College groups use outside organizations to travel abroad

Rex Santus

The Kent State gospel choir is one organization using an outside travel agency, rather than the university’s study abroad programs, to go abroad.

EF College Break, a travel company offering various trips to students between the ages of 18 and 26, is like a study abroad program without the studying, said Emily Vincent, senior nutrition and food major and campus manager for EF College Break.

“They do the planning and logistics for you,” she said. “You just relax and have a good time.”

Students can book trips alone or in groups, Vincent said. Either way, students will be placed in a travel group with other students from across the United States.

Linda Walker, professor of music education and founder of the Kent State gospel choir, said the choir is traveling through EF College Break because it is renowned and reliable.

“I used EF … in 2003,” Walker said. “My expectations were exceeded.”

The gospel choir will stay in London for nine days touring British museums and historical sites, Walker said. The choir will also hold a small concert.

This trip is unique, Vincent said, because Walker created the itinerary herself. Usually, EF College Break offers trips designed by its staff.

“The company plans trips anywhere from nine to 35 days,” Vincent said. “There are 25 different trips.”

EF College Break offers trips in such places as Egypt, Greece, Australia, Spain and many other locations not offered by the university, Vincent said. Prices range from the cheapest trip, $1,800 for Costa Rica, to the most expensive, $5,000 for a 30-day tour of Europe.

The company offers a monthly payment plan for students who are financially strapped, Vincent said. No down payment is required, only a $150 security deposit.

“People always think they have to pay an arm and a leg when they think of traveling somewhere,” Vincent said. “I just want people to know they have this affordable opportunity to travel.”

Although Vincent said most of the trips are very affordable, Walker said she believes the prices are sometimes too high for a student’s budget.

“While I understand the company is a business, my concern is the high cost for most students,” Walker said. “I hope the company will revisit its cost structure in the near future.”

Despite the high cost, Walker said it is beneficial for students to travel.

“This opportunity for all students to learn about the world and its influences is unsurpassed,” Walker said. “I was just in Prague this summer with a 280-voice choir of students and others from 11 countries. To see and hear what this experience meant to these young people was unforgettable.”

This year’s trip will be equally worthwhile, Walker said.

“I have traveled extensively and know that the opportunity for students to travel and study abroad is educational and personally rewarding for them,” Walker said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this 2012 tour will also change students’ lives for the better.”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].