Tournament travel varies, depending on the tournament. There’s sort of a “tier” system, per se:
LOCALS – there are eight tournaments on the “local” circuit (PBCFL), all on a Saturday (one each in September, October, November, December, January, February, March, and April). Most, if not all, will be within Palm Beach County or Martin County. Travel for these is essentially “on your own” – car pooling, parental driving, or student driving (ONLY within county boundaries, and ONLY if that’s allowed by the parents), with ALL required paperwork on file. Tournaments are “all-day” affairs; students need to be on the host school campus by 7:30 a.m. that day (on-site registration shuts down at 7:45 a.m., and rounds start at 8 a.m. prompt!), and the awards ceremony will usually be over by 4:30 p.m.
In early February is the Florida Forensic League Macaw regional qualifier, where students have the opportunity to advance to the state championship tournament the first weekend in March. There is also a “novice state championship” tournament hosted by the FFL in April, where first-year debaters compete.
REGIONALS – these are tournaments in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, such as the Crestian Tradition, Nova Titan Invitational, or University School Sunvitational, where programs generally arrange car pools ahead of time. Students are not allowed to drive out of county, per school district policy.
OUT-OF-AREA WITHIN FLORIDA – Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Gainesville, etc. definitely fall here – schools usually pool together and travel via charter bus for these tournaments, with adult chaperones (at a 1-to-10 adult-student ratio).
OUT OF STATE – For tournaments such as Yale, Harvard, UPenn, George Mason, Emory, Princeton, The Glenbrooks, etc., airline travel is usually the only viable option. While these are geared primarily for varsity students, novices are more than welcome to attend (as entry spots are available).
New coaches/programs should not feel obligated to do every tournament. Focus on the “local” circuit first, possibly adding one or two more regional tourneys, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed right out of the gate.