Are you headed overseas for a field trip? You’re in for an exciting experience! Once you’ve got the parent permission slip, now what? There’s a lot more to do. Whether you’re leading a large school group, a church mission trip, or a group of homeschoolers, getting the parent permission slip is only the beginning. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this once-in-a lifetime experience.
Learn the Language
It’s true that not all trips will require this, but if you’re headed to a place where English isn’t the common language, your group will want to learn some basic phrases. You don’t have to be fluent, of course, but imagine how much easier it will be to communicate if you know how to:
- Ask where the restroom is
- Say yes and no, instead of just shaking your head
- Say please, thank you, and you’re welcome
- Ask for what you need at a restaurant: things like a fork, spoon, napkin, menu, or the bill
- Ask for how much an item costs if you’re shopping at a market
- Tell the hotel front desk that you lost your room key
It’s All About the Money
Even if you’re going to a foreign country for a mission trip or for a service learning experience, chances are, you’ll still need money at some point. Don’t forget to:
- Exchange your American dollars for the local currency
- Consider if you’d like to buy traveler’s checks
- Contact your bank if you plan to use your credit card or debit card. Tell them you’d like to place a “travel note” on your card. Providing this information will prevent your card from being blocked or flagged for suspected fraud. Be sure to have all the American states you may be stopping in, and a complete list of all countries you’ll be traveling through, even if just for a day. Have all your dates of travel ready when you call
- When using your credit card or debit card overseas, keep in mind that there may be additional fees. Your credit card company or bank can tell you more about these
Research the History
What do you know about the region you’re visiting? Do you know what makes your destination special? Dig into the history of this place so you can know what makes it significant. You may find that the places you’re visiting have been the sites of conflicts, wars, inventions, artistic creations, and so much more.
Learn About Their Laws & Government
Another item on your to-do list should be to research the governmental system of the country you plan to visit. You can create a class unit, or create a basic presentation. It doesn’t have to be deep, just a basic overview. Here are some questions you can pose to students to check their understanding:
- Does this government have a system that is similar to, or vastly different from, the American structure of government?
- Is this country ruled by a president, or is there a monarchy in place?
- Do the people in this country seem to have the same rights, or fewer rights, than the people living in America?
- How does this country deal with crime? Does this country seem to be harder on crime or more lenient on crime? Does this country prosecute things that are legal in the United States?
Having answers to these questions is helpful, but in some cases, it’s critical. In some instances, it can help students avoid violating another country’s laws during their stay.
Plan For Safety
While the focus for your trip should be fun, it’s a good idea to practice some basic safety rules. A group of any size can stay safe with these tips:
- Emphasize a policy that everyone on this trip is to use the buddy system. No one is to travel alone on this trip. The reason for this is that while a country may seem safe – and it very well may be – it can be easy to get lost in an unfamiliar location. Criminals may take advantage of tourists who are unfamiliar with their surroundings. It’s imperative that all members of your group are accounted for at all times.
- Exchange cell phone numbers with anyone in the group whose phone will work overseas. This is helpful in the event of an emergency, or in case anyone gets separated from the rest of the group.
- If possible, have a few chaperones trained in first aid and CPR, if they aren’t already.
Keep Your Group Together – No One Left Behind
Whether you’re boarding the airline for take-off, or you’re on a charter bus ready to head to your next destination, how do you make sure that everyone is there? Do you ask your students if everyone is on the bus? Do you count heads? Do you personally take a look around to make sure everyone is there?
From my own experience, I can tell you that counting on kids to make sure everyone is present…. It’s a risky method. Sure, sometimes it will work, but you’re running the risk that someone will get left behind. And when someone gets left behind, in a foreign country, how will they be reunited with the rest of the group?
Avoid a Home Alone moment of thinking someone is on board when they’re not. Use a detailed list of who should be on board. Especially when you’re traveling internationally, it’s imperative that everyone is accounted for, and that no one misses their transportation to their next stop.
Traveling Around the World Is Fun
The logistics for traveling around the world might seem overwhelming at first. You’ve snagged the parent permission slip, and you might not be sure what to do next. There’s so much planning ahead! But once you learn some of the local language and learn the history of where you’re going, you’ll be ready to pack your bags. Getting your finances in order will make your trip a breeze. Staying safe will help everyone enjoy the trip. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to go.
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