We polled our most experienced student travel experts and have boiled down the 5 top tips to help you begin planning your group's overnight trip. Unlike traveling with your family, moving 75 to 100 kids and making sure they have food and a place to sleep in an unfamiliar city can be a challenge.As early as 18 months before departure you should start thinking about your trip to ensure a safe and fun travel plan with plenty of student and parent participation.
#1 Choose a Destination
Ask yourself, what's the purpose of the trip? Is it educationally or performance based? Or are you looking for a destination that offers thrill rides and hands-on activity? Every destination has a personality, and a good travel partner can ask you the right questions to help determine your best destination fit. Distance is also an important consideration. Will you fly or motor coach? Your time and budget constraints will further help determine the best options for you. No matter where you choose to travel, be sure it's a destination that’s good for students: safe, welcoming, and with plenty of appropriate activities.
#2 Travel with an Advocate
Any overnight group trip, no matter how far from home, requires the expertise of a professional student group travel partner. It’s essential for you to know that you are not alone in both the pre-travel planning and while on the road. Partnering with a travel company allows you to teach and rehearse your students while we plan, book and negotiate rates on your behalf. Be sure to verify the credentials of any travel company you consider hiring. Are they an accredited member of the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA)? Do They carry liability insurance? How accessible are they when I need help or have a question?
#3 Understand your Approval Process
Every school and district has a unique travel approval process. It’s important to understand the hoops you may have to jump through to take your students on an overnight trip. A good travel company can help you satisfy administrative or district requirements with your itinerary. We can also help you with required paperwork or other materials to help get your trip approved. Know what’s most important to your administrative stakeholders so we can help you show that the trip is safe, affordable, and educational.
#4 Start Making Money
Travel is a significant financial investment for your parents and students, but it’s worth it! Having the funds to travel means having the time to earn, fundraise and solicit donations. Get your community, parents and district officials involved early in the travel planning process, be creative, and make it fun. Utilize all your resources to make this trip a reality for your students. Talk to your travel partner about customized payment plans that work around your fundraisers. Get student buy in early. Communicate upfront and in writing trip deposits, payment dates, and penalties for late payments and cancellations.
#5 The Big Reveal
Launch your travel plans for the group with some fun and flair. Build excitement and get commitments as early as 12 months before your departure with an event. Plan a meeting with parents and students to reveal the destination and walk through the itinerary. At Director's Choice, we often send our travel consultants to the school to help our directors launch their travel with colorful travel flyers and a virtual itinerary presentation. Be prepared to answer questions about safety, money and travel value. Incentivize early sign-ups and deposits.