Monday, May 02, 2005


Where to start

Packing tips:

Very light. Tolietries (a zip lock bag for these). Jeans or kahkis. Couple tops 1 short sleeve 1 long. Undies you can wash and dry easily. When you get it packed it should take half of a small backpack (I mean it.) Remember the people you see today will be memories tomorrow so you don't need to change clothes to please them.

Go to the dollar store and get a portable wash line: a bungee cord with built in clips -- makes the above a snap (yeah I know, weak pun).

Mike: go to the second had store and buy a sport coat. Some darker color would be best. They are way better than a vest because it has better pockets. Coupled with a light weight nylon jacket(nj) it keeps you warm, nj inside, almost dry, nj outside, and you look presentable for customs checks, border crossings, operas and nights out. Plus all those pockets make carrying all the little things that you want to take out of your belly bag easy. Since you didn't pay much for it you can chuck it in the garbage if it outlives its usefulness but I will guarantee you that won't happen.

Security and papers:
Take all your papers, passports, credit cards, etc. Scan them and roll them up in a pdf file and mail to your stay at home standing in case you need them. Sometimes your yahoo mail is a good place to store a limited amount of stuff. I probably wouldn't put the pdf there though.

Planning your trip

You might go to site like Rick Steeves and piece together a rough itinerary. Don't pay to much attention to it, just get your head in the travel mode with it and you may pick up some pointers.

Lonely Planet
Their chat lines has answers to most any question. Good hints on lodging but mostly this time of year you can wing it and talk to other backpackers. You might book a place online in Paris but otherwise don't worry. The tourist help is always useful if you need them.

Check out Rolf Potts' book Vagabonding, it's in the bookstores. He is talking longer trips but the advice is good anyway. He has a blog.
BootsnAll is another good source

More later after I see your first post. BA.

Thanks for the info. We have gotten pretty good packing advice from friends who've done some backpacking, and we'll be borrowing two of those huge backpacks from a friend of ours. Everyone mentions these belly bags...are they like fanny packs? Do you HAVE to wear one (they are not really my style and I'm pretty sure I would never use it again) or can you take a small backpack on day excursions? What works best?

What I'd really like help with is some sights to see in the countries that we're visiting. Obviously we are familiar with some of the attractions in the big cities but sometimes "the road less traveled" is more interesting anyway. Here's a rough itinerary:

May 18 (we get in at 7 am and may not stay overnight since it is spendy): Amsterdam

May 18-20: Germany (the only city for sure is Berlin because Mike's brother lives there)

May 21-22: Poland (we may even be able to take day trips to some of the places in Poland I want to see, like some of the concentration camps, because we can stay in Berlin with Mike's brother for free)

May 23-25: Czech Republic (obviously Prague, anywhere else?)

May 26-28: France (Paris--this is probably enough but I'd love to see more of France)

May 29: Amsterdam (meeting some friends for sightseeing and dinner that evening)

May 30: fly out of Amsterdam at 10 am

The only other thing I'm a little apprehensive about is the train system. I know that you have to validate your Eurail pass before you use it, but is it totally confusing to figure out where you are going and when? It seems like one could waste a lot of time at a train station if they weren't totally sure of what they were doing.

Okay, I'll probably think of more but that is all for now.

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