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the story of an invisible girl
Alpine Lakes
I still can't believe I'm leaving in less than a week. I'm feeling very unprepared! Thus do I appeal to the collective LJ brain: what will I forget? Obviously you can't read my mind, but if you can think of some item that you really wished you'd remembered when you traveled, or something european-specific or cycling-specific that somebody might not think of, feel free to post here with advice and experiences.

Bear in mind that, aside from my trip to Venice when I reunite with my suitcase, everything I bring will be carried with me in my bicycle panniers. So I'm trying to pack very light, while still remembering all the essentials. On the other hand, I'm totally worried about the right combination of warm clothes for alpine areas vs. lighter sunnier clothes. And shoes. I was originally thinking all-sandals, but I might need warm shoes for occasional hiking, but those are heavy. Yikes! I might go glacier skiing at the Matterhorn (when will I ever get to say that again, after all?) -- but I'm definitely not bringing ski gear. Oh, decisions decisions....

ipod, camera, treo, plus chargers. plug adapter thingy. ebooks, plane book.
rain gear. zip-lock bags. sunscreen. hat. swim suit. duct tape.
bike helmet, seat, bags front/back, strap, gloves, clothes, etc. woolwhite.
credit cards, pins, passport. train ticket.
blue wind jacket. black stretch pants. warm shoes, gloves, pants, sweater?
nice clothes for evening - skirt, white sweater, blouse, fancier sandals, dress for venice.
capris, short sleeved shirts, long sleeved shirt, maybe long pants?


read 18 comments | talk to me!
mbumby From: mbumby Date: August 6th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Small-packing water-resistant wind-breaker. Compact umbrella (not much use while cycling, but...) Granola bars or the like for when you Need Food Now, but aren't close to it. You might be able to get away with lighter shoes (but likely not sandals) if you have some HONKING socks.
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: August 6th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
underwear. And try the Universal Packing List http://upl.codeq.info/
cannibal From: cannibal Date: August 6th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Strongly agree on the windbreaker, good for riding. Think layers. I frequently pack a small-packing poncho. Disagree on the brolly, can usually buy one there cheap if there's a lot of rain. Will your hat keep the rain off? Socks, a couple band-aids, immodium (v. good for upset stomach), perhaps asprin.

You're taking way too many clothes and shoes. Go through and eliminate up to half, plan to buy some nice things to wear, and to bring back that'll remind you of your trip, and DEFINITELY plan to buy fancier shoes in Italy, they're known for fantastic shoes. Venice may be kinda high-priced, but you should spoil yourself a little bit, and there's an outlet mall between Venice and Turin.
elizilla From: elizilla Date: August 6th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Avoid cotton. A lot of places over there don't have clothes dryers anywhere, and if you're traveling it's a nuisance having to air dry anything made of cotton.
From: writerwench Date: August 6th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Er.... as a European, I'd say yes, drying clothes CAN be a matter of draping them over chairs etc., but believe me they don't take long, and synthetics in summer are HORRIBLE. Especially in Venice. The heat/humidity combo is awesome in full summer.

When you get there, buy the strongest insect repellent you can find. You'll need it for mosquitos.
cannibal From: cannibal Date: August 6th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Silk is great, but it can be surprisingly hard to find silk underthings for women.

Kathy, I remember you were a proponent of not wearing anything under bike shorts... would you advise that for this long a trip?
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: August 6th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Other suggestions

socks! And I'd skip the ipod you need to listen to traffic when you're riding your bike, on the plane, just listen to music channels or the movie. Also, if your device charges don't automatically handle European voltage, get a converter and the power plug adapter or 2 so you can charge 2 devices at the same time (try Target, they stock these things now), maybe some of the new TSA locks for your bags (also at cheaper at Target that the travel type stores) make copies of your credit cards, passports, etc for backup in case something happens.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 6th, 2007 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I spent a week or two in Switzerland every summer from 1987 to 1993 or so. Admittedly, we didn't hang out on the mountain tops at night really, but I found that I was perfectly fine in just a t-shirt and shorts 95% of the time. I usually brought one jacket or sweatshirt just in case, and was fine.
mogwar From: mogwar Date: August 6th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, this was me.
madtechie2718 From: madtechie2718 Date: August 6th, 2007 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)
From the perspective of someone who lives on the eastern side of the pond and travels *to* the US from time to time, as well as in an easterly direction:

1) Money: Although the EU has caught up a lot with the UK and US in this regard, I've still run into problems paying for a restaurant bill in Germany with a credit card, so don't automatically assume that you can use one (or a debit/ATM) *everywhere* - especially in rural areas. So:

Do some research to get the best deal on currency exchange.
(perhaps surprisingly, Amex gives me the best rate -by far- for sterling->dollars)

If you choose to carry travellers cheques, get at least some in euros, not all in dollars.

Take backups of front and back sides of passport and credit/debit/atm cards. I leave digital copies (zipped and encrypted) on a gmail account and carry a paper copy with me.

2) General security:

As well as backups of passport and cards, mark your checked baggage in a flamboyant manner and then add a picture of it to your gmail archive and carry a paper copy for when your bag goes missing at the airport. With all of the recent security issues, baggage handling reliability is a bit lower than usual, especially at holiday, rather than business, destinations.

I really would avoid carrying any electronic equipment containing a battery in your *checked* baggage - that will get your bag opened and searched. Take the batteries out - you can buy them here. Chargers, transformers and suchlike are OK.

Treo/cellphone. Is it triband/quadband? If PCS only, unlikely to work in EU. Not familiar with Treo, if it is GSM compatible, you might want to get a SIM card for it on a pay-as-you-go account here - generally far cheaper than using your US carriers agent here. nb; your number will change while on the SIM card - leave an appropriate message on your main account.

3) Consumables; a trade off: you can buy sunscreen/cosmetics/energy bars etc here, will cost you more, but otherwise your bag gets very heavy. Check the airport rules on what liquids/creams/lotions you are permitted to take airside through security:

One point on plug adaptors: in the US you can have a full power electrical outlet in a bathroom, in an EU hotel, although you'll likely see a bathrom socket that is dual-use EU/US (probably only 220V however) remember it will almost certainly be on a small transformer for safety, limiting it to just sufficient power for a razor.

Enjoy your trip - and be happy that at least you'll be riding on the same side of the road as at home!
madtechie2718 From: madtechie2718 Date: August 6th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw on the link you posted that some form of insurance is included, but it didn't explicitly mention the mandatory cycling permit:


I forgot to mention: keep a copy of your travel/health insurance cover documents with you and also add it to your gmail archive.

I've never done any serious cycling abroad, so this has been an instructive exercise for me too...
From: writerwench Date: August 6th, 2007 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a pretty comprehensive packing list.
If you're by any evil chance going via London Heathrow airport, factor in the possibility of your luggage being lost/stolen/severely delayed. Take ALL valuables with you, on your person, yes and bear in mind the security restrictions on quantities of liquids/lotions permitted.
Don't carry needles, tweezers, scissors or knives in your hand baggage, they'll be impounded.
Capris should be fine throughout. Long pants strictly optional.
Venice will be HOT and extremely humid and the mozzies are very partial to tourist flesh. Make sure you have a sun-hat and mosquito repellent on daily. A 'boat trip' on the canals of Venice? Hmmmm... POSSIBLY a gondola ride, but they take about 30 minutes and last summer cost at LEAST 80 Euros. The water-bus routes from the Grand Canal out to the islands are much cheaper and you see plenty.... otherwise, get the tourist street map of Venice, and walk! Heading east from St. Mark's Square gets you into an interesting part of Venice that isn't quite so crammed with tourists as the northern/western parts.
Layers of thin cotton/natural fibre garments are obviously far more practical than anything artificial or bulky. Take a shawl/wrap in fine wool that will pack down into nothing, but give you a little warmth on a cool evening, if you're up in the mountains. And a light, pretty wrap dresses up a simple skirt/top combo really well for evening.
Late summer in the Alps = thunderstorms of great dramatic power! Heat builds up during the day and those thermals produce tremendous brief storms. Be prepared.
And.... ENJOY!
From: writerwench Date: August 6th, 2007 10:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, credit cards.
American Express is NOT popular with restaurants etc. because the company is so greedy in its transaction charges. Any place accepting Amex usually boosts its prices accordingly.
Diners' Card, ditto.

MasterCard and Visa are good to go most places.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: August 6th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shoe wise you need some light hiking shoes for everyday and biking in, something with a good tread for walking and flipflops/sandals for in camp at the end of the day. You could put nicer shoes in the suitcase for Venice.

Dump the Ipod you are on vacation its just something to lose.

Do really need the Treo? Can you even use it in Europe? If you take it could it replace the camera and the Ipod?

Plane book take something thick and a classic that will take sometime to get through.

Clothes for bike trip:

One pair pants
2 to 3 pairs of shorts depending on how many pairs of bike shorts
2 to 3 t shirts
Underwear in similar amounts.

You can buy travel clothes that are easy to wash and dry.
From: nyx_at_nite Date: August 6th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)


If you're planning on biking down lots of dusty roads, do you really want sandals?

How about a nice pair of bike shoes?

Those are designed for biking, hiking and running, which sounds like a winning combination with your trip plans.
From: bloggingchick Date: August 6th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure it's a given but a travel size toothbrush & toothpaste.

Also I don't travel without toilet paper. Charmin has a small 55 sheet travel size in which the plastic case it comes in is the dispenser. Ya never know if you'll be somewhere that ran out (or if you find yourself having to pick a tree or bush, but then you'd need a small bag in which to dispose of it). FYI Charmin also has a very small 5 pack of toilet seat covers. They are both quite small & can fit in pretty much anything.

A mini bottle of hand sanitizer (in case there's no soap & water available)?
sllywhtboy From: sllywhtboy Date: August 7th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
sounds like a cool trip. have fun! :)
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: August 8th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)


I forgot you need to bring your sarong and a head scarf would be good too.

read 18 comments | talk to me!