In many programs, coaches will have assistance in making travel arrangements or the coach may not be involved in this at all – whether because parents plan travel for their children or because the team has a manager that makes the arrangements.

However, all coaches need to understand the basic considerations that should be taken into account when teams
are travelling:

  1. Physical Safety
  2. Safe Food and Drink
  3. Safekeeping of Documents

1. Physical Safety

Travelling to other cities or countries can be an exciting part of being involved in sport, particularly a sport as popular as basketball is throughout the world. Whenever travelling, the physical safety of all members of the team must be paramount. Accordingly:

  • Many governments issue “Travel Advisory” notes regarding travel to certain countries. Coaches should be familiar with these and seek further information from the club or competition organisers;
  • When travelling overseas, check with a doctor whether particular vaccinations or other precautions are advised;
  • All cities have areas that are not as safe for tourists. Before booking hotels, find out which areas of the city are recommended to avoid. Speaking with coaches of other teams (that either live in the city or may have played there before) can help;
  • Players should never leave the hotel by themselves and should always make sure that others know when they are leaving and where they are going;
  • Take the time to find out about specific customs that exist. This can avoid the team being involved in an embarrassing situation! Travel websites are often a good source of information;
  • If travelling by car or mini-bus, coaches must take care to know distances to be travelled. Fatigue is a very common cause of road accidents and coaches should avoid driving long distances overnight. Wherever possible have at least two drivers and if travel is more than 4 or 5 hours factor in a specific “travel day” rather than travelling after the game;
  • Assign players “buddies”, with each having responsibility to make sure their “buddy” knows important logistic arrangements (e.g. when the bus leaves) and that they are on time.

2. Safe Food and Drink

There are many instances where a team’s performance has been adversely affected by players being ill due to something they have eaten or drunk when travelling. An equally common problem, but less recognized, is when athletes find the food when travelling unpalatable and simply do not eat enough.

Accordingly, precautions need to be taken:

  • Find out whether or not tap water is safe for drinking and if in doubt use bottled water. Bottled water should also be used when brushing teeth;
  • Identify restaurants that have food similar to what the players are used to. Other coaches may be able assist with this. Many cities also have a tourist advisory service (often available through the internet) which may be able to assist;
  • If possible, take some food items with you (e.g. many Australian teams take Vegemite);
  • Monitor how much food players are eating at meals.

3. Safekeeping of Documents

Passports and visas are critical documents when travelling, which may not be easily replaced and must be kept safe at all times. At tournaments, the accreditation that enables team members to access the playing venue and accommodation are equally important.

These documents (and other valuables such as phones, watches etc.) need to be kept safe from being stolen but equally need to be kept safe from simply being left behind inadvertently. Some steps that can be taken are:

  • Take copies of all passports and visas. These can be kept electronically as well as a team manager or coach
    keeping copies;
  • Team manager or coach collects all passports after arrival in a country and keeps them together (using hotel safes where possible);
  • Don’t leave valuables (including accreditation cards) in changing rooms at the playing venue. Instead, have them collected by a coach or manager and kept in a bag that is with them all the time;
  • Pack away computer equipment when it is left in hotel rooms (e.g. in the bottom of a bag);
  • Have a checklist of all equipment that the team has (e.g. balls, cameras, first aid kit) and have someone check that all items have been collected before leaving a venue.