Many schools plan a trip as a rite of passage as seniors near graduation. Students at the University of California–Los Angeles and University of Connecticut each travel to Europe, and for years Southern New Hampshire University has taken seniors to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Based on experience planning these trips, some practices have been refined and include:
- Pre-emptively explaining to participants that flight costs are more expensive than if they were travelling alone. These prices are not easily negotiated, and it typically comes as a surprise that it costs more to travel with a large party and not less. A private plane also does not save money. Even with splitting the participants into smaller travel parties, costs are usually determined by the number of tickets booked, which airlines, time of year, and departure airport.
- Setting clear expectations. This usually comes in the form of a mandatory pre-trip meeting where expectations are reviewed, forms are completed, roommates are chosen, and a participant agreement is signed.
- Planning an alternative. Of course, not everyone can or wants to attend the senior trip, so a monthly program for the senior class can be planned. These programs can be on or off campus (e.g., dinner cruise, sporting event trip, big money bingo).
- Creating participant packets. The day before departing, students receive packets containing important reminders, flight tickets/confirmation information, meal cards, maps, and any other information.
- Using a mass texting service to check in with students. For Southern New Hampshire participants, a text is sent out each day with a contest requiring a response within a certain time frame. The winner gets an extra meal card and a shout-out on social media. This helps to make sure everyone is all right and adds a bit more magic to the experience.
Ramping up during the initial year of the trip will be a lot of work, but subsequent years are much smoother. Additionally, securing planning assistance and chaperones is not difficult as people appreciate the opportunity to travel despite the added responsibility.