16.08.2017 - 13.11.2017
I was asked many times how I managed to plan & pack for this trip. My answer - a spread sheet of course! While I do like to travel light I do not like to go without. We normally travel with 1 carry on size suitcase - 21" x 14" x 9" (including wheels) and a personal bag that fits over the handle of the suitcase. This trip being 3 months long, covering 2 1/2 seasons, and with the cat required a little more! Fortunately only a little - I added 1 suitcase which spent 2 months in storage and a tote bag for the cats things and a little soft cooler about the size of a 6 pack. For the ice I carried an ice bag - I knew I could always find ice cubes but usually wouldn't have access to a freezer to freeze an ice pack - it worked like a charm.
Usually we travel "by the seat of our pants" - no advance reservations but this trip with the cat I did reserve hotels in advance. Many hotels in Europe do accept pets but the fees can range from nothing to "are you kidding?" so advance research is invaluable.
I always carry my own shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face cream, lotion, deodorant, and all the other personal care products one could need. I used small bottles as they are easier to find places for in the suitcase - these were split between the stored bag and what we carried. I also had a supply of OTC medication for colds, stomach issues, tylenol, and band-aids - just in case. Was glad I packed the cold meds as we went through all of it plus more we bought.
This is the bag that was stored for 2 months.
The $69 question was "How do travel with a litter box?" Easy - a travel litter box - it folds up and will fit in the pocket of her carry bag, We carried litter in the tote bag plus a scoop, whisk broom & dust pan, disposal bags, a tarp, absorbent pads, a rag, and emergency carpet spot cleaner - just in case. The photo on the right is of her box folded up and a liner with some litter in it. I could just grad this bag& her bag and go the the bathroom on the train or plane and set up box, set her in it, she'd do her thing, then put it all back - less than 5 minutes! Shai is really an excellent traveler.
We always had a good supply of wet cat food with us as well as treats, dry food, and bottled water. Her bowls are the collapsible silicone type that clip on the handle of her bag.
Another must travel with is a coffee maker. I don't move without coffee in the morning - even to a breakfast room! I have carried this little coffee maker with me for 20 years. You can make a drip cup of coffee or just heat the water and make instant. I also carry a supply of sweetener and the liquid creamers that do not need refrigeration.
I carried picnic supplies in a zippered bag - paper plates, napkins, utensils, various sizes of ziplocs, wine glasses, TSA corkscrew, salt & pepper, and a sharp knife. We usually had some sort of snack/nibbles with us - olives & cheese would fit in the little cooler, fruit was easy, and we always carried wine!
Another challenge was carrying 3 months worth of daily medicine & vitamins. I made up 100 - 2" x 2" baggies of pills and put them in 2 qt ziplocs.
Not knowing what the weather would be in Boston & NYC we brought warm coats, gloves, scarves, & hats plus some warm layers of clothing. Ray had 3 pairs of pants, 8 shirts, a linen suit, 2 prs of shoes, 1 pr of sandals, and swim trunks. I had 5 dresses, 3 prs of shoes, 1 pr of boots, 2 prs leggings, 2 tops, and swimsuit.
As most everyone knows I am always hot so a fan is another necessary thing to have, We also had 2 notebook computers, 3 kindles, a 12' extension cord, and 2 cell phones. When we arrived in Paris I purchased a French SIM card from Orange along with 4 extra top ups. I put the new SIM in Ray's phone and used it as a hotspot. Worked like a charm everywhere especially now since there are no roaming fees in Europe anymore. We used it for directions - both walking and then driving in England, restaurant reviews, historical information, several taxi apps, train schedules & reservations where needed, e-tickets for entrance to places, it was really an indispensable tool. I had all of our reservations in a great travel app so we needed very few paper copies of reservations.
The 2 months we spent on the continent we traveled by train. We had two month continuous rail passes and even if we had paid full price for them we really got our moneys worth! The list doesn't even include all of the times we used it on local trains within a city or region.
We enjoyed shopping in the local markets in the cities - especially when picking up wine & nibbles. The trips to the suburbs in search of cat food were a great way to see a different lifestyle in several European cities.
The packing list is constantly changing and being refined - I try to see what was actually used and what was not, what worked and what did not. I did find a few things I could scale down for future trips. When traveling and on the move we do not unpack our bags - packing cubes or in our case 2 gallon ziplocs are perfect to keep clothing neat, organized, and easy to access. We made many trips to the laundry but we met and talked with so many wonderful people while there - fellow travelers and locals alike so it never seemed like a chore.
Like anything the success in the planning.