How I used Tripit during our Italian Vacation

According to their website, Tripit allows travellers to keep all their travel plans in one location to build an itinerary, get organised and stayed informed. Sounds great, I wanted to reduce the paperwork I needed to carry on our trip to Italy and Tripit offered an easy solution.

I signed up a free account with my Google account and and opened a new trip for our Italian vacation. Then I forwarded our flight details to Tripit, and they were automatically translated into our itinerary. Checking the translation revealed no errors, so I continued forwarding our confirmation emails for tours, accommodation and travel bookings to Tripit. Despite a growing list of supported sites, Tripit could not process every email but they quickly advised me when this occurred and I could enter the information manually. (See an example itinerary here.)

I downloaded the Tripit iPod/iPhone App to access my data on the road, and looked forward to not carrying a load of paper on this trip. I updated the application a few days before the trip without updating the itinerary, and put my iPod Touch into my bag.

Luckily I decided to check everything again before we left, and found I could not access our itinerary on the application. At first I thought the Tripit application needed to have an Internet connection for me to see the itinerary and this would have been a disaster for my plan. I established a wifi connection, retrieved the itinerary, and prepared to test the application.

When you open the Tripit application, it attempts to update your itinerary but if you do not have an Internet connection you can simply cancel the operation and your previously downloaded data is available. Confident I had the right tool we headed off to Italy.

Jet lagged but ecstatic to be back in Rome, we headed to our hotel. I used Tripit to show our taxi driver the correct address and he dropped us right outside the door 15 minutes latter. We headed up the stairs to reception and immediately we faced a problem, the owner to see our confirmation email but as I dragged out the iPod she waved me away saying that she needed to see a paper copy. Bugger!

I explained we did not have a paper copy, and after a little fussing she checked us in using our passports to check against her reservations. Was this a flaw in my plan?

We took a risk and moved to our next stop without a printed confirmation, and checked in without a problem. In fact, no other hotel asked for anything other than our credit card and passports, the latter required by law in Italy.

Tripit is a great tool and while it is usable without an Internet connection, you can only access all its potential when it can access the Web but for my money it is the best itinerary tool available.


How I got my Wife to a Doctor in Venice

Venice's Hospital (Ospedale) Photo by Currybet via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved.)

My wife had been fighting a urinary infection since we left home, and the antibiotics had run out and she needed to see a doctor for another prescription. So we were winding through the back alleys and canals of Venice towards the hospital, hoping that someone knew enough English to understand her problem.

A good map is essential in Venice, and despite her misgivings I navigated through ‘seldom seen by tourists’ Venice to get my wife to the Emergency Room at the hospital.

We got our first break when the young nurse at reception spoke English well enough for us to clearly communicate her problem. We filled in a form, and took a seat in the waiting area.

A steady stream of injured and sick people, tourists and locals, arrived with the usual assortment of aliments and injuries and most more serious than a simple infection. So we waited patiently as those in need pushed us down the waiting list. Nothing unusual, and typical of any hospital emergency room at home or abroad.

When we got called into the see a doctor, he asked a few standard questions in stilted English and then said, ‘You see specialist?’

‘No’, my wife replied, and immediately a look of confusion appeared on the doctor’s face.

‘You see specialist?’ he repeated.

My wife tried to explain that she had only seen her GP, and not a specialist.

‘You need urinary specialist’, the doctor said frustrated by the language barrier and it finally clicked for me. He wanted to send my wife to their specialist, and her refusal understandably bewildered him. Having resolved that issue, he had us escorted to the specialist who thankfully spoke enough English to avoid further confusion. Thirty minutes latter we headed back to the emergency room to get a prescription and settle our bill.

The nurse gave us our bill, and directed us to a machine in the hall where we paid by credit card (it also took cash), and returned the receipt to collect the prescription. Total cost after filling the prescription, €57.00, extremely cheap by any standard. Latter I discovered that Italy and Australia are signatories to a reciprocal health care agreement which covers travellers for up to six months from their date of arrival in Italy. This helped to defray our costs but I should have known about it prior to departure to ensure we did not over pay in an emergency.

Italy’s health system worked fantastically for my wife, friendly and helpful despite our language difficulties and surprisingly inexpensive. We learnt two critical lessons:

  1. Be better prepared by checking all the information on the Smart Traveller website before a trip. (For US citizens, check the State Department Travel site. Other countries have similar information available.)
  2. Ensure your phrase book covers likely situations, ours failed to provide any useful words for this common aliment.

Share your health care experiences in the comments or our discussion forum on Facebook.


Relaunching Exit Row Seat

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The Exit Row Seat blog is relaunching on Monday with new articles, tips, photography and travel product reviews to help our readers travel smarter and lighter. During our hiatus, we travelled to Asia, Europe, America and across Australia, now we can share the new travel tips and destinations with you. To start your journey in the Exit Row Seat, we selected five cracker articles from the archives for your reading pleasure.

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