Places to visit in Europe

The Big Day at last: start of the journey

There are 101 things to do at the start of any journey. Here are some tips which if followed, should offer you every chance of a successful start.

Use the method favoured by pilots since the dawn of aviation history: the checklist.

Check everything yet again before you start, point by point, with the help of a detailed list drawn up over the course of your preparation, to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Try to arrive first at the point of departure. The welcoming phase, when you share with your pupils the nervous excitement that precedes any departure, is very important from a psychological point of view and will help strengthen your relationship with them.
Before you leave, remember to check the numbers and dates of issue of your pupils’ identity cards, or photocopy them. In case of loss, you will have proof of their existence at the frontier.
Try to build up team spirit amongst the group of accompanying adults. Allocate tasks clearly and ensure that information circulates easily and regularly within the group and where appropriate, that it is conveyed to the pupils. Be clear as to meeting times and places, starting with the departure-point. Always have an alternative solution ready, and make contingency plans.
At the airport, centralise tickets, identity papers, and boarding passes when checking in.
When going through customs, ensure that no-one is carrying a penknife or other cutting instrument that would be confiscated by the security officers when the luggage goes through the X-ray machine. These objects must be placed with the luggage being carried in the baggage hold. On arrival, collect all your luggage before going through customs together. If you have taken the precaution of attaching a distinctive label or sign to your group’s luggage - a large red pom-pom, for example - you will save a lot of time.

During your visit

Try to judge the level of apathy within the group, and avoid long waits and indecision between visits which are a source of loss of motivation and rowdy behaviour. Before each stage, assemble your flock and explain clearly what is going to happen and what is expected of them. Any group must have a clear leader: an iron fist in a velvet glove is an expression which fits this situation beautifully.

When making a long trip by coach, plan a break before plunging into a museum for a morning’s serious study. Your pupils will be all the more attentive later.

If you or one of your colleagues makes a purchase on behalf of the group, ask always for a receipt, especially when paying cash. This will help you keep within your budget and also provide proof in case of dispute at a later date.

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