is a speed skating professional from Portugal. At 26 years old he has a degree in Sports Science and is a high-ranking athlete representing Bont Europe Team since 2014. As the first Portuguese speed skater to become European Champion as well as the first skater to win a Senior European medal at only 16 years old Diogo Marreiros is a big name in the speedskating world. Fighting for the podium in World and European Championships he naturally spends a lot of time traveling. Today he talked to us sharing his travel experiences as a professional speed skater.
Thank you for being with us today! When was your very first flight and where did you go?
My first flight was in 99′. I went to Germany with my parents and my brother. We thought that we were just taking my parents to the airport and would then come back with my uncle but my parents tricked us and we ended up going with them. It was a lot of fun because after we went to Germany we ended up going to Disneyland Paris.
I’m sure packing for travel was a bit easier for you back then! Is it difficult to travel light as an athlete?
For me it is difficult to travel light because I always need to take a lot of stuff to the races (skates, wheels, equipment etc.). I try to keep it simple bringing always light and comfortable clothes that are easy to pack: sweat pants and jacket, 6 or 7 tshirts, the same amount of underwear, 4 or 5 suits to race and train, warm up pants and jacket, interior shirt to put inside the suit if its a cold day of racing. Gloves are very important too! We need light yet warm clothes as we often travel to Germany, France and Holland in spring and it’s still very cold at that time. So when the bulky jackets don’t fit into the bag we actually have to carry them.
Why does all your equipment have to go into your hand luggage? Is that mandatory?
It is not mandatory but it’s the safest thing to do. Of course we can’t take everything but normally at least the skates, helmet, one suit and one extra set of wheels need to fly with us. We travel with one goal in mind – to go racing. If some of the items I metioned are lost we cannot race, at least not at the same level. The boots are hand made for each skater and take a long time to adapt as well as the frame setup of all the things that top level skaters need – a race can be win os lost by an inch. Of course the sponsors could arrange some standard skates but it would not be the same thing because we would not be used to skating with that boot.
I never had problems with this but I know some skaters who did. The biggest problem is the helmet that doesn’t fit inside the suitcase so we carry it in a small extra bag. Some low cost companies had a problem with that and sometimes we had to put the helmets on our heads just to make sure we had only one bag. It seems a bit ridiculous – after the security check we put the helmet back into the extra bag .
What are three things you can’t travel without?
Without music on my phone and headphones, hygiene essentials and my wallet with travel documents. A charger for the phone is also very important – you don’t want to run out of battery. Especially on long flights it can get very boring. Powerbank devices are a huge help!
How do you battle jet lag?
When I go to races the days before I try to adapt to the schedule of the time zone I’m going to. Then I try not to sleep on the plane to be tired when it’s time to go to sleep. Last September I took part in the World Championship in China and we had national team camp the weeks before. We were already training, sleeping and eating according to China time even though we were still in Portugal. It was strange but then it helped a lot when we arrived in China.
What do you enjoy doing on the plane?
Playing games, listening to music, watching a movie if the plane offers this service or if I bring my laptop. I would like to be the kind of guy who sleeps a lot during the flight but normally I can’t sleep much. While everybody is sleeping I’m the kind of traveler who goes around the plane asking the flight attendants for food, haha.
Which one’s your favorite airport and why?
I don’t have a favorite airport, I hate to wait at airports so I really don’t like them much. But if they have good food, some shops and comfy sofas to chill on we are good!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Diogo! Good luck with your upcoming races!