Planning for a Racecation or Destination Race.
I've done a couple races that required me to travel and I've done two relays that included travel as part of the race itself. However - like most events in my life - these events included a little more adventure than your average race. So what I'm going to share is a little different than your average packing list.
1. The Basics:
Packing: In general, if you are going to travel to a race, I say make a list of everything you'll need for race day, including post-race niceties (flip flops, chocolate, portable hot tub...) and cross everything off as you pack. Planning race essentials for a destination race is the same as any race: make sure you plan your outfit ahead of time, break in your shoes, and plan for contingencies (I.e. stash a little toilet paper somewhere on your body in case you have an emergency, etc.) And if you have awesome friends who will help you bling out your race top, bring that too:
Enjoying the destination: For me, I'm usually too amped up before a race to enjoy the location so I like the idea of planning time on the back end of the trip for sight-seeing, etc. And if your race happens to be in Nashville, then packing essentials may include cowboy hats. You don't have to do this, but you obviously hate fun if you don't.
2. Moving into the more specific: Relay prep
For a race that involves living in a van and running multiple times, I'd ramp up the contingency stash (add in baby wipes, extra water, food, etc.). Obviously remember your night time gear too. But the best thing I learned was to pack individual baggies with outfits so that you have all the needed elements for each leg of your race in one place (some outfits may need more layers depending on the time of day/night the leg is, etc.). Then you can keep your dirty clothes in the bag after you wear them, toss the whole thing in your travel bag, and move to the next pre-made outfit. Boom.
3. Moving into the strange/ridiculous-scenarios-that-possibly-only-I-encounter
Here's where I feel like I might have "best practices" that you probably haven't seen on anyone else's lists yet.
Scenario A. Tips for when you suddenly have a conflict with your race because the cover band you sing in booked a gig.
Yes. This happened to me. The race was in Philly and the gig was in D.C. and because I have deathly levels of FOMO , I chose to attempt both. Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend you recruit a get away car and fake a rock star dressing room.
My friend Laura, who lives in Philly, offered to whisk me away from the race and drop me off at her gym where I could shower and change. It totally worked and I was able to jump into my car and drive back to D.C. in time for the gig- but it wasn't without sacrifice. First, I wasn't able to actually finish the race. Second, I was on the phone with Laura coordinating our meeting point at the exact second that the race photographer snapped my pic so THIS now exists as an official race photo of me:
So there's that.
Scenario B: Tips for when a tornado ruins your marathon and you scramble to a different state to do another one
Again, yes, this happened to me. So the long story-short takeaway from this experience was: Be Flexible. I had to change my whole race plan for a race in a different state, in different conditions, and because I had to rush to get accepted, I didn't extensively plan logistics for it. I ended up driving up to the race the night before and sharing a hotel room with another runner from my training program. Then, as soon as the race ended, we jumped in our car to drive right back to D.C., stopping on the way to grab a quick shower at a local YMCA. It definitely didn't look the way I thought my very first marathon experience would look, but hey - it worked.
So in conclusion, I guess my tips are: try to plan for everything, but then be ready to accept craziness that might pop up anyway.