Three teachers share their suggestions on how you can maximise value when taking school groups abroad. 

A teenage girl looks through a telescope at the sights in Paris

Jo Barber, head of languages at Prince Henry’s School in Otley, Yorkshire, organises several overseas visits and knows how important they are. We asked her how she ensures best value for money on trips. She shared some of the things they do to keep costs down: 

  • We leave late at night so that the students sleep on the coach and we’re maximising the time we have on the trip.
  • We are adamant that students pay over the longest amount of time possible. 

The city of Cologne in Germany

Prince Henry’s in Yorkshire took about 140 students to Cologne in Germany in 2023 over two weekends because there was such a demand for the trip. 

  • Honesty about the whole cost of trips is something we ensure and we give out a booklet in September which outlines all of the trips taking place over the year so that parents know all the options in good time. 
  • We make sure there’s plenty of time for parents to pay deposits too.

Walsall Academy’s shadow headteacher Jon Clarke has lots of experience in getting the best value for money for his school trips abroad. He shared some of his suggestions for schools looking to maximise their value overseas: 

  • Plan for your year groups and then join subject areas together, for example languages and history or geography.
  •  Look at when you plan to go; winter may be the best time to visit some locations so don’t be afraid of January and February. Poland is amazing in the snow and a visit to Auschwitz has even more impact if it is cold.

Krakow, Poland in the snow

Jon Clarke says don’t be afraid to go to destinations in the winter months - Poland for example is great in the snow in his opinion. 

  • Lead times are important to parents and setting out a monthly payment plan is vital. Most schools now use ParentPay or something similar which allow for monitored monthly instalments and helps greatly.
  • Look carefully for your provider, it is always prudent to price compare but always make sure they are ABTA bonded and ATOL registered and also look for the charter marks of School Travel Forum membership and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge which shows that the company is working hard to give the best deal and experience for the students.
  • One small saving we have is using our own school insurance policy for all our visits rather than buying it as part of the package, our policy was cheaper and was also exactly the same as the tour providers.

A check-in board at an airport

Consider flight times if that’s how you’re travelling - you can gain time at your destination by having an early or late flight. 

Adam Higgins from The Royal Liberty School, Romford tells us his recommendations for getting the most out of your school trips abroad:

  • Always be flexible when at the destination, speak with the driver as they may also have tips as they have been to the destination before. An example of this was something as simple as our driver in Belgium suggesting the best places to stand for the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Last Post ceremony, Ypres, Belgium

Source: Visitflanders

Adam Higgins says local knowledge is key; their driver in Belgium told them the best place to stand for the Last Post Ceremony. 

  • Be prepared to stay a little further out of town. This has allowed us to get nicer accommodation as well as more outside space for students to burn off energy. It’s also often much quieter so you don’t need to worry about other groups.
  • Be willing to stay in more than one accommodation throughout the trip. The small inconvenience of swapping accommodation could mean more time for activities.
  • When you initially speak to your travel company, have an idea of the activities that you would like to do but appreciate they are the experts. Always take on board their suggestions as they will have ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Jon Clarke and Adam Higgins’ suggestions were first published in the 2024 edition of the Learning Outside the Classroom Yearbook.

You can read the digital edition here

We’d love to hear your tips too, just email us