You’ve spent months training for your triathlon – and now it’s finally just about here! Whether you’re packing for a local event or you’re hopping on a plane for a destination race, it’s important to take the time to pack carefully and ensure you have everything you need. The last thing you want to do is forget an essential item and have it cause stress before the race.
Luckily, I’ve put together a basic triathlon packing list for you. You probably won’t need every item on here, and there may be a few things that you personally use which don’t appear on my list. Use this as inspiration to create your own triathlon checklist that includes everything you personally need.
And if you’re traveling for a destination race, I’m going to share some other key tips that will help you arrive at the starting line feeling stress-free and ready to compete. This has been at the front of my mind recently, as I’m lucky enough to be visiting Bermuda for the World Triathlon event at the end of April, thanks to the Bermuda Tourism Authority!
Let’s start with your triathlon packing list essentials, broken down by part of the race:
- ID (and possibly USAT Card depending on the race location)
- Warm, comfortable clothes
- Sports bra (for the ladies, especially if your tri-suit/swimsuit isn’t overly supportive)
- Bag to pack all your transition gear
- Swimsuit or Tri-Suit
- Wetsuit (depending on water temperature)
- Anti-fog solution for goggles (if you tend to have problems with this)
- Body glide
- Bike (consider if you want to break down your bike and pack it in a durable bike box, or if you would prefer to rent a bike at the destination).
- Bike Shoes (if you clip in)
- Seat bag with bike tool kit and extra tube
- Clothes to throw over your swimsuit (if you don’t have a tri suit)
- Water bottle
- Socks (if you wear them)
- Race belt for your number
- Fuel belt if it’s a long race and you need fuel with you
Other Gear During the Race:
- Sports drink powder or a few bottles
- Nutrition (gels, shot blocks, etc) depending on the length of your race
- GPS watch
- Comfortable clothes to change into
And here are some more tips for traveling for a destination race (like the Bermuda Triathlon)!
1. Book flights at the right time:
If you’re flying somewhere for a short course race, you probably don’t need to worry too much about flying over the day before, as long as it’s not a major time difference. But if you’re doing a long course race, or if there’s a huge time change, or if there’s a big difference in elevation – those would be reasons to fly out at least 2-3 days in advance. This gives your body time to adjust before your big event.
The Bermuda event is only an hour time difference for those of us on the East Coast, so it’s perfect for a little weekend jaunt away. 🙂
2. Think about where your hotel is located:
I’m as frugal as they come, but when it comes to a destination race, I prefer hotels that are host hotels or that are located in close proximity to the race site. This makes it easier for packet pickup and to get everything over to the transition area. Plus, you get the added benefit of connecting with fellow athletes who will be participating in the event.
3. Research your bike options:
There are a few choices here – you can buy a bike case yourself and pack it, then travel with it and rebuild. Or, you can hire a company to ship your bike to the destination. The last option is to rent a bike. There are pros and cons to each of these. Since I don’t do a ton of destination races – and I’m not super comfortable taking down and rebuilding my bike – I personally veer towards renting. That’s what I’ll be doing for Bermuda.
4. Research the weather and water temperature:
A few days before you are set to travel, do a little research on the current forecast for race day. This may help you decide on appropriate attire to pack. Also see if you can find information about the anticipated water temperature, so you know if you’ll need your wetsuit or not. You’ll want to pack your wetsuit just in case, but knowing that it may not be a wetsuit legal race means you may want some extra considerations on swim attire.
5. Consider these packing tips for air travel:
- Did you know TSA prohibits CO2 cartridges in both carry-on and checked baggage? You’ll want to leave these at home. You can always bring a mini pump as an emergency option, and search for CO2 cartridges on site at the race location.
- I recommend packing your absolute essentials (aside from your bike) in your carry-on luggage. This would be your sneakers, helmet, googles, and swimsuit/tri-suit. Those are really the four items you absolutely need to race (again, in addition to your bike which would either be in an appropriate case or being rented at the destination).
6. Stay healthy during air travel:
- If you’ve got a relatively long flight out to your destination race, be sure to get up and walk around a few times throughout the flight. This helps keep the blood flowing through the body. You can also do simple movements like flexing and stretching your calves in your seat.
- Wash your hands well at the airport, on the plane, and when you get to your hotel. You can also consider carrying some hand sanitizer with you. Airports and planes are notorious spots for germs, and the last thing you want is to pick up a cold before a race.
- Stay hydrated! TSA allows you to bring an empty water bottle through security, so bring one with you and fill it up at a water fountain prior to getting on the plane. Be sure to sip this regularly to keep yourself hydrated.
7. Scope out the food options ahead of time:
Most race locations will be in a well-populated area with plenty of food options – and that’s definitely the case for Bermuda’s food scene (I am overly excited about the food options for this!). But if you are planning another race trip to a more remote location, or if you have certain allergies or dietary needs, I recommend scoping out the local food options ahead of time.
If you get the feeling there won’t be many restaurant items that meet your needs, consider packing some easy, shelf stable options (like canned tuna, microwavable pasta dishes, snack bars, instant oatmeal packets, etc). Or find a grocery store and make that one of your first stops on the way to your hotel. You should also check with your hotel to see what kind of amenities are available in your room (like a fridge, microwave, or kitchenette).
There you have it – lots of traveling tips and your triathlon checklist! I hope this helps you with your race day planning.
Share with me: Do you have other suggestions to add to this triathlon packing list? Have you ever done a destination race? Will I see you at the Bermuda Triathlon?
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Deborah @ confessions of a mother runner
You just reminded me that i need to restock my seat bag for the season! when is your first race?
First race is the tri in Bermuda this weekend!! Woohoo!
Thanks for the article. While I’ve had destination races, it’s always good to review the packing list.
I’m a bike shipper type of person For those who ship, check out all your options. You can use a shipping company specializing in bike transport. They normally deal with the big races. In this case, you’ll be adding your pedals to your carry on bag. Never put them in checked baggage!
If your race is not on the list of their destinations, check the race website for the shop that is their official bike shop and support. Call them about arranging shipment to them. I like to ship from (and back to) my local bike shop via UPS. That way I don’t have to worry about accepting delivery at home post-race and my bike is safe.
Of course you’ll need a good bike bag for the transport. If you don’t assemble your own bike, talk to the shop about any extra costs to do so.
Have a good race season!
Great tips for bike shipping!! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for this post! :]! My friend is trying to coerce me into doing a triathlon at some point with her, so I’m sure I’m gonna be coming back to reference this, hehehe.
Go for it girl!
How exciting that you are going to Bermuda! and it looks like you will be all prepared with your packing list. I always wonder what you do about the bike. I think renting would be tough–riding a bike you haven’t trained on. But I guess you do what you have to!! Good luck!
I think if I was super competitive I’d feel weird riding what I haven’t trained on, but since I do about half (or more) of my rides on the spin bike at the gym (thanks to free childcare) – I’m used to the slightly different feeling of switching between bikes.
AWESOME reminders! I would love to sign up for another triathlon. I haven’t done one in years. I love the training and it could give me an excuse to change my training schedule up and do something different. And maybe travel someplace tropical!
Yesss, make a vacation out of it! Best way to get excited about another race! 🙂
Rach @ Girl On The Run
I’ve never done a triathlon destination race because it is just SO much stuff to bring! And bike transit cost scares me. I am hopeless with doing anything on my own with the bike hah. I can’t even change a flat…I know, bad triathlete. But a destination marathon? Sure count me in!
Destination marathons are definitely easier as far as gear. I’m a pretty low key triathlete though so as long as I have my essentials – swim stuff, goggles, bike (rented), helmet, and sneakers – I can make do without most of the other ‘nice to have’ things, haha.
I have never done a tri, though I have done a du(with a borrowed bike) and I thought that was stressful! I’m not a swimmer, so it’s overwhelming (to me) all the swimming essentials that need to be remembered. Have fun in Bermuda!!
Have you ever tried swimming lessons? My husband felt the same way about swimming then took some lessons in our area and is so much more confident in the water now!
I get stressed out enough packing for a road race. I can’t imagine what it would be like packing for a tri!
Haha, it’s definitely a bit more to remember – but you get used to it.
I can only imagine what it might be like to show up to a triathlon and um, realize you forgot your bathing suit or bike shoes!! 😮
I’d imagine forgetting the bathing suit/tri suit would be the toughest of them, lol. Pretty sure nude triathlons are not a thing (yet…)
dixya @food, pleasure, and health
i dont think i will be ever prepared for tri but i will send it to my friend who is into tri.
Awesome, def send it along to your friend!
Kathryn @ Dancing to Running
Although I have never done a tri, this looks like a very thorough packing list. I’m all about packing lists and being as prepared as possible.
Thank you! Feel free to share with any tri friends 🙂