Bon Voyajitsu: What To Know If You Want To Train While You Travel

Image Source: Averi Clements

With the BJJ community growing all across the globe, many jiu-jitsu practitioners make a conscious effort to find time to train even when they’re traveling for work or fun. While some who are infected with the travel bug like to “wing it” when it comes to their traincations, you’re likely to be better off if you at least do a little bit of research before arriving at your destination. If you want to maximize the fun and minimize the stress of training in different cities, states, or countries, make sure to follow these important tips:

1. Contact gyms ahead of time. In addition to knowing where you want to train, it’s also a good idea to message academies before you stop in. Beyond being courteous, it also ensures that you’re following the correct gym protocol before showing up. Some academies require all participants (even visitors) to wear white gis. Many charge mat fees. And although they’re rare, some BJJ academies don’t allow drop-ins at all. One potential perk of contacting a coach or owner before you travel is that they may also know of a student who opens their home to fellow jiu-jitsu travelers, which could help you save money on accommodation while giving you the opportunity to make new friends. If you want to specifically find traveler-friendly gyms, check out the BJJ Globetrotters group, where you can let other grapplers with wanderlust know where you’re going and when so you can get recommendations on where to train.

2. Pack spare gear or know your laundry situation. If you have the space and plan on training more than once on your trip, pack at least one extra set of training clothes, whether that’s a gi, spats, a rashguard, shorts, or all of the above. Or, if you don’t have the room, figure out how you’ll wash your gear while you’re traveling. Will you have access to your own washing machine, or will you have to locate a laundromat? Will you be able to dry your gi in the sun in time for the next class you want to do? It all seems like common sense until you find yourself with a very stinky, sweaty gi and can’t train more than once on your trip.

3. Know your luggage weight allowance. With most airlines having weight limits and overweight baggage charges, it’s in your best interest to weigh your packed bags before you get on an airplane, especially if you’re bringing a gi or two. Many jiu-jitsu globetrotters have a specific gi that they bring along for traveling. If you’re in the market for a travel-friendly gi, ripstop gis tend to be on the lighter side. If all else fails and you don’t want to pay extra for more weight, let go of your pride and wear your gi jacket onto the plane. You wouldn’t be the first, and you won’t be the last.

4. Be culturally aware. Just as different local academies may have different etiquette policies in place, training internationally (or even in a different city) might require you to act a bit differently in the gym than you would in your home gym. Educate yourself on local customs (especially in countries where religion heavily influences the culture and law) and assume that they apply inside the academy just as much as outside. Similarly, if you’re traveling to a nation that doesn’t use English as its primary language, don’t assume that the instructor and other students will speak even basic English. You can absolutely get a lot out of a jiu-jitsu class that’s not taught in a language that you speak, but be aware that language barriers may provide additional challenges to overcome in class.

5. Return the favor. The traveling jiu-jitsu community is surprisingly large, and at some point, you’ll be on the hosting end when a BJJ wanderer comes from out of town to train at your academy. Make sure you’re as welcoming to them as you hope they’d be to you. Offer to go out for dinner or drinks after training with them so they feel less alone. Partner up with them for drills. If you have the means and are comfortable doing so, offer them a place on your couch in your spare bedroom. The world is small, and the BJJ world is even smaller — aside from simply being the right thing to do, being kind to a traveling grappler is very likely to pay off for you in some way when you embark on your next “traincation.”


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