Educator profile

A travel program that benefits teachers and students

Group Leader Laura C. tells us about her travel program for high school students

Laura C.  |  Group Leader, OH


“Kids like what they like,” says EF Group Leader Laura C., and it’s possible truer words have never been spoken. (It certainly feels that way when they order pizza every chance they get, anyway.) For a group of travel-minded teachers at her high school in Ohio, it’s also one of the main motivators for working together to offer students a wide variety of educational tours to choose from.

“It’s broadened the pool of students that is interested in travel,” Laura, a Spanish teacher, says of presenting a range of travel possibilities. Currently her school has eight teachers scheduled to lead six tours over the next two years. With a wider selection of destinations, subject matters, and tour types on the table, they’re likely to catch the eye, and interest, of more kids.

Taking a (very cold) swim break while working on a local school in the Dominican Republic during a Service Learning tour.

Nurturing a culture of travelers

While the options are robust, their travel program for high school students isn’t necessarily something Laura or her fellow educators think of as any kind of formal undertaking. Which is perfectly fitting for the organic roots of its origin. Laura first traveled with EF in 1999 on a trip to Spain, joining other teachers in her department who’d traveled before. Once her own children were older, she joined another tour to Spain in 2011 and quickly decided to start leading her own trips.

She’d been bitten by the travel bug. But it wasn’t just that. Within her school, older teachers acted as mentors, taking Laura under their wing to show her how to use travel to make an impact on students. Thanks to their guidance, she slowly took the reins, along with a few other teachers, continuing the tradition of travel within their school.

Now she’s found that she’s the one passing along knowledge to the next generation of teachers at her school. (Although, she certainly has no intention of slowing her own travel plans any time soon.) When a few younger teachers from the social studies department wanted to take a World War II tour, they came to Laura with questions, and she was happy to help. “I’m a big fan of, don’t recreate the wheel,” she says. “Take what I have and make it your own, but you don’t need to start from scratch.”

Laura shared the whole file that she’s built over the years, including materials she distributes, agendas for various meetings, forms for families to fill out—the whole shebang. “Sometimes it’s trial by fire, right? But if I can help somebody from making some of the same mistakes that I made, then I’m happy to share my knowledge,” she says.

Institutional knowledge isn’t the only benefit for teachers who are part of a travel program for high school students. EF’s Global Rewards Program makes it easy to earn big benefits just by traveling. And with EF School Points, the points grow hand in hand with an expanding lineup of travel options within your school. As your school starts taking more trips, every teacher who leads tours earns bonus points, and those points multiply exponentially with every tour your school adds. That puts teacher-only travel to exciting destinations, like Bali and Tanzania, or even more student travel within reach sooner.

Working together to explore the world

But what could a travel program look like? The informal structure Laura and her colleagues have adopted works well for them. The teachers don’t follow a rigid process. Each one finds destinations or tours that connect to their interests or curriculum independently. But they’re all conscious not to overwhelm families with too many options at a given time. So, they come together in the fall and talk about their plans before finalizing anything, making sure they’re traveling to different parts of the world and exploring different interests.

Coming out of that meeting they have a four-year roadmap, which they turn into a flyer that families can use to start planning and saving. Their process has naturally led them to settle on a loose odd-year/even-year schedule. Language teachers typically lead Language and Culture tours one year, and social studies teachers lead tours with a historical focus the next. For her part, Laura has developed a passion for leading Service Learning tours, which tend to slot in a little more freely. The teachers have found those tours typically attract a different, broader group of students.

In addition to coordinating the broader schedule, Laura and her fellow teachers share information and pointers on things they’re trying. They sit in on each other’s meetings and help cross promote tours for one another during class. They even pass along the latest info from their shared Tour Consultant, so not everyone has to communicate with him separately.

Opening more opportunities for travel

Most importantly, Laura and her colleague’s travel program means more options for a wider number of students. A school trip to Italy might resonate with a student who loves history. And a tour of France might sound like a dream come true to kids with a growing interest in language. But the more trips they can make available, the more interests they can speak to.

“By offering multiple trips, you find more kids,” Laura explains. “You’re going to pull kids in on the fringes that were maybe thinking about travel but weren’t really crazy about my itinerary. The more trips you offer, the more opportunities that you have to get kids involved who want to travel.”

With four tours planned for 2022 and two on the books for 2023, there’s a tour that speaks to almost every student in the school. By coming together, embracing each other’s passion for travel, and collaborating on a way to maximize the opportunity of travel, Laura and her colleagues are creating lifelong memories for as many students as possible.

Unlock EF School Points

The bottom line: your points are going to pile up fast. We explain exactly how more teachers leading more tours benefits every Group Leader.

Learn more

A travel program starter kit

A travel program for high school students starts with variety. Once you offer a second option, you’ve got yourself a program. Then you can grow it from there. Check out these tour types that broaden the appeal to even more students.


Hands-on tours and real-world applications? Taking part in innovative opportunities and learning from real-world experts? STEM tours offer your students an immersive deep dive.

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Service Learning

Roll up your sleeves and work with established nonprofits and locals on community-driven projects to get inspired by the kind of progress you can see, and the kind of change you can feel.

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Language and Culture

From in-depth conversations with locals over dinner to ordering coffee in another language for the first time, students will experience the world in a new way and find their voices abroad.

View tours

Most Popular

This group of tours will take you to some of the world’s most famous cities and iconic landmarks. Let’s just say they’re popular for a reason.

View tours

Jake Minton

Jake is a copywriter at EF. His bucket list includes (but is by no means limited to) snowboarding in Japan, exploring the streets of Nairobi, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.