In need of packing tips for your next destination race?!
Yes, your excitement is building for your upcoming destination race, AKA a racecation!! That’s essentially a destination race with a trip wrapped around it. You have trained well, booked your travel plans, and the only thing separating you from your awesome vacation experience is PACKING.
Ugh, packing! Who likes it? Yet, it is a necessary evil, and a tad bit more complicated when your itinerary includes a race(s). It can be overwhelming, especially when left to do at 10 p.m. the night before a 6 a.m. flight departure!
Given that, my goals here are to help you organize your thoughts and provide packing tips so that 1) packing is easier and less stressful, 2) you bring what is necessary for a great race, and trip, and 3) you still have some hair left when you’re done packing for your next destination race.
Packing Tips for your Destination Race
- Use a packing list – don’t go by memory! This is an obvious, but often ignored tip!
- Review your packing list when you’re done! Another Captain Obvious tip, perhaps. But, your list didn’t get checked – and now your running shoes are sitting in your closet while you sit on the plane.
- Check weather forecast! With a marathon (especially), temps/conditions can change dramatically over a few hours. For cooler temperatures, plan on layers. Purchase a throwaway (Salvation Army or Goodwill is a good choice) if the weather’s cold/cool on race day.
- Carry-on bag with race day essentialsis with YOU, and not checked! More detail below on its contents.
- Pack what you need, cut in half. Yes, sounds extreme! But the vast majority of us overpack, bringing way more than we need, and end up with little space for items we purchase while traveling. Not to mention that means a heavier bag to carry, and more to unpack when the post vacation blues are in full swing.
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More Destination Race Packing Tips!
- Have carry-on and checked bag out and open the week prior to your departure. Then, start tossing items in as you come across them Most of us will still wait until the night prior to pack, and this minimizes some of the stress of organizing everything when you are short on time.
- Packing cubes or Ziploc bags are your new best packing friend.
- Packing cubes are awesome, and I highly recommend them. They come in multiple sizes, create more space within your luggage, are an organization maker, and compression versions exist as well. Here’s a link for some reasonably priced cubes.
- Ziploc bags (sandwich/quart/gallon) are a less expensive option, and can do the trick! (Tip: if you don’t have a chance to clean/rinse your running clothes post run, storing them in a Ziploc bag with maximum air removed will help keep odors down. That, and a dryer sheet!)
- Pack extra Ziploc bags, plastic grocery bags, travel shower caps (ideal for wrapping shoes) for packing on the back-end. They weigh nothing, help with organization, separate smelly clothes, and I’m sure address 20 other needs!
- Have a master packing list that includes all you might need for any trip, and then highlight the items you need for a particular trip.
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Carry-On Content Essentials 101
- Race day clothes: Race ensemble (shorts/bottoms, shirt, undergarments/sports bra, socks, hat/visor, sunglasses). I recommend putting extra race layers in your checked bag.
- Wear your running shoes on the plane! They are bulky, but comfortable.
- Race electronics: watch, charger(s), earbuds, extra battery pack
- Run accessories: spi-belt, water bottle, hydration vest/belt, mylar blanket (I sometimes keep from previous race!), extra large garbage bag, BibBoard (or safety pins)
- Race day food-fuel & medication: breakfast, race fuel (including salt tablets/capsules/packets). Tip: double bag your nutrition, especially if “GU” like product!
- Official documents: race waiver, ID, insurance card
- Stay healthy: hand sanitizer/wipes, and healthy snacks/water bottle for travel
- Optional: book/iPad/entertainment
My husband and I both have this eBags Mother Lode carry-on, and love it. I have used it multiple times, whether for a weekend trip, or as a carry-on for longer trips (via plane). Better yet, it is a backpack, which helps to keep my hands free. It contains a multitude of pockets to maintain your organization, and a water bottle carrier that tucks away, which is a great feature.
Checked Bag Content Essentials 101
- Post race outfit to get comfy in, especially if you’re hanging for a bit. Pack it in a gallon Ziploc, then put your dirty race clothes in that. Include: flip flops/comfy shoes, clean socks, post race clothes, cleaning/face wipes.
- Throwaway clothes for cooler temps on race morning. You can discard them at start line, or along the route, and most races will donate the discards to a charity.
- Layers for race(s): vest, jacket, gloves, arm sleeves
- Extra race clothing for additional race(s) – include only day one’s race in carry-on
- Stay loose: lacrosse ball, compact foam roller, massage stick, KT tape and anything else to keep you loose and ready for race day (and recover after). Pack a pair of compression socks for the flight or long car ride home!
- Body Glide/sunscreen/chapstick/vaseline/biofreeze – Body Glide, sunscreen and Vaseline are available in travel size!
- Extra Ziploc bags, plastic grocery bags, travel shower caps for the back-end travel
- Additional running shoes, if multiple races
- Pack mini-versions of toiletries, and leave full size at home! Purchase some travel bottles, fill them, and leave them in your luggage. Some recommendations for travel size here!
- Ensure any liquid items are in a plastic bag that is separate from your other items! You can purchase a reasonably priced clear bag like this one that is TSA approved.
- Pack less than you think you need, but have a few options for race day. You’ll certainly return with more than you left with (medals, race shirt, souvenirs).