Preparing your team for their first travel hockey tournament can be stressful as you try to keep 17 or so players and their parents happy and organized. One of the worst worries for a team is to show up for a game, only to discover that the goalie or another key player has gotten lost on the way to the rink. That is one of the reasons why travel hockey teams often opt to book a charter bus for road trips -- to keep everyone organized and together. Another reason? Hiring a bus can be more cost effective than everyone booking their own flights and paying for all of their luggage, their children's oversize hockey bag and hockey sticks. And then there may also be an additional cost for renting a car.
The Charter Bus
When chartering a bus, it's important to do your due diligence to find the best and safest vehicle, as well as one that will work with you to get your team to the rinks and out for meals. So before making a final decision on a charter bus for your hockey team, you should do the following:
- Ask to see the Department of Transportation inspection ratings to ensure that the company's charter buses are safe.
- Determine if it will be cheaper to hire a bus for two one-way trips or a round trip. If you choose the first option, you will need to make sure that there will be enough parents driving on their own to shepherd team members to and from the rinks. And, remember, their cars will also need to fit several large hockey bags and sticks, as well.
- Ask to see proof of insurance from the charter bus company, such as Fisher Bus Inc. According to the American Bus Association, the charter bus company should have a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance.
- Check to see who pays for the driver's room if you do choose to have the bus stay with you during the tournament. If the team has to pay, you will need to factor that amount into your per-player costs.
To Make a Long Bus Trip More Bearable
You can save money and keep your players entertained on the long bus ride with a little foresight and planning. For example, consider:
- Buying snacks and drinks to bring on the bus.
- Pack a number of family-friendly movies.
A side benefit of traveling by bus? It can often build team camaraderie. Players who may normally only see each other for brief moments in the locker room will get to spend several hours or more bonding and interacting during these bus rides.