditions of your destination, consult with your physician. Although you should not have problems with things like altitude in Italy, you may encounter heavy pollution in some cities so do your research before you leave home.
Don’t forget to leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home. It is always good to have a friend or relative know where you will be staying and how to get in touch with you in an emergency.
What else do you need to do before you leave for your trip to Italy? Here are some things you need to do before you set of on your trip.
Check your passport. For US citizens you need to make sure your US passport will not expire for at least six months prior to your return to the US. I have no idea why they do it this way, but the last thing you want is to get to the airport and not be allowed to board your flight. If you are close to leaving on your trip and your passport is set to expire you can get expedited renewal service, but it is expensive.
- Passport renewal. You can now renew your passport by mail. Information for renewal is available at the Department of State website.
- International Drivers Licenses are cheap, so why not? The laws change frequently. Some countries require an international drivers license, others don’t. You can get an international drivers license through AAA.
- Better safe than sorry. Take a copy of your passport and birth certificate on your trip; it will make replacement of your passport easier if it is lost or stolen.
- Neck purse or money belt. You need one or the other to keep your money and credit cards safe. Which one you choose depends partly on how big your waist is and whether you can fit a money belt in the waist of your pants. I can’t fit a credit card in the waist of my pants so I use a passport carrier that hangs around my neck. I can also fit train tickets, my driver’s license and even a few small purchases in there. Never put your passport carrier in your purse!
- ATM card or travelers checks. ATM machines are almost everywhere in Italy, especially in larger cities and towns popular with tourists. Many places no longer take travelers checks or if they do they will charge you a hefty fee. Your hotel can tell you if there are ATM’s nearby. In Italy ATM’s are called Bancomat’s.
- Euro’s? You should take enough money in Euro’s to cover you for the first day or so. You will probably need Euro’s to get from the airport to your first hotel. So take enough cash to cover you until you can get to an ATM.
- Wish you were here. Don’t forget to take the addresses of friends and families so you can send postcards.
- Write it down. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of the places you will be staying on index cards. That way you can show the cards to taxi drivers when you are trying to get to your hotel.
- Do you need to call? There are several phone options when you are traveling to Italy. If you don’t think you will need to call but need something in case of an emergency then take a phone card. It will be less expensive than a direct call from your hotel room. I always rent an international cell phone. You can rent phones on-line that are express mailed to you. You need to schedule the phone to arrive the day before you leave. You activate the phone upon receipt and you are good to go. The rental fees are reasonable, though the calls can be pricey. But they are well worth it in an emergency. I have used mine several times when I had not expected to use it at all.
- Currency should be new. It can be difficult to use Euros that have been marked with ink or magic markers or that is old and beat up. It can also be difficult to exchange US dollars that are marked or ripped.
- Keep the change. When you purchase Euros at your bank they will ask you which denominations you want. Always ask for some small bills – 5’s, 10’s and 20’s (you cannot get change). And, when you finally get to Italy keep a stash of change. Shopkeepers, taxi drivers, etc. do not like to take large bills.
- What did you say? Learn a few words of Italian before you leave. Italians appreciate the effort and will usually help you along. You won’t become fluent in a few weeks, but at least you can learn to say hello, goodbye and how much does this cost?
- Petrol? Ristorante? You do not need to speak in full sentences if you are trying out your new Italian skills. Saying a few words will get you what you need. Toilet? – will get you to the toilet. Petrol? – will get you to a gas station.
- Planning to drive? Make sure you understand what your car insurance will cover and what it will not cover before you leave the US.