There are few things that go together better than baseball roadtrips: both are American traditions with rich histories that promise a new and different experience in each new city. A Baseball Roadtrip, as with any themed roadtrip, requires more planning than your average roadtrip; however, with that extra work, comes extra rewards. While this year's baseball season is reaching the home stretch, this is also the perfect time of year to start planning a Baseball Roadtrip for next summer.
The key to planning a successful Baseball Roadtrip, as with any roadtrip, is to define your goals for the trip. For a Baseball Trip, this can be as grandiose as trying to visit all 30 major league parks, to as simple as trying to fit in a minor league game as part of a more general roadtrip. Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your trip, you can get to work on the details.
The biggest logistical hurdle of a Baseball Roadtrip is scheduling. While on a typical roadtrip, you can drive from city to city in a straight line, on a Baseball Roadtrip you must plan your arrival around when that city's home team will be having a home game.
The first key to overcoming this obstacle is to start planning early. Major League Baseball teams start releasing their schedules in mid-September, although some teams wait until as late as November before announcing their schedule to the public. Once you know when the teams are playing, then you can move on to laying out your schedule.
The difficultly of laying out a plan will depend upon on the size of the Roadtrip. A trip with just a few parks will be much easier than an attempt to hit all 30 Major League parks. The key for all of it is to be flexible. Baseball trips by their nature tend to be inefficient in terms of mileage, and it is likely you will have to back track and zigzag to hit all of the places you'd like to see.
When working on your schedule, also don't forget to look at the game times, and consider how they will affect your traveling. A baseball game will likely take 4 to 5 hours of your day, by the time you factor in not only the game, but also the time it takes to arrive and leave the stadium. This is especially important to remember when planning long drives between stadiums and when you plan to see a day game after seeing a night game. For example, The drive from Chicago to St. Louis can easily be made in a day. However, if your game in Chicago doesn't get done until 10 pm, and you need to be in St. Louis for a game at Noon the next day, you could be putting yourself in a dangerous situation where you have to drive much of the night. This is especially problematic if you've already spent several hours driving before seeing that night's game.
Staying fresh and avoiding burnout is also very important to having a successful journey. For that reason, fitting in at least a few "off days" into your schedule. will greatly improve your odds of having an enjoyable trip that is memorable for the right reasons. As much fun as watching a baseball can be, if you push yourself too hard, your trip will become a chore. Having a few days where you can explore a city, sit around a campsite all day, or just have a day to drive without a deadline to reach your destination will make the trip both easier and far more enjoyable in the long run, even if it means you can't see all of the places you originally hoped to visit.
Once you have your schedule outlined, then you can start working on the details of your traveling, including figuring out how you are going to get into the games you will see. There are some games, like any game at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field and rivalry match-ups that quickly sell out. This is another reason to plan early. If you know which game you want to attend, you can purchase your tickets from the box-office the day the tickets go on sale, typically in January or February, depending upon the team. If you aren't successful in getting those tickets before the game sells out, you may be stuck looking at other options like ebay, ticket brokers, or street corner scalpers.
Obviously not every game will sell-out, and in those cases where you know tickets on the day of the game, you might consider the advantages of waiting to purchase tickets. Waiting to purchase tickets will keep more flexibility in your trip, because you won't feel obligated to attend a game if you want to change your itinerary while on the road. There are also cost advantages, as tickets purchased at a stadium typically don't include the service and shipping fees that come with tickets purchased over the phone or on the internet. For those willing to practice their negotiation skills, there is almost always the option of buying resold tickets outside the park. While it can be a little unnerving trying to negotiate with a scalper, quite often the patient can find very good seats for well under face value.
Finally, before you depart on your journey, there are a few things worth researching before hitting the road. Finding out how much parking is available near the ballpark, or if there are opportunities to park away from the stadium, and take mass-transit to the game can save you both time and money. It also makes sense to research lodging possibilities. If you are planning to stay in hotels, then making reservations should be considered for at least a few nights of your trip. Camping is also a very good option for this type of trip, however, it does require to more work to find campgrounds that are on the outskirts of cities.
I try to take a baseball-themed roadtrip every year, sometimes to major league parks, sometimes to minor league park, and sometimes to a mix of both. I think baseball is one of the best reasons to hit the road, and I hope these tips will help encourage you to undertake your own Baseball Roadtrip.