Today’s youth sports programs often involve significant travel, on planes, trains and automobiles. It requires specific planning to make these travel trips safe, healthy and enjoyable for both your youth athlete and the parents who are along cheering them on. The following tips can help.
Be clear on location and logistics. Whether it’s a big city, a rural area, or an international destination, pre-planning is essential. Be clear on expectations for chaperones (if applicable), meals (especially if your athlete has allergies or special dietary needs) and team accommodations. Know what medical facilities are nearby.
Have your paperwork in order in advance. Teams typically require specific releases for traveling athletes (check with your team manager). If your athlete has medical conditions, be sure their medical information, including their insurance card, is readily accessible. If competition takes players across international borders, be sure any necessary visas and passports are up to date well in advance. Minors traveling across borders with coaches or chaperones other than their legal parent or guardian may need other release papers as well. Organizations participating in interstate competition must comply with the Safe Sport Act signed into law in February 2018.
Inquire about athletic trainers and medical services available on-site. Especially at a large facility, it’s useful to know in advance what athletic trainers and medical resources are available onsite (and exactly where) in case of an injury during competition or if a player simply needs a routine tape-up or other assistance onsite.
Consider the weather and anticipate geographic challenges. Be sure you and your athlete are packing right for the climate. Do you need extra hats and gloves or sunscreen? Be prepared for issues that could arise in particular geographies – for instance, allowing time to adjust to a different altitude or time zone.
Plan snacks and meals. If you’re in charge of meals and snacks for your athlete, be sure appropriate snacks and water are packed and that there are healthy and affordable meals available near the facility and hotel. Check the competition schedule to anticipate how meals will fit into the timeline.
Book early and save. When larger sporting events are coming to town, the host organizations typically have special pre-arranged rates for athletes at hotels near the venue. These hotels fill up fast, so it’s wise to book as soon as you have a competition on the schedule.
Share the load. With team travel, there are often many opportunities for parents to coordinate and share the load in terms of packing snacks, transporting athletes to and from the hotel – even organizing team laundry.
Understand and share athlete protection policies with your athlete. Policies designed to protect athletes typically recommend practices for, among other things, escorting young athletes safely back and forth to restrooms, etc., when they are too young to move about a facility on their own. Check your organization’s policies and talk to your child in advance so they understand the policies and are comfortable with them.
Leave the venue better than you found it. Both athletes and parents should be good ambassadors for their team and discard any wrappers, empty water bottles etc. that are lying around their space after the game.
Traveling for youth sports is a significant commitment of time and money. However, the rewards can be great. While athletes bond with teammates and meet and compete with peers outside their normal geographic sphere, parents spending hours spectating alongside other parents often forge lasting friendships. Another payback? Weekends making great memories with your young athlete.
Cristiane Carraffa Chiacchio is America’s Head of Personal Accident at AIG. AIG’s Accident & Health Specialty Markets Division is a leading provider of customized Accident & Health solutions for youth sports teams and a proud sponsor of USA Football.
For information about the accident & health insurance solutions the AIG companies offer for amateur sports organizations, recreational organizations, and educational institutions, visit https://www.aig.com/specialty.
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