Ten tips for trouble-free school trips
Written by Paul Dodd on August 07, 2016.
School trips, whether abroad or closer to home, are always a highlight for those students lucky enough to go on them. For accompanying teachers, it is a big responsibility to be in charge of other people’s children as they travel without their parents, sometimes for the first time. Keeping the group healthy and safe is imperative and will ensure that the trip is memorable for all the right reasons.
Here are ten tips for making your school trip go swimmingly for everyone involved:
1. Prepare a kit list
In order to make sure that students and parents alike are well prepared for the trip it is important to give as much advance information as possible. Having researched weather conditions at your destination and considered the activities to be undertaken, draw up a prescriptive packing list so that everyone knows exactly what kit that they will need to bring. This should not just include suitable clothing but extra items such as sunscreen, pocket money and so on. You may also want to list items which should not be brought such as excessive amounts of cash and expensive gadgets which could get lost or broken.
2. Get the paperwork in order
Gather comprehensive information regarding all students, including specific requirements such as special dietary needs or allergies, next of kin contact details and any health issues. Make sure this is properly filed and easily accessible to all accompanying staff and volunteers.
3. Check vaccination requirements
You should also remind students/parents well in advance to get vaccinations up to date including any extra destination-specific ones which may be required. Ask parents to provide proof of vaccination as this can be requested by the authorities in certain countries.
4. Establish lines of communication
Parents hate being out of contact with their children even if they know they are being well cared for. Tell parents if and how they can contact their children during the trip and think about setting up access to an internet site or blog where you can post photos during the trip for parents to log on and see. There are numerous sites specifically for this or a closed Facebook page can work. You can also use this in the case of emergency to quickly transmit information to all parties concerned.
5. Be clear on the trip rules
Herding large groups of excited children around can be challenging! Make sure everyone knows ahead of time what is expected of them on the trip, in particular that they must stay with the group at all times unless told otherwise. Reiterate the rules throughout the trip.
6. Take a first aid kit
You never know when you might need emergency medical equipment and a pharmacy might not always be close by. Ensure you have the basics covered with plasters, bandages, disinfectant, bite cream and pain relief and antihistamines suitable for the age group you are travelling with. You will need to get signed authorisation from parents that you can administer basic first aid if required.
7. Set up a travel buddy system
Pairing students up so that they have someone else they are looking out for at all times is a good way to safeguard against anyone going missing. In the case of an accident, the buddy may be invaluable in communicating details about what happened.
8. Ensure important documents are properly looked after
Passports and medical information should be kept in a safe place at all times and it is probably best to centralise this rather than leaving it up to individuals.
9. Keep a list of emergency contacts
With the best will and organisation in the world, accidents can still happen. Make sure you are aware of local medical facilities at your destination so you can act quickly if there is an emergency. You should also find out the details of local embassies should you need to find assistance while travelling.
10. Make sure your group is properly insured
Comprehensive student group travel insurance is a must for all school trips. It will provide peace of mind to teachers and parents alike and ensure that no-one is out of pocket in the face of an unexpected event, accident or illness. There are certain bases that need to be covered:
• Medical coverage – if a student or teacher needs to visit a doctor or hospital
• Emergency evacuation – to cover repatriation in the case of a more serious accident or illness
• Emergency medical reunion – to pay for a family member to travel to be with a hospitalised child should the need arise
• Trip cancellation – if a family emergency requires a child to be flown home mid-trip
• Document assistance – to cover any costs related to lost or stolen documentation including passports or credit cards
Finding the right insurance policy to cover all eventualities can be a worry for teachers and school administrators who are faced with a baffling amount of choice. Here at Infinity we have experience of working with schools to provide excellent cover at the right price and have partnerships with all the major providers. We can help you work through the options and select the best policy for you and your group. Please contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.