What To Look For Before Investing In A Student Trip

posted: 08/19/16
by: Ashley Lauretta
student travel

Students are headed back to school and with that comes opportunities for both high school and college students to travel for their studies. From travel abroad programs to stateside opportunities hosted by schools, how can you know your student will be safe and the trip truly will be educational?

Before investing in your child's trip, Carylann Assante, Executive Director of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), has four key areas that should be addressed to know it is worth your money and your child's time.

Does the trip add to your student's curriculum?
"Nearly two thirds of the teachers surveyed in the Student & Youth Travel Digest (SYTD) report that curriculum related tours are the most preferred trips," explains Assante. "An example is the eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., which relates to the students' study of American history and politics."

Assante also explains that there are extra-curricular trips, such as those for band, choir and dance. These trips are often beneficial as many high school students need to build up a resume of performances that could help them get into a music or dance program in college.

"These types of trips are most likely endorsed by teachers," she explains. "Since they praise the benefits that travel provides to improving students' academic performance and complementing the existing curriculum."

Who is organizing the trip and is it booked through a professional tour operator?
According to surveys by SYTD, 39 percent of U.S. teachers organize two or more school trips per year, and 44 percent of them use a professional tour operator for longer trips of 2 or more nights.

"Teachers select the destination, present to parents, collect traveler information and payment and choose the tour operator," notes Assante. "Therefore, it is crucial that parents know and trust their children's teacher and have confidence in their motivations for travel, and importantly, trust their selection of a tour operator."

The SYTA has tour operator members that parents and teachers can rely on. Making your child's teacher aware of this is a great first step.

Is it a safe destination?
You can of course check all official government websites to determine the safety of a location and see if there are any travel warnings.

"In the U.S., it is rare to encounter a security warning about any destination; however, tour operators are trained to exercise caution when taking young people into major cities such as New York, Washington D.C. or Chicago, and operators all have crisis and safety protocols in place," adds Assante. "Parents should ask for crisis and safety protocols for any trip."

Where will the students be staying?

SYTA research shows that 75 percent of teachers favor staying in hotels when traveling with student groups.

"It is wise for parents to know the reputation of the hotel in which their children are staying," notes Assante. "When teachers book with a SYTA tour operator, there is an added degree of confidence that hotels have been properly vetted for cleanliness, security, food quality, safety of neighborhood, etc."

It was shown only 10 percent of teachers surveyed by SYTD use homestay or hostels. Should this be where your child will be staying, it is important to research their accommodations, verify the safety of the hostel or get as much information as you can about the host family. All of this should be able to be acquired from the teacher hosting the trip, as they should have done this research prior to the booking.