students traveling the world before back to school season

Destination guide

Six travel highlights to build excitement for back-to-school season

Happy Back to School season, teachers! 🥳 Whether you’re packing your bags for an upcoming tour with us or dreaming about adventures in 2024, the verdict from a busy summer of travel is in: EF tours are back on the road and just as impactful as ever.

To celebrate a new year full of fresh starts, cross-cultural collaboration, and endless learning, we’re looking back on six standout stories from our past year out in the world.


Exploring multicultural hubs

Here at EF, we deeply believe everyone can and should experience the life-changing impact of educational travel, and we’re dedicated to making sure all students feel that EF tours are for them. However, our Group Leaders helped us realize that we needed to do more. They have always been influential in holding us accountable, reaching out to their Tour Consultants to advocate for tours that both appeal to and represent their communities and also highlight a wider variety of views.

Madrid, Paris & London: The Multicultural Experience was created out of conversations with subject-matter specialists and educators from several different geographic, racial, socioeconomic, and academic backgrounds. From Moorish contributions evident in Spanish architecture, to Paris’ adoption of Jazz music, to the rich history of African and Caribbean descended people in London, each city is not only tied to the Black experience, but also has thriving Black communities today.

A traveler learning about different cultures as they prepare for back to school season

An itinerary born from a desire for greater diversity among EF’s travelers, their on-tour experiences, and the stories they hear abroad.

As Roger P., a former teacher and current EF Partnerships Manager says, “It’s important for African American students—and all students—to see Black people living all over the world. It’s important for them to gain exposure to our cousins across the pond to realize there are many chapters to the narrative of the African diaspora. Like any EF tour, this experience is just a sampling. But I hope students come back with the desire to learn more.”

Explore how EF staff, educators, and students built this tour →


Meet Brian, an expert local guide

When you travel on an EF tour, you’re bound to meet some pretty incredible people along the way. While your Tour Director is with you 24/7, you’ll also spend time sightseeing with a local expert, like Brian. An American who fell in love with Paris, he’s like a personal dictionary for the city—he knows everything there is to know about the landmark, neighborhood, or museum you’re visiting. And while he went through quite a bit of schooling to secure his status as an expert, he still finds a way to learn something new every day.

It’s like I’m discovering Paris again for the first time when I look through the eyes of the students I lead. They’re generally so open and excited about everything, and that makes my job incredibly fulfilling.

So once you’re settled into the back-to-school season and are planning an EF trip to Paris (like Paris, Strasbourg & Lyon), you might meet Brian—or at the very least, another local guide who knows just as much as he does.

Read our full Q&A with Brian →

Teacher Laura C. poses with students on tour before back to school season

Group Leader Laura C., in pink, poses with her students on tour.


Building a (literally) rewarding travel program

For Laura C., a Group Leader from Ohio, joining forces with other travel-minded teachers in her school to offer a wide variety of EF tours has broadened the pool of students who are interested in travel. So with eight teachers scheduled to lead six tours over the next two years, there’s something that speaks to almost every student in her school.

Plus, Laura and her colleagues are earning seriously big benefits with EF’s Global Rewards Program. As Group Leaders enroll students on tour, they earn Global Rewards Points that can be redeemed for travel scholarships, educator-only trips, and more. And with EF School Points, the more trips Laura’s school takes, the more bonus points each teacher who leads tours earns. By coming together and collaborating on a way to maximize the opportunity of travel, Laura and her team are creating lifelong memories for as many students as possible.

Learn more about Laura’s rewarding travel program →


Breaking ground and transforming communities in Peru

In March 2022, 18 high school students and their Group Leader Darlene traveled on Exploring Culture, Art & Service in Peru. Working with Awamaki, an organization that partners with Andean women to create economic opportunity, they were the first EF Service Learning tour to break ground on a new knitting and weaving center in the small town of Patacancha. Upon reflecting on her experience, student Adriana D. says, “In the future, when the building’s completed, we can look back and know we helped start the process.”

Students breaking ground on a new weaving center in Peru during back to school season

1/3 “Once we arrived, we got straight to work with excavating a perimeter. Using pickaxes, shovels, sweat, and teenage willpower, we worked with the members of the village to create a noticeable dent in the Earth.” – Bailey J., student

Local Patacancha residents teaching students about responsible travel during back to school season

2/3 While students got their hands dirty, they learned about responsible travel and rural Peruvian life firsthand from Patacancha’s residents.

Students learned how local Peruvian women create yarn before back to school season

3/3 Once work was finished for the day, Darlene and her group learned how local women create yarn from alpaca fur.

1/3 “Once we arrived, we got straight to work with excavating a perimeter. Using pickaxes, shovels, sweat, and teenage willpower, we worked with the members of the village to create a noticeable dent in the Earth.” – Bailey J., student

2/3 While students got their hands dirty, they learned about responsible travel and rural Peruvian life firsthand from Patacancha’s residents.

3/3 Once work was finished for the day, Darlene and her group learned how local women create yarn from alpaca fur.


Turning travel dreams into reality

Student Jenny G. always wanted to see the world but never thought she’d actually be able to do it. Not, that is, until she became a freshman at Indio High School in California and learned that her math teacher was leading a tour to Japan.

EF: How do you feel your tour experience has opened new doors or helped you grow?

Jenny: My tour has helped me grow in almost every single way possible. It’s helped me see the world with a new perspective and learn about different cultures. And it’s given me the travel bug—I’ve now signed up for every single trip that our school has offered. Before my tour, I never thought travel was for me, because I grew up in an area where that opportunity just wasn’t given to me. But now, I know I can go anywhere I want to. And I want to give that opportunity to other people and let them know they have the chance to travel, too.

Student Jenny arrives in Japan on her tour before back to school season

Jenny arriving in Japan on her 2019 EF tour.

EF: How did you and your group handle travel costs?

Jenny: My mom was more comfortable with letting me go because EF gives us the chance to pay bi-weekly or monthly. Also, my teacher offered a lot of different fundraising opportunities. She was always on our side, helping us with templates for donation letters or holding time to talk about other fundraising ideas. We were always thinking outside the box.

EF: What were some of the fundraisers you participated in?

Jenny: One of our chaperones is a ceramics teacher, and she helped us create little plates and place card holders to sell. We also sold tickets for things like car washes and food. I’d just keep asking for more tickets so I could keep selling them. EF’s online donation page also helped a lot, because I could create letters and emails that would link off to it.


Hear more about Jenny’s journey →


Ask a Group Leader

Want more details on what it feels like to be out in the world as you gear up for back-to-school-season? We connected with EF Group Leaders who recently traveled with us to see what it’s like. Here’s what a few had to say:

You have all these ‘what-ifs’ and anxious feelings about traveling for the first time during a pandemic—and then when you’re there, travel truly does feel like before.

Erin S., Group Leader from Georgia, traveled to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands in February 2022

I would say [to my former Group Leader self], ‘Just relax.’ EF’s got this. They’ve always had our back. So let the kids have fun.

Lisa W., Group Leader from Delaware, traveled to Costa Rica in January 2022

Trust that this experience is still going to be just as impactful for students as it was before. If any teacher can take one thing away from me, it’s that your students are still going to have those life-changing moments on tour.

Brady R., Group Leader from Indiana, traveled to Italy in October 2021

Tell us your own travel story

We’re always in the business of sharing stories from our travel-loving community. Send yours in to [email protected] (bonus points for photos!) and your experience could be featured in our blog, ultimately inspiring more teachers to try educational travel.

Maddie Poulin

Maddie is a copywriter at EF. She loves dissecting movies and TV shows, making playlists for every mood, staying active, and dreaming about her next trip.

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