Tag Archives: student travel tour

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.

Educational Tours: Tips for Packing Light on Student Trips

These days, when student travel groups set out for any destination by air, it is both practical and economical to travel light. Many airlines have begun applying new lower minimum weight requirements that average 75 pounds per bag for transported baggage. If bags exceed this limit, additional fees may apply.

The trick for many student travel groups is to pack light when planning the initial trip and when making a return, avoid carrying an excessive amount of souvenirs. If heavier souvenirs are purchased, then the student or chaperone may want to consider shipping items instead of bringing these items on board the return flight.

The practice of carrying one bag only works especially well on 3-5 day student trips. Some airlines are even beginning to add extra charges for the first bag and additional bags; some only charge for extra luggage.

Encourage students to limit their possessions to one piece of luggage for the trip and a carry-on item such as a backpack, handbag, or laptop bag for items they may need easier access to on board.

Following are several other packing tips I would like to share with those taking student trips this year and next.

Select a good piece of luggage: Do NOT select a suitcase that’s overly large. Instead, opt for something medium sized that has wheels and a handle for easy transfer. A lightweight bag would be canvas or nylon. Leather bags are going to be heavy. If the class trip is three days or less, students may be able to get by with just a carry on bag and a bag to stow under the seat. Check with airlines for regulation sizes for carry on baggage to eliminate a potential luggage charge.

Tag Luggage: In the event that a piece of luggage could be lost, place a name and an address inside each checked-in and carry on bag. Make sure to carry at least one change of clothes and a toothbrush in the carry on bag.

Make lists: A packing list is always helpful. It can help the student traveler to focus on what is needed, instead of adding extra items that will not be used. Make sure only necessary items make it to the list.

Select Clothing Appropriate for Climate: When packing, be aware of the climate or potential weather conditions at the destination. Pack essential clothing (and coats) accordingly. Wear bulkier items such as coats on the plane, to save space and weight in luggage. Roll underwear and place inside shoes to save space.

Limit shoes to two pair:
One pair of shoes is worn on the plane. Pack another pairs of shoes and that’s all. Make sure both pairs of shoes are comfortable walking shoes.

Pack Trial Size Body Care Items: Try to shop ahead and obtain trial size toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo and hair care items. This saves space in baggage and makes bags lighter. Put all liquids in zip lock bags and take an extra zip lock bag for a wet bathing suit or towel.

Prescription Drugs: Prescription drugs, especially diabetes medications with syringes, should be in pharmacy prescription bottles.

Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses: Make sure to bring protective eyeglass cases, as well as spray and cloth for care. Bring just enough disposable contacts (with maybe one extra) for short trips to save space, or smaller amounts of contact lens cleaner to save space and weight in baggage.

These packing tips are designed for the student traveler who may be new to the idea of traveling afar. Yet these advance planning ideas for trips are essential for saving money and making transfer of baggage easier.

In the interest of economy, security, and ease of travel remember to go light on class trips. For information on booking class trips email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote via the online form.

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.

Add On Day Trips for Student Travel to Washington D.C.

Student travel groups headed to the Washington D.C. area may want to consider adding on day or overnight trips to nearby areas relevant to colonial or revolutionary history. There are many rich educational experiences in the Washington D.C. area, and even more destinations just a 2-4 hour driving distance outside of Washington D.C.
In my experience as an educational travel consultant, groups benefit greatly from visiting additional cities. From an educational perspective, it gives students a much wider scope of the historic period they are studying. For many groups, a study of the Civil War is relevant to their tour, and a northern and southern perspective is needed for a complete overview of the Civil War period.
Suggestions for additional cities that can easily be added to a student travel trip to Washington D.C. are included here. If the student group flies into Washington D.C., a motor coach can be utilized to travel to additional destinations such as Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Williamsburg
Approximately three hours south of Washington D.C. is the town of Williamsburg Virginia. Williamsburg was the 18th Century colonial capital, and the place where the Governor resided. Colonial Williamsburg has been called the living history capital of the east, and for good reason. A student travel group can tour the town and watch history come alive as costumed interpreters tell stories derived from historical records, and give more detailed information about buildings and colonial lifestyles. Students embrace living history because it’s a fun way to learn. If student groups can stay in the Williamsburg area overnight, an additional trip to Historic Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement, and Yorktown National Battlefield, significant in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, is plausible.

Gettysburg
The Gettysburg National Military Park is located about two hours northwest of Washington D.C. and makes for a nice additional city to add on to a student travel tour.

The Educational Travel Consultants student tour of the Gettysburg battlefields includes a tour guide with expert knowledge of the Gettysburg area and the Civil War era. Student travel groups should be prepared to tour for two to three hours. A visit the National Park Visitor Center benefits student groups by giving them a better understanding of the Gettysburg National Battlefield history through exhibits and films.

Philadelphia and Lancaster
Student travel groups who explore the educational venues in Washington D.C. will expand their knowledge of history when they take a short trip to Philadelphia and/or Lancaster Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia walking tour is a great way for student travel groups to familiarize themselves with colonial history and the history of the U.S. government. A tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both composed. Students can also see the Liberty Bell, Visit Betsy Ross’s house and walk in Elfreth’s Alley, one of the oldest residential streets in Philadelphia, which dates back to 1702.
In nearby Lancaster Pennsylvania, students can experience the Amish way of life, tour a working farm, and dine at an authentic Amish restaurant.
With all of the additional choices for educational travel outside of Washington D.C., there are lots of creative ways to construct an interesting trip that will give a group a great overview of history and be fun and interesting at the same time.

Here’s a link to the article on ArticleSphere.com.