Planning on organising a school expedition? Then you’ll want to ensure that you choose the best trip provider. The company you pick will be pivotal to the outcome of the trip – in fact, it’s probably the most important factor in ensuring a high-quality experience.
So, whether you’ve got your sights set on Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains or want to contribute to a community-led initiative in rural Borneo, research the provider before signing up. Make sure that the company you go for has a proven track record and bags of experience. Pick out a provider that can offer reassurance – both before departure and during the expedition. You’ll also want to make sure the nuts and bolts of the itinerary are of the highest quality, ensuring students get the most out of it.
From community projects to risk management, here are our tips to pick the best provider and ensure you get the high-quality experience you and your students deserve.
- Put safety first
Before signing up with a provider, ask what safety measures are in place. Do they run a 24:7 Operations Centre with expert help to support your school in-country? Look for a company that uses cutting-edge technology, with sophisticated alert systems for natural disasters, security risks and health issues.
As well as a proper support centre, you want to ensure your provider has access to the best medical facilities in the expedition country and that all teams carry a comprehensive first aid kit. Teams should have two-way satellite communication technology (we can track World Challenge teams live in the field) and providers should have extensive medical insurance in place for all travellers.
If a destination does become politically or medically unsafe for travel, ensure your trip provider can redirect your team to an alternative location – at no additional cost to the school or students’ families.
- Look for outstanding Leaders
Trip leaders are crucial – their experience, qualifications and overall bond with the student team are the ingredients of a successful trip. World Challenge Leaders must have passed a rigorous selection programme, and need to have a minimum level of experience and technical outdoor leadership qualifications, in addition to physical and mental first aid and prior experience working with young people.
It’s also beneficial for the student team if the Leader has experience travelling in the particular environment the teams are travelling to. We place our Leaders according to their experience and qualifications, taking into account factors such as altitude, jungle and winter conditions. The result? An enthusiasm for, and expertise of, the destination that’s sure to rub off on the teams.
- Ensure the itineraries are high-quality and ethical
World Challenge itineraries are curated with all the logistics pre-planned. They also adhere to rigorous risk assessments, both prior recces and ongoing assessments.
When it comes to community projects, ensure that your trip provider has a clear and ethical vision. Look for a company that monitors their community project work overseas effectively. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are an excellent guide to ensuring initiatives are responsible and leave a positive impact. Project work overseas should be community-led, and support local ambitions, not ours. Guided by our partner World Animal Protection, World Challenge also has high standards of animal welfare, and you won’t find elephant riding or washing on our itineraries.
- Find proper pre-departure support
Before choosing a trip provider, ask how they prepare students for the trip. Do they offer a bespoke, pre-departure programme with medical screening, supporting care plans and a learning development journey? Students looking to raise funds for their trip will appreciate support for this, too. At World Challenge, we have a creative bank of resources and guides ready to help.
The school, parents and students should also receive support from the trip provider. Look for a company with a dedicated support team and School Relationship Managers who remain on hand to answer any questions, offering consistency and higher-quality service.
- Put your mind at ease with financial protection
For peace of mind, ensure your trip provider has financial protection in place. World Challenge trips are fully bonded by ATOL in the UK and we offer the highest level of financial protection to our customers. We are also a member of a larger education travel group. The provider should also give clear information on what activities and costs are included in the quoted price.
- Seek a successful track record
A company with decades of experience in running school trips is likely to be a cut above the rest. As the original expedition provider, World Challenge has been operating since 1987. We specialise in running expeditions for secondary school students – everything we do is geared towards researching and developing the most incredible outcomes for our travellers.
So jump on board!
Written by Ellie Ross