Nothing shows school spirit quite like supporting your college team at their away games. While home games bring the whole student body together in a party-like atmosphere, following your team on the road and invading your rival school’s campus for an away game is the true mark of a rabid fan.

Wearing your team colours onto enemy territory — now that’s dedication. Here’s how diehards plan an away game rally with their classmates or student group.

Booking Group Bus Transportation

Choosing your bus for a group trip is part art, part science. You’ve got to assess your group and its travel needs, the type and length of trip, your budget, and much more. Here are some questions you should answer before making your selection.

How big is your group? 

Group size is probably the most important factor in determining which bus to book. Each bus type has its own capacity. The minibus can seat up to 21, the mini coach up to 32, the school bus up to 47, and the coach bus up to 55. But size isn’t everything! There are other important considerations, namely comfort, amenities, and storage.

What is the distance of your trip? 

For a short, cross-town trip, comfort may not be a priority. But if you’re travelling three-plus hours for the big game, you might favour the plush seating of a coach bus over the standard bench seating on the yellow school bus. For the long drive, necessities probably include a bathroom, an amenity available on the coach bus — but not the mini coach.

Do you need storage?

Well, you’re a fan of the team, not a player on the team — so you’re probably not travelling with a whole lot of sports equipment. But if your group of students is making an overnight trip to follow your school team in a tournament, passengers will be travelling with luggage. And if you’re a hardcore fan group, your gameday experience might include a mascot costume, foam fingers and other team apparel, or tailgate gear (more on that later). That means you’ll require a bus with room for your stuff, and maybe even undercarriage storage. While both coach and mini coach buses have overhead and undercarriage storage, school buses and minibuses have much more limited storage space.

Start here: Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus Type

Financing Your Bus Rentals

Now that you’ve booked the perfect bus or buses for your rabid group of fellow students, you’ll need a payment plan. If the idea of fronting the money for a bus you haven’t sold seats for yet makes you shudder, start with our Book Now, Pay Later option. This way, you can secure your bus well in advance, and we’ll give you that time to collect your money and pay up when the time is right — at least 21 days prior to departure.

Another tactic would be to sell seat vouchers in advance of booking your bus — for their money, you can promise each student a spot on the bus as long as you reach a minimum amount of ticket sales allowing you to fill up the bus. That way, you take the risk out of your hands and incentivize students to reserve quickly — as well as nudge their friends to do the same. If you fill up a bus, you can continue selling seats for a second bus, filling up as many vehicles as you can without taking on the financial burden yourself.

It could be that your rally group has been determined ahead of time — for example, you’re organizing a trip to an away game for an official student group, for the players’ parents, or for the floormates of your residence building. In that case, determine your group size, book the appropriate bus, and divide the costs equally.

Tailgating When You Arrive

Just like your team making a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback, we saved the best for last. With the bus booked and paid for, your travel podcast playlists in order, and your itinerary set in stone, it’s time to get into party mode and plan your meat-cooking, beer-drinking, team spirit-showing tailgate party. What’s the only thing better than a rabid and rowdy tailgate on gameday? A rabid and rowdy tailgate — on the other team’s turf.

Invading enemy territory (read: the away stadium’s parking lot) along with your classmates and colleagues requires that you turn the team spirit up to 10. Here’s how you do it.

Rule number one: Start early. If stadium parking opens for tailgate at 9 am, show up at 8! At the very least, you’ll have more time to practice your school cheers and rally songs.

What to bring: When it comes to preparing for a tailgate, there are a few essentials to plan for. We’re talking food, drinks, a tent, chairs, tables, coolers, tupperwares and plates for serving, plastic utensils and cups, and more. As mentioned above, the coach bus and mini coach provide the most storage space, and if you plan on tailgating, we strongly suggest one of those bus types.

The art of the set-up: First things first — you’ve got to mark your spot. You’ll be thankful you’re travelling in a big vehicle, but you won’t be the only one in a bus. If there’s a designated area for large vehicles, go there. Line up your bus in a way that you can set up shop right in front of the undercarriage storage for easy access to all your items. Carefully arrange your tables, chairs, and coolers in order to make your presence felt.

Two is better than one: We suggest bringing two folding tables. Set up one table next to the grill, and use the other for serving, away from the cooking. Don’t forget to bring garbage and recycling bags to keep your space clean.

Root, root, root for the away team: This last tip is especially important when you’re tailgating at the rival’s venue. Decorate your tailgate in team colours so everyone knows who you’re rooting for! Talk trash, but don’t leave any behind. Clean up after yourself, keep the rivalry friendly, stay safe, and respect your surroundings. 

Start here: How to Plan Your Tailgate