Balancing Scheduled Activities and Downtime When Traveling With Students

Your educational trip may be your students’ first time abroad. In fact, they may have never embarked on such an adventure to a completely new place with such a full itinerary. How can you balance the itinerary so that you see all you want to see, do all you want to do—and not exhaust or bore your students in the process?

First, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are your students for the most part experienced travelers, or is this their first trip?
  2. Are they used to being away from home for days or weeks at a time?
  3. How active are your young travelers?

Experienced travelers know what to expect. They know that travel can be exciting and exhausting at the same time, and they are more likely to be able to pace themselves since they know their days will be long. They’re also used to taking in new sights and sounds, along with all the sensorial stimulation of traveling in a new place. For these reasons alone, they may be able to handle a faster paced tour.

If this will be the first travel experience for most of your students, they may be able to keep up with a fast-paced tour by running on adrenaline. Travel has a way of creating a momentum that pulls along otherwise slow-to-start students. On the other hand, this trip will likely set the stage for their opinion of travel in general.  Make sure the pace is set so that they can enjoy it! Also, consider that your students, no matter their travel experience, will need time to internalize what they’ve learned during a museum visit or guided tour; and that is often best accomplished by allowing them some time to themselves.

Fortunately, with a customized tour, this is easy to do. Discuss each day’s planned activities with your tour consultant. An experienced tour consultant has already considered this, and you will likely be pleased to see more intensive experiences (museum visits, for example, or city walking tours) interspersed with more leisurely experiences (such as a picnic lunch or free time at the local market).

Of course, all this hinges on exactly in which sites and in what neighbourhoods you will be at any given moment of the day. If you’re not near a park or a market, what other downtime can you give your students after an information-packed experience? How about 20 minutes at the museum’s gift shop? Or popping into a local café to sip a glass of juice while people-watching? Or rather than giving a talk on the bus ride to the next location, just let them nod off and enjoy a 20-minute nap!

It will be easy to gauge your students’ energy levels on tour, and on private tours, it’s often easy to make a few tweaks to the day’s schedule to be certain that everyone is enjoying themselves. Just remember that your planned activities are only part of your adventure; travel itself is going to be a great learning experience for all your students. 

Happy travels!

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