Tuesday, February 11, 2014

15 Tips for Organizing Student Travel

I've been lucky to travel with students a number of times to France and Québec.  Here is my best advice: 

Before the trip:

1.  Collect more money than the trip costs.   This gives wiggle room for price increases or unforeseen expenses.  (Call it the trip "slush fund.")  I suggest an additional $100 per person, and refunding any excess after the trip was finished.

2.  Call your cell phone carrier.  Especially for international trips, try to get a prorated plan for data, texts, or calls (when possible).  This temporary international plan can prevent an unexpected bill.  Please note that not all cell phones will work abroad; here is a useful article about cell phones.

3.  Give out your cell phone number.  With student safety as a priority, I always gave my cell phone number to students and their families.   I made it clear that this number was only for use during the trip, and never had student or parents use it inappropriately. 

4.  Procure at least $100 in local currency.  It's always a good idea to go with cash in hand. After arriving, I would use my debit card to take out cash at a local ATM. 

5.  Create a checklist and packet for student documents.  Collect and make all of the documents students will need and put them in the same packet; keep track of these documents with a checklist.

6.  Share cancelation information from the get-go.  Be sure to tell parents what they will lose when they cancel or if the district cancels the trip.  Having this in writing will also make it easier for you as trip planning moves forward. 

7.  Set appropriate expectations.  When meeting with students and their support systems, share pointers for the best travel experience; what to expect in the airport, hotels, homestays, bathrooms, etc.  Sharing information and anecdotes in a positive and truthful light will lead to a better experience for everyone.

8.  Register with the country's consulate.  This is just in case, for example, a volcano in Iceland stops trans-Atlantic flights. 

9.  Create a web page, wiki, or use Edmodo, etc., for trip information.  Be sure that everyone can access this site, and share trip planning information on it.  It is helpful if you use a medium that gives users notifications of changes, such as a wiki. 

During the trip:

10.  Update your trip web page daily.  The first year I did this, I had three parents hug me when we returned.  This action helps the community stay connected to this important travel experience, and builds support for the world language program. This did impact my own sleep, but was worth it! 

11. Enjoy.  You are there!  Live in the moment and only handle problems if they arise. 

12.  Trust your gut. Think your tour guide might be missing something?  Speak up.  Worried those three students who are late might be in trouble?  Call them. 

After the trip: 

12.  Plan a trip celebration.  Have a pot luck dinner or gathering with students, their families, and friends, to celebrate the trip.  Show pictures and give superlatives. 

13.  Connect with your classes.  Create lessons and activities that allow students who were unable to go on the excursion to learn from it.  Share videos, do activities with the trip web page, or even have students share their memories. 

14.  Make a list for the next time.  Write down your recommendations and changes for future trips immediately - this is a gift you give yourself when you start to plan future student adventures. 

15.  Refund money.  Look back at your trip receipts, and refund the extra money that was not spent. 

I encourage all world language teachers to travel with students, and hope these tips are useful.  I must note that I could not have learned any of this without the help of my mentor and friend, Dorothy Raviele.  Have you planned student trips?  What is your advice? 

No comments:

Post a Comment