Five things to do (and five things NOT to do) on your student tour

Mar 9, 2017

Travel Notes

Thirty-five years of traveling with students has taught us more about what to do and what NOT to do than any guidebook ever could. We’ve navigated through just about every possible student scenario and kept careful track of what works and what doesn’t – whether we’re planning in the office or on the road with our tour groups. Want the inside scoop on our best tips for traveling with students? Of course you do!

DO THIS!

Count the kids! The simplest tip is the best. And taking a headcount before you leave any location is one of the best tips we can pass along. We can’t tell you how many issues can be avoided by taking a quick count of your students. So count the kids. Every. Single. Time.

Stay in groups! Another simple, but incredibly helpful tip. Have students stay in small groups when away from the entire group. For younger groups, such as middle or elementary students, assign a chaperone to stay with each group. High schoolers can be given a bit more freedom, but only in groups – no one tours alone. Also, release student groups from the exact same place they’ll be meeting later so it’s easy to find.

Check in! When students are away from the whole group (think theme parks), set a designated place and window of time for them to check in with directors or chaperones during the day. Students don’t need to check in all at once – just set an hour window for them to stop by, say hi and check in. Students will enjoy the freedom, you’ll be enforcing responsibility and will have a great pulse on your groups throughout the day.

Communicate changes (and don’t sweat them) If itinerary changes need to be made during the trip, make sure you’re communicating this to the entire group. An easy way to do this is through various group texting apps. We’ve compiled a list of apps we love here. Just know that weather issues and uncontrollable circumstances happen. Even the most meticulously planned itineraries have changes, because life is unpredictable. We’re experts at making quick, simple itinerary adjustments that make rolling with the punches easy. 

Debrief!  Have a nightly chaperone meeting at the end of each day to debrief on the past day’s happenings and prepare for the day to come. If there are concerns or updates, everyone will be on the same page following this quick meeting.

DON’T DO THIS!

Don’t let chaperones run the trip – Chaperones are amazing and can help your trip run smoothly and efficiently. But a chaperone that makes decisions outside of what’s been discussed can be challenging. Work closely with your chaperones before the trip begins and gently remind them if needed that your authority is needed for any major decisions. 

Don’t spend all your money – The freedom that comes with being away from home is an incredibly powerful learning experience for students. This may be the first time they’ve been responsible for managing money on their own, so there may be a learning curve. Remind students as you travel that their money needs to last them the whole trip, and potentially into the journey home as well.

Don’t give students things to lose – While we want students to take responsibility for their belongings on the trip, don’t hand out tickets or vouchers until the last possible moment to lower the risk of losing those important (and often non-refundable) items. 

Don’t forget to take care of yourself – Leading a student travel experience is such a gift for you as the teacher or director, but it can be mentally taxing as well. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself – eat, stay hydrated and sleep throughout the trip and you’ll enjoy the experience so much more. 

Don’t panic – Nothing can ruin a trip faster than stress – don’t panic about the details! This is a once in a lifetime experience for your students and should be for you as well. Trust the time you’ve spent preparing and your support team to keeping everything running smoothly. If we have the privilege of working together on your next student travel experience, you’ll have the benefit of an on-site tour director, 24-hour emergency line and our expert office staff at the ready to handle anything that comes their way. 

This is the perfect time of year to start the process of planning your group’s next (or first!) tour. Reach out today and we’ll guide you through the first steps towards an exciting and expertly planned travel experience your students will never forget!

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