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The Art of the Hockey Road Trip

Toronto, ON People often tell me that they wish they could be doing what I do, and I never really know what to say to them. I don’t have special privileges or magical powers, I just have skewed priorities. I go to hockey games because I like hockey, and I travel because I like traveling. You see, I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t buy a lot of stuff for myself, and I don’t shop for the sake of shopping. I buy a new pair of jeans when the old pair rips. My “fashion” sense has never changed, and I can still wear what’s left of my clothes from the eighth grade! So I guess what I’m saying here is that my money mostly just goes to hockey. Most people take beach vacations when they save up enough cash, and well, I haven’t taken one of those vacations since I graduated FROM HIGH SCHOOL. So you see, I give up a lot to live this dream. My point is, if you want to take a road trip, then take a road trip!! Now, I may not have mystical powers, but I do have hockey road trips down to a fine science, and I’ve decided to share some of my secrets from the road, so that you, too, can embark upon your own Psycho brand hockey road trip. Enjoy!

Partner-in-crime Selection Process

Let’s begin our road trip by selecting your partner-in-crime. First of all, as you know, I prefer to road trip alone at this point, but that’s not to say I haven’t gone on great trips with my hockey friends. After all, you may find that you need someone to give you a boost to get out of your hotel room and go exploring on those days when the weather is particularly shitty. Other people can be great motivators. That said, there are definitely some toxic people to avoid on road trips. Does your potential partner-in-crime fall asleep watching TV shows or driving short distances? If so, you will get no driving assistance from this individual, and you’re better off going alone. A co-pilot who sleeps instead of staying awake talking to you is useless. Especially if you consider that you can’t even crank up the tunes to keep yourself awake because they are peacefully dozing.

Another person to avoid is the generic bimbo. Believe it or not there are people out there who can’t read maps or even properly read directions from a Google Maps print out. The nice thing about having another person in the car is that you don’t have to multitask. A co-pilot, who can’t even tell you when your exit is coming up, might as well not be there. I was unfortunate enough to have an airhead like this sticking around for a few years. However, I was lucky in that I have an inability to get lost. If I have been someplace once, I can always find my way back unassisted, which was great in those days when I only had a select few rinks that I visited frequently. Remember… GPS systems are for the weak!

The last person to avoid on your road trip is the smoker. Smokers are worse than people with weak bladders. They are constantly begging to take cigarette breaks because they can’t go more than an hour or so without lighting up. I’m all about making great time, so this kind of stuff irritates me.

Packing

I am a light packer no matter what. I don’t believe in actually checking baggage unless I’m moving across the planet for a year or two. I use a carry-on sized bag for everything, which means I have to be careful about what actually gets packed on those trips that require planes instead of cars. Refillable travel sized shampoo bottles are lifesavers. If you haven’t noticed, I change my hair colour as often as I change my mood, so my hair usually needs something a little more professional than the shit you find in your hotel bathroom. Save your money, and buy these bottles at a dollar store.

In terms of clothing, I never pack more clothes than exactly what I need with the exception of a spare set in case a flight gets cancelled, or I end up with something spilled all over myself. Back in university I was sent to the Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh as the Vice President of my sorority. We learned all sorts of etiquette and survival tips for making a good first impression, and I suppose some of it stuck. Although dresses are generally a waste of suitcase space on a multi-game hockey trip, I’ll never forget the lesson of making sure to always have a spare set of pantyhose in your purse. I don’t, but this lesson caused me to now carry ONE (only ONE) extra outfit on the road with me. I also always make sure to have a Tide pen and face wipes on me at all times.

Want the Psycho Lady advantage? Pyjamas are usually bulky and just take up precious space in your carry-on bag. Leave them at home. Sleep naked. I always do *winks at the hot guy in the adjoining room at my hotel in Winnipeg!*

The Science of the Playlist

One weekend I was in NYC for my sister’s birthday. I flew from NYC to Buffalo, grabbed my car, and hit the road for DC and my first visit to Verizon Center. But the madness didn’t end there. Right after the Caps game ended (it was a 7:30 start) I was back in the car and drove 22 hours directly to Dallas without stopping. People often ask how I keep myself awake on the road, and the answer is simple – my Hockey Roadie playlist.

There is a fine science to putting together a playlist designed to keep you engaged and awake on the road. You can’t just choose your favourite songs because certain types of music are just going to put you to sleep no matter how much you love that band. Choose songs you like, but only those that have a lot of energy. If you know all the lyrics by heart that’s a major plus. I find singing keeps me going, too. Now, make sure you keep on top of your playlist, though, and never embark on a trip if you’ve grown tired of some of the tracks. The second you notice yourself skipping over songs when they come on, get rid of them. The point of the hockey playlist is to keep your energy at a certain level. The second an overplayed song brings you down, your eyelids could be next!

I would also recommend getting satellite radio. There are plenty of stretches of highway where radio signals are limited, and finding a station to listen to can be a pain in the ass. Also, satellite radio is commercial free, which is another major plus!

Staying Awake on the Road

Of course, sometimes a great playlist just isn’t enough to keep you from passing out. If your fatigue is really bad, then you should probably be pulling over and taking a nap, but nevertheless here are a couple tips. Chances are your eyes are working overtime because you’ve been driving on unlit portions of highway for a long period of time, which is only making you more sleepy. I find that simply going to the next lit area is enough to wake me up again. Take the next exit to the nearest gas station, and let your pupils return to their normal size. I also enjoy pulling into roadside hotels and stealing their wireless signals. I have also been known to slap myself in the face to wake up, but that was on a desperate commute from Buffalo to Long Island many years ago.

Road Trip Diet

I’m definitely not proud of the way I eat on the road, but I am proud of the fact that I tend to lose weight instead of gain it while traveling. If you’re spending days in the car, it can be hard to not continuously hit the fast food drive-thru. I tend to buy my food for the road at gas stations, which also helps me save time since I can refill the tank and stock up on food all in one go. I try not to eat sugary stuff, and tend to stick to a diet of…. *blushes* SlimJims and low kcal energy drinks. Yes, I’m disgusting. While in Winnipeg I had made a mad dash to a convenience store for my usual buys, and was seen by one of the Florida Panthers. I tried to run away from him with my disgusting “meat” products, but he caught up to me at the elevators. “Just make eye contact and maybe he won’t notice what’s sticking out of your bag…”

I recommend truck stops for all your snacking needs. They always have a wider selection of stuff, especially energy drinks, and they always have plenty of sales.

Optimal Functionality

I remember back when a lot of the shiteaters trolled my site, and ran their mouth because “real” hockey fans don’t care about what they look like at hockey games. Obviously, their feeling is that trying to look good for a hockey game means you’re trying to look good for the players, and that’s just not the case. I love my road trips to get as scandalous as possibly, and quite frankly that spicy male sitting in the row behind me, or sleeping in the room next to me is unlikely to be down for the Psycho Lady challenge if I actually look like shit. Wow, just like in real life, eh? So, like all things, there is a science to looking somewhat presentable on the road, especially given that you don’t have the suitcase space to bring your full arsenal.

Hair is the big thing with me on the road. Believe it or not, my hair is naturally bone straight, and straight hair needs a lot of attention. If I didn’t “do” my hair the way I do it, it would be tangled, and blahhh all day long. My policy is to “over do” my hair in the morning, which gives me the freedom to let it fall naturally throughout the day, and be less large and Texas-like come game time. I also do this so that I am free to explore and create mischief during the day, and I’m not a slave to having to fix myself up all day long just in case I’m seated next to someone at the game, who I might want to see naked. So, for me and my straight “doll” hair as my stylist describes it, a good mousse goes a LONG way on the road. The problem is that travel-sized mousse is hard to find these days, and the product doesn’t transfer well to a refillable container. This is why I was sooooo excited to discover a powdered mousse prior to my Florida Panthers 4-nighter that actually works better than the liquid stuff, and it’s carry-on friendly!

Hair is also important for me since it distracts from my horrible fashion sense, which can only be described as “functional.” My whole life has essentially been jeans, shirt, leather jacket, repeat. The good thing is that not being fashionable makes it very easy to be a light and functional packer. This bare essentials rule applies to make up, too, ladies. Don’t pack anything you aren’t going to use! One perfume! One eyeliner! One mascara!

Superstitions

I don’t have too many superstitions when it comes to road trips these days, just general preferences, like which bridge to the US I believe is least likely to hate me for going to hockey games. In the past I used to create a trail for my credit card companies, which I believed would prevent them from freezing my card if they thought I was somebody else using it in the States suspiciously. Whenever I was at a gas station or restaurant I always made sure the total on my receipt ended in a 0 or a 5. I’m not sure if that actually worked, but my card never froze.

Another “fact” of the road… If you pack condoms in your overnight bag, you’ll never need to unpack them! Of course, when you don’t have them is when you actually need them. Best not to jinx yourself, and just buy them later!

***Bonus*** The NHL Footprint

The fact that I saw the same NHL team play twice in two different cities made me realize how much I missed having one team, and seeing them play at all the different rinks that I explore. I suppose I should figure out which team is actually mine, eh? So I can relive the magic of old, I mean. Hockey road trips are always fun with a bit or drama, and there’s nothing quite like the drama of staying at the same hotel as an NHL team. Now every time I have booked the same hotel as an NHL team it has been a total fluke, and sometimes I didn’t even know they were there until I was leaving. I heard that the Panthers were at the same hotel as me in Buffalo, too, but I never actually saw them or any trace of them the entire time I was there.

That said, it may be hard to find out where your team is staying BEFORE you book your hotel, but there are definitely some signs to tip you off that they are staying there or that they are coming. Autograph hounds, typically men with backpacks and folders, who lurk around the hotel grounds waiting for teams to arrive, or for players to go out for dinner or the morning skate. They are hard to miss. Although these men are usually in the know when it comes to keeping tabs on NHL team agendas, they aren’t always right. One time I was staying in Pittsburgh, and saw some hounds waiting outside, but there was definitely no NHL team staying at my hotel that night.

Another tip is that hotels try to make check in very painless for NHL players, so they have all their room keys and name cards laid out for them before they arrive. If you spot a table with a bunch of name cards and possibly refreshments on it in the lobby, you don’t even have to get close enough to read the names to know what’s coming. After the Panthers game in Winnipeg Tuesday night, I came back to my hotel and went to the lobby bar to grab a drink and see what types on man-stallions might be lurking around (none *whimpers*). When I retired to my room, I stopped to ask the front desk about transportation options to the airport since I was going to be checking out in 5 hours. I noticed the telltale name cards on the table behind the woman working the front desk that night. Sure enough the Leafs were en route from Washington.

Top Photo: Winnipeg! Still so proud of discovering this powdered mousse!

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One Response to The Art of the Hockey Road Trip

  1. Chris says:

    I can relate to a lot of what you have written. Pajamas? Who needs them on a road trip? I definitely need to lose the condoms from my travel bag too, that makes total sense, considering I am zero for………..

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