Logging hundreds of kilometers on a rental car with hockey-crazy friends in tow. Cheering on your favourite teams multiple times in one week. Raising a glass of local brew alongside hometown fans…
For hockey lovers with a taste for adventure, a hockey road trip is the ultimate way to celebrate Canada’s most treasured game.
Be warned—organizing a hockey roadie is a lot of work, but if done right, it’s also a lot of fun. Here’s how to plan the ultimate hockey road trip.
Invite one or three friends
But not two or four. Why? Because travelling as a pair or a foursome will make everything easier. Tickets (especially resale tickets) for seats beside one another are harder to find in odd numbers and in large numbers. A group of more than four people will need more than one rental car and more than one hotel room. Then there’s the potential for clashing personalities. Invite too many people and you risk more drama happening in your car seats than on the ice.
Have an objective
Before you dive into planning, you’ll need to decide what kind of hockey road trip will leave you most fulfilled. Do you want to follow your favourite team on the road? Maximize the number of games attended? Combine Pacific division hockey with Pacific area tourism? Pay tribute to the “Original Six”? Each kind of hockey road trip will have its own budget, duration, and style. Knowing your hockey road trip goals from the onset will make it easier to pick your games and plan accordingly.
Start planning in July
You’ll ideally start planning your road trip before the season even starts—in early summer, when the NHL schedule is first released. This not only improves your chances of snagging affordable tickets and prime seats for the games you want to see, but also gives you plenty of time to figure out budget, accommodation, and driving routes.
Create a roadmap before purchasing tickets
Like all road trips, a hockey roadie is all about coordinating details. Where you need to be and when, driving time and directions, where you’ll stay and how weather, traffic and other variables will affect all of the above. Once you have an idea of which games you want to see on what days, open Google Maps and start plugging in your destinations to make sure they’re feasible. Allow enough time to reach each city, plus extra time for road trip breaks, meals, sightseeing, hotel naps, and potential mishaps.
Do as the locals do
Follow the hometown fans’ lead in each city. Grab a pre-game dinner at their stomping grounds and head out for post-game libations at their go-to watering holes. Tap into the local superstitions and traditions—is there a specific chant they sing pre-game? Is there a drink they order for good luck? Joining in the local celebrations will make every stop unique and your road trip that much more memorable.
Take home a souvenir—but make it meaningful
Whether it’s a vintage poster from the city you’re visiting that would make a worthy addition to your den, a limited-edition jersey you’ll wear on future game nights, or simply a photo of your crew in front of the Stanley Cup, make sure you’re making memories, not waste (when in doubt, channel your inner Marie Kondo - does this novelty Calgary Flames bottle opener actually bring you joy?). If you want to take home a token, make sure it’s something meaningful that you’ll actually use.
And as always, be respectful
In Canada, hockey is treated like a religion with customs all of its own (as Justin Bieber learned the hard way, if you’re invited into a team’s locker room, you must not, under any circumstances, stand on their logo). Do some research on the history of a team before you arrive—is a beloved player recently back on the ice following an injury leave? Maybe hold the boo’s. Trash-talking is all part of the fun of the game, but make sure to keep it light—if you’re not a fan of the home team, stay quiet about it; as an out-of-towner, loudly lambasting the hometown heroes is not a good look.
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