Sharing a few tricks of the trade.
As the national baseball teams get back on the field, so too are travel baseball families getting back on the road. Our family spent many years road-tripping to games and tournaments throughout the Rocky Mountain region. There was no question that the time and financial commitment was significant but as we look back, the experiences were priceless. This blog passes a few travel baseball hacks to the next generation.
Don’t unpack – Once the uniforms are washed, they go right back into the travel bag with all pieces accounted for to avoid the last minute-itis that almost always accompanies teenage boys.
Head to toe – A teammate’s father came up with this phrase that helped the entire team. “Head to toe” he would say as we loaded up, causing even the most organized player to run back for his hat or game socks. It’s amazing what can be found lurking in a young man’s bedroom when he was sure it was packed.
Ice packs and warm buckies – While we never knew what injury we would be dealing with; one or more body part would need to be iced or warmed up at some point, so our travel kit included hot and cold solutions. Muscle rubs, first aid kit (lots of band aids), wraps, and anti-inflammatories were also staple provisions.
Muddy cleats – Nothing messes up a baseball bag faster than muddy cleats so having a dedicated shoe bag helps minimize post-game cleanup.
Portable heater – Mr. Fixit made me the most popular mom in the stands when he bought me a portable propane heater. We would huddle together in our blankets to keep the heat in while the boys shed layers on the field during their workouts. When it wasn’t cold it was scorching hot, so I shared my water bottle with a built-in fan. Nothing like spritzing ice water to chill down on a hot day. I also kept frozen neck wraps handy.
Protein snacks – Our player was lean so having a selection of healthy high-protein snacks was essential. We could literally watch him fade from the stands after a couple of hours in the heat. The coaches got used to us dropping a PBJ or protein bar over the fence and knew it would provide a needed pick-him-up.
Score book – I didn’t know much about baseball when our son first started playing. In addition to plying him and his dad with dozens of questions, I found that keeping my own score book not only helped me learn but helped me track the status of the game without bothering the official score-keeper.
Stain removal – Traveling with tried-and-true stain removal supplies is a must. Whenever possible, a lengthy soak in cold water and Oxi Clean works best for uniforms. For blood-related injuries, a quick splash of hydrogen peroxide on the wound and the stain does the trick.
Travel journal – This comes under the category of something that we didn’t do but should have. It seems like hotel, restaurant, and outing choices would be easy to recall but over time, memories have faded, and we find ourselves returning to once traveled locations searching for “that one restaurant” or walking trail. Hindsight is 20-20 but if I had it to do over again, I would track the dates, locations, favorites, and not-so-favorites along with important memories.
Umbrellas and blankets – Being from Montana, we don’t get a lot of rain, but it almost always seemed to rain during spring baseball. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for it to snow. Alternatively, sometimes we baked in the sun. Umbrellas are the perfect solution regardless of the weather condition, so these were always in the travel kit along with blankets, extra warm clothes, sunscreen, hats, gloves, and chairs.
Our travel days preceded the availability of vacation rentals but if we had had the choice, we absolutely would have gone that direction. Being able to share lodging with other families, prepare meals, and offer the boys a homelike routine would have been ideal.
Without a doubt one of the greatest outcomes of our baseball days were the friendships we formed with the parents. We all had one thing in common – we wanted what was best for our boys. Now that they are all young men, one of whom recently made it to the MLB, I wish we could go back and do it all over again. We had the best of days with the boys of summer.
The opportunities for your next Montana adventure are unlimited and Cherry Creek Guest House is ready to serve as your home away.