So You Want to Travel to Greece (Or Italy, Or…)

I just returned a few weeks ago from an outstanding trip to Greece that included sites in Athens, Delphi, Ephesus (okay, Turkey), Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, and others. Unlike my trip to the Parthenon in Nashville, TN, about which I wrote almost two years ago, this journey included students. It was my fourth trip of such a kind. I have gone every other year, alternating between Greece and Italy.
Here is a small photo album of some highlights from the trip. If you’d like more info on what to expect from one of these trips and how to set one up, read on.
Personally, I have found small groups to be the most manageable, though some teachers will take groups of 30+ kids. I have always traveled with a mix of sophomores through seniors. There are many educational travel companies out there, and I have had good experiences with EF Tours. The April break is a great time to go because the weather is temperate, the crowds aren’t as huge (though still quite large!) and the students haven’t fully succumbed to the Summer Itch.
The program has students up and active from about 7 in the morning until 7 at night. Days are filled with guided tours of historical sites, traveling, shopping, and eating. There is always way more information offered than any person can hope to absorb, and the nature of most of these trips is to just explore the tip of the iceberg. Very rarely does a group stay in one place long enough to truly absorb all there is, but the whirlwind nature does make it feel like you’ve been abroad for a month because of the number of attractions you will have seen.
I can only speak for EF’s tours, but the sites tend to be a mix of ancient and religious. I’m sure a trip to Spain or France would look a lot different than one to Greece. If you really want to personalize the things you see, then you will need to find a company that specializes in ancient tourism, or fill up a bus (about 50 people) so that you have sole discretion in your itinerary. As a small group, we went with the flow of other groups on the same trip.
If you are interested in leading a trip, call a tour company about a year out (or even more, if you are so organized!) This allows you more time to gather students, to wrap your head around traveling with them, and for them to pay. These trips are not cheap – most 10 day trips are going to be in the $3000-$4000 range – but keep in mind that this includes almost everything from the plane tickets to food, housing, and tours. You could probably organize something yourself for cheaper, but with a lot of extra hassle and worry.
Make sure to set clear expectations for behavior on your trip. Allow flexibility for changes in mood (kids get tired, sick, homesick, etc.) Roll with the punches (e.g. a four hour plane delay and missing a connection.) But most of all, watch as your students marvel at the wonders of the world. I’ve never been on a trip where the students weren’t completely floored by the magnificence of humankind’s creations. Oh, and don’t forget to eat lots of gelato.

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