On a river cruise, you’ll find yourself on board, off-board, in hotels, in cities and perhaps even in more rustic settings depending on your trip. When packing for this unique type of experience, as offered by travel operators such as Imagine Cruising, it’s important to keep in mind the changing environment and to err on the side of practicality at all times.
Whether you’re planning to disembark your vessel and head to some specific landmark or just planning a casual stroll, it’s always a good thing to have a few local phrases and expressions of courteousness in your arsenal. Asking for directions and ordering food are the essentials but you never know when you might wish to say “I have a radio in my car” or “You’re beautiful”. On top of that, knowing how to express a few simple phrases in the local tongue is the best way to endear oneself to the people there. So even when you’re looking a bit flustered, rustling through the pages of your phrase book to find out what Sergei just said to you, it won’t matter… you’ll have already charmed the socks off him.
We all like to look smart, but the truth is when you’re trying to see a city in a limited period of time, there’ll come the point when the marathon trainers look better than the brogues. Pack a fashionable option by all means, but think practical first. And on that note, Elastoplasts don’t go a miss after a ten-mile walk, either.
If you’re planning to travel during the warmer months, then hopefully you’ll be returning to home with a tan to show off. However, the weather man is never to be trusted, so be sure to pack at least one warm outfit (top and bottoms) and a light waterproof. Depending on where you plan to visit, it might also be worth packing some slightly more formal clothing options. Some European churches, for example, have dress codes for visitors.
Quite a lot of your trip will involve hauling luggage about – on to the boat, off the boat and around the streets. While large, reinforced, multi-chamber backpacks remain an attractive option for some travelers, river cruisers might prefer to go with something a little less demanding on the shoulders. A bag or case on wheels is recommended, and then a smaller, more bearable load can be shouldered on daytime excursions. Bum bags meanwhile are ideal for storing currency and other essentials. Yes, tourists are allowed to look silly.
Most people don’t forget to pack the phone and the Macbook. Leaving at home chargers, batteries and plug adapters, however, is much more common. Depending on where you are and how you plan to arrive in Europe, this can prove to be quite a costly mistake. Most airports, for example, charge well over the going price for a plug adaptor. Similarly, acquiring a suitable phone charger is not always a straightforward business. Fortunately, most ships are fitted with sockets for different types of plug, but you may find yourself limited as to how many devices you plug in at once. If you feel it necessary, a multi-socket adaptor might be worth considering as part of your luggage.
International credit cards are great, especially if you’re not going to be charged a bomb for cash withdrawals, but do be aware that many smaller shops won’t accept them, so it’s always best to have some local notes in your pocket. In addition, you just never know what you might be expected to pay for before you can reach the hallowed ATM. Acquiring some local currency before arrival is an essential precaution.
Any tourist hotspot is likely to have maps and information readily available to visitors, but it’s still nice to have your own information at your disposal – and cheaper. If you’re not keen on lugging some giant book about either you could just photocopy the pages you need or, even better, download the Lonely Planet app onto your phone. Costs and luggage aside, it’s usually a good idea to plot something of a schedule before you go anyway, especially if you’re the type who likes to pack in as much sightseeing as possible.
OK, we probably didn’t need to tell you this one, but people do leave the house without it, so put it at the top of your checklist.
That pretty much covers the basics essentials of what you need to bring on a river cruise. We hope you pack well and have a great trip!