Thinking of traveling with your group this spring? We all know preparations and approvals to go anywhere with students can feel cumbersome and even a bit discouraging. Take heart! You are not alone in navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of travel approvals and buy in.
We're throwing you a lifeline! Check out these tips and suggestions. I've compiled them from years of working with various programs, districts and parents to not only get buy-in, but generate excitement and anticipation for your spring trip.
- Research available travel dates and district restrictions. Items to consider:
- district and state testing schedule
- athletic schedules
- graduation dates
- teacher in-service requirements and contract dates
- district travel restrictions such as out-of-state, international and water restricted activities
- Approach the administration with your requested date for approval. All trip costs are different based on the dates of travel, so this is key to the first step. You may receive a close estimate, but a defined date will help project realistic numbers.
- Obtain travel quotes. Research and compare travel bids, since trips are not created equally. Evaluate what you are getting for the money. Low ball estimates that seem too good to be true normally are. Our experience shows that a small, select group of advisers may break down proposals better. Furthermore, like minded and clearly defined parameters also help making decisions.
- Approach your administration for final approval of the trip with the features and benefits of your choice. Clarify the exact amount of the trip. Are students required to provide additional cash for meals or other incidentals? It’s ideal for your trip cost to be door-to-door inclusory. This results students only needing a minimal amount of cash for personal souvenirs.
Trip Launch Preparation
- Create an atmosphere of excitement that promotes the destination. For example, provide small trinkets or treats with a travel or destination theme. Play high energy or destination themed music to set the tone.
- Print the trip itinerary. This helps each family follow along and later review information at home. Include a list of trip inclusions/exclusions, because no one likes surprises.
- Request a member of your travel company to attend the parent meeting. They are often better equipped to field questions concerning travel and specific package inclusions.
- Create a visual presentation of the trip. Pictures often accomplish more than words can. Visuals allow students to place themselves in the destination: riding roller coasters, exploring museums, and eating new foods.
- Present the money clearly and concisely. Prepare a well planned payment schedule for parents. Double check that this payment plan lines up with the deposits and payment schedule agreed upon with your travel company.
- Ask for a commitment from parents at this meeting. It’s important for parents to sign an initial “I would like to go form” that includes the deadline and amount for the initial deposit. Create an environment of openness and understanding with parents. Encourage them to address financial concerns with you upfront, as well as offer some flexibility with the initial deposit date. Build in this additional time based on your deadlines with the travel company. Parents should understand that, after the deposit, the deadlines for payments are firm.
- Create a plan for fundraising. If done right, fundraising unites students to meet or exceed their travel goals. The most successful fundraisers involve students in the selection process. Consider how you will manage funds raised and communicate this clearly. Will the fundraisers assist individual accounts? Will they split their earnings equally among the members going on the trip?
- Publish a calendar of payments. This will allow parents to visually understand when their student can contribute to the cost of the trip.
- End the meeting with questions. Also, offer yourself for individual questions via in person or by email, since some may not want to pose questions to the whole group.
In summation, the bottom line is to have a well run meeting to let parents know you are organized and won't waste time. This builds confidence and buy-in for your leadership, your program and travel plans.