smart trips: hit or miss?


photo by davide ragusa from unsplash

Is this Study Abroad Travel Company Really that Smart?

As you walk through the narrow streets of Florence towards the skyward Duomo to reach the Kent campus, you may find yourself affronted with fliers being handed out by groups of young, orange-vested students.


These students work for Ciao Florence, a company that houses a student-focused tour program called Smart Trips.


Many students studying abroad participate in week, weekend and day-long trips to get the very most out of their time abroad. However many students opt for getting a little help from popular, cheap travel companies marketed towards study abroad students, rather than booking these trips on their own.


Smart Trips is one of the most used and talked about programs among Kent students for its affordability and “hands-off” nature.


Lexi Platt, a junior digital media productions major, used the company for a day trip to the Chianti region for a spa, lunch and wine tasting.


“It [Smart Trips] was something that I kind of learned about within the first few weeks coming here,” Platt said. “Everybody was talking about it, but I had never intended on traveling with them.”


Although Platt went on a day trip, the company offers a variety of trips ranging from a day to 10 days with all trips remaining inside Europe and through bus transportation.


“I think it’s nice because you do get to see a lot,” Platt said. “I think one of the downsides is that you’re on the bus all day, and that makes it feel very touristy. I also don’t know if I like the fact that you kind of have to follow somebody else’s schedule.”


Platt also explained she thinks the program may be just better for day trips rather than full weekend or week-long excursions.


This notion is something junior environmental studies major Faith Day agreed with as she looks to book her first Smart Trip’s wine tasting tour.


“I would only really use it for something like this because it’s just a quick trip that’s really cheap,” Day said. “But I feel like a lot of the other trips you’re not really being immersed in the culture. You’re kind of going on these guided trips, and I wouldn’t go on some of the weekend or more expensive trips. It just doesn’t seem like it would be worth it to me.”


Although Platt shared the same ideas about missing out on a more culturally rich experience through Smart Trips, she did explain some social advantages of the program.


“I think it is kind of cool, at least on my Smart Trip, it wasn’t just people from Kent going, it’s people that are studying abroad here from other colleges,” Platt said. “So it’s not like you get to see other kinds of students, but you do get to meet other students from other colleges.”


Smart Trips can be a controversial, but influential travel option among American study abroad students, and mainly its worth just depends on your independence level and traveling style preference.


“I wouldn’t really do Smart Trips unless it’s something that works perfectly with what you’re planning on doing,” Day said. “Because it’s more expensive than if you just planned it, but I would definitely plan ahead of time because it’s cheaper that way. And just have fun.”  

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