A new study has been released that examines the positive impacts travel can have on young people in school. Conducted by SYTA (the Student & Youth Travel Association), the organisation surveyed a community of teachers in the United States with the goal of gathering data that would open up new avenues for educational travel.

“This was the first study that asked teachers why they thought travel mattered and what was the positive impact on their students.

Compared to the rest of the world, the US has the strictest rules regarding time in the classroom and the least flexible break schedules for students under 18 to travel with their class and peers. We truly believe that American students would benefit from the independence and exposure to the world outside their neighbourhoods and families,” Carylann Assante, chief executive officer of SYTA told Lonely Planet Travel News.

The study found that over 75% of US teachers believe that when students travel, there is a positive impact on a student’s personal development, and more than half believe it has a positive impact on their education and career.

SYTA partnered with StudentMarketing to conduct a two-year study, and gathered insights from 1432 US teachers, 128 student group leaders, 146 US tour operators, and 437 international tour operators. Collectively, the group represents the patterns and preferences of over one million students who have travelled within the US and overseas. The study looked at the travel experience as a whole, examining topics such as top domestic and international destinations, the most popular themes for trips, average spend per trip, as well challenges faced by teachers and trip leaders in organizing these experiences.

“For teachers interested in travel, the research supported their position that travel enhanced classroom learning. What was unique was the positive answers from teachers who did not travel, but still felt it would benefit their students. The research showed that US and international students all benefited from travel and that it made students more culturally aware.”

Teachers reported significant improvement in their students’ information retention and social skills following travel. 76% of teachers said they noticed an increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities following international travel, while 69% reported an increase in independence, self-esteem and confidence. The study outlined Washington D.C, New York, Orlando, Boston and Chicago as the five most popular domestic destinations for student travel, while France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom came out on top of international travel. Music was the preferred programme type, with history, art and culture, science, natural history and biology following.

“We have had really positive reactions to the study and find it is timeless in its support of travel having a positive social impact on students. When I am sitting on a plane and I share what I do with my neighbour – everyone has a story of their first trip alone with their class or band or sports team – they don’t remember what they learned but they do remember who sat next to them on the bus,” Carylann Assante said.

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