Student Group Travel Season Recap – Where did we go?

There is a beauty in travel that comes before, during and after.  The high anticipation of your intended destination excites; the feeling during the experience enthralls; the memory of it is both magical and unforgettable, forever allowing one to say “I’ve been there.”  The draw to retell such experiences to friends and family at home, then, is undeniable.   It’s why we share our pictures, tell our stories and try to help them relive the experience with us.  Even if the feeling of a certain site can’t quite be articulated – the feeling while witnessing the Changing of the Guard or walking the ruins of Jamestowne, for instance – trying to describe these experiences to friends and families can bring back the appreciation for us, and hopefully give some to them.  

Think of the following article as a sort of vacation recap- a slide show for all friends and family.  For those who traveled, a chance to remember and relive the wonderful memories.  For those who didn’t, a chance to marvel at the pictures and stories and dream about their own tour someday. 

It’s startling to think about our 2021 destinations at a glance: one of the most popular and famous – and truly unique – capital cities in the world, the world’s largest living museum, one of the largest intact ecosystems on Earth, preserved battlefields of some of the most historic and influential wars in history, one of America’s best kept secrets, “the birthplace of liberty,” the longest canyon in the world, the mountains, the desert…you get the picture.

Zooming in, we realize our traveling students, teachers and parents did not simply visit some popular capital city, they visited the iconic National Mall in Washington, D.C., experiencing world-renowned and inspiring memorials, like those to Lincoln, MLK, Washington and to war veterans of Korea, Vietnam and World War II, among so many others.

For many of our travelers, it was the first time to Williamsburg, VA – the world’s largest living history museum.  There is nothing quite like being transported to a different time, to speak with tradeswomen and men about their everyday goings-on in 18th century Colonial America.  To stand where the first democratically elected governments began in this continent.  Or to experience a recreated Powhatan village near Jamestowne to understand the people and land prior to the fateful landing of European Settlers.  It may be as close to time-travel as we ever get.

Speaking of time and travel, some of our more adventurous travelers braved the great outdoors to experience the timeless wonders of nature.  From the mists of the Great Smoky Mountains to the countless wonders of Yellowstone National Park to the astounding scenes from the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, our travelers experienced natural beauty and adventure that countless people have marveled at for generations.

Others traversed two of the most significant battlefields in the history of humanity – yes, you read that right, the history of humanity – Yorktown and Gettysburg.  Both turning points in their respective wars whose results influenced the world, both sites our travelers can forever say, “I’ve been there.”

More firsts for our beloved travelers were the iconic sites of the birthplace of liberty, Philadelphia and that best kept secret, the Steel City itself, Pittsburgh, PA.  From Independence Hall to Carnegie’s Blast Furnace, these historic cities welcomed, taught, and inspired our travelers.  

Even as we publish this post, our team is preparing for additional student groups to depart to Washington, D.C. and New York City. We’re also looking forward to a busy Fall travel season with destinations running from South Dakota to Idaho, Maine to California, and beyond. 

Have you ever reflected on the places you’ve traveled?  On how historic or meaningful they are?  Or is your list more filled with those places that have been described to you?  Iconic and meaningful sites, places, locations that you’re anticipating for you, your family and your students?  The beauty of travel is that no matter the stage you find yourself- anticipating, experiencing or remembering- there is some magic to it.  

Considering adding (or relaunching) a student travel program of your own? Whether it’s an 8th grade trip to DC or field study in Costa Rica, our team is ready to bring this magic to your students. 

With degrees in history and a background in education, tour guiding, and travel, Tim Smith serves as the Lead Guide for Global Travel Alliance and Global Guide contributor.

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