Travel Review: England and Scotland 2017 with Education First Tours (EF)

Let me begin by stating the obvious: it’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Like… years? Whoops. A lot has happened since then – Jeremy and I bought a house and began an endless stream of DIY projects and remodels, I taught high school English for a couple more years, and we are now about to have our first baby. I’ve decided to stay at home with my little one this year, and before baby comes, I wanted to try to catch up on a little blogging. I still hope to post here more regularly someday, whether that be about our home, our travels, or our family.

So in today’s long and detailed travel-focused post, I’ll be looking back on a trip that was truly a bucket list experience for me. In August of 2016, my friend and fellow English department member, Heathyr, told me that she was interested in arranging a trip abroad with some of our students. This was something that I had always desperately wanted to do, but I’d never really looked into myself. Heathyr kindly asked me to join her as a trip leader and chaperone (technically, she was the official leader, but I helped!). She had already selected a tour from the educational travel company EF (Education First) – a nine-day journey around England and Scotland.  As a true anglophile, I thought it sounded great – and, since we were both young teachers and this would be our first experience taking students abroad, it would be more manageable to travel to a familiar English-speaking country that we would explore at length than to do too much globe-trotting or fast-paced touring.

Fair warning, this post is long. But if you’re an educator thinking about traveling abroad with students, with EF or with another organization, I thought it might be helpful to do an in-depth review of our experience, from the initial organization to the last flight home. So let’s get started at the beginning!

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Our Honeymoon in Kauai

Continuing in chronological order, my first travel post will be centered on our Hawaiian honeymoon.  After my family visited Maui when I was sixteen, I knew that I wanted to come back to Hawaii as soon as possible.  Truly, is there anywhere on earth more beautiful?  I recently told Jeremy that when I die, if I’m lucky enough to go to Heaven, it will look like Hawaii.  Sure, maybe I want to visit other landscapes and places (I would miss bustling American cities and quaint European villages), but Hawaii really is heaven on earth.  The weather is always beautiful, and the scenery is just so lush.

When we began planning our honeymoon, we knew a couple of things – first, Hawaii isn’t cheap.  Second, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  We got married right out of college, and while we had some savings to put toward the trip, it certainly wasn’t going to be a deeply luxurious affair.  We planned carefully and explored many options, and in the end, we put together a quick but fabulous trip.  We didn’t skimp, but we didn’t splurge too much either.  We planned a wide variety of activities that kept us busy, but we made time to read and sip a couple of poolside cocktails, too.  All in all, it was an ideal honeymoon.  A year and a half (wow!) later, here’s my recap:

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