After sleeping under the stars with snoring teens in tents all around me, I have discovered students can be a different breed of traveler than adults.  For instance, they can be picky (perhaps suspicious is a better word!) eaters, but I haven't met one yet that I couldn't get to at least try the local locro or quinoa soup. 

Away from their parents, teens can be coaxed into a state of open-mindedness that doesn't always exist when Mom or Dad are hovering.  (we encourage family travel, but just want to point out that students are different on group trips.Yes, Mom!  they really are!) 


How do you create an itinerary for students that will tie in educational goals with their need to be curious about things that may not be part of the typical educational experience?  Here are some tips from our American teacher & Peruvian guide team who have crafted many student itineraries:

  • Preparation is important.  Information about European travel is much more accessible than travel to South America or China.  Offer suggestions for special places to research.  For instance, the floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca are a living laboratory of conservation and environmental stewardship. 
  • Don't assume that students will know how to protect their valuables or even pack their bags.  You really have to explain and teach them some basics.  After you arrive, you'll have to remind them almost every day. 
  • Explain the boundaries of safety ahead of time and your expectations.  You'll have fewer problems with curious teens who want to take off on their own adventures. 
  • Make arrangements for teens who want to do nighttime activities.  A guided hike or guided stroll into town will give them a splash of excitement and keep them safe.
  • Avoid scheduling long, narrated tours of museums and buildings.  A little lecture goes a long way and should be mixed with hands-on activities.  
  • Throw in some surprises.  A picnic in a special place or a short hike will keep them interested and make the trip exciting.
  • Teachers should have fun too.  If you're having fun, the students will feed off your energy.  That's why it's important to have local resources who know how to manage the needs of teens.  You don't always have to be the "go-to" person for everything!  Experienced guides and staff should be prepared to accommodate the special needs and interests of teens who travel.

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Replies to This Discussion

What a smart post this is, Jacquie. Perhaps you want to post it as a blog, too? If so, just give it a different title, something like "Teacher-Student Travel Tips."
Thanks Ed. I'll do that!  What a great suggestion and that's the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day!
I blush!  Happy Easter.


Nicely written! It reminds me of the first trip I took abroad which was in 10th grade to Spain during spring vacation. My Spanish teacher was our escort and made sure that we not only had a great time, but that we spoke as much Spanish as possible. 

We were trusted as independent teens, but also well watched. I know for certain, our teacher/escort had a good time with us as well. 

Being able to show a teen a culture different than theirs, a different lifestyle along with the good and bad is important. I truly believe children that are well traveled and exposed to international cultures are more tolerant of others and tend to have an expanded social group as they become older and move on to university and their careers. 

Thank you Adrienne.

I wonder how many other travelers got their start with an international trip in high school?  For me, it was the most memborable thing I did in high school.  I traveled to Russia in 1973 with a group of Girl Scouts, organized by a married couple.  He was a teacher.  We were protected but had freedom explore and interact and make choices. 


My 20 yo son went on the first trip I led to Peru in 2007 at the age of 16, and he is currently enrolled in a Danish University getting an education that has nothing to do with attending econ classes! 

I don't track all the students who have traveled with me, but I know that one has gone on to college and is studying an International Program and helped set up a service project for kids in another country.


While students need to be prepared with reading, writing and calculating skills, I think offering "travel" is more than enhancing your language skills.  It's much deeper and significant.  Which is why I'm working behind the scenes now to get support from local businesses and organizations that will help students earn funds to pay for their own trips. At my school, we have the idea to set up a "travel account" for each student when they enter 9th grade and for 3 years they can earn money to deposit in the fund.  By the time they get to 12th grade, their trip will be paid for.  We haven't implemented yet, but I continue to work on it.

Thanks very much for your reply and happy trails, wherever you go!



Your travel fund idea is fabulous. When you think about the number of students who may have never left their city or state, that can be a lifetime opportunity for them. Do you ever include any volunteerism or peer-to-peer visits? 

I was involved with some peer-to-peer visits with incoming students years ago. That seemed to have a big impact on everyone, students, escorts, etc. 

If I can ever be a resource for you, please let me know. After being the travel industry for 14 years, I know just a couple of people!


All the best and congratulations for a job well done! You are certainly a credit to the educational system.




Thanks Adrienne,

Every student trip I organize is modeled on 3 basic components:

  • service projects (even the 4th/5th graders have done this in Ecuador!)
  • educational goals
  • adventure!  usually at least one night camping, or one day hiking or other "activity"

(we are working to add another which will be academic credit)


When I debrief with the kids on the last day of each trip, by far the most popular thing they seem to enjoy is not the visits to the high-profile places like Machu Picchu or Lake Titicaca!  It's the face-to-face interaction in the villages where we stay.  The last trip the students camped out in a field behind a school and played soccer and shared breakfast when the local students arrived.  That was the most favorite part of the trip. 

I made a very amateur, short video about our service project in 2009.  It's on youtube

(But I haven't moved it to the Adios Adventure Travel account, so it's still under my personal account. Now I'm reminded to do that!)


Yes, I would love to network with you and find out more about what you do.


Thanks again,



Wonderful video. I'm not sure who had a better time, the children receiving the supplies or the students handing them out.

These students will have memories for a lifetime!

Contact me anytime! I'd love to hear more from you as well.


Hello, I am Dennis from Tanzania East Africa,nice and love to reading your post on group Itineraries for teacher about exploring the world. Do you itineraries about Africa.?

Thank you Dennis.

I only organize trips to South America.  I do not do itineraries for Africa.

Thanks again,

Jacquie Whitt

Adios Adventure Travel


Your Travel Pix



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