When student travel goes right, it can be magical; students have a blast while expanding their minds, and the adults on tour beam with satisfaction and pride. However there’s one very fundamental element that makes it all possible: safety.
“Safety is of the utmost concern for us and our parents,” Todd Berridge, Orchestra Director at Permian High School said.
Maintaining safety on a student trip is truly a team effort and best achieved when all parties are working together. Therefore, this article will illustrate a few of Green Light’s safety policies, as well as some best practices that trip leaders and travelers can utilize.
The first safety tactic is including a 24-hour Tour Manager on every tour.
“We pick them up the minute they arrive and we’re with them until the minute they leave,” Green Light Tour Manager Jenny Gully said.
That means no matter what, your group will never be totally alone. Instead, you’ll be under the guidance of a travel professional with a strong knowledge of the destination. This is an outstanding foundation for keeping everyone safe on tour.
Though your Tour Manager is always there for you, groups sometimes want independent time. In these cases, Green Light strongly encourages exploring in small groups.
“If we get the chance to split up, we have to be together with 3-4 people,” Hebron High School student, DeOntre Graham, said of the rules for his choir trip to New York City.
Simply being in a group is not enough though. The group must also use common sense and be aware of their surroundings at all times. These guidelines are best communicated by the group’s Director and chaperones and echoed by the Green Light Tour Managers.
Green Light has also embraced technology to enhance safety on tour, especially in situations where the group has dispersed.
“We have our Tour Managers send the group text messages through Remind101 to tell them where to be,” Berridge said of his group’s policies during their trip to Chicago.
Remind101 is an app that allows someone to text a large group without having to input any phone numbers. It is particularly helpful on tour when groups split up and have to reconvene at a certain place and time. Green Light Tour Managers or the group’s adult leaders can use Remind101 to text out the meet up information so it’s easier for everyone to return safely and on time.
Pre-Trip Safety Measures
Green Light Co-Founder, Apryl Black, has a section in her seminar ‘How To Plan A Successful Group Tour’ that’s about keeping the kiddos safe. In it, she outlines some of the things that trip leaders can do before their tour starts to set up the safest trip possible:
- Background checks: Background checks should always be conducted on all tour guides and bus drivers. If you’re traveling with Green Light, simply ask your Tour Coordinator for any background check information you need.
- Medical forms: Make sure you’ve collected and stored all necessary medical information for your travelers, including allergies. Some groups will have each traveler complete a paper form, but the awesome thing about traveling with Green Light is using our online billing and registration system. It allows travelers to submit medical information online and stores it digitally so everything is available in the event of an emergency.
- Chaperone groups and counting procedure: Trip leaders should pick their chaperones, assign them each a similar numbers of students, and develop a system so the students can be counted quickly in their chaperone groups. This process is ideal for making sure the entire group is present before transferring to a new place while on tour.
- Water and sleep: Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the basics: you have to remain hydrated and well-rested on tour! We encourage groups to offer bottled water everyday of the tour if possible. Tour Managers can usually help with getting the water so it’s there for you at your destination. We also like to remind groups that no one will remember the trip it if they’re falling asleep. Trip leaders should always provide ample opportunity for restful sleep at the hotel.
Overnight Security Guards
Speaking of the hotel, it can be a haven at the end of an action-packed day, but it also requires a different set of safety considerations.
Once in their rooms, students are without direct adult supervision. Therefore, the objective for the adults on tour becomes protecting as well as containing students in their rooms! To accomplish this, group leaders traditionally have 2 options:
- Adults on the trip will divide up the night and take turns walking the halls to make sure all is well or…
- The group will hire professional overnight security guards to patrol the floors where their students are sleeping, so that all the adults on tour can actually sleep too!
“We have security guards at night who are there to maintain a level of security for the students in their rooms and to also give the chaperones and the directors a bit of a break so they can actually sleep,” Berridge said regarding his group’s decision to go with overnight security guards.
We here at Green Light also advocate the use of professional security guards. As we mentioned, sleep is really important on tour. Trip leaders should consider getting their beauty rest so they can be as sharp as possible the next day. This will help in actually enjoying the tour along with the travelers.
Don’t Forget To Have Fun!
We’ll never understate the importance of safety on a student tour, but we acknowledge it’s all a balancing act. Everyone should always be safe for the sake of the group, but hopefully it never detracts from the reason why the tour is happening in the first place: to have an incredible time!
Green Light can set you up for a safe tour from beginning to end. We provide 24 hour Tour Managers, can advise on best practices when splitting up, utilizes technology to communicate information to the group, assists in pre-tour safety measures, and advocates the use of professional overnight security guards at the hotel so everyone can sleep!
We’ve found this process to keep our group tours consistently safe and the entire student travel experience as magical as it can possibly be!