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Feed your wanderlust as you get back to school after winter break

As you get back to school after winter break, we hope you’re feeling rested and relaxed—and of course—ready to give your students even more life-changing opportunities to explore the world. Whether you’re gearing up for an EF tour in the next few months or interested in planning a student travel adventure in 2023 or beyond, we’re here to keep fueling your wanderlust until you take flight.

To get started, below are 10 things to look forward to on your next EF tour.

Papiro, a career fisherman who works with Verde Profundo, one of EF’s Service Learning partners in the Dominican Republic


Meeting new faces in new places

The best part of going anywhere is the people you meet along the way. People like Papiro, a career fisherman who works with Verde Profundo, one of EF’s Service Learning partners in the Dominican Republic. Together with the organization, he helps protect and restore coral reefs and mangroves—something students on our Marine Conservation in the Dominican Republic tour get to do, too. (P.S. If you’re looking for a conservation-focused project students can do as soon as they return back to school after winter break, encourage them to plant trees in a local park or organize monthly beach cleanups.)

Watch Papiro’s video

As students get back to school after winter break, inspire their wanderlust with tales of ferris wheels in Zurich


Having the best day ever

As your students get back to school after winter break, they might need something extra exciting to look forward to. And what’s more exciting than having the literal best day ever? To help them see just how unique and personally fulfilling their tour can be, encourage them to read about another student’s favorite day in Switzerland. From sipping coffee at charming cafes to paddleboating on Lake Zürich, high-schooler Maddie G. enjoyed plenty of quintessential Swiss activities. But, she also enjoyed a a few not-so-typical highlights, like riding a Ferris wheel. That probably isn’t on most people’s list of must-do Zürich activities, but she and her friends were glad they decided to give it a spin. Why? Because they chose their own adventure—and were rewarded with a different perspective on their new favorite city.

Read about Maddie’s best day ever

As students return back to school after winter break, encourage them to read about another student's best day ever in Zurich, Switzerland


Real-world learning, out in the real world

This past July, Amy B. and Jordan B.—two high school science teachers and first-time Group Leaders—departed on the EF tour Explore Iceland: North and South with nine of their students. From hiking glaciers to seeing waterfalls and visiting hot springs, Amy and Jordan’s Zoom lessons finally came to life. STEM concepts really clicked for their students in immersive, hands-on ways that are tough to replicate through online learning.

Jordan says the tour felt like a “breath of fresh air.” Yes, because the air in Iceland is clean and crisp, but more so because this was the first time she and her students had the chance to be together in a very long time. They got to experience incredible, once-in-a-lifetime activities. But just as excitingly? They got to enjoy normal activities again—things like simply interacting in-person and eating new foods other than the kinds they’d make at home. This made the tour feel even more special. As Jordan says, “It felt ordinary, but in an extraordinary way.”

Amy also explained that she hadn’t seen her students so excited in a very long time. And, like on any EF tour, both teachers got to watch their students gain more independence, form lasting friendships with each other, learn more about themselves and their place in the world, and have a whole lot of fun.

Read Amy and Jordan’s full story

A beautiful waterfall in Panama serves as inspiration for students getting back to school after winter break


Picture-perfect views that aren’t on a screen

Nothing compares to seeing breathtaking places like Panama in-person. But if you just need something to hold you over until you get to visit, you can check out EF’s photo essay.

See the Panama photo essay


Hosting virtually flawless parent meetings

As you return back to school after winter break, know that online parent meetings aren’t going anywhere. They provide tons of benefits—like letting Group Leaders record the session for anyone who missed it. Want more helpful tips? Our Global Education Ambassadors (a.k.a. experienced Group Leaders who love helping other teachers) shared their favorite ideas so you can hit the virtual ground running.

Get more Group Leader tips

We had a call with our Tour Director, who taught us an Irish song. It really made the idea of the trip come alive!

–Kim L., Group Leader from Arizona

Encourage students to read Duncan's story once they return back to school after winter break


Empowering students to expand their horizons

Meet Duncan, a high-schooler from Tucson, Arizona. Prior to joining his school’s EF tour, he had only traveled to countries in his hemisphere. But then he went somewhere a little different with EF. He made his way to Europe, where he hit up Parisian cafes, ate Belgian waffles, and walked a mile in Dutch clogs (metaphorically speaking). His tour changed the way he looks at the world, and by extension, himself.

/ EF: Was there anything that took you out of your comfort zone?

/ Duncan: When I went to Paris, I didn’t speak French—though I had practiced merci in my head for a long time. So, when we decided to visit the catacombs, it was tough for us to navigate the Metro since it was all in French. But we got there, and it was really interesting. A little scary, but completely safe. I felt really confident when we were done.

/EF: Did you learn anything about yourself?

/Duncan: I think when you travel anywhere and you’re there long enough, there’s a point when everything starts to feel normal for you. When I was in Amsterdam, I started to feel really comfortable after a couple days. It was really nice, being in a foreign place but feeling almost at home. I learned that I really like that moment when you start to feel more integrated into daily life somewhere new, and it’s nice to know that I can get to that point. I didn’t know that before.

Read Duncan’s full interview


Parents who simply get it

Nikki M. is one of our Parent Ambassadors from West Virginia. She has so much passion for traveling abroad and confidence in the impact it’s had on her son, Nicholas, you’d be forgiven for assuming they’ve been on a long list of EF tours. But really, her energy stems from a single tour. That’s all it took.

When a teacher at Nicholas’ school announced an opportunity for students to take a trip to Greece, the family was all ears. During an information session, Nikki realized she could join the tour as a chaperone and signed right up. She’s glad she had the chance to see Nicholas experience life outside the country for herself. “It was exciting, but then it was also touching and emotional. We experienced it all together. I got to see his interaction with classmates, them taking in the sights and the language and trying different foods.”

The effects on Nicholas weren’t limited to the trip itself, either. Once they returned home, Nikki says “he was even more self-aware and more sensitive to others who are of a different ethnicity, different culture, different background. He was more willing to try different things.”

Up next, Nikki’s whole family is signed up to travel with EF to the Alps and Mediterranean coast in 2022. Part of the reason she felt confident taking all her kids was because of how thoroughly her Group Leader and EF staff were able to handle important details that would allow her son Marcus, who requires a wheelchair, to have the experience.

Nikki knows her sons will gain valuable perspective from seeing a new part of the world. As she says, “I’m an advocate for people stepping outside the box of where they’re from. Getting the experience, getting the cultural diversity and awareness of people who are not like you, is important.”

Read Nikki’s full story

Tour Director Artin loves telling students about Greece when they return back to school after winter break


Breaking bread with the world’s best travel buddies

We’re talking about our incredible Tour Directors, of course. One we especially can’t wait to see (and share a gyro with)? That’s Artin from Greece. He’s been working with us and sharing his love for his homeland with travelers from around the world for over 10 years. And in that time, it’s safe to say he’s made an impact. Our travelers have described him as nurturing, engaging, and a ray of Grecian sunshine.

Watch Artin’s video


Connecting with other (awesome) teachers

We love bringing EF educators together, whether that’s to discuss tour promotion tips or simply to meet a new best friend. One of the latest ways we’re connecting teachers is through our EF One on One video series. Here, teachers with different travel experiences come together to talk about travel-based learning, EF’s focus on safety, and everything in between.

In one meet-up, experienced Group Leader Rhonda G. sits down with first-timer Mary Kate M. to discuss choosing the right travel partner. Rhonda explains that one of the reasons she’s led 18 tours with EF is due to the support she feels from the EF team. “They are the people who I trust,” she says to Mary Kate.

While our expert Tour Consultants are always here to answer first-time Group Leaders’ questions, sometimes it’s more helpful for newly traveling teachers to speak with educators who have been in the same situation. That’s what the One on One series is all about. As Mary Kate says to Rhonda, “This experience of talking with you has been my moment of ‘Okay, I made the right decision.’”

Check out the full series


Packing up and heading out!

This is one of the last steps travelers take before heading out the door—and we have a feeling the mere experience of packing a bag is going to mean so much more in the coming months. One fresh tip: Stash a few oranges in your carry-on. The scent of citrus masks funky airplane smells, and they double as a great snack.

See more packing tips from staff

Find even more to look forward to

A version of this article was published in our latest brochure. Sign up to receive a free copy, and get excited for even more travel stories, must-read tips, and stunning photography as you get back to school after winter break.

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Sarah McLaughlin

Sarah is a senior copywriter at EF Education First. When she isn’t writing, you can find her browsing through bookshops, trying to cook, or going to improv class (which is basically just an excuse for adults to play make-believe).