“How ‘bout them Leafs?”
Have you ever noticed when travelling that a simple hockey t-shirt or ball cap can be a conversation starter? Of course you have! It happens all the time.
We recently returned from a trip to the United Kingdom during which my family spent four days in Scotland (Edinburgh and St. Andrews) and four days in London. The entire trip was planned around my niece’s graduation from the University of St. Andrews (and golf) which we were thrilled to attend (and golf).
Travelling in Europe has always required some degree of planning and precaution but these days – in this world – it’s an absolute necessity. I decided I should give some guidance to my kids in their packing. Though my kids generally don’t wear clothes with offensive statements, I did recommend they pay attention to what they would be wearing. One of the top considerations in staying safe in an unfamiliar place is dressing to blend in, not stand out. I think I said something along the lines of, “try not to pack anything that would draw attention to you…” As their wardrobes were revealed over the course of our trip, I’m pretty sure they didn’t get the memo! Like the traveller who sports a Canadian flag on their backpack, didn’t my kids remind whomever we encountered every day that they were Canadian, eh?!
Day one saw the Leafs jersey, the Sens t-shirt, and the Habs ball cap come out. Day two it was the Blue Jays ball cap with the RedBlacks sweatshirt. Day three – well – I think you get the picture. We were one Canadian sports franchise after another. We did not have to utter a single oot and aboot.
Everywhere we went, what my kids were wearing sparked a conversation and almost always in a positive way (but do take note: telling a native Brit cabbie that our hockey is better than their football is not at all recommended). We chatted up fellow Canadians, travelling Americans and many, many locals who were sports enthusiasts. Once in a while, another travelling hockey fan would pass us by and blurt out, “Leafs suck!” but my Leaf-loving fan is used to that (as are most Leafs’ fans, I suspect!) and would smile in return and simple say, “We’re building our dynasty!” All were thrilled to chat about hockey, baseball and football (both kinds of football!). Some days the conversations led to politics, geography, food, beer and celebrities, but mostly we stuck to what we know: sports. And to us that meant we talked mostly about hockey.
Now that the hockey season and the school year are over, many of you are looking forward to your summer vacation and summer travel. I’m sure no travel professional would recommend it, but should your off-season travels take you abroad, I recommend you pay attention to the gear you pack – and don’t forget to pack a hockey jersey or two. It’s a great way to travel and a great way to meet people!
Three cheers for hockey wear – and the friendships they start!
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