A couple of weeks ago I posted about my jet lag experimentSo, did it work?!?

As a recap, some scientists say that our bodies can only adapt to one hour of time change per day.  So, to cure my jet lag faster, I woke up 30 minutes earlier (and went to bed 30 minutes earlier) each day for the week before my European runcation.

The morning of flight to Zurich, Switzerland, we awoke at 4:00 am for our afternoon flight (needless to say, my wife was not thrilled with this experiment).  After driving down to Denver, then taking the train from Union Station, and finally getting on our flight, I was exhausted.

I watched a short movie as the flight started, and as I saw the flight attendants wheeling the food carts up the aisle, I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  With almost 6 hours remaining in the flight, I was ready for sleep!  So, if I was in a first-class, or business-class seat, I think the “Jet Lag Experiment” would have been a great success.  I would have had a decent night’s rest and I would have been waking up around 9:00 am local time.

However, we flew economy, so my sleep was fitful.  Because I was so tired, I did get the most sleep I have ever had on an international flight, so I would still call this experiment a mild success.  I made it through the first day in Switzerland without a nap, and we were in bed around 9:30 pm for a good night’s sleep to reset our internal clocks.

My wife doesn’t sleep on planes as well as I do, so the results from her experiment weren’t as good.  Since she got very little sleep on the plane, getting up so early in the morning just made her more tired for her first day in Europe.

We had a direct flight from Denver to Munich.  So, after dinner I was tired, and I knew I had 6 hours before I had to be awake.  If our flight had connected first somewhere in the U.S., I don’t think this experiment would have worked as well for me.  By 7:00 pm, I was ready to sleep.  If we had connected, it would have probably been a couple of hours later before I could close my eyes, and it would shortened the amount of time I had for uninterrupted sleep.

So, I would say that this jet lag “cure” could work with the following caveats:

  • You are in a business-class or first-class seat, or you sleep well in an economy seat.
  • The timing of your flight and connections will mean that you are settled in and done with dinner by 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

We have already posted about why we think everyone should travel to Europe with a carry-on.  But, here’s a quick recap:

  • Planes, trains & automobiles!  When you are traveling around Europe, don’t make your transportation more difficult by bringing a huge suitcase.
  • “Old-World” hotels. The rooms are smaller over in Europe, and sometimes there may not even be an elevator – so, make your life easier!

Just like the Women’s European Packing Tips, for us men, we focus on getting the maximum versatility and options. I choose nice quality t-shirts over a button-down or polo-style short-sleeved shirts. It is easy to use the t-shirt as an undershirt in cooler weather, but I’m still able to wear it separately in warmer weather. And, when touring a city there have been many instances where I am cool at the beginning and end of the day, so I wear a sweater or long-sleeved shirt, but in the middle of the I’m warm, so I remove the outer layer and just wear the t-shirt.

I swear by the Mizzen+Main long-sleeved, button-down shirts. The “tech” fabric is wrinkle-resistant and moisture-wicking, but it really looks nice — not like the “slouchy” tech shirts I usually see.  I like the Spinnaker shirt for travel days because the 4-way stretch is unbelievably comfortable. The Leeward shirt is great for times when you want a slightly more “crisp” look, but still, retain the comfort of a casual, wrinkle-resistant shirt with a slight bit of stretch to it.

My other go-to item is a lightweight, merino wool sweater. The merino wool is soft and comfortable (not your grandmother’s itchy wool!). It wicks moisture away from your skin, keeping you cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. Merino wool is naturally anti-microbial and that means no stink! (Even after multiple wearings!)

I also like a light zip sweater.  On travel days, I may be standing on a cold train platform, or stuck in a hot airplane.  So, it’s very important for me to be able to quickly add a layer or shed a layer.  The light zip sweater does exactly that for me.

For all t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and sweaters, I strive to have everything match everything else. It’s not 100% possible, but I try to get as close as I can. Almost every t-shirt looks good under almost every long-sleeved shirt or sweater. It makes getting ready in the morning that much easier and quicker, and I should never have a day where the only clean clothes left in my bag don’t match.

The great features of Merino wool are why I also only bring Merino wool socks. They keep my feet cool and dry (or, warm and dry!) and, again, no stink! They also dry very quickly, so I can easily wash them in the hotel room sink, and they are ready to go the next morning.

Shoes take up a lot of space in carry-on sized luggage, so I try to find that balance of comfort and style to allow me to take only one pair of shoes (in addition to my running shoes, of course!) I am currently wearing Cole Haan. It has just enough support for long days of walking around Europe, but it also looks nicer than an athletic shoe. (We always strive to look like a local, and not a tourist!) I am also very interested in trying Allbirds. Allbirds meet all the specifications of my current shoes, but they have the added benefit of being made of Merino Wool. (and, you know how I love Merino wool!)

For pants, I usually bring two pairs of jeans and one pair of khakis. I have a pair of jeans with a bit of lycra, and the slight stretch makes for a much more comfortable plane and train rides!

Don’t forget a scarf!  When you are packing light, it’s a great way to add the warmth you need, but without a lot of bulk in your luggage.  It’s amazing how a scarf can make the difference on what would normally be a bone-chilling day of touring.  (Plus, you will look very “European!”)

Finally, get a “man bag” — ok, call it a purse if you like!  🙂  Everyone over here has one, and they are so functional.  Keep your money, phone, passport, plane tickets, a small umbrella, a bottle of water, and snacks with you and easily accessible.  Plus, I think it greatly reduces the chances of becoming a victim of a pickpocket!  You can rest your hand on your bag in busy & crowded spots, and there is almost no chance of a pickpocket swiping your wallet.  I think diligence is the best way to combat crime — if you look like you are paying attention to your surroundings and your “stuff,” the pickpocket is going to look for a more distracted victim.

Traveling to a destination marathon can be stressful and difficult. Get the most out of your destination marathon with these 5 travel tips.

Get Over the Jet Lag

Plan your destination race travel carefully!  You want to get there in enough time to get over your jet lag.  We like to plan our tours so that runners arrive on Friday morning for a Sunday race.  This is enough time to adjust, but not so much time that you are tiring yourself out with visiting tourist sights.

Find a Great Hotel

This goes hand-in-hand with getting over the jet lag!  You need a great hotel in a great location to help you perform at your peak in your destination race.  At Finish Line Travel, we have tried out many hotels, so we know the ones that have comfy beds, spacious rooms, peace and quiet, and the most attentive staff.

You will want a hotel near the race start… usually.  Each city and marathon is different.  Some are right in the city center, some are on the outskirts of town, and some are point-to-point.  Research your destination marathon and see if it makes sense to be in the best location for your touring activities, or for the race.

At Finish Line Travel, we choose a hotel that maximizes our enjoyment of the city.  It is close to all the great sights, but we also make sure it’s good for running.  We stay near parks or pedestrian-friendly areas so you can get out for a shake-out run before the marathon, or get out later in the week to work out your soreness.  Often, we will be near the race start, but if not we coordinate a private transfer to and from the race start.

Set Your Expectations

International travel is tiring and can be stressful.  You may not be able to find your go-to pre-marathon meal.  You may have spent all week on your feet visiting tourist sights.  You need to factor everything in when setting your race expectations.  This may not be a PR, but it will definitely be fun!

With a Finish Line Travel tour, we plan every detail so we can to minimize anything which could be detrimental to your marathon performance.  We take all the stress out of your travel.  We plan our touring activities to make sure your legs are fresh!

There’s More to the Trip than Just the Run!

Don’t just fly in for a destination marathon, run your race and then fly out!  You have traveled all that way, so spend some time getting to know the city and country of the race.

We hire private local guides to show us the top sights and the hidden gems of the area.  We set up private curated experiences to go deeper into a culture.  Whether it’s a private wine-pairing dinner in Paris, a private beer tour in Belgium, or an artisan cheese tour in Switzerland, we create an experience that you can’t get anywhere else!

Run “Local” in a Foreign Country

The “World Marathon Majors” are an amazing experience, but don’t pass up a “local race.”  In some of our marathons, you may be the only runners from the U.S.A.!  While the races we participate in aren’t “small” (some have up to 40,000 runners), they are more “local.”  Whether it’s the Great Bruges Marathon in Belgium, the D-Day Landings Marathon in Normandy, or the Swiss City Marathon in Lucerne, you will be part of a first-class event, but slightly off the beaten path of major marathons.

You will get a chance to interact with the locals, enjoy a festive marathon party with local runners, and share a post-marathon beer with your fellow runners in a way that isn’t possible at a marathon major that has almost as many foreigners as locals.

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.