On the Road Again: A Return to Travel

Mike Lawson • May 2021Travel/Festivals • May 4, 2021

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As vaccine distribution is well underway and some schools are transitioning to in-person classes (and not to mention summer break coming up), there’s a long-awaited feeling of positivity in the air. While we can’t quite call it a return to normalcy, it feels good to be moving forward.

Spring is normally a time of field trips, festivals, and competitions, but most schools are staying put for now. However, many ensembles are hitting the road (and the skies) after careful planning with a solid travel organization. We recently again caught up with the team at WorldStrides, the nation’s largest student travel organization, to learn more about the current status of student travel.

“Our approach to getting back to travel has involved an enormous effort from many, many people,” said WorldStrides’ chief academic, health & safety officer Terri Morgoglione. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our travelers. Our customers are eager to get back out there, and we are here to support them with thoughtful planning, carefully-crafted itineraries, and increased on-tour support.”

Morgoglione shared some of the considerations she and the company’s Back to Travel Task Force take into account when supporting 2021 travelers. Morgoglione said, “Travel is different right now, but it’s still rewarding and fun. Our approach is to make sure every activity is vetted and that expectations are set clearly from the start so that we are able to provide a safe as well as enriching experience.”

WorldStrides gets expert health and safety advice from its medical director, Dr. Neal Sikka, who is the chief of the innovative practice section and professor at the George Washington University department of emergency medicine. Sikka and his team have worked closely with the WorldStrides health & safety team since the start of the pandemic, and have been partnering with the organization for more than a decade. Morgoglione said, “We are, of course, following CDC, local, and state guidelines closely, but our relationship with Dr. Sikka has been invaluable during this time. He and his team support us by vetting our protocols and helping us stay on top of a rapidly changing landscape.”

WorldStrides has been supporting study abroad travelers since just after the new year, and in late spring began to facilitate group travelers in the U.S. “One of the most rewarding things we hear from current travelers is that the extra protocols and planning were all worth it to enable them to get out and experience the world,” said Morgoglione. The organization has been following a consistent approach to mitigating risks for groups wanting to travel, requiring pre-trip testing, providing all travelers with a Safety Kit of masks and hand sanitizer, delivering daily symptom and temperature checks, and more.

One traveler, band director Marla Young, was thrilled to take her group to Orlando with WorldStrides in March. Young said, “I appreciated so much the helpful preparation, from the very beginning of planning the trip to the follow-up right after. We were very prepared, medically and musically, to have a lot of fun on our trip. We made wonderful memories, and everything went smoothly. We had no major hiccups, and I just really enjoyed hanging out with my students.”

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