Consider getting a better bus. We used a
local school bus company for our trip to/fro NYC, which was a 4-5 hour
drive. With all the stuff we had, it made a cramped and sweaty
drive. Maybe we got spoiled while in Europe, but coming home to
finish the trip this way was a little uncomfortable. It's easy
to say this in retrospect though. At the time we made the
decision, we were very cost conscious.
Break into small groups of five or six whenever
possible. It's much easier to get around that way. We found
it almost impossible to coordinate a group of 20+ people. You
can never go faster than the slowest person, and having a large group
prevents random explorations. Realize that not everyone may want to do
the same thing and be willing to subdivide.
An youth / adult ratio of 2:1 works great.
If the kids are on the mature side of things, you can even get away
with 3:1 or 4:1, depending on the comfort level of the adult in
Have a common uniform for travel. It can be
as simple as everybody wearing the exact same t-shirt, but it will
make a huge difference in being able to work through airports and the
like. Don't allow exceptions, and don't have kids hide their
shirt under sweats or jackets. The point is to look alike, on
purpose, and be visible from a distance.
Be flexible and willing to change your plans to
accommodate. This is critical. Do your homework, have
a plan, but don't feel obliged to stick to it. Allow for some
Do accounting every day. It is too easy to
forget things. Have a single person be responsible for
gathering receipts, annotating them, and writing down in a ledger
Ask before you taste. Or don't, if you're
comfortable with culinary surprises.
You get the idea.
Create a comprehensive list of stuff to
pack, and have public bag-check night. For us, two weeks prior to
the trip we had a full evening dedicated to physically opening each
bit of luggage to check for everything from socks to deoderant.
At least one person should be reachable by
phone and everyone should have that number.
Put an obvious marker on every piece of
luggage. We chose to use bright red yarn wrapped several
times around every handle. When picking up the luggage in
Germany, the boys just pulled off every thing that went by with that
marker. Easy peasy.
Agree when and where to meet before breaking
up. It sounds simple, but in the excitement, it's easy for this
little detail to get overlooked.
|Make conversion charts and keep them available.
The questions that constantly come up involve trying to convert
metric into English units that we're more familiar with, or to convert
money, or even to figure out what time it is back home. At the
bottom of this page are ones we used, based on the conversion rate of
approximately €1.40 / $1.00.|
|Learn the units. This goes with the one above, and is
what we should have done in addition to making the boys learn some
German. They should be able to do rough conversions between
kilometers and miles, etc.|
|Be prepared for air and car sickness. This one was a
surprise for us. We learned the hard way that one of our guys was
extremely susceptible to motion sickness. The kid puked for
6-7 hours on the flight over. We medicated him for the return leg.
:-) Carry sickness bags and Dramamine. |
|Get the Euros before you go. AAA has a great program
for bulk conversion of money with no exchange fees. This is a lot
more efficient than trying to convert the cash at airports. It
just takes a little coordination, and plan to do this at least a month
before you travel.|
|Know each other before you travel. We made it a
requirement that anybody going on the trip had to have gone on a
minimum of 3 overnight trips with the troop. All the kids knew
the adults and their management style. All the adults knew all the
kids by name, and what the general culture of the troop was. No
|Get every adult registered and trained. We required
that each adult going on the trip become a registered scout leader, and
that they take the required youth protection training.|
|Consider Iceland Air. They ended up being the cheapest
way to get to Europe... by a long shot!|
|Learn to "count off". For boy scouts, you probably
already know the drill, but for others, it's an easy skill to master.
Make sure the boys can do it quickly and without joking around.|
|No cell phones - no electronic toys. We allowed the
boys to have these only during the long bus ride to/fro NYC and
the plane rides over, and even then only if they passed a proficiency
test in German. Once we landed in Munich, we confiscated them all
and put them in a lock box. Any you know what? They
survived! Not only that, but they talked with one another,
played games, and looked out the window. We can not over-stress
the importance of this decision.|