We at Fourwinds Tours and Travel have created a quick and simple guide to jumpstarting your planning process and allowing your dream trip to become a reality!
With the school year knocking on the door, the phrase “so much to do, so little time” takes on a whole new meaning.
- Set-up classroom? Check.
- Buy new art supplies? Check.
- Make name tags? Check.
- Plan school trip? Hmmm…maybe next year.
Needless to say, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of activity. School hallways are being transformed into art exhibits while one quick glance into a classroom reveals the mountains of freshly minted textbooks stacked next to the old ones that will almost certainly find their new home in the recycling bin. It is exhausting. It is overwhelming. But it is rewarding. You strive to create an environment where students can learn, grow, and mature, all while feeling comfortable and safe.
The good news is that this learning environment does not have to exist solely in the classroom. Whether it is a day excursion to a local historical monument or a multi-day trip abroad, educational tours are extremely effective in broadening students’ horizons and enhancing their learning. So let us revisit that checklist. Make name tags? Check. Plan school trip? Absolutely. With countless resources available, it is never too late to create an adventure and observe the countless benefits the students will receive. Here are some simple steps to plan your successful trip:
Discover Your “Why”
Ask yourself the question: Why is this trip necessary? Maybe it is a visit to Philadelphia that will bring the American Revolution to life. Or perhaps it is a unique opportunity for the school band to play in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Whatever it may be, it is important to identify the underlying reason that is motivating the trip. This will make it easier to generate excitement in the students and their parents, create proposals for the school board, and raise any necessary funds to support the travel.
Brainstorm the Details
While it may not be the most fun part, figuring out the logistics is essential to pushing your idea forward. Start with the basics. When do you want to take the trip? Consider student holidays and exam schedules and try to determine a list of potential dates that would work. Allowing for flexibility is a great way to keep cost down and increase the chances of approval.
Also, estimate the size of the group that will be travelling. Will the entire class be attending? What is the ideal number of chaperones? It is always best to overshoot these numbers as it can give you a nice buffer in cost.
Contact an Educational Travel Agency
The beautiful thing about planning a school trip is that you are not in it alone. Contact a company that specializes in educational tours and you will be amazed at how insightful and helpful these specialized travel agents can be. All it takes is a short conversation outlining your details and they will offer up a plethora of ideas you had not even considered before. They will also answer any lingering questions or concerns you have in order to bring your trip to life. Basically, no matter how difficult or unconventional it may seem, these agencies are well equipped to create a customized, affordable and educational excursion for your students.
Obtain School Permission and Approval
Whether it is required for your school or it is a way to obtain additional funding, you will want to receive permission before booking anything for your trip. However, this is not always as easy as it sounds.
One helpful tip is to speak with another teacher who has already taken a trip and gather some insight into the process.They can provide excellent advice on what the school is looking for and what parts you should highlight when presenting your idea, which brings me to another useful tip. A well-organized, formal presentation is a great way to communicate your passion and vision for your adventure, as well as your commitment to its development. This is an excellent opportunity to call upon your travel agent and gather vital information like estimated costs, preliminary itineraries, and credible references. You can also research schools who have taken similar trips and share excerpts from their travels via blogs and testimonials. Presenting your idea in an effective and concise manner will help it move from the brainstorming stage to the planning stage.
At this point you should be feeling really good. You created this wonderful, educational experience, you have a helpful agency behind you and you have the thumbs up from your school. Now, you just need to take all of that built-up excitement and share it with your students and their parents.
The first way to do this is to introduce the trip early. As soon as it is finalized, let the students know that they have an amazing journey to look forward to. Create lesson plans that are geared toward the sights and tours that they will experience, continuously finding ways to tie the excursion back to the in-class activities. Creating a solid foundation of learning helps to frame the eventual trip and allow the students to maximize the wonderful opportunity you are providing them.
Since the students will be filled to the brim with anticipation, they will undoubtedly run home and immediately tell their parents. To avoid any surprises, request a formal school trip guide from your travel agent to help the parents with any questions or concerns they will have. It can be a brief, one-page outline with an overview of the trip, itinerary, and breakdown of costs. Not only will the parents’ minds be put to ease knowing that it is such a well-planned out endeavor, but it will also give you peace of mind seeing all that you have accomplished in a clear, concise brief.
Raise those Funds
No matter how long or costly a school trip is, it is never a bad idea to hold fundraisers. Besides the primary function of raising money, they can accomplish so much more. They let friends, families and neighbors know about the great work that is happening at the school. They are also great for fostering community and creating relationships for future school events and trips. People want to contribute their time and resources toward causes that they believe in and education is right near the top of that list.
The best part too, is that every fundraiser can be unique, allowing plenty of room for creativity in themes and execution. Venture into the neighborhood and host bake sales, car washes, or yard sales, or even put on a school-sponsored event like a mini carnival or raffle. It may be difficult to choose just one type of fundraiser, but keeping in mind the amount of funds needed, coupled with the audiences that you are trying to reach, will give you the direction necessary to execute your own successful fundraiser. Stay tuned for the Fourwinds Tours & Travel Fundraising Guide, which will give a more in-depth look into the best fundraiser for you.
Enjoy the Trip
The day has arrived, the students are waiting to board the buses and you are frantically double and triple-checking your headcounts to make sure everyone is accounted for. Breathe. Relax. You have done your part. Now it is time to enjoy this time with your students and allow the rockstar travel agency you enlisted to be your backbone. Have an awesome trip!