Final prep

I’ve never been away for 6 weeks before, so I’m preparing for this trip more carefully than usual.  My “to do” list includes items that I’ve meant to do for shorter trips but just never got around to doing:

International driver’s license – This may not be essential, but if – heaven forbid – anything bad were to happen with anything associated with my car, I would want to make sure I had dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”.  I got my international drivers license at an AAA office.  Quick and easy.

Health insurance – Years ago, my sister broke her ankle in Florence and wound up in a hospital at which patients’ families were expected supply the patients’ food and fresh linens.  More recently, a friend of a friend was in an Italian hospital that had cats wandering through it.  Yet our friends who live in Rome – those with good insurance – have had excellent health care in modern, top-notch hospitals.  Based more on hope than analysis, I’m buying insurance to 1) ensure cat-free health care and 2) provide help getting home if that were required.  I used to  find the insurance.  I hope I won’t have occasion to report on its value.

Update — I have a better way to buy insurance: I called 1-800-487-4722 and talked to a real person (Gail) who researched my needs and made a fact-based recommendation.

Credit card – Our credit card has always been reliable in Europe.  Nevertheless, I called that 800 number on the back of the card anyway to reassure their sometimes overly vigilant fraud department.  I got through to a real, live person who recorded my travel plans and gave me an 800 number for their international customer service.  (Bonus!)

Cell phone – Doing this in person has given me peace of mind that was worth the extra time.  I went to the AT&T store to order the necessary enhancement to my plan that will allow me to use the phone over there (it will be $1/minute, so I won’t be using it any more than necessary).  More important, though, the AT&T guy helped me really, really understand how to make sure my phone won’t automatically pull in emails at great expense.