Student travel has endless benefits , both in the classroom and beyond. One of those benefits is the education students receive in HOW to travel and behave as travelers, rather than tourists. Before their students step foot on a bus or an airplane, we prepare our BRT clients to teach their groups some travel etiquette basics – and today, we’ll share some of them with you!
We believe there’s a notable difference between travelers and tourists – if you’ve explored any large city, you’ve probably seen the difference for yourself. Here’s how we define these two very different ways of experiencing new places:
Travelers are aware of their surroundings, respectful of new cultures, people, and places and are eager to learn as much as they can about the destinations they’re exploring.
Tourists are often easy to spot because they can seem unaware of their surroundings. They often don’t realize when they’re talking too loud, standing where they shouldn’t be or conducting themselves in a way that can be perceived as oblivious or disrespectful.
The traveler mindset can be taught in advance and should also be modeled by staff and chaperones throughout the trip – things like:
Be responsible for both yourself and your belongings. This is often the first opportunity students have to travel without their parents’ oversight. They need to be aware of their surroundings, where their backpacks/purses are at all times and have an understanding of when/where they need to be throughout the day. There’s often a learning curve – expect that your students will make mistakes, need reminders and possibly lose an item or two. But the best time to learn how to travel is while you’re traveling. These life lessons will stay with them for all their travels to come!
Behave in a way that both honors the place you’re exploring and the school you represent. If you’re touring the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, it’s a time for quiet learning and reflection. In contrast, if you’re exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can let loose a little! Students need to understand the difference and act accordingly. Another note: we live in an age of selfies and social media posts – and we, as adults, can be just as guilty! Teach your students when it’s okay to “selfie” and when the phones should be put away.
Everywhere you visit is someone else’s hometown. There’s no place like home. And that sentiment is true for the people that call our favorite travel destinations home as well. If your students are exploring Chinatown in New York City, the sights, sounds and smells will be very different than those in Anytown, Oklahoma. Teach your students to not only be respectful of the locales they’re exploring, but to look at these cultures with wonder and fascination! Don’t criticize or joke about new places, accents or cuisines – take in all of the differences, you’ll come home with a newfound respect and perspective about the world around you.
It’s our honor to share the world with students and watch their eyes be opened to new people, places and cultures. If you’re considering a first travel experience with your students or simply looking for a new way to travel, we’d love to help. Contact us today to find out more about the destinations and educational opportunities we offer across the country, and around the world!