With our departure inching closer and closer (10 days until we fly across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time!!!), we have been planning like crazy.
We have finally solidified all eleven hand-picked hotels we are staying at for our 22 day trip! Now we are working on printing out maps & directions and finding other options for transportation from the train stations to our hotels. Most of the hotels we booked are within a 10-20 minute walk from the train stations.
We have also made TGV train reservations for all the days that we are traveling along a TGV route. TGV stands for Train à Grande Vitesse, which means high-speed train. These trains travel up to 200 mph and at pretty regular intervals, making this method perfect for getting around the country. We’ve read in travel books and heard from people with experience train traveling in France: you gotta secure that rezzie, or you pay the price… in extra fees, or even not riding if the train is full! When you compare some of the TGV routes to regular train routes, you can shave hours off your commute. Since we want to maximize our in-town time, we definitely wanted to take the TGV as often as possible. (Picture below from Rail Europe – where the red lines are TGV lines and green lines are regular train lines)
Yesterday we stopped in at my cell phone provider, AT&T, to get an international plan added. Luckily for us, my iPhone 4 with AT&T is functional in France, where Shaun’s Verizon iPhone 4 is not. This has something to do with the networks each provider uses. At least Shaun can use Wi-Fi on his phone at our hotels or anywhere else along the way. Anyways, I added the following features to my bill while I’m traveling in France:
- $5.99 for AT&T World Traveler (reduced price-per-minute for talking, $0.99 vs $1.39 without the plan)
- $10.00 for Global Messaging 50 (50 messages which calculates to $0.20 per message vs $0.50 without the plan – plus it’s $0.40 per message over the 50 limit)
- $24.99 for 50 MB Data Global Add-On (compare that to $998.40 for 50 MB without the plan… plus this add-on discounts to $10 per 10MB overage which compares to $199.68 for those 10MB without the plan)
Although I’m going to minimize my phone-usage, I wanted to be on the safe side – just in case I needed to call, text, or use the internet, I can use it at a hugely discounted price. Wi-Fi is pretty common, so we’ll be able to use our phones or laptop that way. For more info on AT&T’s international roaming plans, click here.
Another issue that we have been constantly reminded of is the possibility of being pickpocketed. This would put a huge damper on our trip – especially with important items like our passports, money, credit cards, debit cards, train passes, etc. To prepare, I bought a PacSafe purse. This is definitely not the most stylish purse, but it’s functional, provides some anti-theft securities, and is messenger style for easy hauling of cameras, souvenirs, snacks, and our laptop if we need it.
I plan to follow up with a proper review of my experience with this purse. So far I’ve been wearing it to break it in a bit (the strap is very stiff at first). It’s a little big and pretty boring for normal daily wear, but I won’t regret it in the long run.
Next on our agenda is nailing down some of the sights we want to visit while in Paris (possibly using a Paris Museum Pass?). Any recommendations, suggestions, or experiences would be greatly appreciated! We also need to figure out what to pack and how tightly we can pack it into our backpacks. If we can carry-on our luggage on the arrival flight, we will sure as heck try.