Off to Scotland: Preparing for a trip across the pondWritten by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By the time you read this, we’ll already be in Scotland, happily ensconsed in the soft leathered chuminess of The Royal Scots Club, our preferred pied-a-terre in Edinburgh.
Located on a quiet Georgian Terrace, just a couple of blocks from Princes Street and right across from a pocket park, this 20-room converted officers club flies well below the tourist radar. It doesn’t advertise widely or appear in any of the travel guides, so there always seems to be plenty of room for us and our friends (visit them at www.royalscotsclub.com).
But we’re ahead of ourselves.
Getting to Scotland — or any other overseas destination, for that matter — requires some careful preparation that should start several days before departure. Here’s our checklist of critical things to do “Afore Ye Go” — as the good people from Bell’s Scotch like to say!
n Pull out your suitcase (no bigger than 22 inches, please) and check the condition of fabric, zippers, handles and wheels. You don’t want to be spilling the contents in the middle of High Street.
n Remove any old airline or hotel tags. Ensure that your name and address is clearly visible on the outside and that you can easily recognize your bag when it comes zipping around on the carousel.
Tip: Take a digital photo of your luggage that you can show airline personnel should it ever get mislaid. You might also take digital photos of the front of your hotel in case you ever get mislaid!
n Make photocopies (two) of all travel documents: passport, credit cards, airline tickets, etc. At the same time, put away all those extra credit cards you won’t need on the trip. Keep one of the photocopies with you, well apart from the originals, of course. And leave the other copy with a family member/friend who can be reached in an emergency. This family member/friend should also have your detailed itinerary and hotel phone numbers.
n Alert your credit card companies and ATM bank to the fact you’ll be traveling abroad and where and when you’ll be going. It’s not unknown for credit card companies to block cards if they get unexpected charges from overseas destinations. Also, couples should carry separate credit cards, for example, one Visa, one Mastercard.
n Also, in the area of “safety first,” don’t take anything with you can’t afford to lose! No expensive jewelry or sentimental items. Use a waist bag or money belt. The best defense is always common sense.
n Do not pack medications, travel documents, passport or anything you’ll need during the flight in the bag you check. Put those items in a daypack along with extra underwear and a toothbrush. Sounds basic, but you’d be surprised …
n Make sure that your electric appliances — hair dryer, shaver or curling iron — will work on the 220/240 volts used in Europe. Dual voltage appliances are readily and inexpensively available in area discount stores, but that only solves part of the problem. The configurations of foreign wall outlets are different from ours and you’ll need adapter plugs (available locally from AAA or Magellan’s at www.magellans.com).
As far as packing and what clothes to take, well, that’s a whole other column. But the old saw still applies: Take half the clothes and twice the money!