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Flying with Special Medical Considerations

Student groups that fly face unique challenges. Specifically, they must navigate the constantly changing rules and regulations of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA guidelines exist for the safety and security of all air travelers.  This includes those flying with special medical considerations.

Inevitably there will be a student on the trip who requires special medical attention. Whether s/he needs medication, equipment, is autistic or is hearing/vision impaired, be aware of the TSA’s procedures. A little research can go a long way in making the travel process easier.

Medication

Clearly label any medications (liquid or solid) since they may be screened or tested for explosives. Let the TSA officer know that they are medically necessary. Separate them from other items to be screened before beginning. Let the agent know about any items associated with the medicine (freezer packs, syringes, pumps, etc.). Declare any liquids that exceed the 3-1-1 rule at the checkpoint for inspection.

Autism/Spectrum Disorders

The screening process can be traumatic for students with autism or spectrum disorders. Inform the TSA officer of this situation as soon as possible. Students with these special needs can be screened with their traveling companions or chaperones. Share any medical documentation with the officer to determine how best to proceed.

External Medical Devices

Report any devices attached to a student’s body (feeding tube, insulin pump, etc.) to the TSA officer upon arrival. Share any documentation for the device and disconnect if possible before screening. If the device cannot be disconnected safely, follow manufacturer guidelines for exposure to X-rays, metal detectors or advanced imaging.

Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs and scooters require some pre-airport effort. Let the airline know in advance if your traveler has a power wheelchair.  Tell them the make, model and type of battery. Consider how s/he will transfer into the plane seat and snap a photo of the equipment in the event damage may occur.

Security presents a different challenge. Passengers with mobility issues can be screened through the advanced imaging technology, metal detector, or a pat-down. TSA officers will screen seat cushions and any non-removable pouches or fanny packs.

As the student boards the plane (pre-boarding should be available), s/he will need to be transferred to an aisle-sized wheelchair. The student’s personal chair will be returned upon landing, most likely at baggage claim.

Vision and Hearing Impaired

Students with vision or hearing impairments can ask for assistance with screening. Be aware that canes, Braille note-takers and other aids must go through an X-ray. Students with hearing aids or cochlear implants are NOT required to remove them. However, they may be required to undergo additional screenings such as pat down or inspection. Let the TSA officer know of these conditions so they can help.

Traveling with students is always an adventure. Students flying with special medical considerations make it even more so. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though. A little research and planning can make for smooth sailing – even through the endless security lines!

Flying With a Student Group

You’ve decided to skip the motorcoach and try taking to the air with your student group. What are the rules? What do you need to know to make your flight go as smoothly as possible? Flying with a student group can be intimidating. The regulations for air travel change constantly, making it easy to be overwhelmed. Below is a guide to help your group fly the friendly skies.

REAL ID

Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. According to the TSA website, “REAL ID-compliant cards are generally marked with a star located in the upper portion of the card.” Travelers younger than 18 do not need identification, but their adult companions and chaperones do.

What to Take on the Plane

Students and adults have very different ideas of what to take on the plane. Items teens deem necessary to survival are probably not. Think in terms of basics:

  • Photo ID / Passport
  • Snacks for the plane (check with group leader)
  • Backpack with a change of clothes in the event a bag is lost
  • Carry-on liquids, aerosols, creams and gels using the 3-1-1 rule (3.4 oz bottle or less; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger)
  • Headphones for electronic devices like cell phones and iPads (all set to airplane mode, of course!)

Packing Dos and Don’ts

There’s a LONG list of banned items for carry-on and/or checked bags by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Students may not realize items are prohibited and toss them in a purse or backpack, causing delays or even fines. Some items include:

  • Nail clippers with files
  • Pocket knife
  • Pepper spray
  • Electronic lighters, plasma lighters, arc lighters
  • Insect repellent

Students will be glad to know that any artificial skeleton bones or live fish are welcome to tag along!  Be sure to check the list before packing to eliminate any confusion.

Surviving Security

Everyone dreads the security line, but it’s necessary for the safety of all air travelers. Herding a group of students through the long and winding lines can be difficult, but a little advance prep can make it easier:

Plan to remove your shoes. Unless you are over the age of 75, you will probably be asked to take them off

Eliminate the heavy metal. Skip the big belt buckles, heavy metallic jewelry and keys or be prepared to remove them all at security for screening. If you have body piercings, remove them or plan on a pat down

Remove your laptop before passing through security. In some cases, you may be asked to remove all electronics from your bag to be scanned individually

Tips for Success

This may be the first time flying for some of your students. If so, you may want to share some tips to simplify the process. Repeat travelers will benefit from a friendly reminder as well:

Do not lock luggage for easier TSA accessibility

Discreetly label bags with identifying information

Make sure any checked bags are less than 50 lbs.

Limit carry on items to one bag and one personal item (handbag, backpack, briefcase, laptop computer, with or without a bag)

NEVER leave luggage unattended

NEVER joke about bombs, firearms or terrorism while traveling. There is no quicker way to gain unwanted attention from the TSA! Any and all comments of this nature are considered real threats

Flying with a student group will get you to your destination quickly and efficiently. Following these guidelines will help to ensure that it’s simple, easy and fun!

Teacher Tips For Promoting Trips

If you travel with students, you know how much work goes into planning the perfect trip. When you put your heart and soul into organizing, it’s incredibly frustrating when sign-ups don’t go as planned. You’re not alone. Others (many others!) have been through this process and can share some great tips for promoting trips.

Plan with A Partner

If you have a teaching partner or good friend in your building, ask them to join the trip! You’ll gain a much broader base of support for your adventure if you take it beyond your own classroom walls.

Hype It In Class

Talk up the trip with your students at every opportunity. Share snippets from the destination you’ll be visiting. Relate your instructional content to the trip. Find unique ways to catch students’ interest. For example, if you’re heading to Boston, read Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings” to your class. If you know Ford’s Theatre is part of your itinerary, introduce them to “Our American Cousin,” the ill-fated play that Lincoln was watching on the night of his assassination. There are lots of ways to make your trip relevant and engaging for students!

Host A Parent Meeting

Host an informational parent meeting as early as possible. Getting students interested is half the battle; getting parents on board is a bit trickier. Bringing everyone together to discuss trip details, share benefits of student travel, address safety concerns will fast track your trip. Once parents are comfortable with the itinerary, sign-ups are a snap.

Embrace Social Media

Use social media to your advantage. Some of us may not appreciate the value of Instagram or Twitter but I guarantee your students do! Find creative ways to post information or build excitement for the trip. Maybe you’ll even go viral!

Make it Affordable

Keep the trip costs in check by offering fundraising opportunities. There are some awesome fundraisers available beyond the usual car wash or candy sale to make your trip accessible to all.

Count on the Experts

When in doubt, contact the expert trip planners at Kaleidoscope Adventures for a helping hand. You’ll have access to the best tips and tools as well as the collective experience of more than 25 years in the student travel industry. KA’s reputation for excellence is unparalleled and highly recommended among educators.

As you begin to plan, keep these tips for promoting trips in mind. A little effort goes a long way in pumping up participation and making your journey a success!

Tips For Surviving and Thriving During Your First Band Camp

My son is a gifted saxophonist. He shined brightly in his middle school band, as well as in many regional competitions and festivals. Having no musical abilities whatsoever, my husband and I basked in his accomplishments without truly understanding the effort he put forth to achieve them. We assumed that the hour or two he stayed after school was all the commitment necessary to be a successful musician. Then he started high school and joined the band….

Holy Moly. I had NO idea what participation in marching band involved! Practices started the week school ended and have been increasing in intensity ever since. Now we’ve moved into the final stretch of summer and BAND CAMP is upon us. Having been through football camp, baseball camp, cheer camp, dance camp (you get the idea), I thought I was somewhat prepared. I was not. Band camp requires physical stamina, discipline and serious organizational skills- and that’s just for the parents!

Freshmen are feeling their way through these first crazy weeks of band camp. The days are long, hot and tiring but lots of fun! Below are some tips to help your newcomer survive AND thrive!

LOTS OF LIQUIDS

Be sure to stay well-hydrated during the steamy days of band camp. Fill your biggest water bottle (we use a jug) with ice and water and be sure to refill often.

FOOD FOR FUEL

Eat well during these weeks. Hauling instruments around for eight hours a day is surprisingly rigorous and requires healthy meals and snacks.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are essential for long days in the sun. Lightweight shorts, comfortable shoes, and white t-shirts help as well. Fanny packs will help keep you organized while keeping hands free. If you aren’t a “fan” of the fanny pack, wear some cargo shorts to easily carry notecards, pens or other necessities.

EXTRA ESSENTIALS

Extra items that may be helpful include note cards on a spiral ring, chalk for marking placement, balm for chapped lips, extra instrumental supplies and a poncho (they can’t all be sunny days!).

REST AND REJUVENATE

A good night’s sleep is vital to making it through the long and strenuous days. This really shouldn’t be a problem, though, as odds are good your freshman will fall into bed!

CONTROL THE CLUTTER

It seems the only thing longer than camp days is the time it takes to complete the paperwork! It’s a never-ending barrage of consent forms, order forms, permission slips, medical forms, fundraisers and more.  Keep control of the chaos by keeping everything in one central location (think office file, folder, etc.) and keep the due dates on a checklist on the front.

PARTNER WITH THE PROS

Freshmen will always have to pay their dues as band newbies, but upperclassmen are kinder than we think. Team up with one of the more seasoned participants for advice on how to navigate these new waters.

My rookie is currently in the thick of band camp and seems to be faring well, despite the arduous days. These few common-sense suggestions can help make the new recruits’ time in the trenches a bit more bearable!