Sunday, May 31, 2009

Europe Trip Becoming a Reality

So today I broke down and wrote THE CHECK to pay off my Rick Steves European vacation. Yeep! The itinerary can be found here, for those interested in the answer to "Where are you going?"

I still have some things that need doing before I go, such as:

  • Work on my languages! Started out with the best of intentions earlier in the year, and that has gone by the wayside as my time has been taken up by writing, blogging, gadgets, and expanding my multimedia "empire." I'll cover the for-dummies basics, anyway. When in doubt, I can always speak louder and more slowly, right? Kidding...
  • Practice hand-washing clothes.
  • Practice packing--what goes in which bag (it's bad TSA juju putting the full-size shampoo in the carry-on, for instance, but also bad baggage-handling juju to put my camera in the checked bag). A personal checklist would probably be good.
  • Replace my eyeglasses, which have taken a great deal of wearin', tearin', and scratchin' in just one year. Haven't even done anything that exciting.
  • I have a note on my task log to hang out with at least one person I've "met" on Facebook. It was pointed out to me during ISDC that perhaps I'm spending too much time in front of the computer. What the heck, at least I'm being "social," right? Still, leaving the apartment occasionally would probably be good for me.

And, of course, I still have stuff to buy, including:

  • An easily foldable rain jacket/poncho.
  • Neck rest for the airplane. I might skip this. As I proved to myself during several segments of my flight to/from Orlando this weekend, I can sleep pretty much anywhere, even on a regional jet. And the seats in business class are a LOT more comfortable.
  • Another travel lock, this one for the carry-on.
  • Oh yeah, the carry-on backpack. A coworker recommended the Targus brand. They're built to carry laptops, which means they would probably keep a camera safe. Here's a-hopin', but the camera has its own case anyway.
  • Non-aerosol Deep Woods Off!
  • Sunblock. Come to think of it, I need that for home use, too.
  • Shout/stain remover.
  • Hand soap w/container.
  • Folding umbrella.
  • Clothes freshener spray.
  • Extra data cards for the camera--or just a very high-volume one. The card I have on the camera right now is about 4GB.
  • Extra batteries for said camera.

No sweat, right?

Chris and David, whom I did dinner with last night, just got back from a tour of Central Europe, and they offered me a few bits of advice, the primary ones included:

  • Don't bother with traveler's checks.
  • Get the bank to raise my limit on ATM withdrawals.
  • Avoid the packs of "Gypsies" (pickpockets), which can be 3-4 youths or a herd of kids trying to get you to buy some of their "artwork."
  • Keep my wallet in my front-right pocket, along with my hand. I'm still going with the money belt, just as a CYA, though David thought I should stick with the Visa card as much as possible so I'm not carrying a lot of cash around. Can't see the harm there, until I hit a tourist attraction that only takes Euros.
  • They passed on a tip from Karen, who has offered me a lot of great advice--go with the disposable underwear and just pitch it as I go.

I'm less than 100 days out now, so I'd best get cracking on some of the small stuff. And I finally got some travel orders to go down to KSC to see and work on the Ares I-X stuff. That'll eat into things like exercise (unless I run around a great deal--always a possibility) and the other stuff on the list. The fun continues!

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