Boy do we ever travel a lot in the sport of rowing. Regattas, erg races, recruiting trips, conventions and meetings. Sometimes it seems like we spend more time on the road than at home—especially during racing season. Planning ahead can greatly reduce the hassles, problems and risks of traveling. Here are six steps to success:
STEP 1: ONE-YEAR TO THREE-MONTHS AHEAD
Get information. Rowing events tend to be seasonal with notable differences in the events with each season: head races in fall, erg races in winter, sprint races in the spring. Work ahead at least one whole season to get information on upcoming events. This may seem like planning too far ahead but it’s not; in fact some athletic programs work two to three years ahead.
Pick the event. With information in hand, now is the time to select where you want to go and what you want to do. Decide what event is right for you or for your program. Call the organizers with any questions.
Budget your expenses. Now the big question is, “Can you afford to go?” Get all the cost information about the event: transportation, registration, housing, etc. Then look at your budget and figure out if you can swing the trip.
STEP 2: THREE-MONTHS TO ONE-MONTH AHEAD
Registration. Check your information about registration deadlines—many events have deadlines weeks or months in advance. Allow extra time for mailing and get an acknowledgement of delivery. Also determine if there are any documents you may need such as passports or credentials; they all take time to get.
Housing arrangements. If your trip involves an overnight stay get on the phone and make those arrangements quickly. The bigger and more exciting the event the faster the housing will disappear—regardless if you’re staying at a hostel or the Hilton. Bad planning usually leads to bad sleeping arrangements and sleeping in a car is not as much fun as it sounds.
Travel arrangements. How you are getting there is the key to any trip. If you’re flying, or renting a vehicle (van, bus, car) shop early; this will give you greater selection and better prices. If you are driving your own vehicle now is the time to make sure it is in good shape for the trip.
Food arrangements. No way around it, we all need food—even lightweights!. You already know you can afford the trip, so now is the time to make your food preparations. That may involve simply requesting a check, getting a credit card, ordering box lunches or just planning a trip to the corner store for peanut butter and jelly.
STEP 3: TWO-WEEKS AHEAD
Dry run. A dry run of the trip will help you identify problems that may come up. Do you have directions? Does everyone know where to meet? Do you have insurance? Who will carry the registration information and the money? If you are dealing with minors do you have all the necessary release forms? The more problems you identify and handle now the smoother the trip will go.
Schedule of event. Schedules do change, it happens all the time—especially at regattas. Call the event organizers to check for changes. Also do this the day prior to leaving.
Money request. Ever looked into the eyes of a van full of hungry rowers, after a full day of racing, and told them they would have to drive five hours home without food because you forgot to get money? I guarantee you will only do it once. Make sure you can get the trip money you need—when you need it.
STEP 4: ONE-DAY AHEAD
Load up. Pack a day ahead of time. Don’t wait until the very last second—you will forget something and definitely reduce your fun level. For a suggested list of what to take on a rowing trip see Crew Cues, American Rowing, May / June 1992.
Final check. Take some time, find a little peace and quiet, and make sure you’ve got every item you need.
Emergency plan. If there is an injury do you know how to get help? Do you have needed medical or insurance forms? What if a vehicle breaks down, or a plane is late? Do you have emergency phone numbers? Invest a little time and run through a “worse case scenario.”
STEP 5: DAY OF EVENT
Enjoy. If you’ve planned well two things should happen. First, the trip should go smoothly. Second, any problems that pop-up (and they will) should be only small ones—hopefully. Record what went wrong for future reference.
STEP 6: BACK HOME AGAIN
Not done quite yet. When you’re back home put the wheels in motion to get reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses. Need to turn an expense report in? Results to the press? Return rental equipment? When it’s all done and over sit down with a little peace and quite and record any comments about your trip for next time—already you will be planning a year ahead.