Planning your school trip to New Zealand
Organising a school trip overseas is a huge task, even if you do intend using the services of a local specialist once you get to your destination. The following suggestions will make your job easier and less stressful, especially if you've never run your own school trip before.
- Begin your planning in plenty of time: six months is the suggested minimum. Decide where you'd like to go and what you'd like your students to gain from the experience. Run the idea past your colleagues, principal and school board as necessary to see if the idea has their support. Discuss your approximate budget, target group, which subject areas to address, type of accommodation you'll use (We recommend hostels as being great value for money and more student friendly. Teachers are accommodated in separate twin rooms with en suite bathrooms where available.) Ask for an indicative quote from us and find out what airfares are likely to cost.
- Talk to the student year levels you'd like to join the trip, mentioning dates and approximate cost to gauge the level of interest. Remember that initial enthusiasm doesn't necessarily translate into signing up, but it at least signals that you should go further. Choosing dates that don't clash with exams or other big school events is self-evident, but it's also worth checking what other overseas trips your school might be planning during the same period. Groups of 25 to 35 gel well on tour and are easier to manage while also costing less per head than small groups. Price per head reduces up to a group size of 45 including teachers after which there's no budgetary advantage to making the group bigger. Let us know if you want us to build all accompanying teacher costs into the pricing. Typically schools send up to 1 adult per 10 students on tour.
- Once you've got this far, set up a promotional evening for parents and students. We can provide a presentation with details of Learning Journeys as a company and New Zealand and lots of photos to whet their appetite. At the same time, hand out copies of the itinerary and a letter summarising key details with a request for expressions of interest and a deposit (say 10 to 20 % of the total cost) and a timeline for the payment of the balance of the trip cost. Your letter should also mention any need for clothing or equipment the students may not possess: good walking boots for example or a warm, seriously water proof jacket.
- Once you have enough deposits to be sure the trip will go ahead, confirm your booking, which will generally involve paying a deposit to the company who will run your tour. We ask for 10% at this point or 25% if your departure date is less than 3 months ahead.
- Having confirmed your booking, you can now expect to receive more planning paperwork: more detailed destination information, gear lists, RAMS forms, worksheet drafts... At this stage you can fine tune your itinerary: the first cut may have include optional or alternative activities and the educational programmes are also likely to include a choice of activities. If your school is a state school, your choice of adventure activities may depend on running these past government departments who will approve them or otherwise.
- Now it's just a matter of building anticipation among the group, addressing relevant curriculum related topics in class, collecting further payments as deadlines draw near. We'll ask you for student details, including dates of birth, heights, shoe sizes if they'll be hiring, say, ski equipment. We'll provide finalised itineraries with times and details of activities. You'll receive a master copy of the worksheets (if you want them) with as much or as little input from you as you want.
- Students, as you're sure to know, will need frequent reminders about all aspects of their preparation for the trip. Suitable clothing is key. Teenagers who live in warm countries, or even colder ones, are likely to need convincing that they really do need that warm, waterproof jacket to ensure that they'll still enjoy what they're doing if the weather turns bad. Preparation for physically demanding aspects of the tour - hiking or even skiing/boarding also requires lots of reminders. Every communication with students needs to be copied to parents, especially meeting times and places for your final departure.
- Once you're on the plane, your biggest challenges will be complete. Once you reach New Zealand, we'll meet you as you come through the arrivals gate, then, apart from your supervisory role with the students, you can relax and enjoy yourself.
- Throughout this build up period, if there's anything we can do to make your job easier, just ask. Our role is not just to provide you and your students with a fabulously memorable and educational experience, but also to make your role as teacher in charge as painless as possible.