10 Travel Tips for Band Directors
There’s a lot to think about when you plan a performance trip. You must determine your destination, find the perfect performance venue, and plan amazing activities – the logistics are endless! But after 29+ years in the business, we’ve learned a thing or two. Here are 10 travel tips for band directors to keep in mind as you hit the road.
1. Consult the Calendar
Before you even think about where you’re going, think about when you’re going. Check the school calendar for conflicts with other activities, testing schedules, special events, etc.
You can plan the best trip in the world, but it won’t matter if no one can go.
2. Choose a Great Destination
Keep in mind that there are countless student-friendly destinations that will warmly welcome your group- and they don’t always need to include a theme park or a mouse!
Think outside the box and explore options that make sense for your group. Need some inspiration?
Most importantly, give your students a chance to explore these amazing places. Get local and dig into the destination. There’s history, arts, culture, and excitement in every adventure!
3. Build in Practice Time
As you think about your itinerary, be sure to build in plenty of practice time. Sometimes we become so focused on the performance that we forget we need time and space to get ready for it.
4. Think Through Transportation
Weigh your transportation options carefully. Considerations for air travel are different than travel by bus or motorcoach. While most groups do choose to go by bus, there are pandemic-related challenges to think about.
5. Ask About ID
If your travels will take you out of the country or require a flight, your students may need an ID. If you cross the border by land into Canada, anyone younger than 19 will need a birth certificate. Other international travel requires a passport (which typically takes at least 7-10 weeks.)
You should also require students to use legal names on any travel-related forms or documents (no nicknames.)
6. Pick the Perfect Chaperones
The politics involved in picking chaperones can be the stuff of nightmares! Be clear with your expectations and how your helpers are chosen.
Here’s a helpful guide to make the process easier…
7. Expect the Unexpected
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Be prepared for whatever may pop up by setting clear cancellation policies and offering trip protection.
It’s also imperative to outline emergency procedures with students, parents, and chaperones. Use communication apps like Remind or GroupMe and review emergency plans for the hotel, bus, and attractions.
Communicate discipline plans with clear consequences as well. Everyone should understand behavioral expectations and the repercussions of breaking the rules.
8. Keep Mobility and Other Special Needs in Mind
When you’re thinking through planned stops or activities, keep mobility issues and other special needs in mind. Research accessibility at hotels, attractions, and transportation. Consider changes in routine, crowded places, or sensory overload.
If you are flying with special medical considerations, there are unique protocols to follow as well.
9. Color Code
One of the simplest ways to keep track of your crew is to color code shirts, bags, or even lanyards. Bold, bright colors will help your students stand out in a crowd, making counting heads a little easier.
10. Use Common Sense
We all know that common sense and teenagers do not necessarily go hand in hand. Sometimes you just have to spell it out for them!
- Packing list (set limits or they will pack the kitchen sink)
- Follow school/group rules at all times
- Check for food allergies before packing travel snacks
- Wear closed-toe, comfortable walking shoes
- Use payment apps when possible (keep cash to a minimum)
- ALWAYS use the buddy system
- Limit the use of perfumes, body sprays, etc.
- Remember the “golden” rule (What goes in the bus toilet, stays with you in the bus toilet)
Listen to an Expert
Doug Fulwood is a seasoned band director with 22 years under his belt. He’s also been the Fine Arts Director at Royse City Independent School District in Texas for the last three years. Doug now shares his experiences with directors everywhere by hosting the Band Hacks podcast.
Doug has traveled with students since 2000 and dedicates an entire episode to planning overnight trips with students. Check out his in-the-trenches tips below
Get a handle on all the details by planning with an experienced partner. Let a student tour operator do the heavy lifting with itineraries, documents, payments, registration, and fundraising.
Be sure your planning partner is a member of the Student Youth Travel Association and checks all the important boxes:
Travel Tips for Band Directors
Simplify your planning process with these helpful travel tips for band directors. Better yet – let a planning partner do the heavy lifting so you can get back to what you do best!
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