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Old 09-14-2011, 11:17 AM   #1
k5jmh

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Lessons learned from our Adventure!!

While this is still fresh on my brain, I thought I would throw out some things we learned from our Recent Adventures by Disney Trip to London and Paris. I hope that this reference will help not only those traveling to London and Paris, but to other locations as well


Understand the Power requirements of the locations you are going.
  • Check all of your devices and make sure they are capable of dual voltages!
  • Learn what plug adapters you will need. London and Paris use different power plugs than the ones used in the US and they are different from each other.
  • Get a dual voltage power strip that uses a universal power connector. If you get into a situation where you need to unplug a lamp to get power, you can plug in the lamp into the universal plug.

If you have an Ipad and want to avoid costly internet charges at the hotel, find a SIM Card provider that does not require a credit card on file.
  • I used Vodaphone. They charged £5 for a Sim and 250mb of data. I was able to get an additional 750mb for £15. Very reasonable. I used about 500mb total while we were in London.
Think about the bag you will carry around and protecting your wallet.
  • Think about using a messenger bag over a backpack. It is easier to keep a hand on a messenger bag. I carried a messenger style camera sling bag instead of my backpack. It is not as easy for someone to take items from a messenger bag.
  • Watch your pockets and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you use the hotel internet, bring a small wifi router (not access point).
  • When you purchase the hotel wifi or wired internet, you can only use it on a couple of devices. I had my travel router with me. This helped in connecting my Ipad, Blackberry, Iphone, and laptop. The router allowed me to use the wired connection and share that with all of my devices.
If you have free time, plan it out before you go on your trip.
  • We made reservations at a couple of restaurants several months out. These were small cafes and the space went quickly.
Take time to plan out where you want to wander.
  • Know that the most popular locations, in Paris especially, are popular targets for pickpockets and scammers. People will also sell "le crap" at these spots. AVOID THEM. We saw a person buy something and then he was then pegged as a "sucker." And was hit by every illegal "le crap" vendor.
XL = Sausage Skin in Paris.
  • I tried to purchase an XL shirt in Paris but was not happy to find that XL in Paris means body condemn in US sizes. They do not sell any thing above XXL, and that was even tight.
More to come....
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:26 PM   #2
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Keep them coming.

We are thinking of taking our kids to London/Paris over Easter break in 2012 to celebrate my daughters high school graduation and our 20 year anniversary.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:53 AM   #3
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As they pop in my head, I update the thread.

Feel free to add your own!
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:51 AM   #4
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As Mike has said...

Do some research in advance and have an idea of what you'd like to see and do.

While the entire Adventure was excellent, two of my best experiences happened because someone made some advance plans.

I'm not suggesting that you need to make reservations (but if you want to dine somewhere specific...they really help), but more about having an idea of places you would like to see and visit.

London and Paris are huge cities and can be great fun to wander around, but I wanted to see some specific things.

While I didn't have a schedule, I was able to tell the driver where I wanted to go. Having specific addresses help as well.

I would suggest that while doing your research, keep a list or journal with names and street addresses. I can almost guarantee that your internet is going to work better (and cost less) here than there.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyKevin View Post

I would suggest that while doing your research, keep a list or journal with names and street addresses. I can almost guarantee that your internet is going to work better (and cost less) here than there.

Hope that helps.
Another wise DIS'er also showed us these little gems...

http://www.moleskine.com/catalogue/city_notebook/



This is what Christy and I used to take notes and compile research. We used these for our notes, City Maps, and Metro and Tube maps. We were also able to keep a travel log for the trip.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:42 PM   #6
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That universal plug strip was probably the best thing. Christy bought one, and it really helped in France, where they don't believe in multiple plug outlets.

If go back (which I hope I can someday), I will be getting one. And I probably should have planned out some things I wanted to do on my free time, but I didn't think I really had time to go off on my own. I paid the price for having some books and not really planning out things to do.

On the plus side, I did have a plan pre-tour to see the British Museum, and that came with a plan in mind. It did work for me without any problems, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on that.
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #7
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I would add that if you get a new fancy camera for the trip, figure out before you go how the settings work for (1) turning off the flash for pictures in museums where it's not allowed and (2) taking nighttime pics. Then you won't have to harass your fellow travelers (hi, Mike!) for camera advice!

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Old 09-18-2011, 05:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarabi's Cubs View Post
I would add that if you get a new fancy camera for the trip, figure out before you go how the settings work for (1) turning off the flash for pictures in museums where it's not allowed and (2) taking nighttime pics. Then you won't have to harass your fellow travelers (hi, Mike!) for camera advice!

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Old 09-18-2011, 06:25 PM   #9
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I totally agree on the universal power strip! I bought this one, which is pretty much the same as Mike's, but a bit more compact.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UHYDYO

It was so nice to only have to worry about one adapter per country, and to be able to plug in anything that was 220 compatible, and plug in multiple things at at time. Excellent advice!

And while I agree to an extent with the planning ahead thing (really quite useful during the London portion of the trip!) I found the Adventure Guides were a wealth of knowledge and suggestions for my free afternoon in Paris. I really had no idea what I wanted to do, and they presented me with several suggestions, of which visiting the Sacre-Coeur Basilica sounded the most fascinating. They gave me excellent directions and a map for getting there, and I had a wonderful time. Sometimes the unplanned things are great, also. I just say, be open. You never know what will present itself.

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Old 09-19-2011, 10:07 AM   #10
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I can add a couple of things. First, don't drive in Paris as they don't seem to be able to figure out whether to drive on the right or left side of the highway.


(from http://www.infolettre.fr//gabarit/ne....php?news=9402 - via photoshop disasters).

And if you go on a trip for any length of time, repair your roof first. We had hail damage from a few months ago which has not yet been repaired. We thought we had the leak covered with tarp. Because we didn't go on on this ABD adventure , we were at home when TS Lee dumped buckets of rain on our house. We were fortunate to be able to put down buckets to catch the water instead of coming home to find our upstairs toilet sitting in our downstairs kitchen. It's an ill wind that blows no good.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:55 PM   #11
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I found that a lot of the typical tips for touring WDW worked in London and Paris:

Plan ahead, but don't over plan.

Take time to soak in your surroundings.

Nap in the afternoon if you want to, and the time allows.

Don't be afraid to try new things (foods, experiences, etc).

Remember you are on vacation. Relax and have fun.


The other thing I would say that hasn't been mentioned yet, is remember to be respectful of the cultures you are in whenever you go to another country. Knowing a few key phrases, understanding the general personality (such as things are much slower paced than we are use to...something I fell in LOVE with), etc can go a long way for a more enjoyable experience, and also leaves a better impression of American visitors in general.

On another note....I'm ready to go back tomorrow. Who's with me?
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:28 PM   #12
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I know that I was concerned with overpacking...but then didn't bring enough clothes. My thought was that I would wear pants a couple of times. What I didn't think about is that walking around and getting clothing sweaty, dirty, etc is not conducive to rewearing items. I wish that I had brought more. On future trips, I will make sure I have enough clothing and just suck it up and pay the $ for the extra bag or overweight limit charges.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:30 PM   #13
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I'll also echo knowing a little of the language. I knew the very basics...hello, thank you, do you speak english...but wish I would have knew more. It started to feel rude just automatically asking if they spoke english.
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belle41379 View Post

Plan ahead, but don't over plan.

Take time to soak in your surroundings.
I couldn't agree more - planning to do unplanned things would be my tip!

Some of the coolest stuff for me was the unplanned and spontaneous things - a shopping trip with Pete that ended up with no shopping but i think hours spent at a cafe overlooking the Eiffel Tower, or our midnight trip to the Arc de Triomphe followed by drinks in the cafe on the Champs Elysees.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I'll also echo knowing a little of the language. I knew the very basics...hello, thank you, do you speak english...but wish I would have knew more. It started to feel rude just automatically asking if they spoke english.
I had the same experience, I had hoped my high school/college French would come back to me but it didn't. On my next trip to Europe I plan to learn the language beforehand to make things easier.

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