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Some travel packing tips for this life we love
Travel baseball tournaments are one weekend right after the other. The moment you pull into the driveway you have to start getting ready for the next weekend. These whirlwind weekends are packed with lots of baseball, lots of downtime, lots of hungry people and lots of driving. It’s not exactly what you might think would be good quality family time, but we are together and we make it work the best we can. That’s where all this planning comes in. I plan out the packing and details during the week so that we can make it an enjoyable family event and focus on one thing — baseball (and fun!).
Once the baseball season starts in April, it’s really non-stop until the season ends in late July. Our season is packed with tournaments nearly each weekend. While some are local, most are at a distance to where we have to drive and stay overnight. There’s a lot of planning that is involved. I over plan. That’s me. (For the record – this is the ONLY thing that I really plan.) I just want the weekend experience to be focused on baseball and fun. Folks, keep in mind that we are involved on the extreme end of the spectrum of travel baseball. So really, this could be one week out of the month for you.
And, this is tiring. It really is. It’s a lot of dedication, a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of a lot.
You might then ask me why I do this… It’s when I see my son and his enthusiasm, his dreams, his connections with teammates, his raw love and passion for this sport. He has the dedication, mental toughness, and drive to keep working, keep honing his skills. I don’t ever have to ask twice if he wants to throw the ball around outside. He complains if practice is canceled. He wants us all at his games. It’s what we do as a family, our connection. And I love the time we spend together at home and on the road. So, as much as I don’t always enjoy all the extra work, it’s worth it to me and to us as a family. This is our baseball life.
What I do during the week to prepare
We will have plans to stay at a hotel if the tournament is at least two hours away. I make reservations months ahead during pre-season.
You certainly don’t have to do all of this, but maybe it’ll give you some tips on taking it little by little so it’s not too overwhelming to do in one day. Once you are past the first few weeks, this becomes old hat.
Here’s what my typical week looks like when we have an out of town weekend tournament:
1 – Create a folder on Google Drive. The folder is named as such: Dates of tournament, Tournament name, Tournament city.
2 – Confirm hotel reservation. Place copy of email reservation confirmation in the Google folder I just made.
3 – Print directions from my Home to Hotel. Unless we are going directly to the Field, then it will be Home to Field.
4 – Create a Google map and save to the folder. Make driving directions from my Home to Hotel and save it to the map. (The map is key for finding our way around a new city. I place all destinations and points of interest on there and save driving directions. It is easy to quickly view or send the directions via text or email to teammates. I can also share the folder.)
5 – Search for restaurants (especially ones that will have room for larger groups and breakfast if our hotel doesn’t include one), grocery stores and points of interest that are local to the hotel and the fields and mark them on my Google map. It’s nice to have some suggestions if there’s some down time in between games.
Be sure to check out Top 10 things we don’t leave home without
1 – Gather essentials like sunscreen, toiletries, first aid kit, ice packs and put into one of our carryon sized bags. I have a master list of what we need to bring each week. I keep our travel items separate from our everyday items so it’s usually just a grab-n-go bag.
2 – Collect and clean items from last week’s tournament and put them all in one area of the house or garage. This would include things like: Camping chair, umbrella, cooler, blanket.
3 – Make a list of what you are missing or running low on. (I’ll do my shopping later in the week.)
4 – Check the weekend weather.
1 – Start gathering clothes for the weekend and get out the suitcases.
2 – Do laundry for what needs to be packed and is in the hamper.
3 – Wash baseball uniform and pack all pieces together. Double check that I have it all. I keep all parts of his uniform in its own bag. This is usually practice day. His uniform goes straight into the laundry when he gets home and then it’s then ready to be packed.
4 – By this date, I usually have our game schedule for the weekend. Map out addresses on my Google map. Print out directions to the field.
5 – Make a document that has game times, field addresses and opponents. Save it to my folder.
6 – Place a few water bottles into the freezer. I use these instead of ice.
1 – Buy food, drinks and items from my list that I made on Tuesday.
2 – Pack the car with any items that are ready and aren’t perishable.
3 – Each kid collects items into a backpack that they’d like to have with them in the back seat while we travel. This would be things like books, sweatshirts, pillows, candy, ipad.
4 – Check the weekend weather. Take out or add clothing items to the suitcases as needed.
5 – Fill the gas tank up. Make sure the fluids in the car are good too.
1 – Pack the perishable food in coolers. Sandwiches, fruit, hummus. Sometimes I make subs or bring a loaf of bread and some lunch meat. Use the frozen water bottles.
2 – Pack the car up with suitcases, backpacks, cases of drinks, paper products, personal items, chairs, umbrellas, box of snacks, chargers, bat bag, cleats, bat bag, directions.
3 – Double check that all parts of the uniform and equipment have been placed into the car.
4 – Clean up the house. It’s so nice to come home to a clean house!
5 – Get in! Good luck! It’s time to get on the road.
And there you have it. A glimpse into what my week looks like before we travel for our weekend baseball tournaments. And then comes Monday and we start all over again!