Hockey Family Road Trip 101

by Sharon Enck aka PuckGal
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Travel in club hockey is a necessary evil. Tournaments and invitations from out of town teams are the norm and part of the fun of playing. We live in Phoenix, AZ and before this year, our travel has consisted of one weekend in Flagstaff, AZ, one weekend in Las Vegas, NV and one in Anaheim, Ca in a single season. Well, my goalie must be growing up with her sassy, second-year, squirt self because this season, it’s been three weekends in Flagstaff, one in Vegas and one in Anaheim with a random game in Prescott, AZ thrown in for good measure. I know that may not sound like a lot to some of you with older players who are travelling even farther and more frequently, but think back to your squirt days and you will probably remember the overwhelming sense of “we are going where?”

Now, travelling with kids in general is exhausting, but with a hockey player, magnify that about 50 times and you learn some things along the way.

Sharon and McKenna

Here are some of my favorite hockey travel tips:

  • Take two of everything: gear, clothes, underwear and socks just to name a few things. Yes, don’t forget extra underwear. During one our last trips, my daughter forgot hers. I had to drag one of her male teammates to the store to buy extra pairs—he may be scarred for life!
  • Check the equipment bag yourself. If you have a younger player with memory issues— that would be any of them under 18—make sure the essentials are there. Bring plenty of hockey tape, wax, hair bands, a screwdriver for repairs and extra skate laces, etc. Make sure you have the jerseys too.  I have seen many a player with their number hockey-taped to their back.
  • Know the climate and plan accordingly. If you are from the desert (guilty) and going to a snowy area, bring water-resistant footwear, hats, gloves, etc. Don’t ask me about my daughter’s ruined, suede boots from a recent Flagstaff sledding incident. If you are travelling the other way, bring sunscreen and climate appropriate clothing/footwear. There is nothing more uncomfortable than sweating in that thick hoodie and boots on a beach.
  • As for hotels— do your research. Some tournaments are “stay and play” so you know the accommodations will generally be acceptable, but for other situations, don’t get caught in a room where you don’t want to walk around barefoot. And speaking of hotels, double check the reservation. You might think you’re in the right Holiday Inn but how many do you think there are in that town?
  • Timing is everything.  Just because Google maps says it should take 30 minutes to get from your hotel to the rink doesn’t really mean it will. It could end up being 2 hours due to traffic, or worse yet, construction.
  • Bring provisions. Healthy snacks and water are all good for plane/car rides but equally important for the hotel room; it also prevents you from spending a fortune eating out and from making bad nutritional choices.
  • Don’t have fun. Yeah, I said it. Don’t have fun. The trip is about hockey, not about sledding, skiing, beach going or amusement park wandering. All it does is wear everyone out—most important your player— or worse, injure them. Take a vacation when the season ends. Yes, I know that I’m a buzzkill.
  • And last but not least, don’t get a stomach flu which leaves you stranded for 6 hours in a Howard Johnson’s bathroom—enough said!

 Most of this is pure common sense but trust me, I have been caught in several of these scenarios at one point or another. What are your favorite travel tips for taking a hockey player out of town? Have you had a nightmare or embarrassing experience to share that might save your fellow hockey parents from the same experience? Looking forward to hearing from you.


Sharon Enck, (aka PuckGal) lives and breathes hockey in, of all places, Phoenix, AZ. She has covered the Phoenix Coyotes for several years and her blog, “Covering the Five Hole”, is dedicated to the antics of her goalie daughter, McKenna, and anything related to being a hockey mom. The surly in Surly Gurl Media, Sharon is also a freelance writer and social media manager. Visit Sharon and McKenna at her blog site, PuckGal, and she can be reached at