Sweating and getting your heart pumping on vacation is an amazing opportunity, but it can take special preparation to make it a success. My job requires me to travel, so I'm naturally very particular about my leisure travel planning. I enjoy traveling for a fitness or athletic event because it creates an experience you wouldn't ordinarily have in that destination. Taking a trip for a fitness or athletic event is different in many ways than a regular getaway, so I'll share a few of the things I do to make fitness travel great.
Luckily, I have a best friend who is much more of a fitness fanatic than I am. She loves the idea of traveling for road bike races, mountain biking, running and pretty much any other fitness event. We recently traveled to Moab, Utah to participate in the Winter Sun 10K Run. Moab is in red-rock country with ruggedly beautiful canyons and vistas. It's a breathtaking backdrop for a run to say the least.
Don't stress or take yourself too seriously. Please take special note that it was a "run," and not a "race." I mention this because we didn't train, but rather than excusing ourselves from running, we laughed and decided to enjoy ourselves anyway. Some people go to seriously compete -- we are not those people. You don't have to win to have a good time. The Moab run started out on a gorgeous December morning and wound through the town and local parks. We ended at the local high school with a lap around the track, welcomed in by the hundreds of folks who had trained and already finished.
Arrive early and take your time. Give yourself enough time to scope out the town and have a good dinner the night before the event. Try to hit a museum or squeeze in a hike to see a destination from all perspectives. The day after our run we chose to hike Slick Rock. It was painful doing post run, but great views made the day. Going somewhere for a fitness event allows you to see things you might not have seen and to go somewhere you might never have considered.
Pack differently. You're probably going to need extra gear, shoes, clothing and liniment in addition to the essentials. Be prepared to take an extra gear bag, especially if your trip will include all the regular travel plans such as sightseeing or eating out that require a routine wardrobe.
Take advantage of fitness travel perks. Events are often accompanied with events, like fairs, expositions or lectures. Events bring a lot of new people into town that you wouldn't ordinarily meet. Mingle and enjoy the energy and excitement that surround the event. Being around people who love fitness and travel is inspirational.
If you've never taken a fitness destination trip and have an interest, I encourage you to start with a "run." The sense of accomplishment outweighs the temporary muscle soreness. These trips are a good excuse to get out of your comfort zone, run a race, bike or just go somewhere new.
What have you learned from traveling to fitness events? Which trip has been your favorite and was the most worthwhile?
Maile Keone is an entrepreneur, writer and traveler. She currently works in the vacation rental industry helping people stay in cool places.