I don’t know that anyone who has a child starting sports intends to jump in with both feet and begin traveling the United States in pursuit of victory.
At least it didn’t start that way for my family. My oldest son was introduced to his love of running at his elementary school. When the last school sponsored race ended my husband and I looked at each other and said “surely this isn’t the end of the season, it feels like we are just getting started.”
Thus began our journey into travel track. To be totally honest, half of the time I love it and the other half I mourn the loss of our summers…just a little.
Let’s be real for just a minute, before you decide to commit to the travel sports life, it isn’t as glamorous as it is cracked up to be. Often the teams are cost prohibitive to join. That fee to join doesn’t always include uniforms, and equipment. Plus, more often than not it, certainly doesn’t include the cost of your hotel room.
So, why do we do it? Because my child loves it, he has learned the value of hard work and also discipline. Frankly, the kid has more discipline in his little finger than most adults have period. It is fun to see him meet his goals and it is rewarding to hear the lessons he learns from his failures.
Sports tourism is also becoming a big business.
Towns like Greensboro North Carolina are nicknamed the tourney – city. Meaning folks primarily come to town for travel sporting events. My most recent visit to St. Louis, revealed plans for a sports tourism complex. While Panama City Beach has actively been building their complex and it is ready to welcome visitors very soon.
Destinations that are able to pivot and cater to the ever changing needs of visitors to their city are the ones that will be able to succeed. These cities are ahead of the game, pun intended.
To successfully manage travel sports, here are the tips we have picked up along the way.
Choose a hotel chain that you love.
Why you ask? Most every major hotel chain has a free rewards system that doesn’t require a credit card. Now, they will try to sell you their card but that isn’t your thing, it is totally ok too.
Accumulating points along the way will get your perks and upgrades after reaching certain point levels. Travel enough and you can redeem for free night stays. Maybe you can put that towards a vacation that isn’t sports related.
Find fun for the sibling that is along for the ride.
It isn’t always feasible to leave siblings at home that aren’t participants in the sporting events. Not to mention that often families who travel for sports end up turning their travels into the family vacation for the summer (or when ever your travel sports may happen)
When we travel for sports, we let the youngest pick some special things to go and see and places to eat. There are cool things to see and do no matter where you end up.
Utilize cash back apps like Dosh
I have mentioned Dosh before, but in an unfamiliar town, it is nice to do some planning around the businesses who are participating in the program. Using a cash back app allows you to get some money back from the purchase you would have to make already. Dosh uses your location settings to tell you what is nearby that is giving cash back.
Start a new family tradition
Maybe you will decide to as a family find a food the town is famous for and go on a “food tour” of that food. For example when we were in Gulf Shores Alabama (not on a sports trip believe it or not) the oldest latched on to crab claws and decided to try them at ever restaurant we visited.
While my youngest (for now) gets a stuffed animal in each town that we visit so that he can remember it by.
The husband and I? We like to check out the local coffee shops so see what their vibe is like.
Spend sometime away from the team.
A team can be a lot like a family, in that you like each other but time apart isn’t a bad thing.
Often, we will book a hotel room at a different place than the team for a few reasons.
First, I may sound like the mean mom but if we are traveling to a sporting event, pool time with teammates is out of the question. At least before the big event, that is.
Secondly, because so much time is spent as a team practicing and during the actual event, sometimes you need for the time after the event to be sacred and just family time.
Of course this goes without saying, team meetings and other team functions that are mandatory, obviously need to be attended.
If after you’ve weighed the pros and cons of sports travel and it still seems like the best fit for you and your family (at least at this moment) then I wish you and your athlete a tremendous amount of luck! Some of our best memories have been made on the road for a sporting event!