Preparing for School District International Trips

Education, Property & Casualty, Risk

School districts may be planning to host a variety of international trips with summer just around the corner, yet school leaders should be aware of issues that could affect their travel plans. Travelers may encounter challenges such as civil unrest or anti-American protests in foreign countries, among other considerations. Remember to review all travel advisories before traveling abroad. Do not travel to any country with an advisory level 3 or 4.

Here’s how schools can navigate these trips successfully while prioritizing safety and enriching educational experiences.

Understanding Country Laws and Cultural Customs

Prepare your students and group leaders with a thorough understanding of the host country’s laws and customs before embarking on travel. Keep in mind, when travelers are in a foreign country, they are subject to that country’s laws. Districts should provide educational materials and encourage students to conduct research before entering and exploring a new country. Familiarizing oneself with local customs allows travelers to  understand cultural norms and respond appropriately.

Emergency Preparedness

All chaperones and group leaders should be aware of and have access to emergency procedures, including access emergency phone numbers for each student and a list of nearby medical facilities. It’s crucial for travelers to have an international calling plan that works in the country being visited. Although not likely, an emergency can arise during an international trip and medical attention may be necessary. In addition, all participants should complete the emergency information page in their passports.

In addition to nearby medical facilities, locate the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling for added safety measures.

Passport and Visas

Prior to departure, travelers should confirm their passport is valid for at least six months beyond your trip’s end date. Familiarize yourself with local laws, as some countries mandate that travelers carry passports at all times; store it securely when not in use. Students, trip chaperones, and group leaders should make copies of their passport’s data page and any visas in cases of loss or theft. If a traveler’s passport is lost or stolen, contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate for a replacement (for a fee) and see local authorities for a new visa. A copy should be kept on file with both the school district and the chaperones during the trip.

Additional tips

Key Takeaways

As school districts begin to plan and prepare for international trips, they must be aware of the country’s current “climate” and have certain preparations in place.

  • Be conscious of the country’s laws and customs
  • Have an emergency plan in place and locate the nearest U.S. Embassy
  • Have participant’s passports and visas on file in the event they are lost or stolen during the trip
  • Ensure your district’s insurance plans include medical coverage for the international trip

Originally authored by Marty Malloy

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