Professional learning

Life Lessons Learned on Tour: Time Management

Picture this. You have just finished dinner with your group in the city center. Your tour director walks you and your group to the pickup location and tells everyone they have 45 minutes to explore before the bus arrives. He or she cautions you all to be on time, explaining that the bus is only allowed to pull over for a few minutes while everyone hops on, and any late-comers will disrupt the pickup process.

Fast forward to an hour later. Some of your group members are not yet at your meeting location and the bus driver is in the middle of making his or her third loop in an attempt to not get a ticket while waiting for the stragglers. You and the Tour Director are stressed out and the rest of the group is getting grumpy. Sound like a situation you want to experience? I think it’s safe to assume your answer is no.

Time management is an essential part of a smooth tour experience, but you may discover that some of your travelers need a quick lesson in this life skill before leaving. On an EF student travel program, you can expect to cover a lot of ground. Throughout my years of traveling I have found that if time is not respected, everyone’s experience can be impacted. Save yourself a headache and follow these guidelines to help you prepare your students.


1. Don’t forget a watch! Require all of your travelers to travel with a watch (or a cell phone) at all times and be sure to set aside time for your group to set their gadgets to the right time together.

2. Work with the Tour Director and the other Group Leaders to reach a consensus on free time and meeting times. Advocate for your group’s needs, but always be willing to compromise.

3. Communicate meeting times with your group prior to letting them go off. Before splitting up, ask your group when they need to be back instead of just telling them. This ensures that they have processed the information.

4. It is helpful to “pad” the meeting time by 5-10 minutes. If the agreed meeting time is 1:00pm, tell your group to meet at 12:50pm. This will help ensure everyone is back and ready to go at the right time. It will also give you time to take attendance of your group without rushing.

5. If, you have a few travelers who are having trouble being on time, speak with them individually. Stress with them the importance of being on time and explain how their tardiness affects the entire group. If the problem persists, assign them to groups with some of your best time keepers.

My main piece of advice? Take care of timeliness issues as soon as they happen, so it doesn’t become an unnecessary point of contention!

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