While the concept of a “Grand Tour” has historical roots as a rite of passage for the educated upper class, teachers continue to believe in the positive educational, cultural and social impact of travel for all students.
In fact, research shows the benefits of student travel have a ripple effect that last a lifetime.
"The Grand Tour offered a liberal education, and the opportunity to acquire things otherwise unavailable, lending an air of accomplishment and prestige to the traveler."
While the concept of a grand tour is not new, today's tours are different in length and destination. Many educational tours today are chaperone-led trips to foreign countries or popular regions of the U.S., including places like Washington D.C., New York City, and the National Parks.
One constant is that travel offers the chance to have experiences unavailable at home.
The Gift of a New Perspective
In the U.S., travel means different things to different families. Travel might be an annual trip to a relative's house, an amusement park, or an all-inclusive vacation.
Traveling nationally or internationally on an educational tour, students have a chance to blow their perspective wide open about what travel means to them.
After decades of leading tours for students and collecting data each year, the Student & Youth Travel Digest published fact-based findings regarding the positive ways educational travel impacts kids.
These benefits happen during the travel experience itself, and then continue like a ripple effect through the rest of their lives.
Travel Broadens Perspective & Helps Students Connect the Dots
"A lot of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. So they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem." Steve Jobs
The primary goal of leading student travel groups is to provide an opportunity for young people to experience things that help them connect the dots.
The changes and shifts that take place as a result of these trips, which take place at both micro- and macro-levels, are often life-changing.
Long after their travels, 60% of students who've participated in group tours to other countries report an increased desire to learn, grow and explore more - as well as an enhanced desire to continue traveling.
Students are More Open to New Experiences
One of the simplest and most impactful ways to demonstrate that new experiences are worth having is by seeing students engaged in new cultural experiences.
How do you provide new cultural experiences for your students? At the smallest scale, we find that 70% of students who travel to other countries increase their desire to try new foods. Let's face it, food is one thing that all cultures have in common - and those foods vary from region-to-region and country-to-country.
Activities like riding the subway, attending a play, or visiting a cultural museum also serve as stepping stones to helping your students become more culturally aware.
Students Feel More Comfortable Being and Expressing Themselves
Research has shown that 40% of students who travel abroad become more outgoing, and 42% say they learned to express themselves better as a result of traveling.
Newfound confidence sticks with them upon their return, giving them more confidence in their day-to-day activities and to take on new experiences. This is summed up by the 56% of respondents that said traveling increased their feelings of independence, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Leverage Student Travel for a Truly Positive Social Impact
Leading student travel groups is a meaningful way for educators to extend learning to outside of the classroom and allow students to play, experiment and grow their learning "in the field." It fosters the modern-era version of The Grand Tour, and the results of this hands-on learning yields a range of positive social impacts - from the very personal to the very global.
For information about grand tours that will impact and inspire your students, Browse Our Tours.
Originally published May, 2017, updated August, 2020