FIVE questions to ask before planning a student trip to Costa Rica!


hands-on-conservationChances are you didn’t take a class on “traveling with your students” while you were getting your degree in Education.  That’s why we’re here to offer some advice.   EcoTeach has been providing student educational trips to Costa Rica for twenty years.   We’ve attended hundreds of parent meetings, had conversations with countless school administrators and asked for feedback from all our teacher trip leaders.

Ask yourself these questions before planning your student educational trip to Costa Rica:

1.      What are your educational goals for your students?

Are you a Spanish teacher who wants your students to practice speaking the language?

A science teacher who wants to provide opportunities for hands-on conservation and ecology work?

A humanities teacher who wants students to explore other cultures, communities and ways of living?

An educational student trip to Costa Rica opens the door for a multitude of learning experiences.   Your travel provider should be able to make recommendations and offer activities/ experiences that meet your goals and expectations for your student trip to Costa Rica.  And remember, just because it’s not listed on the trip itinerary, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.  Each year, EcoTeach customizes more than 60% of our trips for middle school, high school and college student groups.

 2.     How will students pay for their trip to Costa Rica? 

This is perhaps the most frequently asked question when it comes to planning a student trip to Costa Rica.

Most groups engage in fundraising activities to offset the cost of the trip.  Determine if you want to take on this responsibility or delegate to a willing parent or student.  Start talking with local businesses that might be interested in making a donation.    Meet with your local rotary club and ask for fundraising help.    Call a local reporter and tell them about your students and what they hope to learn by taking a trip to Costa Rica.  Reporters are always looking for stories and this could be a great way to generate publicity and support for your student travelers.

Also, don’t forget about social media and on-line fundraising organizations that exist to make fundraising easy.   (EcoTeach works with WePay as they will make a donation to the EcoTeach Foundation, an organization that supports the projects that your students will visit, for each student who signs up to use their fundraising platform.)

 Ask your travel provider these questions:

 3.    What’s included in the trip price?   

All-inclusive doesn’t always mean everything is included.  Sure, meals, accommodations and transportation are a large part of any trip but additional activities can really add up if not included in the price.  Ask your travel provider to itemize additional expenses or fees.

What activities are not included in the overall trip price?  What is the means of transportation?

Does the trip leader travel for free including airfare?  Will your group be joined by another student group?  Many teachers are often surprised to find that their group will be joined by another student group.

4.      May I speak with other trip leaders who travel with your company?

You can collect great insight by talking with other trip leaders who have taken student trips with a company.  Was the company easy to work with?   Were they organized?   Did the tour guides add value to the trip?  Were they engaged with the students?  Did they take advantage of learning opportunities during the trip?  How were the accommodations?  Did the trip meet your expectations?   If yes, what were the highlights?    Did they deliver what was promised?

Before you start registering students for your trip to Costa Rica, ask yourself:

5.      Did I set the correct expectations for students signing up for the trip?

You may have high hopes of planning a life changing experience for your students but what are their expectations?    Did they sign up to experience another culture, volunteer to support a community project or practice their Spanish?   Are they expecting a chance to kick back with friends and relax on the beach?

Setting expectations is one of the most important aspects of trip planning.  If your trip will be focused on service work, students should expect to stay in modest (or rustic) accommodations and spend their time volunteering and giving back.   If you’d like your trip to include education, culture, adventure and relaxation, be sure your students don’t skip over the educational activities on the itinerary and focus on the “play” days.