The travel factor: How traveling affects students

Feb 23, 2017

Travel Notes

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

As educators, most of us would definitively agree that student travel benefits everyone – the student traveler, parents and teachers. We quote Mark Twain and Thoreau and Saint Augustine. We talk about how travel changes lives and opens minds, improves participation in the classroom and ultimately builds strong programs. And we know all of this to be true, because as a team, we’ve served as both educators and travel planners for over 35 years. But did you know there’s scientific data to support our passion for student travel?

In 2016, The Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) announced the findings of a two-year global study the organization conducted in an effort to learn more about how students are impacted by travel. The study, A Comprehensive Survey of the Student Travel Market, is comprised of data collected from 1,432 U.S. teachers, 128 U.S. student group leaders, 146 U.S. tour operators and 437 international tour operators and overall represents the responses of over one million students.

In the classroom

Student travel is not only a standard teaching resource, it is also significantly more effective than traditional forms of education. 45% of respondents claim it is extremely effective compared to classroom instruction. – SYTA

We’ve heard this from the directors we partner with and experienced it firsthand in our own classrooms (many of our BRT team members were educators before joining us). Travel brings the lessons taught in the classroom to life. This could be a student’s first exposure to professional musicians, from the New York Philharmonic to the orchestras on Broadway, showing them the possibilities of a career in music. Travel gives students the opportunity to “learn on the job,” discovering how the acoustics of performance venues differ or learning to adjust to performing in different climates and altitudes. But the educational benefits don’t end when the student travelers return home. According to the study, teachers find that students’ overall academic performance improves when travel is part of the curriculum.

After graduation and in the job market

Students who travel have an increased desire to attend college. Participating in travel makes students more marketable to employers – SYTA

Many student travelers return home eager to learn more and continue their educations, according to the study. Teachers who participated in the research noted that students experienced a “transformation” following travel, in which their ambition to learn and explore grows noticeably. A travel experience is often students’ first glimpse of independence, from managing a schedule to budgeting money, giving them their first taste of the “future.” The study found that this often resulted in more students pursuing a college education, following their exposure to new places and cultures, as well as opportunities to experience independence away from home.

International student travel in particular makes students more attractive to college admissions and more marketable to employers, according to the study. Some of the most noted areas of impact for student travelers are increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities, increased willingness to know/learn/explore and increased independence, self-esteem and confidence – all extremely attractive qualities for recruiting colleges and businesses.

Travelers for life

Educators agree that travel is contagious, and 60% noticed an increased desire for more travel experiences in the future. – SYTA

Traveling changes you. Once you’ve experienced a new culture, whether that’s across the state, the country or the world, your desire to see and do more just grows. The research confirms that as well. Both domestic and international student travelers were reported to have a desire to travel more (54% and 76% respectively). Our team here at BRT is made up of veteran educators and travel experts from different parts of the country – one thing we all have in common is a passion for travel. And we aren’t just planning the trips – everyone on our team travels each year, from road trips and stateside visits to overseas adventures. Many of us were first exposed to travel as students, igniting a lifelong love of travel, so we understand how meaningful that first experience can be.

If you’ve been considering adding a travel experience to your curriculum, we’d love to help. Contact us today to learn more about the programs, opportunities and destinations that are right for your unique group. We can’t wait to get to know you.

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