Tips for Planning Your First School Sports Tour

Tips for Planning Your First School Sports Tour
Resource added: 10 November 2022

Here are our top tips for first-timers to help guide you through the process.

So, you’ve decided to arrange your very first school sports tour but not sure where to start?

Here are our top tips for first-timers to help guide you through the process.


Think about your group’s requirements and your tour aims

The first and perhaps most important thing to consider is what your aims for the tour are. Why do you want to run the tour? What do you want your students to get out of the tour? And what do you want them to remember?

You’ll then need to think about your group’s specific requirements and how this might affect the accommodation and transport you choose.

You’ll also need to consider how many accompanying staff you’ll need.

Our normal ratios are 1:8 for coach trips and 1:10 for trips by air. If you wish to take more staff, we can arrange this, but it will increase the price for students.

And, speaking of price, one other thing you’ll need to think about is your group’s budget.

If you’re a bit unsure as to what the budget should be, you might find it useful to talk to other teachers in the school, to see what their trips normally cost, and the feedback they’ve had from parents regarding the price point.

Of course, if the school has run sports tours previously, you could look to these as a good guide (but do bear in mind how long ago the last tour was – unfortunately prices do tend to go up, rather than down!).

Start planning as early as possible

This is one of the best pieces of advice we could give you. Planning your tour early will, for a start, make the whole process much less stressful for you – particularly important when it’s your first tour!

You’ll have all the time you need to get everything organised and should avoid any last-minute rushes and panics.

Planning early will also give you much more choice when it comes to transport and accommodation, as there shouldn’t be an issue with availability.

And last, but not least, planning early could make the tour more affordable for pupils and their families. They’ll be able to spread payments out over a longer period, making the tour less of a strain on the family finances.

Getting your trip approved

Once you’ve decided on the basics of your trip, and before you make a provisional booking, you’ll need to get your trip approved.

This means you’ll need to demonstrate that your tour is worthwhile and that the time off timetable for both the pupils and the accompanying staff is justifiable. We’ve put together a guide to help you with this step.


Make sure you book with a reputable operator

Before you make your booking, you need to make sure that you are booking with a reputable tour operator. This is essential to ensure that your tour is financially protected and that you will be properly supported if something goes wrong with your tour.

If you cannot satisfy yourself of these points with regards to your tour operator, there really is no benefit to booking with them.

There are a couple of important accreditations to look for that will tell you that you are booking with a reputable tour operator.

Firstly, it’s our recommendation that you always check that you’re booking with an ABTA member.

This is your reassurance that, in the unlikely event that your tour operator goes bust, you’ll be able to recuperate your money.

And if you’re on tour at the time, you’ll be provided with assistance to make sure you can finish your tour and return home.

If you’ll be flying, you also need to check that your tour operator is ATOL protected. Granted by the Civil Aviation Authority, ATOL membership is another guarantee that you’ll be able to recoup your money should your tour operator go bust, and that you’ll be able to get home if you happen to be on tour at the time.

Here at Halsbury we hold both of these important accreditations and more.

Is your tour operator a school sports tour specialist?

You don’t have to book with a school sports tour specialist. But there are significant benefits to doing so, which we have covered in a previous guide.

If you do choose to book with a school sports tour specialist, there are a couple of other accreditations to look for, to make sure that they really are specialists.

The first is membership of the School Travel Forum. Membership of the STF demonstrates that the tour operator knows what it’s doing when it comes to arranging school tours. It also shows that the tour operator meets the safety standards required by your local authority and that the tour operator understands and responds to the needs of teachers.

Second is the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge. This is awarded to tour operators who show that they offer good quality learning outside the classroom and, essentially, that they manage risk effectively.

Again, Halsbury holds both of these accreditations and more – in fact, we’re also a Youth Sport Trust Preferred Supplier.

Consult with your finance department

Before you send letters out to parents, you’ll need to know how, who and when they need to pay.

Will you need to collect payments or should parents direct these to the school’s finance office? Can they pay by cash, cheque or card? Or, perhaps the school has an online payment portal through which they can make payments?

Your tour operator will have provided you with a payment schedule. You’ll need to run this by your finance office to work out the payment schedule for parents, to make sure you’re able to meet these deadlines.

Only once you’re clear on these details can you send letters out to parents.

Launching your tour

Promotion to students

Your tour operator will have quoted you based on a certain number of paying passengers. In order to confirm the price quoted, you’ll need to reach that number.

If you can’t, it’s likely that your tour operator will need to requote you and, if you have significantly fewer students signed up than expected, the price per person is likely to rise.

So, you’ll need to ensure you promote your tour really well. This might include putting up posters around schools and going into assemblies to speak to students about your tour. We’ve designed a few free promotional materials to help you with this step, so please feel free to use them.

Getting parents on board

You’ve already proved your tour is worthwhile to the powers at be at school. And you’ve got students interested in joining up. Your next hurdle is to convince parents, as they’ll be the ones deciding whether their children can go.

Again, we’ve put together a useful resource to help you with this step.

Confirming your booking

Once you’ve got all your students signed up and collected their initial deposits it’s time to confirm your booking. If the final numbers of students is significantly different to that which your quote is based on, your tour operator may need to requote you.

Otherwise, it’s time to start planning the finer details – at Halsbury you’ll be assigned a dedicated Itinerary Coordinator to help you with this process.

Before you go

Risk assessments

Performing risk assessments is an important part of planning a school trip and unfortunately, unlike almost every other administrative task, your tour operator will not be able to do this for you.

Your risk assessment must be based on the specific requirements of your group, which no one understands better than you.

However, using a good tour operator, like Halsbury, will make your life easier when it comes to completing risk assessments.

If you choose Halsbury, for example, you’ll be able to use our strong Safety Management System as part of your risk assessment, which we developed as a member of the School Travel Forum.

What to pack

A couple of weeks before you travel, you may find parents and students asking what they need to pack.

Most hotels do not supply towels, so that might be an important inclusion. And anywhere that may be sunny should warrant the inclusion of sun protection on the list.

You can anticipate this and make sure that everyone brings everything they need by drawing up a packing checklist. We've created some packing checklists that you are welcome to download and distribute to your students.

Prepare for the journey

Your travel to the resort may consist of a short flight and a couple of relatively quick coach transfers. But it might not and if you do have a long journey ahead of you, it may be worth putting together some entertainment to break up the journey, whether that’s a DVD, a coach singalong or a game or quiz.

And don’t forget, we’ve been arranging school tours for more than 35 years!

We’ll be with you every step of the way, so for any advice or information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.