4 race travel tips

Traveling to a race is almost a necessity for athletes these days. With so many race options and so many beautiful and bucket-list venues, it's likely that you will travel more than 2 hours to a race course at least once in your racing season. For some athletes, all you know is traveling to races as you have limited options for racing in your city/town. 

Race-cations (as we call them) provide a special opportunity to travel to a destination, race somewhere new and (hopefully) enjoy a little sight-seeing and R&R after the race. Although traveling to a race can be exciting, racing is stressful and combining that fact with the many unknowns and potential logistical nightmares of racing in an unfamiliar venue, outside of your home environment, this can bring anxiety, worries and fears - especially if you are racing a new distance for the first time or you have specific goals and expectations for your race. 

I encourage you to not push away the thought of traveling to a race. Most of my most memorable racing experiences happened when I traveled to a race because traveling makes for great memories.
Focus on these 5 race travel tips to keep your mind at ease before and during your travel. 

1) Plan ahead - Although you can't control everything, you can still put your mind at ease by having plans for your trip. Although you don't have to have a plan for every minute of every day, you'll find that less unknowns will stress you out if you create an itinerary detailing what may or will happen between x-date and race day during your travel. Research the best places to eat, park, sleep, explore, etc. so that you know your race location as if it was your local hometown. Remind yourself that part of traveling is knowing that things will not always go as planned so be sure to bring a positive attitude and always have a plan B.
Keep in mind that even though your plan(s) may change or something comes up that disrupts your plan, this doesn't mean that you are doomed to have a bad race. I'm sure many athletes can share stories where something did not go well before or during the race and they still did amazingly well. I can share a few stories about bike mechanical issues pre race which had me stressing before race day! 

2) Stay relaxed - Every athlete has his/her own definition of being relaxed. For some athletes it may mean surrounding yourself with friends, family and other athletes and staying busy with activities, whereas for others, it may mean isolating yourself from others so you can stay in your zone. Whatever works best for you is just fine but always communicate this with your ravel companions so they don't expect you to be someone who you are not in the 48 hours before your race. Just like on race day morning, avoid being rushed with travel so plan extra time for everything. It's important to feel comfortable in your lodging arrangements so make sure you do your research before booking (ex. does your condo have AC, do you have a queen bed or twin bed to share with your spouse, how far is the race location from your housing, etc.). Be sure to schedule downtown fro yourself to relax and put your feet up when you can (or shut your eyes for a 15-20 min power nap) and of course, focus on yourself and what makes you feel the best. If something stresses you out at home (ex. traffic, waiting in line, etc.) try your best to avoid those situations at your race. Many times, you can but if not, bring coping skills for these uncomfortable situations. 

3) Do your race research - Regardless where you race (hometown or in another country), when you plan for something and it changes, this can throw you off your game. It's important to keep up with your race website/emails for any last minute changes so you are prepared. 
Review course maps, race day itinerary/schedule, packet pick-up information, transition area layout, read forums to better understand logistics/timing of race week to-do's, review parking, things for your family to do on race day or where they can see you and any other details.
If something is out of your control (ex. race course changes, weather, etc.) just remember that every athlete is dealing with the same uncomfortable situation as you - feel at ease that you and your competitors are all in the same situations. 

4) Check, re-check and double check - Review all travel arrangements in the months and weeks leading up the race, review race website and pack and re-pack. I find that most athletes who travel for a race make plans either way far in advance or very last minute. Regardless of when you make your plans or pack for a race, recheck to make sure that you have everything that you need. You prepared your body physically for your event so it's in your best interest to prepare yourself mentally so that you have everything you need to feel "at home" at your race venue.

And Bonus #5: Make memories
It's a very special experience to travel to a new destination and this is often why athletes choose race-cations. Regardless of the outcome of your race performance, you are bringing home a new experience, with new memories. Don't take your race-cation for granted - you are lucky that you have the time, income, support from others and ability to take your hobby (or profession) to another part of the world (or another state/city) in order to participate in a race.