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How to watch the US election results while traveling in Europe

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Watching from a bar the last time around. Photo: Andrew Mager
Watching from a bar the last time around. Photo: Andrew Mager

I voted in the 2012 US presidential election yesterday, two weeks before the event takes place across the country (at least for those of us in states without early elections). I had to—I’ll be in Copenhagen on November 6, watching from afar to see how this whole thing shakes out.

But now that the (absentee) voting is done, the question becomes: How to observe the election from Copenhagen? Right now I can think of three ways about it:

Option one: Tune out, then tune in on November 7

I’ll be visiting Copenhagen’s many sights with a group of other American travel writers on Tuesday, November 6. Certainly the subject will come up, but our attention will be happily focused on Nyhavn, the National Gallery and the city’s palaces.

We’ll be gleefully six hours ahead of any action back home. Even tuning in at midnight will mean that almost no polls will have closed. (Indiana and parts of Kentucky close at 6 PM EST, but those states aren’t really nail-biters.) I might as well go to sleep at a normal hour, and wake up refreshed to find out about the results. Yeah, right…

Option two: Stay up all night in a bar

A drastically different option would be to pull an all-nighter in a local bar that’s showing the event. Perhaps it will be the hotel’s bar, or we will undoubtedly hear about spots in Copenhagen to watch the event. This would surely attract visiting Americans, as well as interested Danes and travelers from other parts of the world who are likewise wound up about the election.

I find this option, in theory, to be quite attractive. It’s always fun to watch big events with others, allowing your energies to build. All of that waiting (and all of that commentary) goes down a bit easier with a few beers and new-found friends. And, hey, if things go south for you, you’re already in a bar!

The reality, of course, can be less ideal. If the election is mostly decided when major swing states in the east close (Florida at 7 p.m., Ohio at 7:30 p.m.), we’d find out in Copenhagen around 1 a.m. That’s doable… but what if it’s close in those states? What about western swing states? This thing could go late in the US, which means it could go really late in Europe.

And, of course, there’s that 9 a.m. airberlin flight we’ll be catching to Vienna the next morning.

Option three: Early to bed, early to rise

The last, and perhaps most responsible, option is to go to sleep early-ish, and wake up early (say, at 5 a.m.) to figure out what happened, or even catch the tail-end of the event itself.

This sounds perfectly reasonable, but is it possible to fall asleep early on election night? Maybe for some, but as a political junkie, I’m pretty sure that even if I do fall asleep, I’m certain to wake up at 3 a.m. knowing that I could turn on the TV and see the first big results coming in.

Or a messy mix of all three

What will most likely happen, of course, is a big, messy mix of all three. I’ll probably intend to go to sleep early, but first grab a beer with some of my traveling companions. This will lead to “just one more” before the first results come in. Despite the excitement around those first numbers, I’ll force myself to sleep, only to wake up a few hours later in the middle of the night, flip on the TV and half-dream about Wolf Blitzer for the next few hours.

When you factor in a 7 a.m. trip to the airport, it sounds a bit grim. But, hey, even if we’re all exhausted, it will be over. If “my guy” wins, it will be a happy, relieved exhaustion. If he doesn’t, well, I’ll be headed to Vienna.

I guess traveling during an election has its benefits after all.

Are you watching the election from abroad?

If you’re traveling or living abroad and excited about the election, how do you plan to watch it? Will it be an all-nighter, a middle-of-the-night wake-up, or a wait-and-see? Tell us about your plans in the comments section.

About the author

Tom Meyers

About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]

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5 Responses to “How to watch the US election results while traveling in Europe”

Curt says:

Option four: Enjoy several days of blissful detachment from U.S. politics and find out who won when you get back.

Pete Meyers Pete Meyers says:

@Curt — That gets my vote.

Ha! That’s a lovely dream. However, I’ll be traveling for another week. If I could succeed in waiting one week to find out who’d won the election, I’d probably have to not speak to or hear from anyone, and wear blinders to avoid newspapers and TVs!

But hey, if you can do it, more power to you!

Aimee says:

In all seriousness have you found out anything about viewin the results in Copenhagen? A friend and I can’t imagine not knowing the results in real time. So depending on who you voted for maybe we can all watch it together ;)

Gordon says:

“Your man” – you can spell, so it’s clearly Obama ;)

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