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Class Trip – Travel Packing Tips

Is folding a challenge when you are preparing for a class trip to New York City, Washington DC, Boston or Montreal?

Student Group on a Class Trip to Boston

Student Group on a Class Trip to Boston

Packing well and making sure you have what you need for all possible weather. Layers are important and of course, good, comfortable ( I mean very comfortable ) shoes.

Here’s a quick trick and tip to pack fast and efficiently.

How fast can you do it?

KCTCS … NYC 2013 – the memories

Educational Tours to New York City

Creating Memories on Educational Tours to New York City

Organizing the best educational tour for your student requires carefully selecting your tour company. GO Educational Tours is dedicated to the success of each tour as we value and respect the travel experience of student travelers often times their first.

For example we had a great travel weekend last week to New York City with a group of students. What is the most satisfying part of organizing middle and high school educational tours for students is knowing you are part of creating lasting memories for young travelers.

GO Educational Tours Leaders

GO Educational Tours Leaders

This tour to New York was a great example. A group of students from Grand Bahamas going to spend 5 days in New York City, the Big Apple. A great opportunity on this educational trip to create memorable moments. Starting with a blank canvas we could build our tableau of souvenirs from the very moment the student group got there. Right from the start the idea would be to make sure they were immersed in the contrast big city life offered over island life.

Arriving in JFK we collected the student group on our motorcoach and the drive into the city was a great opportunity to connect them with the city. We talked about Verrazano, Hudson, the Dutch, New Amsterdam and how it was renamed in honor of the Duke of York when he seized the island of Manhattan in 1664. The history and characters were introduced and would be referred to when they took a city tour with a local guide.

Educational tours to New York City

On the shuttle to New York City

The yellow cabs – so many and why they are such a force economically and how they affect the socio economics of the city; from car ownership, public transportation, economics, and how despite being a megalopolis, it is still a very intimate city of neighborhoods.

We talked about steam from the NYSC manholes, the trap doors on the streets, the fire escapes on the front of the buildings and other aspects so unique to the city.

Covered the safety aspects of walking in the city as a group of students on an educational tour – vigilance, watching over your money, and the buddy system.

Once in the heart of the city we started right away with a walk and discovery of Times Square to get a late afternoon snack and also to stretch the legs after a long morning of air travel.

New York City educational tours student group class field trip Top of the rock

Student group at the Top of the Rock

Then we walked a bit more to take in the sight, sounds and smell of New York. No educational tours can be complete without walking the city. It is the best way to discover New York on any student tour and wearing comfortable shoes is important.

Especially for this group from the Bahamas. It was an opportunity for them to get a complete contrast from the quiet beat and rhythm they are used to.  What they discovered was he hustle and bustle, noise, speed and dynamic vibe of the city are unavoidable and they were quickly immersed in the city’s action on the first day.

The first activity was to go to the TOP of the Rock at Rockefeller Plaza. All student group tours love the experience and we prefer it to the Empire State. The observatory is vast and allows a great panoramic view of the city and the Empire State Building. Here the students also see some of the other prominent buildings of the city; from the Freedom Tower, CitiGroup and Sony building and of course the Chrysler building.

Then after a quick walk back to Times Square to get a group meal at the Hard Rock Cafe to complete the evening.

And this was only day 1!

Book an Educational Tour to New York


Travel Scholarships

Abraham Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Battles

Abraham Lincoln and his army commander: what were they talking about?

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, was a long time coming. Period movies bring history and historical figures back to life, just as we of GO Educational Tours achieve when educating our student group tours. I may be biased as a Civil War historian, but the 150th anniversary of each battle fought during the war is ongoing, and we are currently organizing student tour groups for trips to several Civil War sites, including viewing some live battle reenactments. To learn more about Lincoln and the Civil War, please click below for a program of student group tours.



Abraham Lincoln at Antietam

What were they discussing?

Lincoln is still on record as the tallest president in US history, and when he visited camps, his eyes were instantly drawn to any soldier who was remotely his height. Hoping to finally meet his match, Lincoln would call the fellow over, and the President of the US and the common soldier would stand back to back to see who was taller. Lincoln enjoyed being photographed with his soldiers, but was none too pleased during this meeting.

This photo is of Abraham Lincoln and his commander in chief, Gen. George McClellan, a month after the brutal battle of Antietam fought on September 17, 1862 a mile from Sharpsburg, Maryland. There were 22,000 casualties, nearly 28% of those engaged, the most casualties in a single day in US history.

Although Gettysburg has received more attention, particularly because of the Gettysburg address, Antietam was equidistant with D.C., and its carnage was alarming to the president. Lincoln’s disappointment in McClellan is palpable in this photo, as he dressed down McClellan for failing to pursue Lee’s army and crush it. McClellan was beloved by his soldiers, and he followed a strategy of loss prevention, however at the expense of inflicting maximum damage on the enemy. A month after this photo, after the important mid-term elections and the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves, Lincoln relieved McClellan of command for failing to pursue Lee across the Potomac and finish him.

Maryland’s allegiance was split, half were pro slavery, half were abolitionist. In Sharpsburg, the postmaster would change the flag outside the post office according to who was riding into town that day. A proper analysis of the Battle of Antietam begins with the terrain. The Antietam Battlefield, now a national military park, is a beautiful patch of rolling hills, corn fields, and a nearby river. It was this rolling landscape that obscured troop movement. Only fifty yards from your position, the enemy could be approaching, or entrenched, and you would not know it. Lee himself had to ride on his white horse “Traveler” up and down the field between the Piper House and the sunken road to gain a holistic view.

To illustrate the impact of topography, when the battle commenced at 5:30 AM, only the glistening bayonets reflecting the low horizon sun and state battle flags of advancing Confederates could be seen above the corn stalks. At “bloody lane”, still today a sunken road immortalized in the annals of history, wave after wave of Union troops advanced against Confederates entrenched in the sunken road, and Confederates would first see only the battle flags rising above the hill, as the brigade chaplain rode back and forth on his horse, giving last rites with a sweeping motion of his hand, oblivious to bullets zinging past his ears like mad hornets.

Antietam was tactically a draw, but a moral victory for the Union which inspired the timing for the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln had mixed feelings, however, because McClellan failed to capitalize on the opportunity to finish off Lee. Lincoln’s relationship with McClellan was strained from the outset. McClellan was contemptuous of Lincoln, but Lincoln had no choice early in the war but to choose a general who was most respected by his men. One time, Lincoln went to visit McClellan at a house where he was staying, and arriving early, Lincoln waited for McClellan in the living room. When McClellan arrived, he glanced at Lincoln in silence and walked right past Lincoln, up the stairs to his bedroom. After fifteen minutes, Lincoln sent a staff member to check on McClellan. The staffer returned two minutes later to inform Lincoln that the general had gone to sleep.

Lincoln hired and fired five commanders of the Army of the Potomac, which was the name of the federal force that fought in the Eastern Theater, before finally selecting the hero of the Western Theater, U.S. Grant, as head of the entire army.

Grant was humble, apolitical, and at the war’s onset, had washed up after a series of failed business ventures. Throughout the war, even after being named commander of the entire federal army, Grant dressed modestly and wore the pants of a private, his self-consciousness inflicted by an embarrassing experience when he was a young soldier serving at an outpost in the west. One morning, while walking into town neatly groomed and in uniform, a depot worker who had seen him pass into town every day mocked him by pinning a strip of cloth on each pant leg. In combat during the Civil War, not only as a grizzled veteran but also as a man who had already been brought to the brink of failure in civilian life, Grant offered a rare trait in a soldier- clarity of thought during utter chaos in the heat of battle, as if all the tribulations in his life had served in some twisted way to fatalistically prepare him for destiny.

The style of Grant’s autobiography reflects his modesty, it is somewhat stilted, written nearly in third person, and devoid of personal feelings. He wrote the book while dying of throat cancer, brought on by his taking to cigars sent as gifts by admirers during the war, which he smoked to soothe his nerves after a day of carnage. Grant did cry, he wept in his tent after the Battle of Shiloh, he was not unemotional and he loved his troops. Rather, he was very emotional yet contained his feelings because of his modest personality. When Grant was dying of throat cancer and began writing his book, he was dying broke after losing his savings in an ill-fated brokerage firm where his son worked, and whose partner embezzled. He wanted to ensure his family would be provided for after his death. The book became a best seller and raised several hundred thousand dollars for his family, equivalent to ten million dollars today.

By the end of the war, Lincoln’s appearance had aged considerably, and the emotional toll was etched on his forlorn face. One officer who saw him while addressing troops said he had the look of a clown, a sad clown’s face.

A few months before Lincoln’s assassination, an interesting twist of fate occurred. Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was at a New Jersey railroad station waiting on a train platform so crowded that he was wedged against the side of the stationary train. The train began to move, and Lincoln’s son began to fall in between two cars passing by. A hand grabbed his coat and pulled him to safety. The president’s son recognized the Good Samaritan’s face and thanked the famous actor for saving his life. That actor was Edwin Booth, the more famous brother of John Wilkes Booth.

When Lincoln died, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.” Lincoln died, but the nation was re-born.

Interested in joining us during the 150th reunion of the Civil War to celebrate Lincoln’s service to our country ? Some of our Civil War related destinations for middle and high school student group tours are Gettysburg, PA  and Antietam, MD (combined with a Washington, DC trip), Atlanta, GA (combined with Chattanooga, TN), and Charleston, SC. If there is another Civil War destination of interest, we also customize tours as requested. Our tours are steeped in education, each trip is devoted to one or more academic disciplines, not just history, but also science, zoology, architecture, and others. We are not just a Civil War tour organization for students, although it is one of our specialties.

Start here with a free quote on a educational tour with your student group to Washington DC or Gettysburg.



A typical day on Educational Tours to Washington DC

A typical day on educational tours to Washington DC with your student group.


On any given day depending on your mode of travel each student educational tour to Washington DC will include a visit to the Capitol and a meeting with your Congressman or woman. And no student tour would be complete with the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court building when the schedule permits. We will discuss these a little more in later blogs.


Washington DC Educational Tours

The Capitol in Washington DC

On the other days your tour with middle and high school students will include the many activities Washington DC has to offer for student group and their teachers.


Each day on an educational tour brings new discoveries for students. On a trip to Washington DC a typical day would start around 645-700am. We love to get an early start simply because a lot can be done in a day and many sites and attractions are a little less busy before 10am.


Spring can be especially warm in Washington DC. As we get closer to June and July the weather conditions during your student tour can become muggy very fast and so the schedule for you educational field trip will be planned according to the date of travel.


Washington DC educational tours with students

Arlington National Cemetery

We always recommend to do the Arlington Cemetery early as there is some walking to do and it is always better to walk the grounds with your student group before peak sun. The crowds will be thinner and access to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, JFK’s and his brother Robert burial sites a little easier.


As we leave the grounds of Arlington cemetery with the student group, the tour will head to the 911 Pentagon Memorial nearby. A quick stop at the Iwo Jima memorial for a group picture and some background on the events of Iwo Jima.


On your other morning we could recommend going to the National Zoo and a visit to the National Cathedral.


Lunch in Washington DC can be a lot of fun for the student group as there is a lot of selection. Union Station is a favorite for student group tours as we can arrange for meal vouchers and coupons and there are many choices of restaurants for the groups.


Also possible is the Old Post Office Pavilion which offers some selection of restaurants for travelling student groups.

Tomorrow we will look at a typical afternoon of touring on and educational tour in Washington DC.

Get a quote for a DC trip today

Your Passport and an Educational Tour to Ireland and the world



The first step to your first or next trip to Ireland will be to get a passport. Any journey around the world begins with this document in hand. Whether you travel on an educational tour with your classmates, friends or on vacation with your parents, your passport will be the witness to many border crossings.

Passports as we know them today have been in common use in the 20th century but have an older origin traced back to 450 BC.

Educational tours to International destinations

US Passport Cover

The mention of such a document is in the Bible in the book of Nehemiah. Working as a Royal cup bearerNehemiah was granted  letters from the King to requesting of governors of foreign lands to grant  him safe passage – he was originally going to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. ( source The Guardian – Leo Benedictus )

The UK Border Agency indicates the passport first made its appearance in the reign of Henry V in the form of a ‘safe conduct’. It was used to prove the origins of travelers and is still the case today.  Today in the British passport we can still read the request :

 Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

The US Passport contains this message:

 The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.

 The origin of the word continues to be debated. Whether it had maritime connections derived from seaports or from a medieval document to pass the door to a walled city or a territory. ( gate = porte in French )

 The document today serves to confirm the identity, nationality of the international traveler. It does not give the holder the permission to enter countries as this is a privilege accorded by authorities of each country the equivalent of the US State Department. In certain cases travelers need to apply for a visa that will be attached to the passport confirming for the border patrol  the necessary documentation was provided to allow passage.

 According to State Department historians, except for brief periods during wartime, passports were not generally required for travel abroad and few obstacles were presented by foreign states’ passport requirements until after 1914. An executive order on Dec. 15, 1915, required every person entering or leaving the United States to have a valid passport. ( How Stuff )

 Until recently, the US and Canada did not need a passport for border crossings. These rules changed after September 2001.

When you arrive in Ireland on your next educational tour or trip to Ireland you will need a valid passport to enter the country.

If you do not have a passport, you can read more in the  next posting on how to get one.






Gettysburg and the Presidential Inauguration

Gettysburg and the Presidential Inauguration

All Roads Lead To Gettysburg, Especially Those From Washington, D.C.

As we approach another presidential inauguration on January 21, 2013, I cannot help but think of the historic town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for reasons other than the battle itself, that Gettysburg is a 1 ½ hour drive from Washington, D.C., and that the sounds of cannon during the battle could be heard in Washington, D.C. Anyone attending the presidential inauguration in Washington DC should visit Gettysburg.

 President William Henry Harrison died in 1841 only three months after delivering his presidential inauguration speech, on a cold, rainy day and without wearing an overcoat. His neglect to stay warm during his speech caused his death from pneumonia, which escalated after such ill-fated attempted cures as opium, castor oil, leeches, and Virginia snakeweed.

How does this tie into Gettysburg and the Civil War?

If you remember the phrase impressed on you by your elementary school history teacher “Tippecanoe…and Tyler too”, President Harrison was an acclaimed Army officer who faced off against Native American tribal leader Tecumseh in 1810 near Vincennes, Indiana, at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Despite being a foe, Tecumseh was admired by the U.S. military for his bravery, inspiring the middle name for one of the most famous Civil War generals, William Tecumseh Sherman.

President Harrison’s prescription of opium, castor oil, leeches, and Virginia snakeweed to battle his pneumonia would become obsolete in a few decades, due largely to the Civil War. Despite war’s ugliness, sometimes necessity and urgency spur new treatments, discoveries, and even lasting peace after decades or even hundreds of years of tension, sort of like a letting. As they say, “necessity is the mother of all invention”. During the Civil War, the Union’s naval blockade choked off imports to the Confederacy from Europe, and eventually the shortage of silk for sutures to stitch wounds prompted the South to use horse hairs for sutures to stitch wounds. Doctors, finding the hairs too brittle, started boiling the horse hairs before stitching. By trial and error, it was observed that those who were stitched with boiled horse hairs contracted fewer infections, and thus was born the practice of sterilization by boiling instruments.



Gettysburg 1863 Reenactment

Battle of Gettysburg reenactment, Gettysburg, PA

What does this have to do with Gettysburg?

I learned all of this in the town of Gettysburg, a time capsule of American history which has frozen the battle in time. Many who have not been there, or barely remember the site from when they visited as a child, are unaware that there is more to see in Gettysburg than the battlefield, which is a beautiful landscape with rolling hills, ridges, mountains in the distance, original cannon populating the field, and still home to the traditional Adams County fieldstone houses that were caught in the middle of the fighting. The Civil War museum on the cusp of the battlefield is vast and one of the best museums in the country, a treasure trove of artifacts collectively worth perhaps tens of millions of dollars. Admission is free. In the town of Gettysburg, one can tour several houses that existed and were assaulted during the battle. A few offer fine dining on traditional fare as one would eat in the 1800s.

When you visit Gettysburg, you will feel as if you had traveled in a time machine, stepping back in time to 1863. You will see many reenactors dressed in period attire or military uniforms, walking about town, sitting in a mock camp along the road, or serving you at dinner.

This town is one of my favorites in the country.

Learn more here about our Presidential Inauguration student tour program here:

Inauguration Info


Making a Difference – Attention to Details

Middle and High School Student Trips make a difference.

Experience has shown that we can make a difference in students’ lives and memories over just a few days during a tour. Discovery, friendship, wonder,camaraderie, curiosity span the range of emotions young travelers will experience. We enjoy being a part of that and work hard to make it a success.

Our efforts and unflagging determination are dedicated to ensuring that your tour runs smoothly. Like a Broadway show, you watch the show unaware of the hard work backstage that makes it all happen. A successful show is marked by unrelenting backstage work that makes the performance look easy.

Our backstage is rooted in logistics, preparation and attention to details.

Selecting reliable and quality vendors, such as the hotels and motor
coach companies, is one fulcrum amongst others that produces a successful tour.

A more important element of our backstage work is careful selection and training of our tour leaders, also known as “GO Leaders”, who are chosen from the education departments of local colleges. We augment their budding teaching skills and academic knowledge with intensive training to ensure they are prepared to host a tour, and to deliver engaging lectures in an entertaining manner.

The main theme and focus of training our GO Leaders is the student traveler. We make sure this is repeated over and over- they are the priority at all times, their safety, making sure they have fun, seeing the sites they should be seeing, and learning material that compliments classroom instruction. We implore our GO Leaders to love your kids and your group as if they were your family. We impress on them to keep every student engaged, and to make it known that you are available to them at all times during the tour. And smile. Smile until it hurts. This seems silly but there is nothing like a smile to enhance a day-rain or shine.

In Washington, D.C. during the Presidential Inauguration in 2013, there will be many visitors. Because the city will experience some congestion, it is of paramount importance that the itinerary is crafted with precision, including contingency plans in the event of any unexpected delays due to traffic and road closures.

Paying attention to the small details, and delivering a little more than is expected, are what we pledge to the teachers and traveling students.

If you are a teacher and want your kids to enjoy a memorable, fun,and educational travel experience- please give us a call, and we will provide a quote on a trip to the upcoming Presidential Inauguration 2013.

Find out more here.

Presidential Inauguration 2013


Presidential Inauguration 2013 Washington DC

This year the Presidential Inauguration 2013 Washington DC

There will be a private ceremony on Sunday the 20th of January. Then on the Monday will follow the public Presidential Inauguration along with the parade and events on the Mall.

The first President to be inaugurated at the Capitol was Thomas Jefferson in 1801. Jefferson was instrumental in the development of Washington’s capital and its design. He called Pierre Charles L’Enfant who surpassed the modest ambitions Jefferson had for the capital’s design. Today this grand design still holds up well. It is a fitting setting for the capital of the oldest democracy in the world.  The avenues are wide and there are great vantage points of the government buildings. There are height restrictions in the city to help it keep the government prominent. Some say the city evokes certain European cities like Paris in its concept.

The President will take the oath of office on the West front facing the Mall towards the Washington Monument. The Presidential Inauguration events from Andrew Jackson to Jimmy Carter were held on the East side. President Reagan was the first to take the oath on the West side.

The wording is specified in Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight:
– I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This year is a great opportunity to combine a Washington DC trip with the Presidential Inauguration 2013 events.

Find out more here.

Presidential Inauguration 2013


The Presidential Inauguration 2013

Only 123 days until the next Presidential Inauguration when the President is sworn in. This peaceful transition or continuation of power will be on Sunday January 20th 2013. It is the commencement of a new term of four years for a President. The Presidential Inauguration is a solemn and festive event celebrating democracy and the confirmation of the Chief executive. Prior to the 20th amendment it was held on March 4th and the last President to be sworn in was Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933.

Did you know the shortest Presidential address contained 135 words and was delivered by George Washington while William Harrison’s was 8445 words! President Washington was never sworn in the city carrying his name. In fact 5 other Presidents were sworn outside of Washington D.C. :

  • George Washington—1789, New York City; 1793, Philadelphia
  • John Adams—1797, Philadelphia
  • Chester Alan Arthur—1881, New York City
  • Theodore Roosevelt—1901, Buffalo
  • Calvin Coolidge—1923, Plymouth, Vt.
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson—1963, Dallas
Exceptionally, back in 2008, another ‘informal’ Presidential Inauguration was held. President Obama was sworn in a second time the 21st by the Chief Justice  after following Chief Justice Roberts’s lead, Obama improperly recited the oath. He said, “I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” The word “faithfully” belongs between “will” and “execute.”

This year is the perfect year to attend and make it a DC trip as it will fall on on a Sunday.

Learn more here about our Presidential Inauguration student tour program here:

Inauguration Info