Tour Leader Resources

Tour Leader Resources

Allow us to present you the following templates, which you are welcome to customize and use during the preparations for your trip. You may also want to look at our Travel Tips section for some helpful “prep tips” for you and your group!

TEMPLATES For collecting information:

TEMPLATES For planning & prep:

TEMPLATES For obtaining releases and authorization:

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Travel Tips

Planning a trip or on the road already? This page may offer you some useful hints and ideas!

Looking for ideas for Development / Fund Raising?

Getting Prepared

  • Check passport and visa situations in the countries you will travel to and also among your membership. This needs to be done early as it may affect other travel confirmations prior to departure. You can find a link for online passport information at our Useful Links section!
  • How safe is it to travel around places like Indonesia, Kenya, Cuba, Iran, and Peru? Prerecorded travel advisories for all areas of the world can be obtained on a 24-hour, 7-day- a-week basis by phoning: U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services at (202) 647-5225 .
  • Learn about Carnet. This is a procedure that provides you with a document that allows for easier passage between certain countries. It can be a lifesaver if you don’t need your equipment just prior to departure and it can be safely shipped outside of the passenger cabin. All carnet items must be brought to customs about a week or so before your departure. You will see it next when you arrive overseas! You can find a link for online carnet information at our Useful Links section! (We do not necessarily endorse their services, but it is a good explanation page.)
  • Cell phones: Get a local chip! Save hundreds and have total mobility by using a GSM capable phone in the States, then when you go abroad, purchase a new SIM card there for a small amount of money and make calls throughout Europe inexpensively and to home without the double charges associated with normal US-based GSM use. For the best location to find out all you want to know on the subject, visit our Useful Links section!
  • Have meetings about the tour that go beyond the mission. Talk about travel, educate about the culture, the people and what to expect. Learn some polite words in advance. And tell your group the following at one of your sessions:
    • Make three photocopies of passports, international and U.S. drivers permits or licenses, visas, travelers checks and credits cards, and the itinerary. Leave one set at home, put one in the carry on luggage, and one in the stored luggage.
    • Call and verify that your insurance company will cover medical care received in other countries. Medicare, generally, does not. Also, keep an extra copy of any prescription you bring in your travel documents, and always have a Latin translation – Latin is the official pharmaceutical language in mostly all places over the world.
    • Check some of the many weather sources (some included in our Useful Links page) for forecasts.
    • Keep in mind that other countries may use a different AC voltage, and differently shaped plugs. To use your electrical devices, you may need voltage converters and plug adapters.
    • Expect to be searched by airport officials; it serves your own safety. Never at the time of a security check, nor at any time in the airport, should a passenger make jokes about guns, bombs, or hijacking.
    • Take a brochure or business card from the hotel when you go off on your own, in case you get lost later on!
    • Women traveling with handbags should only travel with those that zip completely shut and should carry them across their chest or under a coat or sweater. Men should always keep their wallets in their front pocket or use a money belt. A pouch worn around the neck can be helpful for anyone. Never keep your passport with your money! And never relinquish it to anyone, except at hotels where it is standard practice to verify your identity.
    • Cash usually needs to be exchanged into local currency for most store purchases. When using Travelers Checks or credit cards, this is automatically done. Most major credit cards are accepted in the major hotels, large restaurants and many cosmopolitan boutique shops, but – depending on where you go – they are not used as extensively as in the U.S. Travelers Checks are widely accepted by banks and exchange centers. Although these are the safest ways to carry money, you will want to have some cash with you in case of emergency.
    • To stay safe, avoid flashing large bills in public. Try to travel in pairs to exchange money, and exchange smaller amounts at a time (this will also save you the worry of exchanging leftovers back). Be aware of your surroundings when you leave the bank or exchange office, and make sure that your money is secure in its pouch upon leaving the teller’s window. Never exchange money on the street!
    • The amount of duty free you can bring home ranges from $200-$1200, depending on the destination. Check out applying customs regulations online, to know before you go! A link is listed at our Useful Links section. Keep receipts for all items you plan to bring back home with you.
    • Last but not least: keep in mind that you will be traveling as a group, so tolerance, respect and punctuality will be essential to make it a smooth experience for all!

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Before You Go

Source: Reisen Magazine

  • Find information about the country you are about to visit before you leave. Do not limit yourself to tourist guides, but read a novel about the country and follow the reports in the newspapers.
  • Do not visit only the tourist attractions. Try to be aware of the daily life on the street, in the markets, in the park or on the bus.
  • If possible, try to make use of local facilities so that the locals can also benefit from tourist earnings.
  • Learn some of the language, even if it’s only a few words. People will certainly appreciate it.
  • In many places, bargaining is the order of the day; do not bargain down to the absolute limit. People have a right to an honest price.
  • The people whose culture you will be visiting may have a different concept of time, and will probably have a different understanding of keeping to appointments. Take this into account.
  • You can learn a lot about the habits and customs of the local people simply by observing them closely. If you do this, you will be struck not only by the differences, but also by the similarities.
  • Be aware of others’ feelings and try to avoid offending them by your own behavior. This applies, for example, to ways of dressing and taking photos.
  • Try to make a habit of listening, instead of always knowing the answer. Try to concentrate on telling people what you like about the country, rather than what annoys you.
  • The people know perfectly well what their problems are. You can embarrass people or even put them at risk by discussing too openly such sensitive issues as religion or politics. Do not make any promises you cannot keep.
  • Finally, do not worry about making ‘mistakes’. If you are open to other ways of life and show respect, people will not take offense.

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Musical Instruments in Flight

Transporting Musical Instruments – Based on TSA’s recommendations

You may bring musical instruments as carry-on or as checked baggage. We recommend the following:

  • Check with your airline prior to your flight to ensure your instrument meets the size requirements for their aircraft.
  • Pack brass instruments in your checked baggage.
  • Bring your stringed instruments, within carrier size limitations, as carry-on items.
  • If you have an instrument in your checked baggage, include short written instructions, where a security officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background.

Carrying Instruments Through Screening Checkpoints:

  • You may carry one musical instrument in addition to 1 carry-on and 1 personal item through the screening checkpoint. This is a TSA Screening Policy. Airlines may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft. Please check with your airline before you arrive at the airport.
  • Security officers must x-ray or physically screen your instrument before it can be transported on an aircraft.
  • Security officers will handle musical instruments very carefully and will allow you to be as involved as possible in any physical screening.
  • If security officers cannot clear the instrument through the security checkpoint as a carry-on item, you should transport the instrument and checked baggage instead.

Instruments as Checked Baggage

  • You may bring musical instruments as checked baggage as long as they fit within the size and weight limitations of the airline you are taking.
  • We encourage you to stay with your instrument while security officers screen it to make sure it is repacked properly.
  • Owners should be present when an instrument is removed from its case for screening. For this reason, musicians are advised to add at least 30 minutes to the airline’s recommended arrival window when checking their instrument.

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Preparing to Fly

Packing with Safety in Mind – Based on TSA’s recommendations
Luggage – The Screening Experience – Adjusted Ban on Liquids, Gels and Aerosols

1. Luggage

Carry-on baggage is a small piece of luggage you take onboard the airplane with you. The maximum size carry-on bag for most airlines is 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag); anything larger should be checked. You are allowed one carry-on in addition to one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small backpack, and briefcase or camera case. However, airlines may impose stricter restrictions, so please check with your airline before packing to determine its carry-on guidelines regarding the number of items you may carry on, and the maximum size of those items! In certain situations the airline may require most or even all of your bags to be checked, so be prepared to do so.

Checked baggage is luggage you check in at the ticket counter or at the curbside. It will not be accessible during your flight. Please refrain from locking your checked baggage or use a TSA accepted lock. If your baggage alarms and Security Officers cannot gain access to your checked bag, unrecognized lock may be broken.

DO NOT pack the following items in your checked baggage:

  • Lighters are prohibited from all baggage
  • Jewelry, cash or fragile items (no matter how they are protected)
  • Laptop computers and other electronics
  • Film – security screening equipment might damage it

Tips for carry-on and checked baggage:

  • Do NOT pack or bring prohibited items to the airport. See permitted and prohibited items. Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. If your bag will pass through the X-ray machine more than five times ask for a hand inspection to prevent damage.
  • Consider putting personal belongings in clear plastic bags to reduce the chance that a Security Officer will have to handle them.
  • Wait to wrap your gifts. Be aware that wrapped gifts may need to be opened for inspection. This applies to both carry-on and checked baggage.

Tips for packing your checked baggage:

  • Pack shoes, boots, sneakers and other footwear on top of other contents in your luggage.
  • Avoid over-packing your bag allowing the Security Officer to easily reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection. If possible, spread your contents over several bags.
  • Avoid packing food and drink items.
  • Don’t stack piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them out within your baggage.

TSA Recognized Baggage Locks

We all sometimes need a little extra sense of security, but before you lock your bag, make sure it’s a TSA accepted lock. TSA screens every bag before it’s placed on any airplane. While technology allows bags to be electronically screened, there are times when a piece of luggage needs to be physically inspected. If a bag is locked, TSA is allowed to cut the lock off. That’s where recognized locks come in: they offer you security without interrupting the security procedure. These locks are normally available at airports and travel stores nationwide.

Before you buy a lock for your bag, make sure to use a TSA accepted one. Look for these symbols to make sure you have the right lock.

Not sure where to get one? Try these Web sites:

2. The Screening Experience

Everyone who travels by air goes through airport security checkpoints. These checkpoints are operated by Transportation Security Officers from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The checkpoints are there to make sure that terrorists can’t bring anything aboard the plane that would enable them to take it over or destroy it. These are called “prohibited items” and cannot be brought to a checkpoint, into the secure area of an airport, or aboard an aircraft.

Not only do all passengers go through checkpoints, their checked baggage is also screened. This may happen out of passengers’ view depending on the physical configuration at each airport. It’s a good idea to prepare before you arrive at the airport so that you move more quickly and efficiently through the security process. Here are some suggestions to help make the process as smooth as possible.

Dress the Part & Keep Your Experience Simple

There’s no particular style or type of clothing that you should wear from a security point of view. You are permitted to wear head coverings and religious garments during the screening process. You may be directed to additional screening if your clothing (religious or otherwise) is loose fitting or large enough to hide prohibited items.

In addition, certain clothing and accessories can set off an alarm on the metal detector and slow you down. Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when traveling through the security checkpoints:

  • Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties)
  • Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs
  • Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration
  • Belt buckles
  • Under-wire bras
  • Take metal items such as keys, loose change, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs) out of your pockets.
  • Place heavy jewelry and other metal items in your carry-on baggage or in plastic bags if they are offered, until you clear security.
  • Pack all your coats and jackets in your baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection. These include, but are not limited to, trench coats, heavy winter coats, suit jackets, sport coats and blazers. If you choose to wear an outer coat or jacket to the checkpoint, you will need to either place it in your carry-on or put it in the bin that is provided for you.

Disposable booties or slippers may be worn through the checkpoint to help protect your feet, but they must be disposed of prior to leaving the screening area. Gel-filled bras are permitted through security screening and aboard aircraft.

TSA Security Officers have to identify any metal that is detected at the checkpoint. If you set off the alarm, you will undergo additional screening. This includes a hand-wand and pat-down inspection.

You can remove metal items at the security checkpoint and place them in the plastic bags offered at several airports or in the bins provided. The bins will be sent through the X-ray machine. You can save time by not wearing metal items or by placing them in your carry-on baggage before getting in line.

What you need at a security checkpoint

We encourage each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint (children are not required to show identification). The absence of proper identification will result in additional screening.

Do I Have to Remove My Shoes?

Yes, you are required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector based on the fact that many types of footwear can be used to carry prohibited items. All types of footwear must be placed on the X-ray machine to be screened. If you do not comply with Security Officers, you will not be allowed to board your flight.

Travel Tips To Make Your Screening Experience Hassle-free

  • The secret to getting through security smoothly is to de-clutter your carry-on bag. This lets our Transportation Security Officers get a clear, uncomplicated X-ray image of your carry-on.
  • When possible, keep packing liquids in checked baggage. You will get through security faster.
  • Limit quantities to what is needed for the duration of the flight.

Items purchased in the secure boarding area are for use on the immediate flight. If you must leave the secure boarding area and re-enter through the screening checkpoint, items exceeding 3 ounces that are not in the zip-top bag will again be prohibited.

Know What To Expect

Make your screening experience as smooth as possible. These video links can help you understand the screening process:

Step-By-Step Screening (WMV 3 MB)

Female business traveler (WMV 3 MB)

Male business traveler (WMV 3 MB)

Traveling with a baby or small child (WMV 3 MB)

Travelers with special needs (WMV 3 MB)

3. Adjusted ban on liquids, gels, and aerosols:

Air travelers may now carry liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on bag when going through security checkpoints. With certain exceptions for prescription and over-the-counter medicines, baby formula and breast milk, and other essential liquids, gels, and aerosols, the following rules apply to all liquids, gels, and aerosols you want to carry through a security checkpoint:

  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.
  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
  • Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

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Pack Smart! Packing Tips

Based on Tips from Southwest Airlines

Travel light. Less luggage means less need for skycaps and easier trips through airport terminals; not to mention that you are likely to come back with more than what you take! A suitcase with wheels or a baggage caddy will help make trips easier. Try to limit your luggage to one check-in bag and one carry-on – and to get the feeling of carrying them throughout your trip, carry it up and down the stairs a few times!

Prior to packing, make a list of everything to take and check off each item as it is packed. This will help make sure you don’t forget anything. It will also serve as an inventory list should your luggage become lost and you need file a claim.

Try to limit your carry-on luggage to a bag that will fit underneath your seat. The maximum size allowed for any carry-on piece varies depending on the airline.

Keep your medications, jewelry, keys, wallets, eyeglasses, tickets, passports, cameras, and other valuables with you in your carry-on luggage.

Put your name and address on the outside and inside of all baggage, both checked and carry-on.

Put cosmetics, shoe polish, nail enamel, liquor, perfume, and anything else that might spill, break, and stain your clothing into reclosable plastic bags or unbreakable containers. If possible, use travel size toiletries. Placing garments in plastic bags (such as those that come from a dry cleaner) before folding and packing will help to prevent wrinkling. Rolling up pants and T-shirts like a newspaper will lessen wrinkling. Placing rolled-up socks and other soft clothing items inside shoes will save space (e.g. for souvenirs) and help the shoes keep their shape.

Some items that you may find helpful: a battery powered alarm clock; a small collapsible umbrella; zip lock bags; showershoes; a good pair of walking shoes; a small flashlight; and an electric power converter and/or adapter.

Don’t overpack your luggage. Overpacking can wrinkle clothing and cause baggage to rip or pop open during handling and transport.

Seemingly harmless materials can be dangerous on board an aircraft. Leave home any flammable liquids (paints, solvents, etc.), household items that contain chemicals (bleaches, drain cleaners and the like), matches, and other flammable or potentially toxic materials. Variations in temperature and pressure can cause such goods to leak or ignite. Do not pack sharp items that could be construed as weapons in your carry-on luggage! Pharmaceuticals should always be in their original packaging.

Avoid using oversized luggage, and be mindful of weight restrictions. If you follow all rules and regulations posed by the airlines, you can avoid the embarrassment of having your things dumped out for inspection, thus delaying your fellow travelers.

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Staying Healthy on the Road

Based on: Travel Weekly

In the excitement of travel, we all tend to try to soak up as much as possible. As you try to make the most of your trip and seize all the opportunities that come your way, stay mindful of your personal health and well-being! Time difference and sleep deprivation, combined with a change of diet, can easily take their toll on you.

Plan ahead. A well-planned trip (like one from FAF, for example) can significantly reduce stress. Get adequate sleep prior to your departure and eat well so that you are in the best possible condition at the start of your adventure.

Protect yourself. Consult your travel medical specialist or doctor to discuss your health issues and determine which vaccinations, if any, are required and/or recommended for the countries you are visiting.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at, for destination specific health risks and up-to-date information on disease outbreaks worldwide.

Carry foam ear plugs to protect you from the howl of the engines. A sleep mask can help you fight jet lag; it will trick your body into thinking you’ve been asleep by keeping light off your retinas. Wear loose and comfortable clothing and take along an extra pair of sweat socks so that you can kick off your shoes during the flight – and still keep your feet warm. Drink plenty of water (preferably still) to avoid dehydration, and avoid alcoholic beverages.

To beat jet lag as quickly as possible, sleep and eat on local time after landing.

Stay connected. Using the internet or short phone calls and faxes, one can stay in touch with family, friends, and even (gulp!) the office, which can minimize anxiety about “things” piling up back home.

Pack well. A small medicine kit that includes a pain reliever, antacids, antidiarrheals, cough drops, and any prescription medication being taken can offer relief from some travel related ailments and prevent minor problems from becoming more serious.

Wash your hands, often and with hot water and soap.

Eat well-balanced meals, in moderation, and avoid overdoing the alcohol both on the flight (especially) and before major projects. Bottled water is always safer; what is harmless to locals may still shock your body.

Exercise regularly and do stretches on the plane and in your room.

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Feeling Secure in your Hotel

Source: American Hotel and Motel Association and Travel Weekly

Don’t answer the door in a hotel without verifying who it is. If a person claims to be an employee, call the front desk first and confirm that this is true and why the person has been sent.

When returning to a hotel late in the evening, always enter the main entrance. Be observant and look before entering parking lots or adjacent areas.

Close room doors securely and use all the locking devices provided.

Don’t display guest room keys in public, leave them on restaurant tables, at the swimming pool or anyplace they can be easily stolen.

Don’t draw attention to yourself by displaying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry. Don’t invite strangers into your room.

Place all valuables in the hotel’s safe deposit box if one is provided in the room or at the front desk.

Check to see that sliding glass doors, windows and connecting room doors are locked.

See anything suspicious? Report observations to the front desk.

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Seeing *****STARS*****

Standards for Rating Hotels – courtesy of Jim Glab, Travel and Leisure Magazine

Many travelers don’t realize that there’s no international standard for rating hotels. In fact, a five-star establishment in one country may warrant three-at-best in another.

Europe, for example, is a veritable Tower of Babel. Government inspectors in France assign one of six ratings, from zero to four stars; at the top is “four-star luxury”. In Italy, the 20 regional tourist offices assign one to five stars to their area’s hotels, but in Switzerland, the criteria are set and measured (from one to five stars) by the private Swiss Hotel Association. Visitors to England can take their pick: the English Tourist Board awards one to five crowns based on amenities and services, as well as one of four more subjective overall ratings; the Automobile Association of Great Britain and the Royal Auto Club also have popular rating scales of one to five stars.

Remember: Even within a country, there can be variations. “In Rome,” says a spokesperson for the Italian Government Tourist Board, “I wouldn’t go to a two-star. But in a place like Montecatini, you’ll find beautiful two-star hotels.” Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism recommends only three-star (and above) properties to international visitors, and only four-star and above in Mexico City and Guadalajara. And some properties in France that qualify as “four-star luxury” will ask to be downgraded a notch in order to pay a lower tax rate. Foreign hotels tend to be weak in the technology department. Five-star hotels in Switzerland are required to offer a simple direct-dial telephone in each room.

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Off-Year Culture Tours Get You There

How do tours that occur bi-annually become annual travel opportunities for group leaders?

The Off-Year Culture Tour or Booster Tour, prepared by FAF, creates an opportunity for the group leader to visit the travel destination one year in advance.

The choir, dance company or educational group does NOT travel, only the leader – with alumni, friends, and organizational boosters. It is prepared as a fun fund-raiser and provides the group leaders with donations (see above) and free places for themselves. It creates the dual opportunity to excite the community a year in advance about upcoming events, while simultaneously creating a working – i.e. familiarization – tour for the leader.

Group leaders get to see the destination, meet cultural leaders, see venues and hotels: all for free and while helping to raise funds to defray next year’s group travel. No matter where the destination, FAF makes it possible.

Usually for 9 days / 7 nights, departing on a Saturday and returning on a Sunday; they only take one vacation week away from the working supporters of the main group. FAF prepares these regularly: inexpensively, fully insured, and fully tax deductible to all!

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Companion Tours Build Funds

The secret to the fund-raising success of a concert tour is the Companion Tour. These are run by FAF with separate guides, often in different hotels, and with a parallel yet shorter itinerary.

The Companions meet the performance tour for certain concerts and receptions, only. They never interfere with the mission or logistics of the main tour. And they are very lucrative: they net between $150-300 or more per person for the main tour, bring extra free places to the program, and create excellent public relations for the main tour, too, from the general community.

In an ever shrinking world for fund development, FAF has created this easy, fun, no-cost, no-overhead way to raise considerable funds – without having to buy candy, wash cars, rent expensive benefit halls, or risk uncertain grants. No cost whatsoever to the companies we serve, fully tax deductible as allowed by law, and a great way to extend an already planned trip to make it a stellar fund raising success. Click here to find out how to make any tour into a fund development tool, and how it will benefit your organization. Also we are providing you a link to a fascinating food, wine and culture tour that is a proven winner with many groups across the country. We invite you to investigate and see if you want to try it with your group!

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