Leaving in four days

My pre-trip panic has been mild this time, but I can feel it starting to kick into high gear. I gave myself a lot of time to get ready. I have not packed yet – will start this evening – but I have organized all our electronic gear. I seem to spend more time organizing computers, GPS, cameras, noise canceling headphones, etc. than clothes (this says a lot about me). I have our hiking gear packed. And I decided on a small crochet project to bring (slippers!! something we need anyway!!).

These are the other things I have done to prepare.

– I made a detailed itinerary with information for every booking, plus local contact numbers. We each carry one and I leave one here for the housesitter.

– I checked our passports about 100 times to be sure they don’t expire in the next six months (they are good until 2009 and 2011).

– We got our International Driver Permits (IDP) at AAA yesterday afternoon. I don’t bother with these for an England-only trip, but on this trip we are also driving in Switzerland, Italy and France.

– I called American Airlines and confirmed our booking, plus spoke to a representative to be sure we can check our bags through to the British Airways flight from Albuquerque. Because of how it works upgrading with British Airways, I had to buy two return tickets: one Albuquerque to Dallas, the other Dallas to Geneva (with stopover in England on the return portion). On the message board, Gail Hecko reported problems checking bags through from one ticket to another. We have done this before with American and they said we will be able to do it again this time.

– I went on the British Airways website and checked our reservation. I ordered our special meals (vegetarian for Steve, vegetarian-lacto for me).

– On British Airways, we cannot get our seat assignments until 24 hours ahead of the flight, so Saturday afternoon I will go online and get our seats. The plane is a Boeing 777, with 2-4-2 configuration in Club World. It would be nice to get in the row of two – these are the seats we have had before. I checked on Seat Guru to see what they have to say about seats. They recommend the middle two in the group of four so you sit facing the same way (Club World seats face in opposite directions), but I still like the group of two, last row in the cabin. When you fold down your seats to the flat bed, if you are not in that last row, the person sitting on the inside seat has to step over the legs of a stranger to get out – isn’t that odd? But it is because of how they design the seats. You get to lay down in a “bed”, but you have to crawl over a stranger (or have someone crawl over you).

– I contacted the owners of the three vacation rentals we are staying in and went over arrival details.

– I picked out my guidebooks, hiking books and maps to bring.

– I have my binders of printouts, from SlowTrav and other sites, ready.

– I have all our bookings, in order, in a file.

– I downloaded a bunch of junk TV to my iPod, to watch on the flight (since our seats face in opposite directions, Steve and I can’t watch a movie together – the perfect excuse to indulge myself in junk).

– I bought DVDs of some movies (Austin Powers!) and British Detective TV series to watch on the trip (not on DVD players at the rentals because they are probably set to the Europe zone, but on our computers).

– I used ViaMichelin to calculate all our driving times.

– I set up my travel purse and have been using it.

– I took my new summer pants in to be hemmed!

– I have already said goodbye to the cat 10 times.

– I updated my “house book” – the book that has everything you want to know about how our house works, even though my housesitter has been sitting for us for about 8 years. She doesn’t need the information, but what if we decide to stay longer and someone else was in the house? Then we are set.

– I cleaned the garage. I never like to leave a messy garage 🙂

Today we go to our chiropractor/accupunturist – this is who we use for healthcare – for a pre-trip tuneup. Tomorrow we both get haircuts. I hope to be completely packed on Friday, so that on Saturday we can go for a hike, do the last minute fussing with computers and get to bed early (we will see – my normal MO is to be up to 2am the night before a trip).

I will check all my electronics and get everything charged. I woke up this morning thinking “charge my new noise canceling headphones (my old set broke)”.

The hot Santa Fe summer is just starting, but we had a good week of it (I like the hot weather). It seems like the monsoon season may come early this year (this is my least favorite time in Santa Fe), so we will be away for most of it. My daisies in the garden are just about to bloom – I hope they do before we leave. We had a plumbing emergency, but the sewer pipe has been dug up and replaced. And our internet connection is working well now.

We are both really looking forward to this trip. We have not been to Switzerland since the summer of 2003, when we spent 2 weeks in Gstaad. It has been too long. I have never stayed in a villa in Italy, so we are really looking forward to that, plus the GTG and spending time with Janet and Alan and their group. We always love going to England and are looking forward to that part of the trip too.

We leave on Sunday – time for some last obsessive washing of clothes, ironing and finally – packing!!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.