Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Visitor Alert: Pack it up!


With our first real-live visit from a friend approaching, I've been looking around and realizing that there are things a guest might want or need to bring with them to stay here or while traveling about Europe on their own.

Passport. Stating the obvious. If you haven't got one, start filling out an application here.
Umbrella. We've only lived here through mostly fall months to this point. But even then rain has been unpredictable and pervasive compared to a NY fall to say the least. Since quite a few people have been letting us know they're looking at the end of Spring as a time to head this way, bring an umbrella. Really. 1 / 2 3

Towel. Most places you go would provide you with your own but here at casa Maloney, no such luck. In fact we've just got the two. So unless the whole Nick and Schmidt thing is your style, you might want to pack one.

Shampoo/Conditioner. (I'm just assuming you don't want to use our off brand Belgian-type stuff)

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Comfortable Shoes. Guys probably don't need to worry too much about this one, I'm assuming all men's shoes are comfortable since they aren't often very fashionable. Girls, the cobblestones are no joke here. Leuven's shoe repair shops are in frequent use from all the heels and soles getting chewed up on the streets. I'm not saying go white-sneaker it. Just don't go to the extreme. I wear my tall flat boots almost everyday and if not those then flats with sturdy soles are good too. I think the fold-up ballerina flats did me in when we first got here. And expect to walk. A lot.

Lightweight Rainproof Jacket. If you can't fit an umbrella, pack one of these.

Scarves. It's a fashion thing but I've not seen a girl over 15 without one since I got here. And since November, almost every guy as well.

Cash/Credit Card (without foreign transaction charge fees). In the U.S. Chris and I almost never carried cash. There's no need to living in a city and with rewards...why not? Here, without a credit card that has a chip installed (the European way) it's harder to live that way. There are places that take American credit cards but in the smaller cities they're few and far between. Call your card's customer service to check on the fees and actually call them before you travel so they don't shut you down when they see the charges coming from Europe. If you want to bring a card and yours charge you the fees, maybe think about getting this one. It's the best one I found for us while we're here. Again, Discover is a no no, haven't seen a logo here yet.

Smaller bag or backpack. For travel days, even within Belgium.

Camera. Not a must, just for fun.

You might not want to bring:
Water Bottle. Just buy them as you go. Not very environmentally friendly but people don't really drink the tap water here.
Phone. Unless you buy a SIM card for Europe and also expect to pay a lot extra. Otherwise, turn it off when you board and don't turn it on again until you land in the U.S. again.
Laptop. At this point we don't have a converter, we just bought new cords for our own. So unless yours fit our cords, save it for when you get back. You can use ours while you're here!

A few other notes: Feel free to travel light or over-pack as you will. Most airlines will give you one free checked bag so carry it all on or stow it away if you so choose! Maybe leave some space for things you get while you're here? I think the rest is up to you!

I remember my Dad once saying that if we didn't pack it, we can pick it up when we get there (and was the case for me when I went to nationals for track in college and forgot to pack any underwear. must've been the nerves. should I be writing that on here? too late.) It's true for here too. But the Euro is more expensive than the USD so that philosophy will cost you here.

I'll update as I remember more things so check back before you start filling up a bag.

See you tomorrow!

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