If you plan it right, an overnight field trip with a group of kids can be very rewarding. If you don’t plan it right, an overnight field trip can be overwhelming. That’s why this Traveling Mom is sharing her tips for planning a successful overnight field trip. Make your chaperone experience relaxing and easy with these 11 tips.
Tips for a Successful Overnight Field Trip
If you’ve ever been a chaperone, you know how stressful it is to be responsible for a large group of kids. You can also appreciate the rewards that come with it. As a former teacher, camp counselor, and a current youth group leader, I’ve been on my fair share of overnight trips with kids. Here are 11 of my favorite tips to ensure everyone, including chaperones, has an enjoyable experience.
Book a suite instead of a standard hotel room
When traveling with a large group of kids, you don’t have to impress them with an over-the-top hotel room. They will be happy enough just to stay in a hotel room by themselves. If you book a simple suite you can get more bang for your buck by sleeping up to 6 kids in one room (more if you bring a blowup mattress or two).
Make friends with the hotel staff
Make sure the staff know that you are staying with a large group of kids. If they know ahead of time what to expect they will be more likely to happily accommodate you when someone gets locked out of their hotel room, which I assure you will happen.
Ask for extra keys ahead of time
Kids will forget their keys. As soon as you check in, ask for an extra key for each room. This way you (the chaperone) always has access to the rooms.
Buy bulk snacks
Even if you have the budget to eat out while on your trip, kids get hungry between meals. Make sure to pick up lots of healthy travel snacks at a wholesale store. I suggest trail mix, granola bars, and fruit snacks.
Carefully group your kids
There will be times, such as in the hotel rooms or out and about, where you will need to group the kids. Carefully consider how you group them. If you are doing a theme park such as Disney, you may want to group them according to their interests in rides. If you are grouping them for sleeping, you probably want to group them by age and social interests.
Make sure you have a variety of dynamic chaperones
Different kids will connect with different adults. Therefore, make sure to have a variety of personalities when it comes to picking your chaperones. A variety of ages is good too!
It’s important to make sure that your chaperones enjoy the activities that you are going to attend. No one, yourself included, wants to be paired with a grouchy chaperone.
Pick engaging activities for down time
Chances are that if you are going on a field trip, your activities are picked for you. But what should you do during down time? Make sure to have a variety of car games up your sleeve during travel time. Research car games and scavenger hunts before you leave for your trip.
Take a group photo first thing every day
I know no one wants to think about kids getting lost, but the truth is, it happens. If you have a group photo first thing, you will make sure to know what each kid is wearing that day. In the case of an emergency, all you have to do is send that picture to the authorities. Also, it’s easier to get the kids together first thing rather than waiting until the end of the day when they are tired.
TravelingMom Tip: Don’t let the kids know why you are taking pictures of them. Let them think it’s a group picture for the parents. Which it totally is, right? Two birds, one stone.
Take lots of pictures for parents
Here’s an easy segue from the last point, right? Take lots of pictures and send them to the parents. It’s easy to set up a group message for a couple of days and send tons of pictures. Once you get home, load them to Google Drive and email parents a link to the folder. I promise they will love you for this!
Keep parents posted
You may be surprised, but a lot of kids don’t do nights away from their parents these days. For many of your kids, this may be the first time they are going away from mom and dad. Send text updates often to make sure their parents’ minds are at ease. The end of the day and first thing in the morning are always the most important!
This is the tip that I have a hard time following. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of a large group of kids. Make sure to enjoy yourself too. Kids are watching and they will notice if you are stressed. They are watching you to figure out how to travel. Be a good role model and show them the beauty of travel.