Traveling as a family evolves over time and as children grow older, we may find ourselves traveling for sports they are committed to and love. Travels like these do not have to revolve solely around the one person; instead, they can bring family together to enjoy the destination and all of the accomplishments it took to get there. These tips for traveling for sports will help make sure your athlete and entire family enjoy the trip and what the destination has to offer.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
Top Tips for Traveling for Sports
It’s funny how life changes as our children grow older. Their passions infuse our home and when we see them not only set goals, but achieve them, our admiration for them grows.
Our children are both swimmers that train multiple, if not all days, of the week. We have never forced them to train that much; instead, we have them choose, hoping their ownership in the process will lead them to their own personal goals. When our son made his first regional swim time this past fall, it was a dream come true for him and for our entire family. Our daughter, who also swims, summed it up best, “You mean we get to TRAVEL for swim?!!?” It was our first time traveling for sports and we learned a lot along the way that I hope helps other families.
Choose the Right Hotel
It only took us a few trips when our children were babies to realize that our travel is that much better when we choose the right hotel. Space is key for us. While we love our kids, we love them even more when we have just a little downtime without them each day. And you know what? They like that space from each other and, admittedly, us as well. We also prefer having our own kitchen so we can cook healthier meals and be on our own schedule versus that of a restaurant. During Winter Age Group championships in Palm Springs, we stayed at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge, which offered the space we needed and everything we like about timeshares. Whatever it is that makes you comfortable, find it in your hotel when traveling for sports.
Pack like a Pro
Traveling for sports means a lot of equipment and gear for our athletes and everything we need to for the entire family to be comfortable at the actual event. This year we packed our own food as well and ultimately ran out of space in our Cadillac SRX. Putting the mini trailer on our car gave us that little bit of space we needed so we could take everything we needed. We use one of those trailers that just provides a platform off the trailer hitch so we can drive like normal and not worry about pulling anything behind us. While my husband is the packer when it comes to putting things in our car, I am the prepper before we go. I would definitely recommend planning out what you will need and ultimately pack a week or two before.
Honor the Athlete’s Needs
Achieving the goals required in order to attend on the road sporting events takes a lot of work, so honoring what an athlete needs at the actual event is very important. Sleep, nutrition, warm ups, and rest are all critical to their success when traveling for sports.
Be Efficient when Traveling for Sports
(i.e. Get a GOOD Wagon!)
Between a tent, gear, snacks, food, chairs, bags and whatnot, the stuff we haul back and forth each day adds up. We tried to tough it out, but soon realized what a blessing folding wagons are when traveling for sports.
TravelingMom Tip: Buy your folding wagon during winter and spring because prices are lower at online stores and Costco. Prices increase during summer months because of, well, all of the sports travel and for people vacationing at beaches.
Have Tent, Will Travel
Swimming in California means many hours in the sun for our family. Sometimes it even means rain and wind, so we always take our canopy tent or make arrangements to share space with a friend who has theirs. The break from the direct sun is much needed for our kids, too, so they are not drained unnecessarily of the energy they need to swim. It’s worth the investment time and time again.
Find Joy in your Travel Destination
Regardless of where our swim travels take us, we try to find joy, especially when traveling for regional competition. There are so many blessings in travel and the beauty that surrounds us at our destination is one of them. Though the days can be long on deck, it is sunsets like this that make it all worth it.
Make Time for Fun
Our swim friends are family to us. We put in a lot of hours shuttling our kids to and from and help each other out whenever we need help. When our kids make qualifying times, we all celebrate. Because we all know just how long it can take to shave .01 off a best swim time.
When our kids make times that allow us all all to travel, we make sure we build in time for FUN. Commitment to a sport is a big deal in this day and age. Our son trains two and a half hours five days a week – and that’s less than some of his friends. That hard work deserves a payoff and being at a hotel with kids and friends who share that passion is the perfect time to party and have fun, while honoring their schedule and needs of course.