*LONG POST - SKIP TO ITEMS IN BOLD IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ EVERYTHING*
I am a senior at LSU and I am going to graduate this May (woohoo!). I'm going to Italy, Greece, and the UK starting in July.
I applied for the Arrival Plus World MasterCard Elite because I wanted to be able to pay for things overseas without having to carry cash and deal with exchanging currency as well as the Chip + PIN technology. Plus, my travel expenses could be offset with my points. I was so torn between this card and Chase Sapphire Preferred (**bleep** those Ultimate Rewards!) but I settled for Arrival because I can use the points for all the small hotels I will be staying at, all transportation, and tourist attractions! Ultimate Rewards may be more valuable for 1:1 transfers for Chase's airline and hotel partners, but I'm not far enough into my life to have those be useful to me yet. I'm so glad I got approved for this card! The young age of my credit history is probably one of my lowest factors but my credit scores from all three credit bureaus are pretty decent and my payment history is immaculate.
Now for my trip!
Originally, I was going to spend 3 months in Europe. Starting in Paris, I would then travel to Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Zurich, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Athens (and Corfu), then the UK. Once in the UK, I could explore parts of Ireland as well. Unforseen expenses arose so I had to cut my trip short.
One of my very best friends is a British girl who did her exchange year at my school. Her family vacations in Greece every summer. In fact, that's the reason why I'm locked into this latter half of the trip - they already paid for my return flight with them from Greece to the UK. That, and I need to escape the States for a while. School has left me burnt out.
July 20 - Fly to Florence and meet my friend. We will spend 4-5 days in Florence, then move on to Rome.
~July 25 - Spend 4-5 days in Rome.
July 30 - We will fly to Athens and meet her family. Once there, I think we will do a few days doing touristy things in Athens (I've certainly never done it and I actually think they haven't either) and then we will go to the villa they rent in Corfu.
August 13 - Fly to the UK. From there, my trip is variable. I will be spending 3 1/2 weeks there so I want to see as much as I can. I want to see Ireland and I know we're going to hop on a train to Paris, too.
I would love to hear how best to maximize experiencing the places I'm going to visit. What should I see? What should I leave out? And local tips for transportation? Any and all information would be welcome.
Also, I haven't purchased my flights yet. I was actually going to buy my ticket to Florence today, but I decided to apply for my Arrival Plus card and now that it's on its way, I'm going to wait to put the purchase on the card. I've seen some pretty great deals on Skyscanner and ExploreTrip but any tips you have on cheap airfare would be great!
How was your experience using Arrival Plus overseas? I'd like to hear everything, from raves about how easy to was to use Chip + PIN and even the horror stories of purchases not working out. How was customer service when resolving issues overseas?
So sorry for the long post but I'm both excited and terrified for this trip. At first, it was going to be me (a 21 year old woman) traveling throughout Europe by myself, staying in 20-bed hostels and avoiding strangers like the plague (we've all see Taken) until I met my friend in Italy and her family in Greece. Now that I'll be with a friend the entire time, I can breathe easier. Your advice might help easy my worries, too!
Tip #1, eat as much gelato as you can in Florence/Rome. I recommend it at least once a day.
Tip #2, remember to say no bubbles when buying water. That is unless you like soda water.
Tip #3, I would recommend taking a nalgene esque water bottle and refilling it in one of the many fountains in Rome vs. buying water while out and about.
Tip #4, try to find where the locals eat and not where the tourists do. Also, the house wine(s) is usually quite delicious and cheap.
Tip #5, if you're making a trip to Pisa, check into whether or not you can climb the tower now. I don't remember how far in advance you can/have to make reservations.
Tip #6, try to make a detour to Delphi or Meteora. Both are really cool sites to visit. I had the best lamb shank I've ever eaten in Delphi.
WOW, that sounds like an ideal trip. I am sure you had a great time!