Whether or not you're new to taking youth on the road, it's always important to be mindful of guidelines that will make your trip a breeze. From common-sense reminders to essential safety considerations, these tips will help you plan and execute efficient, safe, successful trips.
Consider the What and Where
Select an appropriate destination based on your group's goal and review potential destinations against your goals and expectations. Well before departure, plan your mode of travel, any subsequent transportation, activities, learning opportunities, various stops, meals and other details. Request educational materials from the places you'll visit and become familiar with them. Encourage students to photograph and write about their experiences. If traveling to a foreign-speaking country, seek language and cultural immersion opportunities.
Rules and Guidelines
Ensure students—and parents and chaperones—know all the rules before departure and what is expected of them. Provide a printed travel itinerary to students, parents or guardians, and anyone traveling with you; provide educators with any handbooks or guidelines your company offers. To keep communication clear and easy, ensure everyone has contact numbers for the rest of the group, along with any emergency numbers. Help groups deter theft by encouraging them to:
- Always keep a hand on their purse, backpack or other bag.
- Keep credit and debit cards in sight.
- Never go to a bank or ATM alone.
- Never accept help from a stranger.
Have photography rules in place and make students aware of when it's appropriate to use cellphones or other electronic devices. Don't permit inappropriate photos or antics, such as photo-bombing and dabbing. Meet with your group at the end of each day, to review plans for the next.
Be mindful of food allergies or sensitivities and dietary restrictions when planning meal options, obtain medical information for everyone in your group, and be aware of needs that could arise. If a traveler uses crutches, a wheelchair or otherwise needs accommodating, ensure those needs could be met at your intended stops. Know where the nearest hospital, emergency facility or first-aid station is, at all points along your route.
Allow students to stay connected to family and friends as appropriate and never leave any valuables unattended—including in a motorcoach when you aren't on it. Make luggage easy to identify at baggage claim by tying a brightly colored ribbon to the handle. Remind students that manners matter: Saying "please" and "thank you" are important, even while traveling. Always have cash on hand! You never know when an ATM will be out of order or an unexpected expense may arise. Last, but certainly not least, don't forget to look both ways before crossing the street.
For other tips, guidelines and considerations, download the SYTA Safety Resource Guide.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in Groups Today.