Here are a few things I've learned on some recent trips:
|No rain in sight|
> Carry an umbrella even if rain isn't predicted. A brolly doubles as sun protection and won't mash your hairdo like a hat.
> Always always stuff the toes of your shoes (not the ones you're wearing of course) with crumpled up plastic bags. Newspaper delivery bags are ideal. If you don't have them, cut a dry cleaner's bag into strips. The toes of unstuffed shoes get all knarley in flight— really!
|On the tip of my tongue|
> Write down somewhere the names of any medication you are taking. A consult with a pharmacist while traveling left me dumbfounded when he asked. "A little green pill" is not a helpful response.
|Where not to find the locals|
> Try not to look like a tourist when you are doing non-tourist things. Nobody expects you to dress to the nines while obviously sightseeing, but please respect local custom when you are on the natives' turf in restaurants, clubs, high-end retail, etc. You will be treated better, I promise.
|Thanks to a bookstore in Rapallo|
> Bring plenty to read. Nothing beats a good book when you are waiting it out in an airport. Magazines, much as I love them, just don't last long enough. On the other hand, a newspaper can provide so much more than the weather forecast and tv listings. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today are available just about everywhere stateside.
If you're traveling deep into a foreign country and don't read the language, stuff every nook and cranny with reading material in your native tongue. I read some really weird books one trip when I ran out of mine and was left with the pickings at the local used book store. "The Diary of a Nobody", anyone?
> Pack a cross-body bag (most definitely not a fanny pack) that can be slung low over your shoulder. Lighter and smaller than what might be your travel purse, it will free up your hands and carry only essentials for the day. Naturally you will leave any valuables in the hotel safe, not lying about your room. Ditto a clutch for evenings. You will definitely skew more "native" if you are not lugging ye olde travel bag around in the evening.
> Tell your credit card company you'll be traveling. Do not even think about the hassle you may need to go through to prove to them you are really you.