In the wake of recent tragedies such as the MH 370 plane crash and the South Korea (Sewol) ferry disaster,
1) Some things are worth paying more money for
There are people who would pay an arm and a leg for a branded bag or accessory, but quibble about the price of an overseas trip. Now a cheaper bag isn't necessary going to harm you (except maybe your vanity), but a trip that compromises quality for cost just might.
- For example, going to developing countries, some may assume that the trip should be very low cost. While they may be right in some ways, as the cost of goods there may be more affordable, it is also precisely that in less developed areas we ensure that more stringent (and hence more costly) measures are taken to ensure the safety, health and welfare of participants. You need to know that more often than not, the risk of a trip increases in relation to the low cost of the package. Let me relate a real life example: A teacher and I wanted to test the journey on a bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, which only costs USD 15. The alternative would be a 45 min or so flight costing about 60USD. Now we went for an excellent bus service, with wifi, air con, snacks and a multilingual bus guide, but the bus had no bathroom facilities nor first aid kit. It would only stop 2.5 hours later at a pit stop for food and for folks to use the bath rooms. Now that's all fine and dandy if you're feeling great, but the second I boarded the bus I felt my stomach gave an ominous gurgle. Half an hour into the bus ride I was in extreme agony as I was gripped in the throes of food poisoning, with my medication (stupidly) trapped in the luggage department and no restroom in sight for the next 2 hours. I almost begged my travel companion to knock me out. Had we taken the flight, I would have resolved this immediately by accessing the bathroom on board, and also implored the flight attendants to attend to me with their first aid kit. Instead I suffered for several hours holding in the gastrointestinal equivalent of a nuclear war, and turned so pallid that the kid sitting beside me must have thought the zombie apocalypse was upon us.
Of course now it sounds like a funny story, but would I wish that kind of experience upon anyone? No - no way. So parents, teachers and participants out there - if you wonder why our programs are sometimes more costly than other providers' out there, well that's because we want your loved ones and our team TO LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.
Hence, if you would like to increase the budget for one option and one option only between the following:
a) 5 hour in-country workshop sitting in an air-conditioned classroom, where the most dangerous thing that could possibly happen would be paper cuts or contracting the flu from a fellow participant, OR
b) 10 day overseas program including transport, accommodation, navigation, lots of activities, heading to rural project sites etc. which involve months of pre-planning beforehand
I sincerely hope you choose the option that would impact the participants' lives the most!
2) Safety and risk assessments + briefings are paramount
3) Safety is EVERYONE'S responsibility