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Spending Money on Tour

I am hoping you will all be willing to offer your methods for handline spending money for your choir members when on tour.
The choir I tour with is a boys' choir, ages 8-14.  We travel for 14-21 days at a time.  In the past we have always collected their spending money and then paid with our cash or credit card and had each boy track his expense (with guidance, of course).  We are, however, considering having each boy submit a VISA debit card.  We would then create a system to check out with their items.
The main point here is, "HOW DO YOU DO THIS?"
Do you use VISA cards?
Do you manage spending money at all or is it entirely your choristers' responsibility?
Do you use cash?
Your input would be greatly appreciated.
Aaron Carpenter
on May 12, 2014 8:29am
The kids I traveled with were older, and since many didn't have much money, credit cards were out.  I assigned a specific group of students to each sponsor, and each morning at breakfast (provided) they would give the students an allowance for the day.  The first day or two, we made sure to provide two meals at no cost, but if they spent their allowance on junk food or expensive souvenirs, they did NOT get more money.  Yes, they had water at the restaurant while everyone else ate, but we had snacks and water (never bring soft drinks) on the bus, so they didn't starve.  It was fun to watch the other kids; they knew everyone got an allowance, and never loaned the 'big spenders' extra money.  Usually the embarrassment alone worked, and they learned to manage their money pretty quickly.
Dividing the cash among the sponsors meant I didn't handle a big wad of money, and replacing lost/stolen money was easier.  Having them check with their sponsor at breakfast made them get up, and we could make sure each person was aware of any change in plans.  (Breakfast at the hotel costs more, but it's worth it - some are eating while the others are showering, and it saves a lot of time.)
on May 12, 2014 11:18am
We preferred cash, partially for the educational value of handling foreign currency and to avoid problems with American cards not having pin and chip.
We called it "souvenier money," and we limited it to the same amount per boy, and it was not much (there were quite a few well-to-do families mixed in with scholarship students: this evened the playing field, and reinforced budgeting and thriftiness).
The currency was held by chaperones, and each group of boys was assigned to a chaperone group. All meals were paid for and consumed as part of the group, except when the chaperone groups would break out on excursions and the small groups would decide on where to eat and the chaperone would pay out of a budget. You could use debit cards for this.
On free time excursions, the chaperones would hand the money out to the boys, but it was always available on demand from the chaperones in case there was a particularly interesting street vendor near where everyone was stopped.
An unrelated times-saving hint: develop a group photo protocol and practice forming up into it quickly and getting it over with. Nobody actually likes group photos and it is a huge time-waster.
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