Teaching Travel

Travel Tips: Chaperoning an International School Trip

July 15, 2019

This past spring break I was asked to chaperone a school trip to Greece!!! (I’m 28 years old, who would have seriously trusted me with their kids before this!?). Luckily I was not the lead chaperone (aka no crazy paperwork & liability) but there was still a lot coming at me that I didn’t really think through ahead of time.

So I guess this blog post is a list of tips for chaperones…at the least it’s a list of my experience as a chaperone.

whole group on cruise ship

Don’t Take 60 Participants

Like I said above, I was not the lead chaperone so this was not my decision but in retrospect all the chaperones’ agreed 60 was too large. It meant we were right over the threshold of all being together on one bus (the limit is 50 total) which totally complicated matters when we tried to make sure we got on and off the buses all together. We didn’t lose anyone but there were more than a few frantic searches and headcounts.

However, I was only able to go on this trip because we had so many kids…so I can’t complain too much here.

Agora with group

Don’t Expect the Parents to Help

We had about 10 or so parents with their kids on this trip and I thought “*sweet* the parents are totally going to help corral their own children at least.” lol. Nope. Nothing against the parents (because they totally paid to be on this as a vacation) but that definitely surprised me. Looking back I should have known, I mean they paid thousands of dollars for this trip and I was there for free as a chaperone; it was my time to work, not theirs. But having parents certainly helps matters, they don’t have to be watched as much…as much. 😉

Read more: Travel Style: Greece

plate breaking dinner tableGreek beers

Watch Their Drinks (if you let them drink)

I’m going to assume you know what I mean with this. We had a few students imbibe too much while at dinner. Mostly because they just have never had glass(es) of wine while dancing, jet lagged and eating new foods. I distinctly remember one night in particular that I was on “vomit duty.” It was as disgusting as it sounds. Nothing major happened and luckily it was a fantastic lesson for all the other students for the rest of the trip but it certainly was memorable…for me. 🙂

One of the parents on the trip is a doctor so he brought extra medicine for this exact situation. Thank goodness for the doc because I never, ever thought to bring stuff to help calm their stomachs & hangovers! Next time though, even if the doc goes, I’m packing my own first aid kit. Oh and if you’re on a trip with 60 girls like we were, pack tampons & pads. Goodness grief it’s like they forgot periods still happen in Europe!

Acropolis with group of girls

Know Your Tribe

Because we were such a large group the chaperones were each given a group of 10 to specifically watch over. I made sure “my girls” knew what time to meet up each morning, what time to get back on the cruise, and they knew they could reach out to me for anything. The faster you know their names & faces the faster check ins/outs go. I made sure they also got good smart travel lessons from me too to minimize any issues throughout the week.

Read more: Our ACIS Greece Itinerary

Olympic stadium with girls

Make Sure Everyone Knows Where your Room is (In Case of Emergency)

After my night on “vomit duty” I put up a sign on my hotel door that said “Mrs. Fury’s Room” just in case any issues arose in the middle of the night. Luckily no one ever knocked on my door in the wee hours of the morning but it made me feel much better to know that they could identify my room if needed. Likewise, I made sure my “tribe” knew where my room was on the cruise for the same reason. So bring extra paper, pen & tape to demarcate your lodgings.

Also if there are male & female students on the trip, you should have a male & female chaperone both mark their doors. I personally have no issue helping a student out regardless of gender, but your boys might feel more comfortable with a male teacher depending on the issue.

Airport me sleeping

You Won’t Sleep Much

Maybe this was just me. 🙂 We were up hella early each morning for breakfast & all day activities and I went to bed late. So really 50% of the issue was that I was going to bed late. Another chaperone and I got into a habit of relaxing at the bar after dinner & we would linger after bed checks. It was a nice time to wind down, have a drink (or several) and talk/journal about the day.

There were a few nights that our after-dinner haunts were especially useful: a few boys on the cruise took a fancy to some of our ladies. We didn’t mind them hanging out and it was actually a great idea that were was an adult presence while they walked around the ship at midnight. By about 1 o’clock in the morning we rounded up any of our sleepy students and sent them off to bed where I also promptly crashed for a 6 am wake up.

Acropolis me and katrinaarrving in Santorini girls crazy hair

Enjoy It!

Most of my list seems like it’s all doom and gloom but the trip was beyond incredible. I had an absolute blast & I would totally do it again! One nice thing was that I had taught a good number of the students on this trip and that made it so much more fun. Getting to know these girls in a different was so refreshing. You definitely have to keep a professional line, aka no getting drunk with your of-age-in-Europe students but capitalize on the chance to talk to them…I mean really talk to them. On the bus, at dinner, while strolling through villages, they love it & you will get a lot out of the conversations too!

Overall I didn’t mind being a chaperone but we had a great group of all girls. My one caveat is that group travel is sooooo not my way of traveling. I hate the audio guides, buses, tours, etc. However, the trip was FREE. You will hear no issues from me. If I get asked to go again I will jump on the chance!

JMF

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