Going to our first championship

Our team has decided to go to the championship for the first time since we started in 2001. However, we have very limited funds and have to be as frugal as possible. We are planning on bringing 10 people and must watch our transportation budget carefully. We were wondering what transportation options teams find the most affordable. We were considering asking our parents to drive us down in their own cars but it looks like the school board will not go for this.

P.S. Are there any teams in the New York metro area interested in splitting a coach bus?

First of all, congratulations and best of luck accomplishing this goal.

Second of all, I know you are talking about driving/bussing, but sometimes this is not always the best means of transportation.

The reason I say this, is because a flight from NYC to Atlanta (two major airport hubs) is definitely not out of question or out of your budget.

We are from CT, and bus down to NYC just to fly out because it is a lot cheaper being 2 major airport hubs.

With 10 people going, your costs will be very achievable with fund raising/sponsorship.

When in Atlanta, you will have to get a hotel no matter what, but as for transportation down in Atlanta, there is a very good public service called MARTA similar to the subway system of NYC.

It goes right from the airport to the Georgia Dome, and is really not that much of a cost to take the ride. 5-10 dollars if that? I forget the exact amount. It may even be less.

As for single rides from place to place, they are about 2 bucks I think. Like I said, very similar to the NYC subway system.

Just consider flying and don’t dismiss that as an option just quite yet.

There are many teams who fly out of NYC to Atlanta and they can give you even more details.

Happy traveling!

Well, ten people can fit in one fifteen-passenger van (but check with your school district’s policy on that; you can’t transport students in 15-passenger vans in South Carolina, and you have to be 21 and trained to drive one at USC). A lot of teams drive to the Championship, and parking can be tolerable if you’re smart about it. In 2006, I parked in one of the Dome’s parking garages the night before for volunteer training, then asked their staff if it were allowable to leave the car there through the Championship. They said it was allowed, but advised me that the garage isn’t Fort Knox. I removed my valuables from the car, walked to and from the Dome each day from the Days Inn (with luggage as needed, since I was leaving right after the awards on Einstein), and didn’t have a problem. Of course, if you’ve got some folks with disabilities or other needs that keep them from this sort of arrangement, you’ll need other plans. Parking was $10 each entry, so you’d be looking at $30 (plus any hotel parking fees; watch out for them!) to keep using the car over the Championship.

That said, Amtrak tickets from New York to Atlanta are about $222 per person, and plane tickets are about $250–if gas is $3 a gallon, and you get 19 MPG on the highway, a round-trip will run you about $300 for the whole car. Even if you have to take two vehicles, that’d be about $60 a person. You’ll be hard-pressed to beat that price, if you’ve got the drivers for it.

From my knowledge, drivng/bussing (especially if you are going to split a coach) is almost always cheaper than flying (especially considering you have to coordinate transportation to and from the airport, in both Atl and NYC).

Last year, we drove overnight in three 15- passenger vans. I must say, it was not the most pleasant trip I’ve ever taken, but it was a lot cheaper than flights. This year, we will hopefully book flights in the fall so we can afford them.

I used MARTA in 2005 to get from/to the airport, as well as a couple other places, and I believe it was like $7-10 for a weeklong pass that got you unlimited rides. Definitely a great value.

Don’t forget the added costs of getting tools to and from the Championships. If you decide to fly down, either you’ll need a mentor or adult to take down all of your tools by car, which is not a pleasant task, or you’ll need to ship them down, which can get very expensive. If you decide to take a bus or other mode of wheeled transportation, chances are you can fit tools into your vehicle, or split them amongst multiple vehicles along with students, and the need to drive them down seems like less of a burden considering that you are already doing the same with students.

We were able to pack all of our tools and spare materials into shipping boxes and carry them as checked luggage on our flight. It’s important to consider the weight limit for an individual piece of baggage when doing this, but the airline had no problem with it.

A bus is cheaper only if you have about 15 going, maybe more depending on what kind of cheaper advance airfares you can get. That’s because the bus charter is the same price whether you put on 7 or 47 passengers.

Remarks about airport transportation, and others remarks about getting tools there, are valid concerns.

One way of reducing cost using a bus is to schedule the ride overnight, which saves on one night’s hotel accomodations. Not a comfortable night’s sleep though - don’t plan on this if you’re going to arrive Thursday morning. 1188 usually leaves Metro Detroit about 5:00 pm on Tuesday, gets to the Atlanta area for breakfast on Wednesday, spends a light day of sightseeing, and then crashes early (well, sorta early) in the hotel to prepare for Thursday. Our alternative is to leave really early Wednesday morning, say 4:00 am or so loading, in order to get to Atlanta in time for early robot uncrating Wed eve. With such an early morning, and the long drive, we’d be more tired than an overnight on the bus.

http://www.firstnemo.org/PDF/tips_for_travel.pdf

Try working woth some other area teams and split a bus.
Not only do you save some cash, but also get to build a relationship with another team. This lets you take tools on the bus and not have to ship them or take them on an airplane.

We have always stayed outside of downtown Atlanta. There are a few negatives to this - you are away from other teams and have to take the bus back and forth - but we stay at a nice hotel within walking distance to several stores and restaurants. This makes the trip much more affordable.

You can charter a bus and then have it at your disposal for the whole trip, or charter there and back, and then just rent bus time to get you to and from the dome to your hotel.

I have to say, driving to Atlanta from New Jersey is a LONG trip. 1089 and 25 split a bus in 2005, drove overnight, and it was…not the most fun I’ve ever had…

Congratulations on being able to attend, however!

There is a new flight that will go from Trenton/Mercer Airport directly to Atlanta three times a day starting in December. It’s supposed to be a sub-Delta airline at low cost. You should definitely look into that. It would probably be better for EVERYONE not to drive 18 hours if they don’t have to. Besides, you could probably convince your district to let you have a school bus to drive to Jersey for a flight.