When your race requires air travel, transit, and hotel stays, you’ll need to plan ahead to avoid running on empty or mortgaging your life savings on food. Here’s what to pack, how to snack, and the tools you need to hit the ground, fully fueled and ready to PR.
While today’s airports offer more healthy choices than in years past, you’ll pay a hefty sum for a handful of carrots and a wilted salad. Instead, invest in some stay-cool food flasks—like the 12-ounce and 18-ounce options available from Hydro Flask (Amazon.com; starting at $30)—and fill up on healthy fare for your flight. These gems will keep crudités or a homemade deli sandwich cool for hours. You’ll pass through airport security without a hitch and save yourself from having to settle for a fast-food option that is neither kind to wallet nor waistline.
By now, you know that air travel can lead to dehydration. The thin, recycled air up there demands that you not only pack your own water bottle but bring along electrolytes as well. Skip the airport kiosk’s $7 bottle of water and instead bring along an empty double-walled vacuum-insulated Klean Kanteen (Amazon.com; $50) 64-ounce stainless bottle. Fill it up once past security and enjoy cool water for up to 90 hours after takeoff (here’s hoping your transit time doesn’t take that long!). For flavor and extra nutrients, take along a stick pack of Pedialyte (Amazon.com; $27 for 24) and rest easy as the sodium, chloride, and other electrolytes work to help you retain essential fluids and avoid landing in a dehydrated state.
With a little planning ahead, you can also pack some healthy snacks—and even a few meals—in your checked luggage. Beyond the gels you’ll need for race day, think about the fuel you need to get to the starting line because you probably won’t be dining out every time you’re hungry. Many athletes find that, bare minimum, they prefer to pack their own breakfast items and snack bars. Seemingly indulgent, Kodiak Cakes (Amazon.com, $24 for 6) convenient cups come packed with protein, flavor, and just the right amount of carb to fuel you. Or pair Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal cups (Amazon.com; $29 for 12) with a serving of fresh fruit for a quick, carb-loading breakfast. Prefer bars? Fuel your muscles on-the-go with new KIND protein from real food bars (Amazon.com; $19 for a box of 12), or round out a carb load with simple limited-ingredient bars from Pure Organic (Amazon.com: $30 for 12).
Before you head out on your travel adventure, go online to scout grocery stores near your destination. Once you arrive, stock up on familiar favorites that you’ve used during training to avoid GI distress. What if you can’t find your go-to brands and flavors? No matter where in the world you land, fruit, whole-grain snacks, fluids, and Greek yogurt are safe bets to keep you satisfied. If your accommodations include a fridge and kitchenette, spend a little more at check-out.
If dining out is your thing, research the menus of local establishments to find places that offer dishes similar to the one’s you’ve been relying on to fuel training rides; save adventurous and exotic restaurants for post-race celebrations. Remember to make reservations, as eateries near the race course tend to quickly fill up with hungry athletes.
Safe travels and bon appétit!