Getting Ready to Travel Internationally- Cell Phones, Clothing, and Safeguarding your Property

Getting Ready to Go to Europe this year?  The dollar is strong and now is a great time to think about doing something you’ve always dreamed of…how about coming with me to Europe and Romantic Tuscany? Here’s some information you might find useful…


The view from our Tuscan retreat…there is a special quality to the light in Tuscany.


In case you’re wondering what the best tour of Tuscany might be…I’d like to say that it doesn’t get any better than my upcoming EAT PAINT COOK Tour  of Tuscany!   Local transportation, Cooking lessons, art lessons, wine, food, and song in the evenings are all included in the $2695 price.  The complete brochure is included in this blog.

Whether you’re traveling to Europe with me or on your own anytime soon, here’s a few travel hints you may enjoy reading…

5 course organic chef-prepared meals daily.

Cell phones:  I have an iPhone with Verizon on a business account.

  • The rate for calling or receiving calls in France and Spain is currently $.99 cents/minute for a business account.  Non-business accounts have rates available of about $1.25/minute.  To contact your carrier, generally call 611 from your cell phone to set up an international plan for yourself.  Check if there are better rates available to you on your account.
  • I plan to disable my Data services while abroad.  This will prevent charges from texts or unwanted push notifications while I’m there.  You disable this on an iPhone by going following this path-  “Settings”-“Cellular”-“Roaming”-“Data Roaming”- “Off”.
  • Verizon doesn’t charge for WiFi usage overseas…it simply charges if you receive texts or calls using their Verizon data plan.  If you have apps like Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, or Tango, you can use the apps to communicate free of data charges whenever you access WiFi on your trip.  These apps allow calling and texting, and even actual recordings and video sharing.  The catch is that it works as long as whoever you are calling or texting also has the same app.  It’s a reason to get your frequent callers, family and friends to download the apps you plan to use before you leave.
  • Charging: Don’t forget your charger!  My iPhone is capable of converting the voltage from European outlets to charge the phone. All that is needed is a plug adaptor- something that changes the shape of the plug on your charger so that it can mate with the wall outlet wherever you are traveling.  A converter is not needed for the iPhone (or for most battery powered equipment).

San Fedele, Italy

Watercolor Painting- Borgo San Fedele Our “home away from home”
11 X 15 Rebecca Zdybel

Before you go:

  • News Flash!  If your passport expires 6 months from your date of entry, you may be prevented from traveling abroad!  In fact, most countries require that a passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of a trip. Check your passport early and renew well in advance.  See my February 2015 blog post for more information on passport requirements and renewal.
The Bubble Boys - Rebecca Zdybel

The Bubble Boys – Rebecca Zdybel

Bubble Boys- Tuscany
11 X 15 Rebecca Zdybel
  • I make a photocopy of my cards, passport  and ID and put them in my carry-on.  When I arrive at the hotel, I put them in the safe.  Just in case
  • Contact your credit card company to tell them you’ll be traveling abroad.  It avoids fraud protection issues that can impact your ability to use the cards while traveling.  (God forbid we can’t spend money!)
  • Check to see if your card charges foreign transaction fees.  Ask your credit card representative.  If you will be charged fees,  think about getting a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.  I have one from Barclay and also Bank of America.
  • I always bring my medical insurance card and my healthcare savings credit card.
  • Always keep your passport in your hand…do not set it down or let it go out of your sight with employees of any restaurant or rental companies.  Hotels sometimes keep your passport on tours, and though this really bothers me, I will cooperate if they insist.
  • There is a new scam around being run at security checkpoints in airports.  It involves theft of unsupervised bags…While you go through the X-ray scanners separated from your bag, someone grabs your bag and goes.   Wait to put your bags into the scanner until just before you go through your body scan.  It will help to minimize your time of separation from your bags.
  • Another new way to steal is on trains.  Baggage is often stored at the entrance to the train car that you occupy.  I’ve been told that stealing bags is becoming common when your bags are out of sight.  I bought a lightweight bike lock and secure my bags together with others or to the luggage rack.
  • Consider money belts or bra-wallets to increase the safety of your cash, cards and identification.
  • I generally make a manila envelope as my travel file.  I keep my boarding pass there, and I put copies of my itinerary there and any travel emails sent to me by my carriers or travel companions.  That way I have one place to look when I want to refer to travel arrangements.  I keep this with me while I travel in my carry-on.  I also make a copy for my husband to keep at home if he’s not traveling with me.
I wear primarily athletic attire and pack for 1 week.  Then I wash clothes in the sink or in the bidet (for a funny story see this old blog post- Bidets: Really? Yes, Really! ).  I bring flip flops because floors are cold and sometimes its comfortable to just flip flop around.  Stone buildings tend to retain the cold, so be ready to layer (especially in the winter and spring).  For dressier moments, I bring some jewelry that can  take my black top and black pants into evening.  I also bring scarves for color or a dressier look.  Remember that women need to cover their shoulders inside church buildings.  Scarves are good for doubling as a shawl in this instance.
The drive to our home at San Fedele

Happy Hour- Italian Style

Local Wine and cheese every evening on the terrace is always a highpoint of the day…

To join me for my upcoming Eat Paint Cook Tour read this brochure: 
Eat, Paint, Cook Tour of Tuscany

I’d love to read your travel suggestions.  Post them here and we can all learn from one another =)

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art!

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Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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