I'm currently preparing for a school trip abroad to Portugal, so I've been reflecting a lot on what advice I'd like to share with you. I'll do a whole other blog post about school trips and my experiences with them (and will of course take notes during this trip!) but for today I am going to specifically tell you what I am packing for the journey aspect of the trip!
Here is my packing list for the carry-on luggage of the journey:
- Wallet: money in current and foreign currency if needed. Also, take bank cards for emergencies.
- ID: driver's licence or passport if going abroad.
- First aid kit: plasters, cleansing wipes, bandages etc. I also go a step further and take my own "sick kit" as it breaks my heart when I see a student covered in their own puke for an entire journey (especially those long, killer 12-14 hour drives to France or Germany from the UK!?) Yes, some of my colleagues thought I was nuts at first when they saw my kit, but let me tell you... on one trip I was on, 4 kids threw up on a coach in the space of an hour :o but thankfully there was no mess and much less self esteem damage thanks to my preparation. Happy kids, happy teachers, happy coach driver. Score. I'll do another blog post on my "sick kit" as it is a winning combination!
- Mobile phone: goes without saying really, except being the "one step further" kinda teacher I am, I bring a back up pay as you go phone with me as well. Yep. You just never know...
- Important numbers: I keep all important numbers on my phone such as: contacts of colleagues on the trip, emergency services, accommodation, hospitals, embassies... these are numbers you need at the touch of your fingers - you don't have time to be fumbling through papers in an emergency, or looking online to find relevant information. Just have them ready on your phone (and have them printed and written somewhere as well just in case..)
- Back up charger and cables: this will definitely come in useful. Even if you don't end up needing it yourself, you can guarantee some students will have rinsed their phone batteries on a long journey playing Candy Crush or Snap-chatting etc! Last thing you want are stressed out parents not being able to contact their children...!
- Wet wipes: just because they clean everythingggg.
- Toiletries: if you're boarding a plane you'll likely need to ensure all liquids are less than 100ml in volume and are contained in a clear 20x20cm bag. Some essentials are:
* deoderant - especially great for those longer journeys
* mini perfume - something refreshing, not too strong
* hand sanitizer - great to clean up before a snack
* sun protection: I am going to take a teeny tiny little bottle just to apply when we get off the plane
* lip balm: I can't go anywhere without one!
- Feminine products: all my girls know what's up here... :)
- Snacks: my snacks of choice are cereal bars as they're filling, tasty and don't take up much space in a bag. It might be worth bringing a couple of extra bits for any poor little cherubs who forget their food.
- Sunglasses: if your final destination is sunny, then you'll want to be prepared!
- Headphones: I'm taking these as a "just in case" item or for a quick hands free call. As I am on duty, I don't think I will be chilling listening to music as I want to be alert looking after the students and socialising with them.
- Book / kindle / tablet: OK so usually these are common carry on items for entertainment so I feel I should mention them, but I don't think I personally will take anything as I want to remain alert. Plus I think can get by with just my phone, if needs be. (If after the trip I seriously regret this, I'll be sure to write a follow-up blog post!)
- DVDs: not so much for me as I won't have a long coach journey this time, but if you're travelling by coach it will definitely be worth your while bringing some DVDs (if your coach has a player). I took 3 videos on a 6 hour drive once, and the journey went by in a blink!
- Camera: most people probably won't need a camera if they have a smart phone, but I don't want photos of students on my personal phone so I am bringing a separate school camera.
- Medication: I can get a bit queasy when traveling, so I like to take travel sickness pills, travel bands and painkillers. I want to feel the best I can so all my focus can be on the students and their safety.
A few tips on keeping things condensed:
- Get rid of packaging. Seriously, it bulks up your bag. I take all medication and other essentials out of their boxes and either put them in little baggies or in smaller pockets in my bag.
- Only take a few of each item: Instead of taking the whole pack of plasters or pills, just tear off a few and pack the rest in your main luggage.
- Pack smart. It took me 5 attempts to get all this stuff to fit in my bag! I eventually found a method of making it all fit by stacking the bulkier items in sideways along the bottom and making effective use of my bag's pockets. Keep fiddling until you find the "right" way for you!