Before the trip:
Be sure to call your credit card company to notify them of your travel plans. This will help to avoid confusion and a potential freeze of your funds while abroad.
Many people assume their passports are valid, only to find the contrary as they are arriving at the airport. Be sure to check that all passports and visas are up to date before booking any international travel.
Preparing a few common phrases of courtesy and gratitude is a must. Travel is apt to go much more smoothly when politeness and effort are concerned.
Travelers often make the mistake of not booking hotels and other accommodations before leaving on a trip. This can cause unnecessary problems, such as availability and even booking a room if you are not familiar with the language. Select Italy recommends always making reservations before travel to avoid this potential travel headache.
During the trip:
It is important to note that in most European countries, like Italy, waiters do not stop at a diner's table to ask to take an order or get a refill. Customers must go off the principal that if you need something, say something. Also, be sure to tip moderately as waiters in most European countries are salaried.
While taking public transportation is often the most affordable way to see a city, taxis are sometimes a must. Be sure to ask the cost of the service before you get in as there are often extra charges for rides at night, Sundays and holidays. If possible, try to get to a designated taxi stand or have the concierge of your hotel call one for you.
Dress the Part
While some cultural differences in dress are bound to occur, there are a few guidelines to help any traveler transition. When visiting museums or ruins always wear comfortable shoes and consider leaving larger bags and coats at the hotel or coat room if possible. Attire when visiting churches and Holy sites should include items that cover legs and shoulders -- modesty is always best. Finally, when heading out to a restaurant be mindful not wear flip-flops or any other casual, sportswear items.
Eat as Italians Do
As a rule of thumb, never order a salad as an entrée (as one might do in America). Salads are seen as a side dish and are garnished simply with oil and vinegar -- forget the ranch and bleu cheese while abroad. Also, most Italians don't eat an appetizer, pasta, main dish, salad and dessert at every meal on a regular basis. Travelers should choose a "primo" or "secondo" when dining out for lunch and then elect to eat a larger meal (with more courses) at dinner.
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