Help! Traveling Out of Town for a Race - Tips/Advice?

My nerves are starting to kick into overdrive now that my second marathon is only 17 days away!

Medal

On top of usual pre-race jitters this is also the first race I've done out-of-town. There are quite a few new variables I need to plan for that I haven't had to think about before! They fall into two main categories that I'm hoping to share some of my ideas/plans with you and get your advice on today; money & race prep.

Money

Ahh such an evil little thing. While my Dad is going with me I'll be taking care of the hotel/gas costs. I haven't really traveled since Chicago last December but I have a jam-packed travel agenda for the next 8 months and I need to be extremely careful with budgeting for it all.  Nashville is about 7 hours from Pensacola (900 miles round trip) so I'm figuring $130 for gas. I have a hotel booked for three nights, Thursday-Saturday, but I'm thinking about dropping it down to two nights and leaving after the race Saturday.

We will arrive in Nashville around 2 p.m. on Thursday to spend the rest of that day and Friday sightseeing. Saturday is race day, and I'm sure I'll be virtually useless after the race so to help save $150 would I be insane to hop in a car for 7 hours post-marathon? Dad would be doing most of the driving, and I anticipate leaving the race around noon and getting on the road around 2 p.m. The thought of being able to sleep in my own bed the night of the marathon is fantastic, but I don't want to hate my life the rest of that day in the car either.

Race Prep

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As I ran yesterday I started thinking about all the things I do in the days leading up to a big race, the morning of the race, and immediately after. Dad and I are already planning to bring most of our food for the trip to save $$ and make sure we can eat healthy on the road. I'm going to have to think of what I can bring that's heavy on the carbs, and part of my usual diet. I'm sure we will go out to eat at least once while we are there so if you have any favorite spots in Nashville let me know. I'm going to pick up a bag of ice while we are out Friday to have in the tub at the hotel for me post-race, and I'm definitely bringing my trigger point kit and foam roller!

I'm glad I'm going with Dad since he's a 4x (maybe 5x?) marathoner himself so I'm sure he will notice that I'm forgetting to pack something. I found a few lists online that go over the basics of what to pack but I feel like there are logistical considerations I'm not thinking about that some of you seasoned out-of-town racers may be able to help me out with!

Has anyone run a race out-of-town before? What are your tips/advice? Should I make it a 2 night stay or 3?