It’s the time of year at Pacific Ridge when families are dragging duffel bags out of the closet and searching for travel-size toothpaste in the medicine cabinet. By now you may have read every word of the trip information provided by the Global Programs staff and your child is already packed and ready to go. But, if your household runs like most, you may not be there just yet. Here are some quick reminders to help you and your child get ready for their global adventure.
1. The Importance of a Well-Packed Bag
All Pacific Ridge global trips have packing lists. These are carefully developed using local knowledge and trip history as a guide. Please review them with your child – who should be an active participant in the packing process - and try to make sure they adhere to the lists as much as possible. This may mean assuring your fashion-forward child that a unique, color- coordinated outfit is not needed for every day of the week. It may also mean explaining to your minimalist child that bringing more than one pair of socks is a good idea. In general, traveling lighter is better, focusing on the essentials. Remember, students need to heft their own luggage at least some of the time on their trip!
2. Food and the Unfamiliar
Often, our kids aren’t used to having limited control over what they eat and the prospect may make them anxious. For some students, the cuisine on a global trip will be very familiar, but for some it will not. Food is an important part of a cultural experience and we encourage students to allow their taste buds to explore the world too. However, there are ways to mitigate anxiety around food. Finding a local restaurant that serves a particular cuisine can give your traveler’s palate some practice. Also, packing a supply of snacks can let students know that they will have some familiar food along the way. Questions about snacks? Have your child talk to her/his trip leader. Most of all, try to encourage your child to sample food on the trip. They just may discover a new favorite dish!
3. Headaches, Tummy Aches and…
No one wants to think about getting sick on a trip but sometimes it happens. Chaperones are only able to carry a limited supply of items and students may not share medications among themselves, so it is important that you fortify your child with what you believe they will need. Be sure to pack a personal OTC medical kit using your child’s age, their most common minor ailments and their trip destination to guide the quantities you send. The Global Programs page in PowerSchool contains a helpful list of suggested items. Carefully review with your child the instructions for any medication and the situations in which they should use it. For example, a bag full of fiber gummies is not a snack substitute, no matter how appetizing they may look!
4. Personal Medications
If you haven’t done so already, please contact Nursing with what prescription medications your student will be using during travel. All students may self-carry emergency medications such as inhalers or epi-pens. As long as Nursing is aware of the medication, upper school students may self-carry and self-administer their own personal prescription medications. Chaperones will carry and administer prescriptions for middle school students. Students are not allowed to share any medications, prescription or OTC.
5. Gearing Up
A number of trips, most notably the 10th-Grade Northern Sierras adventure, require special gear. There are many opportunities to acquire or borrow gear from families with older PRS students instead of paying full price. No need to be shy about approaching other parents - most would be more than happy to dig a backpack out of the garage for you. They probably borrowed plenty of gear when their child needed it. PRS global travel is a community effort!
6. Money Money Money
Several trips visit areas where spending money can come in handy. This is indicated in each trip’s preparation materials. The amount you send with your child is a personal decision, but we encourage parents to keep the emphasis off of consumerism and remind children that good memories and new friendships are better to bring home than trinkets. The memories also take up less luggage space.
7. I Need My Phone!!!!
Surprising to some, most of our trips are cell phone-free. This policy was implemented a few years ago when it became clear that texting and phone time was preventing students from fully experiencing their surroundings. While many adolescents (including your own) may balk at the idea of doing without a phone, we’ve found that students returning from trips report truly enjoying the adventure of being unplugged. Encourage your child to meet the challenge!
8. But, What About Photos?
The cell phone policy doesn’t mean your child will come home with no visual reminders of their experience. PRS chaperones will be taking tons of great photos throughout the trip. These images are posted to the blog each day for parents and family members to view and later uploaded to a central archive that students can access and copy from. If your child really wants to take her/his own photos, dig out that old point-and-shoot or DSLR camera from the electronics drawer or get on Ebay and purchase an inexpensive used camera. Pairs or small groups of students on a trip may choose to share a camera to make sure they bring back plenty of photos. Fear not – there will be selfies!
Please remind your traveler that they should get permission from locals to take their photos and to do so only when it seems appropriate.