Posts tagged ‘educational travel tip tuesday’
These days, it seems every travel company has reviews of their products and services online. However, not all online reviews are created equal. Here are our simple rules to help you get the best results out of reading online reviews.
1. Be Critical of a Company’s Own Online Reviews
When a company requests and posts their own online reviews on their website, they are often not transparent enough to be an accurate representation of customer feedback. From hiding bad reviews at the bottom of a page or removing negative comments altogether, there are a number of ways to hide a travel product or service’s ‘true’ user appraisal.
2. Always Check 3rd Party Sites
Reviews on 3rd party sites are typically a more credible representation of customer feedback since a company cannot edit or manipulate them. So before you book through sites like Kayak or Orbitz, check their user reviews first.
3. Brownie Points for Fast Responses
And speaking of reviews on 3rd party sites, look for companies that respond to online reviews in a timely manner. Not only does a quick online response to a bad review show strong customer service, it also demonstrates an appreciation for customer feedback. No travel product or service is always perfect, but how a company responds to flaws is what sets them apart.
4. Find Your Online Doppelganger
One of the most important ways to ensure a relevant online review, is to find reviewers similar to you. For instance, someone who went to a Holiday Inn for her honeymoon instead of a family vacation may post a very different review. So whether your travel goal is business, relaxation, or recreation, weigh highly the opinions of reviewers with plans similar to your own.
5. The Average is Ideal
Oftentimes, people are moved to submit reviews when they’ve had a very extreme experience—either good or bad. The best and worst reviews are not a good representation of a travel product’s overall rating. It’s actually the average rating that best shows you what your similar experience may be.
1. Communicate Early (and Often!)
Whether through email before tour or in person on the first tour day, establishing a clear line of communication with your Tour Director is vital. "I love it when Group Leaders talk to me about their background, about what they want to focus on, how much they want me to 'talk' and how much they want to teach themselves, and what the Group Leader’s free time policies are," says veteran Tour Director Marianna Xylinas. "That way I can deliver exactly what the Group Leader wants and meet his or her expectations."
2. Keep An Open Mind
We know that teachers often choose their tour destinations based on their own experiences in that particular city, country or region. And while Tour Directors love that teachers want to share their passion for said destination with their students, they also offer this bit of sage advice: view your tour through your students' eyes. "In my time as a Tour Director, the best Group Leaders I’ve worked with are the ones that get excited watching their students’ amazed faces," notes Kris Achten. "It may be the fifth time the teacher has ascended the Eiffel Tower, but you’d never know it!"
3. Be Flexible
Flexibility was undoubtedly the most commonly referenced ‘key’ during our conversations with Tour Directors. When itineraries need to adjust because of unforeseen events, the ability for Group Leaders to show both flexibility and trust in their Tour Director to come up with solutions can often lead to unexpected positive results. Our favorite example comes from Tour Director Thomas Marks, who was leading a tour affected by a recent train strike in France:
"Our night train from Paris to Florence was cancelled, so Explorica arranged an overnight bus as alternative transportation. Although we were all tired, at first light I arranged with our driver to stop in the beautiful town of Nice for breakfast. After grabbing a quick bite at the only open café, I gave an improvised guided tour of the town, ending the tour at the beach, where the kids enjoyed a quick swim in the warm Mediterranean waters before hopping back on the bus. It’s a city they never would have seen, and an experience they never would have had, were it not for the flexibility shown by the Group Leader."
Talking with the locals is probably the best way to learn about authentic customs and cultures. But sometimes breaking the ice can feel a bit awkward. So, try a tip or two from Explorica. You never know, you might make a friend in the process.
1. Flex your dimples
Even if you don't speak the language of your host country, you do speak the language of the world. (That's a friendly face and a broad smile to you and me.) In many parts of the world good eye contact helps build bridges, too. Particularly in European countries such as Spain, France and Germany because it says that you want to strike up conversation. But in others, such as Japan and Peru, keep eye contact to a minimum to show respect for the locals.
What’s a guaranteed way to make or break your experience on a tour? Simply, staying healthy. Play it safe with these tips to keep your bod in shape and your itinerary on schedule.
1. Make colds fly away
You might think a plane’s recycled air is your ticket to Sickville, but there’s another culprit that could put you there if you’re not careful. That tray table or armrest might be your worst enemy on a flight. That’s because germs stay alive for up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces. You could use disinfectant to wipe them down but your best bet is tried and true. Wash your hands as often as you can and avoid touching your face. You may not be able to control the number of germs in the air but you can make efforts to control the number of germs that reach you.
2. Move motion sickness right along
Even the most fearsome traveler can get a bout of motion sickness in transit. To keep your tour in motion (and not your belly,) give these tips a try.
Avoid standing and find a seat with the smoothest ride. If you’re traveling by bus, boat or train that’s usually somewhere in the middle.
Focus your gaze on something in the distance to help your brain match the movement your body feels. If you’re on a boat, keep all hands (and feet) on deck, not below.
Consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine an hour before you travel, which works by targeting the part of your brain that causes nausea. Remember to check the side effects before you try.
3. Tame your tummy troubles
One of the main causes of an upset stomach while traveling is drinking local tap water—especially in South and Central America, Asia and the Middle East. If you’re unsure whether it’s safe, buy bottled for drinking and brushing your teeth. (Oh, and make that soda “no ice, please.”) Lastly, avoid salads, fruits and shellfish because these are oftentimes a breeding ground for bugs, especially in hot climates.
What’s it like traveling with a group of 10 to 20 (or more!) high school students? It can be rewarding, inspiring and no doubt…a little challenging! You know how to keep a classroom in synch but what happens when you have no walls, period bells or chalkboard to get your points across? Here are three ways to structure the chaotic side of travel and make organizing groups fun!
1. Play for Punctuality
Tardiness is tough to control in any school, and when you’re moving through tours in sporadic time slots (not neat 50 minute class periods), it’s tough to keep all kids marching to same beat. One way to get a rhythm going is to gamify start times. Assign fun leadership roles or unique prizes to the first down to breakfast and the first back on the bus. This can be anything from getting to decide the lunch spot to winning a goodie bag related to the days activities. Get creative!
You know not to forget your passport when you travel. But don’t forget to get your passport in tip-top travel shape, well before you leave. Take a peek at Explorica’s handy hints on how to make it smoothly through your host country’s border control so that the only thing you’ll be worried about upon arrival is whether you remembered to pack your toothbrush!
1. Check the expiration date on your passport.
Many countries won’t allow visitors to enter if they have less than six months left on their passport. And others, such as Spain and Costa Rica, require that you have at least three. Visit the government’s official travel website and make sure that your passport meets your destination country’s entry requirements. Worried you’ve left it too late? Don’t worry because help may be at hand. For an additional fee, the US Passport Office can get you a new one in under two weeks.
2. Find out if you need a visa to travel to your destination.
Traveling between the USA, Canada and many European countries is easy due to a special agreement allowing you to travel for up to 90 days visa-free. However, some countries require you to obtain a visa, such as Brazil, India and Turkey. Although you’ll usually need to submit an application to your host country’s local consulate by mail, the good news is that travelers to Australia can obtain it right over the internet. Oh, and remember you’ll need a valid passport before you can put in your visa application.
3. Make copies of your passport’s information page before you travel.
Leave one copy at home with a trustworthy friend or family member and keep hold of another in a safe, but separate, place from your passport. So, should the worst occur you’ll have all your information at hand for the staff at the US consulate abroad to get you back home, hassle-free.
Technology helps us share our travel experiences with friends and family back home—the instant they happen. But sometimes this can come at a price, like less pocket change for presents. (Which makes the old-fashioned postcard all the more charming.) With Explorica’s handy hints for staying connected to home on the cheap, maybe you can have the best of both worlds.