School Trips Abroad 600X400Blog

7 super savvy ways to arrange your next school trip abroad

Our top tips on relieving expedition organisation stress for busy teachers

With our first school expedition of the season departing for Ghana a few days ago, and many more about to depart in the next few weeks, it seems like a good time to think ahead and offer a few tips to help you plan your next adventure. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive straight in (after a quick depth test and risk assessment obviously) … 

1) Match your destination to your budget, not the other way around.

So you want to go to China? Great. You’ve got a budget of £850 per student? Err, not so great. There are some companies out there offering China for this kind of figure (with change), but ask yourself: Do I want to fly in a tin can overnight to arrive jetlagged, in a totally different climate/culture, go to sleep knackered, spend two (three, if you’re lucky) days visiting some amazing sites (but, if you’re honest, a little too tired and jetlagged to really feel great about it) and then get back in said tin can to fly 10 hours home again? Flights are around £600 per person, so are you really getting value for money when so much of your time is spent travelling? Does 72 hours in China for £850 sound good value to you? It doesn't to us. Value is not about a cheap price. Value is getting a lot for your money. You’d do much better to look at a destination that does fit your budget. If budgets are tight, then choose somewhere that has short flight times, maximum educational impact and no jet lag, meaning you can hit the ground running. Somewhere like… Morocco for example

2) Match your school trip company to your requirements, not the other way around.

Let me be blunt: If you’re dealing with a big school expedition provider, they will only have so much operational capacity in each country. If you want to visit Peru and they’ve already got 15 teams booked for Peru, then I 100% guarantee they will talk you round into the virtues of visiting Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica or Nicaragua instead. Peru is getting really touristy don’t you know? It’s wilder and much more spectacular over the border in Bolivia…  You’ve visited Ecuador already? Then why not go to Africa – there’s nothing quite like it, it’s a raw and wild adventure. The thing is, why should you change your plans just because it suits some big commercial company and their operational capabilities? The answer is you shouldn’t. What you should be looking for is a company that can deliver what you require, so you don’t have to mould your requirements to fit what they can offer you. Keep your wits about you in looking out for that classic ‘switch sell’.  

3) Avoid rain

Let’s face it, no one really likes rain, unless you’re a geographer studying the monsoon (in which case, get in touch as we can help). So, why would a student want to spend 18 months raising thousands of pounds to travel half way round the world on a school trip abroad and spend the next three weeks in cloud and rain, hoping for a glimpse of some awesome mountains? Yes, I'm talking Nepal. Yes, we’ve blogged about it before and yes, schools are still being coerced into travelling here in the summer by expedition providers more worried about taking you for a ride rather than taking you on the best adventure possible. Which leads me on to…

4) You paid how much?

There was a time when a three to four-week school expedition cost no more than £3,000 per student. We now hear rumours of schools paying upward of £5,000. It’s criminal – particularly for some of the itineraries we see. Sure, if it’s something really really special (like our Andes to Amazon Raft Expedition, for example) then, possibly, it can be justified in some, very rare circumstances. For your standard three or four week expedition, £5,000 is way, way too much. This summer, our average school expedition cost is £2,965 based on an average of 20 days. And believe me, they are really, really good expeditions. The educational outcomes from these are exactly the same as an expedition that costs £2000 more. Don’t get me wrong, £2,965 is still a huge amount of money.  But with Brexit, the general election this year and Donald Trump across the pond, we live in a time of huge uncertainty. Asking students to raise £3k is a tall order, even with fundraising support and seminars from us as part of the personal development programme. £5k will, without question, put many students and parents off.  We need to keep these trips attainable and ensure the hugely valuable educational benefits of school trips abroad remain open to as many people as possible. 

5) Beat the exchange rate Brexit blues

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last year, you will have noticed that the British Pound has taken a beating against every major currency. It means school trips abroad have gone up in price – anywhere between 10% – 20%, depending on your destination. That means you need to be super savvy and choose your destination wisely. Many places in Central and South America and East Africa are based on a US Dollar economy, particularly when buying tourist services, so prices here will have gone up significantly over the past year. India, South East Asia, Borneo and North African/Middle East all remain excellent value destinations.

school expiditions abroad go local

6) Go local

If you really want to get maximum educational value from your next overseas school trip then you need to use a local leader. Why? Because they know the language, they know the history, the politics, the food, the flora, fauna and environmental issues specific to your destination. And, if you pick a good’un then they’ll be the life and soul of your trip and be the best thing about your experience in the country. Your students (and fellow teachers) will be talking about them for years to come. We hand pick all our in-country leaders, personally train each one in operational safety and crisis management and ensure that only the very best look after our groups. Yes, there are some good UK leaders out there, but there is also a massive shortage of them, meaning many expedition companies send groups overseas with an underqualified and inexperienced leadership team. Don’t believe me? Get a friendly Expedition Leader to show you the ‘Expedition Leaders Community’ Facebook group and see the all too frequent last minute desperate requests for leaders to cover trips departing in the next few weeks.

7) Will your next overseas school trip cost the earth?

Finally, what do you look at when choosing a tour or expedition company? Price? Reputation? Safety management systems? How about ethics? No? Why not? We believe planning ethical school trips should be one of the main considerations of schools and teachers - right up there with safety and price. Ask your operator some tough questions. What is their responsible tourism policy? How do they ensure the maximum amount of money goes into the local economy? How do they teach and encourage students to be better tourists? You could look out for external verification of a company’s sustainability credentials through certification by organisations such as TraveLifeand Tourism Concern. Then again, why don’t I save you some time - at the time of writing, we’re the ONLY UK school travel company to have it. So if you book your next trip or expedition with us, you can be sure you’ll be travelling with a company that has ethical tourism and sustainability at the heart of its operations. 

So there we have it. 7 ways to be a super savvy teacher. If you have any tips of your own you’d like to share then do pop a comment below.