September 18, 2023 - Top Ten Table Tennis Tournament Travel Tips

Some of these are table tennis specific, others are more general - but they are all tips for travel to table tennis events. (Some are things you should do in advance of the tournament to help prepare.)

  1. Keep necessary stuff in carry-on bag when flying. Bags sometimes get lost. So try to keep your racket, shoes, and one set of playing clothes in a carry-on bag.
  2. Rolling bag. Not only are they great for carry-on bags, but they make it a lot easier to carry your stuff around at tournaments without tiring yourself out from carrying a bag around. They also make handy stands to hold your drink when sitting down - the area where the handle comes out is usually perfect for that.
  3. Shoes. Not all floors are equal. With a good, rubberized floor, you can get away with most table tennis shoes. But if the floors are slippery (often with wood or cement floors), you might want new shoes to maximize traction. If playing on cement floors, you might want shoes with more support.
  4. Snacks. You need these both for travel to/from the tournament, plus during the tournament. You can't always count of getting what you want at the playing site, so it's best to bring snacks with you. I always bring granola bars.
  5. Drinks. Check if water or other drinks will be available at the playing area. Sometimes they only have expensive bottles of water. If so, perhaps arrange a quick trip to a local grocery store for a case of water or sports drink.
  6. Luggage scale. If you fly a lot like I do, and often take a lot of stuff - and sometimes more on the flight back (trophies! souvenirs!) - it's important to be able to tell if your bag is over the maximum weight limit if you check in a bag, usually 50 pounds. Here's the one I use – it only costs $10, and it's small and weighs only 3.2 ounces. It's easy to use - just clip it to the bag's handle, lift, and read the display.
  7. Stay organized. Make sure you know your playing schedule and keep it handy.
  8. Warm-up partner. While it's good to play many styles in practice matches to get used to them, and used to adjusting in general, for warmup you want someone you are comfortable with. Try to arrange in advance who and when you'll be warming up with. Come early - tables sometimes fill up early and then are hard to get.
  9. Scout opponents in advance. In particular, watch their serve and receive. Imagine returning their serves, and imagine following up against the type of receives they give. If possible, watch them play from the far side so you can see their serve as the receiver sees it. You can also go to YouTube and put in a player's name, followed by "table tennis," and you'll be amazed how often you'll find a video of your upcoming opponent. If the video is old, however, things might have changed, especially for junior players or players who's level/rating have changed a lot.
  10. Thank the tournament director and officials! Do this at some point during the tournament. They are putting a lot of time and energy into their jobs, and you'll likely be working with them in future tournaments.