How to pack for running when you travel for the holidays

Full disclosure – I wrote this last week and forgot to post it before I, myself, traveled for the holidays. Instead of a late post, consider this a very early post for the next time you travel.




Running is important for both my physical as well as my mental health. If I miss a couple days of running in a row I can feel an uncomfortable weight settle over my body. I feel tired, sluggish and uncomfortable. When I travel, I have started to be more diligent with planning out when, and where, I will be running. I give far-advance warning to whomever I am traveling with (and/or whomever I am visiting) to let them know that I will be taking off for runs several times during our vacation. Traveling while running adds a layer of difficulty to packing. While I love running for its compact, minimalist nature, each and every run I plan to do adds a certain amount of space and weight into my carry on. In order to maximize my ability to run while minimizing the burden running has on my suitcase, I developed this handy, step-by-step guide…

If I get a note from my doctor, maybe I can claim my carry-on is an emotional support bag and I won’t get charged.
  1. Decide how many days you are going to be gone and how many of those are training runs
  2. Rate how stressful the trip will be based on…
    • Length of travel:
      • Add 1 point for every hour of travel time over 4 hours
      • Add 1 point for every hour of layover over 2 hours
      • Add 2 points for every minute of layover under 30 minutes
      • Subtract 1 point if your layover is between 1-2 hours and there is a popcorn store in your terminal

        Popcorn stores are how airlines trick you into buying expensive floss in the airport.
    • Number of people you will be interacting with:
      • Add 1 point for every politically charge, under-informed family member
      • Add 1 point for every angry drunk
      • Subtract 1 point for every fun, sing-song drunk
      • Add 1 point for every family member that gives inappropriate shoulder massages or refers to you has “looking so much better”
      • Subtract 2 points if the cool cousins are coming this year
      • Add 5 points for every day you are staying in the house of your parents or the parents of your partner

        “It’s so nice of you to visit. Come…let me show you all of the politically charged books I’ve purchased and racially insensitive emails I printed out”
    • Characteristics of your destination:
      • Add 1 point if the destination city is objectively less fun than your home city
      • Add 1 point if the weather is less enjoyable that the weather if your home city
      • Subtract 1 point if the destination city has at least two breweries that you know by name. However, add 2 points if the destination family is sober and going to said breweries will cause conflict
      • Add 2 points if your destination city has never won a major sports championship. If you have to explain what the sport is, when the season is, or that the sport has a professional league – it isn’t a major sport. Women’s sports do count, however, because this is a modern metric.

        The U.S. Women’s National team is the amazing and I will find anyone that says otherwise.
  1. Write down the number from the above algorithm. The higher the number, the sadder you should feel. Sit with that emotion. Start googling “places to run in __(destination city)__” and keep googling it until that feeling goes away.

    Your google search for “places to run in Dayton, OH” has come up with…zero results
  2. Pull out a large suitcase
  3. Put back that large suitcase after realizing that airlines are a cartel and you will have to pay for an extra seat on the plane for your luggage
  4. Pull out a small suitcase
  5. Google “minimal clothes, maximum outfits”
  6. Start by packing your non-running clothing. For each item, tightly roll it into a little ball and stuff it into your impossibly small suitcase. Here are some bonus tips for packing non-running clothing:
    • Practice a wide variety of facial expressions or, alternatively, choose a bold facial accessory (eye patch, mustache, a dazzling scar). That will keep people’s focus on your face and away from your lower hemisphere. Now you no longer need variety in your shoes or pants as nobody will notice what you are wearing.
    • Your shoes are hollow and can store lots of things that you are okay with smelling like feet
    • Pack one more pair of underwear than days of the trip
    • Pack two less t-shirts than days of the trip and be okay with feeling uncomfortable with that lingering smell for the last two days
    • Coats are bulky and feeling cold builds character
    • Your receiving home would be more than happy to let you borrow a toothbrush
    • Develop a number of particular food allergies or aversions. This will narrow food options if you go out to eat and typically will help you stay away from fancier restaurants. Now you no longer need to pack that dress shirt and blazer
  7. Look at the remaining room and rethink how often you change your clothes in real life.
  8. Take out 1/5 of the clothes you just packed and throw them in the hamper. They aren’t dirty but putting them back in the drawers sounds like a lot of work right now.
  9. Take a break
  10. Now that you are rested pull out the following items and lay them on your bed:
    • Shorts and t-shirt – 1 pair of shorts and one shirt for every two runs you intend to do. These can both be easily washed in any hotel sink or quickly washed and dried at the house you are staying in
    • 1 Long sleeve shirt you know you aren’t going to wear
    • Socks – One pair for every run, plus those knee high ones you really love
    • Sneakers – Your least gross pair
    • One running hat
    • Any sweat-based items you need (headbands, wrist bands, towels, etc.)
    • The loudest pair of sunglasses you own. Regardless of where you are going, you want to make a statement as a runner. Plus – you will never see any of these people again.
    • Any water bottles, run belts or other accessories you want to worry about losing while traveling
    • Anything that will help you battle bad weather. If it is raining, snowing, or sleeting, there is a hurricane, tornado, monsoon or earthquake, in the apocalypse is happening – your destination family will likely say “you’re going out running in that? Stay in, lets (inset activity they suggest, without a drop of irony, that is objectively worse than the weather outside).” You want to be ready to point to the items you packed specially and say, “well, I packed this so I might as well use it” before running out the door, possibly to never be seen again.
  11. Look at the items on the bed and the space in your suitcase
  12. Google “Japanese folding techniques, small”
  13. Be disappointed at how many of the links are pornography

    45 seconds later this video really took a turn
  14. Take out non-running clothing in suitcase until you have enough space for running clothes
  15. Tightly roll running clothes and begin placing them into your bag like you are playing a game of Tetris. To save space, keep your running shoes out of your suitcase.
  16. Zip up your suitcase and marvel at the engineering that has allowed the zipper to handle so much tension and then wish that you also had the ability to handle so much tension. Then, feel sad that you no longer have an AIM account and cannot post your zipper metaphor as an away message.
  17. Tie your sneakers to the outside of your bag. This is the international flag for “I am a runner.” Be prepared to apologize to the TSA agent who angerly unties them from your bag and places them in their own bin.
  18. Start publicly posting online about how much you are looking forward to your trip and links to the places you want to run. That will give your family plenty of time to warm up to the idea that you will be absent for the majority of the trip. They will also be less likely to take your frequent runs personally and will, instead, think you have a problem. As a result, your family will look forward to your frequent departures to gossip and talk shit about you while you are gone.


Have a safe trip, enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate and traditions you take part in and be sure to keep running for your own sanity.

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