Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tips’

Traveling in Italy: Trains vs. Planes

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

While planning my recent visit to Lecce, I hemmed and hawed over how I would get there.  There was, of course, the train, which would get me from Perugia to Rome to Lecce for at good 70-ish Euros one way.  An all-day affair.  There was also the bus, which would leave Perugia in the evening and arrive in Lecce in the morning.  A little less than the cost of the train and I wouldn’t have to switch.

Then someone on Facebook suggested flying.  I looked online and sure enough, there was a flight from Rome to Brindisi that cost half the price of a train ticket.  The airline is Blu-Express and I believe you have to live in Italy to use them.  I decided to try them out, even though I love trains.

I spent the night in Rome, where I danced tango with friends I haven’t seen since I lived in Buenos Aires, and in the morning I hopped the Leonardo Express from the Termini station to Fiumicino Airport.  They only allow you to check in 15 kilos worth of luggage, and I alas had 17.  I had to pay 7 Euros per extra kilo.

After one hour in the air, I was in Brindisi.  I asked around and found my way to a city bus which brought me to the train station.  For about 3 Euros I took a train to Lecce in about 40 minutes.  It was an interesting experience and while I had to do a lot of suitcase lugging on and off planes, trains and buses, things were pretty well laid-out.  Still, when I calculated things, it took just as long as the train in the end.

When it was time to leave Lecce, I decided to pay the extra money and take the train instead.  Since I have a USB internet modem with a mobile phone company, I was able to surf the net for part of the 5-hour ride to Rome, chatting with friends while looking out the window at trulli along the Adriatic sea.   The ride was so relaxing and peaceful (and so full of beautiful landscapes) that I decided it is still much better to take the train.

The nice thing about the small European airlines is that I can arrive in more distant cities such as Madrid with enough ease and for a small price.  But for travel within Italy, I think the train is where it’s at.

How do you get around?

Tina Ferrari is a translator, writer and tango dancer based in Umbria, Italy. She writes at as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

**Image courtesy of

Working While Traveling

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009


I am lucky to be a telecommuter. I can work wherever I am, which is completely awesome. I moved to Buenos Aires, but decided to skip the winter and spend summer in California with my Mom. We drove up to visit my brother and drove back. And I’ve been working the whole time. There are some things I’ve learned about being a digital nomad, as it were:

  • Paper doesn’t need batteries. While traveling from place to place, it’s a good idea to have important phone numbers, confirmation numbers, etc. on paper. I love technology as much as the next person, but while you might feel clever by emailing yourself everything, iphones can go dead, you can forget power cords, and wifi connections can go down. A 3×5 card is super efficient.
  • Remember the plug adapters. Your computer will be rendered useless unless you can plug it in and charge it. So write a big note on your forehead.
  • Have a back-up plan for Internet access. Many hotels say they have wifi online, but don’t when you show up, especially in South America. Have a back-up plan. In Buenos Aires, this isn’t typically a problem, because there are plenty of cafes with wifi and locutorios where you can pay for access by the hour if you are really in a pinch.
  • Have web-accessible email, and email yourself copies of everything. If something goes wrong with your computer, you can salvage a lot of data if you have emailed it to yourself through Google mail, or some other such service. They haven’t lost tons of data yet, and I doubt their data is as vulnerable to emergencies as mine.
  • Be prepared for variables such as heat and noise. If you are used to working in a comfortable quiet environment, don’t take it for granted when you are going to work somewhere else. Bring layered clothing, earplugs, or at least earphones to put on some music.
  • Plan to rest. Don’t assume you will be able to get into a hotel after a long flight and work a full day. Schedule in time off to catch up on your sleep. You are going to be less productive on travel days, so plan for it.

Those are all the important tips I can think of. I would love to hear from others who work and travel as well. What works for you?

Julia Evans wrote this article for where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

This One is For the Ladies…

Friday, August 7th, 2009

To boldly go (to the bathroom) where only men have gone before (standing up)……

So this post might be a little indelicate, but when I found this product, I wished I had known about it before. Here’s the back story:

Rob and I are going to be doing some bicycle touring. We’ll be touring mostly self- supported, which means we will carry our tent and everything we need in our panniers and set off. We will probably do a mixture of camping and hotel rooms. We are going to start with two weeks in Maine, and then some touring in Patagonia when we get back to Buenos Aires.

While shopping for supplies, I cam across the Freshette F.U.D. (Feminine Urinary Director) made by Sani Fem, which essentially allows a woman to go to the bathroom standing up. Seeing as we will be out in the wild, I bought it.

The Freshette F.U.D.

The Freshette F.U.D.

I tried it out at home. I rushed out of the bathroom, triumphant. Why hadn’t I known about this before? It’s easy to use, clean, simple, and small enough to fit in a purse (the tube is removable and fits into the cup, and then into a white zip-top bag). In fact, I am going to carry it with me in my purse ALWAYS. For all those times I am in a strange place and go to the back of a little cafe or bar to find the bathroom is scarily unsanitary. For all the times we are at some festival supplied with stinky port-a-potties. And of course, when we are on the road on our bikes and have to pull over to the side. No more looking for big bushes or boulders! It’s also a good solution for those who are incapacitated or bed-ridden.

In any case, I highly recommend the Freshette not just for camping or hiking, but for traveling in general. It gives a kind of freedom and peace of mind that I find comforting. It’s going to be in my purse right next to my cell phone and wallet, and next time I have to use a dingy bathroom, I no longer need to cringe.

Julia Evans wrote this article for where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

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