Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney Island, Scotland, Great Circle Route
General Travel Information & Items to Bring
Airline Checked Baggage. Restrictions and rules change with regular frequency – be sure to check the rules for the airlines you will be flying with and if you are flying on more than one carrier, be aware that each carrier may have different rules. Long haul flights tend to allow more checked weight baggage while the shorter haul flights may charge for checked bags. It is a good idea to put your name and address inside your luggage.
Airline Carry-on Baggage. Restrictions are subject to change as well. Visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website (www.tsa.gov/traveler-information) for a current list of what you can bring onto the plane with you and what you have to check. Also be sure to check with your individual airline carrier.
Passport and one other form of photo identification (e.g., driver’s license). It is recommended that you make two copies of your Passport’s identification page in the event that you lose your Passport and need to obtain a replacement while abroad. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives and carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport or save it in an electronically accessible location. For U.S. Citizens traveling to Europe, it is necessary that your passport have at least six (6) months validity remaining beyond the date of completion of the holiday and ensure that there are a sufficient number of blank pages in your passport. Obtaining or renewing a passport through regular channels can take up to 3 months. You may consult the U.S. Department of State’s website (www.travel.state.gov) for further information. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.
Medical. Bring your medical/health card identifying your insurance details, contact information, doctor, prescription information, allergies, vaccinations, and any other medical or fitness related information. Check with your health care provider to ensure that you have coverage while overseas. Medical insurance should cover you if you become ill or have an accident and require medical attention. It should also cover you for evacuation back to the United States. Coverage is usually through your private insurer in the United States and can be supplemented through travel insurance.
Documents (e.g., Airline Tickets, Vouchers) confirming your flight information and transfers, itineraries, hotel voucher, travel insurance details, etc.. Screenshots or downloading your documents to iBooks or other similar apps for offline access works great and lessens your carrying load.
Emergency contact numbers.
Local currency. Most of your expenses are already paid for in your holiday price but you will need a minimal amount for lunches, beverages and should you want to take in any activities on your free day. It is possible to order foreign currencies ahead of time from your US bank, or is easily obtained once you arrive through an ATM.
Credit and/or debit cards (remember your PINs). Debit cards and credit cards are usually widely accepted but sometimes there are additional fees. Note that American Express is not as widely accepted as VISA and MasterCard.
Contact your bank and credit card companies to advise them of when and where you will be traveling to ensure they will accept your international charges and withdrawals. Take care of this around a week before you leave.
Translation phrase book is optional. English is widely spoken in major European cities but that is not always the case in more rural settings. It is recommended that visitors learn to speak a few words and phrases in the local language. The locals will be especially appreciative!
Reference book or app for the country(s) you will be visiting.
Telephone/Smartphone. Many guests travel with their smartphones and/or tablets. In general, most European locations have good coverage and Wi-Fi is typically available at the hotel. Some smartphones from the US, depending on your service provider, offer international rates which can be expensive. It is also possible to purchase a sim card and a rate plan which is usually less expensive; however, your phone must be unlocked and/or able to take a sim card.
Charger(s) for phone, tablets, camera and any other electronic devises you are bringing.
Adapter(s) to convert US device electric current to the visiting country’s electric supply.
Clothing (other than walking clothing) and toiletries. The rule of thumb for what to wear is to be comfortable. Dinners are casual to smart casual and in some locations we eat outside if the weather permits so a light jacket or sweater is a good idea. Shorts, jeans, khakis, casual dresses, everyday type comfortable clothing. Bring a bathing suit if desired as most hotels have a pool and many have spa facilities.
Personal use items you may find useful include light slippers for tiled floors, face wipes, moisturizing lotion, snacks/energy bars, small mirror, earplugs, pens, paper or notepad. Other items that may be useful but cannot be packed in your carry-on luggage include a small penknife, scissors, safety pins, small sewing kit, nail clippers.
Walking Packing List
Walking boots with ankle support, a good rubber sole and deep tread are recommended. Walking boots should also be waterproof and well-worn in to maximize your comfort. If room permits, it is a good idea to pack your boots in your carry-on so that if something happens to your luggage, it is still possible to walk.
Socks should be comfortable and well-fitting (merino wool are a good choice). There are many brands available through outdoor retailers and Amazon. We find Darn Tough merino wool socks are an excellent choice for comfort and durability. Usually it is just necessary to bring 3 to 4 pairs of varying weight and rewear them.
Daypack backpack to hold your clothing layers, waterproofs, snacks/lunch, water, small first aid kit, sunscreen, and any other walking items you want to carry. Often, the daypack I use is the one I carry onto the airplane and others pack it away in their luggage.
Clothes you wear walking are best layered to maximize your comfort by providing flexibility, insulation, ventilation and weather protection. If walking in the mountains it is often chilly in the mornings with temperatures rising as much as 20 degrees by the end of the day. A base layer of moisture wicking material is recommended, followed by either a mid-layer of another moisture wicking fabric or a light to mid-weight pullover or fleece which also serves as your warm outer layer. Pants or shorts, preferably quick drying and lightweight. The links below are from a few vendors that explain layering and their purpose in more detail. http://www.sierratradingpost.com/lp2/layering-guide/ and https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/layering-basics.html
Hat or scarf for shade and protection from wind or strong sun.
Sunscreen/block and lip balm.
Light waterproofs are usually sufficient where we go for the time of year. An inexpensive cape or poncho is another option that allows the water to run off and it can be easily packed. A rain cover for your daypack is recommended. Always be prepared for rain showers and cool spells.
Folding umbrella (optional) for light showers. Many find this more comfortable than a waterproof as long as it doesn’t compete with your walking poles.
Drinks container (if you do not want to buy bottled water).
First aid kit containing basic aids such as blister treatment, antiseptic, insect repellent, band aides.
Walking pole(s), if you use them, can be helpful especially on the downhills.
Plastic bags to protect your backpack from rain if it does not have a cover and they are also useful to hold your trash until you find a designated receptacle.
Camera, binoculars or other personal item.
Headlight is optional and can be useful depending on the location. Don't forget batteries.