Over the past week I have been in Nicaragua for my first international race, Fuego y Agua Survival Run. It has been a mix of excitement, enjoyment and learning. Below are a few tips for the new international traveler, especially race traveler. It is geared towards those traveling to a developing country, especially Central and South America.
1. Get use to everything moving slowly. A few kilometers on a map might take hours to get through. Instead of stressing allow everything extra time.
2. Pack light. You most likely will not need half of what you bring and can wear the same clothing more than once, even in the warmest of climates.
3. Bring your own race nutrition. If you are like me and have a specific type of food or drink you like on race day, bring it with you.
4. Allow extra time for arrival and departures. Especially if you are changing climates, a few extra days before the race are key to adapt to your surroundings and a few extra days after will let you loosen those muscles before sitting on a plane for hours.
5. Be flexible, when racing in a developing country know something might go wrong and get comfortable knowing that things aren't always as easy as the country is developing.
6. Wear sunscreen, in tropical climates make sure you are putting on extra sunscreen if you are susceptible to sunburn.
7. Drink lots of water, again post race the beer sounds great to celebrate but really your body needs the hydration. The best thing is to carry the water bottle with you the whole trip. Then you know you are drinking clean water and can always stay hydrated.
8. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Chances are the food you see at the restaurants will be different don't be afraid to try something new and experience the culture around you.
9. Learn the language. If you are traveling to Central America or South America do not assume they speak English. It is good to at least brush up on how to ask for the bathroom, order food, and ask how much something costs. With a little bit of knowledge of the language you can get much further in your trip, race and experience.
10. Have fun, enjoy the experience and know, things are different when you race out of country. Be able to roll when it is different or unexpected.