Traveling for sports can be a ton of fun for a youth sports team. It’s a chance to play completely new teams and go up against great competition; spend time and bond with their teammates, have a fun weekend away from home and more. But for the coaches and parents organizing the trip, traveling with a youth sports teams involves a lot of logistics. Even something as simple as eating dinner can get pretty complicated.
Here are four dining tips when traveling with a youth sports team:
1. Make reservations.
Not every restaurant in town is going to be prepared to handle a dozen hungry soccer players and several coaches/parents at the drop of a hat. Call ahead and see if you can get a reservation at a local restaurant so they know you are coming! This is especially important if you are traveling to a big tournament with lots of teams. If the restaurant selection is limited you can bet there will be a lot of competition for those tables to ensure everyone gets dinner at a reasonable time.
Also ask if there are any kind of group discounts or pre-planned menus you can order to save on time and money. For example, if the local pizza place knows you’re coming they might be able to have several pies ready to go the moment you walk in the door so your starving team isn’t waiting too long to eat. It also simplifies and streamlines to the ordering process.
2. Find out who on your team has special dietary needs.
Food allergies (peanuts, wheat, shellfish, eggs, etc) are becoming more and more common and it’s essential to plan your team meals accordingly. If one of your kids has Celiac’s disease than the pizza joint probably isn’t the best option (unless they have gluten-free crust or your player is okay with just a salad…). If someone is a vegetarian or Kosher that’s also something you need to account for. You don’t want to leave one kid stranded with no dinner! Dealing with dietary needs can get a little tricky and does make traveling a little more complicated but there’s no way around it—your team needs to eat and eat right!
3. Pack healthy snacks for in-between games.
Big tournaments usually have snack stands and food carts but your team can’t survive a long day on ice cream and nachos alone! Save money and ensure your team is getting the right nutrition by packing healthy snack options for in-between games. Things like fresh fruits and vegetables (apple slices, carrot sticks, etc), low-fat cheese snacks, and granola bars (as long as they aren’t too sugar heavy) are all great options to have on hand. They also make great snacks for the hotel and keep your team away from the vending machines.
4. Make sure everyone has a water bottle.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! That needs to be your team’s motto when traveling for a sports tournament (it really should be your motto all the time). Avoid super sugary drinks like sodas or juice boxes and definitely keep energy drinks away from your team! Water should be their go-to drink, followed by sports drinks like Gatorade as needed.