Kay is a Middle School Spanish World Cultures Teacher. She first traveled with EF on a Costa Rica tour in 2009 and has been leading student groups every Summer since. Kay believes that students should experience travel to help broaden their perspectives and allow them to see firsthand how tolerant, global and open-minded we should all strive to become.
Spring break is just around the corner and chances are packing questions are at an all-time high. Supporting your travelers through the packing process is an important step in ensuring they get the most out of their tour experience. Hint: in my many years taking my community abroad, no one ever returned home from a tour wishing they had packed more.
On tour one should be prepared to do a lot of walking and jump from hotel to hotel as you explore new cities and even countries. A heavy suitcase can weigh you down, literally. So how can you help your travelers determine what items are “musts” and which items they can survive without? (No, 5 pairs of shoes do NOT fall in the “must have” category!) Ensure your students pack the right stuff by providing a detailed checklist with specifics so they know how to prepare for departure. Some of the absolute must-haves include a solid pair of shoes with good support (break them in ahead of time because you will be doing a lot of walking) and layers for when it gets chilly at night. For additional inspiration and guidance, I would recommend that you take a look at EF’s version and then add to it based on any special free-time plans and specific weather considerations depending on the time of your travel.
That being said, don’t rely solely on a packing list to entice your students to pack light. In my final departure meeting I always bring a large suitcase loaded up with heavy items and ask them to walk around with the bag in hand. Usually after a few minutes it is enough to make students think twice about their personal packing list. If that doesn’t do the trick, incentives are always a good fall back! I always have a “Lightest Bag Contest” where we weigh all of the luggage at the airport during check-in. The winner gets a fun bag of snacks and goodies to enjoy on the flight to our destination!
Hopefully after reading this post you are one step closer to feeling confident and prepared to travel with your students! It is normal for the number of questions you are asked to skyrocket in the few days leading up to the trip. If you are ever in a pinch, encourage your travelers to check out EF’s Help Center, and of course, to give EF a call at 1800-665-5364. Enjoy your travels!