Transportation/Travel Plans

Organizing Transportation

Travel Reimbursement can help you encourage hackers from further away to attend your event. After reviewing the information below, watch our short transportation webinar to ensure your transportation planning runs smoothly. It is not required for you to provide travel reimbursement in order to put on a successful hackathon.

Regardless of the transportation you are able to help with, we recommend adding a carpool channel to your event communication platform (Discord/Slack are common). This allows hackers to connect with others who might be coming from the same area.

Travel Information Pack

We also recommend providing a plan for the best way to get to your university from common places nearby (airport/s, Greyhound/Amtrack stations, etc). HackUTD has a "Travel Hackerpack" to help students find a way to the event. Here are some key highlights.

  • Include who they should contact for help/if they are running late

  • Include different options to reach your venue. Hackers may have different budgets, and having an idea what the approximate cost/time for options will help them decide the best way to get there. Hackers from out of town will not be familiar with your local transportation, so if there is a school bus route include that information!

  • Make sure to include your venue address and a parking map for any attendees who are driving. Also include if they need to print or collect a parking pass to put in their vehicle at checkin.

Travel Reimbursements

You may want to issue travel reimbursements for some or all of your attendees. A few tips:

  • Email attendees via a service like SendGrid or MailChimp with instructions about how to claim their reimbursements. Include a clear timeline with receipt due dates.

  • Include information in the FAQ on your website on amount and and eligibility criteria

    • Some events have different caps based on difference or carpooling.

    • For example, an event may do up to $25 of gas reimbursement if over X miles away but under X miles, but you may be eligible for up to $50 if you bring another hacker with you.

    • A hacker flying in might have a larger eligible amount, but might be limited to first X hackers who request it and they must get an approval email before the event.

  • Have hackers upload receipts. All should clearly show price and date of purchase to qualify.

  • Send reimbursements

  • Keep all receipts for tax purposes

Charter Buses

Charter buses are typically the most affordable option for getting hackers to and from your event. Keep in mind as you plan that most buses fit 56 attendees, and the average cost per weekend is $3,300 (based on 31 hackathons in Spring 2014). Your hackathon date matters as well: for example, bus prices are often higher in April because so many schools charter them during that month for class trips.

  1. Determine how many seats you’ll need

  2. Reach out to student leadership at participating schools to find out how much interest there is in a bus. Have your contact create a Facebook event with the bus boarding time and ask them to invite as many people from the school that they want to.

  3. Some interested students won’t show up when it’s time to board; we recommend ordering one 56-seat bus per 70 "yeses"

  4. Dishing out seats on a first come, first serve often works best

2. Create a travel itinerary

  • Exact locations of pick-up and drop-off points

  • Contact info for a point person at the destination and arrival locations

  • Trip duration and distance

3. Collect quotes

  • Use to sort bus companies by number of buses available, number of seats, bus ages, and cost. We recommend only requesting quotes from companies with 4 star ratings or above.

  • allows you to organize buses to your event in a central dashboard and request quotes directly from bus companies. They also will help you compare and find the cheapest bus company. The companies on Sharethebus are pre-vetted so you don't have to worry about ratings.

  • Questions to ask

    • How much will tip, tolls, hotels, fuel, and taxes cost?

    • Can the company provide proof of insurance and US D.O.T numbers?

  • Create a quote spreadsheet for each route and every company you requested info from. Include company name, price, contact info, number of buses available, etc.

MLH Tips

  • Local bus companies are usually much cheaper than national ones because national companies typically sublease from local companies. (So there’s a markup)

  • Adding stops to a route doesn’t cost more money

  • Plan for buses to arrive 30 min before pick-up time and stay 15 mins after drop-off

  • Bus companies like to send email spam. When soliciting quotes, use a bus-only email address to keep your inbox clean.

  • Don’t be cheap. Watch the Transportation Webinar below to hear some stories about why it’s important to pay for quality buses


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