Your high school student wants to see the world, and her school offers several programs and clubs which incorporate some type of travel at some point during the school year. Of course you want to let her go and explore; but, there are dangers inherent in student travel. Use these tips to ensure that your child will truly have an enriching experience.
One of the first items you should ask when interviewing the travel company that will be hosting your student is what the company’s specific risk-management strategies and policies are. All instructors, at the very least, should be certified as Wilderness First Responders. They should also be very well-versed in the specific country or region in which your child will be visiting, and have qualified emergency service providers backing them.
Ask about the overall supervision while away. Will the students have free time in which there are no actual activities planned? Of all the dangers your child may face, the greatest lies within the behavior of other students with which your child will be traveling. Ask what they company’s policies are regarding drinking, hanging out “after hours,” etc. Of course, student travel companies will tell you they allow no risky behavior; if you are able to speak with students who have taken the same trip in the past, you’re more likely to get a bit more honesty.
Group Size and Number of Instructors
How many students will be attending this tour? How many qualified instructors will be there? A group of between ten and twelve students is ideal; however, anything above fifteen students tends to become not easily supervised. Not to mention that your biggest aim is to expose your child to culture that she can’t experience at home and having too many students and not enough instructors will give her a cookie-cutter encounter at best.
As for student-to-instructor ratios, 4-to-1 is solid, while 6-to-1 poses a threat, and anything greater than this is dangerously irresponsible. What if an instructor becomes ill? It is crucial that there is enough back-up to maintain the program’s integrity and the safety of the students attending.
When it comes to your child’s safety, don’t be afraid to ask the straight-to-the-point questions. When safety is no concern, your child will have the freedom to learn about the culture in which she is immersed.