Friday, 12 April 2013

Life on the road

When I’m on the slopes in training, or enjoying a bit of down time after a competition, I often reflect on my career and how appreciative I am for the opportunities skiing has given me. The incredible people I’ve met, the enchanting places I’ve been, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the sport I love. Of course it’s not without a lifetime of commitment and hard work, but I really am grateful for the adventures I’ve enjoyed, whilst looking forward keenly to those, like Sochi 2014, that I’m yet to experience.  A big part of life as a professional ski racer is dealing with constant travel during the season, which can be as challenging as it is exciting. In today’s post I’ll be looking at some of the difficulties of life on the road and how I’ve learnt to deal with them.

A lack of contact with loved ones and events back home is the single toughest part of being on the road. When a competition is looming, it’s fair to say I’m in full race mode, with only the race ahead on my mind. Nevertheless, this period of steely focus only accounts for a fraction of my time spent abroad. At the airport, in training, back at whichever hotel it happens to be on any given day, there’s plenty of time to miss those who are dearest to me. In these moments it’s vital that I can connect with everybody in the UK whose support I rely on. My solution? Texts, calls, Skype, Facebook, emails – all the technology a girl can get! Thankfully one smart phone, along with decent Wi-Fi access is enough to make use of all these tools and stay connected. I particularly love Skype when I’m on my travels. Being able to see a friendly face as well the ability to chat is a great treat. When being at home isn’t an option, technology saves the day.

A busy schedule is another part of my life on the road that is unavoidable for Athletes. This throws up the issue of staying organized and the need to plan absolutely everything. First to be mapped out is luggage. Keeping on top of any number of essentials like equipment, race gear, clothing, passport etc., whilst also trying to pack light takes a fair bit of forethought. A checklist is a classic, but essential method of ensuring nothing is left in my cupboard! Next and equally important is my itinerary, ensuring that each moment of my trip is maximised. Even down to which outfits to wear on each day; an itinerary goes a long way to making sure a trip runs smoothly. Finally, it’s important to plan your spending. When my minds focused on other matters, be it racing, training, or flying back to my warm bed - it’s easy to forget about a budget and look back in hindsight as costs mount up. One way I’ve dealt with this is to set myself a trip budget before I leave and strictly stick to it. Personally, I find the most convenient way to handle my money abroad is to use a prepaid currency card. I want my life on the road to be as simple and stress free as possible, and my Caxton card provides this. I simply transfer the amount of money I want to take, and voila, I now have a visa card that I can use at cash points and checkouts. And the added bonus? I don’t have to worry about pricey bank charges greeting me on my arrival home, and the exchange rate that I receive normally beats the high street... so I don’t feel too bad about splashing on some new perfume at the duty free.

Along my way I’ve learnt plenty about making the most of life on the road, too much to list in one post. But if there is one thing I’d tell young athlete’s at the beginning of their careers, it’s that successful travel is about patience.  After all, an extra hour in the airport isn’t a big deal if you get home safe.

Don't forget to follow me @ChemmySki on Twitter to keep up to date with me on my travels!

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