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kid's expensive school trip
Old 06-18-2014, 06:24 PM   #1
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kid's expensive school trip

DD really wants to go on a school trip to the East coast next spring (8th grade.) The trip includes main sites in DC, NY and NJ. The price is pretty steep, $1850 for 6 days (all inclusive). I priced the plane ticket and 6-day hotel on expedia, for a family of 4, it comes out to about $550 per person. Granted, the school trip provides 3 meals and site seeing, but for the meals I doubt they'll be dining at restaurants. I think I can safely assume it'll be continental breakfast at the hotel, boxed lunches and some food-court dinner. As far as sight-seeing, I think most sites are free or minimal cost. So let's say $200 for meals, $600 for site seeing and ground transp. 550 + 200+ 600 = 1350. That's almost $500 profit. Is this right? I hope I underestimated the costs otherwise it'd be a major rip off.

But I hate to turn down DD. She's a very good kid. frugal even at a young age, well disciplined, buys her cloth at thrift store even though her friends are shopping at the mall, doing really well at one of the top middle school in CA. I guess this is where the companies got us parents by the ball, the kids want to go with their friends.

Should I just bite the bullet and get over it?
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:31 PM   #2
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DD really wants to go on a school trip to the East coast next spring (8th grade.) The trip includes main sites in DC, NY and NJ. The price is pretty steep, $1850 for 6 days (all inclusive).
That does seem a bit steep. We paid only $750 for the same trip for our youngest daughter...in 1989. That would be roughly $1450 in today's dollars.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:36 PM   #3
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My guess is the sightseeing will all be tour guided, not free, and there will be chaperone costs that are paid by the students. Three cities is a pretty big trip, so the cost doesn't look all that expensive.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:54 PM   #4
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But I hate to turn down DD. She's a very good kid. frugal even at a young age, well disciplined, buys her cloth at thrift store even though her friends are shopping at the mall, doing really well at one of the top middle school in CA. I guess this is where the companies got us parents by the ball, the kids want to go with their friends.

Should I just bite the bullet and get over it?
I would go do it from that description of her, particularly if this trip is something special, not routine.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:55 PM   #5
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We are thinking about allowing our DD to go on a trip to Europe with a group/club at her school. 16 days, 5 countries, and it rings in at a cool $6000 (plus a bit extra for souvenirs and snacks!!). It IS a little tough to choke down that number, especially when you know it could be had for less if you arranged it yourself or did it your own way, instead of booking with a group. The LBYM mindset never likes to overpay, does it...

However, I also think the experience would be amazing for her and will open her eyes to other parts of the world. She is a great kid, and a hardworking, honor roll student, so we will probably let her go. At least we are (over)spending on an experience, rather than just "stuff" that will clutter the house.

I think experiences like this change kids for the better and provide wonderful memories. I vote for letting your DD go and enjoy!
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:04 PM   #6
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If you can afford it I say go for it . When my daughter was in high school she wanted to go to Germany on a school trip . It was expensive & at that time I had to work overtime to afford it but it was a great experience that she still talks about .
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:09 PM   #7
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I would make her write down what she expects to get out of the trip. Now you have something for your money.
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:33 PM   #8
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Your fee may pay for chaperones and the teachers to attend free of charge.

I'm not sure if we would pony up that much for a six day trip for one of our kids. Sure it would be cool, but we could also visit similar places on the other side of the country for a fraction of the cost. I'm sure some of the allure is traveling with friends overnight for an extended stretch away from parents. We could always create a trip like that for our kids.

Incidentally, in one week we head out on our summer vacation. We'll spend six days in DC, Philly, and NYC on our way to Canada. The incremental cost to stop over in DC, Philly and NYC was $200 for a hotel in NYC and whatever we spend on meals, parking, transit, etc (Philly hotel was free using hotel points).
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:42 PM   #9
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Your fee may pay for chaperones and the teachers to attend free of charge.
It most certainly does. One could hardly expect teachers to pay their own way, and they will certainly be working! Insurance is probably also an contributing factor. The experience will hopefully be planned for maximum educational value, in which case the cost seems quite reasonable.

If the cost is going to significantly impact your family budget, there is merit to having a discussion with DD about making a nominal contribution from her allowance. That might help to clarify how much she really wants to go.
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:50 PM   #10
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It most certainly does. One could hardly expect teachers to pay their own way, and they will certainly be working! Insurance is probably also an contributing factor. The experience will hopefully be planned for maximum educational value, in which case the cost seems quite reasonable.
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Yeah, I don't fault the teachers for accepting a free ride. My kid's teacher told me about her awesome trip to Thailand last year for free. She was chaperoning a youth group for 3 weeks in Thailand or something like that. Interest was low so it ended up being 3 adults chaperoning 6 well behaved kids. I don't know how the finances worked on that trip, but it must have cost a pretty penny for each kid to pay for their half share of the adult's plane ticket.

We were asked to help pay for a nephew's high school trip like the OP's kid's trip. It was $2500 IIRC and I think they were going to Europe for a week for theater or something. I politely declined the invitation to donate a thousand or two for my nephew to go on vacation for a week.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #11
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Undoubtedly they've factored in the cost of teachers or other chaperones. Do you have any idea what happens if there's a scenario like the Thailand trip Fuego described, where interest is less than expected? Could the per-student cost go up? Are you happy with the planned ratio of chaperones to teachers and with the reliability of the adults in charge?

I ask this because DS went to Australia on a school trip his first year in HS- it was a military boarding school. They kept the costs very reasonable and I have a serious weakness for travel so I wanted him to have that opportunity. He told me wild tales of drinking, buying cigarettes, one kid who went out and bought porn, etc. I talked with the school administration and they said a couple of the adults in charge had been disciplined. DS told me that Mr. A and Ms. B (both faculty) spent a lot of time together on the trip. Mr. A was married but in the process of divorcing; Ms. B was single. Hmmmm.

But, there have been plenty of times, especially in the travel category, where DH and I have said, "this is an overpriced experience but heck, let's do it". (Which is how, among other things, we ended up paddling a kayak around the city walls of Dubrovnik and standing in the room where they tried to poison Rasputin.) We make those decisions carefully, but we do make them. You can present it to DD in the same context.

When I was in HS, I had an opportunity to go to Europe on a school trip and it was out of the question. There were 4 other siblings, my parents were saving for our college educations, and it was too much to throw at one kid's trip (and too much for me to earn by babysitting). I joke that I've spent the rest of my life trying to make up for that deprivation.
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:24 AM   #12
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We had a trip during spring break in 8th grade that was very similar to the trip the OP described. I don't remember the exact cost but it was very expensive for my poor parents. My grandparents helped some and I paid a little from saved birthday money and allowances over the years. My parents probably still had a negative net worth at that time but they made it happen and i'm very grateful for it. It was a great experience. I haven't been on a plane or train since that trip over 20 years ago. It was a truly rare experience and worth every penny. I think you should pay for it.
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:41 AM   #13
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We had a trip during spring break in 8th grade that was very similar to the trip the OP described. I don't remember the exact cost but it was very expensive for my poor parents. My grandparents helped some and I paid a little from saved birthday money and allowances over the years. My parents probably still had a negative net worth at that time but they made it happen and i'm very grateful for it. It was a great experience. I haven't been on a plane or train since that trip over 20 years ago. It was a truly rare experience and worth every penny. I think you should pay for it.
Wow. Your parents and grandparents had to make a lot of sacrifices to send you on that trip. Clearly you savoured every moment, it meant a great deal to you and hopefully they got pleasure vicariously too.

If your family had had more resources and travelled regularly, do you think the trip would have meant so much to you?
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:08 PM   #14
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Wow. Your parents and grandparents had to make a lot of sacrifices to send you on that trip. Clearly you savoured every moment, it meant a great deal to you and hopefully they got pleasure vicariously too.

If your family had had more resources and travelled regularly, do you think the trip would have meant so much to you?
No. It meant a lot because it was a rare experience. Up until that time(eighth grade) I had never been further than Chicago(200 miles). That trip was a big deal.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:08 PM   #15
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When I was in HS, I had an opportunity to go to Europe on a school trip and it was out of the question. There were 4 other siblings, my parents were saving for our college educations, and it was too much to throw at one kid's trip (and too much for me to earn by babysitting). I joke that I've spent the rest of my life trying to make up for that deprivation.
You brought up a good point. There are always competing expenses that could be funded. I might save the $1800 from the OP's example and use it to fund a study abroad trip in college. That $1800 would become $2400 five years later at 6% real return, and would fund about 60% of a 6-7 week study abroad trip.

My parents funded a summer study abroad trip for me and it was incredible (and I learned stuff too).
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:34 PM   #16
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Call me crazy. I would spend $100 and take the kid to an amusement park instead. That kind of money for an eight grader trip is pricey!
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:10 PM   #17
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We were offered a similar opportunity when DS was in 8th grade, trip was to DC only. Slight wrinkle was DS was assigned to room with three "bad" boys whom he was expected to keep in line with stated consequences for him if he did not. There was an idea at the time that the well behaved would serve as role models for the less so. Don't hear actual juvenile delinquents just un-disciplined. Wonderful. So he was ambivalent about trip. So I took him to DC myself, did everything they did and a lot more for about 60% of the cost.

Interestingly, a number of the assigned "good students" did not go. Next year the youth selected their own room mates.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:19 PM   #18
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I have always regretted that my parents couldn't afford to pay my way on a high school trip to western Europe. It was an unbelievable deal at $500.00 (equivalent of ~$3K today), and my friends were going. When I reported that my parents said they couldn't afford the $500 [I was not smart enough to think of a way to varnish the truth], the principal called my mother to offer a school-funded low-income subsidy, and my parents got mad at me, as if I'd set the principal on them. We weren't low income, and they didn't like the school acting as if we were.

There is something magical about doing stuff when you're 15, that just isn't the same when you're an adult. I definitely think it is worth paying for the trip if you can afford it.

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Old 06-19-2014, 01:23 PM   #19
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Relevant to the thread, if not to the OP directly: Our school's 8th grade, 3-day trip to D.C. was funded almost entirely by bake sales, magazine sales, car washes, and proceeds from the school play. Parents were asked to contribute a modest amount, which obviously my parents were willing to pony up, since I got to go! We were packed in 4 to a motel room as I recall, but were so tired from all the activities that it didn't matter. We hit the monuments, lingered in the Smithsonian, and ate in one of the famous (but alas, now defunct) downtown cafeterias.

School trips are great!

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Old 06-19-2014, 01:27 PM   #20
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OMG, that sounds awful! How dare anyone lay such responsibility on an 8th-grader. Sounds like the school administration comprised the same sanctimonious souls who think that if you put subsidized housing in a nice neighborhood, the subsidized people will get "uplifted."

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We were offered a similar opportunity when DS was in 8th grade, trip was to DC only. Slight wrinkle was DS was assigned to room with three "bad" boys whom he was expected to keep in line with stated consequences for him if he did not. There was an idea at the time that the well behaved would serve as role models for the less so. .
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