Know Before You Go: Travel

Ground transportation

Ames is a great driving destination and within a day’s drive for many of your teams. Located just 25 miles north of Des Moines, Ames sits on the northwest corner of US HWY 30 and I-35; it’s very easy to get to!

Air transportation – Des Moines International Airport (DSM)

Des Moines International Airport (DSM), which is located about 45-minutes to the south of Ames, has more than 100 daily arrivals and departures.

DSM partner airlines offer over 20 nonstop routes.

American Airlines | Allegiant | Delta | Frontier | Southwest | United

Other nearby airports

The Eastern Iowa Airport (CID) is located in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is a 1 ½ hour drive to Ames. –

The Dubuque Regional Airport is located in Dubuque, IA, and is a 3 hour drive to Ames –

Please note, travelers are responsible for finding their own transportation to and from these airports.

Airport Shuttles

Discover Ames is offering round trip shuttle service for Odyssey of the Mind teams from the Des Moines International Airport (DSM) ONLY. DSM is a 45- minute drive from Ames. The arrival shuttle will run between the airport and OM Registration site at Sukup End Zone Club at Jack Trice Stadium.

Shuttles will be scheduled to accommodate Odyssey group arrivals and are not available at regular intervals or to other destinations. Delayed flights will be accommodated as quickly as possible.

Arrival service is available Monday, May 20 and Tuesday, May 21. Limited arrival shuttles on Sunday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 22.

Departure service is available Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25. No departure shuttles are available on Sunday, May 26.

What you will need to request an airport shuttle:

  • Cost per person for a round trip shuttle (arrival and departure) is $75; paid with a credit card or by check (payment must be received by time of service).
  • Deadline to request an airport shuttle is: May 3, 2024
  • Team Membership Number
  • How many people are you requesting a shuttle for
  • If your team is traveling on several different flights; you will need to complete the reservations multiple times based on travel schedule.
  • Arrival Airline, Arrival Flight Number, Arrival Date, Arrival Time (arrival time of the flight NOT the time you want a shuttle)
  • Departure Airline, Departure Flight, Departure Date, Departure Time (time of the flight NOT the time you want a shuttle)
  • On-site Contact – Name, email, cell phone of the adult(s) that will be on-site with the group on travel days. The individuals listed in this section will be receiving the communication from Discover Ames on their shuttles.
  • For more information or to make your shuttle reservation, visit:

Cost per person for a round trip shuttle: $75.00
Airport Shuttle Deadline is May 3, 2024 at 11:59 PM CST

Departure information will be available during the week of Odyssey and posted to by Friday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m. The on-site contact provided during registration will be emailed this link as well. It will also be included in the registration confirmation.

Questions regarding Airport Shuttles may be directed to Discover Ames: Katie Kramer, Director of Visitor Experience | 515-817-6312

Additional Transportation Options

Out of state flight arrivals:

For flights from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), charter service can be arranged through the two companies listed below. Please mention Odyssey of the Mind World Finals when inquiring about reservations.

  Executive Express:  Windstar Lines:

Additional ground transportation options:

Des Moines International Airport (DSM) visit:

Cedar Rapids International Airport (CID) visit:

Campus Housing

  Most residence rooms are double occupancy rooms; however, there are a few single, triple and quad occupancy rooms. The majority of housing areas have group bathrooms (shared by a floor) located nearby the sleeping rooms. A few housing accommodations have suite-style sleeping rooms with several rooms (up to four people) sharing a bathroom and some space is like an apartment with a kitchenette and living room. Beds are single (twin) beds, most of which will be lofted over room furniture, and a few futon-style beds. Lofted beds have ladders to help the guests access the bed in the lofted space. Air-conditioned rooms are not guaranteed.

  Refrigerators are not supplied in any residence rooms unless requested for medical use. Please plan accordingly when making your housing plans.

  Your team will be pre-assigned rooms in residence housing on campus. In order to accommodate all teams, it will be necessary to assign one person to every available bed. This means that if a team has 9 persons assigned to rooms with a total of 10 beds, there may be a person from another team of the same gender and similar age assigned to the remaining space. Males and females may be assigned within the same residence hall room if requested. Males and females may be assigned within the same suite or apartment, but not within the same sleeping room unless requested. Please inform team members of this possibility.

  Each person will be provided with a pillow, pillowcase, sheets, blanket, 2 towels, 1 washcloth & soap. Daily towel exchanges will be available at a centralized location. Laundry facilities will be available within the residence area; cost of laundry and detergent is the person’s responsibility.

Off Campus Housing

Some teams will be assigned to off campus housing. These locations will have shuttles to campus (shuttles will not be a continuous loop; a shuttle schedule will be provided at team check-in and posted in the lobby of the hotels with morning shuttle times and evening return times from campus as well as late night shuttle schedule for the special events during the week). All teams housed off-campus by the university will be provided breakfast at their hotel and attendees will eat lunches and dinners at a designated dining center on campus.

Special Housing

If you have a team member with a medically required special housing assignment need (e.g., “uses wheelchair/quadriplegic and must have wheelchair accessible room & bathroom” or “has broken leg and using crutches/cannot manage a lofted bed/needs minimal stairs”), list the member’s full name, contact telephone number, email address and description of requirement when you submit your Lodging/Meals Reservation. Please indicate only medically required housing and dining needs that may affect placement.

24-Hour Assistance

A 24-Hour Conference Desk will be located in each residence area. Guests who have questions about housing or dining should feel free to call or stop by their Conference Desk. The 24-Hour Desks can store medications requiring refrigeration (refrigerators are not supplied in all residence rooms). Bring medications in small, well-labeled containers.

Lost Keys – Residence Halls

Be sure to keep track of your keys! At check in, you will receive an envelope with all your keys, use this as a handy resource to gather them all to turn in at check-out.

Keys must be returned at check-out; charges will be assessed for unreturned keys (up to $150). If lost keys are found, turn them in to one of the 24- hour residence hall desks or to the OM information desk.

Responsible for your own belongings

Iowa State University, Ames Hotels and Creative Competitions, Inc. shall assume no responsibility for theft, destruction or loss of money, valuables, or other personal property belonging to Odyssey of the Mind participants, for any reason. Please inform your team members to keep their room doors locked at all times, and do not leave valuables in public areas.

Booking Hotels

Teams wishing to make their own hotel arrangements should check for availability through our local partners, Discover Ames. Important note: Teams should be aware that due to a large concert happening in Ames on Saturday, May 25, hotel rooms may be in much more limited supply than normal!

Dining Centers

Teams will be assigned to a specific dining center for your meals. All persons who have purchased an Odyssey of the Mind housing package will be issued a color-coded wristband allowing them into the appropriate dining center. Meals typically include a selection of entrees, hot and cold side dishes, salad bar, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a variety of desserts and beverages. ISU Dining may choose to substitute some meals as pick-up-and-go meals when appropriate (notices to be shared at arrival).

Off Campus Dining

In addition to the meals offered as part of your package, Ames offers a variety of dining options in the community. If your plans include dining off-campus, visit for options.

Guest Meals

Individual guest meals can be purchased at the entrance of the dining center or at the Memorial Union.

Convenience stores are located within the residence facilities and on the ISU campus. They carry a wide variety of beverages, snacks, ISU souvenirs, cards for residence hall washers and dryers, laundry supplies and personal care items.

Please note that on Iowa State campus, dining centers, Memorial Union, and Convenience Stores are cash-less; cards are only accepted for payment.

Special dietary needs

Most of our dining centers are able to accommodate individuals with these allergens: dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy. When Registering, if anyone in your group has dietary allergies, please list the member’s full name, contact telephone number, email address and list the allergens (see above list) for the medically-required dietary needs on the lodging & meals reservation. If you are requesting Halal or Kosher diets, please complete the form using the same process as above. Those who are unable to self-manage their dietary allergies, such as celiac disease, will be assigned to a specific dining area.

Many other dietary needs or preferences (such as for those who have diabetes; are vegetarians, etc.) can be accommodated simply by choosing appropriately from the wide variety of choices that will be available at each meal. These types of needs should not be listed on the lodging and meals reservation.

Please note, ingredients used in our recipes may be produced in a facility that may contain common food allergens such as, but not limited to: dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy. Food served in our facilities may not be allergen free even if they are initially made with products that don’t contain the allergen.

Courtesy Reminders

Guests must present their wristbands at all meals served within the ISU Dining facilities. Food and beverages may not be carried out of the dining rooms (for example, no filling of water bottles, coolers and mugs). Shirts and shoes are required in the dining center; swimwear and sleepwear are not acceptable attire. Guests shall not engage in conduct which is disruptive to other guests or University programs.