Seven Top Student Travel Providers
Student travel is on the rise and to help you with all your planning needs, we present the student travel providers you need to know
When educators first get the inspiration to travel with their students, they usually turn to a tour operator that specializes in student travel. Whether it’s a short trip to the state capital or an international adventure, these organizations can smooth the way and make the planning process a positive experience. Lifting many of the burdens off the teacher’s shoulders, experienced operators take care of all the details, from flights and bus transportation to hotel arrangements. They also may provide free travel and other incentives to teachers interested in forming groups.
Here is a brief look at 7 top student tour operators and what they offer:
While on a trip with his class to Washington, D.C., a middle school teacher from Chicago realized the positive impact travel had on students and established Lakeland Tours in 1967. In the 1990s, Lakeland Tours combined with other travel programs, including American Student Travel, Educational Field Studies, Heritage Festivals, Bowl of America and Wider Horizons to create WorldStrides. Since then, many others have joined, including Classic Festivals, Accent Travel Group, New Century Tours, TravelMBA, Casterbridge Tours and Envision.
WorldStrides is a travel study school that is independently accredited in regions across the country and around the world. It provides educational travel programs for elementary, middle, high school and university students. WorldStrides’ mission is “Enriching Students’ Lives Through Experiential Travel.” One popular destination is Washington D.C, where students learn about American government and history in the nation’s capital. The 4-day trip visits sites such as the Arlington National Cemetery, Washington Monument, White House, Mount Vernon and Holocaust Museum.
Educators can also gain valuable experience by traveling with WorldStrides. Qualified educators can receive free professional development or low-cost graduate credit.
2. EDUCATION FIRST
EF, short for Education First, is a world leader in international education based in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a global presence in 120 countries. Since 1965, this family-owned business has been bringing people around the world together through its learning programs that help students reach their education goals by providing educational travel, cultural exchanges, language training and academic degrees.
Tour highlights include a 9-day tour of Athens, Crete and Santorini, in which students will learn about ancient Greek history, visiting sites such as the Knossos Palace, Acropolis and Agios Nikolaos. For groups who enjoy wildlife, Discover South Africa is an 11-day tour that allows students to learn about South African politics and history while viewing natural attractions like Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Kruger National Park. Sustainability is at the heart of a 6-day trip that celebrates Earth Month by addressing climate change in the Dominican Republic by working with El Instituto del Ambiente, an institution that focuses on reforestation and the conservation of natural resources.
Teachers who lead EF tours get access to a wide range of opportunities to connect with other globally minded educators and grow personally and professionally—they can even earn professional learning hours or points while traveling. And with EF Global Rewards, teachers earn points they can redeem for VIP Rewards Tours (aka, just-for-fun adventures that go all over the world) as well as student scholarships and other EF travel opportunities.
3. EDUCATION TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Since 1991, Educational Travel Adventures has been the company of choice for so many educators planning trips for their students. With a combination of tours, site visits and experiential learning experiences, ETA can customize each subject-specific trip for maximum results. ETA offers destinations around the world, including more than 40 cities in North America as well as cities in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Oceania and Middle East.
Beyond destination-focused, trips can spotlight adventure, art, civics and social studies, film and TV production, history, language and culture, and science. Some of EFT’s most popular trips include a 4-day
professional workshop experience in NYC for theater, dance and orchestra students; an 8-day day trip to France with visits to Paris and Normandy; and a 3-day tour of the iconic L.A. highlights. Chaperones travel for free.
The world’s leading travel booking site for students and youth, StudentUniverse has partnered with more than 200 airlines to provide exclusive trips all over the globe for those under 30. A unique pricing structure grants discount rates to large student groups, and a partnership with Flight Central in 2015 ensured students can now take reasonably priced trips to diverse countries such as Hong Kong, India and the United Arab Emirates. Headquartered in Boston, StudentUniverse has expanded into the U.K., Australia and Canada
5. STRAIGHT A TOURS
Straight A Tours is a leader in student group travel based in Orlando, Florida that provides travel arrangements for students to destinations all over the United States. It is also one of Disney’s preferred travel planners for trips to places like Disney World and Disneyland. Student groups in California can experience theme parks and other attractions. Itineraries in Northern and Southern California might include the Golden Gate Bridge, Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld San Diego.
Straight A Tours’ “Festivals at Sea” program, which has been placing student groups on cruises for more than 25 years, includes workshops, classes and presentations that can be arranged with the ships’ staff and crew members on the ship. Cruises include 24-hour dining, spacious staterooms, fun shipboard activities and entertainment, interesting destinations and more.
ACIS, the American Council for International Studies, has been a leader in quality educational travel for middle and high school students since 1978. The company emphasizes Cultural Connections, where students interact with local tour guides and artisans no matter where in the world their trip takes them. Students can look forward to authentic meals that represent local cuisine and hotels close to historic sights instead of long bus trips or catered meals.
With tours across six continents and personalized service from a dedicated international program team, ACIS has established an excellent reputation after some 45 years in the industry. Unique tours include an 10-day Cities of Indochina trip with stops in Bangkok, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City; a Cradle of Civilization trip with in-depth visits to Athens, Sorrento and Rome; and a Mystical Mexico trip full of visits to pyramids, cenotes and an eco-archeological theme park.
7. KALEIDOSCOPE ADVENTURES
With a former educator as its CEO, Kaleidoscope Adventures has become known as a leader in the student travel planning industry with an eye for crafting trips that are uniquely their own. Specializing in trips that are distinctively educational as well as ones focused on performance, sports and festivals, Kaleidoscope Adventures makes student safety a priority with a clearly communicated safety plan included in the process.
Treat your students to an outdoor adventure with a visit to a private working Colorado dude ranch where guided hikes, horseback riding, wellness programs and art workshops are all part of the journey. Or venture to a city where the past co-exists beautifully with the present with a trip to Boston that includes historical adventures (Bunker Hill, Boston Tea Party Ship, Freedom Walking Tour) as well as more contemporary ones (Museum of Science, Blue Man Group).