You are looking for the perfect educational student tour. The kind of tour for which students sign up in droves with giddy excitement. The kind of tour that will be transformative for your students, ingrained permanently within their memory. The kind of tour that will cause parents and students alike to say with admiration, “Wow! Mrs./Mr. [name] really did a great job!”
Or…maybe your school administration informed you that a school trip was a required element of their curriculum, and you are perspiring just thinking about where to start.
Either way, you find yourself in a position overwhelmed by the cacophony of student travel companies vying for your business. To help cut through that noise, here are 11 ways we at Joshua Expeditions are different from other student travel companies:
1. We Aren’t A Student Travel Company
Well, sort of. Maybe we should clarify by saying that we aren’t a student travel company simply “vying for your business.” Joshua Expeditions is actually a nonprofit. Most for-profit travel companies are motivated by profits, by money. Everything revolves around the bottom line.
Obviously, we have accountants who look after how much money comes in and how much goes out. After all, we have a space to rent and employees to pay.
But our motivation for what we do runs much deeper. In what ways? Glad you asked. That moves us onward.
2. We Are A Ministry
We view JE not primarily as a business but as a ministry. Service motivates us in two ways:
- We serve you, our travelers. (More on that momentarily.)
- We serve those most in need around the world.
Many years ago, our CEO and co-founder was a child refugee fleeing from Iran. That was such a life-altering experience that supporting refugees, orphans, and homeless communities around the world has always been an essential element of JE.
This is why we developed our Food for the Children program. Through this program, one tour supports one orphanage or shelter with a week’s supply of food. On top of that, our tours help us sponsor fifty children in Uganda with food, clothing, basic necessities, and a Christian education.
And that’s not the only way we serve those in need.
3. We Encourage Service On Every JE Tour
When you sign up for a JE Tour, we can’t force you to take a full or half day to serve with one of our ministry partners. Some itineraries simply do not have the time or budget for it, which is perfectly fine.
However, we encourage every group to do their best to make some time. This is not meant to be only a “feel good” experience where you can pat yourself on the back for a good deed that may or may not have a lasting impact.
We pair your short-term tour with our long-term relationship.
In other words, we have long-term relationships with various missionaries, churches, and service organizations who often reach out to us with specific needs which then can be filled by your short-term trip. Thus, your impact will outlast your trip.
Serving is such an integral part of who we are, we even have mission trips dedicated to service and evangelism.
4. We Provide Cultural Experiences Through a Christian Worldview
On any given JE Tour, you will do more than visit a location; you will experience a culture. Our Regional Coordinators ask deeper questions than simply “What are the famous landmarks here?” They make concerted efforts to plan your trip around what we call The 5 “Locals.”
We are one of the few student travel companies that is unashamedly Christian. We seek to honor Christ in all that we do. Even in experiencing these five aspects of a culture, we lead our travelers not only to see the world but to see God’s world, to see it as He sees it. Therefore, as you experience The 5 “Locals,” we ask three questions:
- What value or naturally good things has God placed in this culture?
- How has God already been working in this culture as part of his ongoing work of reconciling all things to himself?
- Are there ways I can participate in this work by serving others and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
5. We Lead Daily Devotionals
Having the mindset to ask those questions generally doesn’t come naturally. Our vision to see the world in this manner must be nurtured. To encourage this way of seeing the world, our JE Guides lead devotions every day, rooted in the Bible with a focus towards practical application. Moments for intentional prayer and reflection are often incorporated into the devotional time, centering the travelers on that which matters most: God.
How many student travel companies are doing this? Not enough in our opinion.
6. We Offer Purpose-Focused Tours
You’ll notice when you browse our tours, you are given two options: browse by region (US, Latin America, Europe, etc.) or browse by purpose (History, Missions, Senior Trip, Arts, etc.). Even when you browse by a particular region, you are able to filter the tours by purpose.
Including this option to look through tours according to their purpose is, for lack of a better word, purposeful.
We believe that any travel experience can turn out to be informative and meaningful. However, the travel experiences that truly inspire travelers are those which are purposeful from the very beginning.
It’s one thing to ask “Where do you want to go?” It’s another to ask “What do you want to accomplish?”
By asking the latter, our Coordinators craft tours specific to your goals. Speaking of…
7. We Have Well-Researched Tours You Can Customize
The tour is everything. It’s the service your money is purchasing and therefore ought to be superb. A poorly planned itinerary can make for a disappointing trip even if the price was unbeatable and the guide was exceedingly pleasant.
With JE, you can rest assured that this will not be the case.
Each JE Tour has been researched to incorporate the most must-see locations as well as the you-didn’t-know-you-needed-to-see sites. By combining research from popular traveling sites and blog, old-school investigative methods, and ingenuity, our Coordinators have composed excellent itineraries that are sure to meet your travel needs.
As just one example, our Europe Coordinator sat down and talked with a recent seminary graduate to improve the Protestant Reformation Tour. How many student tour companies do you think are going to those lengths?
Even more, should you wish to tweak a tour to suit your particular goals, you will find us ready and willing. Not every customization can work within the stated budget, but our Coordinators have proven themselves to be spectacular at doing this. Your tour itinerary will undoubtedly provide the optimal travel experience.
8. We Train The Best Guides
Our Guides come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are former teachers; others are young adventurers. They live on the East Coast, the West Coast, and everywhere in between. No matter their background, however, they all have this in common: a desire to inspire purpose, develop leaders, and share Christ with students through travel experiences.
We do our best then to cultivate that passion through our Annual Guide Training. All of our Guides gather at our headquarters in McKinney, TX for a few days of learning and reviewing what it means to be an excellent guide. This time particularly benefits our new Guides who get to hear the many success stories (and occasional blunders!) of our experienced Guides.
We have found that this combination of corporate and peer training develops the best JE Guides who are fully prepared to take care of your group.
9. We Only Offer Private Tours
In the name of “efficiency” or “affordability,” some student travel companies will combine groups on a given tour. Your group then spends a week crammed in a bus with three other groups while one or two guides divide their time amongst everyone.
Traveling with another group can most certainly reap wonderful results, but we believe that a personalized travel experience allows a group to learn and grow most productively. The JE Guide leading your tour can place all their energy into creating the best experience for you and your group.
That, we believe, establishes the conditions for a truly educational experience.
10. We Have the Best Prices
Affordability always concerns teachers and parents alike. We acknowledge that concern and meet it head on. Not only do we labor to maintain quality standards at a fair price, we also offer fundraising ideas in addition to substantial scholarships.
Travel can change lives. We hold that belief so firmly, we do our best make our educational tours accessible.
11. We Have Over 18 Years Of Experience
Since 1997, Joshua Expeditions has taken students to see the world and make a difference. In that time, we have gained invaluable experience, experience that has taught us how to be a successful student travel company. And we don’t judge success by profits. (Remember: we’re a nonprofit!) Success equates to students and teachers who end their tour loving God and neighbors more than before.
That kind of success comes only through life’s greatest teacher: experience. And we count ourselves blessed to have had experiences that lead to true success.