For first-time travelers, planning your ensemble’s performance tour can be an overwhelming experience. Never fear— we’re here to help! This post will alleviate your workload by giving you a specific timeline for planning your performance tour from start to finish.
When should you start planning?
The time needed to plan a performance tour depends on the destination, ensemble type and group’s needs, though a general rule of thumb is to start planning 1-2 years out from your departure date for overseas travel. For groups looking to perform in prestigious venues, it is suggested to allow at least 18 months so you can submit your performance application to the venues in time. For domestic tours or tours to Canada, 6 months to 1 year is usually a sufficient amount of time to plan your trip.
What to Do: 1-2 Years Out
Obtain a Quote
Contact a performance tour company and speak with a tour consultant who can help put together a customized itinerary for your ensemble. Work together on budget and itinerary until you find the perfect package for your group.
Announce & Recruit
Once you have decided on an itinerary, it’s time to announce the tour to your group. Some performance tour companies will have online tools for you to use which make recruiting a breeze. Send out the information to your group and have participants start registering for the tour!
Submit Your Publicity Kit
A publicity kit for your ensemble is extremely important, and must be top priority for all ensemble directors. Send your director/ensemble’s biography, recordings, photos, etc. urgently to your performance tour company. This information is vital for them to start confirming with the venues, festivals and artistic collaborations in which you will participate/perform. Some venues will not accept ensembles without receiving this information well in advance, so it is important to send your publicity kit as soon as possible.
What to Do: 9 Months Prior To Departure
All Participants Obtain Passport
All passengers traveling to destinations outside of the United States, including Canada, must have valid passports. Obtaining a passport should be first priority for every traveling passenger. It is something you do not want to delay! Keep in mind that some countries require that passports expire no less than six months after the date of your final day overseas. If you have questions about the validity of passports, contact the consulate of the country you are visiting for detailed information.
Participants Obtain Visas (if applicable)
Visas for U.S. citizens are required for travel to Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, and other destinations. It is important to note that visas are necessary for passengers connecting through these countries, even if they are not the final destination. Non-U.S. citizens should check with the local embassy of each country visited or connected through, as well as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, to obtain the proper entry, transit and exit visas. Visas may be necessary for non-U.S. citizens connecting through countries even if the countries are not the final destination.
Collect Letters of Consent
If you are traveling with minors, anyone under 18 years of age should obtain a letter of consent signed by a legal guardian. It is a good idea to photocopy all letters of consent, along with passports/visas, and bring them on tour.
What to Do: 6 Months Prior to Departure
Send Your Performance Specifications/Logistical Needs
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of which passengers are attending. Start compiling a list of your logistical performance needs such as instrument rentals needed, instruments traveling, piano requirements, rehearsal time needed, etc. Some performance tour companies have a simple form you can fill out with the required information. Submit this as soon as possible so your performance tour company.
What to Do: 3 Months Prior to Departure
Finalize Passenger List
All passengers should be registered and paid in full for your tour by at least 90 days prior to departure. Keep in mind that flights typically require 90% utilization at 90 days out, so you should remove anyone who plans to cancel prior to the 90 days.
Submit Names for Flight Split (if applicable)
If your group is required to utilize more than one flight for any portion of your trip, you should submit a roster for each flight based on the number of seats available. If instruments are being split, you should include that information as well.
Confirm Your Final Performance Specifications
Now that your passenger list is finalized, cross-check all of your passengers with the appropriate instrument/equipment needs submitted earlier. Work with your tour company on any changes needed.
Confirm Your Final Repertoire
Submit your final repertoire to your performance tour company no less than 90 days prior to your trip. Be sure to specify composer, arrangement and musical movement when possible as well as approximate timings of each piece. Please note that some venues may require your final repertoire earlier than 90 days, in which case your performance tour company will discuss with you ahead of time.
What to Do: 2 Months Prior to Departure
Submit the Bus Split (if applicable)
If it is required for your group to travel on more than one bus while overseas, you will be asked to submit a roster of who is to be on which bus. Your performance tour company can tell you the number of buses and seats per bus. The final rosters are important as they assist the Tour Managers with accounting for each passenger while overseas.
Complete the Rooming List
Your performance tour company will send the rooming configuration provided at each hotel. You should then submit a list of how your participants would like to be roomed together.
Assess Your Oversized Instruments
If you are traveling with large instruments, check with the airline to see if you will incur fees. The fees are dependent upon the airline.
What to Do: 1 Month Prior to Departure
Complete an Emergency Contact List
Choose one person to act as the primary U.S. contact for communication between the group and their families. This person can be a participant’s family member, a school administrator, or a member of your family not traveling with you on the tour. Then send the performance tour company this person’s name/number/email along with each passenger’s emergency contact information.
Check Signatures on Consent Forms
Do one more cross-check to make sure everyone has a consent form (for minors under 18). Your performance tour company may also require their own form that passengers must sign.
Check and Send the Passport List
Do one last check that everyone has their passport. Make sure passengers send their passport information (#, expire date, issue date, country) to the performance tour company. Passport information is now necessary in most overseas hotels. Your performance tour company will send over this information to the hotels.
What to Do: 2 Weeks Out
Around this time, your performance tour company will have your itinerary finalized. Send the final itinerary to your group along with a packing list and some destination tips to generate excitement! Download our sample packing list for musicians!
What to Do: On Tour
Enjoy yourself! Let your tour manager take care of you and your passengers. They are your “go-to” for any of your needs while on tour. Be sure to post photos or blog about your experiences overseas!
About the Author
Having grown up in a military family, Tori traveled the world at a young age and has visited over 25 countries to date. She is the former Director of Marketing and Business Development at Encore Tours and her passion for travel is matched only by her love of music. She holds bachelor degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Theory and currently performs with Chorus pro Musica in the Boston area. She also directs the Harborlight Show Chorus, a small barbershop chorus in the North Shore.More Content by Tori Cook