Great Moments during Student Travel

There are many great moments during student travel to Washington, D.C., Costa Rica, Europe and more. Read below to see what we mean.

by Ryan Sparzak

We are in the middle of trip season at Global Travel Alliance.  This time of year is kind of like the beginning of football season.  All of the grueling practice and precise planning comes down to a 90 day game-time window. It’s challenging, it’s exhilarating, and it’s why we do what we do.  Now is when our team of former classroom educators can step out of the office and put our educator hat back on to work alongside committed teachers and amazing young people.  8th grade trips to Washington, D.C., European music tours, and studying Pura Vida in Costa Rica never gets old. Each group and experience takes on its own personality in its own special way.

As our staff knows, being away from family can be tough, but what can be more challenging (and sometimes humorous) are the normal, every day routines and things our team members miss when they are away from home.   For some it’s not having their favorite pillow, a special coffee mug, or their morning cartoons.  For me it’s missing my wife’s homemade guacamole and Chicken Tortilla Soup (cilantro and lime for days!).  Oh, and I guess crossing the street without 50 students following me.

But of course there are moments…those trip moments that make the long days and crossing the street with 50 cool guys and girls in tow worth it all…

For example, on a more recent trip, an 8th grade student from Colorado came up to me at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. and pleaded for the group to have more time at this amazing landmark.  That’s one of these magical moments I speak of and I definitely said YES.

8th grade students from Montana speaking with a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.

Students from Montana listening to a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

Or how about a few weeks ago at the end of a long day when a tired, but happy teacher looks at me and says,

“I’ve been leading this trip for 10 years and I learned more today at Mt. Vernon than ever before.”

Priceless.

But there are moments even more special than that, moments that transcend even the best laid plans. Moments when as a guide you become a part of the experience and you find yourself in a familiar place experiencing it in a different way.

That happened last week with a group in New York City. It ended up being a rainy Spring night as we made our way to the Empire State Building Observation Deck.  The ESB staff on the ground discouraged would-be visitors from going up to the top because of the clouds, but the group leader and chaperones thought we should give it a shot.  I had my doubts, but something in my gut said “Go for it!”

To my delight, we had the entire observation deck to ourselves and despite the intermittent sprinkles and wind, the sky opened up.  The many lights of the city below mixed beautifully with the clouds and rain, creating an enchanting glow.  The students were exuberant.  Accompanying the view was a lone jazz musician playing a saxophone – the students danced as he played Van Morrison, John Coltrane and Vince Guaraldi.  I overheard one boy shout,

“This is the best experience of my life!”

I couldn’t argue with that and thought “Yep, me too.”  He got a fist bump for that one.

Tour days are long and sometimes the hotel breakfast buffet gets a little boring, but there are moments that keep us going, and those moments make it all worth it.

To learn more about ways to change your life (and your students), click the links below or START HERE to customize your own group trip.

Educational trip Costa Rica  Student trip DC

Group from Colorado seen here after tour of White House

Student group from Colorado seen here after a tour in the White House