With competition season upon us, there’s a lot to think about – have your dancers perfected their routines? Do they have their costumes? Have you recruited some volunteers that can help out backstage? However, don’t forget to think about how your dancers will get to the venue in the first place. Organizing dance travel to a competition can seem like one big headache, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to get you and your dancers to the competition without the stress.
Check Out the Venue Ahead of Time
Prior to the competition, if possible, travel to the venue to familiarize yourself with the best route to take to get there. Also, take a look at the available parking options. This way, you can have a better idea of the best transportation method your dancers and their families should take to get to the venue, whether that’s carpooling, taking a bus or driving.
You’ll also be able to give better instructions on directions and minimize surprises the day of the competition.
If the venue is far enough away that your students and their families will need to stay in hotels, spend some time researching the area online and using Google Maps to identify the best lodging options in the vicinity so you and the parents can plan the necessary accommodation ahead of time.
Organizing a Carpool
Carpooling to the competition is a great way to streamline and simplify transportation. It’s also cost-effective, and is eco-friendly, as Dance Advantage pointed out. Make sure you leave enough time to organize the carpool – a month before the competition should be ample time.
You can use a physical sign-up sheet in the studio, or you could use online sheets or create a private Facebook group for arranging the carpool.
VolunteerSpot recommended creating a permission slip for parents to sign that affirms that the parents are alright with you taking the students out of state, if applicable, and that you have their permission to get the kids medical treatment in the event of an emergency.
In the month leading up to the competition, hold a meeting with parents – or send out an email – that outlines the details of the carpool trip like when and where the car will leave from, the route you will take, when the car will arrive and other pertinent information. Also, make sure you have all the parents’ contact info prior to heading out.
Dance Travel by Bus
While carpooling in one or a few vehicles can be an efficient and cost-effective way to get to the competition venue, factors like the distance to the event and large amounts of equipment or luggage may make renting a bus a better transportation option. Before booking a bus with a private company, make sure you do your due diligence and research.
Texas Meetings & Events magazine recommended that you book a bus early, since you can usually save money by making reservations far ahead of time. You should also have a meeting with a representative from the transportation company and ask them about the company’s insurance coverage, the experience of the drivers and their emergency protocols.
Make sure you consider the itinerary for the day of the competition – should the dancers be dropped off at a designated area near the hotel to meet up with their families first, or should the bus go directly to the competition? Taking the time to figure out the specifics of the trip will help the transportation go more smoothly.
Flying to the Competition
If the competition is several states away or on an opposite coast, it makes sense to fly to the venue. If you have just a few dancers traveling to the competition, it may make sense for each dancer to buy a ticket individually to the same flight, or for the studio to buy a batch of tickets for the dancers all at once and then be reimbursed later.
However, if you have a large group of dancers traveling, it may be a better idea to book the trip through a travel agent. U.S. News and World Report noted that agents can help large groups get discounts for flying together, so spend time looking at your options.
Other considerations include coordinating transportation to the airport, figuring out accommodation and making sure everyone is checked in on time, which is easier to do these days because of mobile apps. If you are using a travel agent, he can help lock down these details.
Also, don’t forget to consider luggage limitations. It can be helpful to give dancers a checklist of what they should bring with them. Pay special consideration to costumes, which should ideally go in carry-on because of the risk that checked luggage could be lost.
As Jayci Kalb from The Dance Centre in Alabama told DanceSpirit Magazine:
“I never pack my costume in my checked luggage. I put it in my carry-on, and it’s the first thing I pack.”
Looking for other dance competition resources? Check out these articles on planning to take your studio to competition:
Dance Competition Dates: Planning a Competitive Schedule
Nutrition for Dancers: What to Eat Before Competitions