How To Pack Your Suitcase For A Destination Running Race!


If you’re packing for a destination running race, you might be wondering what to take and how to pack it. We’re going to look at some top tips to make filling that suitcase a breeze!

One: Use A List

Write down everything you’re going to pack – yes, everything. No matter how obvious it seems. When you’ve finished, tuck this list in the pocket of your bag so you don’t leave anything behind when you pack to return!

Two: Check The List

Once you’ve packed, go over your list again. What have you missed? Go through the motions in your head, thinking about what you need for the run, and what you need for the rest of the time.

It might help to find some online suggestions of what to take, so you don’t end up forgetting something vital!

Three: Pack For The Weather

Is it going to be hot or cold? Make sure you check – and then take the safe option and pack for both anyway. You don’t need to go nuts, but even if the forecast says hot sun, take something warm and waterproof. Equally, if it’s going to be cold, take at least one cool outfit.

This will keep you comfortable if the forecast turns out to be wrong – as it so often does!

Related: Best mineral-based sunscreens for runners

Four: Think About Your Carry-on

Put your race essentials in your carry-on bag. They do not want to be in your suitcase. If something goes horribly wrong, you want to have these close and safe in your hands, not the hands of airport staff.

Five: Start Packing Early

Many of us wait until the last minute to pack, partly because we need items that also need to be packed – such as toothbrushes and phone chargers. However, that makes you more likely to forget things in the rush.

Instead, pack in advance, but over a period of days. Put in things you don’t need first, and then slowly add essentials as you “finish” using them in daily life. This will leave you with little to pack on the last day.

Six: Use Packing Cubes

If you’re struggling to make things fit or keep them organized, packing cubes is a great idea. Ziplock bags can also work, reducing the size of things. They will contain the smell from unwashed running gear, too!

Seven: Think About Washing On The Move

For those who want to travel light, washing your stuff on the go can allow you to take less – and will mean you don’t have a massive pile of laundry to do when you get home. You can buy travel-sized detergents, and either give your clothes a quick wash in a sink or use hotel washers and dryers.

Eight: Make A “Don’t Pack” List

If you’re a frequent traveler, this can be really useful. A Don’t Pack list can be done at the end of a trip. As you unpack your suitcase, jot down what you didn’t use, and keep this note somewhere.

After a few trips, you’ll have a good idea whether you’re consistently carrying things that don’t get used, just because they seem like a good idea. However, don’t apply this to your first aid kit or emergency warm gear just because they haven’t been used yet!

Related: Top Items You Should Always Pack In Your First Aid Kit

Nine: Carry Snacks

If you’re going on a plane, find out what you’re allowed to take by way of food, and then pack some. Many people don’t like risking airline food, and if you’re going for a big race, you won’t want to take the chance of being made ill.

What are some of the best foods for runners? Find out here –> What are the best superfoods for runners?

Having some of your own snacks will tide you over until you reach your destination and can get a proper meal.

You’ll also want to pack a pre-kit race bag and post-kit race bag. What should you bring? I have created the perfect post for you: What should I bring to a half marathon or marathon race?

Ten: Take Spare Gear

If you’re planning to do some runs before the race itself, remember to carry some spare gear. You don’t want to have to put on running clothes that are already sweaty and unpleasant on the big day. Take some extra clothes or make sure you can wash your gear.

Eleven: Think Tech

Don’t forget your gadgets in the haze of thinking about clothes. Whatever you use, make sure you have it and its relevant chargers/batteries, and pack a spare cable or battery pack just in case.

Twelve: Comfy Shoes

Your running shoes are important, but what about for the days before and after the race? The last thing you want is blisters, so make sure you have some very comfortable shoes you can wear around race time.

Thirteen: Running Shoes

Obviously, you need to take your running shoes – but really, don’t forget. You might actually want to wear these on the plane. It will save space on your bag and will mean that you 100% definitely have them with you.

Fourteen: Race Paperwork

If you need anything for the race, make sure you pack this with your travel documents so it can’t get forgotten, lost, stolen, wet, or anything else. If possible, have a backup copy on your phone or in another bag just in case.

Fifteen: Extra Exercise Gear

If you use a foam roller, pack it. If you need resistant bands or any other reasonably portable exercise gear, take it with you. You don’t want to find yourself unable to run because your muscles have tightened up without your foam roller! I never travel without my Trigger Point Massage Ball. It’s portable and easy to pack, check it out here: Trigger Point Massage Ball


Packing for a race can be stressful, but if you think carefully, make a list, and take your time, you’re unlikely to forget anything too vital!

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Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
  • RRCA Certified Youth Running Coach
  • NASM CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).
  • NASM CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach)
  • NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist)
  • ACE SFC (Stretching and Flexibility Coach)
  • ACE GFI (Group Fitness Instructor)
He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

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How To Pack Your Suitcase For A Destination Running Race!

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