So you and your students are hopping across the pond, bound for a European adventure. Planning and funding a trip to Europe for your band, choir, orchestra or dance group is no easy task! But before you board that transatlantic flight, here are our 8 top tips every group leader should know.
Traveling as a group attracts attention, especially in international locations. Be sure your group keeps its valuables safe by keeping bags closed, money and phones hidden and important documents left locked in hotel safes. Pro tip: encourage students to take a photocopy of their passport in case the real one gets lost or misplaced or upload those copies to a secure, cloud-based storage site for easy access.
Keep in Touch
At least one person in the group should set up and international calling/data pan on their phone to allow contact back home in case of emergency, to check email, maps, and to translate signs along the way. While you may be able to find free Wifi here and there, it’s not always reliable.
Make students aware of the potential costs of calling home if they don’t have international plans on their phone. Pro tip: brief your group in the correct adapters and chargers they will need for European outlets for everything from their iPhones to their hairdryers.
Food + Drink
The local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience a new city, country or culture. However, groups can’t expect the same personalized experience as when dining at home. Additionally, if you’re traveling with students over 18, you need to ensure the policy for alcohol consumption is clear. Throughout Europe, 18 is the legal drinking age and the attitude toward alcohol is often more relaxed.
It is imperative that some time is spent on learning about cultural differences between home and the destination to make sure the group is prepared. For instance, group leaders need to be aware of any clothing requirements for visiting churches or similar places so no one is denied entry.
Make sure your students have bank cards that are accepted in the country they are traveling to and access to emergency funds. They also need to be aware of credit card security and how to withdraw money at ATMs. Costs of withdrawing cash at foreign ATMs are extremely high. It’s imperative that group leaders discuss how much cash students will need to have on hand. Changing this at home is cheaper than other places, like, say the airport upon arrival. Credit cards may not be accepted in some locations for small amounts of food or for souvenirs so it pays to be prepared.
Once an international data plan is secured, there are plenty of apps that can help you navigate a new city, translate signs and phrases, or keep you up-to-date on ever-changing exchange rates.