Make It or Break It - My Family Travels

As a junior in High School I received the honor of being able to participate in a school-sponsored trip to Europe. The main stops on our journey were Paris, France, Madrid, Spain, and Barcelona, Spain. The trip was, as a whole, a wonderful experience but there are a few suggestions I would give to anyone planning this particular type of trip. The length of time spent in each city should be close to the same, the tour company should be chosen very wisely, and the parents invited should me set to a maximum.

            First of all is the issue of time. On the tour I participated in we were gone for a total of ten days. Five of those days were spent solely in Paris. We got to see many great things such as the Eiffel Tower, both in the day and nighttime, and the Sed River. We were also able to visit the Luve where the beautiful Mona Lisa is found. We ate at many different restaurants and were able to experience Paris at night. As magnificent as Paris was I wish we could have seen as much of Barcelona and Madrid as we did of Paris. When we arrived in Barcelona I immediately fell in love with the city. To have spent five days in Barcelona would have been Heaven but we were not able to see nearly as much there, or in Madrid, because we had spent all of our time in Paris. Make sure to divide your time equally between all of your stops.

            Furthermore I would strongly to suggest that if you decide to use a tour company, deeply research the company as a whole and then your personal tour guide as well. My particular school group choose to travel with EF Tours. The company scheduled all of our stops, took care of our hotel reservations, and coordinated al of our transportation. It was very nice to not have to worry about planning all of those details however, at times it would have been nice to just walk around and explore. As far as our personal tour guide I was very disappointed. She was very controlling and bossy. She also only interacted with the teachers who accompanied us on our trip. She was never eager to communicate with the students or other parents on an individual basis. For this reason I would strongly suggest you intensively research your tour guide and tour company.

            Another aspect to think about when planning a school related trip is the number of parents you will allow to go. In my opinion, parents can be very helpful to chaperone and keep up with students. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Parents tend to think they can overrule a teacher’s instruction. This mindset created much chaos on our journey at times. I would suggest setting a maximum number of parents on a first-come, first-serve basis. This will limit your parents without having to “pick and choose”.

            In conclusion, school sponsored trips are a wonderful idea. They are extremely educational and allow students to spend time with fellow classmates and friends. Learning by traveling is a great opportunity and it opens your eyes to the great world we live in. There are a few specific things you should closely consider when planning a school sponsored trip. The time spent in each place, the tour company, and the number or parents allowed to go are all factors that could “make” or “break” your trip.

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