Whether you have raced overseas before or you have just signed up for your first international triathlon, we have some vital tips for you to make your trip go smoothly so that you can have your best performance on race day.

Even experienced triathletes and travelers have fallen prey to some of the most basic mistakes when traveling abroad.

We know of one athlete who, when traveling to race in Argentina, failed to take out money out before he left the U.S. His complicated flight itinerary required that he transfer airports in Buenos Aires. After an overnight flight and 14 hours of travel, he found himself arguing with a cab driver mid-way from one airport to the next about the cab fare that he could not afford to pay (the cab driver took advantage of his sleep deprived state and increased the fare 30 minutes into the cross-city commute). The cab dropped him off at multiple ATMs to take out money, but the triathlete’s debit card wouldn’t work. With only minutes to spare, he ended up using his credit card to fill up the cab driver’s gas tank, and was finally delivered to the second airport just 45 minutes before his connecting flight took off. Needless to say, this was less than ideal race preparation.

In this two-part blog post, we’ll give some important tips to make your first or 10th foreing race experience the best yet.

Get there Sooner Rather Than Later

Traveling for a race and international travel are both stressful on their own own. Traveling internationally right before a big race only compounds stress. We highly recommend that you get to the race city at least three days before race day, if not sooner. That means that if your race is on Sunday, you need to get to your race hotel, house, or Airbnb on Thursday (which still counts as a travel day). This leaves you one day to decompress and sleep, and one day to get ready for the race.

For races that are in a much different time zone, you need at least a few days to recover from jet lag. Ideally, arrive 1 day early for each hour of time change. And, for IRONMAN-distance races, you should plan to add on at least one extra rest day.

Prepare for a Different Language

If your race is in a country in which you are not familiar with the language, you should touch up on a few phrases and words in the weeks before you leave on your trip. Learning a few basics can help get you by, while bringing along a translation book or downloading apps, such as Google Translate, can help you communicate more completely with cab drivers, waiters, and locals.

Take Money Out of the ATM Before You Leave the U.S.

You should have at least a few US hundred dollars worth of local currency before your plane touches the ground in a foreign country. You never know if:

  • Your credit card will work,
  • You’ll be able to take money out with your debit card,
  • You’ll find a currency exchange in the foreign country airport
  • Or if you can even find an ATM that works.

Make sure to contact your bank and credit card companies before you leave to inform them of your travel plans so that your cards do not get frozen.

In Part 2 of “Travels Tips,” we share tips for what should be done in the days leading up to your race to set yourself up for success on race day.

Safe travels!

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