Group LeadersStudent TripsTravel

How to Spot the Weakest Part of Your Trip (And What to Do About It)

weakness

Group leaders have the best of intentions when planning their school trips. They want their students to “see it all” and have the richest of learning experiences. However, these intentions can backfire. Are you guilty?

Here are four common weaknesses that we see again and again on school trips.

And, more importantly, quick and easy ways to strengthen each one.

Weakness #1:   You overload your itinerary.

  • You pack too many activities in each day.
  • You rush at and between sites.
  • Your trip is a whirlwind.

The number of available destination activities can be overwhelming. However, by trying to “see it all”, your days become very rushed. You shortchange your students with too little time at sites that would otherwise capture their curiosity.

How to fix it:

  • Set priorities and realistic goals.
  • Eliminate several sites.
  • Choose quality time over quantity of activity.

Determine your top 5 sites/activities.  Evaluate how much time you would need to have a quality learning experience at these sites and prioritize accordingly. Determine your bottom 3-5 sites/activities and eliminate them. The remainder of the itinerary can be filled with your middle ranking activities.

 

Weakness #2:   You  travel  through the night to your destination.

  • You barely sleep.
  • Your students arrive exhausted.
  • You miss learning opportunities.

Students arrive too tired to fully enjoy the learning experience. They opt to sit down instead of exploring their destination. They fight to stay awake on the bus instead of listening to the tour leader.

How to fix it:

  • Travel through the night on your way home.
  • Plan an additional day into your trip.
  • Return to the hotel early.

If you must travel through the night, do so on your way home so that the learning experience is not compromised. Alternatively, plan a less rigorous first day and return to your hotel early to rest.

 

Weakness #3:   You have an abundance of timed reservations.

  • Your schedule is inflexible.
  • You rush at and between sites.
  • You do not allow sufficient time for unforeseen circumstances.

If too many  timed reservations fall in a row or on the same day, your schedule can become quite rushed and demanding. In certain cases, vendor availability can make this scheduling unavoidable.  Unforeseen circumstances, such as traffic, can further complicate your day.

How to fix it: 

  • Prioritize the most important reservations to your students.
  • Eliminate the others.
  • Limit the number of timed reservations you request.

Eliminate the activities that are not at the top of your priority list so that you can say “yes” to the best learning experiences.  It is often a more satisfying trip if quality time is spent at one site rather than being rushed through two sites.

 

Weakness #4: Your chaperones are not organized.

  • Your chaperones are unsure of their roles and tasks.
  • Your chaperones are “along for the ride”.
  • You experience chaos and confusion.

Chaperones are often very eager to help. Without direction, however, chaperones can cause unnecessary confusion, costing you precious time on your trip.

How to fix it: 

  • Hold a meeting before the trip to communicate expectations.
  • Assign specific students to each chaperone.
  • Put one chaperone in charge of counting the group during each bus loading.

Be specific. Assign chaperones to a group of students to be in charge of at the hotel, on the bus, and while visiting your destination. Organize your chaperones using this roster. Appoint one chaperone per bus to do the head count every time the bus is loaded. Hold a meeting and discuss specifically what each person is in charge of. By eliminating confusion of duties, chaperones will be a great help to a smoothly run trip.

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