Many of the SF Marathon Ambassadors love a good race-cation, but sometimes the travel and unknowns of a new city can be overwhelming. I’ve compiled our top 10 tips for race travel; check it out and make this the best race-cation yet.

10. Stay as close to the race start as possible. It’s hard to navigate a new place, and the need to drive and park that morning is stressful. Not to mention, parking can be less-than-plentiful and even a practiced driving route could change with race course road closures. Grab a hotel nearby and practice your route (makes a great shakeout run) to the start line to eliminate those unknowns on race morning.

9. Flying? Pack your race essentials in your carry on to avoid any luggage mishaps, maybe even wear their race shoes on the plane; then there is absolutely no way you can forget or misplace them! From our experience gels and Body Glide have been fine to carry on, but pack gels in your plastic 1-quart liquids bag to avoid any question. Take an empty water bottle through security and refill it at a water fountain to stay hydrated on the flight.

8. For another packing tip, roll or bag your race gear into one easy packet. This way you know it’s all there and where each item is. Putting it in a sealed plastic bag (i.e. relay packing tip) works great for race-cation packing too.

7. If you like throwaway layers for chilly mornings – which we can basically guarantee you’ll have on race morning in SF – find a thrift shop after you arrive to grab something cheap. Or, bring your throwaway layer with you and use the extra space in your suitcase to take back more race goodies! Clothing discarded along the course will be picked up and donated.

6. Arrive at your destination a few days before the race if at all possible. This can be tough on a long weekend away, but it’s super helpful especially when changing time zones or altitude. You’ll feel better and likely race better when your body is acclimated to the change in location.

5. Bring your ‘tools.’ If you always use the Stick, a foam roller, tennis balls, etc., find a way to pack it and don’t go without for the weekend. The half size grid rollers are great for packing because they are hollow and clothes can go inside, and the Stick is easy to throw in a suitcase. That said, be careful if you are carrying on. Even though the Stick is supposed to be carry on safe, some airports like to ask questions and/or confiscate it at security. Try to put it in checked luggage.

4. Wear compression socks on the plane. Not everyone is into wearing compression socks during a run, but even wearing them for recovery and for better circulation during a flight can be helpful. I personally find I have less foot swelling when I wear them in flight, an issue I notice otherwise. (Disclaimer, I’m not a doctor but I do love my compression socks for recovery and flights.)

3. Don’t go sightseeing the day before the race. Yes, there are tons of places to see and things to do in a new city, but your body will thank you for the rest. Check out the expo, grab your race goodies, and save some afternoon and evening time to chill. Sightseeing can be your post-race active recovery. And besides, isn’t it more fun to visit the Ghirardelli Square ice cream parlor after you’ve burned tons of calories?

2. Bring or purchase your normal race day breakfast. If you like to eat oatmeal pre-race, bring oatmeal packets and heat water in the hotel room coffee-maker. If you always eat fruit, don’t forget to buy it when you get into town. You can’t count on the hotel or nearby venues having what YOU need for breakfast on race morning, so don’t chance it and don’t eat something random. This is especially important for the early SF Marathon and 1st Half start time; restaurants aren’t open early enough to serve you breakfast.

1. Plan ahead. Know how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel and how to get from the hotel to the expo. Decide where you can eat dinner the night before the race and make a reservation or buy tickets to the SF Marathon pasta feed. Hint: BART or Muni are great ways to get around SF and to save your legs, and you can even take BART from the SFO airport. Having less unknowns along the way makes travel much less stressful and the race more fun!

Note: A special thanks to Ambassadors Alisyn, Charlene, Daniela, Heather, Lauren, and Meg for suggestions on this post.