Travel Tips for Your Next Big Race

One of my favorite things about swim meets growing up was always getting to travel to new places. So I love that triathlons and open water swims are held in locations all over the world.

But what I didn’t like was spending all of this time training and tapering just to be thrown off of my routine, get all out of whack, and swim poorly because of it.

Over the years – and I’m talking the past 23 to be exact – I have perfected my travel routine.  I finally started to get the hang of things to be able to perform at my peak and not get bogged down by the annoyances of racing in a different zip code. I’m sure you guys have figured things out that help you. But hopefully my tips bring to light something you haven’t thought of, or give first timers some extra prep.

First, I prefer to get to my race destinations 2-3 days ahead of time so my body can get used to being in a different place. I seem to not be able to sleep properly my first night in a new bed, no matter how tired I am (or how used to travelling I’ve become). Being there for a few extra nights before my races helps my body settle so I can get a decent night’s sleep the night before I need to perform.

Next up would be packing. My secret? You HAVE TO overpack. And I mean that in every sense of the word. You want to have extra swimsuits/tri-kits/wetsuits/socks/shoes/goggles/caps/protein bars/anything else you might need come race day. Funnily enough, more than once I’ve gotten to a race to realize I packed my extra goggles but not my normal ones. Thankfully I had the backups! I also overpack when it comes to medicines. I pack anything I think I might have the slightest chance of needing, just to be safe.

Here’s my favorite one: bring 2-3 disposable plastic ponchos and have them with you at all times. Sound a bit soccer mom-esque? Good, that’s exactly the point. One of our SwimBox clients brings these with us on every race we go to with her and we’ve used them the past two times in torrential downpours. The best part? She gets them at the dollar store in giant bags of 100, so they’re far from breaking the bank.

Third up, Food.  I  have to pay close attention to food when I travel. I don’t go out to eat very often, and my body is incredibly sensitive to salt. So I always try to stay somewhere with a kitchen soI can prepare my own food. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Airbnbs are pretty much everywhere nowadays, most have kitchens, and usually end of up being cheaper than hotel rooms.

Come to think of it, cooking your own food saves money too. Maybe I should have called this post “How to Save Money on Travel Trips” instead…

None of these are life changing suggestions, and I’m sure you’ve probably heard some of them before. But hopefully now we can all be a bit more like the Boy Scouts, always prepared.

Although it’s really the Boy Scouts who should be more like the Girl Scouts. They do sell cookies after all…

Lissa Henderson, Tri Swim Coach

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