I am the queen of late nights and early mornings, the master of suitcase-sitting-so-I-can-get-the-zipper-around-this-last-corner, the grudging acquaintance of flight delays, a shameless taker of sickeningly tourist-y pictures and a school trip survivor. Having been on a myriad of school trips that could be described with just about every adjective, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the field of school-sponsored travel. So here, I present to you, from personal experience, my school trip survival guide.
I’ll admit that I remember most of my trips by the food I ate on them. From deep dish pizza in Chicago, to salmon mac and cheese in Baltimore, my taste buds have been painted with the flavors of places I’ve been. If I learned anything in grade school art besides how to make bad sculptures and smeared paintings, it’s that you can’t make a masterpiece with only one color. Difference is definitive. This same lesson can effectively be applied to food. Trying new food in new places just makes sense. You’re probably looking to make your trip as memorable as possible and there is just nothing exceptionally memorable about chicken strips and hamburgers. Food is the most assessable gateway to culture. Branch out and utilize it! I can’t promise that you’re going to like everything you try but I can promise you’ll feel pretty cool telling people you’ve had alligator and it won’t be an experience you’ll soon forget.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with bringing along snacks. It’s often the first thing in my suitcase. In the running with being cold and late, being hungry is the worst thing that can happen to you on a school trip. Since you’re traveling with a group, the opportunity to pop into a 7/11 and grab a bite when you feel that gnawing in your stomach isn’t always available. This is where having some granola bars or crackers on hand can save you, because nothing can ruin a good time like a grumbling tummy.
As someone who used to hate taking pictures, especially super posed ones that are essentially a big red arrow screaming “tourist”, I had the “live in the moment, not behind the camera” attitude. While making memories IS important, so is capturing them. It took me a while to realize that pictures fade, but not as fast and the memory does. So take lots of pictures and ask lots of people to take pictures of you, because eventually you’re going to want something more than just a memory to remember things by.
Those pictures won’t be any good though if you didn’t do cool stuff. Don’t be that person who won’t go out on the Skydeck at the Willis Tower or who doesn’t ride a Segway. School trips give you so many opportunities, don’t take them for granted. Letting fear rob you of an experience is silly. Maybe checking with three different staff members at the aquarium to be certain that all the manta rays’ stingers had FOR SURE been removed before I agreed to pet them was a little silly too, but even though the rays were slimy and gross, I don’t regret it.
So there you have it, my travel trainees, my school trip survival guide. You are now equipped to make the most of your school-sponsored travels. Eat new food. Do new things. Take pictures while you do it.
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