Preparing for Educational Travel
Being prepared for your trip is much more than just checking items off of a packing list. We understand the importance of planning a field trip well, and in our many years of experience we have seen the most common things our students miss and forget. To avoid this, we have created a helpful list so you can be fully prepared and get the most out of your trip.
Connections to Home
Do you have a relative buried in Arlington National Cemetery, or whose name is written on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island? Perhaps there is someone from your hometown whose name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial… Making connections to home is a great way to personalize your visit, and it really helps to be prepared ahead of time. Ask relatives about veterans of WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, or if family members have served in any of the military branches such as the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or law enforcement. There are memorials to all of these in Washington DC, for example, and one of your affiliated family members may wish to send something personal along with you to leave at one of these memorials. If at all possible, find out and let us know about these connections BEFORE your tour begins. We will do our best to accommodate your connection, either as a group or privately as an individual.
Layers, layers, layers! Always dress in layers and you will be prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings. Check the weather in your destination before your trip and pack appropriate clothes to deal with varying temperatures. Even if rain is not in the forecast, bring an umbrella or travel poncho regardless, as the weather can change unpredictably.
Even with pick-up and drop-off in our coaches, most groups walk an average of 8 miles per day. Comfortable shoes are a life-saver! Bring two pairs of lightweight walking or running shoes (preferably water-resistant) that are already broken in. Many sites can only be truly appreciated by foot, so it’s also important to come mentally prepared to immerse yourself in a full schedule designed to help you travel deeper and get the most out of your experience.
Dehydration is the number one ailment while traveling, which is why savvy travelers always have a water bottle on hand. Refillable water bottles are essential. Especially in areas where fountains may not be accessible and/or access to affordable water vendors is limited. Bring your water bottle, and you’re guaranteed the healthiest and happiest experience!
Before leaving home, be sure to double check that you have enough phone or camera memory to capture your entire journey. Most coaches have outlets available to recharge while riding on the bus, however this is not always guaranteed. Running out of charge is a letdown, so consider bringing a battery pack or power bank for backup if needed.
Money and Valuables
Students often choose to bring an average of $25 per day to spend on small purchases and souvenirs. Cash is king and accepted pretty much everywhere, however debit cards can be a good option as well (and if the card is lost, funds will be safe). Pickpocketing is rare, however we recommend leaving valuables at home. The most common issue is forgetting a bag, camera, or wallet along the way. When traveling, tour leaders repeatedly remind everyone to keep an eye on their possessions, be aware of surroundings, and to help look out for one another as well. We teach students to be street-smart and prepared for each area they visit.
Popular tourist sites as well as government buildings require security checks before entering. For smoother and faster processing, come prepared! Leave thick western-style belts, large buckles, and garments embedded with metal at home. Keep your change in removable wallets (not in your pockets), and NEVER bring a pocket knife. Jewelry and watches are typically fine. More and more sites are not allowing backpacks, so it helps to wear pants or jackets with pockets large enough to carry your camera, wallet, or water bottle. Above all, bring your patience! While lengthy at times, the goal of these security measures is to keep us safe.