Organizing Travel

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jessbowen
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Location: Marlborough, MA

Organizing Travel

Post by jessbowen » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:20 am

I'm considering organizing my first Quiz Bowl road trip! While my students (grades 9-12) are very excited, I'm a bit terrified. Are there any resources on organizing a trip? I chaperoned the class trip to Washington DC a few times and we went through one of those companies that arranged all the details so it was easy for me. Thinking about doing it all on my own has my head spinning a bit.

How do you pick a hotel? Do you have parent volunteers to help chaperone? Do you have policies to keep the girls and boys out of each other's rooms? Does your school or club pick up the cost of the coach's travel or are you on the hook for that yourself? How much fundraising do you do for a trip? Or, do you rely on families to cover the cost of the trip on their own? Any thoughts on parents' cars/bus/train/plane? Do you do the driving yourself or hire a driver?

Do you have any rules/expectations/contracts that you give to students and/or parents when you're on a trip that you're willing to share?

Thanks!
Jessica E. Bowen
AMSA Charter School
Marlborough, MA

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Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
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Re: Organizing Travel

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:30 am

Aren't these the sorts of things you should really ask your school administration? Some of this is sort of a no brainer - if you want to stay in a hotel, book a hotel room, whichever hotel happens to be your preference. But we can't tell you how to handle transportation, or fundraising, or whether your school would allow you to let girls and boys be in the same room. If you're driving just one team to a tournament a few hours away, then it's really easy and unglamorous and I'm pretty sure you don't need much outside help, and if you're deciding to instead fly three teams across the country, then you're gonna have to put a lot more resources into it, which you should be the one to determine how to go about it. If you find out your idea for travel is more expensive than you thought, then host another event to pay for it if you really want to.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

MahoningQuizBowler
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Re: Organizing Travel

Post by MahoningQuizBowler » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:00 pm

I'll attempt to help where I can re: hotels. I've stayed in a few this year...

Hyatt Places can sleep 5 (2 doubles plus a sofabed), have free breakfast, free wi-fi, good TVs with input panels on the side, and refrigerators in the room standard. If this trip is a one-off situation, that's your best bet provided there's one in the area where you're going.

If travel is going to be a regular thing, consider Holiday Inn Express. The hotel group they belong to, which includes regular Holiday Inn properties and a number of others, has very easy ways to earn bonus points for stays...those points will add up easily to free rooms. Depending on the hotel and the promotions available at the time of booking, you could manage to earn a free night with one stay, but 2-3 is usually more likely. Adjust these numbers as needed if you are booking multiple rooms. Generally, you can earn credit on up to 3 rooms (so, yourself -- boys room -- girls room).

If you aren't already a member, consider getting AAA membership. Almost every hotel chain offers AAA discounts.

Another thing to consider is which national(s) you'll be attending, particularly if you're planning on traveling to a good number of tournaments. If you are pursuing NHBB, you may want to stay at Marriott properties during the season. If NAQT is in your plans, you should try to stay at Hyatts where you can.

PM or email me if you want more in-depth information about the different hotel programs, or any other details you might want to ask about.
Greg Bossick
Executive Director, Ohio Academic Competition (2013-2016)
Director, Mahoning Quizbowl League (2004-2011, 2013-present)

Kyle
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Location: Ifrane, Morocco / Oxford, UK / Issaquah, WA

Re: Organizing Travel

Post by Kyle » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:22 pm

As a sophomore in college, I tried to book rooms for two teams of four to go to the ICT in Minneapolis. Naively, I assumed that the five male members of our team would require two hotel rooms. I was then berated by John Lesieutre, who is usually quite sedate, for having the audacity to spend so much of the club's money. This was my first experience with a phenomenon known as "Central Pennsylvania thrift." What I subsequently learned is that State College always used to get two hotel rooms – one for girls and one for boys – no matter how many letters of the alphabet they took to a tournament.

I was trying to advise teams who were coming to Harvard for HFT about the accommodation options, which are mostly pretty expensive if you want to stay in Cambridge. The exception was a Days Inn that was inexplicably cheaper than every other hotel in Cambridge by $80/night. It was way out of the way and kind of ramshackle, and it generally struck me as a sketchy kind of place to put up a bunch of high schoolers. I said as much in an email that I sent to a bunch of the teams that were planning their transportation, noting that I could not vouch for the quality of that hotel. Julie Gittings, the coach of State College, wrote me back the one-sentence email "We'll let you know how it is."

After I came to Oxford and met Alison Hudson, I learned a lot more about Central Pennsylvania thrift. It is standard practice at Oxford to "trash" people who have just finished their exams by throwing things at them. If you're a boy, these things include paint, flour, and (memorably) squid. If you're a girl, it's usually confetti, a balloon, and a funny hat. Well, one day Alison asked if she could throw confetti on me because she had been trashing her friend and she didn't want it "to go to waste." Actually, it hadn't gone to waste – she had already thrown it on her friend, then she had scooped it back up so that she could use it again.

Anyway, Alison told me the story of one time at the HSNCT when State College was fairly blatantly violating the Hyatt's three-to-a-room-maximum policy by putting ten people in each room. This arrangement led, obviously, to the boys roughhousing and shattering the light in their room. In order not to get in trouble when the hotel maintenance staff came to fix the light, seven of the ten boys had to take all their luggage and go hide in the girls room, which (of course) was pretty full at that point. The way Alison tells it, the whole thing played out more or less like the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera.

The moral of this story is that if you spend more than the absolute minimum amount or make any of your travel arrangements out of concern for the comfort of your students, your opponents from State College will not only beat you at quizbowl but then they will also make fun of you.
Kyle Haddad-Fonda
Harvard '09
Oxford '13

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Cheynem
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Re: Organizing Travel

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:36 pm

I frequently use Hotwire to book hotels. The deals are superb and while you may not know the exact location of the hotel in advance, it does list all of the amenities.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

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CSQuizJags
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Re: Organizing Travel

Post by CSQuizJags » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:04 pm

We use Hotels.com. If you plan to be travelling several times a year, it's worth it. For every ten nights you book and stay, you get a free night (or a credit if the room is more than the free night average).

Also, get a card that has points/miles/rewards, etc.. If you spend enough over a year, it really is useful.

Hope this helps.
Cedar Shoals HS Academic Team:
2011, 2012, and 2013 Classic City Academic Team Champions
2014 Region 8-AAAAA Varsity and JV Champions
2013 GATA Class AAAAA JV State Champions
2014 WSB-TV HighQ Tournament Champions
Arthur Banks, Advisor

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