Large student groups have 200+ students and require a minimum of 4 motor coaches for their travel. While seemingly daunting, traveling with a large student group can be quite efficient. Make the most of your trip with the following strategies.
Book Early and Consider Traveling During Low Season
The value of early planning cannot be over emphasized when your large student group exceeds 200 students. Plans should be initiated a minimum of 12 months in advance to ensure hotel, motor coach, and attraction availability for your chosen dates.
Give added consideration to traveling during low season, or off-peak dates. Peak season for student travel is March – May, with May being the busiest month. Traveling during the fall, winter, or early spring has many benefits.
Divide and Conquer with Multiple Schedules
When your large student group requires 4 or more motor coaches, consider dividing the group in two and using an itinerary “A” and an itinerary “B”. This can dramatically increase the efficiency of your trip.
- Less time is spent waiting in line to enter an attraction.
- Motor coaches can avoid being “split” at traffic lights.
- Meals are served or facilitated more quickly.
- Fewer motor coach drop-off or parking locations are needed at one time.
Stagger Timed Entries and Carefully Prioritize Group Events
Of course, there are certain events that you want to experience as an entire group, such as a commemorative photo or evening show. Carefully select which events to prioritize. Then, be open to staggering all other timed entries especially when using multiple schedules.
Why? Timed entry tickets for most attractions are very limited in quantity. The likelihood of securing tickets for the entire group is greatly increased when portions of the group are open to visiting an attraction at a different time of day or different day of the trip. This works well when large student groups implement multiple itineraries.
Vary en Route Meal Locations
There are few things slower than 200+ students in line at a single fast food restaurant. Stop at locations en route that have the same number of restaurants as you have buses (if not more). Send one bus to each restaurant so that dining times will be approximately the same.
The large student group can also divide dining between two different rest stops. The tour leaders and motor coach drivers can coordinate the logistics such that the buses reunite en route to the destination after dining.
Alternatively, some groups opt to bring a packed lunch on their way to their destination.
Put Excellent Communication Systems in Place
Traveling efficiently with a large student group requires excellent communication systems in place.
- Use an automated call system to remind parents about important dates and/or to provide updates throughout the trip.
- Use the free text message service Remind to send updates to chaperones and/or parents during the trip.
- Be sure that all chaperones on each bus have each other’s cell phone numbers.
- Establish a chain of command for communicating during an emergency situation. Will a chaperone contact the head group leader or their bus leader first?
- Communicate with parents early and often about fundraising, trip plans, and important dates.
- Have students select a bus partner. Two pairs of bus partners are assigned as hotel roommates. Sets of hotel roommates are assigned to the supervision of a chaperone.
- Organize your chaperones and hold a meeting to clarify roles and expectations.
- Determine student bus assignments and which buses will be following itinerary A and which will be following itinerary B.
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