What do you need to do before you go? First and foremost, make sure you have an up to date passport! Give yourself plenty of time to get a new passport if you need one. There is nothing more stressful than having to pay for expedited shipping on your passport when you are about to embark on an overseas adventure. Everything you need to know about your passport can be found on the U.S. Department of State website. Once you have received your passport, make a copy of it, or snap a photo with your phone. If you want to be super safe, do both. I always have my passport with me and leave the copy in my checked luggage, and since I have my phone with me I also have a picture of it on there. Read more about using your smart phone when traveling here.
Secondly, make sure you have good luggage. My recommendation is one medium sized wheeled bag, a backpack and a small messenger bag or purse. I have used my Samsonite bag since 1999 and it has served me very well! I will be sad when I have to replace it. It is approximately 14 inches wide, 24 inches tall and 12 inches deep. I prefer inline large rear wheels compared to the spinners, but any medium sized durable hard-side suitcase will work well. Also, try to avoid black luggage. Buying an unusual color will be easier to spot at the airports baggage claim. Remember, if you are taking the metro around you will need to fit your suitcase through the ticket gates. I have watched many tourists struggle to get oversized bags through these fairly tight spaces. Don’t be cheap when investing in a good suitcase. It is very frustrating to have to deal with a broken suitcase on a trip to Europe.
You will also need an electricity converter. These are fairly cheap and can be found at most large department stores. Make sure you get one that works for your destination! Remember, Europe and Great Britain use different outlets. My suggestion is a universal adapter that you can take almost anywhere.
I also highly recommend purchasing a Paris Pass which gives you free entry to many museums and attractions and unlimited use of the public transportation system. If you visit 2 or more attractions and use the metro 3 or 4 times per day it will more than pay for itself.
I figured I saved about $100 by using my Paris Pass, not to mention a lot of time by not having to purchase metro tickets and utilizing the skip the line benefits at some of the most popular attractions.
With these necessities in stow, you will be ready to head overseas and explore Paris. If you forget anything else, you can usually easily purchase things along the way at grocery stores or a drug store.
Lastly, be sure to notify your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling to Paris so they can set a travel alert on your cards. Otherwise, you can expect to have your cards cancelled when you try to withdraw money or pay for your train tickets. Also, check to see what the exchange rates are and foreign transaction fees for each card you plan on using. Some cards give you better rates and sometimes if you withdraw money from partner ATMs you will pay a lower fee. It is not a bad idea to get some Euros in cash before you leave, just so you don’t feel stressed to find a bank or pay high exchange rates at the airport to get cash when you arrive.