traveling with kids

Traveling for Sports With Kids? Here’s 14 Tips!

Are you planning on bringing your kids to a major sporting event? It’s an incredible opportunity for your children to create some amazing memories, inspire them to play sports, and cheer on your country or favorite team together! 

While traveling to big sporting occasions can be a great experience for your kids, it takes some extra time and effort on your part. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to sporting events with your kids. 

General Tips for Traveling With Kids

Before we dive into traveling to a sporting event specifically, here are some general tips that can make traveling with your kids a lot easier. My brother’s taken his kids everywhere, and we’ve all had some great family-friendly fun over the years, even when they were quite young! Here’s how:

Find Family Travel Accommodation

While you might not usually be too fussy about where you stay, that changes somewhat when you’re traveling with kids. Look for lodgings that cater specifically to families, offering amenities like kid-friendly menus and play areas. 

Opt for spacious rooms or apartments that accommodate the needs of your family travel, providing comfort and relaxation after a day of exploration. Try to find accommodation that’s in safe areas, is clean, and is only a short walk to local attractions or public transport hubs. 

Vacation rentals and Airbnb are often great options for traveling with kids, as it feels more like a home, gives you more space, and can be a more comfortable experience for you and your kids. Plus, you can cook, which means you don’t have to navigate busy restaurants with tired kids. Phew!

Talk to Your Kids About Safety

Before you depart, engage your children in conversations about safety protocols. Teach them about the importance of staying close, especially in crowded places, and establish a meeting point in case anyone gets separated. 

If your kids are a bit older, introduce them to local emergency numbers and basic phrases in the local language for added precaution. Encourage open dialogue about safety concerns, and make sure your kids feel confident and safe whenever you’re traveling.

Plan, Plan, and Plan

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that detailed planning is key to a successful family travel. If I’m traveling by myself, I’ll wing it a lot of the time, but with kids, it’s a different story. It’s best to have a detailed itinerary, with activities, meals and restaurant ideas, and plenty of downtime. Plan ahead for transportation, ensuring it’s kid-friendly and easily accessible. 

Also, keep a list of nearby medical facilities, pharmacies, and essential stores handy, just in case you have an emergency. Family traveling spontaneously can be fun and exciting, but with kids, it usually just brings unwanted (and avoidable) headaches. 

14 Tips for Traveling to Sporting Events With Kids 

Kids don’t have to stop you traveling for sports – they can actually enhance your experience. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind first, as traveling to a major sporting event with your kids is definitely different than previous trips you might have done with a group of friends. Here are 14 tips for making your next sporting event with kids fun for the whole family!

1. Try to Take Them to a Smaller Event First

If you have time, and you haven’t done it before, take your kids to a local sports event to give them a taste of the action. Major sporting events like World Cups, Olympic Games, and tennis Grand Slams are huge, crowded, chaotic, and quite overwhelming for kids who haven’t been exposed to that environment before. A trial run at a local sporting event can also help you figure out whether your kids are interested or comfortable. 

2. You Don’t Need the Best Seats

While you might have strong opinions when it comes to where to sit to watch your favorite sports team (behind the corner flag and as close to the grass for me!), I can pretty much guarantee that your kids won’t care about their seats. There will be so much going on (and they probably won’t be focused on the match the whole time), so prioritize being close to restrooms and concessions over having the perfect view.

3. Get to Games Early for Warm Ups and Pre-Game Action

Arriving early is a good idea in general – it gives you a chance to get your bearings, visit the concessions, find the bathrooms, and get settled before the game kicks off. It’s also a great opportunity to watch the pre-game warmups, where the players interact with the crowd a bit more and sometimes even have souvenirs they throw into the crowd. 

4. Bring an Activity or Two

Let’s face it, asking a kid to sit still for a couple of hours is a big ask, and there’s a good chance your kids will get restless at some point. Tablets, smartphones, books, toys, and their other favorite activities can help keep your kids entertained when their interest in the game wanes. Don’t forget to bring a portable charger for your devices! 

5. Check the Stadium Guidelines for Kids

Stadiums and arenas often have specific guidelines regarding what is allowed for children, such as stroller policies, permissible bag sizes, or restrictions on certain items. The rules can differ depending on the stadium and event, so make sure you familiarize yourself with these regulations beforehand to avoid any nasty surprises at the entrance.

6. Check Stadium Amenities Ahead of Time

Make sure the stadium offers family-friendly amenities like changing stations, designated family areas, concessions with foods your kids will actually eat, or activities for kids. Check online first so that you can plan accordingly. 

7. Pack Your Bag Carefully

Just like any time you take your kids somewhere, you’ll need a well-packed bag. Make sure you check the stadium guidelines to see what is and isn’t allowed, but in general, you’ll need: 

  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Wipes
  • Warmer clothes for the evening
  • Activities, toys, or games
  • Bandaids (just in case) 

You know your kids best, so pack the things you’d usually take if you were going somewhere with them.

8. Don’t Worry if you Have to Leave Early

Especially for young kids, traveling to a sports match in person is a huge, exhausting, overwhelming event. Don’t be surprised if your kids can’t make it through a whole game, and be prepared to leave early if their patience runs out. It might pain you to walk out of a game before it’s over, especially if the score is tight, but at least it’s a good way to beat the crowds out of the stadium!

9. Invest in Ear Protection

Depending on where you’re sitting, the noise from the fans inside the stadium can be pretty loud. You can protect your kids’ ears with noise-canceling headphones, which I’m seeing more and more of in stadiums these days (and they’re adorable). Young kids will often even happily curl up and take a nap with their cozy headphones on. 

10. Get Your Kids Excited With YouTube Clips

It’s important to hype your kids up for the big event! Show them YouTube clips of some of the sports stars who’ll be playing, highlights of your (or their) favorite players. Before you know it, they’ll be as invested as you are!

11. Teach Your Kids About Stadium Etiquette 

Before heading to the stadium, familiarize your kids with basic stadium etiquette. Explain the importance of staying seated during crucial moments, being mindful of those around them, and respecting the game and the other fans watching. It’s a good life lesson for later years!

12. Create a Meeting Point (Just In Case)

In crowded stadiums, it’s easy to get separated, and it can be really scary for both you and your kids. Set up a designated meeting point just in case anyone gets lost. Make sure your kids know where it is and emphasize the importance of going there if they can’t find you. Choose something that’s easy to remember, and something another adult could help your kids find if necessary. 

13. Be Prepared to Open Your Wallet

There’s almost a 100% chance your kids are going to want something in the stadium, so make sure you factor that into your budget. Whether it’s popcorn, an ice cream, a hotdog, or a souvenir from the fan shop, reward your kids with a treat for coming to their first major sports event with you.

14. Capture the Moment

The hectic nature of bringing kids to an event like major basketball game or tennis tournament means that you’ll certainly have your hands full, but make sure you take a few moments to step back and enjoy the experience. Encourage your kids to document their experiences with your phone – it will keep them engaged and help you create lasting memories you can look back on. 

Traveling to Sporting Events With Kids: Fun for the Whole Family!

When I think about my love of sports, I realize that it started at such a young age. Even if it was just watching my brother’s high school basketball team, being at live sports events was something I looked forward to and fell in love with. So, travel to tournaments and sports games with kids and kickstart the next generation of fans! Who knows maybe your kids will be a sports traveler like you.