by Jennifer Doherty
This article looks at the possible school tour options available to teachers of older students who are looking for educational development and inspiring travel options. It focuses on some of the more unusual and exciting options on offer.
The changing world of school travel
Once upon a time, the school trip was a fairly local and low-key event. Younger children went to a town museum, to the local nature reserve and occasionally travelled to the nearby city or country capital to visit a large attraction. Older students went on foreign language exchanges or school cultural exchanges, particularly those with a sporting bent. There was a period where school and educational travel seemed to be curtailed, as educators got to grips with the challenges of burgeoning legislations, personal claims litigation and the stress and worry of managing health and safety and other provisions to the correct standard. However, the rise of professional events and travel companies who deal specifically with the education and youth sector has meant that educators can now focus on teaching and let the travel organization manage the finer points of the trip’s administration!
Nowadays, there is a wealth of choices for schools and educators looking to extend their learners’ fields and stimulate their thinking. School trips to Washington DC have long been popular with the American market, but are now also popular with UK and European audiences too, thanks to the accessibility of travel, competitive pricing and the value of these trips to students studying politics, humanities, public administration, law, government or an array of other linked subjects. Volunteering travel is becoming very popular with older students, who might elect to research turtle populations in India, teach English as a foreign language in Japan, help build wells in rural Africa, or assist with orphans in a Thai orphanage. These types of travel tours can be hugely important to young people considering their future options and challenge them to look at the world in a new way before they commit to a certain career path. Volunteering travel is also noted for developing self-reliance, persistence, compassion, organization and myriad other skills that are hugely transferable in later life. Other types of cultural exchange include music trips and exchanges and even tours where schools go to play, sing or generally perform at large events across the world, joining other international students in a trip that they’ll never forget.
The value of professional organization
Whether you’re thinking of taking your student group on a volunteering trip to Scotland, where they’ll learn about recording and preserving a nature colony, or considering the value of school trips to Washington DC for a politics class, it can be well worth while to invest in professional organization. The right travel partner will allow you to focus on preparing your students educationally for the trip and ensuring that the tour ties in with learning objectives. Meanwhile, the travel company can deal with practical bookings and arrangements, visas, insurances and other requirements that can be so time-consuming and easy to get wrong for those who don’t work in the profession.
In conclusion, travel tours are a valuable way of bringing the curriculum to life and broadening the horizons of young people and there is now a vast range of options to suit all interests, objectives, ages and budget. A professional travel company can act as a partner to organize the travel and allow the educator to focus on the learning objectives associated with the trip, rather than getting lost in the administration involved in group travel!
Jennifer Doherty has long been a proponent of voluntary work abroad. When she’s not teaching, she writes regularly for websites and publications targeted to the educational sector.