Is your little one excelling at fencing? Congratulations! You just might have a real prodigy on your hands. If you’re considering entering your first tournament or competition, know that often at least a modicum of travel is required. When you have children in tow, both long and short trips can become challenging; little ones get bored easily and restless in the car, and they may not get enough rest on the way. That makes for a cranky, tired competitor — certainly not what anyone wants.  Use these six tips for traveling to competitions to ensure that you’re well-prepared for both the trip and the fencing tournament afterward.


Bring Healthy Snacks


If your destination is more than 30 minutes away from home, pack protein-rich or stable sugar snacks for kids to nibble on in the car. Avoid junk; it’ll just cause a sugar crash a few hours later, potentially reducing your little one’s performance. Halved boiled eggs, orange slices, sliced chicken breast, and mixed nuts all make an excellent pre-performance snack. Avoid the temptation to stop for take-away; most options are much too heavy and they could even cause stomach or muscle cramping.


Pack the Paperwork/Uniform/Necessities


Need entry forms? Be sure to pack these well before you head out. There’s nothing worse than reaching your fencing tournament and realizing that your paperwork is sitting at home on the table. Likewise for any uniforms, shoes, or badges your child must wear while competing. The best way to sort this out is to have a small trunk or suitcase available at home; keep tournament info tucked inside it at all times and you’ll always be ready to go.


Make Travel Time Stress-Free


In addition to planning well in advance, you should also strive to make the trip itself as stress-free as possible. Whenever possible, bring activities to distract and relax your kids for the car. Video games, coloring books, and DVD players with movies are all an excellent choice. Avoid grilling little ones on tournament specifics or repeatedly making mention of winning and losing; this is akin to getting a poor sleep the night before an exam – it’s detrimental.


Stop and Stretch


Quality fencing performance requires flexibility, something that spending time inside a vehicle just isn’t conducive with. If you’re driving for longer than an hour, stop the vehicle and let kids climb out for a stretch. A few basic yoga stretches at a local park can do wonders for the muscles, and a bit of playtime doesn’t hurt, either. Traveling in cold weather? Use seat warmers to keep muscles warm and limber (not to mention improving seat comfort).
Parenting a child who loves to fence doesn’t need to be an experience that’s stressful. Above all else, prepare for your fencing tournament well in advance – where will you stop? Where will you eat? Where will you stay? Who will watch the other children between performances (if you have more than one)? What items need to come with you? Make a checklist and ensure that you have everything sorted at least a week in advance. If you still have questions about how to make the most of your tournament time, speak with your coach directly.