My daughter had never been to Europe (and I had only been once before), so I promised to take her to celebrate her 21st birthday, under the condition that she plan the entire trip. She had to figure out where she wanted to go, how many days, where we would stay, and how we would get around. She got to work on it and after realizing she had too many countries, narrowed it down to a smaller amount (but still a lot, in my opinion). Her plan was the following: fly Los Angeles to Munich, take a train to Nuremberg for the day, take a late afternoon bus to Prague, a train to Budapest, a plane to Milan for a few hours, a train to Venice, a train to Florence, and then a train to Rome. We would then fly home to Los Angeles with an overnight in London. Whew…sounded exhausting, but I was game. I worked on getting the airfares, and she went to work on finding Airbnbs. I was really surprised how reasonably priced the Airbnbs were. I was able to book Los Angeles to Munich direct on Lufthansa using 30,000 United Airline miles each. I was also able to book Rome to Los Angeles on British Airways using 30,000 American Airline miles each. There were additional fees for taxes and airline seats, as well. I recently discovered something you may want to look into when booking trips: I used American Airline tickets to fly on British Airways; however, I later discovered that I could have used my Chase points and transferred them to British Airways Avios points (1:1 ratio) and at the time I could have booked the same ticket for 12,500 points. This is something I will definitely look into next time. I then spent the next 6 months researching all of these different countries on Trip Advisor, Rick Steves, online research, and friends’ advice.
The morning of our flight we arrived at LAX and were pleasantly surprised to find out that the international terminal now offers TSA precheck (I was told this just started in April 2018). Once we were through security we went to the KAL Lounge--I have access to it thanks to my Chase Reserve credit card that gives me a free Priority Pass membership. The lounge had a variety of complimentary foods, as well as complimentary drinks including sodas, wine, and liquor. It was very comfortable hanging out in the lounge.
When it came time to board our flight we were very happy with our seats. I did quite a bit of research on www.seatguru.com and decided on seats 98 H and 98 K. These seats are basic seats located on the upper deck in the last row. The seats still reclined but we didn’t have to worry about anyone pulling on the back of our seat as they got up to go to the bathroom. Even though we were sitting in front of the bathroom, I never noticed anyone using it (I was fearful people were going to stand around my seat waiting to use it). This section of the plane only has around 40 seats that are economy. The seats in front of us were business class and first class, so our section was very small and easily contained. Food and drinks were served quickly. By the way, they also offer complimentary drinks, including wine and liquor (love having my Baileys on the rocks while flying). The entertainment center offered a very nice selection of movies and TV shows. There is a USB port under the armrest that most people would not notice, so be on the lookout if you need one. WiFi was offered by the hour or the entire flight. I purchased WiFi for the entire flight for 17 Euros.
One of my big concerns when traveling through Europe is access to the Internet. My cellular company (Verizon) charges $10/day, and I was going to be gone for 21 days. Additionally, I had multiple devices that I would need Internet access on, as I was traveling with my daughter. While visiting the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show I discovered Vision Global Wifi. They offer a hot spot device that can be used on multiple devices at the same time (up to 10 devices). They charge a daily rate but after a certain number of days they offer a flat rate. The device I rented worked in all of the countries I visited (Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and it cost $90 for the 30 days (even though I only needed it 21 days). This device saved me in Venice where my Airbnb did not have working WiFi. We also used it every day for Google maps to figure out how to get everywhere. It was a lifesaver. The plan I was on gives you 500 MB to use per day, and then it slows down after that (one day I did reach my limit as I think I accidentally downloaded my photos on Google so it used up my data). The service slowed down so much I was not able to use it until it reset. The rest of the trip I never went over my limit, and the battery lasts a long time so we never had any issues with running out of battery. They mailed it to me a couple of days before my trip and included a return box for me to ship it back when I returned; so easy. I would definitely recommend getting this device if you will be traveling abroad and need Internet service and don’t want to spend a fortune with your cellular company. They offer a variety of different plans with different amounts of data so you can see which one works best for you. https://visionglobalwifi.com/ The company is offering Peachheaders a discount for a limited time. By using "peachhead" you will get 10% off and a free external battery rental. Just make sure to select the external battery on the check out screen. The 10% will only be applied when the long-term discount has not been applied.
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