In a Nutshell
Travel tips: share responsibility, keep to the schedule, frame each day, prevent burnout
On your trip, the participants are your #1 responsibility. It’s also your job to make sure that activities stay on track and on time. It’s a lot of responsibility, but here are some tips from experienced trip leaders that can help.
- Designate one trip leader primarily responsible for the logistics of the itinerary each day
Switching this primary responsibility daily ensures that none of the leaders burns out; having said that, even if one leader is designated in charge, the rest are supporting.
- Keep to the time schedule
Start on time, end on time. Establish this right away, even if it means leaving behind some participants who miss the first scheduled departure. You can leave behind a leader to bring the stragglers.
- Touch base with the other trip leaders and the guide at the start and end of each day
At the start of each day check in and make sure that everyone understands the day’s itinerary, particularly which leader is responsible for what. At the end of each day, debrief; discuss any issues that have come up and how to handle them; go over who is responsible for what in the next day’s itinerary.
- Frame each day for participants
Prepare them emotionally and intellectually for what they will be doing, what they will be seeing, and whom they will meet. Give them a heads-up about what kind of clothing and footwear they should wear for the next day’s itinerary.
- Be the first one on the bus
Give yourself time and space to get organized and ensure that everyone is accounted for.
- Be the driver’s best friend
Include the driver in all meals; take care of him and he’ll take care of you; the bus driver has a limitation of 12 hours maximum each day.
- Spread trip leaders out on the bus and during visits to sites
Spread out so that the trip leaders can interact with as many participants as possible.
- Facilitate conversations
Take time to debrief with participants; facilitate conversations. Emphasize, from day one, that everyone should feel free to ask questions, especially tough ones, even of high-level speakers. Recognize that non-Israelis are less direct and less comfortable asking pointed questions.
- Keep track of your group
Require the participants to alert a trip leader or the tour guide if they leave the group for any reason (bathroom, shopping, etc.)
- Expect to end the day exhausted
Try to pace yourself. When everyone else is exhausted, be energetic and enthusiastic.
- Be responsive, check in with your participants
Keep in touch and try to gauge their needs; be responsive and flexible.
- Think about the special interests of every participant
For example, one of your early mornings in Jerusalem, make time for Muslims in your group to go to Al-Aqsa mosque
- In case of emergency, be prepared and stay calm
Do not leave emergency response solely in the hands of the tour guide. Know where to find the first aid kit and who to call. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. All trip leaders should have contact information for security services, ambulance, the travel company, and so on.
Everyone in the group should have a card with the trek leaders’ contact information and emergency numbers.
- Handle the unexpected
If something unexpected and upsetting happens, try to insulate participants from the chaos.
- Prepare participants for security leaving Israel
It will go more smoothly if participants are prepared for Israel’s thorough security procedures.