Emily is a high school Spanish teacher who first started traveling with EF in 2006. She is passionate about providing her students with first-hand global experiences and helping new group leaders successfully plan tours for their students. In this series, Life Lessons on Tour, Emily shares the wisdom and practical knowledge that she has gained from traveling over the past ten years.
Life on tour is a complex combination of many different enriching experiences. Obviously there are the amazing sights that fill each day with wonder. Other experiences include traveling with your friends, tasting new foods, and learning from the incredible Tour Directors and amusing Local Guides. But oftentimes, the less discussed and more enriching experiences are the life skills that students learn from traveling abroad.
For many students, these tours serve as the first time they’ve traveled without their parents and are away from home for an extended period of time. In addition to being away from home, this also means you’ll need to address the topic of roommates.
It is very likely that the majority of your student travelers will not have experienced sharing a room with anyone other than their family members. So how do you help manage this? Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
- Re-explain the rooming process in every meeting. Over the years I have found that the more you tell participants and families how rooming works on tour, the less you will hear, “I didn’t know that” once you are on tour.
- Encourage students to connect with people on the trip that they don’t know that well. This can be accomplished by having regular meetings prior to departure. I would suggest at least bi-monthly meetings in the beginning and then monthly meetings 5 months prior to leaving. Providing time for students to get together and get to know one another before tour, while in the familiarity of their hometown will help create closer bonds on tour.
- Allow students the ability to give rooming preferences with the expectation that these are just requests and not guarantees. Requests will help you pair people up and make check in at the hotel much smoother.
- Talk about the types of rooms and accommodations they can expect on tour. If you have traveled before, show pictures from previous trips. If this is your first time traveling on an EF tour, ask your Tour Consultant for pictures.
- Discuss how to handle two room keys, or showering schedules (at night versus morning), and how to be respectful of others by not keeping roommates up all night if they prefer to sleep.
- While on tour make sure that participants know they can always go to you, or any chaperone if there is an issue. Let them know ahead of time that it is always much easier to take care of something when it is still minor. But also, keep in mind that while an issue may seem minor to you, it can be a huge deal to someone else.
This is an excellent introduction to living with others, especially for students who are heading off to college. Encourage them to embrace these new experiences and explain that they will help prepare them for bigger challenges down the road!