These travel hacks for youth sports parents provide shortcuts and ideas which will make the trip easier.
With my daughter playing travel softball, my son playing travel basketball and my youngest playing travel volleyball and basketball, we traveled a lot for youth sports.
We probably didn’t do everything right, but we managed and in the process, learned a few things that no one really told us. I share those with you as youth sports travel hacks. Learn from our errors!
Hack #1 Do your Research
If you’re traveling to a city for the first time, get familiar with the location. It’s worth it to take a few minutes to study Google Maps, locating gyms and fields and finding a hotel with easy access, as well as scoping out places to eat. (Check out my post on How to Eat Healthy and Save Money When Traveling for Youth Sports)
Hack #2 Add Time for Some Fun
Money spend on kids’ sports often cuts into the family vacation budget, so why not use tournament travel as a chance for a family get-away and explore the city hosting your tournament? Better yet, stay an extra day after the tournament (so your athlete can focus on the fun, instead of worrying about the upcoming games). Why not see what’s unique about your destination besides baseball or softball fields?
Check out Google for local points of interest; for instance if you’re traveling to Louisville, Kentucky, type in Louisville destinations. You’ll get suggestions of great places to visit.
Hack #3 Bring Games
There’s usually lots of down time in between games on tournament travel trips. I remember days when we had only one game and many hours of sitting around waiting. Whether it’s in the hotel lobby at night or under a tree outside on a blanket, a good game of Apples to Apples , Codenames, or Smart Ass–a few of our family favorites–can help pass the time and provide a great bonding experience as teammates and parents have fun together.
Hack #4 Get Into a Rewards Program
Rewards programs are usually free and can provide perks like a complimentary room when used to book the initial block of rooms. U.S. News and World Report published their list of the top 18 hotel loyalty programs based on program benefits and ease of use.
And always book hotels that provide free breakfast!
Hack #5 Audio Books
For kids who get car sick, audio books are a great alternative. You can download books or rent them from the library. This is not just for little kids. Older kids may also find themselves being pulled in by Harry Potter.
Hack #6 Pack a Travel Kit
A travel kit is merely a bag that includes things you need regularly, but don’t want to remember to pack every time you leave town. It can include things like: hair ties, Band-Aids, sunscreen, bug spray, chairs, extra socks, hair ties, Advil or Tylenol, and antiseptic medicine. When it comes time to pack for the trip, add things to it like your children’s medicine and water bottles.
Hack #7 Define Hotel Rules
There’s nothing more aggravating than staying in a hotel and not getting a good night’s sleep because kids are running up and down the halls making noise. For the sake of the other hotel guests and your child’s sleep, set a curfew of when they must be in their rooms, when lights must be out, and clarify what they are and are not allowed to do at the hotel.
Hack #8 Stash an Air Mattress
You may or may not need one, but it’s always good to have one on hand. Sometimes hotels don’t deliver on the right room and you may find yourself short one bed or maybe the kids fight because they don’t want to share a bed. Look for ones that have pumps in them so they are easy to inflate: here’s a Twin and a Queen.
Hack #9 Provide Noise
When an entire family sleeps in one hotel room together as we did often on our tournament trips, it’s not unusual that the noises of others sleeping may hinder another’s sleep. Whether it’s snoring, heavy breathing, or just restless sleeping, a little “white noise” can assist in a good night’s sleep. This one is the machine we’ve taken on many many trips. Fits easily in a suitcase.
Hack #10 Choose flexibility
No matter how much you plan ahead, there will be weekends when things will go wrong.
Like the weekend tournament we went to when our key broke in the car lock and we were stuck for hours in the parking lock until someone could help.
Or the time I drove my daughter to a day-long tournament after only 1.5 hours of sleep because we couldn’t figure out where my son was! I managed to sit through a day of volleyball and drive over an hour home and not fall asleep!
And then there was the tournament where my son tweaked his ankle and couldn’t play in any more games. Should we stay or should we go?
The ability to flex with change and not freak out at the unexpected is crucial to sane sportsparenting.
Travel Sports can be such fun for kids and families; what are your favorite sports traveling hacks?