Eastbound and Down, Travelling to competitions

The week of cheer nationals (2016!) is upon us. Shortly the team here will be hopping on a bus to head to the happiest place on earth (especially if you have money and no small children with you): Disney World in Orlando Florida. This is a fourteen hour bus ride to which they will then check in to their hotel and have a bit of fun at the various parks, practice, and finally compete.

Now let me first say this is a lot of fun. Seriously, I had a great time each time I went to cheer nationals (or really any competition I travelled to for that matter) and only one person ended up in Disney Jail (not me). The issues you can get yourself in are numerous, but the basic issue is you are breaking from your typical routine (sleep, diet, relationships, etc.) and you are sometimes financially limited (park food is expensive) along with a lack of ability to shop at grocery stores (pretty safe to say no one will have a car). So a bit of preparation does wonders here:

Packing food

This depends on if you are flying or going by bus to Disney. If you are flying buying canned food or food that comes in packets (Tuna is always a good choice here), this will save you from buying one meal at the park each day. Protein bars and such can also be packed away, just be sure to not go too overboard (I’m a big fan of quest bars but don’t do more than one bar a day). Furthermore, packing trail mix, peanut butter, jelly, dried fruit, jerky, etc. can all be a great choice so you can get by on a budget and have the foods that you would typically eat. Also, if you are worried about your amount of protein (or brotein as the bros call it) take and pack your protein powder in your bag in smaller containers. I would avoid putting them in baggies so you don’t have to explain things to TSA about all of your baggies of white powder. Cereal can also be a good option to pack and plays in to the reusable mug you can buy tip later on.

If you are driving down you can take advantage of the extra space and pack a cooler full of food. Cooked meat for sandwiches and otherwise will be good for a few days since you can take advantage of the ice machines at the hotel to keep your cooler the right temperature. Pack accordingly here for what you think you will eat and then also pack some extra since there will always be some folks that are hungry. Make sure you are getting your normal amount of fiber folks, because being “stopped up” and having to tumble is a recipe for disaster pants.

Take advantages of stops

Each time you the bus stops or while you have a layover when flying get up and walk around. You just got done with practicing twice a day most days of the week and then you are going to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing? Walking around an airport or gas station in the middle of nowhere will at least get your blood pumping and take some time to stretch out periodically when you have a chance. This is especially true if you are a person of normal size (aka not a flyer) since bus seats and airplane seats are tightly packed especially if you are a bigger guy. Your knees and the rest of your body will appreciate you getting up and moving around in a non-stressful manner. Take some time and stretch out your hip flexors and whatever else is tight too since you will be stuck in that seated position for probably a decent amount of time.

Stay hydrated

Riding in planes tends to dehydrate you along with sitting in warm buses. Drink lots of water. So what if you have to get up and use the bathroom more? You just got done with a hard block of training and probably have some joints that don’t like you right now. Water is what keeps your joints lubricated, no reason to make those joints grind more than they need to since you can just drink more water. When in doubt the color of your urine tells you where you are at. If it is clear of slightly like lemonade you are good to go. If it is apple juice colored drink some water. If it is black go the hospital you are probably about to go in to kidney failure.

Remember to sleep

You are traveling to or at Disney world. It is easy to get pulled in to the excitement and have a hard time sleeping or just plain forget to. Don’t. Go get some rest each night, you will be sharing a room with other people that might snore so pack ear plugs (JAMES BROWN). Make sure that you are sleeping your normal amount, take a nap if nothing is going on instead of playing on your phone. The night before the competition most people don’t sleep well. In my mind in is the night before that (36-48 hours) outside of your competition that matters (got that one from Dan John). Be sure to get good sleep on that night.

Bonus tip: If possible lay down on the floor in the middle of the bus. I’m serious, this works if you are a bigger guy and you can sleep well. Do be prepared for someone to step on you on accident. They might not allow this behavior anymore, but back in the day this was the way to go.

Use the free refills

As soon as you get to the hotel and go to the cafeteria buy the souvenir cup. This will get you refills. The amount of milk, Gatorade, soda, etc. you want to drink will now be there for you for a way reduced price. If you are someone that drinks a large amount due to either sweating a lot or being larger in general (or both) this is well worth the price. Plus you have a cup to bring home to remind you of your time there, since obviously you won’t be taking a lot of pictures or anything while you are there…

Wrap up

Have fun down there. You’ve earned it, but planning a bit beforehand and keeping things in mind while you are there will help you get more out of your performance while keeping more money in your wallet. Good luck to any athlete or team that reads this. You can use a lot of these same points if you aren’t going to cheer at a national’s competition, this works for any athlete on the road. Thanks for taking the time to read this and if you have any questions or comments about things you use please put them below.

1928845_521137948554_8116_n breaking rules
The last cheer nationals I competed at. The two kids were from Europe that we met and the guy on the right was my teammate Ryan Phillippe. Our coach gave us two rules: don’t go swim in the pool and I don’t remember the other one. I do remember that we broke both of them within hours of getting there.

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