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When the Wheels Come Off

Nov 15, 2022

Patrick Dailey’s first trip with his band at Arab High School in Alabama saw immediate roadblocks.

Having traveled every two years with his former employ, Ardmore High School, band director Dailey is no stranger to student trips. Those trips were put on hold due to the pandemic, however, which meant Dailey was unable to actually travel with his students at Arab until recently.

He knows what it’s like to miss out on travel—at his own high school alma mater back in 1999, Dailey remembers joining just one year too late for a trip to perform at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, DC. Ever since, it’s been a dream and a goal, one he hoped to fulfill with his students at Arab.

Then the call came that the motorcoach company was backing out, mostly due to staffing reasons, just a few weeks before the trip. Dailey didn’t panic, and his operators at Super Holiday Tours helped set up a new motorcoach.

Everything seemed to be in place, until the second motorcoach company also cancelled, with no explanation, roughly 10 hours before the scheduled departure. It became harder not to panic.

Still, Dailey wanted to keep the situation from getting worse. He called the students together in the band room and told them what was going on, and the fact all of this was completely out of his and Super Holiday’s control.

Meanwhile, the whole Super Holiday staff dropped what they were doing to make this trip happen. The company never once mentioned the idea of just cancelling the trip. Instead, they found a third bus company at the last second, and the Arab High School band was off to DC with 100 students and their instruments in tow, just six or so hours after the scheduled departure.

“I’ve always been impressed with Super Holiday’s care for their clients, but our travel this year only verified my beliefs,” Dailey said. “And the motorcoach that helped us out, we had great communication with them. They were just so helpful for us, we’ve already said that we want to start using them for every trip that we go on.”

The trip itself was full of fun and learning, and Dailey said the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade was incredibly well-organized.

“The weather was perfect for a parade, sunny and the temperature was in the high 60s. Having the opportunity to see my students march in front of the White House was probably my favorite part,” Dailey said. “Even the people on the mile-long parade route were friendly and we received lots of thank you’s for participating. It was the best parade experience I’ve ever had.”

The band played El Capitan by Sousa for the televised section, and a number of crowdpleasers like Louie Louie throughout. Students also visited just about every great museum and monument in DC, ending the trip exhausted by all the fun had around the city. “Being in our nation’s capital is always memorable and I know my students made life-long memories from this trip,” Dailey said.

For the director, it was both a dream come true and an eye-opening experience, especially in the world of today’s travel.

“I realized how quickly things can change in today’s travel business,” Dailey said. “If you don’t have a reliable group travel company, your trip is in jeopardy of not happening.”

This story originally appeared in Teach & Travel’s November 2022 issue.