On the Road Again: How to Survive a Derby Road Trip

23 May


We’re in the height of derby season, and what does that mean?  Derby road trips!  In fact, I’m headed out on one myself (Quebec City, here we come!).

Derby road trips are amazing.  They’re fun, they’re a great way to bond with your teammates (as Joy Collision says shared biological experiences bond a team like nothing else), and they’re a chance to have wicked adventures.

They’re also a chance to be trapped in a car for 8+ hours with girls that you see 3-4 times a week, along with their cases of stinky gear, trying to navigate to oftentimes hard-to-find arenas.  Hm, interesting predicament.  Chance for awesome fun – absolutely!  Chance to be cranky and sick of each other by the time you get there – yes ma’am!

So, how to you survive, nay, dominate a derby road trip?

1.)  Drive/Room with like-minded people (but don’t let that stop you from driving/rooming with new friends too.

It’s important to fill your car and/or hotel room with people that won’t make you crazy.  That’s not to say that driving with girls you don’t know will be a bad experience.  Often some of my best trips were with girls I knew very little, since being trapped in a car together forced us to get to know each other and find common ground (other than derby).  If you want to get to bed early, try not to be in the party room.  If you want to make sure to hit the road bright and early the day after your game, make sure your car-mates are on board.

2.) Have a schedule, but be open to unexpected fun.

I’m sort-of Type A.  I like to have everything organized all of the time, so I like to run a pretty tight ship when it comes to my road trips.  I have audiobooks on hand if the conversation lags (silent car for hours on end, not fun, trust me),  I have car games to play when stuck in traffic, and I try to plan my rest stops as best I can in advance.  Stuffy, right?  Yep.  And I know this about myself.  So, that’s why, for me, it’s important to remember that if we pass something cool or exciting, it’s okay to spend a bit of time there.  The only thing you *really* have to do on a derby road trip is get to the arena on time – so allow yourself time for unexpected adventures.  They’re often the best part of your trip.


3.) Bring snacks and a cooler/Check out local restaurants in advance.

I like to eat pretty healthily (as best I can).  I track what I eat.  Not having agency in my food choices freaks me out a bit, so I like to have healthy options along the way.  Traveling needn’t be a reason to completely derail your nutritional plan – and derby girls should try to eat like the athletes they are.  I research cool restaurants in my destination city before I leave, and I check out their menus.  I keep a cooler with water and snacks in it for the ride.  Having a solid plan helps you stick to your healthy habits.

4.) Keep the trash talk to a minimum.

Yep, where there’s derby there is drama.  But that doesn’t mean that you need to talk about it for the whole trip.  Instead of spending all of your down time getting riled up about the things that bother you about your league/your leaguemates/the team you’re going to play/the refs/etc., talk about what’s awesome about your league/your team/the refs.  Talk about strategy, and what you need to do to be even more awesome – both before and after the game.    Talk about things that aren’t derby so you don’t burn out.  Getting down on the things that irk you will only make the trip feel longer.

5.) Wash your filthy gear.

4+ skaters, 4+ gear bags, sweaty bout, heat of summer.  Blerg.  Wash your gear before you leave so that at least the ride there is pleasant.  Your teammates noses will thank you.


6.) Finally, pack smart. 

I was a Girl Guide, so I’m always prepared.   Here’s what I pack:

  • Uniform, gear, tools, tape, sharpie, scissors, extra helmet covers, the usual stuff
  • Clothes, but not really many of them, since most non-drive time will be spent in an arena and trunk space is at a premium
  • Change of wheels (for floor variety) or vinegar/rosin
  • Snacks and a cooler (for the car and the hotel)
  • Cash (for buying merch and cool stuff along the way)
  • A bathing suit (most hotels have pools or hot tubs)
  • My own pillow (I hate hotel pillows, they are way too squooshy)
  • Phone Charger (and phone)

Derby trips are fantastic, they often end up being the best derby memories that you create.   Remember to take pictures.  Remember to respect your teammates.  Any tips I’ve missed?  I’d love to hear from you.

Have fun derby trippin’!

I would totally go on a trip with these guys.

I would totally go on a trip with these guys.


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