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  1. So here's the thing: You are going to be in CHS for 3 nights and therein lies the issue. If you were just coming for 1 night pre-cruise, I'd tell you to book a cheap motel in N. Charleston and be done with it. But the problem is that if you stay there, you are really far from anything you would want to do in Charleston. The historic and/or tourist area is mostly in the downtown peninsula where the cruise port is, and those hotels are not cheap. But they are very, very convenient, as you can typically park your car and not touch it til you leave. You can head out to sightsee during the day, return to your room to nap or freshen up, and head out again on foot or via 5 minute uber right to any of a plethora of great downtown restaurants for dinner. Likewise for hotels at the base of the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant. You won't be walking to downtown from there, but you can get a quick Uber back and forth over the bridge so going downtown to sightsee, back to rest, back downtown for dinner etc. is pretty easy. Or take your car and drive to dinner somewhere in Mt. Pleasant, maybe on scenic Shem Creek. I can better advise you if you let me know exactly what you plan to do during your time in Charleston. If you don't want to sightsee downtown and have sights in mind that are more spread out (plantation houses, Patriots Point etc.) then yeah, you can probably manage for 3 days in a cheapo motel in N. Charleston, or way down south on Hwy 17 (Savannah Hwy) in the West Ashley part of Charleston (still city limits, but not at all the part of the city people picture when you say "Charleston")
  2. We got back last night, so this is the follow up. It's long, but hopefully helpful for others planning a long land-based trip, either in conjunction with a cruise or independently. I carried on my Briggs & Riley Sympatico shopping tote, which held a folder of travel info, sunglasses, a Tervis tumbler, zipper bag of electronics chargers/accessories, zipper bag of travel odds and ends that I like to have on a plane just in case (bandaids, small hand cream, facial wipe, chapstick, hand sanitizer etc.), wallet, passport, ipad, phone and a few other small odds and ends. I also took a leather cross body purse to use while in Italy and transported this inside the larger B&R bag. Travel outfit: black leggings, a long black & white heathered t-shirt hoodie over a tank, & gold Olukai flip flops. I threw a pair of gym shorts in my tote in case it was too hot to sleep in the leggings (we were in biz class which meant I had a heavy duvet at my seat) I love this tote and it works well for travel days! And it slips over the handle of my suitcase, which was very convenient for our train travel days. I packed the following in a 21" hard sided Away brand spinner bag, which I checked: Bottoms: 1 pair jeans, 1 pair white jeans, 1 black Athleta skort, a pair of lightweight gray leggings for lounging Tops: 4 solid color tees (white, black, gray), 2 black & white print sleeveless tops, 1 lightweight gray sweater with 3/4 bell sleeves, 1 lightweight gray sweatshirt for lounging Shoes: black Vionic sneakers, neutral (cork) Vionic sandals w/ heal strap, gray Vionic low-heeled booties Outerwear: black lightweight cardigan, heavy hip-length gray cardigan, black Lands End all-weather jacket Misc: underwear, 2 additional bras, swimsuit, 1 black belt, no additional jewelry besides the rings, diamond studs, small chain necklace and 2 silver bracelets that I wear daily, 1 lightweight neutral (cream/beige/light gray w/ some metallic threads) scarf What worked and what didn't: Bottoms: I wore the jeans, white jeans and skort multiple times. These were good basics and all tops worked with all bottoms. I liked having 2 pair of leggings to rotate while lounging at the villa, and while I didn't end up needing to change into the gym shorts on the flight over, I wore them for a hiking day and for lounging as well. Only downside was the shorts had no pockets so on the hiking day I was carrying my phone and a water bottle in my hands. Kind of found myself wishing that day that I'd taken a pair of pants I have from Athleta that are lightweight trekking material, tapered and have multiple pockets, though I still would have been carrying my water bottle in my hand for the hike (at least I could have pocketed my phone). They would have been good for the daytime trip home as well, and would have worked during sightseeing days too. I had also debated taking my black t-shirt dress but decided the skort would be more versatile. Found myself a couple of times wishing I had it though. While I wore my white jeans a couple of times, the pair I have are heavy so in hindsight I would have left them at home and replaced with the lighter weight black Athleta pants and the black t-shirt dress. Tops: Wore all, as they all coordinated with all bottoms, but with laundry available, I could have left 1 tee and 1 sleeveless at home. A couple of times I found myself wishing I had a lightweight longsleeved gray tee that I usually take so maybe should have taken that instead of 1 of the short sleeved tees; it would have meant I could head out without a cardigan a couple of days. Shoes: I wore all multiple times. I could have left the booties, but did enjoy wearing them to dress things up just a tad a couple of times. If space had been an issue, I could have left either the flip flops or sandals at home. I like the flip flops for long flights as they are so easy to slip on for lavatory visits on long flights and slip off again at my seat. They look nice enough for casual days but the cork sandals with heal strap are pretty versatile and obviously a little nicer looking. I could have made do with just sneakers and sandals if I had to. Outerwear: This was the biggest goof up in hindsight. I took the all weather jacket, as October is the rainiest month in Milan and we spent 4 days there. It did rain, and I was glad I had it, but it did take up a lot of room in my suitcase. The heavier, hip-length cardigan should have stayed home though. The weather was warm enough, as it's typically been in Italy in October, that i didn't really need it for warmth, so another lightweight cardigan would have worked better and taken up less room in my suitcase. Then, if we had experienced cooler weather, I simply could have layered my all weather jacket over a lighter cardigan. And while nights at the villa were cooler and typically spent around the fire pit, I had the t-shirt hoodie and the lightweight sweatshirt for that so the heavy cardigan was of no real need for that either. Misc: I never did get in the hot tub at the villa on this trip, but usually do so I'd still pack it next time. Summary: Overall everything mix and matched and layered well. Next time I'd take the lightweight Athleta pants instead of the heavier white jeans, a lightweight long sleeved tee instead of one of the short sleeved tees, substitute a 2nd lightweight cardigan for the heavy, long one, and take my t-shirt dress, possible in place of another sleeveless or short sleeved top. And possibly leave the booties and/or flip flops at home.
  3. To get that many in one booking on an airline, without the website defaulting to the highest fare bucket, you will need to call the airline and ask to speak to someone in group reservations. They can do it for you. That said, there is no way in hell I would let myself be responsible for booking a group that size. First of all, everyone has to be on exactly the same itinerary and chances are someone will want to leave earlier in the day or later in the day or fly in from another city for some reason. Someone will insist on nonstop and someone else will want to break it up. At the last minute, someone will decide they need to fly in the next day. And on and on and on, and YOU will be the one constantly having to fix the problems. More importantly, YOU will be the one who has to make the payment and then in turn, get money from everyone else. And there will always be someone promising to "send you the money on Monday." And then Uncle Bob will change his mind because he found an amazing deal somewhere, and someone else will decide they want to use their air miles and now the group size has changed so the rate has gone up from what you told everyone initially, or maybe you don't even qualify as a group anymore. And on and on and on.
  4. Or if you have a shoulder (or other) injury that means you cannot lift a filled suitcase overhead without assistance. While someone might be willing to help, it's best to not put yourself in a position where you require help. As a frequent flyer friend has often said, "If you pack it, you rack it." And if you can't physically do that, you check it. 🙂
  5. If you ever have an itinerary that includes multiple different flight segments on multiple different airlines (all one ticket and all one airline alliance) and 2 of your 3 bags don't arrive with you, you'll find out how valuable it can be to have both the receipt numbers and a description of each bag, and to know which claim number goes to which bag.
  6. Friends recently flew from JFK to Milan on Emirates, and noted that the plane continues on to Dubai and that it was the same flight number as the prior leg to Milan....because JFK to DBX is a direct flight but non a nonstop flight.
  7. I read Bo's reply and didn't feel it was was intended to be overly snarky or condescending. YMMV In answer to your question, I think $1100 is about average for summer. You will certainly find folks who have flown for less, but many times the trade off is a less desireable itinerary or purchasing through the cruise line, which MAY mean the ticket comes with additional restrictions. I've only flown in or out of Venice a couple of times, but for tickets to any large city in Europe in the summer, it is not unheard of for prices to approach 2K at times and yes, that's in coach.
  8. Thank you, I'll report back in a couple of weeks! Thank you, safe travels to you as well! We did a river cruise for the first time a year ago. We enjoyed it, but it was very different from an ocean cruise! Enjoy Venice as well!
  9. Leaving today for a 12 day trip to Italy. Disclaimer: this trip isn't a cruise, but this board gets a lot of questions about land-based trips as well, that may or may not be an add-on to a cruise, and the board also gets a lot of questions about packing in a carry-on only, which I am doing for this trip. I will check my bag over the pond, but prefer carry-on only, simply to make it easier to get on and off trains, which we'll do a couple of times, and because of limited space in a transfer van we'll be in a couple of times with a group of our friends. So....if anyone is interested in a list of what I packed, let me know. I'll wait til I get back to reply, because then I can add if I regretted packing or not packing something. The Milan portion of the trip will involve active sightseeing and dinners in restaurants. The Tuscany portion of the trip will involve staying in a villa and mostly having dinners prepared for us there, i.e. not going out to restaurants, so no need to "dress for dinner." We will spend the days in casual attire, visiting wineries, visiting nearby small towns for lunch, sightseeing in Siena one day, and that kind of thing. If the weather cooperates, we will spend a day walking/hiking at park that is wooded and has paths along the stream or river. We expect reasonably warm days, cooler mornings and evenings, and likely rain in Milan. So due to varied weather and varied activities, I need to take a versatile array of clothing items, but still have it all fit in a 21" carry-on. Oh, and the villa has a hot tub so need to throw in a swimsuit as well!
  10. Any number of reasons someone could do differently on a cruise than at home: -maybe they have a complicated routine at home and they don't want to bother with that on vacation and want advice on basic products to simplify -maybe they want to downsize to a carry on and can't take everything they use at home -maybe they do a simple routine at home but want to pamper themselves by adding some extra steps on vacation when they aren't rushing to get to work -maybe their cruise is taking them to a different climate and they need to adjust their beauty routine to account for the drier air, the more humid air, the increased sun exposure etc. And maybe they have found that the experts they've gone to in the past have been either very costly to go to and/or have largely wanted to suggest a single line of products because they sell or promote that line. So instead they come to a forum of people who they have come to trust to give them different suggestions.
  11. No and no. Legacy airlines typically release their fares 11 months out. They offer multiple different fare buckets when they do and it isn't always limited to just the most expensive fare buckets. Even if what you said was true and for the very first week it was only the most expensive fares, why would you wait 3-5 more months to search if discounts begin after 1 week? Yes, I've heard of it. As Flyertalker said, it's unlikely they would enforce that if it was the first time they had a record of you doing it, but they could.
  12. Just to clarify, that is true as long as you are currently booked in a cabin that can accommodate 3, which I believe the OP said is the case for them. If they weren't, they might have to move to a slightly different cabin category and that could end up meaning a change in price. That's how I have always understood it; someone will let me know if I'm mistaken.
  13. And yet, you said and/or implied so much more.
  14. Define "better" airlines please. Opinions on airlines are highly subjective. Transatlantic flights from south Florida are pretty much limited to either American or Air France out of Miami, unless I'm forgetting something. Whether either flies from there to Venice I don't know. Otherwise you'll have to connect somewhere on this side of the Atlantic, and there's no telling whether you'd be put on Delta, United or Air Canada for that. You could possibly end up with a connection in Europe too, which could mean a codeshare flight on any number of airlines, including Air France, KLM, British Air Lufthansa, Alitalia etc.
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