Traveling sports: do you anticipate or dread the season?
Either way, there are several things you can do to make it more affordable, less hectic and perhaps even fun for your family. Get rid of you “we can survive this mentality” if you have it, and look at it as a chance to enjoy family adventures together.
Scope out the Place
Take a few minutes to check out the area where you are going. See if there is anything interesting there (besides the sports complex where you will be living!) I know that tournament weekends are busy, but I also know there is some down time. There might be some interesting places worth visiting in a town that you might never visit again.
It’s always better to have too much than not enough. Extra water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, sports equipment, sox, even an extra pair of athletic shoes. This will save you from last minute Walmart or Target runs.
Whether every family packs for themselves, or one parent packs for the team, it’s always better to bring healthy snacks for the players and families, rather than spending way too much money at the snack bar. You may even wait until you get to your destination to head to the grocery store. Maybe ask one or two parents to be in charge of the grocery shopping.
Plan Ahead for Eating Out
Find restaurants immediately after arriving to your destination. Ask if they can prepare to feed a large group (so you don’t have to wait forever for service, give them a heads up) and if they can accommodate your group’s sports food needs. When you arrive to eat, request that pitchers of water be put on each table.
Prepare for Hot Weather
If your child plays an indoor sport, then this won’t be a problem, but outdoor sports always present a challenge when it comes to weather. My daughter played traveling softball and I remember some horribly hot days of play. The best way to help the kids stay cool is to bring a cooler of cold wet towels to place on their neck and shoulders, bring water spray bottles to cool themselves off, brings LOTS of water, sunscreen, and pack shelters for either parents or the team to use to shade them from the sun.
Think Beyond the Weekend
While you are packing and preparing for the weekend, take a few minutes to think about when you return. What can you do ahead of time to make that return less stressful? For instance, have the kids clean their rooms and pick up the house so you don’t come home to a messy house (one of my pet peeves) or if the kids are headed off somewhere first thing Monday morning, be sure their clothes are clean and laid out for the day.
I remember coming back from tournaments on Sunday evening, feeling like I was way behind because I was not prepared for the week. Thinking and planning ahead will help alleviate some of your stress.
Traveling Sports: Enjoy the Adventure!
Our traveling sports trips gave our family opportunities to make memories while visiting new places and bonding with friends. It may not be your favorite thing to do, but it really can be fun if you are determined to enjoy the adventure together.
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