Here are a few things you want to take care of before departure:

  1. Did you collect all the necessary consent forms?

If you are traveling with minors, it is extremely important to collect consent forms. There are two types that you need: (1) from the minor’s guardian, giving consent for the trip and acknowledging the group leader as responsible for the minor, and (2) from the group leader, accepting responsibility for the minor. This is especially important if you are crossing state lines!

  1. Is the bus company aware of your complete itinerary and all your stops?

Communication is key! Make sure you plan and book all your stops in advance and inform the bus company before you board. If you have a preferred route, you should also share this information before the trip.

  1. Did you collect everyone’s payments before cancelation deadlines?

Chartering a bus is a great way of spreading the financial burden of transportation with a large group of people, but that means keeping track of everyone’s contributions. You don’t want to get stuck covering anyone’s share, so it’s important to have a system to track your group members’ payments. We suggest using a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of who’s paid. Set a deadline for your group that’s a couple days before the bus company’s cancellation deadline to give yourself some wiggle room. A general rule of thumb is at least four weeks before your departure.

Keeping Organized During Your Trip

Even if you’ve planned everything to a T, now is when you need the tools to deal with everything from emergencies, unanticipated delays and associated shenanigans. As it turns out, the best way to do that is to make sure you keep communication lines open with everyone from your students, to your chaperones and drivers.

  1. Does your driver have the most recent version of your itinerary?

Unexpected changes can happen and it’s important to communicate with your bus company and driver as soon as they occur. To avoid playing broken telephone, print out the most up-to-date version of your itinerary and bring it with you. Your driver should know the route in advance, but this way you ensure that everyone is literally on the same page—the one you printed out and brought with you.

  1. How are you keeping track of your passengers?

Remember that Google Spreadsheet we mentioned earlier? The one that keeps track of your payments? You can use that as a checklist and attendance sheet. Simply create a column for each stop on the itinerary, and use the data validation function to transform each of these columns into a checklist. Make sure each organizer and chaperone downloads the google sheets app on their phone and share editing capabilities with all of them, and you’ll be able to check in each student at every stop, regardless of which bus they get into.

  1. How is the group communicating?

Throughout your trip, there will be times when the group has spread out or split up. It’s important to have a way of sharing information on everyone’s whereabouts, timing and particular needs. Slack is a great platform that allows groups to communicate on a variety of topics. Everyone from small businesses to big companies to student groups use it and it’s free to download! With Slack, you can create dedicated channels and choose which participants are allowed to view them. Maybe you want to keep certain information like medical issues confidential. Create a Slack channel and allow only the need-to-know organizers to view it. You’ll want the itinerary to be seen by all, so upload it into a channel that everyone, including the students, can view. You can upload Google Docs (like your attendance spreadsheet) into channels and sync Slack to your phone so that everyone gets notifications when new information is added. Just make sure that all organizers and chaperones have turned on notification alerts.Ready to plan a student bus trip?

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