A Coach's Guide to Planning an Away Tournament

When you got into coaching, it was probably because you’re an expert in your sport, you’re a proficient manager of people, and you’re a shrewd game planner. You know how to teach the fundamentals of your game and help your players improve on them. You likely didn’t get into coaching so you could book hotels and plan trips — but that’s the reality of managing a travelling sports team. If you dread the logistics, we’re here to help. Here’s your guide to planning your team’s out-of-town tournament.

How to pick the right bus for your trip

Choosing the best bus for your tournament can be a bit like game planning for a big matchup; it requires you to assess your team, evaluate the challenges ahead, and make a timely decision that sets your players up for success. Start with your roster — how many players do you have? Depending on how old and how big they are, how much room will they require? Next, consider the trip itself: How far are you travelling, how much equipment are you bringing, and what other needs will the team have? Our four main bus types offer a range of amenities, like air conditioning, entertainment systems, and bathrooms. The coach bus best accommodates the team bringing lots of sports equipment along. The school bus — not just for school trips! — is good for shorter trips. The time and distance of your trip is one of your most important considerations, since you’re paying for your driver’s time. That will make a greater impact than the price difference between the different bus models. For visual types, coaches that like to draw up their plays on a big whiteboard, you’ll appreciate our infographic guide to choosing a bus type, a surefire way to ensure you make the right play call in a pressure situation.

For team of 15 players or less, a sprinter van may be the vehicle best suited for you. A sprinter van is a type of luxury passenger van that has sapcious legroom and amply storage space. Bus.com offers simple sprinter van rentals that can be reserved in our online trip builder.

When to book your bus

In baseball terms, you’ll want to reserve your charter bus in the first inning. In other words, right away. In real terms, six months ahead of the tournament or away game is a good guideline for booking that bus. Now, we know what you’re thinking: We might have our schedule six months in advance of the tournament, but our team roster isn’t even complete yet, so how can we collect money? We’ve got a clutch option for you: Book Now, Pay Later. Using this strategy, the team manager can book their team’s transportation well in advance, but can wait to collect team fees and only need to finalize payment 21 days before the departure date. How’s that for a game changer?

Charter bus rentals for sports teams.

How much do charter buses cost

While prices may deviate by city or time of year, there are four standard price points to keep in mind for our bus fleet: the coach bus at $115/hour, the mini coach bus at $105/hour, the mini bus at $98/hour, and the school bus at $81/hour. Book easy and affordable private bus travel for your team trip using our quote tool online.

Funding your tournament transportation

If your game plan includes fundraising efforts to offset the costs of your team transportation, take a look at our bus rental infographic, which’ll tell you exactly how hard you need to go to afford each bus. (Have you noticed, we have an infographic for everything?!) For a lot of teams, away tournaments may not have been part of the original preseason budget. So that team bus might feel like another burden on the wallets of your team’s parents. But if you consider alternative transportation options (everyone takes their own car) everyone will be saving time and money by pooling the costs into one team bus — not to mention the priceless bonds that are formed on those long team road trips!

What and how to pack for an away tournament

Uniforms? Check. Equipment? Check. Those are the basics, but have you considered things like food and formalwear? It’s smart to pack healthy snacks on a team bus so the players don’t go hungry, plus you’ll be avoiding a potential fast food stop — never a good idea before a big game. Bigger buses like the coach will offer plenty of storage space for things like a hard cooler or grocery bags. Now what’s that about formalwear? Well, some teams like to arrive at games with their players wearing suits and ties, and your tournament might have a banquet that requires a jacket. These can be tricky to pack, so be sure to consult our carry-on packing guide before you do so. Pro tip for the future pros: If you’re travelling in a suit, take that jacket off as you board the bus. Sitting down with it on will wrinkle it.

Group transportation for sports teams.

Transporting Minors

Travelling with minors? You’ll need to get some documents in order before doing so. Each minor will need to have a signed document of permission from their guardian. The team must designate a chaperone that is responsible for each child, and that chaperone also has to sign a document acknowledging their responsibility.

Book accommodations and other activities

When you roll into town in your stylish team bus, your driver can take you directly to the team hotel for drop-off. But before that, we suggest seeking a deal on a hotel to reduce the cost for each player. Most hotels offer a group rate for bulk bookings that can make it a little easier on the budget. While you’re in town for the tournament, you may want to schedule a few other activities during downtime. If the host city has a pro sports team that’s playing while you’re there, why not snag some tickets? If you’re visiting a city most of your players have never been to, arrange a sightseeing tour on the team bus to explore landmarks. And for high school teams, consider meeting with your seniors to discuss visiting college campuses in the area.

Airport pickup

If the tournament’s far enough that you’ll be flying in, you’ve just added an extra layer of planning that can easily slip through the cracks. Thankfully, your charter bus can always make that all-important airport pick up to help avoid cab fare and dealing with directions in a foreign city. Your experienced driver will know exactly how to get you to the hotel or field and will take the thinking out of it for your coaches and parents following a long flight.

Guide to sports bus rentals.

Show team spirit

Team spirit isn’t reserved for the field or court — you should bring it with you the entire weekend. Since you’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the team bus, send a message to the whole city that your team is in town by covering your bus in team colours and your logo. Branded bus wraps turn your charter bus into a travelling team mascot and get attention everywhere you go.

Communication on the road

For safety and efficiency, you’ll need a convenient method of communication while away from home. What’s the best way for your coaches, players, and parents to communicate during the tournament? Maybe you can create a big text message thread or a Facebook group where everyone can chat. If not everyone has a device they can use away from home, implement a buddy system to make sure everyone is accounted for. Create a digitized itinerary that you can update in real time to provide constant updates.