Getting your students together before going on an educational travel trip is a great way to prepare them for what’s ahead. They can bond with their peers, as well as start believing in that sense of ‘team’ you want to nurture throughout the trip. A unified group that gets along will make your life as the tour leader much easier.
Of course, while you are on the trip, engaged, respectful, and happy students make for much easier group management.
And once you are back, there is no doubt you want to see lifelong friendships forged, and hear stories of adventures relayed to friends and family. It can mean the difference between enriching lives through education, and simply making sure everyone does what they are supposed to do while traveling.
Let’s take a look at how to engage students throughout the phases of your educational travel trip, and create a space of respect that will have everyone feeling happy and connected.
How To Engage Students Going On Your Student Tours
1. Connect Everyone on Social Media
Whether on Facebook or WhatsApp, or any other preferred social media platform, create a group where you can connect all your students and their parents. You can use this throughout the stages of your educational travel trip to share information, build a rapport, organize events, and keep everyone updated and in contact.
Before you travel, you will find the group useful for organizing group meetings, sharing information such as packing advice, laying out visa requirements if you are traveling internationally, sending reminders, etc.
While on the road, you can share photos each day with the parents at home, and let them know that everyone is having a great time.
Once your trip is over, you can use it to share all the photos from the tour, as well as to organize a reunion to reconnect the students after a few weeks.
2. Set Up Parent Meetings or Student Socials Before The Trip
It is important to get everyone face to face, parents too where relevant, at least once before your educational travel trip.
Use the opportunity to discuss activities you are going to do on the trip, talk about safety and security, let students know your travel rules, specific things they need to bring, as well as address any questions anyone has.
You should have a clear vision of what it is you want your students to learn and take away from the trip. Letting everyone in on your expectations will help them to understand what is needed of them while traveling.
Information aside, use these meetings as social time for students to connect with one another. Preparing them for the trip, and making them feel comfortable around each other, especially if it’s not a school-trip with students who already know each other, will go a long way when it comes to being away from what is familiar when traveling.
3. Create Fun Group Activities That Include Everyone
Once on the road, the best way to engage your students is to make sure they are having fun. Laughter is a universal language, and one of the easiest ways to connect all the different personalities in a group.
Organize fun learning activities that let students relax and have a laugh at themselves. You can also get everyone into teams to work on a specific project that will create a sense of accomplishment or pride.
Depending on the age of your students, this could include things like bake-offs using locally grown ingredients, ordering breakfast using the language of the country you are in, asking for directions to local monuments instead of consulting a map, etc.
Working together to achieve a common goal will connect your students, and ensure they are having fun while learning on the educational travel trip.
4. Encourage Interaction Throughout The Entire Educational Travel Group
It is easy to become familiar with one or two people, and then form cliques on tour. This is especially relevant for school trips where classmates already know each other and have their best friends. Instead of letting everyone carry on with the familiar, try encouraging them to interact with students outside of their close group.
Your ice-breakers can set the precedent for this, as well as the group activities that you plan. When it comes to selecting roommates throughout the trip or picking members for the team in group activities, prepare a random draw. This will help everyone to feel more included, and hopefully forge some strong friendships at the same time.
5. Allow For Free Time As Well
As much as the purpose of an educational travel trip is to learn, you don’t want your students to feel like they are trapped in the classroom. Let them experience the places you visit on their own terms too.
This means not having learning activities planned for every hour of the day. Head over to a nearby park and let the students read, relax, or kick around a ball. Or set up a games afternoon at the hostel you are staying at for those who want to participate. If the students are university age, give them some time off to explore by themselves.
6. End With An Awards Evening
Hold an awards evening, either on the last evening of your tour or at a reunion party, to cement the sense of camaraderie and accomplishment everyone has felt. Give out light-hearted awards to highlight something that each person brought to the trip, whether it was ‘best jokes’, ‘spoke the language like a pro’, ‘most likely to move there’, etc.
This provides the opportunity to have a laugh together, and look back on some of the great moments from the trip.
7. Organize A Reunion
You can use this event to reconnect students or have the parents in to hear about all the stories from their travels.
With everyone relaying their favorite memories, you will soon learn what was a hit on your educational travel trip, and if there are any areas to improve on. Ultimately, you will be better prepared to lead the next tour of excited students!