After our three weeks in France, just what are my travel tips for you? What did I learn that might help you?
This is one wonderful program. By signing up and being accepted in the program, you become a “known citizen” or “trusted traveler” and thus can bypass the customs lines when returning to the States. And, more and more foreign countries will start to accept this program in the coming months and years.
How to do it? Go to the Global Entry site. Set up an account on line. Follow all the instructions and answer all the questions. Pay $100. Then wait about two weeks when you will receive an email saying you have been approved and to set up an appointment for an interview. These are conducted, generally, at airports. Yes, you may have to travel some distance for this 10-minute interview. They take your picture and your fingerprints and you are then registered with the system for five years.
What does it do for you? Well, when we returned two weeks ago to Raleigh airport the customs line would probably have taken at least an hour. I’m guessing. But it was long and had one desk open. We scooted ahead to the Global Entry kiosks (there were five) where we were the only people, scanned our passports, placed our designated four fingers on the screen, received a print out and when straight to baggage claim. It took less than five minutes.
I can’t recommend it highly enough! We can skip the lines, always, at any domestic airport and many foreign. It is one wonderful program!
Remember my post about The Dulla Portable Power Bank? It is just as good as I thought. I used it to charge both our phones numerous times before I had to recharge the actual power bank. It worked every time; I used a European adaptor plug; it’s not too heavy or large to carry in a day-trip bag; I never worried about running out of a charge in a long day on the road.
Then there is the camera issue.
I definitely was not going to take my large Canon DSLR. I planned to use my iPhone 6 for all my pictures. But at the last minute I threw in my small point and shoot camera, “just in case.” Well, I should have left it at home. The iPhone is just SO good at all kinds of pictures. I did several videos to post on my Instagram “stories” and it is so easy to do. My recommendation: just take your phone and leave the others behind!
#3. Back Pack
What happened with my (new to me) backpack idea? Ah yes…..I took the
LLBean Ridge Runner Tote
NO NO NO NEVER AGAIN!!!
It was awful from the start…It felt like a huge bag of rocks on my back. It moved around. It was awkward. It’s impossible to get on, or off, easily. It was enormous and clunky under the seat. It’s one big space inside, so very difficult to find anything while on the plane where space is at a premium (even with our upgraded ‘Comfort’ seats.)
We decided to try taking the RER into Paris from De Gaulle. All was just fine and I do recommend it: for 10€ per person it is a huge bargain compared to any car service. But oh the backpack! I ended up putting it on top of my suitcase where it would slide off and then pull the suitcase over etc etc. A mess.
#4. Carry-on Vs. Check
I’m back to checking a suitcase! Oh so much easier. My carry on was under 40 lbs but even so, that is HEAVY to lift up high. Maybe we’re getting too old for that? A possibility! I really don’t mind waiting for luggage on the carousel; it’s a great time to observe other people and just begin to come down from the hours in the plane. For a direct flight I do think the risk of lost/delayed luggage is very minimal.
Once over there I knew I wasn’t going to use the backpack returning. And, as it turned out, once we bought the ceramics in Grignan and then added other goodies I decided to buy a small rolling suitcase as my carry on and check my larger suitcase. It worked perfectly! We found a black hard side four-wheeled roller for less than $30 and it was just about full with all the extras. It also allowed me a little more room to shop while in Paris…always a good thing, right?
#5. Miscellaneous Helpers
Have you ever seen or used
Plastic Pill Pouch?
This is no small item! I take Calcium and Vitamin D every day. I’ve tried them in small food bags, in their bottles, and in those daily pill boxes you can buy. Nope. These small pouches are fabulous! You count out how many pills and seal it up. So easy. And write the contents on outside. Husband is in love with these too!! They are also very helpful for jewelry…
A small purse/carry all for short trips:
I wanted something very small and lightweight, cross-body, for short walks or early morning exploring and taking pictures around the village. It only had to hold a few euros, pen and small pad and most importantly, my iPhone. So I went to Etsy and found this
(this identical fabric is no longer available)
It was perfect. Easy to reach for the phone/camera, has one zippered pocket, held all I needed for short walks.
I hope you will let me know if any of these help you with future planning. And, if you have any other good suggestions for us please do comment.