Europe, France, Italy, Travel

Trip Planning: France and Italy Part 5

The day is fast approaching! In a week + one day, I’ll be on a plane from YVR to CDG and I’m puking with excitement! (Sorry, inside joke). I’ve been super busy with work and other things in my life so I wasn’t able to update this blog as often as I wanted… BUT I think I’ve already finished packing the important stuff (ie. swimsuits, beach towels, etc.) and I’m asking my friend that works at a bank to get some Euros for me since they get employee exchange rates. I’m thinking of bringing around 400 Euros with me in cash but I like using my credit care when I’m traveling – it’s easier to keep track of the money that I spent, and I feel it’s much more dangerous to walk around with a lot of Euro bills in my pocket. I’m leaving my debit card home, and just bringing Visa and Amex.

Nonetheless, one important thing about bringing credit cards when you are traveling, is to let the credit card company/financial institution know that you are going to be traveling. I’ve seen a couple of people who went traveling and when they tried to use their card in a new country, some of the more ‘sensitive’ credit card companies will enforce credit fraud protection on your card if you haven’t let them know in advance. And although it’s just one phone call to lift that protection, it can certainly be a pain in the bum to make that call, reiterate all your personal information, and not being able to purchase that fabulous something that you were trying to buy. Amex has made it easier for travelers so that they don’t need to let Amex know beforehand, but my main financial institution does ask for my travel plans to be stored in their database. And this registration process may take up to 2 days so if you have 10 minutes you can just have this process over with sooner. This actually is my first time traveling with Amex since the last time I only had my Visa with me when I was in Europe, so we’ll see how good they are with blocking the card only when appropriate (ie. when it actually gets stolen). Also, keep the call centre numbers for your credit cards with you so when you actually lose your card or get it stolen, you don’t have to furiously look for a wifi spot to google the number.

To update my status on the trip planning, I finished booking 2 out of 3 train trips that I’ll be taking. I’m traveling from & to the following cities:

  • Nice > La Spezia
  • La Spezia > Florence (booked)
  • Florence > Milan (booked)

Again, being a research-based project management person, I compared at least 4 different websites for these trips. The websites I looked at were: TrentItalia, RailEurope, Italo, and ItaliaRail. They give different prices/routes/trains/and schedules, so if you are a cost-conscious traveler like me it’s good to do your research. I booked my La Spezia > Florence train on ItaliaRail, and Florence > Milan on Italo. It seemed like the prices had gone up in the past few weeks, so just like the flight tickets it’s better so book them in advance if you are traveling during the busy season.

A little side note though, when I was trying to purchase my tickets on Italo with Amex, Amex actually enforced fraud protection on my card so I had to use Visa instead. I called Amex right after and lifted the protection, but again this is a good example of credit card companies blocking your card so keep in mind.

I guess that is about it on my status update! I was looking up on the weather forecast in Europe and it seems like they are already up in 30 degrees – when it’s below 15 and raining here in Vancouver (ummm, more like Raincouver). So I’m super looking forward for this vacation after the past few months not being the best times in my personal and professional life!

Europe, Italy, Travel

Trip Planning: France and Italy Part 4

My last posting covered up to my accommodation in Nice, and I am extremely happy to say that I have ALL the hotels for this trip booked now! I booked the hotel for our final destination in Milan this morning, and I just can’t wait until July!!

The hardest place to find an accommodation probably was La Spezia. We originally wanted to stay in one of the Cinque terres, but most of the hotels/hostels/bnbs in Cinque terre were very expensive and options were limited as well. So we had to compromise a little bit, and decided to just stay in La Spezia. For La Spezia and Florence, we decided to go with Airbnb for the first time. Rather than staying at hotels or hostels, Airbnb provides the list of locals that are willing to let people rent out their place for a certain period of time, letting these travellers to experience how the locals actually live in the city. My manager actually suggested trying out Airbnb, and I am glad that he suggested this option because we are very happy with the places that we booked through this website. Of course I can’t say too much when I haven’t been there myself yet, but communicating with the house owner were very efficient and smooth for both of the cities, and their places look awesome in the pictures!

Then our last stop is in Milan, and we decided to go with Hilton. Usually when I travel in North America I stay at one of the Hiltons to save the points. And since all my friends are going to be visiting me in Milan, I wanted to stay in the city at a good location so I can go everywhere with ease. For more information on Hilton Milan, here’s TripAdvisor’s review on Hilton Milan

Now that everything’s planned and paid, I have be good and try not to go shopping before summer. Nonetheless, my small Austin, Texas trip is coming up next week so I am very excited for that as well! All these parties at SXSW and events are getting me excited for this year’s St. Patty’s weekend ❤