What is it like to travel with students with EF Tours?

So you want to travel with students?

Before you travel with students with EF Tours  (for free I might add!), you might think… What if I lose one? What if they annoy me? What if they hook up? I can’t be the only person with those thoughts, and I surely won’t be the last. I googled this exact question before my first trip, and I couldn’t find a solid answer. Before I took my students abroad, I had a lot of concerns. I love my kiddos, but let’s get real… kids can be stressful. Without that delightful buffer of the evening between school days, how could we survive?

1. These kids want to be there!

These little guys begged and pleaded. They convinced people to buy random crap that they were selling. They stood in the hot sun to wash the crap off of other people’s cars. They. Want. This. It’s a world of difference when kids actually want something and are motivated than the kids that are stuck in a room with you while you trick them into learning. And honestly, I think it’s really great to get students to work for it. I think it means more to them than if the parents just pay outright.

Costa Rica View Vista
Plus, being in beautiful places makes them want to see it too! Here’s a view from the restaurant!

2. Travel is way more fun than work

Most of the times that kids are a little naughty, it’s because they are bored and society tells them that they have ADD… but that’s a whole other rant. When they are traveling, there is so MUCH. To see. To do. To hear. To think about. To snap on SnapChat. To sleep through, haha. Generally, they are so busy just soaking it all in, that they hardly even have a second to be bad. But… you still gotta watch them. But because it’s more fun (and honestly, they’re a little nervous about it too), they are going to be close to you and the tour guide.

3. It brings back that childlike excitement

When I took my first set of kids, I was SO NERVOUS. I tried to act all confident; after all, I’d already been to 30 something countries at that point. But, I’d never had anyone else to worry about. On the flip, having these little kids totally charged up my own excitement. Besides obsessively counting them, I become more observant of the things that they observed. Most of them, it was their first time out of the country. Everything is fascinating to them. It brought back a time when it was my first time abroad, and that was really special. “You’re so right! How cool is that pack of gum!? Let’s eat it!”

Even beyond that for these kids, it was the first time they saw real poverty. We went to a school in Costa Rica, and they saw the facilities, resources, and lunch. The kids were very solemn after that. I think they saw how a lot of the things they worried about weren’t that big of a deal. Some of the kids even joined me in some community service after we got back.

So having them around brought back that special feeling when I first went abroad, and it was really exciting to see them mature right before my eyes.

Students visiting Costa Rican School
Here they are in a local classroom. It was cute watching them trying to practice their Spanish with the kids.

4. What if I lose one?

I was insanely concerned about this, but they were also nervous so they stick by you! Luckily with EF, you have a chaperone ratio of 6:1. A group of 6 is totally manageable. They always had to be in eyesight, but I’d give them small opportunities at independence (You can go to the other side of the store without me!). I made it clear that if they broke my confidence, they’d be holding my hand the rest of the trip. And it’s too hot and sticky to hold hands.

Alligator in the pool in Costa Rica
My kids were young so sometimes they’d be too scared to wander off alone anyway. Poor things thought this was real when our tour guide first mentioned Juanito in the pool!

5. What if they hookup?

Well, that’s a fair concern, because you can’t be awake all the time! In this case, offense is the best defense! Wait… or is it defense is the best offense? Clearly, I’m not a sports person! Either way, wear them out during the day! I had a kid my first trip, that fell asleep at the dinner table every night, bless his heart. Wear those kiddos out during the day and get them to bed early! At night, I’d play games with them until it got to be late, gave them 30 mins for shower time and then bed. There’s also the ol’ tape the door trick.

Leaf cutter Ants in Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica
I feel like this is a metaphor? Keep the kids busy…with…leaves?

6. This is not your vacation!

Man, did I make that mistake my first trip! I was all ready to kick back, relax on my King bed, and gaze at the glorious view I had of San Jose. I started to run a bath and no more than 5 minutes later, tiny fists were banging on my door. Honestly, I didn’t even know how they got there. My floor was “card protected,” so those little wizards were pretty industrious to get there. Turns out they didn’t know that their key card could be deactivated by their phones, which is why they came to me. It took a few times for them to figure that out. And that was just the first hour we arrived in Costa Rica!

Sigh.

The first night I thought I could go to bed when I told them to go to bed. False. I thought they could swim and behave at the pool when I went up to unpack. Negatory. They were running around the pool. Sigh. That’s when I instituted MANDATORY GAME NIGHT which they ended up loving and begging to play all the time. Even on the bus. You can read all about that on another post. Once I got my head in the game and realized I wasn’t on vacation-—they were—-things went easier. Where was I to tell myself that before??

Costa Rica beach Pacific Ocean
It sure does look like a vacation… but on this beach, we had to watch our stuff from the thieves! The raccoons and monkeys!

 

My biggest regret of my travel with students is that I didn’t start earlier. I didn’t take my first trip with kids until my 4th year! I did it once with Worldstrides and liked it, but I prefer EF. Not only are the teacher benefits ridiculous, but the tours are actually cheaper without a huge loss in quality. You can read about the differences between them on another post.

TLDR; Why EF Tours:

Take those kids abroad! Travel with students!  EFTours is the way to go. Please let me know if you’d like me to refer you, or if you signed up because of me. Yes, I get a little something something, but it’s at no cost to you and helps keep my blog going! I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love and use it myself!

Please comment below if you have other concerns, questions, or thoughts about travel with students!

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