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Travel Tips

IDENTIFICATION

Passport: check the Expiration date… NOW!

GLOBAL ENTRY/Trusted Traveler http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry

Passport Card: While this card does not replace a passport (other than USA, Mexico and Canada), you can leave your large passport in the room or safe and carry this convenient card for identification. It works as an ID at the airport, etc. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/information/card.html

Passport Copies: photo copies- make extra photocopies and put in your luggage, carry one and leave your passport in the hotel safe. Often for WIFI you will need a copy.

RFID= Radio Frequency Identification Many debit and credit cards and driver's licenses contain RFID chips with personal information. These chips broadcast the information into the air over radio waves. The Travelon (and other brands) have RFID blocking technology built in to keep personal information, well, personal.
more RFID: wallet/bag/purse In today's world a thief doesn't have to steal your wallet, all he has to do is get close enough to steal the numbers off your credit card with an electronic tool! So a wallet or bag that has RFID protection is a good investment. Travelon also has bags with a steel cable in the strap so it can't be easily cut.
http://www.travelonbags.com
or GOOGLE "RFID Blocking"

 

COMMUNICATION/PHONES

PHONES Absolutely have to stay in touch?

SIM Card: if your phone takes a SIM card call your carrier and have them "unlock" your phone for use in Europe.
If not, consider buying an inexpensive phone there (@$25-50) and pay as you go/per minute. You "recharge" your minutes at almost any Tabacchi Shop http://www.TIM.it
http://www.Vodaphone.it
http://www.WIND.it

WIFI: If your phone uses WIFI there is free WIFI in many places, "T" locations, coffee shops, your hotel, etc.

SKYPE: create an account and put money in, then use it for phone calls to the US when you have WIFI. SKYPE also offers phone numbers, but I have not used that feature and don't have information or opinion. SKYPE also offers phone numbers, but I have not used that feature and don't have information or opinion.

 

MONEY

Order Euro from your Bank: $200-250
Use ATM when you get there- NOT in airport
ATM's at banks give the best exchange rate, but do have a transaction fee. Take the maximum withdrawal amount (usually $250) instead of smaller amounts to minimize the fees.
Bank ATM is best, they are in English/click on the British flag

Separate account with separate ATM Card: if you are concerned that a thief can access your account if you lose your card, then open a NEW account at the bank and put your travel kitty funds in there, with a NEW ATM card. If you run short you can transfer funds from your primary account over to the Travel account. :)

Credit Cards: Call the company before you go and tell them your details, they refer to this as a "travel notice". I also photocopy both sides of my credit cards (obscure the CCV) and keep a copy in a safe place at home and with me.

EURO: Bills come in different colors and sizes for the different denominations. There is no $1 bill, just a coin form. Familiarize yourself ahead of time and keep larger bills in safer pocket or money belt, keep small change accessable.

 

TRANSPORTATION

http://www.prontobusitalia.it/
(Airport transfers to regional areas= Prontobus)
http://www.trenitalia.com
http://www.raileurope.com
http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/italy-rail-passes
http://www.arpaonline.it/arpaonline/en/

ARPA: between small towns and to Rome Tiburtina Station

RENTAL CAR: Driving a car is expensive and a headache in the big cities. You have to pay to park, it is easy to get a ticket or fine, and since the rental cars are obvious they can be targets for thieves. Public transportation around town is much less expensive and more convenient.

TRAIN: A second class seat gets you there at the same time as a first class… and many trains don't have first class or any services beyond a seat or maybe a table. Check ahead of time what you would actually get for the additional fee.

MAIL: Postage is expensive. It can cost more than a dollar for a stamp. If you do need to send packages UPS or FEDEX are good choices as the mail is notoriously slow and subject to Customs inspections.

 

FOOD-RESTAURANTS

Tipping: is more of an American custom. A small tip is appreciated but the 15-20% would be reserved for extra special service.

Water: you are not obligated to buy bottled water, though they offer it immediately asking "frizzante or naturale" which means bubbly or flat. Ask for tap water. It tastes great and is free (or included in your table charge) Drink the house wine and have gelato from the next shop.

Avoid: restaurants that have "tourist specials", walk a little off the beaten path and try a local place.

PICNIC: buy some cheese, bread, fruit, salami, etc. and a bottle of water or wine and eat in the piazza on a bench. People watching is so much fun!

BREAKFAST/COLAZIONE: if it is included in your room rate go ahead… but often it is better (less expensive and more fun) to eat at a café.

LUNCH/PRANZO: is eaten at 1pm, Dinner around 9pm. Late afternoon snack (called a "mirenda") around 4-5pm.