2 September 2022. Finalizing the packing.
I’ve been traveling for business for the better part of four decades, so to say that I’m an old hand at it is somewhat of an understatement. Airline travel in particular I have long considered to be a royal pain in the dupa, and that was before 9/11. My first flights, in fact, occurred back in 1965 on a visit to see great grandparents in Massachusetts. I remember being excited as only a small boy can be. Since 9/11, however, air travel has been something to be avoided … like pinworms or shingles. However, my trip to Greece had to be made by air, obviously. And, as it was to be the first international travel which I had attempted, this prompted some additional research on my part. I poured over tour books and maps and watched online videos to familiarize myself with the places that I wanted to visit. Three of us signed up for Duolingo lessons in Greek (which I am still taking, btw). They did help.
I’m an engineer, which means that I approach every trip as if it were a technical project, or how I would imagine a military campaign is conducted. This means that I make lists, gather supplies and equipment, test said equipment for operability, et cetera. Some people don’t start packing for a trip until the night before. Some don’t start until the morning of. That causes my brain to melt down. No thanks.
I’m 64 years old, and not exactly the picture of health. A younger friend noted this, saying that I needed to get my steps in before the trip because I was going to need that edge due to all of the walking that I’d be doing. He was absolutely correct, but more on that in another post.
I have a mild case of arthritis, which can cause some mobility issues. Making accommodations for this, I purchased a nice set of collapsible trekking poles which I ended up using not a single blessed time. On a whim, I also packed an adjustable cane which I’ve occasionally used at festivals with rough terrain, and I ended up using it almost everywhere. And because it only needed one hand, I was able to use my spare hand to take photographs. Many, many – MANY – photographs.
Another issue to be aware of is electrical power. I travel with a CPAP, and of course everyone travels with a cell phone these days. Some people also have laptops or nice cameras which require recharging, or even hair dryers. The Greek power grid operates on 230 V and 50 Hz, versus the US grid, which operates on 120 V and 60 Hz. So, if you’re traveling to Greece, you’ll need to bring a “C” type adapter at minimum, and a grounded “F” type adapter for appliances (e.g., hair dryers).
As I mentioned, I travel with a CPAP which really is essential if I am to get any sleep whatsoever. I was concerned that there might not be an outlet near my bed in some of the places that we were staying, so I invested in a lithium power cell that was designed specifically to power my brand of CPAP. It was not cheap, so I bought it well ahead of the trip and tested it beforehand to ensure that it worked as advertised (it did). I also brought an extension cord, which turned out to be another item that saw no use. Live and learn. One more important point – if you’re bringing a lithium power cell on a plane, make sure that its overall rating is <100 Wh. And it must be in your carry-on baggage.
It’s a good thing that I brought the battery, because we stayed in an ecovillage resort on Crete that didn’t have functioning power outlets in the rooms (this was not clearly communicated ahead of time), so it ended up being a crucial piece of equipment. It’s also helped out here at home during a power outage, so I consider it to be a good overall investment.
Please Note: Most of the rental cars in Greece are manual transmission. You can rent cars with automatic transmissions, but they cost more. Also, cars in Europe are smaller than US cars. You can rent larger vehicles, but they also cost more. However, if you have lots of luggage, you’re better off doing that. We were 4 adult gay men. You do the math. LOL
Make sure that your passport and driver’s license (if you’re renting a car) are up to date. Greece requires that you have at least 6 months of remaining validity on a US passport in order to enter the country. At one point, proof of COVID vaccination was also required, but that had been rescinded by the time we traveled, as had the requirement for a negative test prior to boarding to return to the US (the latter saved us collectively about €240). Regardless, don’t be an idiot – get vaccinated if you are able.
We were warned that you needed to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in order to rent a car in Greece. However, neither car rental place (mainland Greece or Crete) asked to see it. When I asked if it was necessary, one receptionist shrugged and said, “only if you get pulled over and the cop is in a bad mood.” So, better to have it than not, but I found that you could rent a car without it. If you do get an IDP, your state driver’s license must be valid beyond the 1-year period for which the IDP is issued.
I brought along a couple of 1-liter collapsible water bottles with reinforced grommets and carabiners. They not only saved space in the luggage by lying flat, but they could also be clipped to a ring on a day pack to hang out of the way until needed. And, buddy, were they ever needed. These were much more useful than water bottles purchased at kiosks, and better for the environment. However, I found that I really could have used a 1.5- or even 2-liter bottle. Hiking around Greek cities and archaeological sites is seriously thirsty work, even in early September.
I bought a backpack that met Air Canada’s carry-on requirements. It has a bottom compartment the perfect size to store my CPAP, and everything but that was packed days before departure. I divided my clothes between the backpack and my checked bag, which also held a roll of bubble wrap and packing tape to protect any souvenirs as well as a first aid kit (which actually came in handy a couple of times). I also brought enough N95 masks for the entire party to have 4 changes (Air Canada and Aegean Air both required them in flight, and we wore them in the airports, too). Now – let the journey begin.
— Να εχεις μια ωραια μερα. —
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