Lee M. is a principal in Canada who teaches English literature and first traveled with EF in 2005. He firmly believes that traveling is best when it is a shared experience whether that be an individual traveler seeking local cultural immersion, or a teacher leading a group of wide-eyed students.
“I am a part of all that I have met” – Tennyson, Ulysses
Why do we travel? To learn, to embrace, to explore and to expand our understanding. It’s a personal thing. It’s a human thing. In my opinion, the experience is often best when we share it with others. The wondrous sights of the world can be deeply moving and can evoke unexpected feelings and emotions. Yet, these emotions and feelings can be amplified when they’re shared with others, both within your traveling group, and especially in the company of people you don’t know (just a friend you haven’t met yet, remember that saying?) that you’re on tour with.
Traveling with new people is part of the adventure
Which brings me to a point of realization…traveling on a combined tour group comes with some built-in advantages over traveling on your own. One of my favorite parts of heading out on a tour is meeting and connecting with other groups who we are paired up with. I always look forward to traveling with other educators and students whose backgrounds and perspectives differ from mine. Whenever we visit an interesting sight, I not only see it with my own eyes, but through the other group’s perspective too. I’ve been on tour to Vatican City with fellow group members originally from Mexico, and let me tell you, witnessing my travel companions fall to their knees and openly weep as we stand in St. Peter’s Square doesn’t compare to just ticking something off a checklist of ‘must-see’ sights.
Sharing your culture brings your group together
Often I find myself asking, what do I bring to the party? If I am lucky enough to share in others’ moments, what do I have to offer? One of the best things you can offer your travel companions is your perspective and background that shapes your views of the world. Your fellow travelers deserve your attention, your hospitality and your openness, and, in return, the incredible connections, memories, laughs and those indescribable moments will ensure that your tour and experiences will be so much better as a result…I know mine have. In order to break the ice in the beginning, I usually bring along a little something from home for our partner group members and of course I also bring a lot of myself – stories, jokes and more.
Try this one tip before you go on tour
On every one of my tours, I make it a point to learn about the one place that each of my student travelers is most looking forward to seeing for the first time. I then do my best to be around that student whenever we reach that special destination. To all of us, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is breathtaking. I’ve been lucky enough to see it three times now. But there’s nothing like seeing someone else experience it for the first time. If you are lucky enough to travel with your students, you’ll know just how incredible it is to see for yourself.
Talk with an EF Tour Consultant today and learn how to build a student travel program in your community!