Traveling with students always offers challenges, but the better they know what’s expected of them, the less you’ll have to deal with on the road.
When you’re traveling, your entire tour group represents your school or musical program, possibly even your country if going abroad. You want to leave the best impression possible, whatever that takes, and it starts with setting the guidelines.
The goal here isn’t to run things like a boot camp and suck all the fun out of the trip, but rather to set your expectations for the group, just like you do in class and during practice. Build the students up and remind them they’re part of a legacy—that what they’re currently experiencing wouldn’t be possible if the last trip’s students had crossed the boundaries you’re setting.
You should also take advantage the knowledge you have of your students and their personalities. Know one student who likes to get into mischief? Instead of trying to keep your eyes on them at all times, consider giving them extra activities or responsibilities to keep them engaged in a more productive way.
We’re not here to set the boundaries for you or define the repercussions—those should differ from group to group and trip to trip. Rather, here are some aspects to consider, which can be used in conjunction with your tour operator’s own guidelines.
IMPORTANT ASPECTS FOR CONSIDERATION
- Students will be held responsible for any damage caused in their room and on their motorcoach.
- Students are responsible for phone calls made from their hotel room and other extra hotel expenses.
- Students may not take hotel room items as “souvenirs.”
- Running or shouting in hallways and other hotel areas is not allowed at any time.
- In general, students should not go barefoot or shirtless when outside of their hotel room.
- Students must remain serious and respectful when going through security and other checkpoints and lines.
- Students should avoid confrontation or potentially charged conversations with strangers, especially when in other countries.
- Alcohol and drug use, sexual misconduct/harassment and bullying require action, calls to parents or guardians, and the decision as to whether the students involved remain on the trip.
- These guidelines may seem obvious to you, but that doesn’t mean they are to youth. Go over your rules clearly and in-depth with the students, their parents or guardians, and the chaperones.
On top of that, consider a signed contract with students to ensure they understand rules and repercussions. Obviously, shouting in the hotel hallway should carry lesser penalties than something serious like alcohol use, and even with the latter, you likely don’t want to leave those repercussions entirely up to parents.
Student travelers are often young adults and should be treated accordingly. Still, guidelines and boundaries are critical to ensuring group and individual safety, as well as supporting students’ efforts to reflect their school and community in a positive light.
This story originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Teach & Travel.