When I was younger, I thought being an international traveler would be exciting. While seeing new places and meeting new people is still very exciting, the preparation for overseas travel has been challenging!
After being presented with the opportunity to go to Sicily, I had to make the decision if now was the right time to go. After a back and forth debate with myself, I came to the conclusion that there is never a right time to go, unless you make it the right time to go.
As with all debates, there is a “pro” side, and a “con” side. You can spend hours weighing both sides, but ultimately, moving the con’s to the pro side (or off the list completely) makes that list of all lists, “Regrets in My Life”, a lot shorter.
With the decision made, I started organizing my trip.
I decided to apply for my passport before I made the airline reservations. Just in case. In case of what, I don’t know. But the last time I was out of the country I was 17 and headed to Sweden. I don’t know what happened to that passport, and I wasn’t sure if another would be issued in time.
I applied, had the application expedited, and it was approved. Although, with the mug shot I submitted with the application, I’m not sure how it got approved…
With my passport in hand, I looked into my airline mileage. I wrote about that story already here.
After the booking of the airline portion, the next challenge in line was a place to stay. Staying in a $200 a night hotel was out of the question. Fortunately for me, Europeans know how to have a holiday and typically go for 4-6 weeks. They rent villas, apartments, houses, or farm houses, plus their bed and breakfast philosophy is a little different than ours. After a Google fest, I found an apartment to rent for € 15 a day. (That’s about $18-20, depending on the exchange rate).
I was going to use mass transit, but decided it would be easier and more convenient for me to rent a car. I like to see the little places that aren’t usually on tourist routes. I also like to stop at random places for a photo opportunity. The car rental is almost 3 times the lodging! Had I booked the car first, I probably would have decided to sleep in the car! 🙂
When I read the small print on the rental agreement, I discovered I needed an International Drivers Permit. Italy does not require an American to have one to drive, but the rental car company requires one to rent a car. AAA is the only place to get an IDP. After another series of mug shots, one more challenge down.
The weather was my next challenge. The winters in Sicily are rainy and cold. Okay, so not really cold. But cold compared to what I’ve been used to! I took a look around at my wardrobe, and realized it wouldn’t do. I had some salvageable sweaters, sweatshirts and jeans, but needed a few new articles of clothing. A shopping spree added new dress pants, more sweaters, purses and a jacket or two. A little more consideration is necessary before I buy shoes. Warm, comfortable walking shoes for sure!
I want to take my camera and computer along for the ride. This required some research into European electricity. All I need are adapter plugs to convert their electricity into something my gadgets can handle. RadioShack, here I come!
It might seem silly to drag a laptop across the continents, but it seems like the answer to many of my problems! Instead of $’s for a memory card for my camera, I can download to my laptop. Instead of $’s for maps, I can get maps and directions online. I can store books, play DVDs, and study Italian on the hours I’ll be spending on the planes. Besides, I’m a geek. Nuff said.
Good thing there is a vacation at the end of all this organizing, because I’m going to need it!