Month: January 2018

Surviving the Jump Across the Pond & Lucerne, Switzerland

Surviving the Jump Across the Pond & Lucerne, Switzerland

Jumping Across the Pond

Traveling across the Atlantic to Europe for the first time can be a little daunting. Aside from being packed into a plane like sardines for hours, there is the dreaded jet lag. Here are a few tips to make the jump a little easier and more comfortable.

Lucerne Lion Pond

Booking Your Flight

Once you’ve got all your points for your reward flight, try to book it  leaving the east coast in the evening. I usually aim for 8 pm or later. Since the flight is over 5 hrs long, most airlines will serve a meal while on board. After eating, I take an over the counter sleeping aid and attempt to sleep as much as possible. Booking in the evening usually helps as the sun will have set and it’s always easier for me to sleep when it’s dark.

If you manage to sleep even for a few hours, your jet lag will diminish greatly. After all by the time you land it will be mid-morning the next day. The first time I crossed the Atlantic I took a benadryl and slept for most of the fight. Since then I just purchase a generic sleep aid for the same effect without the anti-histamines.

Invest in Comfort

Most airlines will attempt to make your journey as comfortable as possible, while also turning a profit. Unfortunately, that limits what they can do. Luckily, there are products that can make flights a little cozier, like the Cabeau Evolution Pillow. Click here to see a full review.

Cabeau Evolution Pillow

Dress in layers. I usually have a light scarf or jacket that I can use as a blanket if I get cold. But nothing too bulky, don’t want to use up precious leg room with a parka.

My new favorite comfort item is an eye mask. I don’t really notice a difference with claims of reduced puffiness or smooth eyes, but it does help block out light. There have been a couple of times that even if I booked an evening flight, the person in front of me had their reading light on…the whole flight , ugh. Having been enthralled in many a good book, I can’t get too irritated but it does make sleeping more difficult. Now I don’t have to worry, I just throw on an eye mask and we can both enjoy our evening.  This eye mask on amazon even comes with earplugs.Eye Mask

The Lighter Faire

Most of us like to have snacks while we fly. Just remember while choosing your snacks and/or dinner that booze, caffeine, and heavily processed foods can dehydrate you. Which will make your jet lag worse. I’d recommend indulging in those types of foods and beverages once you arrive at your destination. After all, airline food isn’t the greatest anyway.

The Go Bag

Prepare a “go bag” with the essential toiletries, and keep it in a place that is easily accessible.  I usually include the following: toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution & case, glasses, deodorant, face wash cloths, & makeup basics.

It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel just by brushing your teeth and washing your face! I include makeup basics, because I like to hit the ground running. Freshening up after the airline completes it’s  breakfast service will have you ready to start touring as soon as you clear customs.

Fresh off the plane and hitting the streets of Lucerne… thanks to the go bag
Regulating Sleep

If you manage to get a few hours of sleep on your evening flight you’ll successfully trick your brain to the new time zone. In order to complete this trick, try not to sleep or nap before 9 pm in your new time zone. This has the added benefit of experiencing the country you just flew across the ocean to see, before crashing in an exhausted blissful sleep. What’s more you’ll awake refreshed and ready to tackle the next day without any lingering jet lag.

Using these tips, Dustin and I were off and running as we landed in Zurich, Switzerland.

Lucerne, Switzerland


Zurich has many attractions that can capture the interest of any traveler; however, we opted for the quieter countryside. Once we passed through customs, we headed to pick up our rental car. Since we were flying in and out of the same airport, we secured our car using Chase Reward Points. By using 25,374 Chase points we saved $317.17.

Navigating Foreign Roads

Driving in Europe is very similar to the United States. Nevertheless, a quick google search before your trip can aquaint you with the road signs and any laws peculiar to that country. For example, in eastern Switzerland the exit signs will be in German, Ausfahrt, but in the west the signs will be in French, Sortie, and occasionally in Italian, Uscita in the south.

Avoid traveling back in time using paper maps of the country by downloading a GPS app. Once you have the app you can download the city or region of the country you are traveling and use that without using your network data. We used the City Maps 2 Go App, which was free when I downloaded it and it saved us from using data, needing wifi to navigate the roads, or paying the car rental company for their GPS services.

The app was extremely useful, but it does require a little more work to find things. It does not give step by step instructions, and this year City Maps 2 Go began charging for downloads. I really like this app, and when we started using it the downloads were free. Now I just need to find one that is still free and reliable.

After adjusting to the map, and consequently getting “lost” in a Swiss neighborhood for a minute or two, we found our way to the Lion of Lucerne.

The Lion of Lucerne

Lucerne Lion

Mark Twain described the lion monument, as “The most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” Located in a public park,  The Lion of Lucerne is a memorial for Swiss guards that were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.

Sculpted from the sandstone rock, the Lion has also been compared to C.S. Lewis’ lion from his book The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe.  Impaled by a spear, with his paws resting on a shield bearing the symbol of the French Monarchy the dying lion is breathtaking. The still pond below the sculpture creates a reverent atmosphere, and should not be missed.

Slipping away from the Lion of Lucerne, amble over to the nearby kapellbrucke bridge.

Kapellbrucke Chapel Bridge

Chapel Bridge

This 17th century covered bridge offers delightful views of Lucerne. The footbridge spans diagonally across the Russ River and is unique because it contains several interior paintings as old as the bridge itself.

Kapellbrucke bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. A stroll across this sleepy bridge is perfect any time of day. And if you’re feeling hungry there are several pubs along each shore.

Chapel Bridge Paintings
Chapel Bridge Paintings

I would love to go back and spend more time in Lucerne, but we could only afford a few hours in this epic city before we were off on our next adventure…Interlaken.  If you’ve had the opportunity to spend more time in Lucerne, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.