It started with my son's band and choir. The rest, well read on...
My group travel coordination experience started many years ago when my son was a member of the Magee High School band and choir in Vancouver. The school group needed a travel coordinator to organize their bi-annual music tours to England and Europe. Moving a group of over 100 high school students with band equipment was a tall order in those days, especially keeping the costs to a minimum so that all students could participate.
I soon became aware I had a passion and opportunity to open the eyes of young Canadians to experience what was outside of their comfort zone - Canada and see and experience how others in the world worked, lived, performed and experienced life. The music tours started in Europe and England, and later Cuba – this being the first-time non-professional students were allowed to perform in the open air in Havana alongside the National Cuban Band musicians. The challenge at that time in Cuba was that all students required cultural permits never before given to students. We thought the National Cuban Band would be youths, instead it was youth to 80+ year old musicians. Our students learnt to play with “soul” and the Cubans to play pieces such as big band and jazz in tempos unfamiliar to them – admiration came from both the Canadian & Cuban musicians.
Other festivals my groups have attended included Harrogate Music Festival, Glasgow Music Festival, Hawaii Youth Music Festival and a music conservatory tour of Spain, not to mention many domestic Canadian tours, most recently – Montreal & Ottawa tour performing in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Additional youth tours have been cultural and include visits to European World War II museums and memorials, United Nations Model UN Youth Summit, B.C. Skiing & Snowboarding Provincial Championships and local hockey teams competing in tournaments provincially as well as California.
I have experienced the wonderful highs and challenging lows of travelling overseas – especially with groups. One of my tours to England saw British Airways go on strike 72 hours before departure – we still made it to England and Scotland and all 124 students enjoyed a successful tour and very much appreciated what could be done when everyone supports one another.
On a different occasion I was stranded in Europe with 135 students due to the Belgium bombing – it took 3 days to get everyone home safely via different routes. From this trip, I learned we are resilient and I have never been prouder of our Canadian youth, many of whom have taken their experiences and memories into adult life enriching themselves and others with the influences of travel experienced during their developing years.
Groups take time, dedication, co-ordination and experience and above all passion for a positive outcome for the travelers.
My expertise has expanded over the years to include adult groups with different needs. For example; seminars at sea for doctors, wedding groups, generational group travel including a tour from Nashville to New Orleans – Music Trail and Civil Rights Museums. My eldest son now lives in Sydney so I have travelled extensively to Australia and very much enjoy putting together family trips in Australia having travelled with my family and grandchildren Downunder - Surfing lessons being the highlight of their trip.
I have been blessed to experience Luxury trips myself and pass on recommendations and experiences to my clients. These include trips on land, sea and river cruises. In Africa - Wineries & Art in South Africa with Luxury Safari in Botswana. Rwanda – Trekking Gorillas Volcanos National Park. Brazil, Argentina, Chile - Iguazu Falls & Wineries. Vietnam & Cambodia – Mekong, Han Long Bay & Temples, and last year Morocco. Having grown up in England I established many connections and knowledge of the UK and European markets and enjoy keeping in touch by attending World Travel Mart each year.