If you missed part one, click here.
Otherwise, welcome to part two of this two part series for traveling! You’ve already discovered most likely that travel is fun and traveling for races is pretty epic, if not, you are heading out on a really cool trail to find out! So let’s get down to the meat of it.
This is probably the most stressful, and people tend to either over- or under-pack for their trips. The best, most efficient and effective way to prep for packing is making a list. Whether you use a phone word doc app or an old fashion piece of paper, or the back of spam snail mail (my personal favorite), jot down things you WILL need, and a side list of things you might like to bring in addition…then reevaluate when the packing begins.
At the end of this article, we’ll provide you with a quick list suggestion.
So let’s think about what you will need. You obviously need shoes (or not, that’s totally cool if you barefoot it!), socks, your race clothes of choice, nutritional needs, and more of course. But talking about the basics for a minute, there are things to consider. Wear the shoes (if you have the luxury of multiple running shoes) you are comfortable in and will match the terrain of the course, whether dry or wet. Think about how technical it is, whether you need to add trail gaiters for sandy/loose dirt conditions, and distance of course.
Nothing new on race day has such a basic meaning and a lot of truth can be found in it. You may ask, what about new socks I bought (ahhh that new sock feel), but I’ve bought this brand before? Probably not a risk to worry about. New singlet? Maybe not as wise of a choice, but if you’re willing to accept some suffering for a new choice, go ahead! We’ve all done it. Something new you probably shouldn’t try is a hydration pack for example. Just some general advice for you! Something that could make or break your race, best not to try something new, save it for the long run.
When considering bringing along nutrition, there are a few key points to talk about:
- It will save you to prep and measure out your nutrition into baggies or containers before you go. It’ll be more compact and less bulky. This also helps if you have drop bags to write on the baggies too!
- Do NOT depend on the place you are going to have your nutrition. This is a sure fire way to go down a path of possibly having no nutrition or using what you’re not familiar with on event day.
- Grey area: Event has your nutrition on course. Up to you, but we would advise that you still bring a decent amount of your own nutrition regardless. Yeah it’s great they will have your brand of nutrition on course, but how often will that be? I’m sure you’ve trained on a schedule, and getting between aid stations in a trail race is not generally a short amount of time. Just take from the aid stations when you come up on them, and then use yours to supplement between aid stations.
- In general, it’s always wise to be safe than sorry. Bring what you need and a little extra to cover for any incidents.
So no, you don’t need 3 pairs of shoes, or 5 pairs of socks. Make a decisive decision when you pack what you will use to save you stress later of making the decision at a later time.
Random other things of note
Charge your tracking device before you leave just in case you don’t get to charge it later.
Don’t forget to have your pets at home taken care of (and plants, if you’re into that), extra food and water if you can leave them at home by themselves, or make sure a friend or family member can check in on them.
If you are leaving in the winter, and live in a snowy area, plan ahead. Have someone come by to remove snow while you are gone. Most likely you will get back late at night and want to have access to your residence. This also applies if you decide to park in long term parking which probably does not have an awning to protect your car from the elements while you are gone. Leave windshield wipers up and have something in your car ready to remove the snow. Want to leave your car at home? Uber or Lyft into the airport if that is an option! Only downside is waiting for them to take you home as well.
Summer trips, or those who do not deal with snow, make sure your lawn is in order. Small detail, but maybe you don’t want to have to mow when you get back after a great trip that may leave you less than agile and mobile.
Turn your thermostat back to save energy. I personally leave a light on as well if friends are not coming in to check on my residence. Try not to send yourself packages while you are gone, again, unless you have someone you trust picking them up for you.
Oh airports. Some of us live closer than others. If you live more than half an hour away from one, here are some things to consider:
- Traffic could be worse than it normally is. Check your GPS from your house to the airport a little before you plan on leaving to get an idea of current traffic conditions.
- Even with this prevention method, traffic changes by the second. To be assured you will make your flight, leave at least 10-20 minutes earlier than you normally would for the same trip.
- Don’t forget if you are parking, that long term parking is further away and account this into your travel time. Shuttles usually run often, but not predictable.
- No water in bottles. But bring a water bottle empty!
- They will probably check for food, be prepared.
- Lines might be longer than anticipated, do check-in on your airline’s app to save some time.
- Flip flops are a great choice, easy on and off and won’t restrict your feet on flight.
- Checked bags will take time to check in, but makes packing easy since you can almost pack anything you want.
Speaking of bags. Make a decision which you will use. Checked or carry-on. The advantages and disadvantages of a checked bag are you can bring more and whatever you want, however you take the risk of potentially having your bag lost. In this case you can pack the important items in a carry-on. Solo carry-on is easy and the chances you will lose your bag are minimal (however if the overhead space in the cabin is full by the time you board, they will ask you to check it for free, but it’s annoying), but you will not be able to bring liquids over the allotted 3.5oz and you are limiting what you can bring. Make sure your airline does not charge for a carry-on if you are planning to not check a bag due to price. Hiking poles might also be considered special sporting equipment, please check with your airliner to see if they are allowed on planes.
It might just be easier to drive.
In this case, just plan ahead for time and add cushion in for yourself, maybe an extra day if you have that ability. But hey, bring anything you want!
So here is a simple starting list for packing, feel free to print out! Some of these again may seem basic, but you wouldn’t want to mindlessly forget underwear under stress.
- Tracking Device
- Charger for phone/other devices
- Hydration pack/handheld bottle and bladder
- Extra glasses (if you wear them) and contact lenses
- Contact solution and case (if you wear them)
- Plastic baggie for electronics (in case it rains)
- Packable jacket
- Sunscreen (aerosols are not allowed on planes, checked or not, and lotion is not able to be carried on)
- Blister kit and Anti-Chafing products
- Trail Gaiters
- Headlamp and extra batteries (if night risk)
- Bug spray (remember aerosol and liquid rules)
This is in no way an exhaustive list, so feel free to add or subtract from this. I hope you got some useful info out of this!
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