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Traveling Through a State of Fear

Josh Harris • Travel/Festivals • June 1, 2009

It seems like our country has gone from one crisis to the next during the past ten years, from terrorism fears after 9/11 to the economic turmoil on Wall Street, and even the recent panic about the swine flu. Unfortunately, each of these events has made it more difficult to arrange student band trips. Parents, administrators, students, and teachers have a very real concern that their trip be safe, as well as educational and fun. While travel has ebbed and flowed throughout these periods, the desire of many programs to provide students with a travel experience has remained constant. After all, high school students only have a short window of opportunity to experience a trip with their school band, and these trips will no doubt be remembered for the rest of their lives.

A recent article in Our Children The PTA National Magazine, April/May 2009 edition made a very effective case for considering a tour operator that has handled many successful school music trips as they are the most likely to be capable to handle contingencies, last minute changes, hotel and airline problems or other emergency situations. Many experienced companies are up-to-date on the latest travel restrictions and intricacies which are constantly changing due to government regulation. Although many schools have planned and executed their own travel quite efficiently, this often leaves little room for error or problems that may be encountered.

References are extremely important should you choose to arrange your travel with a tour operator. We have heard instances of “fly by night” tour operators who have absconded with bands’ travel funds after significant effort at raising the money for a trip. A reputable company, however, will be happy to provide quality references in addition to information regarding their company history, professional associations, insurance policies, and risk management plans. Of course, everything that the travel company offers should be requested in writing. This will also help alleviate any possibilities for miscommunication that could affect your trip.

SYTA, the Student Youth Travel Association, is a “non-profit, professional trade association that promotes student & youth travel and seeks to foster integrity and professionalism among student and youth travel service providers.” A wealth of information and resources to help plan a successful trip can be found on their Web site: www.syta.com. Although it is certainly a challenging environment to find funds for travel, many parents, local businesses, and other sources are still able to find ways to raise the necessary finances that will enable their kids to travel. Since this is SBO’s annual travel and festival issue, read on to find several timely articles that can help you plan a safe and successful trip!

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