Insider Tips for trips: Are you planning a Huff Harrington trip to France with us? While you’re thinking about it, and possibly to whet your appetite, here are our top 10 tips to follow when preparing Paris Shopping Trip:
1. Passport control:
It may seem obvious, but make sure your passport is up to date – and that you have more than 6 months before it expires. And a new little caveat: Make sure your passport is in good shape and that you have enough pages for immigration to stamp it. We can tell you personal stories about this, but let’s just say that both the U.S. and French Immigration Officers don’t have a lot of humor when it comes to finding stampable pages or dealing with a damaged passport!
2. Trip Insurance:
We highly recommend buying travel insurance. Why? Because unplanned situations arise and if you have to cancel, for whatever reason, you want to have the peace of mind that you’ll be refunded for your trip. We’ve had clients who bought travel insurance and had to use it, even at the last minute. They were so happy they had it!
3. Know your Louis’:
So this is the fun part! Before heading to an antiques fair, it’s smart to start learning things like the difference between a Louis XV (we call them flirty fifteen because of the gently curved legs), and the more classical look of Louis XVI (“straight sixteen”). You’ll also want to know what distinguishes an 18th Century vs 19th Century, and so that you won’t be surprised by the price difference! (And by the way, if you don’t have time or the interest in learning about this, know that we love it and happy to share what we know!)
4. Plan and measure:
Are you looking to furnish a new home, renovate a room or simply fill in with a piece or two if you fall in love? No matter what your needs, it’s a good thing to have your measurements with you and pictures of your space. And keep in mind ceiling heights and proportions. European pieces tend to be much smaller than our American counterparts, especially seating.
When you sign up with us, we’ll send you a list of cost ranges for items that you might be looking for, including antique mirrors, commodes, dining tables, side tables, and much much more. We’ll give them to you in euros and dollars, so that you can get familiar with the exchange rate. And we’ll give you tips on keeping your shipping costs down. This will help you with your planning and then you can figure out how much to send over. We’ve set up an escrow account in France for your shopping money, and if you don’t use it all, you’ll get it back.
6. Call the bank;
More nitty gritty stuff, but it’s good to be ahead of the game. You’ll want to call your bank and credit cards to let them know you’re traveling. On our trips, you won’t need a lot of extra spending money because we cover most of your meals and transportation. But these are shopping trips and you never know when you’ll come across a vintage Chanel bag that you didn’t know you needed or a small, antique painting that you won’t want to part with.
7. Figure out your phone plan:
We’ve all learned the hard way — as in $500 surprise phone bills – that it’s important to figure out your phone usage before you hop off the plane in a foreign country. We had become fans of the mobile device that you can buy at the airport in Paris (Travel Wifi) but on our last trip, our smart Allison did some research and came up with the best plan for AT&T users. For $10 a day, she was able to text, call or email, without any extra devices or wifi to have to worry about. Next time, I’m doing it too! The International Day Rate Plan.
8. Arrive early:
Some of our clients have chosen to arrive a day or two early to Paris so that they can jump right in and get a running chance to beat jet lag. We think that’s a smart way to travel, and we’ll provide you with a list of hotels and things to do before the trip begins. (In fact every “camper” on our trip receives a special Huff Harrington Secret Black Book of favorite haunts, hotels and hot things to do in Paris!) Oh and if you can’t get there early, and you need a little help in the sleep deprived department, we may have a little secret cure for that too! (It involves a trip to the Pharmacie.)
9. Pack Light:
We have pages and pages written about this, all leading to the fact that the more we write, the less you should pack! But here is the abbreviated version: You’ll want to shop when you get there, so pack light, and leave plenty of space to bring things home in your suitcase. Meg and I (who are never competitive with each other!), now have rivaling small suitcases to show how smart we are about packing light. (I learned my lesson the hard way, when the 6th floor apartment became a walk up – because the elevator broke down the first day.) We’re so passionate about small and light suitcases that we researched and bought the most lightweight, compact suitcase we could find and are now carrying the Herschel brand at the store.
We also had some smart travelers on our last trip who were moving on to other destinations, and decided to ship their suitcases home from Paris. We can help you with this!
10. Dress for the weather (and bring layers):
We all know that you don’t go to Paris for the weather! We’ve been lucky, but we’re always prepared for the worst. Not to keep plugging our products (of course!), but because traveling is so much a part of our lives, we keep travel very much in mind when we buy for the store. We always pack a cashmere cape for the plane, and for our late spring and summer trips, we recommend a Rain Wrap which folds into nothing, weighs less than an umbrella, and will keep you fashionably dry when navigating the streets of Paris. But most of all, we suggest comfy shoes and lots of layers. Oh, and did we mention black?
Bonus round: Be prepared and be happy!
And finally, practice your “Bonjour’s” and prepare to have fun! It won’t hurt to brush up your French before you come, but with our group of native speakers and our charming french vendors who love to practice their English, you won’t need to say much except … Bonjour! We always tell all of our campers that the most important act of politeness (and the key to a subsequent negotiation) is to say Bonjour, especially if the next question is “How much?” More than anything, we say prepare to have fun and flirt like crazy, because even the curmudgeonist Parisian will respond to fliratious fun!
PS: Have you thought about putting your own trip of BFF’s together? We’ll make suggestions and customize the trip to meet your needs. Just contact us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.257.0511. We’re happy to help!