For students

11 ways to get (and keep) students excited about travel

If you’re like us, you day dream of being “there,” no matter where “there” is. And if you’re really like us, you’re also thinking beyond the “there,” especially when it comes to planning a trip with your students. That’s why we’ve put together a list of culture-boosting activities for any classroom or travel club. Put the first half into motion before your group’s tour to build excitement in the months before take-off, and use the second half to keep that energy going once they return.

Create travel bucket lists

We all have goals, some more travel-y than others. As a group commit those goals to paper by making a list of what you’re hoping to see and experience on tour. Planning out what you want to do early can help students get excited before the trip, and stay satisfied after. Plus, checking off a list feels amazing.

Do a local photography challenge

Sharpen your behind-the-camera skills with a photo challenge. Give your students a list of local subjects to find and photograph. (Think: a neighborhood superhero or an iconic structure, for example.) The fastest to snap them all earns boasting rights.

Try a foreign restaurant nearby

Traveling somewhere really new? Before your trip, stop by a restaurant serving up that region’s cuisine to sample some new flavors. Consider it an ordering trial-run, extra practice with unfamiliar utensils, and/or a basis for comparison.

Lead a body language lesson

We know different cultures speak different languages. But it’s easy to forget that they may have different body language, too. With a quick YouTube search, you can find out how body language is used around the world and practice nonverbal communication with your students.

Do a Google Earth scavenger hunt

Choose the region your group will visit and find the coordinates for major historical sites and hidden gems in the area. Then task your students with finding them on Google Earth. This virtual exploration can get them familiar with the city or country you’re traveling to and add new places to visit to their list.

Try a suitcase challenge

Tightly pack a suitcase (the more unusual the items, the better—a pineapple? a bike helmet? a rotary telephone, perhaps?), then time your students as they unpack and then re-pack it themselves. It’ll come in handy when it’s time to pack their own bags, promise.


Have a souvenir show and tell

No matter where your group traveled, we know someone came back home with some cool trinkets. So ask your students to bring their favorite souvenir to a group meeting, and use it as an opportunity to reflect post-tour or to encourage more students to travel on your next adventure.

Hold an international flavor taste-test

Seaweed chips from Japan. *Authentic* Swedish fish. Salty plantains from the Dominican Republic. Chances are, if your students went out into the world, they may have found a new favorite snack. One they can find online and bring in for everyone to try, perhaps?

Host a music video watch party

Music aficionados, rejoice! Crowdsource foreign language music videos or song encountered abroad from your group and have a music video marathon. It’s extra fun if your video includes elaborate dance routines to practice.

Watch a themed documentary as a group

Take a deep dive into a topic you learned about abroad with a documentary night. For example, a visit to a rainforest pairs well with an episode of “Planet Earth.” Watch the documentary together, then lead a group discussion about it and their personal experiences with the topic.

Pair up with pen pals

Encourage students stay connected with the friends they made on tour, a.k.a. new pen pals. Whether they’re on another coast or at a school across town, it’s a good opportunity for students to see a different way of life, even if it’s close to home. And while we’re advocates for the fading art of writing letters, writing online is just as good.

Need more ideas?

Here are a few to get you started.

  • Lead an origami lesson
  • Play geography trivia
  • Have a Chinese New Year celebration
  • Discuss the EF Journal
  • Take a group cooking class
  • Watch a foreign language TV show
  • Celebrate Carnival (complete with masks, feathers, and food)
  • Explore the Guggenheim, virtually
  • Hold a Día de los Muertos celebration
Topics: For students

Nataly Baez

Nataly is a copywriter at EF Education First. She’s written for universities around the country and about countries around the world. On her off time, you can catch this Florida native riding her alligator through the cobblestone streets of Boston.

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