Eagerly anticipating your next trip with ACIS? Of course you are! Whether your trip departure is on the horizon or more than a year away, traveling with students on an overseas adventure requires a great deal of preparation and planning. Confirming flights, passports, visas and itineraries are all on the travel to-do list, but what about heeding the advice of those who’ve boldly gone where you’re about to go? Who will you trust to impart travel wisdom? Never fear, the ACIS team is here (with advice!)
Our International Program Team is comprised of passionate travelers who have been there, done that, and can’t wait to do more. Not only do they listen to your educational goals, map your must-see list, and help you customize the perfect itinerary for your group – they’re seasoned travelers in their own right. They spend time “out there” each year, learning the hotels, bus routes and tour highlights. Count on them for answers, advice and worldly wisdom from start to finish!
The International Program Team also works closely with our Academic Travel Advisors – locally based ACIS representatives – who know the ins and outs of student travel because they themselves have worn the group leader hat. ATAs are teachers who previously or currently lead their own students on ACIS tours. These education aficionados span a vast majority of subjects, tenure and grade levels, with the plus of often being locally based. Their insight and experience act as a fantastic resource for teachers, students, and parents alike.
According to five members of our International Program Team, here’s what to remember while prepping to say bon voyage:
The most important travel tip I have learned, (it works when things are going perfectly as well as when those occasional hiccups arise), is to smile—it’s the one thing everyone in the world over can relate to.
– Alicia Fortier, Director of Relationship Management
See Everything, Eat Everything!
– Chad Stellmacher, International Program Consultant, West Coast
In the end all you really need is your passport. So pack light, and enjoy your journey!
– Heidi Petit, Regional Director of International Programs, Boston
Be open to chatting with strangers! (Safely and in public places, of course.) Some of my fondest memories are of connections I’d made with other travelers who were on their own, like me, in a foreign land — you both earn a buddy and get to learn about yet another culture. Oh, and always keep snacks on you! I’m a big fan of small snacks; sometimes it’s just the energy/mood boost you need to fully enjoy your precious travel time.
–Karin FJellman, International Program Consultant, Chicago
Always expect the unexpected and be open to change. Sometimes the best parts of a trip come from spontaneity. Those are the random moments that you’ll look back on with a smile and be able to say, “Do you remember the time when…”
– Tom Heigham, Regional Director of International Programs, Boston
Students, don’t miss the advice from three of our seasoned Academic Travel Advisors:
Pack light! You do not need as much as you think you do. Take great photos, then put down the technology and truly appreciate where you are and what you are experiencing. Soak it in, write in a journal, more importantly, get out of your comfort zone, and be flexible! Travel does not always go according to your plan . . . and sometimes that is a good thing!
– Pamela Reynolds, High School Spanish Teacher and ACIS Academic Travel Advisor
I always buy a loaf of bread in the morning when I first arrive in a city and put it in the top of my backpack. I want to walk through the streets and experience the culture. All that walking makes me hungry around 10:00 which is too early for lunch. Passing out fresh bread makes it so you aren’t starving and you become really popular with the rest of your group…
– Mark Pfeiffer, High School Teacher and ACIS Academic Travel Advisor
My most important travel tip is to bring a journal, and write down memories, when you are able…even if it is on the plane ride back home. (Also, PACK SUNSCREEN and USE IT!!)
– Julie Henderson, Middle School Teacher and ACIS Academic Travel Advisor
Have a travel tip to share with other group leaders? Tell us in the comment section!