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Components of a Successful Student Trip to Washington D.C. from a Teacher’s Perspective

Over the past 25 years I have worked with many K-12 teachers to organize student trips to Washington D.C. This spring I received a thank you letter from Shawn Tierney, a teacher at Santa Rita High School in Tucson, Arizona, detailing specific aspects of a trip to Washington D.C. that made it a “resounding success.”

I was happy to receive this detailed letter from Mr. Tierney. Parts of his commentary are included in this article. Tierney reflects upon the important aspects of student travel that help teachers and student tour companies to create a safe, rewarding educational experience for all involved.

Travel can be an eye opening educational experience. For many student travelers, it may even be their first time on an airplane or visiting a large urban area. In this particular instance, a class traveled from Arizona to Washington D.C. – which is a significant distance. Some students may only make this trip once in a lifetime.

In order for a student trip to be a memorable and pleasurable learning experience, coordination among a variety of individuals is necessary. A qualified student travel company will hire the most capable professionals. Student trips are influenced by: tour escorts, bus drivers, restaurant owners and managers, hotel managers, security guards, administrators and docents at various destinations, and the educational travel company. Of course teachers, students and chaperons are key to an excellent trip as well. When everyone works together in a synchronized way the trip is bound to be successful.

Starting the Trip on the Right Foot: Ground Transportation to the Phoenix Airport
Trip planning is a key foundation for success. The less a teacher has to worry about the details, the more he or she can focus on the educational objectives of the trip. Shawn Tierney mentioned he was relieved his selected ground transportation company, Mountain View Tours, has “bus drivers that were accessible and ready when we needed ground transportation in Arizona. It was as comforting to see the white bus turning into the school parking lot early Saturday morning, as it was to receive a call from the bus driver in Phoenix who was ready to pick us up at the airline terminal upon our return.”

Tour guides & Teachers Can Make or Break a Student Trip
When a tour guide and a teacher work well together, a school trip is sure to go smoothly. Kelly Everett was the licensed Washington D.C. tour guide assigned to work with Santa Rita High School students and tour leaders. Tierney says, “She was informative, proactive, and flexible. She made suggestions due to weather and traffic so that students had a thorough visit to Washington D.C.” When visiting any destination, adaptability and problem solving can make all of the difference. Tierney commented that, “the high point of the trip was when we were able to meet with our Congressional District Representative on the steps of the Capitol within 24 hours of the Health Care Reform Bill being passed. This required an overhaul of the schedule, which Kelly handled with composure and enthusiasm.” The experience of actually seeing the Congressional District representative following the passing of this historical bill was certainly a rare and rewarding experience for the school group. Tierney recalled, “the looks on the faces of our graduating seniors who saw, many for the first time, the interior of the Capitol, made it all worthwhile.”


Experienced Bus Drivers in Washington D.C. Save Time by Averting Hassles and Hang-ups

Bus drivers with a thorough knowledge of the streets of Washington D.C. as well as appropriate places to load and unload large groups when entering museums, government buildings, and other destinations, can save time on student trips. Shawn Tierney is a Washington D.C. native, so he knows full well the pitfalls and delays that might await any large school group or individual when winding through the streets of the city. According to Tierney, the bus driver, Bob Pearl, had, “knowledge of the maze of streets in D.C. This was critical in making many of our scheduled appointments. He did an excellent job of managing the one way streets and constant construction and security restrictions.” The bus driver was also “always mindful for the safety of the students.” The fact that the bus driver and the tour guide worked well together created a smooth trip.

Santa Rita High School students went on a four day, three night trip to Washington D.C. that included: Arlington National Cemetery, Ford’s Theatre, Smithsonian American and Natural History Museum, a visit to the Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington National Cathedral, the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and Mount Vernon.

Even though Santa Rita High School’s itinerary was full — there are even more worthwhile educational destinations to see in Washington D.C. For the March 2011 trip, Tierney plans to add another night so more destinations may be included. He also indicated he’d start planning in August 2010. Planning a student trip to Washington D.C. six months to one year in advance is always wise, especially if teachers want student groups to gain admission to the Capitol, White House, or Pentagon when visiting.

To review an itinerary or speak to an educational travel professional about the costs or details of taking a student trip to Washington D.C. email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote by taking a moment to fill out a brief, online questionnaire.

Plymouth, Salem, and Lowell Massachusetts: Boston Student Travel Destinations

Student travel groups destined for Boston Mass. are headed to one of the most popular student destinations in the U.S. Chosen as the 5th most popular student tour destination by Student and Youth Traveler, Boston has a great deal to offer. Educational tour groups find diversity in this urban area, and a clearer understanding the early history of Colonial settlement in New England.

Boston was a prominent seaport and a hub in the early days of the Colonies, and one of the strongholds of British rule. Many different periods of U.S. History can be explored in Boston. There are also some historic sites and points of interest just a short bus drive outside of Boston that student travel groups will not want to miss.

Student Travel Highlights of Plymouth
Just north of Boston on the coast of Massachusetts is Plymouth, the place where the Pilgrims made their first landing in the new world. Plymouth was the site of a colonial settlement and newfound freedom from the Church of England, celebrated by the Puritans.

Plimoth Plantation
Plimoth Plantation is a living history site where students can engage with costumed interpreters dressed in the garb of settlers in an English village circa 1627. Student travel groups can watch colonists in their day-to-day activities and better imagine how the early settlers lived. Educational tour groups may also visit the Wampanoag Home site. There they will gain an understanding of the way this Native American tribe that originally inhabited Plimoth lived.

Mayflower II
This reproduction of the original vessel the Pilgrims sailed on is a student favorite. Student groups can learn about maritime travel in the 17th Century, see a ship’s cabin from that era, and discover what it was like to live on board during a transatlantic journey. Student groups will meet both costumed and non-costumed interpreters on Mayflower II. Board the Mayflower II and journey back in time at this destination.

Plymouth Rock
Not far from the pier where the Mayflower II is anchored, is Plymouth Rock, the actual site of the first landing of Pilgrims from the old world, coming to the new world. A portico now surrounds the symbolic stone, and 1620, the date the Pilgrims landed, is etched on it. Student travel groups can learn more about the Pilgrims and the history of Plymouth Rock in Revolutionary times and during times of unrest.

Salem
Salem Witch Museum

The Salem Witch Museum has much to offer educational travel groups who want to learn more about the consequences of religious intolerance during the Colonial period. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were held here, and the book, The Crucible, was based on the accusations that eventually led to the death of the accused. The Salem area includes 10 sites near Salem Common, such as the site of the courthouse, the Meetinghouse, Cemetery, and Gallows. Student travel groups will learn much by visiting the Salem Witch Museum and touring the Salem Common area.

Lowell, Mass.
Lowell National Historic Park

Just outside of Boston Mass. is Lowell, the New England town where Jack Kerouac, the famous American Writer, grew up. Kerouac’s family was French Canadian and they migrated to Lowell to find work in the textile mills. The National Park Service has preserved historic areas of Lowell, where the textile mills became an integral part of small town American life, and working class life, especially during the post World War I era, when the industrial revolution began to really take hold in the United States. Students can see the dam and canals that used the energy from the Merrimack river, the textile mills where fabric was made, and a boardinghouse that would be typical of many worker’s dwellings of that era.

Boston is a colorful place to explore the history of Early America. Don’t limit student travel group destinations to Boston proper. There are many rich educational experiences for students just outside of Boston that can easily be integrated into a tour. Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com for even more ideas about student travel tours to Boston.

Educational Travel Consultants: Defining Excellence in Student Travel

There are many factors that go into making a student travel company a success. Perhaps one of the most important is the guiding principles behind the company must be in sync with educational objectives. Many of the professionals who work for Educational Travel Consultants have a background in education. They bring this outlook to their work in student travel, as well as a passion for working with student groups.

Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando and More
In our various markets, large and small (including Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando Florida, and more) we recruit and retain only the most qualified tour escorts. In fact, we work exclusively with members of the International Tour Management Group (ITMI) to make certain we only work with the best tour escorts available. This ensures the quality of educational and historical information on the student tour. Our tour guides are also very familiar with the cities they work within, which adds a great deal of insight to the tour. Some even choose to further their education and study by becoming licensed in the Washington D.C. or New York City tour market(s).

Educational Travel Consultants Provides Tour Escorts at All Times
Unlike other student travel companies, at ETC we believe student groups should be accompanied by professional tour escorts at all times. When groups are not in the midst of a tour led by a guide, they are overseen by a tour escort who can answer any questions they may have or resolve problems that may arise.

The Best Buy in Student Travel
For student travel groups and schools looking to economize on their travels, we believe we provide the best possible prices with the most quality. All taxes and tips are included in our final per person price. This means less out of pocket expenses while touring. For every 10 students, one chaperone or teacher may travel free of charge (double occupancy). This bonus is not offered by other student travel companies and helps schools to stay on budget.

3 Diamond Hotel Accommodations for Student Groups
Safety and security are our number one priority on student trips. Our hotel accommodations are always 3 diamond rated, which means there are interior corridors to ensure student safety. The security guards provided by ETC on student travel trips give adults peace of mind and everyone receives a good night’s sleep.

Keeping on Top of Trends in Student Travel

Finally, we research popular trends in student travel, and provide exciting dining and entertainment opportunities on tours. Our student groups eat at the Hard Rock Café, or old historic taverns where living history actors perform after supper. In New York City, student groups see popular Broadway shows like “High School Musical” and “Wicked” and in the Washington D.C. area, the Mystery Dinner Theaters are popular choices. We select memorable experiences so students and adults may relax and enjoy the educational experience, and cherish it for many years to come.

Student Travel Groups Take the Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston’s Freedom Trail takes its travelers back in time – with visual reminders of the events that led to American independence. Boston’s Freedom Trail is a must for any American student. Some of the greatest events in American history happened in Boston. From the famous tea party to Paul Revere’s infamous midnight ride, it happened in Boston.

Benefits of Educational Field Trips
Seeing historic sights in person can bring history to life for students, help put the information into context for them, and spark their interest for further study. Imagine walking in Boston Common, seeing America’s first public park, and the place where settlers shared the land for cattle grazing. Imagine the military training that once happened in that very spot. Students will imagine the same things, and gain perspective on what it must have been like to be a settler in early America, or a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

Highlights of the Freedom Trail
Boston Common is only one part of the Freedom trail. A student tour of the Freedom Trail also includes the Massachusetts State House on “Beacon Hill,” so named because it is the tallest hill in Boston where a beacon would be lighted as a warning signal if the city were attacked.

The trail moves on to Park Street Church, where William Lloyd Garrison launched his crusade against slavery and Samuel Smith’s famous hymn “America” was first sung publicly in 1832 at the church’s Independence Day celebration. The student tour then moves to Granary Burying Ground, where Samuel Adams and John Hancock are buried. Both of these men signed the Declaration of Independence.

Important Freedom Trail Sites for Student Groups

Another important historical site along the Freedom Trail is the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. Buried here are Mary Chilton, the first pilgrim to touch Plymouth Rock; William Dawes, who accompanied Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride; and William Paddy, whose gravestone is said to be the oldest existing grave marker in Boston. Next on the trail is the Old Corner Bookstore, formerly the publishing house of Ticknor and Fields, where The Scarlet Letter and the Battle Hymn of the Republic were printed.

Lunch at the Union Oyster House

When everyone’s feet are tired, it’s time to stop for lunch. What better choice than one of the oldest restaurants in the country – the Union Oyster House. The Union Oyster House was built in 1713, and it is rumored that Daniel Webster was a regular there. The restaurant is part of the Freedom Trail.

Continuing Your Student Tour: Paul Revere’ House and the Old North Church
After lunch, continue on the trail to Paul Revere’s house, a two-story clapboard structure overlooking North Square. Revere was a silversmith by trade, but no one remembers that about him. What everyone remembers is his famous “midnight ride,” which took place on April 18, 1775. Thanks to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, every high school student has read about Paul Revere’s ride.

From Paul Revere’s house, the student tour moves to the Old North Church. The bells in the Old North Church’s belfry were cast in 1744, weight from 620 to 1,545 pounds each, and bear the inscription: “We are the first ring of bells cast for the British Empire in North America.”

U.S. Military Monuments of Land and Sea

The Freedom Trail’s student tour ends with the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. The USS Constitution has been nicknamed “Old Ironsides” as a result of engagements with the British in the War of 1812. The Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill. Although a technical defeat for the Americans, the battle provided a much-needed psychological boost for American troops.

Walking the Freedom Trail with student groups
The trail is well marked with red bricks or granite stones embedded into the sidewalk. These red stones guide the student group from place to place. In some places, a red line is simply painted onto the sidewalk or street. The trail can be explored in one day, or divided into two days of touring, depending on how much time an educational travel group has allotted for the trail. The Freedom Trail has also added a handheld digital audio tour, available from the Boston Common Visitor Information Center, for $15.

Because of Boston’s importance to the Revolutionary War, and its full military history, the Freedom Trail is perfect for high school students learning American history, and for Junior ROTC groups. ROTC groups benefit from seeing military history firsthand – an experience that can only be found through educational travel.

Visit the Boston page for more detailed information on the basic student tour.

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Government Student Tour of Washington D.C. May Include Historic Sites in Annapolis, Baltimore, Manassas or Fredericksburg.

What better way to understand the evolution of our democratic system of government is there than to visit actual historic sites which describe it in vivid detail? Student travel groups traveling in and around the Washington D.C. area can be given a wider scope on history if the tour group goes just a little bit outside of Washington D.C. into nearby Baltimore and Annapolis Maryland, and Manassas and Fredericksburg, Virginia. These towns offer a precious glimpse into the past, as they thrive in the present.

Here is an overview of some important historic sites in these cities neighboring Washington D.C. of interest to student travel groups on tour.

U.S. Capital and White House
Of course the U.S. Capitol and the White House are two government buildings that should not be missed on a tour of Washington D.C. I have mentioned them in another article in great detail. Visit: http://educationaltravelconsultants.com/blog/?m=200707
for more information.

Annapolis, Maryland, Berth of the U.S. Navy
Annapolis is a city that dates to over 300 years old and was once a thriving mecca and cultural center in colonial times. Only one hour outside the city of Washington D.C., Annapolis is well worth a daylong visit by a student travel group on tour. Designed and built on a grid similar to Baroque cities in Europe, Annapolis is truly modeled on classical architectural and urban planning styles. The radiating streets highlight the significance of buildings in the center.

Named after Queen Ann, the city of Annapolis is rich in history. Because of its strategic location, Annapolis was a colonial seaport and offered berth to European traders as well as entrée to the Chesapeake Bay region and further south to other port cities. Annapolis is also known for horse racing. The gentry of Europe needed to indulge this passion in the new world, and so Annapolis is renowned for breeding thoroughbred champions whose lineage dates to colonial times.

Baltimore Maryland
Fort McHenry is perhaps one of the best-known historic destinations in Baltimore Maryland, and is the place where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while witnessing the Battle of Baltimore there in 1814. Yet Fort McHenry, because of its location on the Baltimore Harbor, would also be a well-defended location during subsequent U.S. Wars including the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Student travel groups maybe tour the highlights of Fort McHenry including a look at the battery, Major Armistead’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks, the place where a British bomb was dropped but not exploded, and more. Teachers may visit http://www.nps.gov/fomc/forteachers/lessonplansandteacherguides.htm for lesson plans and guides for student travel visits to Fort McHenry.

Manassas, Virginia Historic Battlefield
Bull Run is the site of two famous American Civil War battles fought there beginning in the summer of 1861 and culminating in another battle a year later. The Battle of Bull Run tipped the cards in favor of the Confederate army during this part of the war. Student travel groups may tour the 5,000 acre battlefield to learn more about the Battle of Bull Run, just an hour’s drive from Washington D.C. A one-hour self-guided walking tour is available to groups on the Henry Hill Loop Trail, or student groups may select a driving tour, or a park ranger guided hike. Bull Run is an excellent place for students to learn about the Civil War era. Teachers may obtain curriculum materials by visiting: http://www.nps.gov/mana/forteachers/curriculummaterials.htm.

Fredericksburg, Virginia
One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg, was fought there and is lauded as General Robert E. Lee’s finest victory. This was the first of four battles fought there between 1862-64. Three others include: Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania. Student tour groups can see Chatham Manor at the Fredericksburg battlefields, a well restored and preserved Georgian Manor that sits on a hill overlooking the Rappahannock River and historic Fredericksburg. Chatham Manor was at one time a hospital and Union headquarters. Student groups will also want to visit Salem Church and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at this National Park Service site. Teachers may obtain lesson plans for student travel groups visiting Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial by visiting http://www.nps.gov/frsp/forteachers/lessonplans.htm.

Take a student travel group on a short trip just outside of Washington D.C. to help them understand the big picture of American history.

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