Travel Tips for Groups
TRAVEL TIPS FOR GROUPS
We have put together the following information to help make your tour planning process go as smoothly as possible. We realize that every school has their own regulations regarding student travel, so some of these recommendations may not work for your particular situation, but please do not hesitate to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have with your tour coordinator. Our greatest satisfaction comes from making your job as simple as possible!
KNOW YOUR SCHOOL’S POLICIES: Check with your Principal and/or School Board once you have received Pro Musica’s tour proposal. Each School Board has different requirements for student travel. Find out how much time and what type of documentation your finance department will require for issuing payments. Once you have decided on payment dates with us, you should factor in the time your school will need to write and send these payments. Build this time into any payment schedule that you give to your students and parents.
GROUP MEETINGS: We highly recommend establish a group meeting schedule with students and parents who will be traveling. Notify your Pro Musica tour planner when your meetings will be, and what type of information you would like to provide at each meeting. Please note that when assembling rooming lists and passenger manifests, it is essential that each tour participant’s name appears EXACTLY as it does on their photo identification.
KEEPING TRACK OF STUDENTS ON TOUR – “PODS”: When traveling with a large group, most of our teachers have found that it is best to break the group down into smaller groups or “pods” prior to your departure. Pods should be assigned in the final group meeting prior to your trip. Each pod should have at least one chaperone for every 10 students. If more chaperones are traveling with the group, we recommend breaking down the pods so that each chaperone has approximately the same number of students to be responsible for. Each pod should have its own number or name, and the group leader should have a roster of who is in each pod and who the chaperone leader is in each pod. Pods make it much easier to attain a quick head count of the entire group and to reconvene after the group has spent time apart during leisure time as well as during travel. Pods should stay together as a pod as much as possible during the tour. Chaperones in each pod should be made aware that they are responsible for knowing who is in there pod, and for keeping track of their pod during the tour. By using Pods, your tour coordinator can quickly check in with the Pod Leaders to make sure all students are present and accounted for throughout the tour. We have found that using this system can greatly reduce the amount of time spent looking for ‘stragglers’ and makes the entire tour function with less stress for the teacher(s) as the responsibility for keeping track of students is equally and clearly distributed among all chaperones.
BAGGAGE: Prior to your departure, your Pro Musica tour coordinator will be sending you a finalized itinerary, all necessary travel documents, and will discuss your airline’s specific regulations as pertains to both checked and carry on bag. We recommend that each student be limited to one checked bag and one carry on bag. If your group is traveling with instruments or has other special baggage requirements, please discuss this with your tour planner as early in the tour planning process as possible. Included in your travel package will be Pro Musica Tours luggage tags that all members of your tour MUST attach to every item of luggage they are traveling with, both checked and carry-on. These tags will make it much easier for you, your students, and your Pro Musica Tour Coordinator to recognize your group’s luggage at the airport and the hotel.
FLIGHT: If traveling by air, your group must check in together, as a group, at the airport. You should coordinate a meeting time and location with all tour members prior to your departure. Every member of your group will need a government issued photo identification for check in (school ID cards are not acceptable). If you are traveling from outside of the US, or to a foreign destination (including Canada) you will need a valid passport for travel. If any of your students are not US or Canadian Nationals and you are crossing any borders during the course of your tour, those tour members must check with the consulate of every country on your tour to ensure that they have the appropriate visas and documentation for travel. If your flight includes meals, this information will be clearly indicated in your tour materials. Most domestic flights no longer include meals, but food is often available for purchase. Flying long distances can be very tiring for students and inexperienced travelers. Please encourage your group members to drink a lot of water during their travel.
CHECK IN: All of our hotels are centrally located in the heart of the theater district for your convenience. Your Pro Musica coordinator will provide specific details about the hotel you will be staying at during your tour. Your PMT tour guide will assist your group leader in checking the group into the hotel. All of your tour participants should know prior to your departure who they will be rooming with. We highly recommend that everyone who is in the same room also be in the same ‘pod’. This will help to make the check-in process go as quickly as possible. Please keep in mind that there may be other guests on your floor. Please remind your students to keep noise to a minimum, and to be courteous to others when arriving home late after a performance. Pro Musica has covered all your accommodation fees and gratuities to the bellman and hotel staff. Any incidental charges must be covered on an individual basis, and must be paid in full at the time of check out. We highly recommend that group members pay their incidentals before going to sleep on their last night of the tour, as the front desk is usually much less busy late in the evening than during check-out time.
MONEY: Pro Musica recommends that each traveler bring a debit/credit card as well as minimal amount of cash. We recommend that all travelers have at least $20 cash on them at all times, but advise students from carrying large amounts of cash.
WEATHER: Your Pro Musica tour coordinator will provide you with the weather forecast for your tour dates two days prior to your departure. Seasonal variations in New York City are significant, and most tours involve a significant amount of walking by design – so please do not hesitate to ask your tour coordinator for advice about what to pack.
WHAT TO WEAR: The most important rule of dress is comfort. You will be doing a lot of walking during your tour, so make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes. For the theater, wear what you would wear to a concert or theater performance in your home city. Clean, respectful apparel is appreciated. Hats (including baseball caps), and ripped jeans or other overly casual clothing are usually not appropriate for the theater. More formal attire may be necessary for opening nights and special events. Your tour planner will advise you of any such events prior to your departure.
SAFETY: New York City is one of the safest cities in America. You will see New York’s Police Officers on the streets and in the subway stations, working hard to keep people safe. As with any travel, there are certain things you should keep in mind to ensure safety during your stay:
- Always be alert of your surroundings and your belongings
- Never carry a large amount of cash on you at any given time
- Always make sure your group leaders/chaperones have your Pro Musica tour guide’s phone number as well as your hotel phone number and address with you at all times.
- We highly recommend making a pocket sized card that lists the following information for each student: Hotel Name, Address and Phone Number; Teacher’s Cell Number; Chaperone / Pod Leader’s Cell Number; and Pro Musica Tour coordinator’s Cell Number. (Please note that teachers and chaperones may use their tour coordinator’s number during the tour whenever necessary, but students should be told very clearly that this number is only for emergency use.)
- Your group should stay together whenever possible. If the group does break into smaller sections during leisure time, always make sure that the group breaks into their pods or that a chaperone is with every small group. Chaperones should always let the group leader know where they are going, and if they are taking students with them.
TRANSPORTATION: There are many different modes of transportation around New York City. During the planning stages of your tour, you will have arranged your around town travel with your tour coordinator. Since you will be staying very close to many of your itinerary activities and sights, many destinations will be reached easily by foot. For longer transfers, we will have arranged private coaches for your entire group, or you may elect to use the subway for select transfers.
SUBWAY: Experiencing the New York Subway is considered by many to be an essential part of the ‘New York Experience.’ The subway is very safe, and is in fact, the most efficient way to get around the city. You have the option of including a New York City Transit Metro Card into your group’s package. This will cover around town transfers on New York City’s subways and buses, both during scheduled activities and during leisure time. If you have included metro cards in your package, your guide will be with you for all of your groups’ subway transfers during scheduled activities. If you are going to a destination on your own during your leisure time, your tour coordinator will provide you with a free subway map, and is also available to provide you with specific directions. Most subway stations will have station attendants on duty to assist you with directions. While the subway system is extremely safe, and is patrolled by NYPD, as with any big city, it is wise for the novice New Yorker to travel with a companion.
TAXIS: New York City has 12,000 taxi cabs cruising through its many streets at any given time. New York cabs are yellow and can be hailed off the street by holding your arm out to signal them. Always try to stand in the direction in which you would like to travel for the easiest departure. All yellow NYC cabs are a metered fare that begins as soon as you get in the cab. Make sure the driver turns on the meter when you depart. The meter charges you one rate when you are in motion and a lower rate when you are standing at traffic lights. Most destinations in Manhattan will cost between $5 and $15. You should give the driver a 15% gratuity on top of the fare for good service. Always ask for a printed receipt from a driver – this is the best way to track a lost item left behind in a cab.
FOOD: With over 20,000 restaurants in New York, you will not be at a loss for meal selections! New York restaurants represent every country and palate in the world, as well as every budget. Your Pro Musica Tour Coordinator will make recommendations for dining based on your location, and the amount of time you have for a meal. We recommend you budget at least $40-$55 a day for meals if they are not included in your itinerary ($5-$10 for breakfast; $10 – $15 for lunch; and $15 – $ 30 for dinner). When planning your tour, you will have decided how many meals you will be including in the tour package for your group. For all meals included in the itinerary, gratuities have been prepaid, so there is no need to tip the servers. If you are dining independently, a 20% tip is recommended for good service.