Every tour operator or travel provider’s most important priority should be the safety and security of the students, chaperones, faculty, and administrators under their watch. Unfortunately, this is often one area in travel planning where perceived cost savings may introduce unnecessary risks and threats.
It is vital to inquire about and know the exact address of the hotels included in your school’s travel package. Hotel rates in high-crime areas are typically less expensive but can introduce unnecessary risk, especially traveling to and from the hotel at night, especially if it includes walking.
Professional Security Personnel
Most tour destinations do not necessarily require full-time security detail to accompany your group for the entirety of the trip. However, a common addition to the travel safety plan is employing night security at your group’s hotel. Some hotels and resorts can provide security services as part of the group rate, but others leave it up to the group to hire guards.
If you determine it’s ideal to hire security guards or the hotel provides these services, verify the vetting requirements for the applicants. Some companies require complete background checks and oversight of the qualifications. In contrast, others can be less stringent in their minimum criteria and place untrained and underqualified people in low-traffic areas around the premises.
Protests and Demonstrations
Inquire with your tour operator about how they monitor protests or demonstrations before and during the trip. In many cities, protesters can gain permit approval less than 24 hours before they gather for a rally. Suppose a highly-charged or inappropriate protest is organized near one of your scheduled tour sites. With protest monitoring protocols in place, your tour operator can change the itinerary to avoid unfortunate disruptions and potentially unsafe scenarios.
Regardless of the discipline of your students, the “away-from-home” experience of student group travel may encourage the testing of normal boundaries and rules. This is especially true for students traveling for the first time. Even the best-behaved students can get caught up in the excitement and camaraderie of trying to test the limits of acceptable behavior, especially when there are four or more in a room.
You can mitigate students’ temptation to participate in unsafe or damaging activities while on the trip by choosing hotels with inner hallways and doors and those without balconies or windows that open to the outside. Confirm with your tour operator that the hotel allows additional security measures such as taping doors and chaperones monitoring the halls and common areas.