In It For The Long Haul
When it comes to travel, it’s easy to spend a lot, get carried away with yourself and think oh-it’s-just-this-once. But conversely, it’s also possible to have a spectacular trip to an exotic destination without blowing the bank to smithereens. That’s the sort of trip we love.
So let’s take a look at ways to put an unforgettable long-haul experience within the grasp of your group, all the while keeping the purse strings tight. And you might be surprised by our recommendations for big-hitting but affordable destinations that will take you far from home.
Making Your Budget Go Far
It makes sense: the further away your destination is, the more it’ll cost, right? Well, yes and no. Choosing a nearer-to-home spot can eke your budget out and has the benefit of giving you more time on the ground. But if you’re looking for a real culture-shocker of an experience that takes you places far-removed from your daily life, a destination considered ‘long haul’ from the UK is likely to deliver. Luckily, long haul doesn’t automatically equate with exorbitantly expensive – there are lots of far-away places that are certainly do-able.
Choosing a cost-effective itinerary has clear benefits: an affordable trip to an exciting destination will attract a bigger group and a bigger group brings with it economies of scale. A less daunting price tag is also an advantage when it comes to fund-raising. Giving students a target that’s achievable is motivating rather than overwhelming.
So what are our top tips for going the distance, but staying within budget?
Be prepared. Booking more than a year in advance takes full advantage of early-bird airfares.
Check your group size. The more really is the merrier if your aim is to make long haul affordable. That might mean opening the trip to a wider group of students than originally planned in order to boost numbers.
Be persuasive. To encourage sign up, leave nothing to doubt. Be prepared to share with parents full details of what will go on every day you’re away. We’re always happy to come in and deliver a comprehensive information evening on the planned trip.
Include a stop over. Although your journey time will be longer, flights that are broken up often work out a lot cheaper than direct routes. There might also be the chance for a whirlwind city tour!
Focus on the details. Make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t included in the package offered by your travel company. A provider that includes safety documentation such as risk assessments, EVAC plans and country threat assessments, as well as emergency cards and travel safety training for teachers and students is delivering added value by reducing your workload.
Do your research. While peak summer is expensive for pretty much all long-haul destinations, there could be spikes at other times, too. Be aware of religious festivals, for example – lots of families travel to and from the UK to celebrate with relatives, increasing pressure on seats and pushing up prices.
Some of our favourite destinations blend adventure and experience with extraordinary landscapes and vibrant cultures – all at a reasonable cost. How come? They benefit from busy flight schedules and low cost of living when you get there, including food, transport and accommodation. When we’re in-country, we like to live like the locals and we have plenty of trusted on-the-ground contacts who help us do that. This avoids tourist-trap prices as well as delivering a unique experience.
Want to learn more? Get in touch and we’ll happily talk through the options and give you an idea of costs. Oh, and if you want the ultimate in long-haul adventure ‘feel’, but short haul flight time and prices, then don’t forget Morocco!
India: mountains and deserts, beaches and jungles – you’ll find them all in India. The culture is buzzing and diverse. The contrast between traditional rural and modern urban life is sometimes mind-boggling. Spend between 8 and 25 days with us exploring the faith, wildlife and complex history of this most fascinating nation.
Vietnam: while its history may be familiar, Vietnam is a destination that feels quite mysterious. Adventure comes in the form of trekking, sea kayaking and cycling against a backdrop of awe-inspiring landscapes. On a trip of 11 to 25 days, you can experience the culture, take part in project work and, of course, taste some delicious food.
Nepal: mountainous Nepal certainly is the roof of the world and a destination that might (literally) take your breath away. The trekking here is second to none, as is the welcome given by locals. Surprises come in the form of tropical jungles and high-adrenaline adventures. Join us on a trip of 11 to 17 days and discover there’s much more to explore than Everest.
Ghana: the one-time Gold Coast is a country rich in culture, where European influences blend with African warmth and vibrancy. If you want a friendly welcome, head to Ghana. Throw in lush rainforest and crater lakes along with slave trade history, cocoa and coffee and you have plenty to pack an itinerary of 11 to 17 days.
It’s Been Another Adventurous Summer At STC Expeditions
Both Withington Girls' School and St John the Baptist headed to Kenya. A highlight of both trips was time spent with the Maasai people, learning about their culture and the challenges of conservation when humans share the Rift Valley with predators.
Diving among exotic fish, rays and reef sharks was just one part of the trips taken to Borneo by Uppingham and Exeter School. On tough jungle treks, their endurance was tested and wildlife was spotted – from orang-utans to flying squirrels.
It was off to the Azores for groups from Sacred Heart, Plymouth High School for Girls and Woldingham School. As if kayaking in crater lakes wasn’t enough, they also explored unique volcanic landscapes – taking a dip in a hot-water swimming pool and exploring tunnels (known as ‘lava tubes’) carved by molten rock.
With other groups travelling in Morocco, China, Ghana, Costa Rica, Ecuador and India, 2019 has been our busiest summer ever and the feedback has been fantastic. Catch up on some recent reviews from our teachers here.