Several years ago I traveled with a group of 30 students from central Indiana to Orlando, Florida. It was a great trip, but a few things caused me a real headache. If I knew then what I am sharing now, I could have saved myself a lot of grief.
My main concern before the trip was a student named Steve. He was a real “charmer” and a big “schemer” and I knew it. I guess I just did not know how clever he was and how clever students can be. Now I do and you can too.
Steve spent his nights in the hotel in his room. However, he was using his time to call “ladies” and ran up a phone bill of $60! There were other things he was guilty of, but that is an entirely different subject. I did learn from Steve and others and now when I travel with students, I am much wiser.
One of the first things to do when traveling with students that requires a hotel stay is to request that the phones where the students are staying are turned off. This is a common request and should be followed religiously every time you stay.
The next thing to do is to have the “pay per view” movies turned off. In today’s society there are a huge range of rules that parents use in their homes. However, very rarely do those rules allow for watching adult movies. Trust me, if there is a way for some to watch these movies (or even R-rated) they will and you may never know about it until the principal calls you in asking you about an incident you never knew about! If the hotel cannot do this, find a different place to stay.
The next thing is to make sure you and your group stays in a hotel with interior corridors and NO BALCONIES. Students will try to climb out for fun and will attempt to go from room to room regardless of how dangerous it may obviously be. Some kids will try anything! The interior corridors make it easy to monitor kids moving from room to room.
Next, make sure that if there are connecting rooms that each room has students of the same gender! I actually had one teacher tell me at our business that they “did not care” if guys and gals were in adjoining rooms because she “trusted them”. How smart was she?
Have and enforce a curfew. This is never popular but will ensure that students are as rested as possible for the next day’s activities. Plus, make sure they are not playing the TV or music beyond the curfew. Once again, not popular but effective. Without question the more structured rules that are in place, the happier everyone will be because they know what is expected-and they will respond.
A few final tips include hiring night security or a hall monitor. Most student travel companies will provide these upon request if you travel with one, however if you make your own arrangements, don’t expect the hotel to have one for you. There is an extra fee (about $23/hour) for such services but they will allow you to sleep and not sit in the halls watching the rooms. And, it will allow you to not use the old trick of “taping” the doors every night.
If your crew likes to swim, make sure that the hotel has a pool and know its capacity. Plus, most hotels DO NOT PROVIDE a lifeguard. It is important that you monitor your kids while they are in the pool. Plus, to make for an enjoyable experience for everyone, make your kids behave while in the pool area. As a parent, I have been to many hotels where student groups were being obnoxious in the pool area and my children missed out in their favorite activity!