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Picture this: you’ve finally reached your trip destination. You’re beyond excited for your group to see the event you spent a year planning. Then, you look up only to see most of the students staring at their smart phones. You’re awash in disappointment.

This situation is all-too common on educational trips. It can be hard to compete with SnapChat, Instagram and text messaging. We’d like to help you encourage your students to put the device away and absorb the experience around them, but first, we should acknowledge that smart phones do offer some respectable benefits.

The travel industry is filled with rewards and challenges. Often, the challenges stand out: People are quick to respond when things go wrong, or perhaps not as well as expected.

In my 27 years of working in the travel industry, a handful of e-mails and thank-you notes have truly touched my heart. These notes are wonderful reminders of what makes this career so special. I recently received a note that stood out, amidst the hectic spring travel season when things feel overwhelming and stressful.

Traveling abroad, especially with close friends and classmates, is a very exciting opportunity. For those who have not been outside the U.S., it also can be overwhelming to experience different social norms and safety concerns. Whether visiting our neighbor Canada or heading overseas, it’s important to remember that you are representing not only yourself, but also your instructor, peers, school and country!