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Spring break trip
Old 09-15-2017, 05:44 PM   #1
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Spring break trip

Hi all,

My daughter goes to a local private high school and is pretty involved in their music program. The music teacher is promoting a spring break trip where the kids go to Disneyworld and do some cool music stuff. I suspect a lot of the other kids in the program will go.

The price of the program is about $2K for five days, with the first and last of those days basically being travel days. This seems steep to me and my ex.

We've nearly decided we'll ask my daughter to contribute $400 and my ex and I will split the $1600 50/50. At least that's the proposal my ex and I have very briefly discussed.

So from that point of view, we've addressed it for our family, and I'm mostly OK with our solution.

My daughter has mentioned that several of the other kids also want to go but think it's expensive.

Do I bring these concerns up with the teacher, or let sleeping dogs lie? My daughter has just started at this school as a sophomore, so we've got three years ahead of us here, and I don't want to be a rabblerouser or troublemaker and create bad blood at the beginning of everything. But I also don't want the teacher and the school naively assuming that everyone is peachy paying higher than market rates for a trip like this.

Because the trip is being provided by some trip-planning company and it is overpriced, I am also wondering if the teacher gets a free trip by virtue of getting the group together. This also rubs me the wrong way a little bit if this is the case.
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:17 PM   #2
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It is pricey, also spring break, which is high season, so not sure it is above market or just an expensive option. There may also be another adult chaperone depending on the group size. My guess is the cost of the adults is built into the price quoted for the students.

You can express your thought that the price is high without rousing any rabble. If the school doesn't get feedback on affordability, the people there will not take that into consideration, and they will direct their programs only toward those with means. My children did class trips, but travel was always train or bus.
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:30 PM   #3
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I recently went out with a teacher who does trips like this, and as long as she gets enough students her trip is paid for. Understandable, as this is not the vacation they would be taking on their own, and they are working.

Have you priced it out to see just how overpriced it is? Disney is expensive. Airfare, park tickets, meals, lodging--it may not be that bad of a deal. My son and I are paying over $2000 for 3 nights and 4 days in the park. That's for two instead of one, and it's probably a nicer hotel than what they'll do, but it doesn't include transportation or meals.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:03 PM   #4
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My niece did that trip when she was in HS. She lived in Tampa though, so transportation was a school bus rather than a flight.

I think it's reasonable to point out to the school that the cost is on the high side. I would not mention the teacher's "free" trip though, because taking other peoples' teenagers on long trips is about as far from a vacation as one can get. (I speak from experience as a Girl Scout leader, and I think doing it as a teacher can only be harder.)

Regarding cost -- $600 in airfare, 4 hotel nights at $150/night assuming 2 students per room during high season, 3-day park pass at $100/day, 5 days food at $100/day -- that comes to $2000. Some of those items are going to be cheaper at group rates, but $2K is actually not that far out of line.

I like your approach of making the kid earn enough to cover 20% of the trip if she wants to do it.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:11 PM   #5
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Forget about the money, Who is chaperoning? I wouldn't let my young daughter out of my sight on one of these school vacations. Natalie Holloway? nuff said
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:18 PM   #6
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I imagine they are bunking/sharing room too at minimum two to a room? Even at high season, plus airfare and park fees that sounds like a high end ala carte price. Such things should/could be group rated or negotiated.

That your daughter mentioned others are also concerned about the price is a very good sign. Perhaps they should team up, and ask for details? Maybe then collectively do some research and find better options? IE, not the high end hotel but the nice lower end one still in range. Fly on a sunday/thurs instead of a mon/fri, etc.

Sounds like a good opportunity for your daughter to find alternatives and realize how easy it is to save a lot of money!
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
Because the trip is being provided by some trip-planning company and it is overpriced, I am also wondering if the teacher gets a free trip by virtue of getting the group together. This also rubs me the wrong way a little bit if this is the case.
Ding ding ding! Our kids are at a fancypants public middle school where lots of high income folks send their kids. We get the same invites for 5-7 day trips for $2-3k. New York City, Milan/Rome, Paris/London, Spain, etc. I've never clarified it with the teachers who are organizing the trips but I'll put the odds at 98% that they are getting a free trip and maybe cash kickbacks for signing kids up (and paying adults, who act as chaperones). Multiple teachers have used the same organizing company.

My kid knows these trips are ridonkulously priced (considering we just spent $8500 on a 9 week trip to Europe for a family of 5!) and she doesn't really care to go on these school-organized trips. I suppose I would offer some form of cost-sharing if she really really wanted to go, and instead of asking for 20% might ask for 50%.

We spent $150 for oldest DD's 6th grade class field trip which was an overnight trip to the beach last year (plus spending money for lunch on the return bus home). DD said it was pretty fun, but many of her friends didn't go in part because of the cost.

They are having day trip this year for $100 and she didn't seem too excited about it. I offered to split the cost with her if she really wanted to go but she said she didn't care.

As for approaching the teacher, I'm not sure what good it would do. I'd leave it alone. If your DD wants to do fun stuff with a couple of her friends, then invite them on a trip somewhere for spring break. Spend the $2k for everyone and have a great time. That's what I've been considering doing this spring break with DD1+2 and a friend or 2 (maybe a trip to Washington DC for a few days - 4-5 hr drive from here or similar on bus/train/plane).
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:56 PM   #8
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$2k for London, Paris or Rome--yes. Flights are running about $750 in the Spring.

$2k for Orlando--No way Jose.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:14 PM   #9
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$800 flight, $400 for 3 park days, $500 hotel, $300 meals = $2,000. Seems like what I would expect. And if teacher gets a free ride, then no big deal if you ask me. It's a lot of responsibility, and they are "working" in my opinion.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:59 PM   #10
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$800 flight, $400 for 3 park days, $500 hotel, $300 meals = $2,000.
$800 flight? Are you kidding me? DW is flying from D.C. to Oahu round trip in October for less than that. $500 for hotel? No way. Pretty sure they will be sharing rooms. Should be getting a deal for $100 per night split 2 ways.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:20 PM   #11
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A few thoughts as a parent who gets asked about these trips by my kids...

- I don't begrudge the teacher not forking out for their own expenses... this is a work trip for them and they shouldn't have to PAY to go on an outing that will be hard work for them.

- I wouldn't be surprised if it's 4 kids per room - 2 queen beds- 2 kids per bed. (Obviously same gender in the room.) That's the way many of the trips I've seen are run. If it's not being run this way - then suggest that as an option for price conscious parents... Parents who don't mind spending more can have 2 kids per room.

I assume there are some other incidental expenses beyond airfare, lodging, park tickets - like transpo from the airport to hotel, etc...

I like your idea of having your daughter come up with some of the cost. When we proposed that to our son when he wanted to do a very pricey whirlwind east coast trip he suddenly was less gung-ho on the trip. Talking to some of the kids that went - he was happy he'd made that decision.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:44 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone.

I didn't do pricing before, but I did some now based on some of the actual details in the trip flyer from the teacher (so the actual hotel, the actual parks, the actual flight days):

$670 BOI to Orlando round trip airline ticket
$50/night x 4 nights = $200 for hotel (assuming 4 to a room)
$100/day x 3 days = $300 for park admissions
$? for park and hotel food vouchers
$? for extra special music events planned for the kids - probably not that costly in terms of price but a definite value to the kids to perform at a theme park and what not
$? for transportation (probably a charter bus)
+10-15% for teacher's portion of the trip

Those are rack rates, and as someone mentioned the tour company should be getting somewhat of a bulk discount. So I agree with those who say it's probably somewhat overpriced but not as much as I first thought.

I don't begrudge the teacher's trip being paid for. I agree it's not a vacation for her or any other chaperones. I guess what bugs me a little is that it isn't clearly disclosed that that is what is going on. Also that there's a bit of a conflict of interest where the teacher is selling us on this trip as a great experience for our kids, but really part of her motivation is that she needs enough kids to sign up so she gets to go.

I'm pretty sure it is 4 kids to a room, because there are additional fees to pay for a "single supplement" or "double supplement".

I don't think the kids can suggest cheaper alternatives. There is a tour company involved and I think they work with the teacher to come up with the package and then present it to the kids. The teacher probably takes feedback for next year though. Also, they are already traveling Sun/Thurs as it turns out.

I will add that there's probably only a total of about 15-20 kids going, and they are all (probably) good and responsible high school kids. So it is definitely work, but it's not like herding 35 preschoolers.

I think I may mention to the teacher at some point that it is a worthwhile trip but kind of pricey in passing, so give the feedback but not make a federal case out of it. And put on a more, "Gosh, that's a lot of money!" amazement/wistfulness air rather than a prosecutor-in-a-federal-price-fixing-scheme air. The latter is my tendency which I usually am better off suppressing.

Thanks all.
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Old 09-16-2017, 12:22 AM   #13
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It is not only work and risk for the teacher but also lots of overtime and loss of her own vacation.
So its very understandable that her cost is built in.
The price might also be set to make it less attractive for troublemakers.
Only that the rich do not cause less issues...
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Old 09-16-2017, 07:19 AM   #14
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I chaperoned 3 of these trips when my son was in high school. Two were with the marching band and one was orchestra/choir. The teachers and parent chaperones followed really strict guidelines for behavior and did room checks and had a curfew. Opposite sex kids were not allowed in each other's rooms EVER. Forcing a student to stay in a hotel room with a chaperone for a day was the punishment for infractions. Major behavior issues (drugs/alcohol) would result in the kid getting sent home at their own expense. There were no significant behavior problems. One trip I didn't chaperone was going to a New Year's Day parade and bowl game in San Diego.

The Disney music experience varied. The marching band did a parade and a studio recording session so they could experience what studio musicians experience. The orchestra performed in front of the lagoon at Epcot Center while the choir performed in a massive Christmas show with name artists. We flew on the first trip and took a 16 hour bus ride for the other two. The kids were well behaved and we enjoyed chaperoning, but the bus ride was awful.

It's four kids per room and Disney has a music themed hotel. Meal cards are included for lunch and dinner and the music themed hotel has a decent cafeteria for breakfast. Disney shuttle buses took us to the parks, except performance day, when we had charter buses. Also volunteer parents drove the uniform/instrument truck--including driving from Pennsylvania to San Diego and back!

I think the price was around $1500 ten years ago. Theme parks are pricey, especially Disney.

Sometimes there are student fundraising opportunities to defray at least some of the costs, so you might want to check into that. Our son's high school band had student accounts where any fundraising money went. I think they were administered by the band boosters (parent group). I remember my son's senior year, I had just received an inheritance, we donated to a generic student account fund so more kids could make the trip.

I have to laugh when people here talk about the teacher getting a free trip. Taking responsibility for the well-being of 50-100 students is hardly what I would call a vacation. The kids had a really good time and loved the experience provided.
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Old 09-16-2017, 08:38 AM   #15
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Why do you say "it's not disclosed what's going on?" In a realistic world do you really think a teacher would give up break time from school and be responsible for a bunch of kids and then pay their own way? Are there additional paid adults going along? Have you every been in charge of 15-20 teenagers for 24/7?

It's not like the teacher wanted to lay around on the beach and is doing a beach trip. It's a music teacher doing a music related trip. You might consider that the teacher is even getting a wage stipend out of the deal as she will be working, that could add a little to the total as well. The tour company has to make money as well. If you are having second thoughts about the cost, talk it over with your DD and EX. If only 15-20 kids are going then there as quite a few not going.IMO mentioning the cost to the teacher is going to make you sound petty and cheap, as its not the cost that bugs you, it's the fact you feel like they are hiding something. You say you don't "begrude" the teacher's "free trip" but it sounds as if you aren't happy about it.
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:29 AM   #16
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Forget about the money, Who is chaperoning? I wouldn't let my young daughter out of my sight on one of these school vacations. Natalie Holloway? nuff said


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Old 09-16-2017, 09:40 AM   #17
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In my view this is a case where you are more paying for the "experience" than the trip itself. Which is fine, only you can judge what your child will get out of it. I have no issues if the teacher gets part/all of their cost paid. It is not like teachers are making much in the first place. And if it is a good teacher, they will be spending their time ensuring the kids gets the most out of the trip, rather than themselves.

I went on a similar trip as a chaperone with one of my kids in high school. For us adults it was certainly no vacation. Having the responsibility to ensure the safety of 25 teenagers, which at times can be like herding cats, can drain you. I'm not the best with teenagers but I can give them "the look" in which they realize that I am dead serious and will fall in line.
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:53 AM   #18
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I think like the OP but then maybe the "cool music stuff" can't be analyzed using dollars and cents.

Also takes a lot to organize all the details of big groups of people.

My daughter went on something like this and ended up marrying an amazing guy from a really good family. Wouldn't have happened if she stayed home.
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Old 09-16-2017, 10:01 AM   #19
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Sometimes, a school event is priced with a little cushion in the cost, to subsidize the cost to poor families. This does not sound like that as so few students are going.

I am surprised that it is so clear cut, if I were organizing it, I'd figure out the costs as close as I could, then add in $100 each as a slush fund, which if not spent would be refunded.

What is the teacher going to do if there is some need to spend extra $50 per kid. ?
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Old 09-16-2017, 10:03 AM   #20
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....
My daughter went on something like this and ended up marrying an amazing guy from a really good family. Wouldn't have happened if she stayed home.
Yep, I'm sure OP is now re-thinking the trip...at least he will save on the wedding cost..
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