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Mom Mondays: The Road Trip, Amplified: Surviving Tournament Weekends


I’m in the offseason now—or rather my hockey player is in her offseason! I am recuperating from two local and five (yes, five) out-of-town hockey tournaments this past season. My daughter loved them all! Some involved shopping; another involved a little sightseeing, and one even involved skiing! And naturally, they all involved a lot of hockey too.

The out-of-town hockey tournament can be a bit of a brute compared to the local ones. These tournaments are always all things excessive:  too much food, too much driving, too much cheering, too much alcohol, too much loud music in the car for far too long and far too little sleep.

Over the past fourteen hockey mom seasons, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are some of my hard learned lessons.

  • Use only luggage that rolls, if at all possible. You think you’re going to find a trolley at check-in but you’re not. You think you will be loading all your luggage, hockey bags and coolers on to that trolley but you’re not. There will be no trolley to be found for miles! And if you think you can send your player off to seek out this elusive trolley, know that they’ll be sidetracked by the pool, the elevator buttons, and any teammates they happen to run into. You’re on your own. You need it: Luggage that rolls! 
  • Call ahead for in-room fridge and microwave availability. Even if the hotel doesn’t specify the availability of in-room fridges and microwaves, they just may have them available for rent—or even free on a first come first served basis. You think there will be ice for your drink but there won’t be. The ice machine will either be empty by the time you get there or out of order. And your wine needs to chill. Go ahead! Call them.
  •  Print off a map of all the arena locations and your hotel. If your GPS is like my GPS, at some point over the weekend, when you’re late to the game that is about to start early because they’re running ahead of schedule, you think your GPS will get you there but then you’ll hear the words no hockey mom late to a game ever wants to hear: “Guidance cannot be provided in this area …” Do it. Print off the map.
  • Bring a coffee tumbler. Not only will Timmies give you a discount on the ample amounts of coffee you’ll be consuming over the weekend, it doubles as a wine chiller so you will be able to walk about the hotel with your cold drink. Hotel security does not take kindly to consumption of alcoholic beverages in their public spaces. Not that I know. I just heard. Bring the coffee tumbler!
  • Carpool if you can. Yes, you can absolutely fit two adults and two kids and two hockey bags and four suitcases and two coolers in a minivan. Totally. Because if you have to work on Monday after an out-of-town tournament weekend, you might need a little catnap on the ride home. This is something you can’t do while driving—and asking your fourteen year old to drive while you sleep is frowned upon by the OPP. Carpool!

Every hockey season I learn something new about hotels and out-of-town tournaments. And every year some calamity occurs that makes me palm slap my face and think, “When will I learn?” Hopefully these little morsels will help you avoid some pain.

Three cheers for out-of-town hockey tournaments! And for rolling luggage, mini-fridges, maps, coffee tumblers, and carpools!

What advice would you have to survive an out-of-town hockey tournament weekend?

Tags: minor hockey

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