Though many baseball and softball players are just starting their season, it's never too early to start planning for tournament travel and vacations.
Whether its youth baseball and softball leagues--such as Little League, Pony, Dixie or travel ball teams--coaches and players need to get the most bang for their team travel buck.
Since I'm most experienced in Little League and how things work leading up to a World Series, the planning tips below relate mostly to them. But when it comes to planning travel and reducing costs, I'm sure many team organizers could use these tips in a variety of sports.
Team Travel Tip No. 1: Get Out the Map
Try to find out where your tournament is going to be held. It's probably too early to know the actual dates of the tournament, but you should be able find out where the tournament will be located.
Once you know the location, look up the area using Google maps. Not only will this tool show you the area of the town, but if the place has a website you'll get a link to that too.
Team Travel Tip No. 2: Plan Your Route
Using Google maps you can put in your home address and find out how many miles you'll have to travel and get an estimate on how long it will take to get there. If you're traveling across several states to your tournament, this can be an invaluable tool. Better to arrive early than late or maybe even miss a game.
Team Travel Tip No. 3: Save Money on Food
When you're staying someplace on the road, look for hotels/motels that offer a free breakfast. This will really save you some money during an extended stay. Also ask the hotel staff if they know of any local food bargains you can take advantage of.
Team Travel Tip No. 4: Save Money on Accommodation
A lot of hotel/motels limit the number of people to a room, usually four. I've been able to find some that are mini-suites that will allow up to eight. This can really save some cash when you divide the cost between families. Be sure to make your hotel reservation early to take advantage of bargains.
Hint: You can make sure to avoid those "extra" charges by asking the hotel/motel to turn off the ability to make outside calls (most will have cell phones). Most hotel/motels will also be able to restrict "pay-for-view" movies too.
Team Travel Tip No. 5: Insurance
Consider purchasing travel insurance that might protect you if for some reason you need to cancel your trip. You never know if your child might become injured or ill before an out-of-town tournament begins. Sites such as Travelguard.com or Insuremytrip.com can be a possible way to go. Make sure to read the fine print to make sure the coverage meets your needs.