Planning on or wanting to take your Spanish students abroad? No doubt this can ignite both fear and excitement. It’s perhaps most common to use one of many tour companies, but would you consider breaking out of the box and planning a trip abroad on your own? I was wrestling with this question a few years ago and ultimately decided to go against the norm to plan a trip on my own. You can read all about that service based trip to Peru here. My middle and highschoolers did participate in tours while in Peru, but I did the work of piecing the plan together and scheduling everything from flights, hotels, transportation, service projects, meals, and those tours.
Taking students abroad can simultaneously be one of the most rewarding and most challenging experiences of a teaching career. Why did I make this decision? Why not just take the easier route and go for a pre-designed trip led by a tour company? Why spend hours….errr DAYS….possibly weeks planning? I wanted a different experience for my students. I wanted to tailor the trip to be exactly what I wanted it to be to allow for more flexibility and freedom according to our wants and not just follow along with the plan of a tour company. I, admittedly, like to have too much control at times, but I believed that I could help my students have an amazing experience abroad and also do it more economically than using a tour company (money saving is always a plus, right?).
Was it worth it? Now that 2 1/2 years have passed I can look back on the experience and although sometimes I still think it was crazy, yes, it was worth it. In a recap video where Seniors highlighted their favorite moments of the school career, several mentioned that the trip to Peru was their most memorable and enjoyable experience of their high school years. Parents and other staff members who went on the trip still talk about it. All the time spent researching and planning in the end was worth it.
So if you’d like to think about planning your own trip abroad, here are 5 questions to consider!
The first question to consider is if your school (i.e. administration) would even go for it. I work at a school where student trips abroad are planned every year. Often, they are led by tour companies, but have been organized by teachers in the past. Liability forms were issued so that all legal bases were covered.
2. Do you have time to plan it?
I'm not talking about time in your day...we ALL know there's never enough time in a teacher's schedule, so this is one of those things that you just make time for if it's something you're passionate about. For planning a trip on your own, I recommend starting at least a year in advance. I had a rough idea at the end of the previous school year what we wanted to do. By the beginning of October, costs were finalized and payment deadlines established. We then had the rest of the school year to fundraise (we went on the trip in June) and this is also when I worked on details like choosing our in country tour guides, finding hotels, and setting up the service projects in which we participated.
3. Have you been there before?
I consider this to be a key element in a decision to plan a trip abroad on your own. Many of us, as Spanish teachers, have spent time either living, studying, working, or traveling abroad. I would have found it extremely difficult to plan a trip to Argentina for example since I've never been there. I chose Peru because I had been many times and also have family living there. This gave me the confidence to feel like I could, in fact, lead 23 people on a trip there. ;)
4. Do you like to plan trips?
Ok, I'll admit. I
5. Is it "worth" it?
It's a great idea to weigh out the pros and cons and think about your answers to the above questions. What's worth it to one person, may not be worth it to another. For me, as I spoke of earlier, yes, it was worth it. :)
Have you taken students abroad? Would you consider organizing a trip on your own?
Emilie, from Island Teacher