Discover how Rayburn Tours’ Covid Guarantee can help you. Click here.

How to make a school trip more sustainable

Apr 11, 2022


As geography teachers we face a dilemma. Taking our students out of the classroom has always been a fundamental ingredient of the geography education we provide. However, whilst we are all well aware of the benefits, we are also much more aware of the detrimental impact international travel can have on the environment.

To stop running international school trips altogether would deprive our students of once-in-a-lifetime experiences they would never encounter at home, events that can serve to inspire and motivate even the most recalcitrant learners. We should also remember that whilst we often focus on the negative impacts of tourism, it can, in some locations, act as a vital catalyst towards social and economic development, helping to create jobs, raise living standards, reduce poverty and perhaps lead to more sustainable practices in the future.

So, what should we do? We’re sure you’ll agree that rather than stop travelling altogether, we need to be more conscious of how we travel, seeking to minimise the negative impacts, valuing our environment and aiming to have a positive impact for local communities. So, here are some suggestions to share with your students to encourage them to make better choices as they learn to travel responsibly.

On the move

Transport is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, so considering how you get to your destination is an essential step towards leaving a lighter footprint. Short-haul destinations may lend themselves to train or coach travel, but flying may be the only viable choice for longer distances or where time is short, so consider taking a direct flight to minimise excess emissions.

Say NO to plastic

We are all too aware of the need to minimise the amount of plastic we use and throw away, and there is no reason we can’t continue to do this when travelling. One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic consumption is to encourage your students to pack reusables: a water bottle to fill up from the tap, a coffee cup for any hot drinks, a food container for a packed lunch, a bag for any souvenir shopping.

Think about the toiletries you bring too. Decant soaps, shampoos and conditioners, from the bottles you already have, into refillable silicone bottles, choose zero waste products such as shampoo bars and deodorant paste, and opt for a bamboo toothbrush.

Get packing

How you pack can go a long way to help reduce your footprint. Of course, the lighter your luggage, the better, as transporting each extra kilo requires more fuel, so think carefully about what goes into your bag and pack smart.

Get rid of the paper trail

The amount of paperwork generated by a school trip can be ridiculous, but this includes essential documents containing vital information. Using our travel app means that risk assessments, medical records, insurance details, trip itineraries and more can be digitised and made easily accessible on your phone, tablet or laptop whilst you’re on the go, saving on the printing.

Leave no trace

As travellers, we need to be more aware of how our actions affect the environment we visit and the lives of local people. We should do what we can to conserve local water and energy resources. For example, taking short showers, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and reusing towels will save precious water resources in a country such as Morocco.

Recycle any waste and never leave litter. If there are no bins, carry your rubbish with you until it can be disposed of properly. Use the footpaths provided without disturbing nature and keep noise to a minimum.

Go local

Support the local economy where you can. Stay in locally owned accommodation, eat-in cafes and restaurants run by locals, try local cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients and buy souvenirs from local suppliers.

As much as possible, avoid chain stores and international food chains where your money does not benefit the local economy. Our Tour Consultants at Rayburn Tours are happy to talk to you about our relationship with local suppliers in many of our destinations.

Show respect

We should always be mindful that we are visiting someone else’s home, be considerate of different cultures and be open-minded to different perspectives. We can show this in how we dress, dressing modestly where appropriate and respecting dress codes, such as wearing head coverings in rural Morocco or covering your shoulders in places of worship in Italy.

Try learning a few key phrases in the local language. Even just a simple please and thank you will help you connect with local people.

Explore

Get all this and more straight to your inbox!

Register for our e-newsletter and be the first to hear about new teaching resources and webinars, as well as exciting information about our most popular geography trip destinations – basically all the good stuff straight to your inbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.