1. Fly business class at least once in your life. It’s worth it.
2. Learn how to drive manual if you plan on renting a car in Europe a lot. It is much, much cheaper. Or…..
3. Rent a car from a local affiliate. My first car rental in Europe taught me that automatic car rentals are expensive and scarce. I shttp://namwrites.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1332&action=editpent a lot of time on the phone with the international rental departments of all the reputable car agencies, until I decided to try emailing a local Thrifty affiliate in Split. Weirdly, it was significantly cheaper than calling Thrifty’s international line and renting through them. I don’t know if that’s a Croatia thing, but it’s a good thing to try if you’re in the business of saving yourself some money.
4. Bring extra ziplock bags. They’re good for storing random things on the road. And sneaking food out of the deliciously free continental breakfasts…
5. Bring a multi-plug adapter or a power strip. This is something I didn’t do but wish I had. With the proliferation of technological devices in need of being charged, I found myself desperate for extra outlets. Should I really have to choose between charging my iPhone and my blackberry? Hotels, if you’re listening, INSTALL MORE OUTLETS. Or I will just bring a power strip with me next time.
6. Invest in a good pair of trail shoes. If you’re a hardcore hiker and will be scaling cliffs, I officially hate you and this does not apply to you. But if you are a casual to serious day hiker, a trail shoe will give you more support and a better grip than your standard running sneaker (which has no support and no grip) but is still light and comfortable enough to walk around in or even go for a run if you’re so inclined. You don’t want to traipse through fill-in-the-blank city in the same boots you hiked Mount Washington in and you DON’T – I repeat DON’T – want to bring two pairs of sneakers with you. I love my Salomon trail shoes, not only because they’re light and super comfy, but also because the neat lacing system makes it a breeze to go through airport security. I love them so much, I forced The Boyfriend (yes, there was some metaphorical arm twisting involved) to buy a pair.
7. Don’t spill diet coke all over yourself at the beginning of a 10 hour flight. Or anytime really, but I’d be extra careful at the beginning. Corollary: Don’t spill diet coke all over yourself a second time at the beginning of a 10 hour flight. (If you’re wondering how I managed to be so talented, it involves a rickety tray table and a rather ungraceful attempt to hop over the tray on my way to the bathroom and then again on the trip back to my seat. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)
8. Carry an extra pair of pants/skirt/underwear lest you fail miserably at #7. Even if you’re not as talented as me (read: klutzy), you never know what flight you’ll miss or where you’ll end up stranded wishing you had a clean pair of clothing to change into. Note to self: A 30 minute stopover in Munich is not enough time to pop into a shop and buy an exorbitantly priced but dry pair of pants.
9. Bring bandaids and first-aid tape. First of all, you might hurt yourself. It happens. Second of all, bandaids are remarkably versatile little objects. When I picked up my suitcase at baggage claim in Dubrovnik, I discovered one side of my handle had completely broken off. Uhh, it is not easy to wheel a suitcase with a partially attached handle. A couple of bandaids and a little first-aid tape later, my bag was “fixed.” Tada!
10. Bring snacks. A) They’re yummy. B) They don’t take up a lot of space. C) They sustain you.
11. Double check your camera. If you’re the kind of person who feels physically compelled to take pictures (guilty), then make sure all is right with your camera before you go, because, let me tell you, you will not be able to find a real camera shop in Croatia and you will end up with a black dot in you otherwise perfect blue skies. Oh wait, that was me. But it could be you.