Blog | Joshua Expeditions


Bucket List Experiences on a JE Tour

Do You Have a Bucket List?

bucket list A bucket list is that list of places, experiences, or cultural moments that every avid traveler has stashed away somewhere.  It might be scrawled onto the back of an airline napkin or hotel stationary.  You can tell a lot about someone by their bucket list.  It shows you how adventurous they are, what kinds of experiences are meaningful to them, and ultimately, it shows you where they want to go.

It’s back to school time across the country, which also means that it’s booking season at Joshua Expeditions.  If you are a teacher or parent browsing through our site for the first time, choosing a destination can seem a bit daunting (especially when you are cross referencing your bucket list!).

Fortunately, every JE Tour is a great experience for you and your students.  So, no worries there!

If, however, you are looking for specific bucket list material, we’ve compiled this list just for you.

So, get your list ready, and let’s see if any of these amazing experiences will be able to get crossed off after your JE Tour.

Once in a Lifetime Bucket List Experiences

Peering through the fog at the Lost City of the Incas, Macchu Picchu.

Talk about a once in a lifetime photo op!  Imagine waking up before the sun to hike up above the beautiful Urubamba Valley where one of the most spectacular sunrises you’ve ever seen awaits.  This adventurous JE Tour also devotes a full day to serving at a Peruvian orphanage.


Saying Hello to Lady Liberty

Did you know that the full name of this iconic statue is actually “Liberty Enlightening the World”?  The Statue of Liberty was supposed to be a centennial gift to the United States from France, but due to construction complications, the statue was shipped to the United States 10 years late.  It came in 350 individual pieces in 214 crates, and it took 4 months to reassemble. Experience the thrill of seeing  Lady Liberty welcome you to New York on one of our many NYC Tours.


Experiencing (possibly) the Best Sunset of Your Life 

We love sunsets at JE.  They are such a beautiful reminder of God’s immaculate design, and bring to mind Psalm 95:4-5 “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.



Seeing An Iconic Piece of Architecture

There are plenty of beautiful buildings ripe with history on JE Tours, but there are a few that are truly iconic, recognizable from a single photograph.  Your bucket list may contain buildings like The Leaning Tower of Pisa (as seen above), Westminster Abbey, The Duomo, The Alamo, the Sagrada Familia, or many others.  As you might expect, our European Tours are a great chance to see world class architecture.


Getting Up Close and Personal With Local Wildlife

Whether you want to swim with stingrays in the Cayman Islands or try to pet the Coatimundi in Costa Rica, there are plenty of unique wildlife experiences on our JE Tours.  If your bucket list is full of nature experiences, then check out our Costa Rican tours for plenty of indigenous flora and fauna to behold.


Making a Difference in Someone’s Life

While the bucket list of the average traveler is filled with photo ops, unique opportunities, and cultural experiences, the bucket list of a JE Traveler includes one more thing, the chance to make a difference.

Joshua Expeditions prides itself on providing local mission opportunities for our trips.  There is nothing more life-changing than being able to connect with a local person in need.  The picture above was taken when this Costa Rican man received the keys to his new home that our JE group had built over the last three days.  This video tells that story.


What’s On Your Bucket List?

A bucket list is a great thing to have when you are a serious traveler.  If you have particular experiences that you are excited about crossing off of your bucket list on your JE Tour, be sure to let us know.

11 Ways JE Is Different From Other Student Travel Companies

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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.

ICAN with Students copy


2. We Are A Ministry

We view JE not primarily as a business but as a ministry. Service motivates us in two ways:

  1. We serve you, our travelers. (More on that momentarily.)
  2. 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.


Food for the Children Infographic


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. Ministry Cycle

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.”

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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:

  1. What value or naturally good things has God placed in this culture?
  2. How has God already been working in this culture as part of his ongoing work of reconciling all things to himself?
  3. 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.


Teacher Appreciation Stories, part 1

teacher appreciation stories

And The Winners Are…

Thank you to all the teachers who participated in our Teacher Appreciation Giveaway! We have been reading some fantastic stories. You all are wonderful human beings, and we’re so happy for those of you who shared your stories with us to help us better understand how to appreciate you and to be encouraged to show our appreciation for all those who play a special role in our lives.

As a small token of appreciation, a $25 Visa gift card will be sent to each of the randomly-selected participants.

  1. Cynthia T.
  2. Karina S.
  3. Stacy S.
  4. Jeannette W.
  5. Miriam A.
  6. Marianne M.
  7. Alicia P.
  8. Rebecca M.
  9. Michael F.
  10. Donna B.

(Make sure to check your email so we can send you your prize!)


Just A Few Of The Stories…

Crystal L. – Spanish and Bible // Grades 9-12

A couple years ago, I had a student come to me after school and start asking me questions about relationships, God, salvation, etc. These question and answer sessions, which were inundated with scripture and prayer, continued for several months until the student made a genuine decision to enter into her own personal relationship with Christ! Upon her salvation, I had my college Bible that was full of things God had done in my life, sermon notes, etc., rebound and this student’s name embossed on it. A year later, she left for college and wrote a letter of gratitude to me and let me know that that Bible was her most prized possession. She included a picture of a leather bound Bible that she purchased and let me know that she was going to keep notes in her college Bible so that she would have such a precious gift to pass on to someone that she could spiritually influence some day. This is what it’s all about! The greatest token of appreciation that I ever receive are the “thank you’s” that include my investment in my students passing on into third spiritual generations!


Scott T. – U.S. History and Texas History // Grades 6-8

First year of teaching, I taught 12th Grade Government and Economics, with a lot of history added in! A quote of Abraham Lincoln was spoken often in my class: “Fellow Citizens we cannot escape history.” I want the students to understand history is being written by every moment they live…First year, first graduation, the salutatorian is reading his prepared speech. In his presentation, he included this quote and its significance to him. The valedictorian rises to speak. He reads his prepared speech and includes a remembrance of the significance of this same quote from class…To me, no greater gift of appreciation will ever be given to me. I will always be grateful to our Father, for His loving touch in my life to me and to others through me.


Rebecca M. – World History, United States History, American Government, Economics // Grades 9-11

During my first year of teaching, my students and I greatly enjoyed learning about the relationship between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. So, when we traveled to Washington D.C. and visited Mount Vernon, we all shared a special moment together when we saw the key to Bastille on display in the foyer. Following our time at Mount Vernon, I spent the night in the emergency room with a student. Knowing I had a difficult night, my students all chipped in and bought me a keychain replica of the key to the Bastille. It touched my heart to know that they were thinking of me and wanted to say thank you. Four years later, chipped, faded and worn, I still carry around this keychain as a reminder of their thoughtfulness, love for learning and the special place this first year will always hold in my heart.


Jeannette W. – Social Studies // Grades 9-12

Several years back I taught 3rd grade. During that year one of my students was involved in a hunting accident in which he had to run and get help. His grandfather did not make it…Trevor (name changed to protect privacy) would sit by my desk and text his mom when he became fearful. He kept special cards I had made which he could hold up when he was feeling overwhelmed, that way I knew what he needed without the rest of the class even being aware. This year Trevor is in 7th grade, [and] he has been struggling a little this year so I made arrangements for him to come to my room and work with another student to help him with his schoolwork. Recently Trevor said as he was leaving my class, “Got something for you Mrs. W.” … As I unwrapped the small box and lifted the lid I saw a pale purple bracelet of beads. Trevor said in his slow southern drawl, “It’s for Alzheimer’s.” We hugged and cried and agreed we have been through a lot together over the years and God has been right there with us. Trevor knows the heartache I have endured with my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s for 10 years, heading to a nursing home, where I visited him every morning before school, and eventually passing 8 years ago. Now my mom is in a nursing home struggling with the same disease. He couldn’t have given me a more precious gift to represent the path we have walked together. I wear the pale purple bracelet daily as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and the love of a student.


Karina S. – Bible, Spelling, Reading, Language, History, Art, and Math // Grade 6

While gift cards and lunches are amazing, heartfelt thanks goes so much farther with me. I had a parent get every student to write me a thank you note. Even better – that parent had every other parent also write a thank you note. The notes from the students were too precious for words, but the notes from the parents left me speechless. They recognized that I am also a parent to their son or daughter. They thanked me for birthday celebrations, handling tough days, and being a constant in their student’s life. I think it was so impactful for me because kids always say “You’re the best teacher” [or] “We love you.” But to hear it from parents helps to lend some validation to what you do every day.


Michelle C. – English // Grades 10-12

Many times my students are required to print and bring essays that they have written for an assignment in my class. Many times those students run into “problems” with printing issues at home. I made mention to my senior class that it would be cool if we could have a printer to use as backup for those particular situations. Many weeks after my birthday, a group of my senior students come to my room and presented me with a “collection” of monies and a letter. They wanted me to purchase a printer for my room because “they loved me.” I was so humbled by their gift and with how much they cared for me. We were able to purchase a printer, two ink cartridges, and a box of paper. Many will walk into my classroom and see a simple printer, but it will forever be a reminder of the generosity of some very giving students!!


Kristen P. – Science // Grades 5-6

At our school, we are a family. Teachers, students, parents all work together to make our kids successful (for the most part). My husband and I are both teachers here, and we have had a lot of contact with our students because of this. When we found out we were having twins, our students got together and bought us the car seats, the double stroller, and gave us a significant amount of money to buy what we needed for the new arrivals. Their words and actions were so overwhelming.


Check back in next week to read some more teachers’ stories!

JE T-Shirt Design Contest

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*** Contest Closed ***

Design the Next JE T-Shirt.

Are you a student? Will you be traveling with Joshua Expeditions during the 2016-2017 school year? Would you like to win a $1000 scholarship towards your JE Tour?

If you answered “Yes” to all three of these questions, listen up!

As part of traveling with JE, each traveler receives the JE T-shirt. Typically, one of our staff members designs a new shirt each year, but we thought it would be way cooler if one of you designed the shirt for the upcoming year. That’s right, every JE traveler will be wearing your shirt! And to make it that much sweeter, we’re offering a $1000 scholarship towards your JE Tour should your design be chosen.

See “The Details” below for the contest rules.

We know there a bunch of creative minds and talented artists among our travelers. Let’s see what you got!


The Details


Participants in the contest must be actively enrolled students, planning on taking a JE Tour in the following school year. To demonstrate eligibility, provide the Expedition Number and Destination(s) of your tour. You may only submit one entry.

Contest Period

The contest will run until June 18, 2016 at 11:59 PM. All submissions must be in by this time


Design a T-shirt that you believe captures the essence of Joshua Expeditions. (Remember that the shirt will be given to every JE traveler next year!)

Designs can include up to 3-colors, not including the base color of the shirt (which you may suggest), and must have the name “Joshua Expeditions” on it somewhere.

Use of the following slogans are permitted: “See the World. Make a Difference”; “Inspire Purpose, Develop Leaders, Share Christ.” These are not required. You may use whatever (appropriate) language and slogans you like that you find to be representative of JE.

Should you wish to include the JE Logo, you may download that here (color) or here (black and white). If you need another file type for your design (e.g., an .eps file), you may request such.

Your design may be front only or both front and back (not back only, however). Make sure to upload your design files accordingly.

Designs should be submitted on a white or transparent background.

Your design must be submitted in one of the following formats: .png, .tif, .jpg/.jpeg, or .eps.

You may choose to upload a preview of your design on a T-shirt. Various T-shirt printing companies allow you to do this on their site by uploading your design and downloading a preview of that design on a standard T-shirt.

Other trademarked slogans or logos are not allowed.

How To Enter

Submit your contact information, eligibility proofs, design(s), explanation of your design, and any questions in the form below during the Contest Period (see above). Be sure your explanation not only describes design but also covers why you believe your design captures the essence of JE.


All designs will be considered the property of Joshua Expeditions and may be used by JE in any way deemed fit. The winner will be announced on social media and the JE website.


The winner will receive $1000 towards his or her JE Tour. This scholarship applies only for tours that travel between August 2016 and July 2017. Should the winner cancel his or her JE Tour, this scholarship will be considered void. In such a circumstance, JE retains the right to utilize the winning design.

The winner will be notified via email. As such, it is essential that participants correctly fill out their contact information.

Limitations of Liability

The boring legal stuff that we have to say:

JE is not responsible for any incorrect information or files submitted, whether the error is human or technological. JE is not responsible should participants experience computer-related issues after downloading materials for the contest or submitting their information and files. JE reserves the right to cancel the contest if unforeseen circumstances should arise and to disqualify any participant who does not follow the previously stated rules, including but not limited to submitting multiple entries and using trademarked material.


Submit Your Design



Teacher Appreciation Giveaway

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Think back to the teacher (or teachers if you were fortunate) who made a truly significant impact on your life – that one teacher who not only understood their material but understood you. They made the subject come alive in a very real way for you. History and English were no longer mere collections of facts and fictions but meaningful stories shaping the present. Math and science were no longer sets of numbers, variables, and theorems but elegant expressions of physical reality.

Teachers, you know that our efforts to show our appreciation for your eye-opening, life-transforming work are often less than stellar, involving nothing more than a quick trip to Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works.

But there are those few occasions when our feeble attempts to appreciate you actually re-inspire and reinvigorate your love of teaching, making the my-dog-ate-my-homework excuses, non-stop talking in class, and repetition of directions all worth it. You are reminded that all your lesson planning and paper grading actually make a genuine difference.


teacher appreciation infographic_tall (1) Your Story Matters

For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to give you the opportunity to share such experiences.

How has a student or parent shared their appreciation for you in a particularly memorable way? Why was that token of appreciation so impactful or meaningful to you?

Your story matters, and we would love to hear it and, with your permission, share it with others (in a future blog post and through social media) so that other teachers can be encouraged, knowing that their efforts in educating our students truly changes lives. We’re not asking necessarily for a grand tear jerker that will be picked up by Upworthy of Buzzfeed. Perhaps that one particular scented candle or that bottle of lotion, for whatever reason, meant a great deal to you.

In fact, it’s the small acts of kindness that often have the greatest impact.

It’s your story. It doesn’t need to impress anybody as long as it made an impression on you.

(Submit your story via the form below.)

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(a teacher and her students earn their Spanish certificate from the

Costa Rican Language Academy on our language immersion tour to Costa Rica)


JE Appreciates You

At Joshua Expeditions, we try our best to demonstrate our appreciation for teachers (that’s why teachers travel free on our tours). As a small token of thanks, we would like to give a $25 Visa gift card to ten teachers who share their story of appreciation and inspiration. Does that accurately reflect the work you do? No, not really. But it’s the least we could do.


So, to recap:

  1. We love teachers and want you to feel appreciated and know that your work matters.
  2. Share your story of being appreciated (by May 8).
  3. Enter to win one of ten $25 Visa gift cards (recipients will be notified via email).
  4. Check back to read the impactful stories of teachers.

~ Don’t forget: share this with your teacher friends! ~



Teachers, Your Story Matters. Share Yours Below.

***The Teacher Appreciation Giveaway is now closed.***

Go and get grab your copy now!