Darren Davies, educational tours specialist from tour operator Travel Places, tells us his top tips for the initial booking process of an educational tour.
Booking a school trip is not always that easy and for most of us, the planning and arranging of a successful tour can be stressful and time consuming. There can be unavoidable changes, unforeseen increases in tour prices and last-minute drop outs to name just a few of the challenges.
With over 20 years’ experience in school travel, here are my five tips on what to consider when initially planning a tour.
1. Make a clear plan and stick to it
Take a clean piece of paper and write down your tour objectives. What exactly do you want the tour to deliver to your students? It could be to focus on one key area of your curriculum, to provide a broader understanding of a subject, combine cross curricula subjects, be within a certain budget, or leave from a certain airport.
During your first contact with your tour provider, ensure that these objectives are passed on and that both you and the tour provider are happy and confident that the proposed tour can be delivered.
2. Cheaper is not always better, value is king
When comparing tour quotes from tour providers look carefully at what is included and, sometimes more importantly, what is not. Does it include meals, entrance fees, guides, local transport, local tourist taxes and tips? These costs can add up and mean your tour cost is higher than you think.
Be careful where a tour provider includes insurance. Frequently these policies only provide the very lowest level of cover and your own school travel insurance will be a better policy.
Pictured: Darren Davies from Travel Places.
3. Be wary of flight bookings
I have seen a lot of tour quotes with flights using estimated prices, based on low season travel and, on more than one occasion, that do not actually exist. Beware, once you book, you will be asked to pay a supplement due to increased flight costs or find that you will be flying to or from an airport on the other side of the country.
Ask your provider to detail the flights they are booking for you, preferably with airline details, routes, times and flight numbers.
4. Think outside the box
Why go to the same place year after year? We live in an accessible world and there are so many options for you to consider. Often these can be better value than destinations already busy with school groups during the popular half term travel periods.
Over the last few years, Travel Places have arranged for groups to visit Wyoming to see the Great USA 2017 Solar Eclipse, go scuba diving in Croatia, ride the Trans-Siberian Express to Mongolia and criss-cross Japan exploring multiple cities.
5. Find an operator you can trust, and don’t panic
Having spent many years working with people across the travel industry, I know that my colleagues share my passion to deliver the best tour possible. Always going that extra mile to ensure the tour is a total success; double checking and triple checking your reservations are in place, leaving no stone un-turned when looking for solutions to any challenge.
Darren Davies, an educational tours specialist with Travel Places, has well over 20 years wide and varied experience in organising school trips and tours to destinations around the world
Travel Places is a tour operator with over 40 years’ experience. It offers education tours and school trips all across the globe which can be tailored to the National Curriculum