Acton — Your suitcase is stuffed. The kids are excited and nervous. Regardless if this is your first time or your seventieth, a European summer vacation is thrilling and memorable, but between the planning, the language barriers and the unavoidable fear of getting lost, it can also be stressful. Whether you are backpacking through the countryside or sightseeing in the city, here are several tips to make your trip more relaxing and comfortable.
Obtain written confirmations of all reservations: train, rental car, hotels, etc…. This simple step will help avoid the panic that sets in when the clerk behind the counter registers a blank look of wonder when you announce your arrival.
Make two photocopies of all important travel documents (traveler's checks, passports, credit cards, etc…). Leave one copy at home and keep the other copy with you, but separate from your wallet and purse.
Before your departure or during the flight to Europe, study maps of the cities you will visit. Having a general overview of a city's layout will prevent your from walking around on a glorious summer day with your nose in a map book.
Address small adhesive address labels with the names and addresses of your friends and family who will expect to receive postcards from you. Using these labels to address your postcards will cut down considerably on this time-consuming task.
Pack lightly. Remember the old adage: "Take half the clothes and twice the amount of money." You'll thank yourself later when you can actually move your suitcase down a cobblestone street or onto a train.
Pack a thin, lightweight nylon bag inside your suitcase to provide extra space on the trip home for all of your souvenirs.
Familiarize yourself with the currency of the country where you will be traveling. There is nothing worse than standing in line to pay and having to "read" your money.
Purchase a travel journal and use it. Encourage all members of the family to participate by having a "no rules" approach to adding impressions and making comments. This includes children of all ages. These journals make for the very best souvenirs in years to come, providing a precious narrative for your photo album.
Pack several sets of plastic cutlery to allow for impromptu and inexpensive meals to be purchased from grocery stores or other places where ready-to-eat foods are available. These can often be the tastiest meals and are quick enough to let you get right back to your day of activities!
Don't forget your credit cards. Generally speaking, you will receive a more favorable exchange rate from your credit card company than if you exchange U.S. dollars at the local currency at a local bank. If you have a VISA card, take it; it is more widely accepted than other credit cards.
For additional information, contact Cynthia Edelman, Director of French in Acton, Acton's premier French language school, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-929-9101.
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