Traveling broadens the horizons of anyone brave enough to take the leap. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” In today’s political climate, young people can benefit from the experiences gained while abroad more than ever. Other than opening your mind to new ideas and beliefs, believe or not, scientific studies have proven that traveling is literally good for your health.
However, in our experience, many parents are afraid to let their kids globe-trot around the world for fear of their safety. At Contemporary Tours we have been helping educators and students alike, safely explore the world for over 45 years. Here are our tips and advice for safely sating your wanderlust, wherever you may be.
Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s:
You can avoid the vast majority of travel complications by properly preparing yourself and your group before you ever leave. Here’s a short, “before you leave to do list,” that could save you some giant headaches:
- Ensure that everyone has an updated shot chart: Nothing would be more of a bummer than being grounded at the airport because a few kids don’t have their shots up to date. Every country has their own requirements upon entry. Know before you go.
- Know any allergies in your group: In foreign countries, kids won’t necessarily recognize what they are eating. A rush to the hospital is no fun for anyone.
- Insure your group: Whether through Contemporary Tours or a private insurance agency, having everyone covered is a nice buffer against any major emergencies.
Organize Yourself & Your Group:
Taking students anywhere can be like herding cats. Orientation is a highly effective means to lay down expectations and form a level of understanding with your group. Having students sign a “Conduct contract” and outlining what is expected of them on the trip is a good way to nip any potential issues in the bud. At the orientation, you can educate the students on things like cultural shock, how they will get cash, emergency numbers, and having a passport copy.
Many kids will have never left the country before, so laying the ABC’s of travel is always a good idea. The orientation will also give students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each other. Briefing your group on what to expect and what to look out for is another way to avoid potential conflicts before they start. Most countries have elements, for good and bad, that students will not be familiar with. For instance, in Latin American petty theft is relatively common. Wherever you choose to travel, understanding any potential dangers and verbalizing them with your group is recommended.
Create A System:
Especially for larger groups of students, creating what amounts to a “buddy system” is important. There are only so many chaperones on a trip, therefore, creating a group sense of responsibility will allow you to sleep a little easier at night. Letting your group choose their partners, or doing yourself is up to you. However, our advice would be to judge the age and maturity level of your group. The more mature the group, the more rope you can give them. The orientation is a good time to make that judgment. By explicitly stating the rules and expectations for the buddy system, you will be creating a second layer of supervision that will certainly come in handy. Don’t hesitate to break up potentially problematic pairings.
Traveling is truly one of the world great educators. Don’t let unsubstantiated fears get in the way of opening the minds of young people. Statistically speaking traveling is safer than ever before. Not to mention, with the improvements in technology you can more easily keep track of your kids. Contemporary Tours provides everything educators could ever need or want when it comes to showing their kids the world. Check out our long list of potential destinations and other resources available to educators on our website.
By Kellar Ellsworth