The earlier you can start your sports team travel planning, the more successful you can be! Whether you’re a coach, or assistant coach, or just someone put in charge to help with sports travel planning, you probably wear multiple hats in regards to the team. Out of the blue, you might have to find yourself being the expert at arranging professional travel for a sports team. I would say good luck, but this article is here to help guide the way.
Some pre-planning activities that could happen in the immediate future are to buy adjustable beds. Have team members have their vision therapist appointments. In the event of a car accident, you will want to have even an auto accident lawyer lined up.
Get a Head Start
Starting early on, your sports team travel planning should be one of the first goals in your travel plans. How early you start might depend on the different hats you are wearing, and how many teams you’re planning for, and how big they are.
Generally speaking, it is recommended that starting to plan 3 to 4 months out is a good amount of time to make sure you have all your bases covered. Especially when it comes to the booking of a hotel or other options. The further you book out you tend to get lower rates. Also, keep in mind to stay ahead of those who are also planning for other teams. Get your booking in first.
When you are booking your hotel, make sure it’s not too far away from where the games will begin. It is better to have a location that is 10 minutes away or over 30 minutes away.
Be Strategic About Room Locations
Once you have your hotel of choice picked out, it is time to investigate the rooms ( which can undoubtedly be one of the most frustrating parts of sports team travel planning). Though it might be hard, it’s not always a good idea to go with what the team wants. It is better to try to keep the rooms as close together as possible. Also, it is better for the other residents of the hotel.
When the rooms are split apart, it is easy for there to be a lot of commotion up and down the halls. Team members will want to converse and have to travel up and down the hallways. That may not be enjoyable for the other residents.
While doing your research on hotels, keep in mind that you can find hotels that specialize in group blocking. Meaning that there are specialists that can help you block up to 40 rooms for your travel team.
On a similar note, you will want to plan your transportation the same way. Would it be better to have a bus or a van? That way, everyone is all together. As opposed to figuring out carpooling, and risking being separated from your team.
Be Clear About Communication Methods
When you have a lot of team members to coordinate with, it can be frustrating to make sure everyone is doing the same communication. That’s just how it is with sports team travel planning. To streamline your communication so you don’t go nuts, decide on some kind of group app, or group on social media where everyone gets all the same messages at the same time.
You can even create a separate group chat on an app that is labeled urgent or emergency. So that people know that when a message hits that thread they must look at it ASAP.
Create a Well-Defined Itinerary
You can have an itinerary that is both printed off and online. That makes sure that everyone has access to the itinerary at all times.
Your itinerary should have a very clear outline of expectations, sports team travel planning, times, and locations. The clearer it is, the less you have to repeat yourself or clarify things you thought were clear. For certain activities, they should be the same every day so as not to confuse anyone. For example, meals are one thing to keep the same as much as possible.
If the location for meals happens to change, it’ll be a wise idea to let a diner know that you’re bringing a big group ahead of time.
Create a Checklist and Distributed a Week Before Departure
A sports team can potentially carry a lot of things. There are vital needs that every player must have with them. Make a checklist of every possible thing they could need. Have a separate checklist for the person that will be in charge of any kind of emergency or safety kit.
This kind of sports team travel planning is crucial, especially, if Murphy’s Law decides to activate!
Spot Check Your Team Before They Leave
You could do this on your own and make sure it appears as though everyone has everything on their checklist. Or, you could create a buddy system for sports team travel planning activities. This is where you partner them and they check each other’s bags according to the checklist.
This method can be used for any games that are played. Do the buddy system and make sure players have what they need for each particular game.
Hitting The Road
Transportation ( don’t forget to make sure your automobile insurance is in order) was mentioned towards the beginning of this article, but I would like to delve into it a little bit deeper. When it comes to transporting a whole sports team, there are some factors that you want to think about. It’s best to be as strategic as possible for effective sports team travel planning.
The main factor is the age group they are in. When they are kids it might be easier to enlist some parents to help carpool. That way, there can be help with chaperoning and breaking up any silly quarrels. Having some extra cars on the road with kids is helpful when an additional surprise errand needs to be run.
However, if you are dealing with a group of adults, it might be easier to get them to leave in a large van or bus. That way there’s no risk of people getting separated or lost. When it comes to transport from the hotel to where the game location is, everyone arrives at the same time.
If you choose a bus or van as transportation, then you should probably take the same approach as you do with the hotel. Book your choice of transportation three to four months out as well. We know that sports seasons will cause other coaches and leaders to put a demand on transportation as well. But if you do it three to four months out you can beat the competition.
Planning for Food
Depending on how far and long you’re traveling, you might want some snacks outside of the meals you’ll be having. Teammates might carry their own, but having some energy-fueling, all-natural snacks can be beneficial to their energy levels. It’s also handy to have if meals are delayed for some reason because of travel.
It is good sports team travel planning to have some idea of where you are going to have your meals. Will Mills be at hotels? Will people be encouraged to order room service? Or, will you frequent restaurants and cafes in the area?
If you decide that restaurants are going to be the main option for meals, you will want to contact each restaurant in advance to let them know that you will be patronizing their establishment with a large group. This is just to give a heads up, not necessarily to make reservations unless you want to.
Prepare for Emergency Situations
Though no one can really ever prepare for emergencies fully, it’s good to have some kind of protocol if something does happen.
For instance, you will always want to have some medical equipment on hand. You will also want to know where a local hospital is in case there’s an injury. Since you will be wearing so many hats on this trip, it might be wise to have an assistant and someone else in charge of emergency protocols.
Meaning, they are the ones that connect you directly and let you know what is going on with a team member when something happens. They are also the ones who will be primarily in charge of getting someone to an emergency if something happens. These individuals should also make sure that individuals have their medical insurance cards on them, and have information about a friend or relative they can reach out to in case of an emergency.
Having a system, and chosen people set up to help can help reduce a lot of chaos from interrupting good sports team travel planning. Having the go-to people eliminates too many people trying to get involved in figuring out what happens.
Always Debrief Plans
No, you may choose to have your form of group communication through a text app, or some other means it is important to debrief in-person multiple times a day.
Debriefing can happen, of course, before and after a game. It can happen when it comes to checking in on everyone’s mental, physical, and emotional state of being. It can also include just simply keeping everyone updated on changes, or where they’re going to have their next meal.
Debriefing makes sure that everyone is getting the same messages, so any confusion can be clarified in person with the whole group.
Keep Your Team Together
This is especially important obviously before games. Also, it is important for when your team is checking in or out of a hotel. And your announcement threads be sure to send reminders of where people need to meet and what time. You can even color coordinate people into groups to make accounting for them easier when going through these processes.
Depending on how big your travel team is, you may want to enlist one or two people to help you do the accounting when it comes to games, checking in, and checking out of a hotel.
When all is coming to a close with your sports trip, get feedback. You might even want to do this on the road when you have everyone’s attention. Or, at your last meal, have time to debrief when everything that has happened is fresh on your team’s mind.
Ask them to give feedback on the overall trip. Ask them about things that could have been better or more organized. Ask if there were any important elements that were missed in the planning process.
It’s important to do this while everyone is together fresh at the moment. Once everyone is home and back into the swing of things, it’s going to be more challenging for you to gather the information that you need.
If by chance you are not able to do it before the team returns home, do it at the very next practice. Hopefully, even still, there will be things fresh on their minds to talk about.
Getting honest feedback can help you streamline things in the future, and even make it less stressful. All in all, have fun because you will learn as you go and each trip will have its own lessons and fun!