Travel tips, tricks and bloopers: 35 years of BRT’s lessons learned
We’re celebrating our 35th anniversary in many ways, but one that we are excited to share are some of the helpful tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way that may help you as you’re planning your first (or 10th!) student travel experience. And because moments matter to us, no matter how special or silly they are, we had to share some of our bloopers as well. So grab a pencil and take note of our best suggestions to make your upcoming trip smooth, special and most of all, memorable.
Our Performance Travel Tips
At BRT, it’s our job to be prepared and to make every single one of our directors, students and parents feel the same. We’ve learned so many things in our 35 years and love to share valuable tips like these throughout the planning process:
Plan as far out as you can – try to get your trip price set before kids leave for the summer, and require a non-refundable deposit before the last day of the school year.
Create a “text” group (only available for your particular school group) so students are aware of updates and meeting times. (Learn how here)
Always try to fill the motor coach. Most of them are 55 or 56 seats. When you fill the motor coach it will keep the cost as low as possible. If you are a couple of people over, consider having a car follow behind the coach to help keep costs low.
Research items to purchase as souvenirs – Make them more meaningful by making sure you’re buying something authentic from that country (ex. Irish Wool, Danish Amber, Swedish Crystal) don’t buy something with a label that says made in China (unless you’re in China).
At the end of each traveling day, take five minutes to jot down your favorite parts of the day and the new or special things you experienced. It can even be in the notes section of your cell phone. It’s fun to look back and recall those memories at a later time. Use a phone app like 1 Second Everyday to capture small moments from your adventures. It can even be the little sights and sounds of where you visit.
Expert Performance Travel Tricks
While every trip we plan is unique and customized, we have the planning process down to a science. But even after 5,000 trips planned, we’re still adding to our bag of tricks. Here are some of our favorites:
Place a dryer sheet inside your suitcase to ensure your clean clothes don’t take on the odors of the dirty ones! Place a binder clip over your razor blade to preserve it and prevent you from getting nicked! Cover the bottoms of your shoes with shower caps to prevent dirt from getting all over your suitcase.
Have each student bring an envelope with $10 bills for meals en route so they don’t spend all of their money at the destination.
Depending on where you’re going, have games and team building activities for the bus ride. Car BINGO, I Spy, I’m Going on a Band Trip and I am Bringing, Telephone, etc. This way not everyone is on his or her cell phones the whole time.
“Ground floor” is either G or 0 in Europe, but 1 in the U.S.
If you’re traveling abroad, make a photocopy of your passport and give it to someone that you are traveling with – if your passport is stolen, someone else is safely carrying the copy you can use to get an emergency one at the local embassy.
I’ve seen a couple groups plan a “secret” event. They work together with their Travel Consultant to include something special, and do not share the information with their students. For example, a “talk back” session after a Broadway Show. This is a fun way to surprise your students that they will never forget!
Moments can be memorable for so many reasons – especially when you remember them with a good laugh:
So, if you have a foreign exchange student going to Canada from the US, please make sure they request a VISA to visit Canada and return to the US. Otherwise he will have to stay with a chaperone in a hotel at Niagara Falls for 3 days while the rest of the group goes to Toronto.
During our Orlando trip, my students bought me a “World’s Greatest Dad” trophy.
Getting a 4:30 AM wake-up call that my group was running late and wasn’t going to be able to stop for breakfast. So we had to walk to Dunkin Donuts at 5:00 AM and order 20 dozen donuts.
After asking a venue what the group should wear during a performance, getting the response “well, they should be wearing SOMETHING…”
When on tour, a freshman forgot their black shoes and was going to have to march through Disney in just their socks as no one had a backup pair of black shoes. Luckily the motor coach driver came to the rescue and allowed the student to borrow their black shoes for the parade.
We’ve loved every minute and memory of our 35 years in business and can’t wait to see what we learn next. If you have an upcoming trip planned and are looking for specific tips about packing, chaperones, traveling abroad, etc., explore our past blog posts or simply reach out to us.
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