When you first start considering taking your students on a trip—whether that be a long weekend to New York City or Washington, DC or a two-week escapade across Europe—you also start researching student travel companies. Who will you trust to lead you and your students in your travels? Who will provide you with the best experience? Who offers competitively priced tour packages?
These are the questions that first come to mind, but how do you dig further? After all, you’re asking your students’ families to invest a significant amount of money and you yourself are going to a lot of effort to provide such a life-changing opportunity that goes above and beyond your typical job duties. It requires somewhat of a leap of faith, and you’re heavily invested in making sure that the experience is a positive one.
Perhaps you received a recommendation from a trusted source, heard good things about a certain tour company from an acquaintance or at a teachers’ conference, or perhaps you’re starting from scratch and scouring the internet for opinions and reviews. You’ll likely check out the websites of several student tour providers to get a feel for what they offer. The next step, then, is to make a few calls to get your more specific questions answered.
To help you prepare that list of questions, we’ve noted ten things you should think about when choosing an educational tour company for your next student trip:
- What exactly does the starting-at price include? (Activities, meals, travel insurance, etc.)
- What will you have to pay extra for? (Optional excursions, drinks with meals, etc.)
- Will you receive a finalized itinerary before departure?
- What services are provided by the tour director? Does he or she stay with your group at all times? How many years of experience
does he or she have in leading student groups?
- How many years of experience does the travel company have and with which destinations?
- How flexible is the itinerary? Can I tailor it to my group’s interests? At what cost?
- Will my group be combined with another group on tour?
- Are there membership fees to pay?
- What support is provided by the tour consultant in planning your trip?
- In what sort of hotels will you stay? In what sorts of restaurants will you eat?
Of course, it’s very important to consider a company’s travel philosophy. Do they want to offer the absolute lowest prices? Do they stick to a beaten path of tourist locations? Do they emphasize practical, hands-on experiences that underline the culture of a particular destination? Will they work with you to create an itinerary that meets the needs and expectations of your particular group at a price you can afford? A company’s travel philosophy will make the difference between a vacation and a truly unforgettable, educational experience.
If this seems like an overwhelming amount of information to gather, don’t fret! We’ve assembled these questions and many more into a downloadable eBook in checklist format. Answers to many of the questions will be easy to find on a company’s website, and the rest you can ask when you speak to a tour consultant. Our eBook makes it easy to compare tour companies across the line and choose the one that’s the best fit for your group.
Congratulations on taking the first step on what will surely prove to be a life-changing experience for you and your students. Have fun with it!