But the availability and convenience of such expansive coverage comes at a cost. Add in the price of fuel, maintenance, manpower and more, and air travel can quickly become cost prohibitive for many.
If you want to travel by air but don’t want to pay the exorbitant cost, there are some inventive ways you can earn free — yes, free — transport. This article is the third in a travel series to show you how.
The Technique: Organize Student Travel
If you enjoy working with teenagers and possess leadership and planning skills, you might be the perfect candidate to spearhead a domestic or international adventure in cooperation with a local school in your area. Some reputable travel companies award complimentary travel (air and accommodations) to an individual who organizes a group of teens for a single educational tour package. The person recruits the teens (along with interested parents/guardians/guests) to all tour together; with their paid packages, the coordinator then gets to travel with them for free! The travel coordinator can be a parent, a teacher in the off-season (think summer or winter break), or any competent adult.
The Expectations: Your Responsibilities
You will serve as the point person between potential teen travelers, the school, and the tour company. You may be the person to make a presentation in school about the event, distribute informative flyers, help register individuals, aid them in obtaining passports and facilitate roommate assignments; in short, you are the liaison between the tour company (represented by phone operators, bus drivers, tour guides, the billing personnel, etc.) and the members before and while on tour. Different companies have different requirements, but the good news is this: a group coordinator gets to enjoy the travel experience just like everyone else!
Getting Started: Researching Some Options
Lots of options exist, especially with tour companies that cater to different types of educational opportunities, disciplines (such as tours which focus on art history or political overviews) and interests (such as tours with a learning-the-language focus or an experiencing-local-cuisine focus food/wine focus). However, to get a taste of available options, consider looking into the following groups.
- Education First: One of the most popular in business, this tour company promises to give travelers the educational opportunity of a lifetime. When six individuals sign up for a single trip, the designated Group Leader gets to travel for free! That Group Leader also gets "trained" internationally on a tour of their own via convention spots that include Paris, Rome, Beijing, Madrid and Berlin. Facebook contests, free posters, teen fundraising ideas and a company best price guarantee are just some of the strong assets that a Group Leaders has in "selling" the tour to potential travelers. If a large group is traveling, every six travelers earns another "Leader" spot for free, so a group of 36 would be able to have six adults travel for free.
- Junior Tours: If international travel is not yet something you are willing to try with a group of teens, show them the beauty of America by going to historical sites via Junior Tours. This company focuses on customizable educational packages to places like D.C., Williamsburg, Boston and more. In New York, students have the option to participate in Master Classes while on tour to learn a skill, like improvisation or costume design. To help defray expenses, students can fundraise using company scratch cards and by applying for scholarships. This smaller-sized company allows tour customization and flexible date planning, which is an advantage over some of the larger companies. When 20 students travel, an adult chaperone travels free — and gets a $500 stipend!
- Brightspark Travel: Are you a teacher who is off during the summer? Dream of going on a travel adventure but don't have the money — or a lot of planning know-how? Use Brightspark Travel to get help setting up a domestic or international trip for you and your students, and then learn how to lead them at a company summer convention, free for you when you enroll a "class" of 40 students. Consider a college or university-centered tour as well. How does Literature in London or Business in Barcelona sound?
Have you served as a group coordinator of student travel, or did you ever travel as a student in a group? What was your experience? Share it in the "comments" section below.
If you are interested in flying for free but don't want to chance being a volunteer, stay tuned! More articles in this series will show you can make your travel dreams a reality.
More articles in this series: