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After sleeping under the stars with snoring teens in tents all around me, I have discovered students can be a different breed of traveler than adults.  For instance, they can be picky (perhaps suspicious is a better word!) eaters, but I haven't met one yet that I couldn't get to at least try the local locro or quinoa soup.

Away from their parents, teens can be coaxed into a state of open-mindedness that doesn't always exist when Mom or Dad are hovering.  (we encourage family travel, but just want to point out that students are different on group trips.Yes, Mom!  they really are!) 

How do you create an itinerary for students that will tie in educational goals with their need to be curious about things that may not be part of the typical educational experience?  Here are some tips from our American teacher & Peruvian guide team who have crafted many student itineraries:

  • Preparation is important.  Information about European travel is much more accessible than travel to South America or China.  Offer suggestions for special places to research.  For instance, the floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca are a living laboratory of conservation and environmental stewardship. 
  • Don't assume that students will know how to protect their valuables or even pack their bags.  You really have to explain and teach them some basics.  After you arrive, you'll have to remind them almost every day. 
  • Explain the boundaries of safety ahead of time and your expectations.  You'll have fewer problems with curious teens who want to take off on their own adventures. 
  • Make arrangements for teens who want to do nighttime activities.  A guided hike or guided stroll into town will give them a splash of excitement and keep them safe.
  • Avoid scheduling long, narrated tours of museums and buildings.  A little lecture goes a long way and should be mixed with hands-on activities.  
  • Throw in some surprises.  A picnic in a special place or a short hike will keep them interested and make the trip exciting.
  • Teachers should have fun too.  If you're having fun, the students will feed off your energy.  That's why it's important to have local resources who know how to manage the needs of teens.  You don't always have to be the "go-to" person for everything!  Experienced guides and staff should be prepared to accommodate the special needs and interests of teens who travel.

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