About Me

Decent wife. Good Enough Mom. (I think, but you’d have to ask my kids.) Sporadic blogger. Crazy person. Chaos Manager. Finder of stray socks and missing shoes. Loves to cook, wishes it wasn’t demanded of her daily. Runs on caffeine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to plan a fieldtrip

So as a Homeroom parent, or room mom, for my elementary school-aged children, there are a bunch of different things we are responsible for, and of the the biggest ones is planning the spring Fieldtrip. In our school, there are certain trips that have generally been taking every year by each class. Sometimes there have been changes such as when my oldest was in 3rd grade and the usual field trip location closed down. Other times the teacher might decide they want to go somewhere else that year. I have had every combination of things happen as Homeroom parent. When we meet with the teacher at the start of the school year, the Fieldtrip is one of the things discussed. For us we talked about the usual place and the teacher said we didn't have to go there we could pick somewhere else if we wanted. We threw out lots of suggestions and went with the top ones the teacher liked. I researched all of our choices and listed activities and pros and cons of all of them and sent a master list to the teacher to choose from, and from there she picked her choice. For a spring Fieldtrip we usually start planning after the new year, but since I was going to be having a baby I decided to work on it before the birth. I was able to contact the venue and secure a reservation from a list of the dates the teacher gave me. They did not require a deposit so I was all set. If they were to require a deposit I would have filled out a form and sent it in to the treasurer who would send me a check and I would send it to the venue. This procedure would vary depending on what your school normally does.

Sometime after the new year is when you would need to book a bus. Our school has certain companies we always work with, so I started there. I messed up and forgot to do this early. Usually the teacher starts reminding you about Fieldtrip planning and since we had it booked, I didn't get the planning email and I totally forgot. We are going in April instead of May so I had less time and things seriously got away from me. Our usual company was already booked, so I ended up making a bunch of calls and freaked out because the other company prices were too high. I finally found one for around the price we normally pay so it all worked out but I was getting all mad at myself! The bus price is important because it is the biggest expense that can make or break your trip budget. To get your per child cost you would divide the total bus price by number of children going, and then add in the cost of admission and any other fees you have. We add in the cost for snacks on the bus and bus driver tip. I will add those to on to the price of the bus, divide by number of students, then add the admission cost to that total. Since admission can be anywhere from free to $30 depending on where the trip is going, a huge bus cost can make it too expensive. We have a small group of kids that fit on one bus, usually 35 kids or less. They normally tell you 42 people can fit on the buss, so you have to include teachers in your seating. At our school, teachers don't pay for the trip. Most places give you one free adult ticket for every 10 or so kids, or say all teacher are free.

Things you need to figure out are how much additional tickets/admission would be for any parent chaperones. You also need to decide how much of a bus tip to give. If you are making multiple stops then you would usually aim for a little higher tip. If you are providing any drinks or snacks you need to set a budget to figure out cost. I looked at items at Sam's Club to see how much a big thing of juice boxes would be, and estimated the cost of a box of snacks that would be enough for our group. I gave myself a little extra money just in case, because $40 vs $50 on snacks didn't make a huge difference on total cost per child. I ran my numbers a few times to triple check myself and to make sure I wasn't leaving anything out. I also adjusted a bit so I got a normal total to charge. (So it wasn't like $23.37 per kid lol)

I had to get a check for the bus deposit so I filled out that form. I also had to get cash for the tip and money to buy snacks ahead of time, so I requested those amounts, too. The cash for the driver too and money for snacks was written as a check to me that I would have to cash. I just need to save my receipt for the snacks and turn that in with my balance sheet at the end. I sent the bus contract and deposit money in to the company. I make copies or take a picture of everything I send in, just in case.

The next thing I do is fill out the field trip form so the secretary can print up copies to be sent home to parents. I also include a parent letter that provides more detailed information about our trip and let's parents know the cost of they would like to go, and any information I have about transportation/parking at the destination. I also restate the dress code for students and what they need to bring with them as far as a lunch goes. This letter usually gets stapled to the permission slip, but this year there was some miscommunication and I did t know the forms were going out the first day back from spring break. I hurried up and wrore a letter the teacher sent out the next day.

I check in with the teachers weekly about how many forms they have gotten back. When we have the majority of students turn their money in, I will go in and count the money/prepare the checks for deposit. I will also total up how many admission tickets I need. I have to get an idea of this because I have to request one check to our venue for all admissions. Occasional my we will have to pay a couple people in cash, but we try to have everyone's money turned in ahead of time to avoid that. I request a check for the remaining total on the bus to be given to the driver on the day of the Fieldtrip. I fill out the balance sheet and attach it with all the money I collected. I also fill out the master form to the venue which I will turn in to them with a check when we arrive.

The day of the trip I bring the snacks and drinks and arrive early to meet the bus driver. We usually bring a big cooler for everyone to put their lunch in. Sometimes we just use a huge black trash bag of we don't have a big enough cooler. If we are going somewhere that I think most people need help getting to, I will print directions out for everyone. I meet with the driver, settle payment and load all snacks on the bus. I make sure my chaperones know where they are going, and as the classes come out to load onto the bus I get the grouping from the teacher and assign students to parents. This cuts down on confusion when we arrive and makes sure all parents have kids to look after. Luckily this is a small group and most everyone knows each other so it's fairly easy. When we arrive I get off the bus first and get us checked in and handle all payments to the venue. I get our guide for the day if we have one and we get our group going. At this point I can relax and enjoy the trip. I just keep an eye on time for lunch and then boarding the bus back home. When we return I take care of tipping the driver and my job for the day is done.


  1. Whoa... I feel lucky that in all of my years as a room parent, the most I've been asked to do is plan/run the parties. This is a whole other level of stress.

  2. Yeah I agree. My head is spinning! I'd don't know how you manage to do everything you do in a day. This is enough for me not to want to be a room parent! I don't mind chaperoning but this stress is just too much. Hope this trip is already done LOL

  3. That's amazing. It's like a whole coordinator job! Your description totally stressed me out... I feel lucky that at my middle school, our lead teachers do the coordination and I just have to chaperone. :)