Friday, December 9, 2011

What I Will Do Differently on my Next Trip to Italy

I learned much from this trip in terms of bringing a dog and how to pack. I would definitely bring Seymour with me again. His company was worth the time and effort to get him there.

Things I would do differently related to bringing Seymour with me:

1. I would have brought his toothbrush and toothpaste. Seriously! Because we couldn't find good food for him, his breath quickly got to smelling awful. I did see that Vets had the higher quality food for sale but there was no way I was going to carry a sack of dry food with me, along with tins of dog food. My shoulders are still recovering from the heavy back pack and Seymour in his sling.

2. I would have brought (or tried to bring) a big bag of his favorite treats, Chicken Tenders, with us. They are all meat and crunchy so they are good for this teeth and breath. When we came home, he could not get enough of those treats.

3. I might look for a different carrier instead of the sling. Although the sling was wonderful and easy to carry, Seymour would not stay hidden in it - he always had to see what was going on or if someone was going to fawn over him. Because of that, it was harder to sneak him into places that didn't allow dogs - like the churches. I just found a purse that would keep him totally hidden but I'm not sure it will fold up enough to carry it for travel. I think we could get in to more places with him in the purse than with him in the sling.

4. I will use "google translate" to carry around the following statements:
"Can you clip my dog's nails?" "How much will it cost to clip his nails", and "No, I don't have a dog in my purse."

5. I am glad I brought his muzzle, a copy of his health records, and a picture of him - they took up little space and although none were needed, I had them - just in case.

6. I am glad I brought Seymour's squirt bottle to stop him from barking at other dogs. It was just a small spray bottle that I filled with water and carried in my purse, so again it took up little room but was there if I needed it.

7. I brought 2 sweaters for him and I think that was probably all we needed - 3 might have been good, just for variety, but only if I had extra room.

8. After losing Seymour's crate on the train, I was lucky to find another crate that folded into a bag to use coming home. A folding crate was much easier to carry - and not lose.

For my own packing, next time I will:

1. Bring something to sleep in that I can also wear out, if needed. I need things that have double duty.

2. Bring underwear but only one change of clothes. I found so many markets where I could buy inexpensive clothes that I loved. I ended up having to leave clothes behind because I bought some clothes there that were better suited to my travel.

3. I might think twice about traveling through 2 different seasons because I carried summer clothes and sandals around in November and carried a winter coat and sweater all through September. It is not easy to pack light when you are traveling during summer and a cold fall.

4. I would definitely bring my own medicine next time; plenty of Advil, allergy medication, cold medicine and antacids. I cringe thinking about paying from 5 to 8 euro for 20 aspirin!

5. I would bring less travel books and see if I could download some on my iPad instead. Those books are HEAVY! Of course, I also had stacks of papers from my Italian class. It took me weeks to copy the important info from those papers into a notebook. That is one reason I had to buy a back pack.

6. I loved going over with just a carry on suitcase and Seymour but I found I just didn't have the room I needed for everything I either purchased or gathered along the way. I still hate checking a bag and going through the hassle of trying to find it at the baggage claim (or not). When you have a dog, you are only allowed one additional carry on, which is difficult. I haven't figured out the solution to this yet. If you don't have a dog, you can have a purse and a carry on, which would work much better.

7. I am very glad I had my iPad and could use Vodafone when I didn't have wifi. My Italian cell phone was also useful. In fact, the airbnb website required a phone number that could be verified, so I needed that phone number. I also liked having a Skype phone number. I could call people on their home phones for free. The phone number only cost about $10.00 and included minutes used when calling someone's cell phone.

8. It would have been nice to have had less electrical cords for all of my electronics. I don't know if there is a way to buy one cord that has interchangeable connections to the various devices, but that would have saved some space. I did find that my camera cord would work with my cell phone, so I would check next time to see which cords I wouldn't need to bring. I also brough a converter, that I didn't need. I only needed the electrical adapter.

9. My GPS was useless. I think it would be easier to just go online to google maps and write down directions instead of having to impatiently wait for the GPS to find a satellite and then still direct you the wrong way.

10. What I did bring that I would bring again included: small folding umbrella, inflatable neck pillow that doubled as a regular pillow when needed, folding slippers, thin gloves, quick dry bath towel and quick dry underwear.

11. What I did bring that I would NOT bring again included: silk sac which was a silk sheet in a bag (never used), pillow case (used it once and put it only neck pillow, but really didn't need it), folding shoes (never even took them out of the bag), hat (I ended up buying some scarves there and a few times put one over my head when it got cold), and 'Italian for Travelers" book. It was an interesting read but I ended up getting a small travel dictionary I used more. Maybe an electronic Italian Translator would have been a better choice - easy to use and lightweight.

12. I did carry a small map of Italy (as big as a 9 1/2 x 11 piece of paper) with me to help me decide where to go next. I used that all the time. It was especially useful when I would try to find a place to stay and they would show cities that were not my target city. I wish the map had more cities listed but I did not want to carry a real large map.

Lots of lessons learned - but I still had much more to learn. Next time!

1 comment:

  1. Susan - Thank you for your detailed account of your trip to Italy. I'm actually headed to Montepulciano in November to take 6 weeks of classes at Il Sasso, so your stories and advice are extremely helpful!