I would not consider myself a well-traveled person. I’ve been to Hawaii almost every year of my life (and for many years I got TWO trips thanks to my divorced parents) and I’ve done a decent amount of domestic travel, but anywhere else has never been an option because I’m busy paying bills (those student loans are all up in my business). But that’s ok – going to Hawaii is just fine for me.
HOWEVER, my husband, Thor, works for Nike and a few years ago he started traveling like crazy for work. All of a sudden he was a jet set international traveler, regularly hitting multiple places in Asia and some of Europe. They fly him first class and he’s checking in on Facebook at the Ritz Carlton. He comes home saying, “We ate at a Michelin starred restaurant,” and how he is downright pampered in first class. I can’t help but be jealous! I thought to myself, “It’s not like I’m ever going to get a free trip from being a teacher – they can’t even afford new books…”
He even asked me to download an app called, “been” where you click all the countries you’ve been. I exclaimed, “Whyyyyy???? Are you trying to torture me???”
Ironically just a few days later, my colleague, Kyle, asked me to join him at a free happy hour for a student travel company. He promised I didn’t have to sign up for anything – just drink free wine and eat free food and hang with him – so I did…
But you know how it goes when you’ve had a few glasses of wine and your friends are cracking you up (you’re still bitter about your husband’s free trips) – your defenses are down. Pretty soon I was scheduling a meeting with one of their travel consultants just to TALK about chaperoning some students on an international trip. Maybe. Probably not. Very doubtful.
Then I threw it out to my teaching partner, “Hey Josh – would you ever want to take some students to Europe with me? Am I crazy??” and week later we were both signing our names on the dotted line: Greece Summer 2016 for nine days. As neither of us have been to Europe, AND our trip will be free (and chocked full of sightseeing), this was pretty exciting.
Just a couple weeks later, my mom asked, “Do you want to go to Paris with me this summer? Maybe a few days in Amsterdam?” Um – ok! That was unexpected. All of a sudden I’m booking a cool Parisian apartment on Airbnb, and if you read my blog you know that I’m busy relearning mon francais.
Cool – right? Finally after all these years, I figured out how to get to Europe on a budget!
Then our school tour consultant says, “Oh yeah – and don’t forget to pick your training trip that comes before you take students on the real thing!” Suddenly Josh and I are signed up for a five day trip to Barcelona in January. For free.
Here’s the deal: I promise I’m not trying to brag, “WOOHOO for meeeee! I’m going to all these amazing places!” My point is that if you are frustrated, annoyed, or even apathetic (like I was) that you can’t travel somewhere because you’re broke – there might be other options. Step outside what you know.
If you had asked me a couple years ago about taking students on an international trip, I would have said no no no no no nooooooo NOOOOOOOO. Hell NO. It sounds stressful, maybe dangerous, probably intensely exhausting. Most people know I’m not a big fan of spending several days with my students at Outdoor School, but after hearing Kyle talk about taking his students to Costa Rica and then seeing his pictures, I realized it might not be that terrible. And now knowing that my very organized and very responsible and very fun teaching partner is willing to partner with me – I can digest that we are literally going to take our students on a plane, to wander a country who’s financial system is crumbling, but I’m sure we’ll eat some souvlaki and see the Acropolis and I’ll be fine.
Thor often complains that even when he gets to travel for work, he doesn’t get to do a lot of exploring or sightseeing. He’s working. On our student trips, we’ll be working and doing a ridiculous amount of sightseeing (since that’s the point of the trip). We won’t be flying first class, or staying at the Ritz Carlton (I’m just crossing my fingers for a Holiday Inn), but I stepped outside my comfort zone and it’s happening.
Are you a teacher who’s curious about the student travel company? Check it out here: EF Tours. Since we haven’t gone on our trip yet, I can’t fully endorse them – but so far they are coddling us newbies.