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NC State Extension

Leading Extension Gardener International Travel Study Programs

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  • garden in South Korea

    South Korea

    Review What to Know Before You Go.

  • Get your passport and any required vaccines.
  • Register for NC State University Full Tunnel VPN to allow access to your NC State University Gmail account and other services that may be restricted in other countries.
  • Include in Your Travel Authorization
    • Any meals or other expenses you want the county to cover.
    • The purchase of a local SIM card for your cell phone so you can use data and make local calls (to the in-country guide, to a site to let them know you are running late, to get a cab). Ask about using your Pcard to purchase a SIM card. Your cell phone may need to be unlocked before using the SIM card.
  • Review the recommended reading. Learn about the country you are visiting – flora, fauna, culture. (you are not expected to become an expert)
  • Create a folder for guides and participants to share images. The folder should be within the folder set up for your trip in the EG-Travel” folder in the Consumer Horticulture shared drive. Right-click the folder name and select “share” at the bottom of the window under “General Access.” Click the down arrow to the left of the current option and select “Anyone with the link.” In the right column, select “Contributor.”  In the bottom left corner, click  “Copy link.” That is the link to share with the participants. It will allow them to add images.
  • Download the app “Whatsapp” and learn how to use it. This will allow you to communicate with the participants via wi-fi at no charge. Be sure each of the participants download the App before departure. Test and troubleshoot communications ahead of time. You can create a group with all the travelers and NC State guides. Then, send a message to the whole group or specific individuals. Add the in-country guide and the bus driver when you are on site. This is helpful at a large destination, e.g., “See you on the bus at 4:00 p.m.; it is in the parking lot to the left and just down the hill from the visitors’ entrance.”
  • Consider setting up a free VOIP (voice-over-internet-protocol) to allow you to call home.
  • Help promote the trip and recruit travelers. See marketing strategies and marketing resources.
    • Send an announcement email to the NCEMG and Consumer Hort agents’ email lists. Ask them to share the announcement with their volunteers.
    • Write a promo for the NCEMG newsletter.
    • Add a post to the EG Portal.
    • Host a marketing/promotional/informational Q&A on Zoom announcing the trip (invite Ray Eaton <>, Discovery Tours, and previous guides to join.
  • Host online orientation for travelers (after registration closes).
    • Introduce the guides.
    • Have travelers introduce themselves.
    • Introduce Whatsapp and practice using it with the group.
    • Introduce the Google Drive image folder and invite travelers to share images.
    • Distribute forms
      • Photo release,
      • Who to contact in an emergency
      • Any medical conditions we should be aware of
      • Contact information (cell phone, email, and, if from NC, county)
    • Remind travelers that the trip will include 6-8 hour days and extensive walking (some of which will be on inclines or uneven pathways). Encourage them to start getting in shape now so they will enjoy the adventure. Appropriate footwear is essential.
    • Encourage travelers to bring a daypack that can fit multiple garments in case of changing weather.
    • Ensure participants know that the itinerary may change due to unexpected circumstances, including weather or a closed venue. Every effort will be made to find a comparable experience.
    • For EMG travelers
      • Encourage them to talk to their agents before the trip about how many education hours they will earn.
      • Email agents before a trip to let them know they have volunteers on the trip and share the itinerary.
      • Encourage them to wear their name tag on the trip.
      • Invite volunteers to post to the EMG Facebook page.
      • Remind participants that providing the driver and the tour guide a tip is traditional.
  • Connect with the local guide to confirm the time for dinner on the first night and when the bus will depart on the first day.
  • Get the cell phone number and email of the professional guide, the bus driver, and each participant so you can stay in touch if you get separated.
  • Plan several icebreakers for the first day on the bus.
  • Keep copies of participant passports, emergency contact information, medical conditions, and travel plans (arrival and departure times, flight number, and airlines) in a notebook that stays with you on the bus, at the hotel, and during day trips. Discovery Tours hosts the tour and so manages all emergencies during the trip.


  • Tree Aloe

    New Zealand

    Portable chargers/power banks and phone chords so you and participants can recharge on the bus between destinations. Extra batteries and SD cards for your camera.

  • Things participants may have forgotten (moleskin for sore feet, medicines (aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea, and motion sickness), wrist bands and ginger chews to avoid being car sick, basic first aid (bandaids, antibiotic ointment),  ponchos, bug repellent, and sunscreen. (see What to Pack)
  • Thank you cards for the bus driver, tour guides, and hosts at tour sites. Have participants sign.
  • Name Tags for those who forget their badges. Name Tags for participants are helpful for the group, especially during the first few days.
  • NC State swag to give to the guide, the driver, and the guides and hosts along the way. Contact Julie Hayworth-Perman <> to request hats, pens, shirts, etc.


  • Kew Gardens


    Take many pictures of flora, fauna, culture, destinations, and happy travelers in action; post them on NCEMG Facebook and share them with CALS and the CES social media and marketing team.

  • Encourage travelers to post on social media on their personal, county, and state EMG sites.
  • Encourage travelers to share their images via the Google Drive folder
  • Serve as Host, Camp Counselor, Guide
    • Keep count of attendees, and make sure no one is left behind.
    • Take pictures of the room list and send it to everyone after check-in
    • Every night at dinner or on the bus at the end of the day. Announce the schedule for the next day,  time for breakfast, when to meet the bus, etc.
    • You will be traveling with a variety of people with different experience levels, backgrounds, and viewpoints – be prepared to facilitate, counsel, arbitrate, and negotiate as needed. Remember, you are in a leadership role, and part of your responsibility is to foster group harmony.
    • Remember to get to know everyone – sit with different groups at meals and spend time making sure everyone is included.
    • Be present and accessible to travelers during tour/meals; save Facebook for later (after dinner or when you return)
    • Be prepared for colds, stomach viruses, and minor illnesses (bring extra supplies)
  • If you are asked how your expenses are covered, let travelers know tour guide expenses are built into the tour registration fees.
  • Sometimes, due to the group size, not everyone will stay in the same block of rooms/location, possibly even in different hotels.
  • Download Google Maps for use without an internet connection; this can come in handy for folks on ‘free days’ as they navigate independently. It does not give walking directions!
  • Send e-mail reminders every other night to remind travelers of the upcoming day(s) and what to expect. 
  • Be prepared for traffic – use the time for participants to introduce themselves, provide information on upcoming destinations, and consider stopping for a few minutes at a market so folks can get out and walk and see local produce.
  • On the last day of the trip, pass a hat (once for the driver & once for the guide) and give them the “Thank You” cards.


  • scenic overlook site in Spain


    Survey participants and summarize the results, including your suggestions on improving the itinerary. Share with Lucy.

  • Work with participants to host a webinar sharing your adventures with Master Gardener volunteers across the state.
  • Assist in promoting future trips.

General tips:

collage of pictures from Italy


  • Don’t overschedule before the tour. Come well-rested and ready for an adventure.
  • Do not plan to work during the trip. There will not be time to keep up with your email or work on projects. Stay focused on the trip and the travelers.
  • Don’t overschedule the final day of the tour – people need time to pack.
  • Don’t overschedule yourself when you return! Plan a couple of vacation days or professional scheduling time. You’ll need time to adjust to the time change and catch up on personal stuff. Also, keep your work schedule light for a week or two after you return to allow time to follow up on the trip and catch up with what happened while you were gone.

Specific Advice for Leading a Trip to: