The Ultimate Guide to Planning Faculty-Led Study Abroad Trips

Alandis Students in Cordova's Roman Bridge, Spain
Alandis Students in Cordova’s Roman Bridge, Spain

For a teacher or professor, organizing a study abroad trip can be a thrilling endeavor, but it can also be overwhelming due to the intricate and extensive planning involved. 

Knowing where to begin may seem daunting for those embarking on their first planning experience. So, if you are a faculty member or a teacher planning a study abroad trip for your students, this is for you.

What is a faculty-led study abroad trip?

A faculty-led study abroad trip is a type of international education program. Generally speaking, these trips are academic courses in which one or various faculty members from a university or school takes a group of students to study in another country. 

The experience usually has a defined academic focus that combines traditional classroom learning with experiential learning abroad, centering on a portion of the learning taking place abroad, outside the classroom. They can be as short as one week or several months, including classroom instruction, cultural activities, and excursions to cultural sites.

Faculty-led study abroad trips, as with all study abroad programs, are an amazing opportunity for students for personal growth and development of soft skills, such as leadership, empathy, and adaptability to unfamiliar situations and cultural norms. In addition to having a deepened understanding of their academic field, enhancing their language skills, and broadening their perspective of the world.

How to plan a faculty-led study abroad trip

Planning a study abroad trip is an exciting yet overwhelming experience. There are a lot of things to take into consideration and many steps that should be taken. To make this process easier for you, here are nine steps to plan the perfect faculty-led study abroad trip:

1. Objectives

The first stage of planning a faculty-led study abroad trip is to state your objectives. Consider if there is a specific theme you wish to explore, the activities you want your students to engage in, and how the trip aligns with the program syllabus.

Typically, your objectives will relate to highlighting and reinforcing specific messages from your program syllabus. Having these objectives well-defined is crucial as they facilitate the selection of a destination and appropriate activities. Furthermore, these objectives play a key role in the recruitment process, allowing students and parents to understand the reasons for joining this trip.

Alandis Students in El Malecón, Havana, Cuba
Alandis Students in El Malecón, Havana, Cuba

2. Destination and Activities

After setting the objectives of your trip, it’s time to decide what destination best suits your needs and requirements.

In addition to the objectives, you should also consider these factors:

  • Student Safety: Prioritize countries with good healthcare systems and ensure the safety of your students. Research cultural differences and social norms to ensure a safe and comfortable experience.
  • Culture: Choose a country known for its welcoming attitude, especially if it’s the students’ first time traveling abroad. Familiarize yourself with local customs and inclusivity, including LGBTQ+ acceptance.
  • Weather: Research your desired destination to know what the weather’s like and the best seasons to visit.
  • Entry Requirements: Determine if your students need visas or vaccinations to enter the chosen country.
  • Food Restrictions: Consider your students’ dietary needs and restrictions. Ensure that the chosen country and accommodation have appropriate options.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select a destination that aligns with your objectives while prioritizing student safety, cultural immersion, weather suitability, entry compliance, and dietary considerations.

3. Ideal Dates

Many schools and universities choose to do these kinds of programs during school holidays and during the summer months because exams and study time might get in the way of recruiting as many students as possible during the school year.

Researching your chosen destination, checking historical weather conditions and temperature, and events or national holidays are important. Some countries are not recommended to visit during summer due to the extreme weather. 

Overall, make sure the dates you choose are ideal for your students and the country you are visiting; this can make or break your perfect trip.

Alandis Students in Casa Pueblo doing service learning, Puerto Rico
Alandis Students in Casa Pueblo doing service learning, Puerto Rico

4. Budget

Knowing the maximum cost per student is a defining factor that will define the duration of the trip, the activities, the quality of your accommodation, etc. 

The budget usually includes lodging, faculty expenses, health insurance, and academic-related costs. Other expenses like meals may or may not be included, but you should give your students a rough idea of out-of-pocket costs.

At Alandis, we ask you to be upfront and share your budget to help you find the optimal equilibrium between activities and cost for your students.

5. Provider

Once you have a general idea of when and where you want to travel and what activities you want to include on your trip, it’s time to find a provider.

When planning a trip with these characteristics, having a little help is always a good idea. Educational providers have significant expertise and experience in organizing these trips and can give you access to resources and insight into the destination, they can reduce all the administrative work such as arranging travel and accommodations, and also, they can negotiate better prices on accommodations, transportation, and activities than you could on your own, among other things.

In essence, providers can help you create a successful study abroad trip that is well-organized, cost-effective, and focused on providing your students with a valuable educational experience.

6. Approval

After compiling all the information mentioned above, it is time to get approval from your school or university. The faculty member should write a proposal with all the detailed information to do that.

For high schools, the process is simpler. You should present your proposal to your school’s principal or relevant body. Remember to ensure that your trip follows the school and school district policy regarding international school trips.

On the other hand, for universities, it’s more bureaucratic. Firstly, you need to get approval from your academic department before submitting your proposal to the SA team. Then, some universities have a Faculty-led Study Abroad Review Committee that will review and approve proposals.

Remember that the process may vary depending on your institution and that some universities have deadlines for proposing new programs—make sure to research that.

7. Recruitment 

Once your proposal is approved, it’s time to start promoting your trip and recruiting students. 

The possibilities to get the word out about your trip are endless, especially in this time and age with technology and social media. Some ways you can promote your program include publications on the school website, sharing details on social media pages, or the classic posters around campus.

For more information and ideas about how to promote your study abroad trip, check out how to recruit students for your study abroad trip for a detailed recruitment plan.

Alandis students are learning how to cook Paella in Seville, Spain
Alandis students are learning how to cook Paella in Seville, Spain

8. Administrative work

The workload can vary depending on your chosen provider when handling administrative tasks. We recommend you create a spreadsheet to manage your tasks and due dates; you can find a downloadable faculty-led trip planner template here. For example, Alandis offers comprehensive support in the following areas:

  • Payments: Set a deposit deadline and amount for parents to submit. It’s important to note that some payments may need to be made before the trip to secure prices, make reservations and pre-pay entrance fees which will simplify the process during your journey.
  • Passport: Remind parents and students that they must have a valid travel passport. Different countries have varying requirements, often necessitating several months of validity beyond the travel dates. It’s advisable to renew passports if they expire within six months of the program’s end.
  • Visa: Research visa requirements for your chosen destination. Alandis can provide further guidance on visa processes if needed.
  • Travel Insurance: While many providers offer travel insurance, reviewing the coverage details is crucial. Basic inclusions typically encompass emergency healthcare, while additional features may include baggage insurance.
  • Suggested Packing List: Share a comprehensive packing list with students, particularly if the trip requires specific gear or clothing. Check the weather forecast for your destination and advise them accordingly.

Having a partner you can rely on to manage the administrative aspects efficiently will allow you to focus on providing an enriching experience for your students.

9. Pre-departure meeting

A pre-departure meeting is an info session with students and their parents where the faculty leader (with the help of the provider) goes through the whole itinerary of the trip and answers any questions or concerns they may have regarding the trip.

Take this time as an opportunity to make suggestions and give reminders.

Is faculty-led study abroad the right move for you?

Embarking on a faculty-led study abroad trip is an exciting opportunity for educators and students that offers a unique blend of academic learning and cultural immersion. 

However, planning such a trip requires thorough preparation. Set objectives, choose a destination prioritizing safety and cultural immersion, select ideal dates, establish a budget, consider partnering with a provider, seek approval, recruit students, manage administrative tasks, and conduct a pre-departure meeting. If planned correctly, a faculty-led study abroad trip can provide students with a unique, enriching educational experience.

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About the author

I am Pilar Pineda, a Marketing Assistant at Alandis Travel with a deep passion for education and travel. My impactful experience studying abroad made me realize the transformative power of these programs, as they offer students the opportunity for personal growth and a broader global perspective. Through my work, I aim to inspire educators to create unforgettable study-abroad experiences that shape students’ lives and foster cultural understanding.

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