If your organization travels, this section will provide valuable resources to make your trip as smooth as possible.
This Travel: Take the Show on the Road (195 kB)
Whether you prefer to plan travel on your own or enlist the help of a professional student tour operator this article is a must read for anyone planning to travel with a group! Mark Harting shares his experiences from over 25 years as an assistant band and choir director, music department chair, and student group travel consultant.
Mark Harting, Music Travel Consultants; Reprinted with permission by Song in Motion Magazine
Tips for Hassle Free Travel
By Marsha Mourdock, Former Booster President, Alan C. Pope H.S., GA
I remember in 1999 organizing a trip to London, England for 200 students plus staff and chaperones. It was particularly challenging….passports were needed…there was the Y2K scare…there were terrorist threats…there was talk of cancelling the trip…All of these complicated the planning of this trip.
I had nightmares about the flights. The band was going to be on four different flights with plane changes in various cities. In every dream, Mr. Gribble, the director, would be in England with two of the flights, and I would be in Hawaii with the other two. Every time, the conversation was the same, “Marsha, you need to get those students to London immediately.” My reply was always, “Yes Sir, I will try.” Thank goodness, when we finally made the trip, all flights ended in London and so did the nightmares!
Where in the world is your band going this year? Be it just down the road or across the continent, moving a band around can be challenging and traumatic or it can be trouble-free and relaxed. Planning and communication are key to fun and safe travel. Here are some checkpoints for travel.
- Know what the purpose of the trip is and plan all other activities around it. Be certain to keep this purpose in mind when planning other activities.
- Be certain that the director, trip coordinator, and chaperons are aware of each other’s plans for an activity. The trip coordinator should work with the director and advise the chaperones of the plans involving the director only as needed. If you are working with a travel company, be certain to include the tour escort in planning while on the trip. He/she may know important information concerning a venue or activity.
- Plan certain incidental things into the overall cost of a trip. These can add up fast and cause an unnecessary burden on the students and their parents if not planned out in advance. Such costs to include might be the following: water for rehearsals or after performances for the students, a rental car that might be used for transportation for the director to special meetings, transporting of students for medical aid, or other emergencies, gratuities, plan for at least one unforeseen meal or snack, ground transportation (subway or bus). It is wise to carry some extra cash, to have a credit card, or a blank check from your booster group for any emergencies.
- Be certain to inform the hotel that only room to room calling should be allowed, that there is to be no room service, that there should be no movie rentals, and that you will not be responsible for bottled water or snacks that are for sale in the rooms. These and any other special wishes, i.e. girls on one floor, boys on another, and chaperons intermingled among those rooms, etc. need to be made before signing any agreement with the hotel. Communicate with the hotels often.
- Special dietary needs of students and other travelers need to be taken into account. Make certain to share the dietary needs with the restaurants or airline before your arrival. If accommodations cannot be made where you are planning to eat, have a plan for obtaining the needed special diet meal. Sometimes it is necessary to have an available chaperon take them to another location.
- Be aware of medical needs of students, staff, and chaperons. Carry all medical forms with you at all times. It is best if you can have a nurse as a chaperone. Any allergy or seizure prone students should be known by all chaperons. Follow your school’s policy for transporting medications your students may need.
- Coach drivers are limited to driving time; check on these regulations to be certain their driving time matches your schedule. Be certain that there will be enough seats for students, staff, chaperones, and equipment. It is always wise to allow two empty seats for ill passengers. Be certain the coach company you use is safe; low pricing should serve as a caution light.
- Prepare room lists and coach/plane lists in advance. Limit changes in these lists. Room changes must be reported to the hotels once lists have been submitted to the hotel. Changing flights is extremely difficult.
- Always take attendance on the coaches after a stop before the coaches move out. Always check the coaches at the destination to be certain that no one is left sleeping on the coaches!
- Have an alternate activity planned in case of inclement weather or in the event a venue is closed.
- Make arrangement for eating weeks ahead. Be certain the restaurant can accommodate your numbers. Always call ahead to the restaurant with which you have arranged your meal one to two hours before your arrival to make certain that they are still expecting you.
- Be certain to have signed release forms to get emergency treatment for your students. Some hospitals or emergency treatment centers require a signed form to release a student back to you after treatment. It is wise to carry both signed release forms with you.
- If passports are needed, begin very early to encourage all travelers to get started on the process. Sometimes, a passport photographer can come to your location to shoot photos for your travelers.
- Prepare and share a cell phone list of directors, chaperones, and equipment team for this trip. A list of student cell phone numbers is suggested for the chaperons.
Following these tips can make your trip one that is genuinely trouble-free and relaxing. There will inevitably be some unforeseen dilemma, but, because you have prepared and planned, you will be able to direct your full attention to this recent obstacle, to cope with it, and to fully take pleasure in your travels.
Image courtesy David G. Hawkins.