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Old 08-10-2012, 12:08 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Sarabi's Cubs View Post
Yes, dinner was on our own that day, and you won't need it after lunch at Harrod's!

If you're interested in the British Museum, have you found the "History of the World in 100 Objects" podcast? It has short podcasts about objects in the British Museum. I think it was produced by the BBC. I listened to several on things I was interested in seeing and thought it made our visit more interesting. Also, there are free seminars throughout the day in various rooms. We went to one on the Egyptian artifacts and on Elgin's (stolen) marbles. Very interesting (but then I am a history junkie). The British Museum is very close to the hotel so it's easy to get to.

Laurie
Funny you should mention a podcast. I had been listening to Rick Steves's podcasts, and on his site, I found a link for his walking tours of sites in London and Paris. The only one I tried was for the British Museum, and I'm so glad I did! I knew I only had a few hours to do this before starting the ABD part of the tour, so I managed to see the things I most wanted to see. The Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian collection, the Elgin (Parthenon) marbles. Plus a lot of stuff discussed in detail by Rick as I was seeing it. Loved it.
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:16 PM   #107
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I just realized after watching the Olympics closing ceremony that our trip is less than 90 days away! I couldn't be more excited!

I assume our Magical ABD boxes will be shipping soon?
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:33 PM   #108
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I assume our Magical ABD boxes will be shipping soon?
Usually 30 - 45 days prior to departure.
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:03 AM   #109
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I bought a new camera in anticipation for the trip! It's a Nikon D5100 with a 55-200mm Zoom lens. It's replacing my little pocket canon digital camera which isn't a very good camera. I'm not use to lugging around a camera of this size but I really wanted an HD video camera and Ryan wanted a better still camera that takes nice quick shots I thought this was a nice compromise, albeit expensive one. I was originally looking into the Nikon D3100 but they had a deal on this at Sam's Club for the D5100 with an extra lens.

Since I'm pretty sure I won't be taking a vacation of this scale for quite awhile and I hate that I don't have video of the two of us on any kind of vacation I figured it would be a good idea to replace our camera for this trip. Plus with the horseback riding I'm doing I'd like to have good video of my progress as I get better so it has other uses besides vacation. That's my excuse anyway .

We are also in the process of buying new luggage too since I'm sure the luggage we currently have won't survive a trip to Europe.

I'm not even sure how to pack for this trip. I plan on layering up since it sounds like the temperatures in both London and Paris are similar to here. The weather even here has been strange this year so I'm not sure what I'm going to pack at this point for clothes.
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:44 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by LionKingRules84 View Post

We are also in the process of buying new luggage too since I'm sure the luggage we currently have won't survive a trip to Europe.

I'm not even sure how to pack for this trip. I plan on layering up since it sounds like the temperatures in both London and Paris are similar to here. The weather even here has been strange this year so I'm not sure what I'm going to pack at this point for clothes.
Quite a few of us discovered the value of layers on last year's adventure. Being from Texas, I didn't really understand the concept! Having said that, I will be better prepared for our next adventure. Europeans have a different definition of air conditioning, so many of the places you visit will be quite warm inside, hence the layers. Also, a couple of pairs of good walking shoes are essential.

Luggage..... several of us purchased HUGE duffel bags on sale from one of the Travel Pro lines. We also found good deals on eBags.com. Be sure to check with your airline about weight restrictions. We flew Continental/United and our weight limit for checked bags was something like 70 - 80 lbs.
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:18 PM   #111
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Quite a few of us discovered the value of layers on last year's adventure. Being from Texas, I didn't really understand the concept! Having said that, I will be better prepared for our next adventure. Europeans have a different definition of air conditioning, so many of the places you visit will be quite warm inside, hence the layers. Also, a couple of pairs of good walking shoes are essential.

Luggage..... several of us purchased HUGE duffel bags on sale from one of the Travel Pro lines. We also found good deals on eBags.com. Be sure to check with your airline about weight restrictions. We flew Continental/United and our weight limit for checked bags was something like 70 - 80 lbs.
If you think you'll be going over the weight limit, you may come out cheaper paying for an additional checked bag. With US Airways, it is much cheaper to pay for a second bag...plus there's more room for purchases.
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:03 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by MinnieGarden View Post
Quite a few of us discovered the value of layers on last year's adventure. Being from Texas, I didn't really understand the concept! Having said that, I will be better prepared for our next adventure. Europeans have a different definition of air conditioning, so many of the places you visit will be quite warm inside, hence the layers. Also, a couple of pairs of good walking shoes are essential.

Luggage..... several of us purchased HUGE duffel bags on sale from one of the Travel Pro lines. We also found good deals on eBags.com. Be sure to check with your airline about weight restrictions. We flew Continental/United and our weight limit for checked bags was something like 70 - 80 lbs.
I actually do that here in the fall I wear a short sleeved t-shirt underneath a small nice hooded jacket or a pull over long sleeved shirt. This always works better for me since I own a ton of short sleeved shirts and only a few long sleeved ones. Plus the jackets/pull overs can be worn multiple times, unless I spill something on it or get drenched in the rain.

British Airways is pretty good at letting you know the weight limit and we already bought a decent luggage scale from AAA.

I think my husband mentioned we might be getting Samsonite's clam shell style luggage. We are looking into luggage that is waterproof and fits everything we want to bring with a little space left over for goodies from the trip.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:15 PM   #113
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Hi Everyone

We are getting excited about our trip. I have a few questions for Kevin and/or the folks from last years trip.

How much should I plan on bringing in Pounds/Euros? I plan on putting everything I can on my credit card, however I know some places might not take them, so I didnt know if anyone had an amount they were comfortable with. I know the Pounds are very large so I dont want to have too much!

Speaking of Credit Cards, which ones are best for international travel? I have Capital One and Chase and am going to call them.

Would anyone mind sharing the expenses they incurred while on the trip on food/souvenirs/taxis/tips/etc.? I am a big budgeter so just trying to plan.

What is the reccomended tip amount for our ABD guides?

We got our passports last year but have not used them. Is there anything we should know or have to do before using them?

Cell phone - how does Verizon do international billing?

Sorry for all the questions, just want to be prepared. We have never traveled out of the country before so I want to make sure there are no (bad) surprises!

Thanks
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:32 PM   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsufan53 View Post
Hi Everyone

We are getting excited about our trip. I have a few questions for Kevin and/or the folks from last years trip.

How much should I plan on bringing in Pounds/Euros? I plan on putting everything I can on my credit card, however I know some places might not take them, so I didnt know if anyone had an amount they were comfortable with. I know the Pounds are very large so I dont want to have too much!

Speaking of Credit Cards, which ones are best for international travel? I have Capital One and Chase and am going to call them.

Would anyone mind sharing the expenses they incurred while on the trip on food/souvenirs/taxis/tips/etc.? I am a big budgeter so just trying to plan.

What is the reccomended tip amount for our ABD guides?

We got our passports last year but have not used them. Is there anything we should know or have to do before using them?

Cell phone - how does Verizon do international billing?

Sorry for all the questions, just want to be prepared. We have never traveled out of the country before so I want to make sure there are no (bad) surprises!

Thanks
How much money you should bring will depend on many things.

What do you intend to purchase? Where do you intend to go? What do you intend to eat? What do you intend to do on during your free time?

The answers to those questions will greatly impact the answers given.

It's suggested that you have some of the local money upon landing. US dollars will not be accepted and you will feel funny buying a bottle of water with a credit card.

ATMS are available everywhere and offer a competitive exchange rate plus the bank fee. Most folks found that to be the easiest.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express were accepted widely. Discover was not. They hadn't heard of it.

From the ABD website on gratuities:

Adventure Guide Gratuities: Gratuities for your Adventures Guides are not included. If you feel that your Adventure Guides have provided excellent service, we suggest the following discretionary gratuity: Per Guest/Per Adventure Guide/Per Day - $6-$9 USD. For example:
• For an 8-day adventure, the Adventure Guide gratuity per guest, per Adventure Guide: $48-$72 USD.
• For a family of 4 for a 8-day adventure: $192-$288 USD per Adventure Guide. For 2 Guides, this is a total of: $384-$576 USD.


As long as your passport is valid, there is nothing special you have to do with it other than bring it with you and have it handy when moving from one country to the next. Do you put it in your luggage.

Cell phone usage in Europe is pricey. Your best bet is to call Verizon and get your information from them....and then dont use your phone. While calls are expensive, data is ridiculous. I would make sure that everyone knows that phones are for "emergencies only".
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:15 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsufan53 View Post
Hi Everyone

We are getting excited about our trip. I have a few questions for Kevin and/or the folks from last years trip.

How much should I plan on bringing in Pounds/Euros? I plan on putting everything I can on my credit card, however I know some places might not take them, so I didnt know if anyone had an amount they were comfortable with. I know the Pounds are very large so I dont want to have too much!
I spent several days in England before our ABD, and had to pay for my B&B in cash (British pounds). I think, all told, I had about $500 worth of pounds & euros. I think I gave the extra pounds to our British ABD Guide as a tip, since Adam lives in England. I'm pretty sure the rest of the euros I traded back. It was really nice to have cash with me when I landed (as Kevin suggests) to buy food, etc, until I got settled.

Quote:
Speaking of Credit Cards, which ones are best for international travel? I have Capital One and Chase and am going to call them.
In my experience, Capitol One has been the best for international travel, because they don't charge a foreign transaction fee. And their exchange rate seemed good, too. I'd call both cards & make sure which one has the least in fees.

Quote:
We got our passports last year but have not used them. Is there anything we should know or have to do before using them?
Make sure you sign them. I forgot to sign my new one when I got it, and the immigration agent coming back from Canada could have made my life miserable if he'd wanted to, because *technically* I'd entered Canada, and was trying to re-enter the US with an invalid passport. (They aren't valid unless signed). Other than that, you should be good to go!

Quote:
Cell phone - how does Verizon do international billing?
Assuming your phone works in Europe (many don't) you should call Verizon and sign up for an International calling plan for the month. You can cancel it when you get back. It's like $5 bucks, not a lot, and your per call/text rate will go down significantly. If your phone doesn't work in Europe, you can borrow one that does from Verizon for the cost of postage (about $10). You just have to return it within 30 days. And you'll still want the International calling plan. Give Verizon's Global support folks a call, and they can run you through everything you need to know.

Quote:
Sorry for all the questions, just want to be prepared. We have never traveled out of the country before so I want to make sure there are no (bad) surprises!

Thanks
Let me know if you have any other questions. There *is* a lot involved in traveling overseas. But it's all very doable!

Sayhello

Last edited by sayhello; 08-25-2012 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:19 PM   #116
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Eric's question reminded me of a couple of things we learned in Italy. Just to be safe, take two different credit cards. Upon arriving, we went to a bankomat (ATM) to get cash. DW and I withdrew from our respective accounts. The next time we tried a withdrawal, only my card worked. We both had called the banks before leaving. Only her bank, a credit union, "forgot" and decided they needed confirmation from her that she was in europe.

The only problem was that her AT&T iPhone stopped getting a signal (never did figure out why) so we didn't know any of this until we returned home. We thought about calling the bank but the time difference and travel schedule made that a hassle especially since my card worked fine.

Like Tobi said, I've also heard that a Verizon phone will not work in Europe. That is a good thing however. Forget the phone, take lots of photos, and enjoy yourself.
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #117
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Ditto to pretty much everything that Tobi (sayhello) said. We have Verizon and it worked exactly as she said. I just got a global plan for a month and they mailed me a temporary phone to use while overseas and had no problems. We didn't use our credit cards in Europe. We got a prepaid debit card from AAA that did not charge extra fees and could be used as either a credit card or to withdraw money from an ATM It worked great. I think we each had $400 in cash split between pounds and euros. We did the same thing as Tobi with our leftover pounds - used them as part of Adam's tip since he's British. Between Paris and DLP, I didn't have any euro's left!

Laurie
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:21 AM   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsufan53 View Post
Hi Everyone


How much should I plan on bringing in Pounds/Euros? I plan on putting everything I can on my credit card, however I know some places might not take them, so I didnt know if anyone had an amount they were comfortable with. I know the Pounds are very large so I dont want to have too much!
Christy and I brought about £500 and €250 a piece. We also each had a Travelex Chip and Pin card for Credit/Debit purchases in France. This made life simple when purchasing. We each also had a back-up Travelex card.

Harrods, in London, also accepts Credit and Debit purchases in American Dollars so that there is no additional exchange fees.

Quote:
Speaking of Credit Cards, which ones are best for international travel? I have Capital One and Chase and am going to call them.
We had Chase Cards and had no problem using them. We called them the week we to travel and let them know.

Quote:

Would anyone mind sharing the expenses they incurred while on the trip on food/souvenirs/taxis/tips/etc.? I am a big budgeter so just trying to plan.
Tipping is very different. Think 3 to 5%. Although when we did tip 18 to 20% or told the taxi drivers to keep the change, you would think that we just knighted to drivers or servers. Their eyes got as big as gold dollars and they offered their first born in return.

We also bought tube cards ahead of the trip so that we could take the London subway system. This came in very handy during our pre-days.

The Subways also have very steep Escalators.


Quote:
What is the reccomended tip amount for our ABD guides?
There is the amount abd suggests, but we, um, doubled that, and then some. We had fantastic guides.

Quote:
We got our passports last year but have not used them. Is there anything we should know or have to do before using them?
DON'T LOSE THEM!!


Quote:
Cell phone - how does Verizon do international billing?
We had ATT and no issues with them. I did purchase a Vodaphone Sim for my Ipad and that worked very well.

...if you have Netflix, you really need to watch the series called "The Tower."

Kevin loved it!
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Old 08-26-2012, 02:31 PM   #119
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We didn't bring much local currency. Everyone took credit cards We used it for tips and occasional tiny purchases. I don't think we even bought water - our guides always had it on the motor coaches. They were amazing, beyond words! Even in front of Notre Dame, they treated us to homemade croissants!

We tipped throughout London and Paris similar to what we tip at home. I know it was "over" the customary, but we had such wonder service everywhere we went that we wanted to say thank you. The server at the cafe we had dinner at in Paris was overwhelmed. We were touched by that, as it truly was what we would have left at home for
good service. (I thought he was going to personally escort us back to our hotel, or invite us for breakfast at his home! Lol)

I called Verizon before we left home - had to activate the SIMS card in the blackberries and iPhone. I gave them our travel dates and they prorated an international plan for us. We kept the roaming off and only used the phone when necessary. Foxhills has free Internet access , btw.

We tipped our guides more than the "recommended" because we fell in love with them. <3 Hope we travel with them again! You will be fine to do whatever you feel you can afford.

Have a MAGICAL time!!!!

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Old 08-26-2012, 08:17 PM   #120
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We tipped our guides more than the "recommended" because we fell in love with them.
I'm glad to hear others did this. At the end of the Italian trip, I really felt that the maximum "recommended" amount was too low.
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