Tips on International Travel to Contests
Over the years I have written down many tips on travel to bodybuilding contests overseas. In particular these notes were started when the WFF International events were held in Europe every year.
I refined these notes a few days ago with Dublin in mind, and the same info could also be applied to attending the NABBA Universe in Birmingham this Saturday. I hope these pointers will be of some help.
Thanks to the unknown kind person who took this Aussie team group photo for me (with my own camera) in Orlando in June! See you in Dublin.
Special Tips & Advice for International Competitors Traveling Overseas
Minimum time required to recover from the effects of jet lag is one hour for every hour you spend travelling. When you board the international flight, adjust your watch to the time in USA (or Europe) and eat according to the time there. Same applies to sleep and catch all the sleep you can on the flight. Take your own eye shade and ear plugs. Most flights arrive early morning, so go for a walk or light workout and plan on staying awake for the whole day on arrival. Try to go to bed no earlier than 8 pm and you will feel less jet lagged as this helps you get into the local time zone faster.
Refill your water bottles after passing airport security. Try and drink at least 6-8 litres of water on the journey overseas to prevent your body holding too much fluid. Attempt to get as much water onto the plane as you can, and carry as hand luggage (there are tight rules regarding liquids and the weight of carry-on bags these days.) Staying well hydrated means lots of visits to the toilet. Request exit row seats or aisle seats when booking flights with your travel agent. You cannot do this on the day of departure. Sadly reserving a confirmed aisle seat these days has an extra cost. A charge well worth paying in my opinion.
Eat Lightly. When booking your airline ticket, ask for low fat/low salt meals to be served. But also take your own food on the plane, protein shakes etc, with your carry-on luggage. Many bodybuilders eat no airline food at all. Also bring some packaged food in your suitcase, so you can survive for several meals without the stress of finding bodybuilding food immediately upon arriving. Note: If you bring supplements, keep them in original containers as its likely custom officials want to inspect your “pills and white powder” if you happen to be pulled aside at Customs. Do not cook in your room as this is banned at most hotels. You will incur a hefty fine if the smoke alarm goes off.
Consider using melatonin tablets (5-8 mg) before bed time. This will help you overcome jetlag, the stress of travelling and help you sleep. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and in response to darkness. During the day melatonin levels are low. Melatonin can help reset the body clock. Melatonin is not easily available in Australia, but you can buy it in USA.
Don’t be over critical of your contest condition as you can expect to be slightly off your local home contest condition due to the stress and rigours of travel however, everyone who travels is similarly handicapped. That is why the smartest ones who win international events are those who travel best and do not get upset by unexpected situations. Try and plan so you can be very self-reliant in all areas. Also arrive at the destination early if this is possible so your body can acclimatize.
If you are tanning in your hotel room, bring your own sheets and pillow case to sleep in the bed. Plus a towel. Otherwise, you can get away with just a pillow case and old “jammies” to sleep in. Before you start any tanning, cover up everything around you for the next few days, including wrapping toilet paper around the toilet seat and covering the wash basin with an old towel. Hotels usually pass-out when they see the tanning stains left behind by bodybuilders and they will charge you an outrageous cleaning fee. Have a spare set of trunks or posing costume if possible, just in case one gets badly marked by a tanning accident or sweat. Don’t forget to bring your own set of rubber cables for pumping up. MUSIC Bring a couple of copies and label the discs with your Name and Country, and always carry one copy on-board as hand-luggage. I have seen competitors caught with no music and no posing trunks on contest day as they had been packed in their checked luggage which went astray.
One important message about competing internationally – hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The way another country runs a contest may vary from what you expect, purely because each country uses a slightly different format. Also, International promoters only know the exact number of who is competing at the last moment. It can throw scheduling out. So be flexible in your mind and last minute preparation. Get to the pump up area early! Same applies to registration. Finally. Bring a spare soft extra carry bag ready for that large trophy you expect to be carrying back home! These are my tips after traveling both on my own and with competitors to overseas contests, every year since 1970.
Wayne Gallasch, GMV, October 2016