Planning your 2022 overseas school visit

With the pandemic ongoing and travel requirements changing, Justine Lee from the School Travel Forum shares some advice on planning overseas educational visits

There’s no denying it, the continuing pandemic restrictions and changes to travel advice for imminent departures means that planning educational visits or school trips, particularly overseas ventures, may not be at the forefront of teachers’ minds. However, it takes between nine and twelve months to plan and organise a successful overseas visit and many venues and operators are reporting reduced capacity for the future, therefore the time is now for schools to make future plans to ensure their students have the chance to visit the more popular destinations and locations.
Between quarantines, virtual and hybrid learning, and social distancing, students have had a far from normal educational experience recently, and travel restrictions mean their horizons have been considerably limited compared with their older peers.

A powerful impact

School residentials have a powerful and long-lasting impact on pupils and teachers. For many pupils, their school residential is their first opportunity to visit a museum, go to the theatre, travel on a ferry or aeroplane, or to visit another country. Research also shows the overwhelmingly positive impact that educational visits have on student learning, understanding, confidence and independence.

School trips give young people the chance to experience other cultures, understand different communities, connect with their past, see geography in action and more. For many young people it is their first time abroad, and these trips are instrumental in helping young people to broaden their horizons.

While schools are allowed to book future visits, many teachers and group leaders will, quite naturally, be cautious about taking groups away on overnight visits. There is a real desire within schools and amongst organisations that provide educational experiences and trips for students to enjoy a rich broad educational experience once again. Organisations such as the School Travel Forum are doing everything possible to give school leaders the confidence to plan and book overnight visits.

Planning an overseas trip

The Department for Education recommends that schools choose a travel/tour provider or venue that holds the LOtC Quality Badge for off-site educational visits or trips. This accreditation, which is held by all members of the School Travel Forum, is the only award that covers risk management, including infection control, and the quality of education provided.
Most countries have clear policies regarding the entry requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated adults. For children, entry requirements are often based on the country’s own vaccination policy for children and whether children are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult.

If you are travelling with young people under the age of 18 it is important to do your research so that you are clear on the details and have all the information you need. Remember, your School Travel Forum member (who is also an ABTA member) will be able to help you with this.

Over the past year, STF has also been working with its members to ensure future trips are delivered to the highest of standards and that every stage of the journey has been newly risk assessed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Protection when travelling abroad

The team at STF has also worked with ABTA and AXA Insurance to put together a bespoke  travel insurance product specifically for pupils travelling with a school or youth group. STF Travel Sure, which is available to schools and youth groups booking with a STF member, includes Covid-19 cancellation cover should anyone in your group test positive for the virus or be required to self-isolate, and access to a travel companion app for medical assistance when out of the country. Add link to ABTA/STF/AXA web page.
Many schools can also access a government-backed alternative to commercial insurance, the Risk Protection Arrangement, which aims to protect schools against losses due to some unforeseen and unexpected events. You should talk to your senior leadership team and/or business manager about the most appropriate cover for your group – private travel insurance, such as STF Travel Sure, or RPA.

What to think about when planning your educational visit

Once you have decided on the destination for your school or group trip, there are a number of factors to consider. For example, you should read the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office travel advice for the country you are planning to visit. Here you will find a wealth of information including entry requirements, health advice and other mandatory requirements.  They also generally link through to the destination authority’s website where the further information can be found.
You should also read the TravelHealthPro fact sheet for travelling with children, which can be found here as well as the ABTA website.

What you need to check

As you approach your travel date, it is important to be aware of the latest travel guidance and regulations both in the UK and in your destination country. Here is an overview of some of the information that you need to check, more details can be found on the websites mentioned above.

Are children permitted to enter the country when travelling with a fully vaccinated adult or are they only permitted to enter the country with a fully vaccinated parent?

Are children required to take PCR or lateral flow before travel or are they exempt from pre-departure tests?

Are children required to take PCR or lateral flow on arrival in the destination or are they exempt from tests?

What COVID tests do you need to book – based on the ages of children within your party?
Do you and other group leaders need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated?
Do children over the age of 12 need to provide proof of part-vaccinated status?
Make a risk assessment for a situation where a pupil/teacher tests positive in resort.
Understand what your insurance policy will and will not cover you for.
Once you have booked your travel arrangements, keep up to date and read all the literature provided to you by your travel provider.
Remember to check the current rules for returning to the UK for children – based on the ages of the children within your party. When returning to the UK, each national has their own advice: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Where to get further support?

For the latest information and guidelines when organising educational visit or overseas trip, schools can contact their local Outdoor Education Adviser. The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel regularly revises its guidance relating to overnight visits within the UK and your local Outdoor Education Adviser is on hand to provide practical information and advice. You can find details of your local OEA at

FCDO has advice on travelling with children and the Department for Education regularly updates its website with advice and guidelines regarding Covid-19.