So you’ve decided to plan a school trip in the next year. Follow these tips at the critical 12-month out time period and you’ll be in step with a brilliantly executed departure.
You’re getting feedback and perhaps kickback from students, parents, the school board and colleagues which only clouds the student trip decision-making process, but at a year out the decision is looming. If you’re stuck, it’s a good idea to pool potential trip participants using free tools like Survey Monkey, or an unscientific show of hands in class from 2-3 pre-picked destinations. Anything you tie in here to your curriculum is beneficial, if not mandatory to gain approval.
Think level-headed; you need a good mix of fun and education. Budget-friendly (if you’re like most schools!) and not-too-hard-to-get-to.
The best attended school trips wrap around a holiday weekend, spring or winter break. This keeps kids in school for the most amount of time possible, eliminating potential friction with other teachers, the school principal or other higher-ups. Sure, some parents might have vacation plans, but since you’re doing this a year out, conflict should be minimal.
Pick a Student Tour Operator…Or Set Off On Your Own
Knowing your destination and your proposed travel dates, you can start contacting student tour operators for price quotes. If you’re just starting out, ask other teachers for references. Having destination and dates handy pre-call will save you from back and forth haggling and potential hard sell tactics. Student tour operators have their preferred destinations which they will promote first and foremost. If the operator tries to sway you to a new destination, time to move on – there are other fish in the sea.
If you’re determined to work with a student tour operator, get 3-4 competitive quotes. Make sure they are apples-to-apples. Factors that affect the price of your tour include quality and age of busses used, meal quantity and quality, hotel quality, admissions included versus drive-bys or on your own, escort policy and free/comp reservations for you and chaperones. Because quotes will come in all shapes and forms, it’s wise to have a check-list of these items so you can apply each proposal to a grid to get a real assessment of price and value offered.
Remember that beauty is only skin deep. A pretty brochure or snazzy website doesn’t directly correlate to a flawlessly executed school trip so while that quote may look impressive in its formatting, make sure it passes muster with trip inclusions.
If you’re not planning on working with a tour operator, you can reference itineraries from destination convention and visitor bureau’s, or brochures from student tour operators to get a feel for what to include on your trip and what duration it should be. That being said, we strongly advise against copying existing tour operator itineraries, it’s unethical and plagiaristic.
Set Your Price
If your trip involves air flights, this won’t be possible until 11 months out, due to how airlines set schedules and fees. But all other components will be available for contract and pricing should hold true as long as your have contracted for the space.
Now’s the time to set your chaperone policy and start accepting applications. Knowing what qualifications and expectations you have in advance (see related article on this topic) will eliminate any hard feelings while ensuring the best possible trip experience for everyone.