Hello and welcome back to a new article!GP Lyon is in the books, the 2017 World Magic Cup is next weekend and despite this time of the year there is no end in sight with tournaments to play in. There is GP Madrid, GP Oklahoma City and GP New Jersey right after that. This brings me to the topic I want to discuss today: How to travel “the best” for Magic tournaments.
This time I have four weeks in a row and that is always challenging as you have to fly and drive a lot, enter different time zones and have different travel buddies. This time I want to focus less on the actual preparation part, as I have covered this in some older articles, but more on topics on improvisation while travelling.
Make sure you book your travels upfront!
I am not talking about booking your flight half a year in advance, but more like a month earlier or something along those lines. Booking super early does not always give you the best rates on flight tickets, but being super late can be crucial or very expensive. There is no point in booking late when you know that you are going somewhere 3 months in advance, just place the booking and feel safe and save a fair share of money. Same goes for the hotel, even though you could speculate on that a little more as there are websites like hotwire.com or priceline.com where you could find great deals for you if you book late.
And most importantly: Register for the GP! I do not recall that a single GP capped within the last year but that sometimes is the case and then you would be very disappointed if you could not compete in the Main Event.
Find your travelling buddies!
Unless you want to travel alone find someone or even a group to accompany you. First of all you can save a lot of money and more importantly you will enjoy yourself way more as travelling and hanging out with friends is fun. Ask your oldest Magic friend, ask around in your local game store or even ask you partner to join you for your adventures.
A lot can be learned in different cultures and that is one of the most exciting facts about Magic: you always get to know the unknown and it does not get boring. I personally have traveled a lot over the last few years so I know a lot of the common magic places but there is always something new in the mix. Of course there are places that you might know or feel comfortable at but exploring the unknown is even better and sharing that experience is the icing on the cake.
Arrange your travel the right way!
This might sound obvious but from my experience people arrange their travels in a wrong way.
Choose wisely which GPs to go to if you only travel once or twice a year.
The reasoning might be the format, it might be the city you will be playing at or it can be the company that travels with you at that very trip. Don’t book a travel where you know you will not enjoy yourself.
– Traveling is expensive, keep that in mind.
If you don’t get some kind of sponsoring money or can do it on a low budget, make sure to plan things in advance, otherwise you might end up empty handed. This can be either monetarily or satisfactory. You don’t want to be broke after a trip to a GP, nor would you like to be unable to do things with your friends because you miscalculated the trip. This will ruin your trip and possibly your friends’ as well.
– Learn something about the country you are going to upfront.
You might want to know some specifics about the place you are visiting as it might help you. What is the currency, how much tip do you give in a restaurant, what are social norms in the given country? Those three questions you should have an answer for if you want to make things easier for you and the people you are interacting with. As an European Japan is a huge swing from what I do in my everyday life. Tipping goes from 10% to 0%, it switches from Euro to Yen and driving and standing on an escalator changes sites. It is only a combination of small things, but it makes it easier to get along in a foreign country.
– Think about how much time you want/can afford to spend in the given city/country!
For me this really comes down where the event is taking place, but I stay for either 0 to 7 days after/before a GP, that is also the reason why I always play GP New Jersey. The flights to New York are rather cheap and I really do like the city. Of course the city is expensive at first sight, but I have been there about 8 times now and feel like I could have a great time there without spending too much money on food and drinks.
I also try to make every Dutch GP as I really like the country. And it might sound weird, but I sometimes fly to the US on Thursday and leave Sunday night, just to minimize the time and costs and get a great deal on a cheap flight.
Handling the Jetlag!
That is something that might or might not affect you at any given trip with a time difference of six hours or more. When I travel to the US East coast which is a six hour difference I usually do not have any issues with that and just punch through it and after a day I am on my regular schedule. This is different when I go to Japan as it is the other way around and my body doesn’t seem to like that change. Same goes for US West coast with nine hours difference or even further distances.
As it’s a given thing and it occurs every time I tried to come up with solutions to fix the problem. The most important thing is to fight day 1 at any cost. If you go to bed at 8 when your usual time is 12 you will get in trouble. Do your best to stay up and make it the longest you could.
What is also pretty important is to change your eating schedule to the time zone you are in. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner at proper times and stick to that. It is less about being hungry than showing your body how to behave. You will have to eat something even when you are not hungry but that is one way to get the jetlag out of the system.
What also works for me is to power myself out. When I am home and suffer the consequences from a jetlag I do sports to get my body tired which makes it easier to fall asleep in the evenings. I do sports like once or twice a week when I am home but hardly ever when I am on a magic journey, which I assume is true for a lot people, so if I come back after two or three weeks doing something will get exhausting and let you fall asleep at a proper schedule.
If you wake up somewhere between 3 and 5am take a 30 minute nap at noon to make it until the evening. The important part is to not oversleep during the day, but for me 30 minutes are enough to load my battery to a reasonable extend.
Get yourself some Bonus Miles!
I know this phrase sounds like a bad commercial, but it is worth it when you start travelling more. From what I can tell Delta/Skyteam is the best for US/Europe but I don’t exactly know whats best for the Asian region. You can get the status the easiest way and the benefits outweigh the other alliances in my opinion.
When you get a flight ticket from Wizards, take the travel voucher instead!
This is only relevant when you travel to a Pro Tour but this option exists even though most people do not know about it. You could request that you get money instead of a plane ticket. This particularly makes sense when you want to combine your trip with 1 or 2 GPs before or afterwards. Wizards estimates the price from your home destination to the PT destination and offers you a number which is usually higher than what you would pay if you book it yourself as you could book all airlines and might fly at different dates or from different airports.
They safe themselves the organizational expenses and you could extend your trip for a cheaper rate. An additional benefit is that you could take your flight bills into your tax declaration, in case you know how to do that.
I hope I could give you some piece of advice that might help you as there are so many tricks and important factors involved in travelling but the most important thing is to always stay calm. Sometimes things happen with your flights, your apartment is not how you expected it to be or you forgot something at home. Do not let it bother you, try to find a solution and enjoy your vacancy time.
As I mentioned in the opening sentence GP Lyon is in the books with very deserving winners. My team consisting of my best friend and 2009 Magic World Championship finalist David Reitbauer my Austrian WMC-Teammate Adrian Schrenk and myself finished in 10th place, getting kicked out by the eventual winners. I finished 13-1 myself with the two decks below and I was very happy with my play and feel ready for bigger fish to fry.
Day 2 Deck
It was a great tournament and we really enjoyed it and it was the perfect starting point for a 4 week trip and great preparation for the World Magic Cup, where I really hope to post a great result.
Wish me luck and thanks for reading!