Ugh, insurance.  After budgeting for your trip, who wants to shell out more cash for insurance??  We get it.  But, keep in mind, a trip is an investment and if things turn upside down, whether it’s something that happens at home before your trip, or something that happens during your trip, you really want to make it easier on yourself by having travel insurance to cover you.

Travel insurance covers situations from an illness preventing you from taking the trip to lost luggage, flight delays/cancellations, or even the extreme of medical evacuation.  Most travel insurance companies offer various packages with different coverage options priced accordingly.

Note that some coverage options require you to purchase travel insurance within 21 days of your first deposit towards the trip, i.e. the purchase of your flight, hotel reservations, etc.  This can be tricky as part of purchasing travel insurance is knowing what your trip is worth so you can insure it properly.  If your travel insurance needs don’t require you to book within 21 days, then wait and see what your final costs are.  Otherwise, figure out your general budget for big ticket items like flight, hotels and transportation, so you can purchase your insurance lickety split.

We have found that Yonder has always suited our needs – it compares many insurance providers and helps you find the best insurance for you.  Check it out and make purchasing travel insurance one of the first things you do on your trip “to do” list.

Once you get that checked off your list, you can breathe easier that you have yourself and the investment you’ve made in your trip covered.  Travel happy!

Yes, everyone is always talking about how you need to pare down and just use a carry-on sized piece of luggage for your next trip, whether it’s 3 days or 6 weeks.  We’ve done it for 4 weeks and we’re about to do it for 6.  Here’s the why and how.  And not only why you need to use a carry-on, but why you want to use one.

Carry-On Rules

First things first, when we say carry-on, we don’t mean a backpack.  We mean an actual suitcase with these dimensions – up to 22” by 14” by 9,” for a total of 45” linear inches – that we will inevitably check anyway.  Keep in mind that European carry-on dimensions are smaller, so be prepared to check your carry-on if flying within the EU.

Our Favorite Carry-On

TravelPro MaxLite 4We love the TravelPro MaxLite 4.  We love it because it is lightweight, durable and has good balance when fully loaded.  We like having the 4 wheel spinner version because in tight quarters you can easily push it in front of you or roll it next to you, so you don’t wear our your back dragging it behind you.

Here’s a good article with user reviews of a handful of carry-on rollers.

Why a Carry-On?

We use a carry-on because there are trains, planes and automobiles involved in travel.  You do not want to be hauling a lot when trying to hail a taxi or make your way through a train station and onto a train.  Train stations don’t always have escalators – and the ones that do always seem to be out of service.  We’re talking stairs people.  You don’t want to be panicking to get the very few spots in the train car reserved for large luggage.  And, if you have smaller luggage, then you can easily lift it up into the overhead bin.  Now, with Finish Line Travel, we will be taking private cars to most locations, so train travel won’t be an issue, but if you intend to start your trip early before hooking up with us or plan to extend it, you may still run into these issues.

Some hotels don’t have elevators…even the really nice ones where you’ll be staying with us.  Europe is old and the stairs in many hotels are steep and narrow.  And while we’re talking about hotels, again Europe is different than the U.S.  Their hotel rooms are often smaller and there’s no need to break an ankle because you had to perform a Ninja Warrior move just to get around your suitcase because it was taking up valuable real estate on the floor.

Packing in a carry-on for any period of time may sound daunting.  It is not.  It is liberating.  In the next few weeks, we will be showing you how to pack for an extended period of time while not being bored of your clothes or having to wash them every night down by the river.

So, trusting that you’ll jump on board with our packing lists, consider all these reasons to go with the carry-on!

Oh, while you’re checking out luggage options, no we didn’t forget about souvenirs!  Parisian scarves…check, Belgian chocolate…check, Berliner beer stein…check.  We use this Eagle Creek tote to bring back our souvenirs.  It doesn’t take up much space in your carry-on as it folds into a little square until you need to fill it up!

After getting your passport, the next step in your trip preparation process is to notify your credit card companies (including your ATM bank) of your travel plans.  Some of them no longer need to be notified as the chip offers added security features.  However, it’s good to give them a call, so you know what’s what and then you won’t need to call in the future!

All you need to provide them with is your dates of travel and the countries you will be visiting.  Also notify them if you will be making any purchases to foreign businesses before you leave the US during your trip planning, i.e. making hotel or train reservations.

When contacting your bank regarding your ATM card, review your daily withdrawal amount and increase it if you’d prefer to make larger withdrawals as each withdrawal has a fee.

Apply for or Renew a Passport

When traveling abroad, the first and foremost item on your travel prep list is applying for or renewing your passport. Go to the US Passport Website to get started.  Plan ahead!  Processing time for a routine application or renewal is 4 – 6 weeks.  You can pay extra to have it expedited (2 – 3 weeks), or you can process your application at an agency site in as little as 8 business days.  If you don’t have any agency office near you, then you can use a service like Travel Document Systems to get your passport processed as quickly as possible.

2017 is a busy year for passport renewals!  For more information about this, and how passports are changing, why you need 4 empty pages, and the 6 month rule, check out this Condé Nast article.

6 Month Rule

As a general rule of thumb, if your passport will expire within 6 months of your travel dates, you will need to renew your passport.  There are some exceptions, but why risk your overseas vacation?!?!  So, check those dates carefully, and plan ahead and make sure your passport is valid.  For more details on the 6 month rule, see this article by The Points Guy.

Do I Need a Visa?

If you are traveling to the European Union, you do not need a visa.  (But, there have been some rumors about that rule changing in the future.)  To find out visa requirements for any worldwide destination, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

 

We take small groups of runners on tours to participate in a race and experience all that Europe has to offer! Whether you are looking for a bucket-list marathon, or just want to travel in a more healthy way, there’s an option for you.

Our travel philosophy “Slow Travel” — we don’t rush from one tourist attraction to another and we don’t hop to a new city or country every night. We slow down and experience each city in depth and offer our guests unique, private experiences.

Come run with us!

When we first began traveling the world we quickly became weary of the “normal” tourist schedule.  We were rushing from one tourist attraction to the next, or one country to the next without even stopping to take a breath!  We returned home more exhausted than when we left, and we felt like we didn’t even really see the foreign country we spent our hard-earned money visiting.

We discovered that we needed to slow down.  We didn’t try to fit 4 countries into a one week vacation.  We didn’t visit a museum or major sight just because the guidebook said it was a “must-see.”  Instead, we immersed ourselves into the local culture.  We spent more time with private guides so that we could have an in-depth experience of a sight or find a “hidden gem” that is barely mentioned in the guidebooks.  We still see major tourist sights, but we do it in a more calculated way and we balance tourist sights with relaxing in our new city: such as sitting with a glass of rosé wine and watching Paris pass by!

Slow travel does not mean that you will miss seeing major sights.  Some of our privately guided tours will include major sights.  And, you will have ample free time see that bucket list attraction if it isn’t on our agenda.

But, remember that some of those major destinations take a long time (those lines!) and may not always live up to the hype.  I have always said that I don’t want the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, I want a view of the Eiffel Tower (preferably with wine in hand!)  Slow travel is all about finding that balance.