“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”
Leaving on a Jet Plane, John Denver
I posted on Facebook yesterday how I knew I was excited for a trip when I packed two days prior rather than the night before. That’s how I’m feeling about tomorrow’s 10-day trip to Europe. In a way, I’m feeling like a kid in the days leading up to Christmas because I’ll be cruising for the first time. And, I’ll be doing it solo with Viking River Cruises with their Portugal’s River of Gold up the Douro River itinerary.
I’ve had countless people tell me I’m so lucky to be going on this trip. Well, yeah, I suppose I make it look that way. Truth is, it was a lot of hard work that got me this trip. Hard work that began in the early 2000s when I began blogging and using social media. Although I’m taking a vacation from my day job, this is a working cruise. As a point of disclosure, I’m a guest of Viking River Cruises in order to share the experience with my readers and social media followers.
I’m excited yet scared. Excited because this is a new experience and the itinerary is freakin’ amazing with visits to wineries, UNSECO World Heritage sites, dinner in a monastery and trip to Salamanca, Spain [Sidebar: there’s a town in Western New York named “Salamanca” and I grew up being told that was a Native American name. Hmm.]
I’m scared because, well, anything out of my comfort zone scares me and because this is a new experience, I’m a little scared. I know I’ll be taken care of because I am a guest of Viking but what if I’m that gal who’s always sitting alone because everyone is coupled up and they’re not open to meeting new people?
Truth is, I’ve traveled solo for so long that it doesn’t bother me being the one sitting alone, but I will be trying out Personalogy – An Absurdly Provocative Game for Thinking People to get the conversation going.
Since this is my first rodeo, I’m not sure what to expect. Viking provided detailed information in the packet they sent including an itinerary and what to pack. After the trip, I’ll evaluate whether that information was useful.
Conditioning My Stomach
In addition to reading the material #VikingCruises provided, I’ve also been preparing for the cruise by going a little overboard with my eating habits the past couple of weeks. I mean, I need to make sure my stomach has the capacity to absorb all the delicious cuisine I’ll be enjoying.
Let the countdown begin with #VikingCruises! Travel documents arrived for the Portugal’s River of Gold trip next month. Even came with a handwritten note from my designated Viking Agent – how sweet! This will be my first time cruising and I’ll be doing it solo. #STGRocktheBoat. A photo posted by Jennifer Huber (@jenniferhuber) on
I Packed for More than a Three-Hour Tour
In regards to packing, I think I channeled a little bit of Lovey Howell last night as I impressed myself with how much I was able to stuff into my small suitcase – three dresses, four skirts, two pairs of shorts, three pairs of shoes, six or seven tops, enough undergarments to last the duration of the cruise and toiletries. There’s even room to bring back two bottles of wine. Or, maybe I’ll go a little crazy and bring back THREE bottles.
This isn’t a three-hour tour but a 10-day itinerary. Since I have not cruised, I’m thinking I need to bring everything (except my cats) that I could possibly imagine needing with me because there won’t be an opportunity to pick up something I need from a store.
Even though this is a roll-aboard, I’m checking this puppy on because I’ll be bringing my backpack with my laptop and camera and another bag with inflight essentials, including my new, sexy compression socks. Yeah, stand back, boys. Maybe it’s my aging body but my last two international trips left me with thick cankles for days and I’m hoping these socks will help prevent this from happening again.
The Whole Money Thing
I know travel hacks say you should get your money out of an ATM machine while in country, but, I don’t have luck with ATMs or using credit cards for purchases. I’ve had my credit card rejected (even after alerting the banks I was traveling, had my credit card information stolen and fraudulently used during a trip to Brazil, and have had the ATM deny my cash.
Plus, when taking money out of the ATM, in addition to the currency conversion fee your bank will charge, they will most likely charge a fee for using an ATM outside of their network. And, it’s typical of ATMs to charge a fee, too.
To me, it makes more sense to exchange the money prior to a trip. Cash is king and I ordered Euros from Bank of America so I’ll be ready to spend when I hit the ground. Plus, gratuities aboard the ship and for shore excursions need to be cash.
Staying Connected Through Social Media
Can I take a trip without sharing it on my social media channels? Of course not! For the duration of the trip, I’ll use my channels to share photos, videos and observations. At a friend’s request I’ll be sharing what I enjoyed the most about each day. I’m hoping to host a Google+ Hangout as well as use Periscope to share what’s happening in real-time.
I’ll be using #VikingCruises and #STGRockTheBoat if you’d like to follow the conversation.
Time to pack up this laptop and catch some shut-eye!