Plan a Trail Running Adventure Abroad

There are so many wonderful places to enjoy trail running from local park lands to international destinations. Although I have yet to visit all the trails in my home state, I still like to venture abroad to experience different cultures, and expand my horizons. My primary goal for any planned travel is to explore trails in the area that I visit. Below I share some tips for your next trail running adventure abroad.

Shared adventures

Decide whether you want to travel alone, with a companion, with a group of friends, or on a tour. I have done all of the aforementioned except a tour. I personally am not a “tour” person because I like to have flexibility and the control of setting my own destiny. A sense of adventure is something to be enjoyed and often times a tour doesn’t allow for a truly individualized experience. If you opt to go with a companion, make sure you are compatible travelers and enjoy the same type of schedule and activities. When you find a companion you synch with, you’ll find that you will plan another trip before the one you’re on is complete. A group traveling together can result in shared joys, but also challenges, especially when each individual has a different agenda for the trip.
Veteran Traveler Tip: Make a list of all the things you want to do and all the places you want to visit on your trip. Share the list with your travel mate(s) and come up with a plan together for each day of the trip.

Pick a destination

With a focus on trail running, seek a destination that has lots of trail options. When traveling in late fall or winter, consider a warm or tropical destination and if travel is in the spring or summer, a spot that fits best is one with a climate that is typically temperate. Occasional wind, rain, or inclement weather won’t completely derail a trip, but may make it less pleasant. Choose a spot closer to home (within 4-6 hour flight) if you have a week or less, and consider longer flights if you can enjoy a 10 day or more getaway. For an international destination, make sure to have at least six months on your passport and also investigate the level of security in the country to be visited, and any visa requirements.
Veteran Traveler Tip: Do advance research to learn about weather patterns, animals that may be encountered, cultural nuances (from tipping to particular dress requirements, etc.), currency accepted, and more. Typically a week affords enough time to realize the vibe of an area.

Organize travel

Flights are usually the simplest part of the trip because there is an easy start point and an easy end point – your home to the airport of choice. Lodging is a bit more complicated because there are typically a lot of options. If using a hotel, choose the same brand if possible to get points and perks – likewise for your airline travel. If you are one to cook your own meals, a VRBO or Air B & B are advised (or a hotel that offers in-room kitchen). Consider ground transportation. Often times a rental car is the best way to get around and affords the most flexibility. Be sure to research whether an economy car will work, or if a 4WD is necessary. Note if your automobile or homeowner’s insurance, or credit card will provide insurance on the rental. Be sure all of your personal documents – driver’s license, passport, health insurance, and vaccinations – are up to date.
Veteran Traveler Tip: Draft a budget so you’re prepared for what the trip will cost knowing that some unexpected expenses may crop up.

Utilize maps

There are multiple, interwoven logistics and in the planning phase for any trip, enter maps … an invaluable tool to assist in decision making. Consult maps of the area to be visited and identify which trail venues are the most attractive. Find lodging options the most convenient to the most places on a “to be explored” list. This may mean two or more different lodging options depending on the drive time between the trails.
Veteran Traveler Tip: Print out maps and carry them with you. Also, take photos of maps with your smart phone, especially those of trails you plan to run. Carry your charged phone with you on all trail runs. Sometimes cell coverage is not available so be prepared for this possibility.

What and how to pack

Less is more. Learn to pack light and wash clothes during the trip. Refrain from checking bags. Wear comfortable footwear and clothing on the airplane and pack at least two pairs of running shoes and a hydration vest. Sunglasses, snacks, jacket, exercise band, lacrosse ball/softball (for manual therapy massage), toiletries, and pillow, are all suggested items for a trip.
Veteran Traveler Tip: One of the best purchases a traveler can make is packing cubes. Cubes allow one to separate clothing for easy access. Secondarily, plastic bags are a good storage mechanism and also are handy for wet or dirty clothes.

Realities upon arrival

Flexibility is always the key for travelers. Delays can and often happen. Weather systems, construction projects, road and trail closures may disrupt travel. Always have a back-up plan and be willing to go with the flow. A trail venue that was initially selected may be off limits due to wildlife migration or a tropical rainstorm could make a run too dangerous to consider.
Veteran Traveler Tip: Prepare for the unexpected.

Document your experience

It’s fun to share your photos and stories with friends, followers, and loved ones at home. It is equally rewarding to have memories that last a lifetime. Get set to plan your first, or next adventure.

More articles from ATRA on traveling.
Trail Running Iceland
Experiences living out of a suitcase
Tips for overcoming jet lag