7 Essential items to pre-pack for sports travel

IMG_1606If your kids play travel sports, that means you are, duh, traveling a lot.  Possibly every weekend during the season, and a slew of other times in between. How many times have you unpacked the suitcase late at night in some godforsaken hotel after driving several hours only to find that you (or your precious future draft pick) have forgotten some fairly essential grooming or hygiene product?

Plenty, I bet.

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Doing homework on the road

pens, pencils, highlighter, rulerWith all the running around your family does for sports, there are times when your kids may claim they simply don’t have time to do their homework. Or clean their rooms. Or take out the garbage. Well, it is hard to clean your room if you aren’t home, but it is possible to do your homework. Home is where the heart is, right? Or in this case, where the homework is.

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Proceed Directly to Go with an E-ZPass

As we travel the highways and byways of this great land of ours (six states on our most recent softball journey), we’ve run into situations where states charge you to drive on their roads. That’s right, toll roads. Coming from Michigan, where anybody can drive on our crumbling roads for free, it is a little bit of a shock to me that when I go to your state, you’re going to charge us to use your road. And then have the nerve to to subject me to mile after mile of lane closures, orange barrels and toll booths. But that’s the way of the world, or so my husband tells me, so I figured out a way to deal with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Be prepared for winter sports travel

Snow Road

Flickr photo courtesy of doortoriver

Winter has finally hit our part of the country. We’d been expecting a rough one, based on the very plush fur on the dog’s belly, fat neighborhood squirrels, and the Accuweather.com prediction.

Well, it’s definitely here now, and way past time to get the winter weather emergency kit together before we head out for a game and end up stranded for two days like those folks on the 402 outside Sarnia last year. Or at least make sure we’ve got a 6-pack in the back like this guy who, though woefully unprepared, survived 60 hours stranded in Alaska by drinking Coors beer slushies. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Mom, can I have a dollar? How to stop the season-long cash trickle.

It happened every time we went to the rink or the fields. The second my kids spotted the concession stand or the video games, the begging would begin. At one point, I thought my name actually was Mom-Can-I-Have-A-Dollar. Between pretzels and the air hockey table, I was getting soaked for $5-$10 bucks every time we went to a practice or a game. With three kids playing a couple sports each, that’s like an extra ice bill. So here are some tactics we figured out to keep the kids from sucking up every last dollar and learn a little personal responsibility.

Playing field play date
It’s really helpful to have a ready-made rink rat playmate, so call and see if Evan’s little brother is coming to the game today and plan a rink play date. Even if the kids aren’t exactly the same ages, they’ll still have fun together and might actually look forward to hanging out at the games. And they’ll stop bugging you for money. Read the rest of this entry »

For the fans wearing fur

When we head out to the fields, sometimes we have to leave the biggest sports fan in the family at home. Our very own version of Air Bud, Gordie (named after hockey great Gordie Howe) loves to go with us but some parks don’t allow dogs. We have discovered that there are plenty of opportunities to take your furriest fan if you do your homework.

No dogs allowed

No bark at this park

Bark at the Park?
First, check with the field or park to see if pets are allowed. Many schools will have a no pet policy during the school year but will relax it for summer competitions. Call the parks and rec office or tournament organizer to find out if animals are allowed. Ask if there are any restrictions, like dogs have to be licensed, or on leash.

Hotel for Dogs
If you’re on a road trip, taking Fido may be more challenging but I was surprised by how many hotels allow pets now. Search for a pet-friendly hotel by state at PetsWelcome.com or PetFriendly.com or just look on the website of the hotel you are considering. When you make your reservation, confirm that you are bringing a pet and ask for a first floor room. Gordie has proven to be freaked out by elevators (who knew?) and going up and down seven flights of stairs with him wasn’t much fun for me. You can also check with the area Chamber of Commerce or a veterinarian for pet sitters or a doggy day care near your destination. Read the rest of this entry »