When it comes to booking a trip, you don’t always have the luxury of planning very far in advance. Whether you’ve been informed you need to organize a last-minute business trip, want to take off on an impromptu ski weekend with friends, or you simply just… well, forgot to plan your group transportation to an event, there’s no need to panic. While we generally recommend booking a charter bus six months prior to your departure date, that’s merely to ensure that you secure the best bus for your group’s needs. There is always a solution when it comes to last-minute booking.

But, first things first: you need to have at least a few details sorted out before you go ahead and book your ride. Here’s what you need to have prepared before going ahead and confirming your bus rental.

Know your route and the number of people you need to move

This is pretty standard stuff. Pinpoint where you’ll need to be picked up from, whether you need to make more than one stop along the way to your event, and where you’ll need to be dropped off in order to confirm your bus trip itinerary. Then, tally up a headcount for all passengers. Depending on the size of your group, you’ll want to look into booking one particular bus model over another.

For your convenience, we’ve broken it down rather simply. If you’re a large group on the road for hours at a time, we recommend travelling by coach bus. If you’re organizing a shuttle fleet to and from, say, a conference, a minibus would be your best bet. We also offer school buses and mini coach buses for rent, which are great for everything from weddings to field trips.

Still not sure which bus type is best for you? Check out our Quick Guide to Choosing a Bus to get a better picture. Every bus model has its strengths, so it’s all about finding which one is best suited to your type of travel experience.

Be flexible

Let’s be real, here. Booking anything at the last minute will have its consequences. While our Booking Specialists and logistics team will do everything in their power to try to conjure up the perfect bus for your eleventh-hour travels, it’s important to be realistic in terms of your expectations. Adding a splash of flexibility to your disposition will go a long way in terms of your overall satisfaction with your trip. This could mean anything from being able to push your departure time by a few hours or by booking a bus model that may not have all the additional amenities that you had in mind, but that still gets the transportation job done.

At the end of the day, you’ll have a ride to your event that is safe, direct, and keeps your whole group together – and isn’t that really the main goal? Once you’ve got these instrumental details figured out, you can start building your trip itinerary.

Finalize and communicate your itinerary

Alright, it’s almost go-time! Now it’s time to get in touch with your Booking Specialist in order to confirm all of your bus booking details. Make sure that you have the phone number of both your Bus.com representative and your bus driver on-hand, just in case an erratic speed bump presents itself at any point before, during, or after your travels. Our customer service team is there 24/7 to take care of any hiccups that may arise.

Once that’s done, it’s time to spread the word. Send off a company email blast, a Facebook group message, a message via carrier pigeon, or whatever to your group members letting them know how you’ll be getting to your event. Make sure to include the precise dates and times of your trip, along with any other pertinent details (your accommodation’s address if you’re staying overnight, crucial things to pack, etc.).

Some extra things to organize (if you have time)

Last ditch attempt at on-the-road entertainment

This entire trip is last minute. The chances of you having thought ahead in terms of coordinating some kind of onboard group entertainment are pretty close to nil. Luckily, there are group activities you can pull together quickly that require minimal planning and barely any supplies. If your goal is to encourage some bus-bound bonding, why not consider trying out some games among your group? If you’re more of a strong and silent crew who keep social interaction to an all-time minimum, catch up on some “reading” with our audiobook suggestions.

Get packing

Only one main thing left to do: throw some stuff in a bag and hit the road! Just kidding, you’ll want to put a bit more thought into it than that. As your packing starting point, take into consideration how long you’ll be away from home as well as remembering why you’re heading off on the road in the first place.

Are you heading off to a sports tournament in another city? Don’t forget to take inventory of your team’s equipment, particularly if you’re a football team with tons of gear to lug around. Or maybe you’re heading to a corporate conference, in which case make sure to bring suit bag to keep your conference clothes crisp and wrinkle-free. In any case, be sure to consult our Carry-On Packing Guide for short trips as well as our Packing Guide for Short/Medium/Long Bus Rides to check everything you need off a comprehensive list.