Are you eying that out-of-town race that looks like tons of fun, but you’re not sure where to begin? Though it may seem intimidating, traveling for a race can be a lot of fun and surprisingly affordable with proper preparation. I, for example, will be traveling from Dallas, Texas to run the Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon in a few months. So far I have spent less than $500 – including registration fees, flight, and hotel. Now all I need is food and play money for the trip! With planning, a traveling race can be a fun, affordable experience.
Planning for an out-of-town race:
- Figure out if the race/run will work for you. Will the timing work for you? Will you be able to get off of work or school? Make sure the location will work for you as well. Do a quick search for flights and hotels to get a general idea and make sure accommodations are within your price range (some destination spots are more expensive than others). Consider the time of year, the weather, and if you will be traveling solo or with friends or family.
- Register for your run! If you’re planning on an out-of-town race, register (way) ahead of time. You don’t want to travel hundreds of miles and not be able to run! I recommend registering as soon as you know you’re available and able to commit to the run. Those registration fees creep up the closer it gets to the time of the event. For example, register a few months in advance and pay $125 vs. $185 a few weeks before race day. Also, look for race promo codes – many run bloggers/ambassadors have race promo codes that will get you a discount.
- Look for flights and hotel/night-stay accommodations. Flights tend to be more affordable if tickets are purchased well in advance. I personally booked my flight to Las Vegas right after registering for my marathon. Also, the expense is taken care of so you don’t have to worry about it right before the big trip. This is your best bet – if you find a reasonably prices plane ticket, scoop it up early. Same with the hotels, especially if it’s a big race, because rooms will fill up fast. Some registrations will include Hotel sponsors with discounted rates for runners – be sure to look for those. Some hotels will even include perks like free meals and/or bar drinks! If you are traveling with others, considering splitting the cost and sharing rooms. This is a huge money saver (I’ll be sharing my room with 3 other girls, making it super affordable!).
- Train! Now that you’ve got registration, flight, and stay taken care of you can breathe, relax, and RUN! Train for your run and don’t worry about a thing!
- Pack! It’s time to race! Pack your bags, make sure you have everything you need and have fun. This is when your pro-activity will really pay off. You already have everything lined up and ready to go. You don’t have to worry about the flight or hotel on top of race jitters.
So, what to pack? Packing for a race-cation is different than a vacation. Less bikinis and more compression socks. I recommend packing what you usually use during your runs. Just because it’s a special race, doesn’t mean you need tons of special new clothes or running gear. In fact, if you are going to get new gear – get it well before the race so you can get used to it first. You don’t want to use anything too new or unknown – you may not end up liking it, or it may not fit or work properly. This rings true not only for workout gear/clothes, but for food and gels/supplements.
Top 5 packed running essentials:
- Running clothes. Lots (and lots!) of running clothes. Extra socks. Note weather or not you will be doing laundry. If not, bring extra! My vacation (“run-cation”) bags consist of 80% running clothes, and 20% “real people” clothes. And that’s OK. Your shoes and socks may even need their own bag. Bring at least one back-up pair of running shoes. This is, after all, the most essential piece of running gear! Don’t forget the little things, like compression socks if you use them or cool-weather gear. Having one rain-proof jacket or Pancho is also a good idea.
- Water supply. Whatever your preference is for water supply while running, bring that and perhaps an extra. For example, I will be bringing my hydration pack as well as a few handheld water bottles. I pack these in their own plastic bag to keep them clean and store then away from anything sharp or abrasive.
- Gadgets. Bring your GPS watch, heart rate monitor, whatever gadgets you use. Also don’t forget to bring the appropriate chargers!
- Energy! Bring your gels! I bring all my Glukos energy gels, gummies, and protein. This one is extremely important because if you are used to one supplement, you don’t want to risk not using it or having to use something different or new once you get to your destination. The goal is to use what your used to. You don’t want anything new on race day that might upset your tummy! So, this one is a must.
- A garbage bag. I know this one is simple and weird. But along with bring a runner comes lots (and lots!) of dirty clothes. I always bring a large plastic bag to throw dirty (sweaty) clothes in. This keeps them separate from your clean clothes and also allows you to just toss them in the laundry once you get home. Not to mention the stench that it will detain! You’d be surprised at how much this little item can make a difference. So, go on – take that trip you’ve been thinking about! Investing in travel is investing in yourself, and I guarantee you will not regret it. I hope you have a wonderful run-cation!