Monday, June 15, 2009

Ready... Set... Go!

Summertime usually brings lots of dance and worship arts conferences with it. Because many students are out of school, it is popular to host events during this time. Although the bulk of conferences usually take place within this timeframe, there are many events throughout the year. With a little planning, we can navigate through them successfully.

There are some great strategies to use for ministry travel. Experience is a good teacher. If we plan to make our trip a smooth one, even if we encounter a few "bumps" on the road, we should be able to arrive unscathed. Planning well in advance will allow us to be able to coordinate the trip with money to spare. Ready to pack your bags?

If possible, we should schedule trips outside of our local area several months in advance. This will allow us sufficient rest time in between trips if we are attending several events throughout the year. Even if we will be gone for back-to-back events, planning ahead of time will allow us a smoother transition. If we are married or parents, this will also aid us in providing for our homes needs as well.

If we plan sufficiently, we can usually save money with early registration. Many events have a tiered payment system in which the rates increase as the event draws closer. There are several reasons for this, which I will discuss in a later post. Purchasing airline tickets early usually results in savings as well. Hotels usually offer discount rates for groups booking in a block by a certain cut-off date. Booking after this date usually results in higher costs. Planning to purchase these items by a target date usually mean big savings!

Trip Tips:

By Airplane:
Try to book flights that arrive at least several hours before the event starts. Departing flights can be scheduled in the evening, but try to avoid booking the last flight out in case of delayed or cancelled flights. Who wants to spend the night in an airport? Signing up for rewards programs or volunteering to be bumped for overbooked flights can get you free travel and reduce future expenses.

When packing luggage, take your MUST HAVE items on board with you. If there is a specific garment that you need, don't risk having to fill out a claim for lost or delayed baggage. This will reduce your stress and help you to remain prepared. Try to avoid overpacking. If possible, coordinate garments so that you do not have to take your entire wardrobe with you.

By Car:
Try to plan your drive before or after rush hour traffic. Hurry up and wait? I hope not... Make sure that your vehicle has been recently serviced, or use a reputable rental agency. It may seem obvious, but get gas before taking to the road. No one wants to be stuck 30 miles away from the next gas station or waiting for the tow truck to come and assist. When travelling with a group, make sure to factor in "wiggle room" as well as enough space for baggage.

Hotel Bookings:
Many hotels offer early check-in when arriving before the posted times. This usually depends on availability, but I have done this many times with success. You can also request a late check-out until a certain time without extra charges. You can always leave your bags with the bellman in case of a late flight. In many cases, registering under the room block helps with the success of the conference. Joining a frequent visitor rewards program also come with perks! Remember: other guests might not share your enthusiasm as you re-enact conference highlights late at night. Courtesy counts!

Dining Out:
We should not have to tell the saints to tip waitstaff appropriately, so I will just encourage you to show extra love and care. We are still ministering to those around us! We can reduce the amount of money spent on meals by eating no more than 2 paid meals per day. Breakfast can be replaced with a meal bar or other pre-packaged fruits and nourishment brought with you. Water purchases can be made at a nearby market or convenience store. The water bottles and snacks inside of hotel rooms are usually pretty pricey!

Make a List and Check it Twice!
To ease the stress of a hectic travel schedule, we can make lists of itmes we must pack of take with us in advance. This should prevent forgetting any necessary items and limit last-minute shopping.

Safety Tips:
If journeying abroad, make sure to take your passport and keep it safe at all times. We cannot assume that because we are at a Christian event that the thief will restrain himself. We should avoid carrying bulky purses or backpacks and avoid the wearing of flashy jewelry to help minimize the temptation. Trying to get back home without a wallet or identification can be a nightmare!

Taking care to make plans in advance will result in success. Even if something does not go as planned, when the Lord is with us, He will deliver us out of trouble. Enjoy your travels throughout the year, taking care to make it the best experience possible. See you soon!

New King James Version

Proverbs 15:22
Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Proverbs 21:5
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

Ecclesiastes 7:12
For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.

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