Travel Savvy

woman at airport with bags

What to Wear on the Plane

Plan your plane outfit to transport your heavier or bigger and bulkier items, including a jacket or sweater, your bulkier clothes, a scarf to keep your neck warm (this one has a hidden security pocket), and your heaviest walking shoes.

That said, don't be like Natalie Wynn. a traveler indignant about the overweight luggage fees - story from a 2019 Metro UK article: 

"I put on four dresses, two pairs of shorts, I tied a dress around my neck, I put a skirt on, I shoved two dresses down the dresses I had on, and two pairs of shoes as well, and a cardigan."

TSA Regulations

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a number of regulations that you must follow when packing for your trip. These regulations apply to all flights departing from the United States, including flights to Europe.

Here are some of the most important TSA regulations to keep in mind:

For more information on TSA regulations, please visit the TSA website.

With these guidelines in mind, you'll be well on your way to packing and preparing for your trip of a lifetime to Europe.

US passport

Planning Your European Vacation

Passport and TSA/Border Requirements

When planning your trip, research the passport and visa requirements for the country you will visit. Some countries require your passport to be valid for a certain number of months after your visit is scheduled to end. If your passport needs to be renewed or you need a new passport, determine how long this will take. It may be necessary to pay for an expedited passport. Check this State Department Travel site for current information.

Currency Conversion

Determine the current currency exchange rate for the countries you are visiting and investigate how much cash you will need and the best place to exchange money when you get there. Determine the exchange rates and fees of your credit and bank cards. In researching currency exchange and credit card advice, I found conflicting recommendations. This is the most helpful article I found. 

Travel Insurance

Check what your health insurance covers when outside the US, and any automatic coverage offered by your credit card company. If additional insurance is needed, research based on your needs and purchase immediately.

Windmill on river

Deciding Where to Stay

Here's what to look for:

Check out the area first. The accommodations you pick and the area surrounding them play a key role in both safety and your enjoyment of the trip. While you may think "I only need someplace to sleep" you may find yourself scrambling for new accommodations when you arrive. 

Check crime maps for the location to select the safest areas. Check on availability of nearby transportation 

Use only trusted travel booking sites. We like Trivago  as a starting place, and use a variety of well known sites like,, AAA and Hotwire. If you have a problem call the property or your travel agent and insist they resolve it. They can often do a courtesy cancellation if they agree something is wrong and help you find a safer place to stay. Booking and cancellations are often easier directly with the hotel.

If you are looking for boutique hotels, has reviews from Oysters' own employees who inspect the hotel themselves and write the cons as well as pros of the hotel.

Read all the reviews and stay away from anything less than a customer satisfaction rating of 4/5. Everyone in my family has made the mistake of booking a cheap hotel only to learn it was not a bargain and had to find other lodgings quickly.

Take extra care when traveling alone. If traveling alone pick hotels not Air B&B or VRBO. If going to either site choose only verified hosts and correspond with the owner to answer your questions before booking. 

If US style amenities are important to you, pick an American chain like Marriott or Hilton. Be sure to sign-up for reward points wherever you stay.

Where ever you decide to stay, be sure to check the cancellation policy and ensure you are getting any discounts you are entitles to like senior or motor club discounts. Some hotel chains promise the lowest rates, and paying a few more dollars a night for a room for last-minute cancellation privileges is worth it.

Check for bed bugs when you get there. Pull back the sheets in the top corner of the bed. If there are small black dots on the mattress corner seam, that is bed bug poop. Immediately call the front desk and ask for another room or, if unavailable, your money back. 


roman ruins outside Rome
montmartre sacre couer
statue villa borghese

How to Pack for a Trip to Europe (or anywhere)

My aunt is known for her prowess at packing light and navigating airports through security. She’s had many years of practice, and one of her mantras is carry-on luggage only. This requires great forethought and organization. Here is some of her advice for carefree travel.

 "Only take what you need. The airline will not be able to lose or delay delivery of your baggage. Sometimes you luck into a chance to take an earlier flight,... you can only take advantage of this earlier flight if you have you luggage with you. "


"There are shops everywhere in Europe, so if you forget something, you can easily replace it."


Packing for a trip to Europe can be daunting, especially if you only want to bring a carry-on suitcase. But it's doable to pack light and still have everything you need for a week or more. Here are a few ideas to help ease the process:

A final word from our aunt: So, as long as you pack your passport, money, including credit cards, and a good pair of walking shoes, the only other thing you need to pack is your sense of adventure and a really good sense of humor.  Laughter makes up for almost any deficit.  Have a great adventure!

What You Can Bring Back

Before buying gifts and souvenirs make sure you have a plan to get them home. Keep all receipts for customs purposes. Find out how much you are allowed to bring duty-free into the US from other countries you have visited before you leave. For information, go to the US Customs website. Focus on making memories rather than shopping when you get there.

Additional Resources

Paris Travel Guide 2023: The Most Complete Guide to the City of Love | Discover Ancient History, Art, Culture, Food and Hidden Gems of Paris to Plan an Unforgettable Trip Paperback, by Daniel N. Martin (Author)

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook (Rick Steves Travel Guide)

Paperback, March 8, 2022, by Rick Steves (Author)

Rome Travel Guide 2023: The Most Complete Guide to The Eternal City | Everything you Need to Know Before Planning Your Trip: Ancient History, Attractions, Food, Art and Culture 

Paperback, March 23, 2023, by Mike J. Darcey (Author)

European Railway Atlas 2023: Designed for Interrail/Eurail Global Rail Pass – Includes detailed InfoRailMap for Austria, French Alps, Northern Italy and Switzerland


Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese (The Rick Steves' Greece) Paperback by Rick Steves (Author), Cameron Hewitt Gene Openshaw

Spain Travel Guide: The Most Up-To-Date Pocket Guide to Discover Spain’s Hidden Gems and Experience an Unforgettable Dream Trip Following the Advice of a 39-Year-Experienced Guide Paperback – Thiago Myers (Author)

Portugal Travel Guide: The Most Up-To-Date Pocket Guide to Discover Portugal’s Hidden Gems and Experience an Unforgettable Dream Trip Following the Advice of a 25-Year-Experienced Guide Paperback, by Larry Lopez (Author)

Online Resources (FREE)

Duolingo - Learn some basics of the languages spoken where you are visiting for free

Fodors Travel - trip planning tool

Bike Race in Italy

Safety and Security on a European Trip

Millions of people visit Europe each year without incident. Those who do run into problems may have inadvertently made themselves a target through their actions. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

What Not to Take

This is wisdom from the security officer of a well-known aid organization who is tasked with keeping employees and volunteers safe.

If you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it. The items recommended in this article are moderately to lowly priced because that is safer to carry them than luxury items for travelers. Dress as much like the Europeans/locals as possible to avoid advertising yourself as a tourist.

Leave the following at home:

Consider the following for your personal safety and financial security: