Five ways to make your school trip more affordable
24 Jun 2022, 09:10 by Kate Moore
The benefits of taking students on a school trip abroad are widely acknowledged. A great school trip can fire a pupil's passion for language, build their skills and confidence, and even open eyes to life’s possibilities.
At a time when most of us are feeling the pinch, we asked our educational travel experts to share their top tips on how to make a school trip affordable for students, from all financial backgrounds, without sacrificing quality and educational value.
Planning an affordable school trip abroad – top tips for organisers
Be flexible on dates – travelling in Autumn or Spring can save you up to 20%
Stay outside of town - it's often more comfortable as well as affordable to avoid the city centre
Travel by coach rather than by air, and fill every seat to maximise savings
Work with another department to spread your travel costs
Plan well in advance – early bookers get better deals and parents have longer to save
1. Avoid a school trip in summer term
A lot of schools want to travel in June or July because it’s an opportunity to celebrate the student’s hard work and learning. But if you plan your school trip in the summer term, you are inevitably going to spend more says MFL trip expert, Nicky Middlemiss.
"Being flexible on travel dates is the best way to cut costs and if you aren’t set on specific dates, you can really save. Taking your school trip in the Autumn or Spring terms can be up to 20% cheaper and that make the difference between a trip being viable or not.
"Schools taking a five-day language immersion school trip to Château de la Baudonniere in February save on average £76 per pupil compared to a group visiting in June. Both groups enjoy the same activities, instruction and educational benefits, the February group just pay less for travelling at a quieter time."
School trips taken in the Autumn term can also help reduce learning loss
Nicky adds that groups planning their MFL school trip in July should consider learning loss over the summer holidays. “Ideally, students should have the opportunity to reinforce what they’ve learned straight after the trip. So it’s a shame if any progress gained during the trip is undone by lack of practise over the long summer break” she explains.
James King from Aldro School, cites other benefits of travelling in the Autumn term. He leads his French language immersion trip to Voyager’s Normandy centre, La Grand’Ferme, in October, and says that taking a school trip is a great way to build team spirit and enthuse students early in the school year.
2. Steer clear of tourist traps
Our educational travel expert, James Mc Geown, recommends that schools on a budget stay outside of a city’s touristy areas. “One of my favourite educational school tours is to Sorrento which takes in Vesuvius, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast.”
To make it more affordable he recommends that school groups stay a little off the beaten track centre, “Sorrento is beautiful but not in every school’s budget, so I recommend that my school groups stay at a holiday village just 4km from the centre. This one small change can cut the cost of a five-day school trip by £45 per student compared to using a youth hostel in the city centre.
"We get great feedback from school groups about the holiday village. It has landscaped Italian gardens and students love staying in their own little bungalows and using the large outdoor pool - perfect when you’ve been exploring volcanic ruins all day” he added.
3. Travel to Europe by coach rather than plane
As a mother, our educational school tours manager, Julie Guinaud, understands the financial pressures of being a parent and the importance of getting maximum value from a school trip.
She explains that crossing into Europe by coach is considerably cheaper than flying, and a surprising number of EU destinations are perfectly reachable by coach.
To maximise the savings made travelling by coach she says 40 is the magic number. "Spreading the cost of transport across a larger number of students can make the difference between a trip being affordable or not. And 40 is the optimum capacity for a coach. A group of 40 students travelling on a seven-day adventure school trip to the Ardeche would pay £70 less per person than a group of 25."
4. Buddy up with another department
To fill a coach, and reduce the price per person, Sharon Langner, Student Conference Manager encourages teachers to buddy up on a trip. “Many of the college tutors I work with will organise two subject trips at the same time to share travel costs and admin. That's why our Business Studies and Travel & Tourism Student Conferences are held at the same day so that two departments can share a coach to the conference venue at Disneyland Paris. I've also worked with schools who buddy up with other schools in their trust to spread costs on a trip."
"We can help schools generate interest in their school trips and spread costs across a larger group. We provide posters, powerpoint presentations, parent letters and can even attend parents’ evenings to help promote the trip to parents and students.”
5. Book early to get the best deals
By booking your school trip well in advance offers more chance to take advantage of cheaper flights and accommodation. It also means that parents have longer to save for a school trip.
Julie gives the example of Priestlands School who go to New York every year. “The trip attracts anything from 40 to 60 pupils a year because the students are told about the trip from the moment they join the school. Pupils are encouraged to start saving for the trip years in advance, using Christmas and birthdays to help fund the trip. Encouraging pupils to find ways to save for their trip is a valuable lesson in itself" she adds.
Speak to one of our educational travel experts today for more tips on planning your school trip.