Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of traveling for soccer and much of that travel has been in the air. Until this last year we’d done tons of driving, but not a lot of flying. So, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve been developing some new travel strategies and I thought I’d share!
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I read on another blog about a free app called Tripit that helps you to easily organize your trips. Basically, you either give it permission to access your email, or you forward travel confirmation emails and the app organizes them into trips. You can name your trips and then compile all the information in one place. I started using it this summer and it’s super handy to access with either your computer or phone. You can also share your itinerary with other people, although my husband wasn’t a fan of the format. However, I LOVE having all the information in one place and easily accessible.
When traveling anywhere I always try to stay at a Marriott because of their great rewards program and customer service. Although many large tournaments have hotel requirements, I try to choose a Marriott whenever possible. Please note that their cancellation policy has changed- it used to be 24 hours in advance, but now is 48 hours in advance. I also try to be proactive and book hotels way in advance when I know a big event is coming up.
Just a word to the wise- if you are playing in a stay and play tournament where your manager is obligated to pick from a list of certain hotels DON’T COMPLAIN if the hotel isn’t a Ritz or a Marriott or whatever you would prefer. Unless you’ve done that job before you may have no idea how difficult and time consuming the process can be. If you don’t like the hotel, volunteer to help next time. 🙂
Booking a flight is always the most difficult thing for me because of expense and the potential for change fees. However, I recently discovered that Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees if you need to change your date/time- you only pay the difference in fare. (I’m sure most people already knew this, but it was new to me!)
As with a hotel, booking way in advance is the way to get the best price, but make sure you pay attention to change fees, layovers etc…
I got a tip from a friend about using Costco for car rentals and tried it on a recent trip and found that they have great prices and complimentary upgrades. If you are a Costco member, go to costco.com and select “travel” on the top menu. If making reservations elsewhere, make sure to pay attention to the pickup location. Sometimes you will find a much cheaper price, but the pickup location is not at the airport but a few miles down the road. (This may or may not have happened to me last year…) It’s also fun to share a car with a friend to cut down on cost.
I like to pack a little ziplock baggie with my magnetic phone holder and some extra charging cables for the rental car. I also load up the hotel address on Waze or Google Maps before leaving the plane- this all just makes life a little easier in an unfamiliar location.
OK, two words… CARRY ON. Yep, not only do you save money, but you will save so much time by carrying on a small suitcase and a backpack or tote bag. Obviously, this isn’t as easy if you are going to a cold climate, but if you can swing it, it’s definitely your best option. Your player can take a suitcase and his/her soccer backpack.
Don’t forget that all liquids must be 3 ounces or less and contained in a clear zip lock bag. One thing that I’ve been doing that has been helpful is using a basic packing list that I created and then just updating for each trip.
Again, carry on! Make sure your player packs EVERYTHING needed for playing soccer in his/her soccer backpack. This includes their ball, uniforms, socks, cleats etc… The backpack will be their personal item, so there isn’t a chance of being asked to check it in and it potentially being lost. This also makes for only one place to check to make sure they have everything! (or is it only me that does that??) Remember to remind your player take out all those old water bottles from their backpacks… you know they’re in there!
Everything else can go in their carry on suitcase. Remember that players really don’t need a lot of stuff other than their soccer gear. (This might leave you with a little extra room to sneak in some of your stuff if needed) Pro Tip- if your player gets TSA Pre Check on his/her ticket give them all the liquids because they won’t need to take them out of the suitcase.
Ok, so obviously I’m a mom so this is geared towards us soccer moms. I take three bags total- my carry on suitcase, my camera backpack and a small cross body purse that can fit in my backpack.
small crossbody purse | I keep all my essentials easily accessible in here… wallet, keys, sunglasses, lipgloss. Here are some ideas around $100…
backpack | I love to take pictures, so I usually travel with my big camera and my camera backpack. There’s also room at the top for all of my “soccer mom essentials,” my Kindle, phone charger, portable charger and some snacks as well as a side pocket which fits my umbrella (which I use for the sun more than anything). I keep all the liquids that need to be taken out during security in a ziplock bag- don’t forget to include those essentials such as sunscreen, hand sanitizer, pain relief (for both of you) and a sharpie. Although it’s not the cutest, I especially love my camera backpack which has a strap across the back which fits on the handle of my rolling carry on- this is key because it can get heavy! It also has a padded internal sleeve for my laptop. This one is similar.
20″ suitcase | My goal is to create a “theme” for each trip where all the clothes can be mixed and matched together…or I’m in a hurry and just throw a bunch of stuff in! There are plenty of fashion blogs that can help with packing lists. Since there isn’t a ton of room in a carry-on bag I wear one of my favorite wrap sweaters and tennis shoes on the plane (although it’s a pain to take them off in security) If you are going to be traveling a lot, I definitely suggest investing in great carry on suitcase. Personally, I like the hard sided “spinner” suitcases with the four wheels on the bottom. I bought ours at Costco, but here are some ideas from Amazon…I love the bright colors.
I’d love to hear more tips from other people in the comments- we can all learn from each other!! Bon Voyage…