How to Plan a Bus Trip With Young Children
By Michael Masone June 20, 2017
Bus trips can be a great alternative to plane travel if you have young children or are an educator planning a school trip. Field trips are not a new concept, but learning experiences outside the classroom, both during school and on family trips, are far from easy to plan, execute, and follow up on. Because of this, planning a bus trip with children, whether your own or for a school trip, can seem like a daunting task.
When traveling with kids, the easiest part of the process is picking a destination (or destinations). The pre-planning and execution phases can be a bit more complicated as there are additional factors to consider when traveling with children. While bus travel can be a comfortable and economical choice for family trips, academic excursions, and sporting events, you will need to give yourself at least a month to plan a successful bus trip if you have kids along for the ride.
With a little bit of preparation, you can take care of most potential issues before the trip even begins. Use these guidelines for the best success planning a fun and educational bus trip with young children.
Research Your Options
When choosing a destination for a bus trip, it’s important to first consider the ages of the kids traveling with you. If you’re traveling with younger children (ages 5-9) and plan to make multiple stops, understand and anticipate a slower pace. It’s important to be realistic about what you can accomplish with your group. Creating a jam-packed itinerary will just create chaos and take away from the overall experience. The less rushed your group feels, the more stress-free the entire trip will be. If you’re traveling with a large group, having other adult chaperones present to supervise and handle issues is crucial.
Developing an itinerary and schedule of activities complete with packing lists will make your life a lot easier during the trip. Review this with the children and parents and ask them to agree to follow this schedule. You can even ask them to sign the itinerary and treat it as a contract. If you’re planning a family trip, this tip still applies. Having an itinerary allows you to relax and enjoy the time with your family instead of acting as a designated travel agent during the trip.
Cover Your Bases
If your trip is educational or a sporting event, obtain prior approval from your school or school system. Though you may have permission from your administration, there may be other events that require students to be present on that day. Check your school’s calendar before you schedule your bus trip. Remember to also obtain parental permission for each student or athlete that includes medical permission forms.
Transportation should be the first aspect of your trip that you nail down. It’s difficult to take a bus trip without a bus! During popular travel seasons such as summer and spring break, the most ideal options will book quickly. So be sure to pre-book your transportation as early as you can. Request a quote and discuss the options with others involved in the planning.
For the best possible trip, choose a company that’s reputable, with positive reviews from satisfied customers. Safety is the top priority when evaluating transportation companies.
If you’re going on a long trip, be sure to plot designated stops so that everyone can stretch their legs, use the bathroom, or buy a few snacks. Make sure to let the driver know of any planned stops before the trip begins, and be flexible if kids request an unplanned bathroom break.
It’s just as important to pre-book any necessary accommodations as it is to pre-booking transportation. For bus trips of a day or less, this obviously won’t be necessary. But if there’s an overnight component to your bus trip, you’ll want to make sure to take care of accommodations well ahead of time. The parents of the kids you’re traveling with will want to have all information before giving permission to send their kids on a trip.
Booking ahead of time also ensures the best pricing, instead of waiting for last minute options that skyrocket the closer you are to the departure date. When doing your research, look for accommodation with family deals or group rates. For this type of pricing, it’s best to call, instead of relying on online booking platforms.
Reconfirm hotel bookings, tickets, and so on just prior to departure.
Pack for All Possibilities
You might be able to get away with the bare minimum when traveling on your own, but when traveling with children, you need to plan according to their needs: both known and anticipated. Add the following items to your pre-trip packing list:
- A first aid kit, filled with important items like bandages and gauze (for minor accidents), antiseptic wipes, Neosporin, and basic medicine for situations like motion sickness, pain, and allergies. Make sure to connect with parents regarding other medical needs, and stock supplies accordingly.
- A joy bag, filled with games and activities that can be easily accessed on bus transportation. Or, come up with a list of road trip games to play with passengers.
- Extra blankets and pillows, for kids that feel cold or need to sleep, and may not have packed accordingly.
- Water and snacks, so kids don’t complain of hunger or thirst. Their parents may pack some on their behalf, but it’s a good idea to prepare for the possibility that they don’t or that they didn’t pack enough.
- Hand sanitizer for dirty hands when there’s no running water until the next rest stop.
- A portable cellphone charger so you’re always prepared in case of a problem.
- Attraction tickets for your destination, and printouts of important documents, so you don’t need the internet to access important information.
- Comfortable shoes if you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
Avoid over packing. Depending on the type of bus you book for the trip, you may have to store bags under seats. Too-large bags may not fit, so provide parents with appropriate bag dimensions.
Bus Trip Safety Tips
For the best experience for trip planners and passengers, it’s important to be aware of bus trip safety tips, then make sure to follow them. Consider the following:
- Have a buddy system. Let kids pick a buddy to be accountable for (and vice versa), to reduce the likelihood that anyone gets lost during your bus trip.
- Wear a seatbelt. Not every bus will have one, but for those that do, make sure that kids make use of them.
- Remind children of basic bus safety rules. This includes things like not putting their hands or heads outside the windows, and no rough play while the bus is in motion.
With the proper planning, bus trips can be a fun adventure instead of a dreaded ordeal. With years of experience, BusBank is the perfect partner for planning a bus trip with young children. For short-term trips, consider our school bus rentals. For longer, overnight trips, you may want to consider a charter bus. No matter the occasion, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you have a smooth and stress-free experience on your next bus trip with children!