Student International Travel: Points to Ponder
Student travel by nature has challenges—but are there more to mull over when traveling abroad? Along with general rules of the road, consider these reminders from the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA).
For international air travel, students of any age must have a valid passport, or a NEXUS card when using a NEXUS Kiosk. Decide which family member should obtain a passport if they don’t have one, should circumstances require a parent or guardian to travel to be with the student.
- Emergency contact lists are essential. At minimum, have information for everyone in your group and their immediate family, venues you’ll visit, transportation companies you’re using, school representatives and medical facilities along your route. Know the emergency number (think 911) for your destination.
- In many countries, alcohol may be purchased by students as young as 18 years. Ensure students clearly understand rules of alcohol possession and ramifications of breaking them. Develop behavioral expectations and have students and parents agree to them. Establish rules for staff traveling with the group.
- Conditions in foreign restaurants might affect accommodating food allergies. In China, for instance, ensuring a life-threatening peanut allergy is safely accommodated may be difficult as peanut oil is broadly used in cooking. It may be impossible to guarantee no cross-contamination of utensils or allergen-free food preparation.
- Walking on streets may be challenging, when road traffic travels in directions students are unused to. Developing a procedure for chaperones may help reduce likelihood of problems. Suggestions:
- Station chaperones in front, in back and throughout the group as possible, to lead and watch for stragglers.
- When gathering as a group or walking on sidewalks, keep students to one side so they don’t block passage of others.
- Keep students at least five feet from active roadways or curbs as able. If one student bumps another, the extra distance from the road may help avoid an accident.
- When walking in a crowded area, stop often and ensure no one has become separated from your group. If you lack technology to account for students, implement a count-off system at the start of the tour; if working with a large group, split into smaller groups each chaperone could confirm.
- Ensure every chaperone has a cellphone with international calling activated. For more remote locations, a satellite phone may be appropriate. Chaperone cellphone numbers should be provided to each tour participant.
- Electrical systems may require converters for charging cellphones or iPads and using hair dryers or other items. Ensure students understand your destination’s requirements in advance, so they could obtain proper equipment.
For Additional Insight
International travel is not inherently unsafe, yet the distance between student and family—and the anxiety level of the latter—may be greatly enhanced. Download the SYTA Student & Youth Travel Safety Resource Guide for extensive Risk Management & Mitigation information that could help you put parent minds at ease.
Compiled by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today.