Monthly Archives: April 2013

Chip and pin credit card arrived

On March 26th I posted about obtaining a chip and pin credit card. About a little less than a month later and my card has now arrived. Now I am wondering if I should use the card to purchase our train tickets. I will have to see which card gets the better exchange rate. My intention for getting the card was more for just in case we ran into a situation where we needed one. I am excited though to have one now 🙂

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Almost time to start buying train tickets

Soon (in about eight days) we can start buying our train tickets! I cannot believe it. That is the last big thing I need to reserve.

People suggested getting Eurorail passes but my research shows it is cheaper to NOT do this. You still have to pay a reservation fee with the high speed trains. As long as you are able to book you tickets about 90 days in advance you can get a pretty good rate.

Anyway now that the train date is near I feel like there is so much I need to do. Do I sign up for “discount” cards? Which train should we take? Will I be as to call England using google voice?

Wish me luck!

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To Do List

Our trip is almost 100 days away. I can’t believe it. I know it is going to be here before I know it. These next few months are already pretty busy that I know the time is going to fly by. The lodging reservations and car reservation have already been made but there are still other things I need to do. Some I won’t be able to do until right before our trip. For now, here is the list of things I can immediately think of.

In the next few months:

  • Make train reservations!!!! There are four trains I need to make reservations on. I can start making these in a few weeks.
  • Add our passport information to the Airline reservation
  • Sign the kids up for frequent flier accounts so they can get some mileage from the flights (I always do this because you never know how often you’ll be traveling on that airline)
  • Get Chip-and-Pin credit card. Add husband as an authorized user.
  • Figure out things to do daily as we travel. I’ve kind of been focusing on the Alps, Munich and Berlin but I have yet to fully research other areas of our trip
  • Discuss activities with my husband so he knows what to expect as we travel. He may immediately say No to something or he might say we should do something. For example I keep going back-and-forth if we should take a Cog train up to the top of Germany’s highest peak. My husband is usually much better at evaluating an activity and deciding if it is something we should do or skip
  • Research Paris Musuem pass and RER pass. Does it make sense to purchase or not?
  • Arrange for someone to cut our grass when we are out of town
  • Look for child size headphones that fit the kids
  • Figure out how we’ll charge the Nintendo DS in Europe. You can’t just plug it in as it needs a voltage converter. I’m leaning to looking for a charging cord that connects to a USB port on a computer, then we can charge the DS using my husband’s computer. I don’t think we will need to be charging it too much.
  • Determine if there are other electronic cords we can consolidate.
  • Purchase new camera
  • Figure out how to use my cell phone to make a call in different countries if I need to. Write these instructions down.
  • Make reservations at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam
  • Make reservations at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Make reservations at the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany

Shortly before we go:

  • Print out all reservations.
  • Make sure we have phone numbers for all relatives/people we will be visiting
  • Contact credit card companies and banks to alert them that we are going to Europe
  • Contact Verizon to find out about using my phone in Europe
  • Make copies of the credit cards/ATM cards/passports that we will be bringing to Europe. Send one set of copies to a relative in case we should lose our cards. It would probably be easier for someone Stateside to contact credit card companies
  • Check out apps on my phone with the phone on airplane mode. I have several apps that have subway maps and city attractions. I want to make sure I can use these apps when I am not connected to the internet.

I will probably add onto this list as I think of things, and I will cross things off this list once I have done them.

Categories: Sight seeing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picking our seats for the long flights

I booked our tickets back in September. When I booked them I chose our seats. If the plane has a 2-2 configuration I try to book our seats so that two people are in front and two people are behind. I generally do not book the seats so they are all next to each other. That way if one of my kids keeps kicking the seat in front of them, then we know they are kicking a family member’s seat. So that is how I initially booked our seats.

Back in October I was checking the seat map layout. I discovered that for some reason bulkhead seats were available. I know people have different opinions of bulkhead seats. Personally, I love them. They generally have a lot more leg room than other seats. And when you are flying internationally, more leg room equals more space and you don’t feel crammed. Also, I feel as though the seats are a bargaining tool. If we decide we do not want to sit in the bulkhead seats it is easier to switch with someone than if we had seats in the back of the plane by the bathroom. There are a couple of drawbacks to a bulkhead seat though. First, there is no under the seat storage for your items. Second, the seat width can be smaller because your tray table is between the seats. In my opinion the extra leg room outweighs the disadvantage. So, I decided to put us all in the bulkhead for the way to Europe. Unfortunately that meant we were separated by the middle column of seats. Still, I decided we could manage, we’d still be relatively close to each other. On our return trip there were only two bulkhead seats available, so I put Bubba and my husband in those and Rhubarb and I would suffer in non-bulkhead seats in another cabin on the plane.

I periodically check our seat assignments to see if I can get us closer together. This morning I checked and found that some bulkhead seats opened up in the cabin Bubba and my husband were in. Now we will all be sitting together on the way home and we will all be sitting in bulkhead seats. Additionally the middle row opened up for the flight to Europe, so I switched the seats Rhubarb and I were currently in so that we are now right next to Bubba and my husband.

I am cautiously optimistic though about these seats. My fear is that one day I will check our seats and discover that we have been reassigned. Or that there was a change in cabin aircraft and we no longer have these prized seats. Or what if we check in and these are bulkhead seats that can hold a bassinet. Will we be forced to move our seats? I’m willing to move if they’ll put me in Business Class….

Current seats for our flight to Europe

Current seats for our flight to Europe

Current seats for our flight from Europe

Current seats for our flight from Europe

Categories: Airplanes | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Packing light on a visit to the grandparents

We visited my parents for Easter. My goal was to pack for three of us in two suitcases. When we head to Europe we are trying to pack for four only using two suitcases, so I was seeing if this is something even obtainable. I was able to fit everything in two suitcases and I am confident we can do it for Europe now. Also, I did not bring my kids pillow pets or blankets with us. Both of them managed just fine.

So, between two suitcases I was able to pack running gear for myself, laptop, various electrical cords, church clothes for everyone, pajamas, pants, sweatshirts, etc. I needed to do laundry one night but that was okay because that is what we will need to do in Europe. Another benefit of packing light – I had fewer clothes to put away when we got home.

So, these are the things I have decided on so far for packing for the kids:
1. No swimsuits –> I think only one place we will be staying at will have a pool. And I don’t think we will even have time to swim in the pool because of the amount of sightseeing we will be doing.
2. Everyone gets to bring with them 3 pairs of pants/shorts. I figure we will all wear jeans on the plane. Then in the luggage the kids will have two pairs of pants and one pair of shorts. The pants I got them for the trip have the legs that zip off. That way they now have two more pairs of shorts if needed. For myself I am wearing my jeans and packing two pairs of capris and one pair of shorts. I refuse to allow myself more than that. So each of us will have four pairs of pants which should be enough between laundry days.

Categories: Luggage, Packing Light | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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