As we head towards the most important part of the cheer season, most of us will start gearing up for the biggest competitions of the year. For those off you jetting out to countries far and wide, here are a few practical tips that we wish we’d known on our first international cheer trips.
Manage Your Data
We all know that a group chat is essential to staying in the comp-week loop, but there's nothing worse than realising that checking in while travelling has bumped your phone bill up by hundreds. So in order to keep that cost right down, make sure you have an international plan in place with your mobile provider before you fly, or double/triple-check that you have turned data roaming off in your phone’s settings, and plan to use wifi instead. Alternatively, some phone providers offer a travel sim that you can slot into your phone to use when you’re in a specific country. Just make sure that you give your temporary number to your coach. Make sure that you have one of these in place before you travel, so that you can keep in touch with your team, and make everyone at home jealous by posting your travel snaps!
Get the Right Insurance
Accidents and injuries do, unfortunately, happen. Make sure that you have everything in place, just in case. You may not know that most standard travel insurance, even policies that cover injury, may not cover you if your injury happens while training or competing in a sport. So, before you book your insurance, make sure that you talk to the company you’re booking it with and check that they will cover you if you do pick up an injury. If regular travel insurance doesn’t seem to cover you, try finding a specialist sports travel insurance company. As awful as it would be getting injured and not being able to compete with your team, imagine how much more awful it would be if you got home to realise that your insurance company won’t pay you back for the thousands you might have spent on medical care.
Make a Tick List
There are a lot of things to remember when packing anytime you go aboard. Add in the cheer comp essentials and that list gets a whole lot bigger. In order to make sure that nothing is missed, go through each day and make a list of everything you’ll need for that day. It might feel a bit odd to begin with, but you’ll soon realise how many little things you might have forgotten. Arriving and realising that there’s no sunscreen or vital toiletries is the worst. Add to that finding that they’re way more expensive in that country, and it means sacrificing your spending money on day-to-day essentials. A good comprehensive packing list will make this a non-issue.
No matter what colour your uniform is, the one thing you definitely don’t want is any marks or damage to appear on it while you’re travelling. We all know your uniform is the one thing that can’t be replaced once you’ve left the country. So to avoid any obvious marks, here’s a couple of tips to keep it super clean. First, fold it up inside out, that way if anything does leave a mark, it won't be on the part of your uniform that's showing.
Second, meet your new best friend, zip-lock bags. Pop your inside-out uniform in one of these and know that you can travel stress-free. Depending on how tall you are, and on the size of the bags, you may need to use more than one. Make sure that it’s a heavy duty zip-lock, there’d be nothing worse than getting on the flight, feeling smug about how safe your uniform is only to realise that your airport-bought snacks have spilt, and that the zip-lock bag has ripped in transit. Game over.
Keep Everything in Hand Luggage
The essentials: uniform (in that zip-locked bag, obvs), bow, cheer shoes, training kit. Make sure you find space to keep these on you while you travel. It can be tempting to fill your hand luggage with ten pieces of tech and a week’s worth of snacks. While these things are necessary to make sure you’re entertained and fed, it’s more important to leave a little room to make sure that your vital cheer kit stays close by. If it can’t be replaced while you’re out there, it needs to be in your hand luggage. It’s incredibly rare for it to happen, but from time-to-time you do hear those horror stories about airlines losing suitcases. We all know that every cheerleader has a cheer bag that goes to every comp, offering an excess of space with pockets for almost everything. These bags are the perfect answer to your hand luggage needs. So make sure that even if the universe was against you, and your checked baggage did go missing, you’ll at least have your cheer essentials with you.
Need help packing? Check out the Worlds Packing Checklist blog.
Are you ready for Worlds? Check out the Preparing for Worlds blog.