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Evolving ‘Schoolies’ holidays

Australia’s end-of-school rite of passage has been undergoing significant change in recent years. No longer is ‘Schoolies’ synonymous with pub crawls at the Gold Coast, rather many kids are option for overseas holidays with a focus on cultural immersion. Research shows that more than double the amount of students are now interested in this type of holiday.

A survey of 118 travel agents conducted over three years (2011-2013) by Unleashed Travel revealed 64.4 per cent of inbound enquiries for Schoolies holidays were for island destinations such as Fiji, compared with 30.5 per cent of enquiries for the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

Unleashed Travel, Australia’s leading provider of overseas travel packages for Australian school leavers, is one of the few travel groups responding to students’ change in preferences – and is the first to remove the term ‘Schoolies’ altogether, replacing it with ‘Grad Trips’.

Unleashed Travel Grad Trips are launching this 2014/15 travel season. Grad Trip packages include Fiji, Nepal, Cambodia, Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Vanuatu and Europe, with a focus on fun and sun, and options for cultural exchanges, alcohol-free travel and volunteering.

Unleashed Travel CEO Jot Lynas, who has sold 10,000 school-leaver packages to date and supervised more than 3000 students on their trips says, “Graduating students have become more discerning and expect higher quality travel experiences. Grad Trips convey this change in preferences – and while there is still a focus on partying and social experiences, there is also an emphasis on cultural and new experiences. With Grad Trips, we’re launching three new holidays: a Fijian Cruise, a Bali escape to an exclusive beach resort, and a nine-country European winter holiday.”

The changing preferences among school-leavers combined with the plethora of travel options on the market might leave parents feeling confused. Here, Jot offers a checklist of what school-leaver travel packages should include.

Do you have a kid embarking on a Grad Trip? Here’s the parent’s checklist:

Controlled alcohol consumption: Look for travel packages that prohibit students from bringing their own alcohol and spirits and ensure that the accommodation or resort on offer doesn’t serve shots.

Mandatory travel insurance: By choosing a travel provider with mandatory travel insurance, you know your teen will be covered in the case of sickness, injury, theft or loss of luggage.

A responsible environment: Look for packages that are supervised while still allowing students freedom and independence. Unleashed Travel Grad Trips have an adult-to-student ratio of 1:7, with a First Aid-certified crew on call 24/7.

Briefing sessions: Opt for a package that offers briefing sessions and information nights with parents and teens prior to their trip, as well as for the teens on arrival.

Pre-arranged activities: By booking with a travel provider that organises day activities and hosts its own exclusive parties at night, there is less chance of the school leavers venturing out on their own looking for entertainment where they may put themselves in danger.

No Toolies: Ensure the chosen travel package or destination is strictly for graduating students.

Code of conduct:It is important that school leavers understand the type of behaviour that is acceptable, as well as the consequences of unacceptable behaviour. Check that the travel provider sets – and enforces – a code of conduct, and that the code is communicated in pre-trip information nights, in the students’ travel kits and in briefings during the trip.

An all-inclusive package: When foreign currency is involved, it can be easy to lose track of spending. Opt for a package that includes flights, accommodation, some meals and planned activities to avoid your teen getting stung with too many additional costs while overseas, and giving you the bill when they return home!


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