A photo of students in a European city

How to Prepare Your Students for a Trip Abroad

Do you have an educational trip coming up, but you’re wondering how to prepare your students for a trip abroad?

If you are traveling internationally with students, you will want to make sure that your students (and chaperones!) are well-prepared for the experience.  Not only will this save you lots of headaches and make the trip run more smoothly, it will help students get more out of their travels.

I’ve led a dozen trips for high school students to other countries, and I know that preparation can make or break the trip!  This post will give you guidelines and ideas for how to best prepare your group of students to travel abroad.

If you can’t travel internationally, see my list of the Best Spanish Class Field Trips in the U.S. 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through these links, you’ll be helping to support this blog at no extra cost to you.  Thank you!

Pre-Trip Meetings For Participants

You almost certainly held meetings for families before signing up for the trip, but you should hold meetings after students are signed up for the trip, also.

These pre-departure meetings serve four main purposes:

  • For students and teachers to get to know each other
  • To alleviate parent and student uncertainty and anxiety and respond to questions
  • To make sure students understand travel plans and are prepared for the logistics of the trip
  • For intercultural learning about the host culture

Here are some ideas for what to talk about at each meeting:

Meeting 1: 5+ months before the trip

  • Introductions and get-to-know-you game
  • Flight and transportation information
  • Host family information 

Meeting 2: 3-4 months before the trip

  • Get-to-know-you game
  • Cultural information
  • Packing suggestions
  • Money and communication

Meeting 3: 1-2 months before the trip

Give students these worksheets to write down important trip information.  Or, have them research and prepare a section in small groups.  This way, students can be more involved in the planning and become the go-to experts during the trip.

Creating Community

Trips often involve students and teachers from different classes or even different schools. Start creating a positive, inclusive community during pre-trip meetings and at the start of your trip.  Make sure everyone knows each other’s name, even if you have to spend half of the meetings doing name games and icebreakers.  

There is nothing worse than trying to chaperone students through the airport and realizing you don’t know who the student you are looking for is.

Photo from Pixabay.com


The most important items are a passport, money, a phone and medications.  Just about everything else can be easily bought if needed.  


Have students think about how they will get money during the trip and keep it safe.  Will there be easy access to ATMS, for example?  Will their credit card work abroad?

This is my absolute favorite item for when I travel solo and need to have a backup stash of money in case my purse gets lost or stolen.


Tell students to have a specific place in their bag or purse where they will keep their passport so they always know where it is.  A passport holder like this can be a fun souvenir purchase and help to keep vaccine cards, tickets and other documents safe along with the passport.


It’s vital that you can contact students at all times in case of an emergency.  Students and families should check their phone plan and decide if they will use their usual plan abroad or if they will try to get a local sim card when they arrive in the host country. E-sims are another option.

Lost, stolen or damaged phones are always a big risk when traveling.  Items like this phone leash or this anti-theft clip can help students keep track of their phones or discourage a would-be thief from grabbing it out of their hand.  

Start a whatsapp chat group (or whatever app is used in the host country if whatsapp is blocked) to be able to send messages to all participants.  Go over group chat etiquette and how to respond privately to whatsapp messages.  


Access to medications can be very difficult in some countries, even in countries with good healthcare.  All travelers should carry their own necessary medications on them in their original packaging and have a photo of the prescription available. 

Teachers and chaperones should always carry a small first aid kit on them at all times with band-aids, antihistamines for allergies, sunscreen, and more.  When students are walking a lot and doing activities out of their comfort zone or normal range of activities, there tend to be more injuries and need for first aid, including emotional support.     

Flights and Transportation

Traveling with a large group takes more time than you would expect.  Students may never have flown on a plane before, so take the time to explain the basics of what will need to happen at an airport. 

Even seasoned travelers can forget to take their liquids out of their carry-on bag, so reminders never hurt!

Photo from Pixabay.com


It’s likely that for at least part of your trip your group will be staying in a hotel or hostel together.  Prepare your students by talking about how hotel rooms and procedures in the host country may be different from the home country. 

Rooming arrangements can also be stressful for teenagers and cause lots of drama, so try to figure these out in advance, if at all possible.

For more details, read this post about staying in hotels with students.

Culture Shock and Intercultural Communication

Your students are sure to experience things that surprise them, make them think differently and perhaps even upset them.  Preparing students for some of these potential surprises can help them deal with them in a more positive way.  

For example, when students see something that is different from their culture, like squat toilets, teach them to say “that’s different” without passing judgement, instead of saying “that’s weird”.  

It’s especially important for students with specific identities (racial, LGBTQ, religious, etc.) to know what attitudes they might face. For example, will a female Muslim student be able to wear her headscarf or a full body suit at a public pool?

This is my favorite book series to prepare myself and others for cultural differences and to be a more respectful traveler.  

Teaching mini lessons about intercultural communication topics like personal space, time attitudes and more can give students a framework for understanding the cultural differences they are seeing.  

Get these worksheets to work through with your students while you are in the country or after your trip.

Post-Trip Event

Returning home after the intense excitement of a trip can be difficult.  As you return, brainstorm a fun event for your group to look forward to.  

The goal of the event can be to share about your trip to families or the school community, do a fundraiser for future trips, reflect, or just have time to enjoy the memories.  Whatever it is, ending the trip will seem less sad with another event to look forward to.  

I hope this post gave you lots of great ideas on how to prepare your students for a trip abroad.  Have a great trip!

Scroll to Top