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There are a lot of moving parts to consider when planning a class trip like budget, fundraising, airfare, lodging, transportation, itinerary, chaperones, safety, etc. That feeling of overwhelm beginning to sink your stomach? That’s exactly why working with an educational travel company like Gerber Tours is well worth the investment.

Gerber Tours takes care of all of the logistical pieces from beginning to end like reservations for air or ground transportation, hotels, meals, attractions, events, and anything else you can think of. But what about the things you didn’t know you needed to think of? Well, we’re here to help you brainstorm through 5 unexpected situations you may find yourself in during an educational field trip.

“I forgot to pack…”

If you forget your jacket at home on a regular weekday, you know you just have to make it through the next few hours of discomfort. But if you forget your jacket at home and then fly across the country where it happens to be snowing, it’s not quite so simple.

There are two big ways that you can help your students prepare for and make it through the trip. First, provide them a packing list before departure and go over it in the days leading up to the trip. Second, bring an extra stash of essentials like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and sanitary pads. It’s also a good idea to include an “incidental” line item in your budget in case a student needs something a little less predictable you actually have to purchase once you’ve arrived at your destination.

 Someone Gets Sick

No matter how healthy everyone seems the morning of departure, there is always the chance that someone will catch a cold, eat something that doesn’t agree with their stomach, twist an ankle, have an allergic reaction, etc. Ruminating all of the possibilities of adverse events is probably elevating your blood pressure, but don’t let it.  Here’s why you can relax.

First, Gerber has layers of built-in safeguards designed for just these kinds of scenarios. For one, Gerber offers a limited insurance policy that will cover the cost of illness and accidents (up to the policy’s limit). Second, every tour includes Doctors “On Tour” so that you and your students have 24/7 access to on-site medical care by licensed physicians.

In addition to relying on your tour company’s systems and procedures, there are a few things you can do as well. Keep a binder containing emergency contact information, a list of dietary restrictions, and a written plan outlining the steps you will take if a student requires medical intervention.

Feelings Get Hurt

Let’s face it. Traveling can be stressful, and in a large group of teenagers, one or two stressed-out kids may take that anxiety out on their peers. So what should you do if you notice that conflict has arrived and feelings have been hurt?

As an educator, there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer to this question. Each situation calls for a different level of mediation. These tips can help you navigate the murky waters of adolescent conflict resolution.

  1. Communicate
    No matter what’s going on, keep your tour guide and chaperones informed so that you can rely on their eyes and help, especially if a situation requires a break in the itinerary.
  2. Intervene
    If something is awry, setting and enforcing boundaries will keep everyone secure in knowing that even though they may be out of the classroom, the same standards for respect still apply. Ignoring the “elephant” on the tour creates a huge distraction from the learning that should be going on. If you think something is off, speak up, and offer help.
  3. Make the most of an unexpected learning opportunity
    Conflict resolution is a critical skill we are all developing. Mediate while your disputing students work on clear communication, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and compromise. Help them create solutions and find a path forward so that everyone can continue to enjoy the trip.
  4. A Student Has an Emotional Response to a Part of the Tour
    Class trips are brimming with fun, hands-on experiences. However, there are moments that can be incredibly somber and even triggering. Touring memorials and museums that honor fallen heroes or that display remnants of historical atrocities can be an intense experience some students may find overwhelming.

It’s important not to run away from these kinds of situations—history is a powerful teacher. It is equally important to prepare students for and acknowledge the emotional burden they may carry as a result of history’s more difficult lessons.

Make sure your students are aware of the itinerary in advance and let them know that in some cases, they may find the content that they will be exposed to upsetting. Be clear and concise—this doesn’t have to be a dramatic or extended disclaimer. Something along the lines of a “today, we’re going to see depictions of life in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The images will be disturbing and may upset you. If you need or want to talk about how you’re feeling, don’t hesitate to come to me” should suffice.

In addition to previewing each day, offer your kids ways to cope with emotional triggers. Have them bring a journal so that they can express their feelings privately while on tour. Ask your tour guide to create time in the itinerary for the kids to reflect on and discuss what they’ve seen. Encourage them to name their feelings—they can do this privately or in conversation with you, a friend, or in a group. Ask them to think about the positive lessons they can glean from the painful content they’ve witnessed. Reassure them that it is normal to feel sadness, confusion, and/or anger in response to disturbing information. If there are tears, let them know that it’s okay to cry.

The Fear of Flying

That 300 tons of metal can launch into the atmosphere, stay there, and take hundreds of people from one part of the world to another in a matter of hours is astonishing. But, it’s also kind of scary to think about.

Nervousness surrounding air flight is pretty common. If you have a student who is suddenly reconsidering the entire class trip right before takeoff, having these comforting facts available may relieve some of their anxiety.

  1. Flying is statistically safer than driving, boating, or bicycling.
  2. Airplanes are rigorously tested for wing flexibility (nope, they won’t snap), engine ingestion (it turns out that a lot of frozen chickens can get thrown into an engine before it fails), operation in extreme temperatures, brake efficacy, lightning strikes, low fuel situations, and more before they are ever sold.
  3. Commercial airliners are built with at least two engines but can fly with only one, and the likelihood of all engines failing is EXTREMELY low.
  4. If all engines on a plane fail, the plane can still glide in the air for a while and even safely land.
  5. Turbulence will not cause a plane to crash. For the pilot and flight crew, turbulence is an inconvenience, not a safety issue.

You can also suggest that students who are afraid during takeoff, turbulence, and landing distract themselves from that fear by writing their name on a piece of paper with their non-dominant hand. Focusing on something other than the flight will help to reduce anxiety.

The Right Planning Goes a Long Way

The great thing about thoughtful and thorough preparation is the peace of mind it gives you when it’s time to enjoy your class travel experience.

Taking the time to imagine the unexpected will prepare you to be flexible and ready to deal with challenges as or if they arise and working with the travel experts at Gerber Tours will make the entire experience all the easier and more enjoyable.

So don’t worry—the unexpected may come, but you’re a teacher. You’ve been dealing with the unexpected since day one on the job. You’ve got this, and Gerber Tours has got you.

By Dianna Benjamin

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