Ask Steve » Minimize jet lag, travel in France and Prague


Q

STEVE, what have you found to be the best way to minimize the effects of jet lag? — Henry Ebbets, Prescott, AZ

A

DEAR HENRY, I plan a full day’s worth of activities in advance for my first day. Also, I sleep on the plane, eat little, avoid booze and drink lots of water. When I get there, I keep busy all day, not allowing myself to nap. That night I sleep like a baby, and I am completely adjusted by the next day. If I allow myself to sleep that first day, it takes me at least four days to become adjusted.

Others try to beat jet lag in advance by going to sleep an hour earlier each day until they’re on the clock of their destination.

Sleeping pills, such as over-the-counter Melatonin or prescription drugs, help with the sleeping going over but don’t do much for your inner clock.

An interesting concept is the Anti Jet Lag Diet developed by Dr. Charles Ehret of Argonne National Laboratory (Box 847, Downers Grove, IL 60515; visit www.antijetlagdiet.com). It consists of trying to fool your stomach by changing your eating times several days in advance to make you hungry for breakfast at your destination when it’s breakfast time there. It’s kind of like the changing-your-sleeping-time thing but more complicated.

Q

STEVE, three of us plan to get a Selectpass Saver for France, Italy and Switzerland. Can we go from Chur to Füssen by train, then from Füssen to Paris? Would it be better to add a fourth country (Germany) to our railpass or to buy point-to-point tickets for that part of the journey? — Bettie Detwiler, Louisville, KY

A

DEAR BETTIE, one way to get from Chur, Switzerland, to Füssen Germany, is to travel to Zürich, then to Munich and finally to Füssen. Total travel time would be about eight hours, not counting layovers at your connections. For Paris, you could travel back to Munich, then take a direct train. That’s about 11 hours plus your layover in Munich.

A second-class ticket, one way, point to point from Munich to Füssen costs $46, while first class costs $61. Consider that you need to double this to get back plus pay point to point for the rest of your trip within Germany and I think you’ll agree that paying only about $36 to add a fourth country to your Eurail Selectpass Saver will be well worth it.

Q

STEVE, in August I plan to fly to Germany and join a tour company for a bike trip. I am single, and the tour company wants to charge me a single supplement. I asked for a single room to avoid this charge, but they said, “No, you must pay this.” Is this true? — Gene McPherson, Sturgis, SD

A

DEAR GENE, “Yes” is the short answer. The long answer is the cost of a room is about the same to a tour company whether one person or two people occupy it. Most hotels simply don’t have genuine “single rooms.”

When pricing a trip, a company will add up the cost of all its components: meals, transportation, guides, admissions, planning, profit and hotel accommodations. You are not being charged extra for most features, but for hotel rooms the cost is calculated so that each of two people pays only half the cost of a room, creating a “share basis” price. A person traveling alone, with exclusive use of a room that could otherwise be shared by two people, must pay for the entire cost of the room, hence the single supplement.

To overcome this penalty and to obtain your business, some tour companies may be willing to help match you up with another compatible single person. But that’s not always an easy task, so don’t count on it.

Q

STEVE, I will be in Prague and will need a taxi, but I’ve read about taxis taking advantage of visitors and overcharging them. Is this true and, if it is, what is the best way to get a reliable cab? — Bea Emanuel, Minneapolis, MN

A

DEAR BEA, nasty taxi drivers are not unique to Prague, and fortunately most are as honest as they are anywhere. My info (available through most travel agencies) suggests using AAA Radio Taxi (phone 3311-3311) or Profitaxi (phone 6131-4151). They each have English-speaking operators and a reputation for trustworthiness and the cheapest rates.

—Ask Steve is written by Steve Venables.