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Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Travel: On a Budget.

First off, what was I thinking driving to San Jose instead of flying? 10 hours in the car vs. a couple of hours on a plane?

Let me tell you, money. It takes a lot of money to travel to races. Yes, sometimes this cost is offset with prize money or travel money provided by the race, etc. but often, it is just straight out of your pocket-so, if you are like me, you try to "budget travel" as much as possible.
Local race + prize money = ideal

This got me to thinking about all the tricks I have learned in my racing-away "career" both pertaining to budget, travel efficiency, and health.

Here is a sampling/list for you and if you have a tip or two-SHARE it!

1) Hit the grocery store BEFORE you hit the road or the air.
- Stock up on snack items so that you don't end up at the point where you are so hungry that anything will do at any price!
- The savings are worth the hassle it can sometimes be to pack your snacks around, plus you won't have to pack them back if you eat them.

2) Priceline it. 
- If the race has no travel budget or I just ask too late, I have had great success with Priceline. Most of the time I spend no more than $55-65 for a 3 or 4-star hotel using their "Name Your Own Price" tool.

*if I it works out to stay with a friend or family, great! Personally, I need the chill time and comfort of a hotel to feel totally prepared and relaxed.

3) If driving, plan out your stops.
- Have you ever stopped for gas, then driven somewhere to grab a sandwich, then hit the road and realize you need to pee!? I have.
- Plan to fill up the gas tank, empty YOUR tank, and grab some food all in one stop if you can. Nowadays, you can usually find a gas station with a Subway attached or near, or if you are lucky a nice deli or coffee shop next door.
- And don't forget to stretch! Your legs, your back, your hips. Work it out! Driving it tough on the body.
My stop at Donner Lake this weekend on the way to San Jose

4) If driving, think position.
- Driving is tough on your body. Especially the hips, lower back, and neck.
- Counteract these negative affects by driving in a neutral position. No leg up on the dashboard, or tucked up underneath you. Roll up a pillow or blanket to tuck behind your lower back and one more to sit on. Or use tennis balls in various positions on your back.
- Utilize your cruise control and keep knees and legs in an even position.
- Most of all: STOP and stretch at regular intervals. I like every two hours-a quick jog around the car or rest area and a few stretches usually do the trick.

5) Hydrate properly.
- I don't know why but this is tough for me when traveling. Either I don't remember in the hassle of traveling or I don't want to have to stop and pee. Don't be an idiot-you are not doing yourself any favors by forgoing proper hydration for a minute or two here and there.
My favorite Nuun flavors


6) Plan your mealtime. 
- If you plan ahead, you can save money. Sites like travelocity.com and urbanspoon.com are great sources to find good local food and will also let you know how much you should plan on spending.
- Look for hotels with continental breakfasts, some of them can be pretty good.

7) Travel with a buddy.
- $60 divided by 2 = $30, need I say more?
- Aside from saving money, it can be fun to travel with a a friend who is also doing the race. Just make sure it isn't someone who will drive you nuts.



8) Take your PT along.
- Okay, don't literally bring them along unless they are willing of course. :)
- Pack your foam roller, your Stick, tennis balls, thera-band, and so on to ward off the stiffness that often accompanies traveling.


9) Wear compression socks.
- It works. Wear compression socks on long car trips and most importantly on flights and your legs will feel ten times better than without them.
- If you don't believe compression works, put it to the test.
I wear compression to race and travel + for the flare. :)