Here’s what we’ve covered so far in our Google Blog Series…

Google can help in countless ways when it comes to planning a trip.  If you missed my previous blogs, I discussed the benefits of using Google Sites as a warehouse for trip documents, Google Sheets as a powerhouse for sending personal emails in bulk, and Google Calendar as an integral tool to share deadlines with parents.

Next up in the Google Blog Series is how Google Docs makes planning your school trip much easier.

Go back to Part Three: Google Calendar…

Using Google Docs

Google Docs is probably the app most people are familiar with. It’s Google’s word processing tool, but please don’t limit yourself to JUST word processing! Google powers our 8th grade DC Trip and Docs is where it begins.

A simple, yet gorgeous flyer kicks off our trip by advertising our Parent Information Night in late February. The date, time, and location are included, but we add a link to our emails as well as our website for our trip. We even include a collage of DC pictures to spark interest in the historical venues we visit! We send this out via email, post it on our website, print it to hand out to our potential travelers, and hang them around the school.

But creating a flyer is only the tip of the iceberg of ways to use Google Docs!

We create a Google Doc to share major pieces of information we need or offer for our trip. A link to our Student Behavior Contract (Google Forms), a link to our Emergency Medical Information (a combination of Forms, Sheets, and Docs), meeting reminders, links to our tentative itinerary (Google Docs), a link to our t-shirt sales (Google Forms), and a link to our bus lists (Google Sheets).

I retype our itinerary on a Google Doc and include links to the venues we visit. This can also be printed for those who prefer a paper copy. (Remember how I add our itinerary to the Google Calendar? Some prefer paper, some prefer digital – we provide both!) I then take this itinerary and create a more detailed one for our chaperones with reminders specific to each venue. It’s all the things we want our chaperones to know but impossible to simply remember. Having it in your hand helps … a LOT!

At our mandatory meeting, we hand out a packet created in Google Docs. This covers everything from behavior expectations, how we handle medication, phone numbers, bus and hotel procedures, and more.

We offer two rounds of scholarships for our trip. Want to take a guess where we create the scholarship application? Yep, Google Docs! We post it on our website, email out a link to the parents, and we print it for the students at school. (Remember when we covered Google Calendar? Yep – the dates are posted on there!)

The final Google Doc I want to share with you is definitely not for the faint of heart! It’s not something to tackle your first time out! We collect a tremendous amount of information when we have parents fill out the EMA Form – it’s better to ask and know. But we don’t need to travel with ALL of it in printed form, so I use an “Add-On” in Sheets to do a mail merge of sorts. I only bring over the most vital information to print and carry — (did I mention the Google Drive App? You can always access ALL the information collected, if necessary) — and this is what is printed and parents sign.

All of the above Docs are super easy to embed on your Site, share digitally, or even print. Important dates are super easy to add to your Calendar, which then shows up on your Calendar on your Site. AND… an added benefit to a Site is that your Docs, Calendar, and links are “live” – meaning they’ll update automatically whenever you make a change. Finally, if you discover a typo or you need to update a link, you can do that on your Doc and it will be automatically be updated on your Site for everyone to see!

Don’t tackle them all in one year, but definitely try one. I promise you’ll quickly see the value and want to tackle them all!

Go straight to Part Five: Google Forms…

The next article in this six-part series will cover how to use Google Forms to efficiently and effectively collect necessary information from your travelers and parents.

To start planning your educational tour, please browse NationsClassroom’s tours or request more information.

Originally published May 2018, updated July 2021