Travel tips from yours truly


Don’t you hate people who try to give you travel advice? I know I do.

Here’s some travel advice:

–          Make sure your electricals are in good order before you leave. I was startled to discover that my iPad was perfectly happy with French-style 220-volt current. I still, however, needed a plug adapter, since every country in the friggin’ world uses a differently-shaped plug. A company called Walkabout provides a very nice transformer / plug kit for a reasonable price.

–          Use the Internet. We did everything online: hotels, dinner reservations, the works. Once there, I discovered that everyone has either a website or – better yet – an app. (The Paris Metro system, for example, sells an adorable app on iTunes for ninety-nine cents; it shows you the whole system, finds you on GPS, and helps you get to the station of your choice.)

–          Look for bargains. Partner found a five-day Paris Visite card, which saved us lots of money; there’s also a Paris Museum Pass (the museums aren’t terribly expensive, but if you go to more than two or three, those admission prices start to mount up).

–          Take the train as much as you can. I always marvel at the European train system; it’s easy, it’s inexpensive, and it’s comfortable.

–          Make sure you set aside some time to relax. We didn’t relax enough, and ended up exhausted much of the time. Plan a down day here and there.

–          Don’t get trapped into eating tourist food. If (like us) you stay in a touristy neighborhood, you can be sure you’re paying a premium for your steak and frites. Explore the side streets instead. Bakeries sell nice sandwiches and pastry; little groceries are everywhere, once you know where to look. We were paying an average of $2 for a small bottle of water at first; then I discovered that I could buy a two-liter bottle in a grocery for $1 or less.

–          Use Skype. Before leaving, I purchased a real phone number from Skype (three months for thirty bucks); it even had a Rhode Island area code. We were able to call back and forth from France to the USA for approximately two cents a minute, using my iPad. And it even had voice mail! (No camera necessary, by the way; Skype works just fine with audio only.)

And now you know everything you need to know.

All together now:

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