10/20/2014 03:30 EDT | Updated 10/20/2014 03:59 EDT

Tournament Travel 101: Tips for the Ultimate Sports Parent


You’ve accompanied your kid across half the province to provide support at the big tournament, but what now? How do you keep your other kids occupied, stave off your own boredom, or handle the ride back if your kid leaves the tournament empty-handed? Fortunately, you’re not alone in this scenario and there are solutions out there.

Many road trip guides suggest making a playlist of your favourite songs and hitting the open road. But when kids are involved, it’s not always that easy. Aside from the fact that you’re unlikely to have the same taste in music, you will also need to have a list of activities readily available in hopes of preventing the dreaded backseat question: “Are we there yet?”

A combination of old-school distractions and new-school technology can be just the solution you’re looking for when taking a road trip with your whole family. Below is a list that can help keep the younger family members engaged before, during and after their game.

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Colouring and activity packages

Start with creating activity packages before your trip. This could include activity and colouring books, (of course) crayons and pencil crayons and hand-held, travel-friendly games. When the kids start to complain, toss each of them a package and enjoy the minutes of silence.

Audio books

For kids who get motion-sick in cars, audio books are a good alternative. Invest in a few books for each child, either by downloading them or renting them from your local library. That planning will pay off when your children are absolutely captivated and engaged by Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter books.


If you can afford it, consider splurging on an iPad and load it up with downloaded or rented movies. Throw in a portable speaker and your children could be occupied for hours. Cater to different tastes with a blend of comedies, cartoons and musicals. After all, everyone should sing “Let It Go” at least once on a road trip. It’s practically a law.


If you have older children, they may have their own iPods. Why not surprise them with gift cards just before the trip? That way, they can download their newest favourite songs before the trip and enjoy along with the scenery.

Kid-friendly tours

Once you arrive at the city hosting the event, your tournament child will likely be caught up in the excitement of the game. But what about their siblings? If they’re old enough, why not see if the city offers kid-friendly events that cater to them? It might be a tour of the city or a movie day. Contact the local tourist board to see what the city offers for children.

The post-game reward

If your child doesn’t bring back the trophy, they’ll likely be disappointed or upset on the trip home. But this is your opportunity to congratulate them on their efforts. Perhaps in the form of a post-gift reward from you and their siblings? Whether it’s one of their favourite toys, a ribbon for their accomplishments or a gift card, they did their best and that’s what counts.

What are your favourite tips for a long road trip?