Boldly go, with customized sports trip maps

Bluewater Bridge

Get your passports ready.

I admit, I’ve been around a little bit. Around Cincinnati, OH. Around London, ON. Around Chicago, IL, Newmarket, ON, St. Louis, MO and, oh, you get the picture. And by “around,” I mean all around–fields, rinks, schools, restaurants, shopping plazas and more. Usually, I carry a pile of printed maps, addresses, schedules and my not-so-trusty Garmin. But I figured there had to be a better way to navigate. And there is: Google Maps.

Boldly go where no sports parent has gone before
Create a Google Map to chart the course for your next tournament or sport travel destination. Sure, you can plug the address of the field or rink into your GPS or smart phone but that doesn’t give you the oh-so-helpful big picture view you need when you’re traveling. Google Maps has some awesome advantages over your Nav system:

  • See the geographical relationship between playing locations, hotel and the rest of the community.
  • You can plan team events, like dinners or team gatherings, and know the relative location.
  • It’s easy to search for and find things, like restaurants, sporting goods stores and the beer store, near where you will be going.
  • See reviews, if they’ve been created, and pictures of stuff nearby.
  • Share the map with the whole team so everyone knows where they’re going, even that parent that always gets lost and leads unsuspecting followers the wrong way down one-way streets.
X marks the spot

I created this map for our softball team’s trip to Florida. Families stayed in 4 locations, and we played at 4 different fields so the potential for comic mishaps was very high. House icons indicate lodging and push pins mark each field. If you clicked on the listing in the left column, you got more information, like addresses and photos. The house listing also had which families were staying there.

Other cool stuff you can do
When you are adding the locations, you can customize each listing with other information, like the game times, opponents or which jersey to wear. You can make your page public, which means that anyone can view it (they’d have to be searching for it) or make it private and issue email invitations through a direct link.

Here’s a map I made for our hockey tournament in London, Ontario. It includes the rinks, hotel and restaurant for team dinner. Each location has the game time so no need to carry around that separate schedule. Click  “View Larger Map” for the whole enchilada.

One handy page
It’s really the sum of all those features that makes the Google Map page the best thing since heated car seats–it puts all the information you’ll really need in one handy web page. It’s like having a special website created just for the trip. It’s also easy to add locations on the fly and keep everyone updated. Save the link to your smart phone or laptop for quick access and you won’t need to carry around a pile of papers all week.  Oh yeah, and it’s FREE, a big plus in the Trophy Mom’s book. All you need is a Google account to create one. Here’s a quick video overview of how to create a custom map.

Do you have any great map uses or navigation ideas? How do you get around? Please share in the comments.

P.S. As a special gift to my readers, here’s a link to the map I created of every ice rink in the state of Michigan. Enjoy!

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