Going Traveling? Or Moving Abroad? Read on…
The following are some lessons I’ve learned on my trip and move to Europe. They may seem obvious, but I’ve never traveled with the intention of staying somewhere for a year, so I’m learning. Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Don’t bring anything!
Ok, this may sound a bit dramatic, but, I almost mean it. Everyone always tells you this, heck, I tell people this. But, when packing for our year abroad in Europe, we figured we could bring a little more than our typical carry-on only. This was a mistake. We packed one large bag each, one carry-on bag and a personal item (laptop). Sounds minimal for one year right?!
After schlepping our bags, wheely bags I might add, not even backpacks, like fools for two months, we’re both wishing we packed less. Way less! So, for your next trip, unless you’re going from airport to hotel and staying there, do not bring more than a carry-on. I’m telling you, you can buy it there. You think you’ll save money by bringing it, but with the airlines charging more for heavy luggage and checked luggage, you could buy a new wardrobe by the time you do the math on the savings.
Consider Airbnb, but coordinate check-ins
Airbnb is a cost-effective way to see the world for less than most Hotels and more comfortable if you’re past the Hostel phase of your life. For this trip, we booked most of our accommodations through Airbnb. We loved the convenience of being able to cook our own meals in a fully equipped kitchen or wash our clothes without paying extra.
What we didn’t consider when booking our flights and trains, was the check-in time. Most Hotels/Hostels have a check-in time, yes, but when you show up, they deal with you. They store your bags, or they give you a room that’s available. So, when you arrive at 7 am after flying all night, exhausted and starving and you realize that your Airbnb host can’t check you in until 5 pm, it can be a little disheartening. Especially if you only have a couple of days to explore the town you’re in. Having all your baggage can put a damper on things. One more thing, if you like wine, bring an opener, they rarely have these and they are a handy little gem that should be on your packing list!
What to do if something goes wrong
Something to note if anything goes wrong on your trip. From suitcase wheels breaking, to your bags getting stolen. You must report it right away and document it with photos, police reports, etc. Seems obvious, but when you’ve just arrived at your destination, the last thing you want to do is mess around at an airport, police station or look for Wi-Fi to call your insurance company. We traveled with insurance, which is useless unless you report lost or broken bags within 24 hours. Not only do you have to report what happened in that time, you have to prove that you’ve made efforts to find a solution yourself. Examples below.
As soon as it’s gone, you must report the incident to authorities and get a police report. Once you have that report, then you can make a claim to your insurance company within the allotted 24 hours in our case. If you’re lucky, you won’t lose anything moments before your train is about to leave the country, otherwise, you’re SOL.
Once you see that your luggage is damaged, you must report it immediately to the airline at the airport. Hopefully, they have someone available to take your request. Damaged wheels are almost never covered by the airline. Once you’ve reported it to the airline, then you call your insurance, again within the allotted time.
You must have your insurance information printed and on you at all times. For accidents, hospital visits, etc. You must call them immediately as you’re being rolled away on the stretcher for them to assist you. Make sure the policy is printed and on you always. Seems like a pain, right? Well, it will be less than the actual cost to pay for the incident yourself.
All valuable lessons we learned, sadly the hard way, but we will know for next time. I hope they will help you be prepared for your upcoming adventures. Please comment below with your tips, travel tricks and life lessons or send me a note.