For many sportscasters, travel comes with calling games. Whether it’s a quick trip down the road to the high school gym, or a cross continental flight, you’re going to be spending a lot of time packing gear into bags and around the county, state, country or world. So that makes WHAT you bring on those trips all the more important as you want to ride that very fine line between bringing what you need, and bringing too much. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years:
1. Packing only the broadcast gear you NEED
Go through your gear before you leave and make sure that you have everything that you need, but only what you need. My travel bag above, while admittedly looking like a bit of a rats-nest of cables there, is a finely tuned piece of equipment that carries only what I need and no more. Inside the main compartment are two headsets, a mixer, cables to get from my mixer to my laptop and my laptop itself (in the sleeve). No more, no less.
The middle compartment is for files, and that has my Sportscaster Life Hockey Scorebook (also available for baseball, basketball and football), a notebook and my spotting boards or game prep for that night. The front pocket carries my Zoom h4N recorder, a stationary case with all the necessary writing tools, the power cable for my laptop and that’s about it. I essentially empty it and repack it before and after every broadcast. The only thing I have in there ‘extra’ are a couple of spare AA batteries for my recorder and a phone cable to charge my phone during the game if needed.
A great way to ensure you’re not leaving anything behind is through the Sportscaster Life Road Trip Checklist. You can find it in the Resource Library.
2. Get the most from your space
Play with ways to store and are packing your gear so that you can get the most of what’s available. The above photo is a few years old, and I’ve adjusted my way to storing my headsets by folding them in and then rolling the cable inside the gap in the middle. The boom mic then runs adjacent to my mixer allowing it to be supported by both the mixer and the foam padding I have in the bottom. It’s saved me lots of room and allows me to take an extra handheld microphone (and XLR cable) for trips where I know I’ll need that as opposed to using my extra headset.
I’ve also played with postioning in my front pocket so that things like my recorder and pencil case don’t make the pocket too bulky. When you’re storing this gear on a bus, or if you want to take it on a plane…size matters. And playing around with how I’m packing things into this bag has meant I can shift it easily into overhead bins when needed.
3. When packing your clothes, bring extra
This seemingly goes against the two points above which are both about conservation of space and resources…but when it comes to clothing it helps to bring a couple extra of a few items. Many of my road trips are three day affairs. We leave on a Friday morning and return Sunday night. So in addition to the clothes I’m (hopefully) wearing, I bring two changes. However after being burnt a couple of times, I always ensure I have a third, at least partial, set of clothes for the weekend.
You never know when your bus will break down, or weather will change travel plans, or games get rescheduled. And speaking from experience, it’s much nicer to call a surprise game, or travel on an unexpected 4th day with a fresh pair of underwear.
BONUS TIP. Two sets of toiletries
This one is the most recent of my travel hacks and has been a life saver for me. If you can, create an exclusive travel bag for your morning routine essentials. I’ve left home many times without a toothbrush or hair gel or deodorant…and it can sometimes be difficult to find a store that you can get to within walking distance of a hotel or within your team’s schedule for the weekend. So for a small investment at the drug store at the start of the season, I have two sets of toiletries.
Hair gel, deodorant, electric toothbrush, big tube of tooth paste, razor and shaving cream at home. Hair gel, deodorant, manual toothbrush, travel toothpaste, electric razor on the road. The kit just lives in my travel duffel bag and means I’ll never leave home without what I need. Monitor levels on the items you take with you and replace as needed…but you’ll never be without a key item again.
Travelling as a sportscaster is one of the perks of the job. We get to see some amazing places during our seasons and visit communities big and small. However that experience can turn ugly if you’re not packing the right way and either lugging too much stuff, or not packing enough. Hopefully these tips allow you to refine your packing moving forward.