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Tips to make planning trips easier and avoid disasters

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by ianj6, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    Sorry to be on about my favourite subject again; but with the trips season coming it could help anyone who hasn't done it before.
    1) In previous years we've had problems with students withdrawing from the trip and accepting losing the £50 deposit. This caused us problems with filling spaces after we'd booked the trip and losing discounts etc. This year the trip cost £240 so we asked for £140 deposit, (non refundable). We've filled the trip and had no drop outs
    2) Have a trip staff meeting to discuss risk assessment before you go, you can't discuss them when something has gone wrong!!!!
  2. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    Sorry to be on about my favourite subject again; but with the trips season coming it could help anyone who hasn't done it before.
    1) In previous years we've had problems with students withdrawing from the trip and accepting losing the £50 deposit. This caused us problems with filling spaces after we'd booked the trip and losing discounts etc. This year the trip cost £240 so we asked for £140 deposit, (non refundable). We've filled the trip and had no drop outs
    2) Have a trip staff meeting to discuss risk assessment before you go, you can't discuss them when something has gone wrong!!!!
  3. This is a good idea! Anyone else got any other tips?
  4. Put all the students on a collective passport (whether or not they have their own). It saves faffing about with loads of passports plus a few on the collective.
  5. Cestrian

    Cestrian New commenter

    Set your final payment deadline well before that of any travel company - allows time to chase up delays. Also, set interim payment deadlines for similar reasons to those in original post - ensures fewer "drop-outs"
  6. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    Hi Vendredi,
    Great to hear from you again!! Got any good trips going this year?
    I'd agree with you to an extent in that have ALL the students on a collective or ALL on their own. I go for the latter as I don't want to be messing round with that form. We collect them all in a few weeks before, and the lady in the office audits them and keeps them in the safe. If we haven't got their passport on the day of the trip, they don't go it comes in the "I'm a daft parent clause" in the home school agreement (very small print!), no refund if they're THAT stupid!

    Travel sickness; have a big bag of mints and some OUST freshner, (the others are a bit heavy) It stops the other kids from vomiting as the smell of fresh sick hits them on the coach

    A few years ago on a Paris trip we paid the extra and had the full air conditioned, luxury coach. I do this every year now we run trip of about 75 students and it works out at about £4 a head. They have the DVD players to reduce the incidence of "are we there yet?!", and the aircon reduces our incidence of travel sickness.

    This is a brilliant trick to sell trips. You will need 1 keen, intelligent and half mature student with a digital camera and a 4 pack of Stella lager, or a bottle of Pinot Grigio, (other wines are available) Get the keen kid to fill a card with photos of the trip and download them onto your faculty area. Then take the alcoholic beverages to the ICT Faculty and get them to set the photos to music. (it may take an hour). Put this on a memory stick and then every parents evening, open evening, etc, laptop, speakers and a data projector... JOBS A GOOD UN. (Leicester phrase sorry!)

    The trips often don't fill when you have trickle effect payments. Therefore, set a deadline when you will "close" the trip. Have this maybe in a weeks time tops. This will keep the kids on the boil and pestering the parents, and the money will come in faster. Now you MAY be able after the deadline to extend it by one or two places , but to be honest anyone who's going to come will have the readies ready.

    SHOP AROUND!!!! The school down the road from us is paying £100 a head more for a trip of the same length without big extras we get eg free entry to eurodisney. Look at what the companies are offering, do you need a native speaking tour director? Remember you're reading this on an MFL teacher's forum!!!! If you don't need it look around and tell the companies the prices you're getting else where!!

    When you cost the trip, build in a fund for extras eg Teacher's coffees, Sam loses his wallet and needs to borrow some cash, Josh is doing Parcour half way up the eiffel tower and you need to send Mrs Bloggs up to get him down etc. Again it's VERY embarassing at the pre-trip evening to ask for extra cash from parents.

    If you have any problem or anything you're not happy about ring your SMT contact. A few years ago there was a girl who's mum had dropped her off on a trip and gone on holiday. The girl's behaviour was so bad I needed to send her home but the girl claimed ther was no-one to look after her. On ringing SMT I was told that no-one does that to Teachers at our school who take trips and if the girl didn't give her contact details she'd be declared an abandoned child, taken back to our home town and left in the care of the local constabulary, (she "suddenly" remebered her dad's number)! Another time a student was playing "chicken" with axes, the Head came to find me at 6am in woods in the middle of nowhere about a 2 hour drive from the school to support me. If you make a decision that you're concerned or unsure of, tell the SMT and they will field for you back at school, or give you good advice.

    Remember, when the brown stuff hits the whirly thing, often there isn't a "right" decision, only a least "wrong" one, so long as you are acting in the children's best interests you'll be looked after. Don't worry about how you got to the situation, only about what you will do now. EVERYONE makes mistakes, and this is recognised.

  7. Hi!
    Thanks for the excellent advice regarding trips. We too are having lots of kids dropping out of trips. The days of 'waiting lists' are long gone it seems!
    A plea to anyone reading this: Does anyone have copies of worksheets they use for KS3 visits to France that I could beg steal or borrow?! We are doing a new trip to Lille and Bruges Christmas markets and Ypres.
    Thank you
  8. I've done 27 long stay trips in 31 years usually to the south of France/ Rheinland etc. Now we can't go in term time (like 1 day off to give us a head start). So the simple answer is don't do them and let the parents ask why. How I ever did so many flummoxes me to this day. NUT recommends not doing trips in this particular climate.
    Fortunately, schools in France and Germany seem not to be bound by various strictures. They want to do exchange visits but here we are bound by so many regulations, it's just not worth it. Even tho the foreign families are vetted by their school, we mustn't send our kids there, even tho our staff are living almost next door.
    I just wonder what sort of kids we are bringing up.....unadventurous, suspicious, fearful spring to mind and unable to make a sound judgement about adults.
    I did an exchange trip in 1973 to Paris. Not for 4 days or one week but 3 weeks at Easter. From newcastle to Paris, St Maur des Fosses) My parents didn't have a phone (I'm from Geordieland but wasn't unusual) and we wrote letters. I was out on a mobylette with my French mate having a ball and a great experience. (Oh my god health and safety) Loved every minute. And because my parents knew I loved languages and could speak well at 13, they made me go, or at least strongly encouraged me.I remember the excitement of getting that visitors passport. It was a big deal. I was going to travel! I really became another person on that trip. I'm still in touch with my French partner. Big big thanks to his family and to mine for being adventurous and changing my life. Unforgettable stuff.
  9. That's interesting. I stopped doing that 3/4 years ago I was so tired of form filling and stamping green cards etc. I now ask for parents to give me their son's daughter's passport a week before the trip. has always worked well
  10. This is a great thread!
    I don't do a parents' meeting anymore, as I got fed up them asking inane questions. I now have a booklet with all the essential information and contact numbers included; it goes in the post to the parents, with my work email, so they can email me with any questions - much less hassle.
  11. Great info there much appreciated. Just wondering what sort of contingency fund to build in to the cost of the trip. I'm planning a 16pax (+3) trip to Barcelona in March 2012, with cramming in as much as possible the cost is hitting a little high at around 370 per person. I was thinking of building a 10% contingency fund into it (I did the same for London but that only cost £150pp for three days). If anyone has thoughts on this? Whether it's too much or not...

  12. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Sounds about right to me. Hope you've asked for a high deposit so kids don't drop out.
    This thread is really good, I've picked up some good advice I hadn't thought of before. After my first trip I did a checklist to help me remember what to do and by when for the next year, and it's really helped. I'd suggest you do the same if it's going to be a repeat trip, it helps calm the nerves and that awful "have I forgotten anything" feeling...
  13. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I'd recommend not planning it all by yourself. It really helps to have someone else's critical eye, particularly when it comes to the money. Then you won't end up somehow paying for the coach twice.....
  14. lifereallyistooshort

    lifereallyistooshort New commenter

    I second Geekie's advice re getting another pair of eyes to look over the arrangements. It's easy to omit a detail in a letter or get the figures wrong. 10% contingency is about right. It may sound a lot, but having money in hand to cover emergency tickets/arrangements is important. If all goes well and you still have plenty of money left at the end of the trip it can be nice to treat the pupils to an extra meal out or ice creams etc- especially if they've run out of cash by this point.
    Depending on the rules at your school, it may be possible to refund some money to parents after the trip - always a bonus in their eyes!
    Another suggestion is to create a group email with all the parents' email addresses (most do now have email) which can be used to send a quick message to confirm the safe arrival of the group. Particularly useful if you are in a significantly different time zone. It can also be used in the run-up to the trip to confirm last - minute bits and pieces without the need for too many phone calls or another letter home.
  15. Just regarding the deposit... if the trip costs £400 is it unreasonable to ask for £200 up front? We normally ask for 50% deposits upfront but it seems excessive, especially only a month or so into the term by the time the trip is publicised... thoughts again. Many thanks to all who have contributed to this thread (years ago especially!).
  16. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    Thank you, lifereallyistooshort, for that very inportant consideration which hadn't occurred to me... a student may need to come home early or otherwise separately from the main party. A Collective Passport would indeed then present a problem.
    I think I'll stay with individual passports, bearing that in mind.
  17. I'm definitely asking for a higher deposit this year - some parents seem to have no idea how inconvenient it is when the child casually mentions in a lesson that they're not going on the trip anymore...
    I don't use telephone trees anymore, they're more trouble than they're worth. Whilst at the parents' evening (and I do still hold one, I think it's useful for parents to put a face to a name and they would respond better if I had to call home about behaviour) I ask them for a mobile number - then if we are late I text them on the school mobile.
    Have never done collective passports myself but I definitely collect them in a week in advance. But as mentioned above, the minute they ask me to do the trip in my holiday will be the minute I stop doing them - and the parents can ask the Head why.
  18. Hello,
    This is really interesting and useful, thanks for all the information.
    I am in touch with a secondary school teacher in France who is keen to organise an exchange. For some reason, I thought the government was simplifying/amending the procedure for checking host families, in order to encourage exchanges again. Anyone heard of that?

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