We arrived in Positano and heard there had been no phone service for two days. No phone also means no internet. Or credit card machines working.
There are a few things that I’ve learned along the way in my travel life: expect the best but be prepared for the worst (although some things are just unavoidable so chill the hell out).
Which brings me to some tips.
#BiancaTravelTip: Prep Like A Pro
1) CHILL PILL: When things go sideways on your trip, don’t freak out or lose your cool. It’s usually not life-threatening. In some circles, we call shit going down as “getting out of your comfort zone.” It’s usually a good thing.
2) CASHOLA: Always land with cash (euros) in your pocket. Fifty euros per person is good. That way – if you arrive at the airport with a broken bank machine (or a one-hour lineup to use it), you won’t be stuck. I keep all my euro notes and coins from past travels in a ziplock. When I travel, I just throw that ziplock in my purse and change currencies on the plane. It’s a hulluva #protrick.
2) TELEFONINI: I have two phones. One is an Italian phone with an Italian SIM card. I can talk and text easily/cheaply with my Italian phone to any hotel/restaurant/friend/client/my hubby.
Of course, I work in Italy, so I need one. But for traveling you could:
a) Unlock your phone and get an Italian SIM card when you arrive. It’ll have plenty of data and calls for 25 euros.
b) Buy an Italian phone for 80 euros. It’s easy to get pay-as-you-go service; when you run out of credit you just buy more at any Italian tobacco shop.
I also travel with my Canadian phone. I like to have a backup, and I add an international plan before I travel.
3) CORDS-A-GO-GO: I buy European cords for both phones. Also for my laptop. You can buy them at electronic stores when you land.
With Italian cords for my devices, I can plug directly into the wall without a convertor (the two prong thingy that allows foreign gadgets to charge in local wall sockets). I love this – it just feels simpler than buying four converters or rotating one between my stuff.
4) INTERNET-INDEPENDENCE. Just the thought of not having the internet, when and where I want, makes me shake. I’m happy to unplug (it’s my inner hippie), but when I need the internet I want the damn internet (my inner demanding child).
To make sure I’m connected I own a mi-fi (portable modem). I bought mine in Italy at the Vodafone store for 60 euros. You can buy data as you need. I think I’ve spent 60 euros on data in eight weeks. One of my past clients rented a mi-fi already loaded with Italian data and got it sent to our hotel. I thought that was pretty smart and much more practical for a quick trip.
Anyway – let me tell you a few things about Positano. Here’s the skinny:
1) It’s insanely pretty.
2) It’s insanely populated.
3) It’s insanely difficult to drive.
4) It’s insanely impressive to arrive by boat. Taking a boat to/from the village is easy. There are kiosks for all sorts of tours on the main strip. An under the radar idea is to book a table at the restaurant Da Adolfo; they do free boat pickups from Spiaggia Grande (the main drag of Positano) and take you to their cute little beach 15 minutes away.
5) They have lots of small cats. Large cactuses. Small cars. In that order.
6) The locals need a vacation.
7) You should stay in one hotel for a minimum of three nights. Once you land there don’t get all fancy and think of taking off too soon because a) it’s hard to arrive b) it’s hard to leave c) everything is close and you can day trip to surrounding places without changing hotels.
8) In a cafe we paid 8 euros for a small bowl of strawberries (it was for my daughter, and I had a momentary lapse of sanity). The next day we bought fruit on the side of the road for her: Figs, a small watermelon and a string of hot peppers. It was 23 euros (what’s my problem?). Take-away: ask the prices before you buy anything. Or re-mortgage the house if you’re traveling with kids.
9) Don’t let your kid play with chili peppers in the back seat of your car. She’ll rub her eyes. Then she’ll start to scream, and you’ll think she’s going to launch into space at any moment. Don’t rush to the hospital. The screaming will be over in thirty minutes. The only medicine you need is patience, hugs, a water bottle to use as an emergency eyewash station and your hundred-dollar-a-bottle-moisturizing-cream. All will be well.
With love + hot peppers from the road,
P.S. I would love to hear your funniest/weirdest travel moment — wherever in the world you’ve been. Leave a comment.