Getting to World Finals

Odyssey of the Mind Pin Trading at World Finals

Advice from Coaches About Getting Your Props and Sets to World Finals

Here is a collection of advice from past World Final Team coaches. These have been edited for clarity.

Leslie Volk:

In our first year going to World Finals, our team decided to check all of our props on the airline along with our baggage. We found this to be the cheapest solution for us. It also allowed us to make improvements to our props at home closer to the competition. We also liked the security of knowing that our props arrived safely with us and that we would have access to them as soon as we arrived on site. We boxed our props into cardboard boxes and each team member checked one additional “bag” on the flight. Large PVC pipe was packed into a ski bag and easily checked on the airline. If other teams take this route, it is important to be aware of the luggage size requirements of the airline! Also, this shipping process required a fair amount of reassembly for the kids once we arrived at World Finals, but we knew we would have sufficient time.

In our second year, we shipped our props directly to the hotel where we were staying. The props arrived a couple of days before our arrival and we arranged with the hotel to keep our shipment in their luggage storage until we arrived. We used “Boxes for Moving and Storage/Shipping Solutions” in Concord. They were great with boxing our props in cardboard boxes efficiently and cost-consciously. I highly recommend them for boxing and shipping! However, this was more expensive than boxing ourselves and checking on the airline, but it was easier for us. When designing our props for the second year, we took into account that we would possibly need to ship them. We designed them such that they could be broken down relatively easily with less reassembly upon arrival. Large PVC piping was expensive to ship, so once again we used a ski bag checked on the airline with our bags.


Jesscia Hallett

As far as last year, we packed everything in a suitcase! Shipping was horrific price-wise and taking it on the plane in a large box also was not conducive price-wise. So we actually had to take it apart and buy a piece of plywood when we got to World Finals, and rebuilt the props.

I fit my suitcase with clothes inside the prop suitcase on the way home!


Kathi Dente

We used a company called YRC out of Marin (Yellow Freight). [Note: YRC declared bankruptcy, December, 2023, editor] They then did a pick-up at the Sydney Page Foundation in Walnut Creek. It ended up being about $175 for each team. A parent from the Stanley team that placed 5th last year. He helped even though his team did not go to World Finals. It does take a parent to wrangle the group.


Heather Cullen

We used the UPS shipping store. They were super helpful. We also called local shipping companies all around and compared prices. I would do this in advance so you know exactly how tall and wide to build your crates. ALSO…the bottom crate needs to be accessible on ALL sides for a forklift.


Lori Dabaco

We have done both – shipped and checked with luggage.

Shipping is a great option if there is a coordinated effort to reduce the cost. Just don’t forget to pack tools with you (not in the crate) to open the crate. 😉 Both times we used homemade crates (Lots of YouTube videos with plans available) at a cost of about $135 in supplies. Shipping ranged from $180-329. We shipped with 8 other teams using YRC. We had some restrictions: 1 pallet each, 550 lb total (for the 8 pallets), and 48X60X30 max (Crate + Pallet) for $179.50/per team. In 2017 we had more generous size/wt allotments, but it was $329/team. Also, access to a loading dock, pallet jack or lift bed on the truck is very helpful.

We have also brought our props with us. We put things in whatever size container we could fit. Usually at least one person on the team will have some free checked bag allotments. Check airlines for max dimensions to avoid oversize fees. Divide up heavy items to avoid overweight fees. BIG HINT: Most airlines have exceptions for musical instruments and sporting equipment. We used a TV Box as a great way to ship large flat items – at check-in the women at the counter “assumed” there was a bicycle inside and we saved $200! A kiteboard bag was used to transport long items – again at no extra charge. Be creative!

The advantage of shipping is that your supplies are readily available in the Prop Room at Worlds. If you are carrying props with you and are staying in the dorms, I recommend that you bring your props to the Prop Room as soon as possible to stake out an unpacking area. If you are not in the dorms, some hotels will let you use a conference room to organize your props, just be courteous and ask permission.


Lesley Stewart

Here is a rundown of what our team did to prep for World Finals. Our team did not crate our items, we took everything on the plane.

Kids cut the PVC pipes for the backdrop down to fit all pieces in an old suitcase which we then tossed after competition. We carried the fabric that hung from the PVC in our regular suitcase.

Our problem 2 device was packed into a bike box that we checked on the airplane with a few vital props.

At World Finals we shared an Airbnb which served as our re-construction zone where the kids were able to put everything back together, do repairs and practice. Having that space worked really well for us. Our rental cars included 2 vans to transport people/props etc.

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