Coming soon, photos and a mini travelogue of my recent trip to Italy with my sister. In the meantime, here are some things I learned on the trip.
1. If, on your flight to India two years ago, you thought you had quite a bit of time left on your passport, “quite a bit” will turn out to have been less than two years.
2. Yes, you can get a passport renewed within 24 hours in the metro New York area, but only if you have an extraordinary nephew and wonderful good friend who live in Westport and Stamford, CT, respectively.
3. Yes, your sister will still be speaking to you when she has to go on ahead without you for a day and drive back to the airport to pick you up when she is still jet lagged from her own flight. (You need to co-sign the car rental papers in person.)
4. Those who said you don’t need an International Driver’s Permit, just a U.S. driver’s license for a car rental were 100% correct. Which is too bad, because that photo they took at AAA was awesome. (The one taken at the CVS in Stamford at 11:30 pm for the emergency passport renewal, on the other hand, looks exactly like how you felt at that point.)
5. Those who told you not to get Amex Travelers Checks because no one accepts them anymore were also 100% correct. (And, yes, they are the same people who nixed the idea of an International Driver’s Permit.)
6. If there is a seat on a regional flight that is below the cubby with the equipment for the flight attendant’s emergency demo and opposite the cubby with two oxygen tanks, it will be assigned to you. Since you boarded early, you were able to find an empty overhead for your carryon that was still in the same aircraft. But that inch you shrank over the past two years was enough to make you struggle to reach those bins.
7. If there is a seat on the transatlantic flight that has a broken footrest, it will be yours. Ditto for the hinky electronics that won’t let you easily drag a playing card where you want while playing solitaire.
8. If you ask five people in Puglia (Tabacchi shop owners, hotel concierge, postal clerk) how much it costs to send a postcard to the U.S., you’ll get five different answers.
9. If you bring postcards home to mail them after you get back, you’ll need to trim them to get the postcard rate. It turns out most Italian postcards are slightly larger than the USPS template allows. Or at least the ones you bought.
10. You can still have a fabulous trip even if it started out with a fiasco of your own making. But that’s only because your sister has been studying Italian and was willing to be your travel agent, trip planner, banker, accountant and translator.