International Travel Planning and Preparation: Focus on Learning and Having Fun, Not What You Forgot
International travel can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’re helping a child or teen prepare for a school trip. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or chaperone on one of these trips, it’s important to make sure that all who are going know how to prepare for an international travel tour. For this reason, we have put together this helpful guide to educational tour preparation in Europe and Canada.
Consider Where and When You Are Going and Do Your Research
Traveling to Italy in April is very different from going to the U.K. in November. Make sure you check into the weather patterns for your destination based on the time of year you are going and look into the laws and travel restrictions for that area. Will you need a visa? Are there any other documents you’ll need?
Make Sure Your Passport is Valid
Your passport must be valid throughout the duration of your stay in whatever country you are visiting, but many countries also require validity past your planned departure date. For example, France requires your passport to remain valid for three months beyond your planned departure date in order for you to visit while Italy requires it to remain valid for six. You should also make sure that your passport has the required amount of blank pages available for the destination country’s stamps. Italy, for example, requires two pages, while the U.K. requires only one page.
Europe or Canada Tour Preparation: What Should You Bring?
Have a checklist of what you should bring with you as you pack. This checklist should include:
- Clothing: Pack just enough clothes for the trip, plus one or two extra outfits in case of delays or bad weather, and make sure you have an extra outfit in your carry-on luggage should your checked luggage get delayed. You should have a mix of short- and long-sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, jeans, etc. to accommodate different needs. You should also pack one set of nice, dressy clothing for a special night out, such as a night at the Globe Theatre in the U.K.
- Shoes: One pair of comfortable walking shoes, such as trainers/sneakers, should be ideal, plus you should bring one pair of dressier shoes for nicer events.
- Plenty of Socks and Undergarments: Be sure to have a few extra sets of socks and undergarments just in case.
- Pajamas: You don’t want to sleep in your clothes, after all.
- Raincoat/Umbrella: You never know when it’s going to rain, so we advise bringing at least one if not both of these to make sure you can stay drier when those rain clouds start rolling in.
- Bathing Suit (if applicable): Whether you’re going to the U.K., Italy, France, or Greece the ocean isn’t far away, not to mention that some hotels have pools. It’s not a bad idea to bring a swimsuit to enjoy some fun in the sun or a dip in the pool if the opportunity presents itself.
- Lightweight Jacket: Museums, libraries, and other popular educational destinations are sometimes kept at cooler temperatures, so we advise bringing a lightweight jacket for these situations.
- Toiletries: You’ll need your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hairbrush, and hand sanitizer, and some of these things may be cheaper and easier to get at home in little travel sizes, depending on the length of your trip and where you are going. We recommend checking into this ahead of time before you start packing. You may also want to bring sunscreen, aloe, lip balm, and hand lotion, depending on the hot or cold weather and your needs. Insect repellant is also a good idea if you’re going to an area where mosquitoes are common since you don’t want to spend your trip focusing on itchy bug bites instead of the fun.
- Extra set of glasses or contact lenses (if applicable): If you wear contacts or glasses, you want to make sure you have an extra set handy in case you lose them. These should be kept in your carry-on luggage, along with any cases you have for them. This will make for easy access during the flight as well; this way, you can sleep comfortably without worrying about losing/breaking your contacts or glasses.
- Medications: Do not forget to pack any needed medications and inform group leaders about them.
- Money: Make sure you have some money set aside for emergencies and for souvenirs and snacks. You may want to have a bank/ATM card for this and/or a personal credit card, but you may also want to carry no more than $50 in cash in the preferred currency of the location you’re in. If you are carrying a bank/ATM/credit card, make sure you let your financial institution know that you are traveling so that your card won’t be frozen the first time you try to make a purchase.
- Electronics and Chargers: We recommend bringing as few electronics as possible since you won’t have a great deal of time to use them when you’ll be absorbing everything you are seeing and doing. If you do bring electronics, make sure you bring the chargers/batteries for them and keep them at the surface of your carry-on luggage in order to make security checks faster and easier. Some examples of electronics that you may want to bring include smartphones, cameras, or tablets. Don’t forget to bring a converter or adapter, as European outlets are different from U.S. ones.
- A Journal: You’re going to be going on an amazing educational trip with all kinds of new experiences. Even if it is not required by your teacher or group leader, we do recommend bringing a journal to take notes and/or write down your thoughts and experiences each day.
International Travel Packing Tips
- Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute: Packing for an international trip is stressful enough. Waiting to the last minute only increases your chances of leaving something you need behind or overpacking with unnecessary clutter. For the least amount of stress before and during your travel, it’s best to start packing in advance.
- Pack a 3-1-1 Bag and Keep it Towards the Surface of Your Carry-On: Three ounces per container, 1-quart bag, one bag per traveler: that’s the best way to remember how to pack your 3-1-1 bag. This means that you can carry liquids, aerosols, pastes, creams, and gels in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100mL) and all of the containers must fit in a 1-quart clear plastic bag, and each traveler can have one of these bags. This bag should be kept toward the surface of your carry-on bag for easy access during security checks.
- Choose Your Clothes Carefully: While you might want to get new clothes for your travels, we advise that you actually bring clothes that you are sure are comfortable and fit well, and we also recommend bringing cardigans, sweaters, and other layering clothing so that you can adapt easily to changing temperatures.
- Pack in Layers: If you are bringing a carry-on bag (which we highly recommend), make sure that any electronics, medications, and your 3-1-1 bag are close to the surface layer of this bag so that they can be easily removed and inspected without delaying you or other travelers.
- Separate Medications and Medical Equipment and Inform TSA Officers When You Arrive: You should pack medications separately from your other luggage, preferably in another clear plastic bag, and make sure each medication is in its original container and has its prescription label so that TSA can verify them easily.
- Keep Any Valuables in your Carry-On Luggage: You have more control over your carry-on luggage, so it’s better to keep your valuables in your carry-on as opposed to your checked bag(s), though we recommend limiting the number of valuables you bring.
International Travel Planning Made Easy
If your organization or school is still in the early stages of planning international travel for education, Son Tours can help take the stress and headaches out of organizing these complex endeavors. We have decades of experience in planning international trips that are tailored to educators’ curricula, and we take care of all of the details so you and your students can focus on the fun and excitement of the trip. For more information on all that we offer, click here or contact us and we’ll be happy to help you plan an experience like no other for your students.