There’s Travel and Then There’s Travel

The debate rages on at a minimum once every week.  How much travel should a travel team actually do?  Here’s a comment from the Mlive Youth Hockey forum – the latest round of this debate:


89704. Here is my thought on this.

I do undestand that it is ” travel Hockey ” but why should our team drive from the Detroit area up to Traverse City, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, K-Zoo etc. ? Why not make a 100-150 mile rule from Detroit, since 90% of the lchl teams are within 45 mins from Detroit. If you don’t live with in those boundries , you have to drive to within 150 from Detroit for your home games. It is too much to ask of people to drive 500 miles round trip on a weekend and spend $600 for a weekend of hockey up north for league games when we could drive 45 minutes and get a 100 game season. Traverse City can play in the nihl, so them and Muskegon would really be the only 2 teams that would have to meet the 150 mile rule. With the cost of gas and rising hotel prices it just gets to be too much on the parents and kids. I believe that is 1/2 the reason the sport of hockey is on the decline.

by slapshotlow, 8/4/08 23:29 ET


Interesting how when making an argument the cost always seems to be the determining factor, however spending $500 on skates, $300 to $400 on a set of matching composite sticks, $100 on gloves, and another $200 to $300 on elbow, shoulder, shin pads and pants doesn’t seem to bother anyone.  It seems the folks that complain the most about this are the same ones who outfit their kids in the latest Nike/Bauer has to offer.  How many pairs of Bauer XXXX skates did you see on the ice this past year?  The first year those skates were available at $549 a pair!


Let’s look at the facts:


From downtown Grand Rapids (Amway Hotel) to downtown Detroit (JLA) is 157 miles according to google maps.  Making for a 314 mile round trip.  Let’s round up and say you made a couple of stops on the way – 325 miles at $3.80 per gallon in a car that gets 25 miles per gallon.  That means you’ll need 13 gallons of gas.  This equals $49.40 for gas for this trip.


Let’s throw in a few meals.  Let’s call it two breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner.  Breakfast let’s average $20 for 3 people, times 2 equals $40.  Lunch is maybe a bit more – say $25 for 3 people, times 2 equals $50.  And a good team dinner at a decent sit down place with a couple of beers and a nice cosmopolitan for Mom – $60.  We now have $150 total for food.


Hotel costs can vary, but on average in my experience you can get a nice hotel room for $125 per night.


Let’s even throw in some incidentals at $30 for the weekend.


Total cost:  $49.40 + $150 + $125 + $30 = $354.40.  Only $245.60 short of the $600 cost claimed above.


This does not account for carpooling, room sharing or even eating inexpensively while on the road – maybe even taking snacks and drinks with you on the trip.  You can easily conceive of cutting that $54.40 off that bill to make two trips for the $600 claimed above.  And if you are really good, you could potentially cut that down to $200 per trip cut the gas in half ($24.70), cut the food bill in half ($75), cut the hotel in half ($62.50) and incidentals in half ($15) and now you’re down to $177.20.


The real opportunity is not to limit the travel due to the cost, but rather to get creative in how we accomplish that travel.  Carpooling is a great way to do this, but normally you see 18 different SUV’s pulling into the hotel parking lot for a weekend hockey trip.  Why?  Taking snacks, eating inexpensively – bring a loaf of bread and peanut butter, bunking with other players – these are all great ways to lower the travel costs.  It takes planning and some sacrifice to pull this off, but it is absolutely possible.


And finally, the kids love to travel with their teammates – not to mention the quality time you get to spend with your son/daughter.  I don’t know about others, but some of the best conversations I’ve had with my son have been on our hockey road trips.  There is no price you can put on that time together.


See you at the rink.



Filed under AAA hockey, Tier II - A & AA Hockey, Travel Hockey

2 responses to “There’s Travel and Then There’s Travel

  1. allabouthockey

    It’s all relative to where you live. Here in Omaha, our travel teams must “travel” to find games. We have a handful of competitive teams within 200 miles and a league that we play in with those teams but really need to get to that 200-500 range to find quantity and quality. 300-400 mile trips to Minnesota are very common and we usually have a few 500 mile trips too.

    But honestly, you are correct. They are as expensive as you make them. And many of my fondest hockey memories as a child and adult are from road trips.

    To me, the distance of trips isn’t as big as an issue as the number of trips taken. I’ve seen some pretty young teams (Mite/Squirt A) playing way too many games.

    To answer your question… yes, I don’t mind at all if you put a link to my blog on yours. I did the same for you.

    It’s a great day for hockey!

  2. goaliemom

    Why do all the arguments against traveling come from Detroit people? Tragic, that you have to leave your pretty little burg to come to the sticks a couple times a season.

    Never mind that we play 3/4 of our games on your side of the state. That your schedulers do their best to get several games out of the way on one weekend over here (as they should), while even if we double up games, we still end up “in Detroit” most weekends and some weeknights. How often have you had to come to this side of the state on a Wednesday night for an 8:00 game? Who’s not thinking of the kids on that one? Schoolwork in the car is the norm here. Have you ever had a team forfeit because they “just don’t see any reason to come there”? The other team lost their 2nd place ranking because the forfeit put them under another team who were commited to the league. What lesson did the first team learn?

    If our kids want to be “seen”, they have to play east, because no one comes here to watch them (even though scout travel bills are usually paid by someone else). I realize that to Michigan Hockey (the paper) there isn’t anything on this side of the state, but maybe as parents, you could see that our kids deserve to play high level, competitve hockey as much as yours.

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