Okay, here we go – packing!  I’m guessing for most of you that this is THE most hated part of the travel process.  I get it.  I don’t like to pack either.  But…I’ve developed some guidelines, strategies and downright hacks that make it easier to make decisions, keep it efficient and allow you to have everything that you truly need.  There’s a lot to cover about packing.  I’ll be constantly sharing on this topic, so you can get every nugget of useful information.  Consider this a broad overview kicking things off  – packing can be something you conquer and master instead of dread!

 

Luggagecarry on suitcase luggage

Let’s start with what we’re putting everything in – luggage.  Yep, I’m going to say it, the word you may dread hearing, “carry on.”  Unplug your ears.  It’s okay.  It’s the best decision you will every make.  We have easily traveled for 6 weeks in only a carry on.  We get the 21″ size and actually still check it, so I don’t have to deal with the liquids situation.  I’m very particular about the characteristics of my carry on and why it’s important – more on that later.  Let’s just say, for starters, the smaller your luggage, the less you have to lug around on all modes of transportation or try to stow away in your hotel room.

Backpack – I do prefer a backpack.  I carry this on the plane and it holds all of my in-cabin necessities – book, compression socks, eye mask, neck pillow, computer, etc.  I am partial to a backpack because it is one less thing I have to carry.  It just seems easier to deal with because it’s already strapped to me.

Purse – cross body, for sure!  I like it big enough for a water bottle and umbrella if necessary, but small enough that it’s not weighing me down.  Guys, Dan carries a “man bag,” “man purse,” whatever you want to call it.  Seriously, it is a life saver.  And so many men carry these in Europe.

 

clothes for Europe packing listClothes 

What to bring, what to bring.  Well, we’re there to run, so let’s start there.  Your shoes!  The most important thing, don’t forget those darn running shoes.

  • 2 workout bottoms
  • 2 workout tops – maybe an extra if you want a long sleeve
  • 1 sports bra
  • Socks can make or break it.  They don’t take up much space, so bring what you need – especially for your race!  *Tech gear dries quickly, so you can wash your running gear in the sink with shampoo or suck it up and run in some stinky gear for a day to give you a break on laundry duty.

 

For the rest of the trip, my general rule of thumb is neutrals, with a pop of color here and there.  Scarves and jewelry can always up the visual interest on your outfit and they don’t take up much space.  (You can use those scarves to stay warm on the plane too.  Usually I have one around my neck and use a warmer one as a blanket as those dang plane blankets aren’t exactly cozy.)  Mix & match is key!  My personal hack is that if I had to get dressed in the dark, 85% of the time, my pants, shirt and sweater would match.  My go to fabric is merino wool because it keeps you very warm even if the sweater is thin, so you don’t need to compromise room for souvenirs or Belgian and Swiss chocolate because you brought too many bulky sweaters!  For a more comprehensive list of what we pack when we travel, check out our packing lists for women and men.

Shoes…yikes, this is a beast of a subject that can really stump people.  3 pairs – max!  That’s it.

  • Running shoes
  • Sneakers/Comfortable walking shoes – go with everything and you can last in them all day
  • Dressier shoe (definitely optional here) – flat, bootie, loafer, leather lace up

 

So, I hope this has been a helpful start to tackling the packing situation!  There is so much more to come on this topic.  I’ll get into the nitty gritty on all categories of packing in deeper detail, so stay tuned!

We are so happy to see in-person racing is starting back up around the U.S.  And, now we are starting to get the details on Europe opening back up to U.S. tourists.  Here’s what we know, and some tips for you to get ready to join in the fun.

In-Person Racing

Marathon in France - Running TourWe are already seeing in-person races being rolled out around the U.S.  Europe is a little behind the U.S. in this regard, but in-person events have started up there as well.

What changes can we expect in the post-Covid world?  Limited number of participants has been the most common change so far.  So, make sure you register for your race early — or, join a tour with us and get guaranteed entry!

Other common race features for Covid-19 safety:

  • Mask requirements at the start and finish
  • Limited pre- and post-race gatherings
  • Staggered start times
  • Pre-packaged food, or no food offered
  • Single-use water bottles, or “bring-your-own water” requirement

While the events may look a little different, we are excited to finally be gathering together and racing again!

Europe Opening

Run In Paris, FranceYipee!

The European Union “will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA [the European Medicines Agency],” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told the New York Times. The three vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States—Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—have all been approved for use in Europe.

It’s great to hear that all of Europe will be opening soon, but von der Leyen didn’t give much information on when or exactly how that would be happening.

Luckily, France was more concrete with their plans.  French President Emmanuel Macron released a detailed road map for how the country plans to emerge from its current lockdown and begin relaxing restrictions. The plan includes allowing foreign tourists with a “health pass” to visit France again starting June 9.  Greece is already starting a phased opening, and Italy and Spain are not far behind.

What’s a Vaccine Passport?

Vaccine Passport EuropeThe truth is, we don’t yet know.  France’s plan seemed to indicate that either proof of a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test would suffice to gain entry.  But, there is talk about a more strict requirement of proof of vaccine only.

A digital “vaccine passport” has been speculated by many in the travel and tourism industry, but actual details are not yet known.  The E.U. is working on “Digital Green Certificates,” to prove vaccination status, recent negative tests, or recovery from the disease.  We U.S. travelers may need to submit a proof of vaccine document to the country we plan to visit.  That country would then issue us a digital certificate to meet the E.U. requirements.  But, at this point it’s too early to know exactly what the process will entail.

We do know that Europe is eager for tourists, so I wouldn’t expect the process to be a difficult one.

Make Your Reservations

Race in Europe - Running TourA travel boom is coming, so be ready to make your plans!

A Travel Technology Association survey found that over 80% of Americans plan to travel this year.  And, AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky said, “we think there’s going to be a travel rebound coming that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”  We at Finish Line Travel agree – everyone wants to get out and run a race and TRAVEL!

What can you do to be ready to travel once the borders open?

  1. Keep an eye on flights – there have been some good deals popping up, so be ready to snatch that flight when the price is right.
  2. Pay attention to cancelation policies – most airlines are offering free changes and free cancelations.  But, don’t expect those terms to last past the New Year.
  3. Book early to guarantee your spot.  Our Finish Line Travel tours are small – so, they will fill up!  Book early to guarantee your spot, but also know that your tour can be canceled or changed without hassle.
  4. Go run, travel & enjoy!

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!