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7 Tips for an OCR Obstacle-cation! – Part 2

Posted by VPX Sports on Sep 21, 2014 10:22:00 AM

This is the second and final article on how to save, plan and pack for an Obstacle-cation. In part 1, we covered budget/planning, must have items, the getaway and a few random tips. Today, we will be discussing suggestions for your rental car, flight and hotel. All of these tips are things that I have learned from my own personal experience with Obstacle-cations.describe the image

1. Renting a Car

If you need to rent a car, you can usually wait until relatively close to the event to book this. However, check on Car Rentals EARLY and BEFORE you book a flight.

Remember that list you made, in Part 1, of all the airports near the event? Use that information to do a basic search. I recommend hotwire.com because it tends to have the lowest, most competitive prices and will give you a realistic idea of costs.

Keep in mind; it may also make a big difference in the airport you choose. For instance, at the Vermont Championship you can fly into various airports, such as Boston, Portland (Maine) or Manchester (New Hampshire). While flights might actually be a bit more expensive to Manchester, the car rental costs and fees are lower than the other two. During a hotwire search for September’s race date, picking up a car at the Boston airport was $34 per day, Portland $57 a day and Manchester only $19. If you are spending five days in Vermont, you would save nearly $200 by booking a flight through Manchester versus Portland! Even if you don’t book a rental car early, check those costs first before blowing your budget on a “discount” plane ticket.

Also, you can pass along any travel info to buddies and possibly coordinate airports and even sharing a car. They will thank you, too!

  • Use that car rental search on hotwire to see if you can rent a car early – I don’t suggest actually booking a car through hotwire early, just use that search. If Hertz comes up as the cheapest company, head over to the Hertz site and see if you can get a similar deal. If the price is right, choose “pay at the counter” because you can cancel with no penalties and without even giving a credit card.

  • Warnings about renting cars through sights like hotwire, priceline, etc. – Most of these sites require a credit card and will not let you change your reservation in any way, which can be a major pain. Need to fly in or out a different day? Out of luck. Need someone else to pick up the car? Out of luck. Wait until the last possible minute to rent a car through deal sites and check periodically for deals through the actual car rental sites (sign up for their emails to be notified).

  • Bring directions to and from the airport to the hotel and to and from the race site. Sometimes your cell phone won’t get service in race locations. 

  • Bring a car cell phone charger - My phone always seems to run out of batteries when I need it most on Obstacle-cations. 

  • Key fobs are awesome - I nearly always lose my “new” car at events, so rental cars with key fobs are ideal if possible.

3. Flying

  • Evaluate the real cost of discount airlines – Some airlines, such as Spirit Airlines and Frontier, use an a la carte system, so while their prices may be low, low, low, you will be paying for Every. Single. Thing, including carry on and checked bags, drinks and seat choices. Sometimes, when you factor in those things, the price is the same or only marginally different.

  • Look at the amount of flights offered to your location by the airline - Consider what will happen if things go wrong. Many discount airlines only offer limited flights to a location and have a lousy system for rescheduling or letting you know about changes and cancellations. An example: Last year many of the VPX Team Xtreme members traveled to Nicaragua for the Fuego y Agua Survival Run. Because of an unusual series of events, none of the ferries could leave the island, meaning many people had to reschedule flights. A few of the VPX Members had booked tickets through a discount airline. The problem? That airline only schedules flights leaving Managua once a month!

    If your flight is cancelled and/or delayed, what will your backup plan be? If you MUST get to a location on a certain day or time frame, consider paying for an airline with more flights and backup options.

  • Get creative in your airline search - It’s always a good idea to sign up for email notifications through airlines, become a frequent flyer member and use credit cards that offer airline or travel “points” toward travel. Also, get familiar with all the airlines flying to your destination city. Realize that some airlines, such as Southwest, are NOT included on travel deal sites. Don’t be afraid to “mix and match” either. An example: when I traveled to the Las Vegas Super Spartan last year, I flew to Vegas using Frontier and flew home on Allegiant.

  • Don’t check a bag, if you can help it - Carrying your own things prevents lost bags and gives you more options when flights and plans change. If you carry on, you can also check in online, versus at the airport, which saves time and frustration.

  • Travel as light as possible - Here are some ways to save space: 

    1. Shove clothes and items into your packed shoes and try to bring as few pairs of shoes as possible

    2. Get travel size everything, or better yet, use empty contact lens holders to store small amounts of lotions, creams, gels. 

    3. If you are racing more than one day, plan to use the hotel washer and dryer, if they have one, versus carrying many extra clothes. Bring a sewing kit to repair rips, versus extra clothes. Also consider bringing compression arm and calf sleeves to switch out, versus extra long sleeve shirts or long pants. 

4. Hotels

  • Look to the event site or even email the event directors for suggestions on hotel locations and discounts. Many times there are links, discount codes or suggestions on the event site. If you email, start early, as many times it can take a little while for a response, but event staff can be a wealth of knowledge and often will offer information not posted online.

  • Join event facebook groups and local obstacle racing groups or teams. Nearly every large obstacle event will have a closed discussion group, perfect for soliciting advice or even possible roomies. Also, ask to join some of the large OCR teams in the area, such as the Weeple Army (west coast), Cornfed Spartans (midwest), Colorado Obstacle Racers (west) and New England Spahtans (East coast). The VPX Team Xtreme facebook page is a great resource too because it’s comprised of Obstacle-cation Experts!

  • If you are already renting a car, consider staying a little further away from the event to save money, but remember that gas and parking fees add up too. Also, it can be really convenient and fun to stay near the event, so sometimes it’s worth paying a little more to stay at a preferred hotel. Often hotels that are full of obstacle racers will offer special meals, post and pre-race events or amenities too, such as a hose outside to rinse off your gear one more time (nearly priceless)!

  • Hotel hot tubs are great for so many reasons -- post race recovery, another post race wash off!

I hope all my tips and suggestions will be helpful for your next Obstacle-cation. Share any tips you have in the comment section below or on the VPX Team Xtreme OCR Facebook Page!

leslie st louis headshot borderThis is a guest post by Leslie St. Louis, a competitive obstacle racer. Leslie is a mountain-loving trail lover and mom of two mud-loving girls in Morrison, Colorado. She is also ranked 9th in the Spartan World Points Series and the founder of a local obstacle group and resource, Colorado Obstacle Racers. She is proud to be a part of VPX Team Xtreme, as well as a member of the Spartan Pro Team and All Pro CrossFit Community.

VPX on Instagram @VPX_Sports

Topics: training tips, OCR, obstacle course racing, team xtreme

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