Rev3 Costa Rica is quickly approaching. Soon you’ll find yourself on the warm white sandy beaches, playing in the welcoming blue waters, sweating with pain at mile 8 of the run.
Well, you are going to there to race!
Traveling to races can be one of the most exciting parts of racing. There is adventure that awaits in new destinations, whether it’s trying local cuisine, exploring the terrain or just getting a feel zfor the local culture. Yet with travel comes complication. Especially traveling to a race! There’s you, the bike, your gear, your family. Add to that the stress of traveling to a different country and you feel like you’ve done the race before it’s started.
Chances are you’re doing the training, but have you done your travel planning? The easiest way, of course, is to pay someone else to plan your travel. Rev 3 has partnered with Swiss Travel (http://www.swisstravelcr.com/) to plan all of your Costa Rica travel needs. With proper planning, you can also set yourself up for the most hassle-free travel possible.
Top priority: get your passport ready. For new passports, expect 4 – 6 weeks of processing time. For an extra fee, this process can be expedited in 2 – 3 weeks. If you already have a passport, check that it is not expired. More information is available here:
If you haven’t already done so, book your plane tickets. Try to arrive 3 days prior to the race (by Thursday). Arriving early allows you to not only acclimate to the surroundings but gives you a safe cushion of waiting time should your luggage or bike not arrive. Pack plenty of healthy, non-perishable snacks for travel in case you find yourself delayed in airports or surrounded by too much foreign food. Remember, as you travel through different countries, customs will not permit fresh foods.
Be sure to plan how your bike will get there. The most convenient yet mostly costly option is to fly with your bike. Many airlines have raised their bike travel fees significantly. Check your airline’s website for their current policy. Before you travel, it pays to know the dimensions and weight of your bike case. Learn to pack it in under 50 pounds to avoid even more fees (there is a fee for items over 25 pounds). Another option is to ship your bike ahead of time. This requires careful research into size restrictions, fees and travel time.
Now, there is always the risk that your bike may get lost in transit. In that case, be prepared to take action – quick. Start with the race director/site – chances are there is someone who knows someone with access to a bike. Next, it may help to put out a ‘cry for help’ on to popular tri-forums. Word spreads quickly in these online communities and often there is someone who can help. Lastly, be prepared. Avoid packing the non-replaceables in your bike box; shoes, pedals, any individualized racing gear. Carry these items on to the plane with you instead.
It’s everyone’s favorite – packing your luggage. If you’re making a few connections, again there is the chance your luggage may get misrouted on way to the final destination. Prepare ahead by carrying on the essentials – a change of clothes, a few small toiletries, your phone charger – things you would need for “survival” and communication should your luggage go missing for a few days. Pack any sport food or drink mixes into a sealed container, like Tupperware, to be sure they don’t leak in your luggage. As for clothing, the February climate in Guanacaste is warm and dry with daytime highs in the upper 80s and nighttime lows in the 60s. Sunrise is around 5:45 am and sunset around 6 pm, year-round. Pack your board shorts and flipflops for the day and a light layer for evening hours.
Take the time to do a little research on the destination before you arrive. Investigate the local language, cuisine, customs and weather. Guanacaste is considered one of the most distinctive cultures in Costa Rica. Mariachis, men on horseback and a laidback, social lifestyle set against the untouched natural beauty make for an inviting way of life. The Lonely Planet offers more information on what to do and see in Costa Rica. Visit here:
What about money? In general, Costa Rica is a moderately priced destination with options for both the frugal and extravagant traveler. The local currency of Costa Rica is the colon, which means Columbus in Spanish (it was Christopher Columbus who discovered Costa Rica in 1502 on his final voyage to the new world). Most things may be paid for in US dollars, yet it doesn’t hurt to have local currency on hand for smaller items or meals. ATMs tend to be plentiful yet it doesn’t hurt to safely carry a credit card or cash just in case. Be aware that many credit card companies charge a fee for international transactions. Also, expect a $26 departure fee at the airport for each passenger.
As with any travel, anticipate your risks. Sunshine is plentiful in Guanacaste – pack sunscreen and apply often! Mosquito repellant will offer some protection from mosquito-borne illnesses. Costa Rica is also home to plenty of animals – whether its animals in the road or snakes, use caution. Theft is always a risk with travel – avoid bringing valuables to the beach and watch for pickpockets. Generally, the water in Costa Rica is safe but if you have any doubt in a more rural area – buy bottled.
And what about once you arrive – relax! It’s easy to get caught up in the anticipation and stress of an upcoming race. Instead, take a look around and put yourself on Costa Rican time (which is Central Standard time). Let yourself find peace in the surrounding beauty and calm in knowing that no matter what happens on race day, you are having a once in a lifetime experience to do what you love in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Race day is getting closer and hopefully you’re feeling a little more prepared to walk straight into the arms of the warm and inviting culture, beaches and beauty of Costa Rica. We’ll see you there!