As this season is ramping up I was thinking about just how much travel I am doing this year. Other than the Florida trip I just got back from, all of it is without my family, and with various teammates. It reminded me that most of this season I won't have my number one supporter with me, and I am going to have to take care of myself...physically, financially, and emotionally.
Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to. - J.R.R. Tolkien
Watching some of my fellow triathletes travel without family and with other friends I realized that the needs and wants of your travel companions can make a major difference in your trip. Even though we all share the common goal of performing to the best of our abilities, we each prepare to do that in different ways. With nerves running around rampant, I think it's important for triathletes to do some mental work before a travel trip. Sitting down and thinking through who you are traveling with can help you make the most of your experience.
I tend to be the mother bear. I tend to jump in where I am not always welcome and attempt to plan everyones actions. When I travel I really like to "do-it-up", as in "see it all", "do it all", "experience it all". I have to watch overdoing things when I travel because I can end up tiring myself out. With most triathlons you arrive several days ahead and there are necessary things to get done: unpack your bike, pick up your packet, swim, ride and run portions of the race course, check in your bike the night before, all on top of finding 3 meals a day in a foreign city. There are many action items, and not always as much free time as I like to think there is. In your spare time you should really be doing things that are relaxing and contributing to a positive race experience.
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” - G. K. Chesterton
Think about who you are traveling with. Do you foresee any issues? How can you maintain your own autonomy if need be? Have you rented your own car, or do you know the numbers for a few cab companies? Sometimes just having the option of heading back to the hotel can turn a grouchy mood into some relaxing time. Preparation is what it's all about. Having a list of a few local restaurants with the addresses and phone numbers can help in a pinch. While taking airplane trips be prepared with not just your iPod and a book, but also with an empty water bottle and healthy snacks. I like to take a bag of baby carrots with some dressing. It beats a 2 oz bag of chips on the plane, or buying overpriced junk in the airport.
When in doubt, relax, go with the flow, prepare for the foreseeable, and shrug at the rest. Often what doesn't go right is what makes your trip fun. Be mellow, and assertive, and you can't go wrong.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. - Martin Buber
Homework: If you have a travel tri coming up, sit down and do some brain work on it. How can you be prepared to make your trip a success? Can you come up with some phrases to use when you need to get out of an engagement. Set some boundaries for yourself, and be prepared to stick to them.