Travel. It’s part of the job. If the idea of sitting on a bus with sweaty, stinky athletes for hours at a time (and sometimes overnight) doesn’t appeal to you, then sportscasting is not the career for you. As I covered on my Five Myths about Sportscasting article, unless you’re top network talent…be prepared to slum it and travel with the group.
That being said, travel can be some of the most fun and rewarding parts of the sportscasting journey. It allows you to bond with players and staff and become a closer and more tight knit group. But to make surviving those road trips easier, there are a few essential bits of gear that you need to have with you. Here’s my list of eight must haves on the road.
Disclaimer: I’m not including things like your laptop or cell phone because EVERYONE takes those on the road. Those items are a must have for broadcasters, let alone long road trips. I’m also not including gear such as headsets and mixers for the same reason.
Tablet/iPad – This one could have snuck in with the laptop and been excluded from the list but it’s different enough to warrant inclusion and it’s also one of the first things I use on the road. But it’s not just for movies and general entertainment that I use my tablet (a Samsung Galaxy Tab S), I also create media on it too. For a few bucks I bought a video editor app which allows me to import movies, edit and export to YouTube. I make sure before I leave the rink after a game that I download any game highlights from our PPV system to my tablet, I use the travel time back to the hotel to edit and have it ready for upload. Saves me 30-45 minutes in the hotel room which equals 30-45 minutes more sleep!
Travel Tablet mount – I got this as a gift from the trainer on the team I was working for in the past…and it was amazing. Wrap it around the seat in front and it gives you an airplane style screen and a handsfree movie watching experience.
Battery Pack – Pokemon Go made them necessary, but a good battery pack is worth its weight in gold. Charge your phone and tablet to make sure you have plenty of juice on those long trips. The one I bought was about $40, and 10,400maH (milli-amp hours). It charges my tablet a couple of times and my phone a few times on a single cycle. It also has two USB plugs so I can charge multiple things at once.
Pillow – Especially on overnights, a good pillow is worth its weight in gold. Wedge against a window, have against your back or lay on the ground. I never travel without my pillow from home.
Camping mats – To follow the sleep theme, inflatable camping mats are probably my number one non-tech thing to take on the road. After a couple of years of trying to sleep sitting which failed miserably, I found that I could wedge myself on the ground. I would slide into the space between my row and the row in front. It was snug, but on a bus where you’re winding on a highway, snug was good. The mats take away a lot of the vibration from the road/engine, plus keep your back warm on cool overnights. A couple stacked plus a pillow feel almost as good as a mattress.
Noise Cancelling Headphones – This too almost got included with laptop and cell phone, but it’s important enough to include here for obvious reasons. Zone out, watch movies, listen to music, avoid the droll of the engine.
Warm/Comfy Clothes – The teams I’ve worked for have all had a pretty strict dress code, and rightly so. Off the bus it was always slacks and a golf shirt at minimum…if not suit and tie. On the bus, especially staring down the highway of a 12 hour overnight trip it was fair game. I always made sure I had a hoodie and track pants at the top of my bag so I could change as soon as I got on the bus. Plus one that was big enough, especially in the hood, would double as an eye mask.
Candy/Chips – If you have a significant other, chances are they’re not with you on the road. Long trips, particularly at the end when you’re heading home can be the perfect opportunity to sneak in a few favourites.
That’s the list! Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below.