Packing for a race-cation

Okay, so my upcoming trip doesn’t exactly fit the definition of race-cation since I found the race after I chose the destination and started making some plans, rather than the other way around. But still, I’m running a half-marathon four days into a two-week overseas trip, so many of the same principles apply.

Especially packing.

My goal is to travel with only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. Dad and B are both planning to check their suitcases, but having dragged a too-big bag around Europe once before, I’m trying the minimalist approach this time. Not only that, I don’t want to risk lost luggage when a race is involved; we’re also renting a rather small car (“intermediate” means something completely different to someone from the Land of Big Trucks) and I want to be efficient with its space. However, I am a chronic overpacker so this will be a challenge.

First, I have to bring enough clothes for six or seven days. We’ll be gone two weeks, but for four days in the middle of the trip, we’re staying in a house that has a washer-dryer. Ireland doesn’t have a lot of self-service laundromats, it turns out, and while I could wash things in the sink (free) or send stuff out to the full-service laundry (not free), I preferred to find a rental with a washer-dryer to streamline the whole process. It took several tries and a spreadsheet to organize this, but I finally nailed down the last of the reservations over the weekend.

My entire travel wardrobe consists of non-wrinkly, minimal space-hogging black or dark grey tunics over black leggings, black socks, and a pair of Keen hiking shoes. I’m also bringing a cardigan wrap and my trusty North Face windbreaker. Also black. Do you sense a theme? Black is a staple in my closet because it hides everything. And as a general rule, my itinerary can best be described as “vacation death march.” I mean, why invest time and money and not see everything there is to see? So anyone traveling with me will be on the go alllll the time–you should see my spreadsheet–and I want to be comfortable and not (obviously) grungy.

The carry-on-only proposition presents a small problem: travel-sized anything won’t be enough to last two weeks. Especially conditioner–my hair is like two feet long, so those little bottles are literally single-use for me. I’ve decided either to buy regular-sized conditioner, lotion, and toothpaste when we get there, or stash some in B’s checked luggage. Pretty much everything else–Aquaphor, sunscreen, cosmetics–can fit in a TSA-approved clear bag.

And then there’s the race stuff. Whoever said running doesn’t require a lot of equipment must not wear a sturdy sports bra, use gadgets dependent upon chargers, or have a thing about readily-available chapstick like I do. So I’ve started making a list to go along with the spreadsheet.


This stuff is gonna fill 1/4 of my suitcase, I think. Fortunately, like my tunic/leggings wardrobe, running stuff is squishable–it’s not like I’m trying to pack seven pairs of jeans. But running shoes take up a ton of space no matter how you stack them.

Right now I am only at the pile-making stage. I haven’t tried to fit everything in the suitcase at the same time yet. Especially since I’m still using my running stuff this week. 😉



I’m not the only one whose packing style is “early Ziplock,” right?

Kind of as a test run, I used this suitcase (and brought similar clothes) when I went to Cleveland a few weeks ago. I packed three days of (black squishable) clothes and all my race stuff, plus I brought back my 40th anniversary fleece blanket, two or three additional shirts, and a random collection of things from the race expo. I wouldn’t say I had plenty of room on the way back, but I didn’t have to sit on my suitcase to close it or anything. So I am cautiously optimistic I can make this work.

Anyone have advice on things I haven’t thought of yet?

Next up: staying hydrated and eating properly ahead of an international race


2 thoughts on “Packing for a race-cation

  1. We whatever shoes take up the most room on the plane (tied loosely for quick slip on/offs)? I like the idea of buying shampoo when you get there. My mom always packs ratty undies and socks, and throws them away as she is done with them.

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