101 Tips on Packing for Europe

200279193-001Okay, I only have six, but what a great title huh? Sure you can always Google “Packing for Europe,” and get the normal tips like pack light and bring an umbrella. Luckily for you I’m here to clue you in on what I’m bringing on my upcoming trip to the Continent.

Pack Light and Bring an Umbrella
The main thing to remember is: if it’s you schlepping your bag, you better pack light. Otherwise the only factor is those cursed airline luggage fees. As far as the umbrella, if I’m not in a museum, church or castle of some type, I‘ll be in a pub, so no worries about the rain.

Safety First
Everyone warns about pickpockets and thieves in Europe. The common answer is a money belt. You could always use the solution I employ which is, I have no money. I do have a camera and passport though that I would like to keep, so I recently purchased a PacSafe hip/ shoulder bag. I’m not sure if that means my shoulder bag is hip, or that I can also wear it on my hip but I think it was a wise choice. This thing has a solid steel strap and titanium zipper locks. Okay, maybe not solid steel and titanium but you can lock the zippers and the strap is slash proof. It’s also big enough that I can carry snacks, my glasses and any small purchases I may make. Believe me; they will all be “small” purchases, see the above statement about no money.

Bring the Meds
When you get older you have to carry a lot of drugs and by drugs I don’t mean the fun kind either. The meds you need may not be available in other countries or if they are, you will waste a lot of time acquiring them. I got a severe ear infection in Jamaica once and the meds the witch doctor down there gave me aren’t even allowed in the states. They cleared up my infection but now whenever I hear Reggae music, my ears hurt, I answer every question with, “Yeah Mon” and have a strong craving for jerk chicken.

Electronics
You need adapters and a converter to run things in Europe. Most other countries run on 220 volts instead of 110 like here. Believe it or not, some places drive on the wrong side of the road, use different measurements and speak funny too. I’m an older guy so I can live without too many devices. I just need to charge my camera battery and The Wife uses a curling iron. Okay, the camera is hers and the iron is mine, but still, we need a converter.

tourists2Clothing Makes the Man
Nothing says middle-aged American tourist like cargo shorts, t-shirts, ball caps and fanny packs. I already covered the fanny pack with my hip shoulder bag so I’m cool there. Some sites will tell you not to fall for these stereotypes and advise you to dress fashionably. I say bunk. I am a middle aged American tourist and I’m going all out. Not only am I packing the cargo shorts and ball-caps, but I’m throwing in some white Nike tennis shoes to complete the ensemble.

Incidentals
Since this will be my first trip to Europe I will not know what’s going on or how to do anything. The Wife says I don’t need to travel thousands of miles to experience that. Anyway, I have found that tipping is required to get help from strangers. Be they the hotel concierge, taxi drivers or my neighbor with the snow-blower, if you want help you have to tip. A buddy of mine got free drinks for the rest of a cruise once he tipped the bartender his Led Zeppelin ball cap. Everybody cherishes what they can’t get at home. That last taxi driver in Rome is getting a very nice pair of Cargo shorts.

Michael Ryan

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