Bus to Houston - looking for advice

Did any of the teams from the Midwest take a motorcoach (bus) to the Houston 2023 Championship? The cost of the trip has become alarmingly expensive, so our team is exploring options to reduce cost so all students can participate.

I believe that there are a couple teams from Minnesota that bussed down. First one that comes to mind is 4607 CIS. They are a fairly large size team but as for the cost I have no clue.


I’m a member of team 2338, we are from Oswego Illinois (About an hour from Chicago), we had almost 60 active team members this season and we took a bus down to Houston. We did the same thing the previous season.

We took 2 mini busses and a cargo van from Lafayette, IN (20 hours). Exponentially cheaper but it was tough on drivers. All vehicles were owned by the school so they were free aside from gas.

I know 2506 took coach buses down to Houston the past couple years from Milwaukee.

We took a Minnesota Coach bus, about a 24 hour drive. 2 drivers for about 6 days. Was in the 12000 range+ a hotel room for drivers - for our team this was a similar cost to flying but due the complicated logistics + getting around Houston we went with the bus. To make it a bit cheaper we had parents who rode the bus kick in some money. We were able to make the trip free for students through a crazy amount of fundraising in two weeks (people like giving you money more when there feels like a more direct cause+sense of urgency). Feel free to ask me any questions.

1 Like

We took a motorcoach from Ames, Iowa to Houston. We typically also motorcoach to 3 other events each year (1 @ ~100 miles, 2 @ 250-350 miles).

Between the bus and hotel rooms, travel is our largest budget line item.

I know that the mentors from my team who drove the robot and pits stuff to Houston ran into team 4003, TriSonics from Allendale, Michigan who were taking a bus down.

I also saw a Saginaw Valley State University themed bus outside the convention center one of the days.

it’s license plate indicated that it was from Utah, which confused me further, but there might be some tax law that I’m unaware of that makes it cheaper to register busses there. The decals may have been temporary, which would be another explanation.

This is a bit off-topic from the midwest, but here are some things we did in Cali to reduce costs from our trip.

  1. Try to minimize the amount of time in Houston to avoid an extra night in hotels potentially

  2. I know you said bus, but we flew to Houston and generally, if you book as a group, the rate is cheaper(at least for southwest airlines)

  3. Start a GoFundMe, we did that for our team, and we reached out to extended tons of extended family and other people related to the team, and we raised a large chunk to cover costs

  4. Reach out to your sponsors and see if they can give you travel funds. This is probably one of the best ways because they want to see the teams they support succeed in Houston.

A post was split to a new topic: Airline group travel questions

Yup, 4003 took a Cardinal Motor Coach from Allendale to Houston this year. We had 27 students plus mentors plus some parents (for a nominal fee) ride the bus. It was about a 22 hour ride (with stops). We also had to pay the room for the driver in Houston.

Just a note, we had less students in 2022 and with the tight timing we took 2 15-passenger vans. We switched between drivers every few hours but it was a very long and tiring ride back. Thus, we will never do that again…

We took a bus down. We’re about 2 hours north of Detroit. Keep in mind, it’s customary to give the driver a gratuity (tip) and you have to put him/her up at the hotel.

It ended up costing around $14,000. However, I think you need to be careful. When we were calling around different companies, it seemed like there were a lot of predatory ones. They quoted us $25,000 and up.

At that point, flying becomes cheaper. I’m sure they are relying on people not doing their homework to charge prices like that. At $25k we would not have been able to attend the championship.

We also were lucky enough to have a semi to get our equipment to the event and split the cost with 5 other teams. Since you’re very limited on what you can fit into a Fed-Ex crate, getting your equipment can get pricey too.

For us (4607) from Central Minnesota it was just north of $20k for a 48 passenger coach.

We left on Sunday and returned the following Sunday. The price included two drivers, trips to Johnson Space Center and Galveston Beach, and daily trips to and from the convention center to our hotel in Sugar Land.

Total trip was around $50k for the entire team and family/fans. This included three team dinners.

Man… guess well say no to houston going forward too :frowning:

Note it’s not necessary to take your entire team to Houston. For cost or other reasons, it’s not unusual for teams to only bring a dozen people or less to champs. Whether the experience given to so few is worth the registration cost is a separate question, of course.


There is also the question of, is hand picking a select few team members to attend an event (one that could be considered rather prestigious), something that aligns with your teams core values?

Im not stating here that only taking select students is or isn’t inherently a bad thing to do (I’ve heard passionate viewpoints supporting both sides), but rather mentioning it as it’s been a question posed to me in the past.

For some teams, inclusivity is a strong core value, and making champs an exclusive event for select team members may be a compromise to those values you’re not willing to make.

1 Like

Yeah true. Also I’m sure some of the teams have the students cover the cost as well

For us (2847) from Southern Minnesota it was about 10.5k for a 48 passenger coach bus.

We left on Tuesday and got back on Sunday. With two drivers, it took around 20 hours with stops.

We offered parents and families to ride along for $100 each, which helped offset some of the cost. In hindsight we should have actually charged them the cost of the seat (around $200), but we decided to offer the discount because the seat would have gone empty anyway.

If you have families ride along (and stay at the same hotel), keep in mind how much harder it is to manage 45 people vs 25. Especially adults who used to being independent and don’t necessarily want to follow instructions the way students have to


The SVSU Bus was us! 6081 the Digital Dislocators split the bus cost with 3655 Tractor Technicians!

It’s definitely possible to do it quite a bit more economically than that.