Group travel can be stressful when you are the one in charge of everyone having an enjoyable and positive experience – while staying in the group and remaining safe. Most unhappiness in our lives comes from unmet expectations. Sometimes that is because we did not know what to expect and we were left to our own limited experiences to set the level of expectation. This is disastrous for group travel. I do my very best to make expectations very clear before students and parents even enroll. However, they need to hear them again and again – I promise.
I have three departure meetings for every trip. These meetings serve several purposes. First, the travelers begin to get comfortable with one another. After all, it is going to be close quarters for about two weeks. Second, the parents not traveling can begin to feel a little more comfortable about sending their student abroad – in their eyes alone. Third, these meetings allow for repetitive statements about the rules and consequences. Fourth, multiple events still need to be decided upon as far as optional excursions, extensions and the like. They need to know they have a voice and are part of the decision making. Fifth and final, all of the nuances of student group educational travel need to be addressed. (Like, early is on time, and on time is late.)
The two photos used in this post are of students and parents waiting outside of a Paris hotel for a bus that is over an hour late. Preparing them ahead of time for such a possibility (of things sometimes go wrong) kept their attitudes positive and we all found a way to entertain ourselves while we waited.
The most important discussion I have with them is about the contagious attitudes of the group. You can either choose to sit and nit pick every little thing, or you can find the beauty of everything around you, embrace the experience, and remain positive so that everyone can enjoy the trip. Of course – I then point out that this a great way to live life, as well. We had a choice – stand around and complain to one another about the wait – or make fun, unforgettable memories.
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