How to Fly to a Race Stress Free

by - Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I've traveled to several races over the course of my running career, but none that have required air travel.

When I drive to a race, I can just throw stuff in a duffel bag in the trunk of my car and hit the road. Flying to New Orleans this week is going to be a whole different beast and will require a higher level of planning.

Here are my tips for make packing a little less stressful and to ensure I don't end up in NOLA without my sneakers.

Make a list.
This might seem a little obvious, but when I'm racing there are a ton of things I need, from Garmin to my iFtiness belt to socks and a sports bra. I'd rather not leave Garmin sitting on the charger in D.C., so making a list of all the items I need both for racing and for the trip in general makes sure they all end up in my bag.

Pack your sneakers in your carry-on.
If you're flying to a race, I recommend using nothing but a carry-on, but I know that can be unrealistic if you're going on a longer trip. At a minimum, you should make sure all the stuff you need for race day is in your carry-on. That way if the airline loses your regular luggage, you're not scrambling at the race site to buy new shoes and an entirely new race outfit.

Print out any confirmation papers at home.
Lots of races these days require you to bring some sort of confirmation sheet to the expo to pick up your bib and race number. Print this off at home and pack it in your carry on. Keep it with other important papers you need for the trip, like your hotel confirmation, your boarding passes, etc.

Remember the liquids rule.
TSA will only let you carry a small amount of liquid onto the plane, and since "gel-like-substances" count as liquids, you'll want to make sure to pack any gels or other race day fuel in the clear plastic bag you're allowed to have in your carry-on. I once had a TSA agent tell me I couldn't carry a pudding through security so I will be interested to see whether or not they allow my GUs. If the TSA takes them, gels are easily replaceable at the expo.

Don't stress out as much as me.
Flying and all the logistics involved stress me out. Getting to the airport super early, dealing with security lines and body scans and what can and can't be in your luggage, it all gives me a headache. But I'm trying to not stress out about it too much. If I can attempt to mellow out, you can too! Remember you're about to go on a fun vacation, run a fun race and have a good time. Focus on that and not the airport headaches.

What are your best tips for flying to a race?

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