A Teacher’s 10-Step Guide to Planning The Perfect Educational Tour
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
The benefits of experiential learning and education outside the classroom has been well-documented. Teachers frequently report that students who participate in experiential trips are more motivated to learn and more likely seek further educational opportunities. Yet, some teachers choose not to plan trips because the responsibilities and administrative burdens can seem daunting. Below, we’ve broken down the process to dilute the perception of complexity. Take thoughtful consideration of each step and you’re well on your way to organizing a successful trip!
Step 1. How does this fit into your curriculum?
Before getting started with the nitty gritty of your educational trip, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. Ask, “what are the educational objectives you’re trying to achieve?” and “what added value can this bring to my students?”
Setting clear and well-defined goals, strategies, and rationales, will help you understand what will be gained from field studies. For example, choosing to frame your trip around a central theme that aligns with course goals helps to keep the experience focused.
Step 2.Where do you want to travel?
According to a World Youth Student & Education (WYSE) study, location and nature of the program are the two most important factors for youth travellers deciding to go abroad. The ideal destination is at the intersection of logistical possibilities and course objectives. For instance, consider why this location is suitable for the particular course theme you wish to highlight.
Even if you already know where you would like to go, don’t be afraid to seek advice where needed. If this is your first stab at organizing a field trip, it is a good idea to consult student travel companies and connect with local organizations at the destination.
Step 3.When do you want to travel?
Planning an effective and successful trip is a time-consuming process, so begin early to ensure you have plenty of time to make the appropriate arrangements.
Whether you’re thinking about a trip during summer vacation or winter break, have a few date options available. If possible, be flexible with your dates, especially if you’re planning to travel during high season. Travelling on irregular days or times is an excellent way to cut costs (Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal suggests mid-week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)!
Step 4. How many students will you be travelling with?
The size of your group directly correlates with how much supervision assistance you will need. This may, in large part, depend on the amount of interest that the field opportunity garners, as well as the associated financial costs.
In addition to the number of student participants, also think about the composition of the group, or the specific traits of your students in relation to the nature of the educational tour. It goes without saying, smaller groups are generally easier to handle, as are more mature students.
Step 5.What activities do you want to partake in?
Are there certain landmarks or cultural sites that can only be experienced at this destination? How about arranging presentations from local speakers and organizations? With a rough idea of the types of activities you would like to engage in, most tour companies will help you craft an itinerary that is most suitable for your group.
Step 6.Find the right tour company to guide you and help you manage the details.
With so many companies out there, it’s important to invest time into researching the one that is the best fit for the objectives of your educational project. Beyond programmatic activities offered, also look at the firm’s philosophy and testimonials.
A good firm will help you streamline the process, providing you with resources for visas applications, vaccination requirements, insurance requirements, and travel advisories. Pro tip: an advantage of consulting with locally developed organizations is being able to lean on their expert know-how of the region (which is vital for safety considerations).
Step 7.What are the financial logistics?
A lack of financial resources is the number one (80%) cited barrier for teachers who do not organize trips (as reported by the Student & Youth Travel Digest). Before scrapping your project entirely, carefully scrutinize whether you have pursued all possible sources of funding. Scout out external funding opportunities from university departments or government grants. Fundraising can also be another option to reduce costs.
Here, seeking outside advice from your tour company and administrators is one way to make the most of your funds and maximize your budget.
Step 8. Get the OK from school administrators.
Most universities will have a travel abroad policy and set of safety guidelines that must be followed. 97% of Canadian universities offer education abroad programs and 82% of Canadian colleges and institutes offer education abroad. Be sure to reach out to faculty members and staff to get approval for the project and address additional concerns.
Step 9.Specify and communicate expectations to your students.
Articulate the goals, benefits and the rationale for participating in the educational tour so that your students know how to get the best out of their experience. Hosting an orientation session provides an opportunity to lay out all the information and discuss any inquiries students and/or parents may have.
Step 10.Get your students excited to participate!
This all might sound quite overwhelming but if you can pull it off, the experience is immensely rewarding! The Canadian Bureau for International Education reports that 90% students that took an educational trip abroad gained greater cultural awareness and understanding, as well as knowledge of the host country. 87% also noted openness to difference as a major takeaway from their experience. For more about the multitudinous benefits of travel for learning, read our previous article on educational tours.
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