Easy Tips for Successful, Stress Free Field Trips

Photo by Jon Sullivan

I plan a lot of field trips for various homeschool groups. I do this because I want my children to have opportunities to experience, see, explore, and learn. Planning field trips and tours allows me to give them these experiences at a more affordable price or with greater depth. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about setting up successful field trips.

  • Never be afraid to ask a company or organization for a field trip or tour. The worst that can happen is that they say no. Most businesses will want to keep you, the potential customer, happy. I’ve had many places tell me that no one has ever asked and they have gone on to design something for us. You may end up with a behind the scenes tour or just a group discount, but you won’t have anything if you don’t take the initiative.
  • Be flexible and work with the business or organization. They are doing a favor for you, so be willing to work with them to meet both your needs and theirs.
  • Be organized. The key to a successful field trip is to be organized. Nothing brings a field trip down faster than a disorganized organizer. Consider setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of participants, amounts, fees, and payments.
  • Do your prep work. Ask the business for all pertinent information up front: minimum and maximum numbers they are willing to do the tour with, age ranges, prices for all ages, the length of the tour, what the tour will involve, etc.
  • Set the date, and then have people sign up. This may seem backwards to some. However, it is almost always impossible to find a date that works for everyone, especially with a diverse group of homeschoolers. Feel free to take into consideration others’ schedules, but plan for something that works for you. If people are available and are interested, they will sign up.
  • Call to confirm numbers. Many businesses will ask how many people are coming, which is something you won’t know until people sign up. Explain that you would like to provide firm numbers and would therefore like to set up a date and have people sign up. Then give a separate date, well in advance of the tour date, that you will call back with those firm numbers. Follow through.
  • Collect payment in advance. People are less likely to flake on an event if they have already paid for it. You want to show the business that you appreciate their time and willingness to cooperate. Having a large number of no-shows is not only unprofessional, it can cost you money. There may be a minimum number that needs to be met in order to reach the group rate. If you haven’t already collected payment from everyone, you may be left footing the bill.
  • Charge something. Free field trips are fantasti,c and many businesses will give them. However, consider charging something to give people an incentive to show up if you think no shows may be an issue. You can use that money to provide an additional activity or snack for participants or consider donating it to the organization. Many non-profit groups who give free tours and presentations can really use donations.

Field trips can be a great way to learn about various topics, including our communities. With some simple planning, you can easily set up successful, stress free field trips.

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