Hockey tournaments give teams and families the opportunity to travel across the province and sometimes even across borders. These trips are more than just about hockey and can end up being the highlights of the minor hockey experience. If planning a trip to attend a tournament in the United States there is more that should go into the planning and preparation than any typical tournament. Some may check similar boxes but require a different approach or mindset.
Thank you to Weekend Hockey Tournaments for providing these tips of what teams should keep in mind during the planning stages of these exciting trips abroad. Whatever tournament you’re thinking of attending, plan as much of it as you can in advance. The better planned you are, the better experience for everyone.
In your initial team meetings, review the budget for the season and see where events like tournaments fit in to get approval from everyone. This is also where the team fundraising initiatives can make the most impact. With increased costs by crossing the border, teams will need to get creative in ways they can raise money to help offset some of the spending.
Even if you are playing in a host association outside of the OMHA that does not require them, the OMHA regulations of mouth guards and neck guards still apply. If traveling outside of Canada for a sanctioned hockey activity, Hockey Canada accident/dental coverage is considered secondary. Participants MUST purchase appropriate out-of-country medical coverage to act as their primary insurer in the country they are visiting. Always check the exclusions in the medical coverage you purchase to ensure it meets the needs of your team.
Some activities at your tournament’s city may offer group discounts for large numbers if given enough of a heads up beforehand. This ties into the budget and scheduling tips, as this can help dictate what your team will decide to do off of the ice. They are also likely more able to take on your group request ahead of time instead of showing up at the door with 20+ people.
Make sure all players and guests have a valid Passport. The last thing you want to happen is to realize that your Passport is expired and there isn’t enough time to get it renewed before the tournament. Teams should book these types of trips four to six months in advance. And of course, keep your Passport in a secure location.
Double check with your cell phone provider to get the best possible coverage in the States without coming home to any surprise fees. You’re going to want to share your fun adventures on social media over the weekend, and our phones also serve as navigation devices when in a new place.
Remember that you’re not just bringing your luggage. You’ll also need to transport your equipment bags and sticks. If flying to your location, work with the airline to get as many people on the same flight as possible, and also confirm with them their policy on transporting hockey gear.
If your tournament is close enough to drive to but far enough away you wouldn’t want to bring your personal vehicle, think about renting a bus to take you to and from the city. Depending on where your hotel is in proximity to other landmarks, you may opt to rent a car. Families can carpool and split rentals to save on costs, and also makes it easier to run errands like grocery shopping or heading into the downtown for a day.
Plan the Extra Activities in Advance
This can be the most fun part of the tournament and usually doesn’t even happen at the rink. Maximize your schedule to do something unique in the city. You never know when you’ll be back. Do your research on what the top attractions are and also the weather during that time of year. This can also determine where you want to book your hotel.
Teams also have the option to divide into smaller groups or stick with their own family if there are different interests in a limited amount of time.
Do Your Research
This applies not only to your activity planning but also with the tournament company itself. Weekend Hockey Tournaments offers Canadian teams the US team fees at par (approx. 30% savings). Ask yourself these questions: How long have they been in business? Are they a legit company? Do they have past events that you can look at so you can see divisions, levels, results offered? Do they offer Canadian teams discounts? How does their website look? Does website look cluttered, disorganized? What are the refund policies? When emailing or calling about a particular tournament, do they reply in a timely matter?
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