Come Fly with us: Connecting Our Wourld with Yours
Part of the Florida Geographic Alliance's collection of lesson plans.


Grade Level: 7

Time: 3 to 5 days




  1. Give overview of introductory portion of unit on Western Europe.
  2. Get travel brochures and airline ticket jackets from travel agents and air carriers. Travel brochures are used for various decorating activities and travel information.
  3. Each student's name is placed on a ticket jacket and placed on the wall by the bulletin board/wall presentation following the theme of the unit "Come Fly With Me - Connecting Our World With Yours."
  4. Day 1: Use maps of the United States and Europe. Connect your hometown, the departure city, with the arrival city for our adventure through Europe (for this lesson I am using Helsinki, Finland). Use string or yarn and push pins to mark the route. As you move from country to country additional pieces of string or colored yarn will be added for new arrival cities.
  5. Each student will begin to design a suitcase, duffel bag, tote, etc. to keep documents and work in for this unit. Suitcase can be made out of any type folder with pockets and brads. Students should use their own creativity in design and method of fastening the folder to resemble a suitcase. Baggage tags for each country in the unit can be made and attached to the folder. At the end of the entire unit each suitcase/folder will be collected and evaluated.
  6. Day 2: Passport - A copy of the most recent passport application should be given to each student to complete. Each student should supply a picture to be used. After going over the application, the application itself may be filled out for the evening's homework assignment to save class time.
  7. Each student will then construct a small passport pouch that can be decorated or monogrammed and placed with the passport in their "suitcase". After filling out passport, students must construct a completed passport pouch, with passport, and place it in their luggage.
  8. Days 3 and 4: Divide into cooperative learning groups. Pass out copies of the following sheets to each group: 1)What to Take, 2)What to Know, 3)How to Go. Each group will take a section and prepare to present it to the class. Creativity should be stressed. Example: display information as an illustration (labeled) on poster board or card stock. Another presentation idea would be a brief radio spot on your local radio show entitled "Travel Tips to Europe."
  9. Day 5: Actual departure activity. This activity is designed to orient the student with the location of the area being studied to where he/she lives. Each student has a copy of the activity. This may be done individually or in a cooperative learning group. If cooperative learning groups are used, each group can prepare answers on card stock to flash. Activity sheets are to be placed in thier suitcase.
    1. Student is given a world map to go in their suitcase to use for reference.
    2. Student will be given a direction sheet to answer for each new country.
    3. Use an atlas, world map, textbook, or desk top map to complete the activity.


    1. Determine the shortest route from your hometown to the capital city of the country being studied. Include connecting cities. For this lesson, I am using Helsinki, Finland.
    2. Depending on the source you are using, draw or place a line showing your route of travel.
    3. Once you have determined the shortest route, use the scale of miles to compute mileage.
    4. Your hometown is in the ______________ hemisphere. ________________(capital city) is in the __________ hemisphere.
    5. Is your hometown above or below the equator? What about the selected capital city?
    6. List the oceans and other bodies of water you crossed on your flight.
    7. List the continents and countries you fly over.
    8. Is your route mostly over land or water?
    9. State the latitude and longitude of your hometown and the capital city you fly into.
    10. Circle the capital city and the country you are flying into.
    11. Circle all major bodies of water on your map.
    12. What countries and bodies of water surround the country you are flying into?
    13. What is the major use of land in your country?
    14. Develop one question and answer using your map that you could ask another student.


Suitcase evaluated, passport application evaluated (following directions accurately), evaluate thematic and oral presentations, evaluate departure activity. Grades can be issued for creativity, following directions, all research, and culminating activities. Use your own discretion in grading with regard to ability level of each class you may teach.



Customs in Europe:

Customs regulations are relatively few when it comes to what you may take into a country. Generally, items for personal use can be taken in free. Be sure to check each country for regulations. Certain Eastern European countries calculate limits on the value of imported articles according to their value on the open market within that country. Travelers whose possessions include personal computers, pocket calculators or other advanced electronic devices may want to check with the consulates of the destination countries.


Most European countries supply 200-250-volt, 50-cycle electricity, which is nearly twice the power of the 110 to 120-volt, 60-cycle alternating current supplied in the United States. In some areas of Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland, 110-127-volt, 50-cycle current is used. At the higher speed and on 50-cycle current, U.S. electrical appliances will not operate normally and will be damaged. There are exceptions; many hotels in the British Isles and Ireland have special outlets to be used only for U.S. appliances. Some U.S. stores do sell electrical items for use overseas, but be sure to check the voltage requirements before you buy; don't be misled by "adapters" which only enable you to plug your appliance into a European wall socket. Ask for a transformer that can convert the voltage.

Health Certificates:

Beyond catching up on your rest after extended jet travel, no special health precautions need to be taken while touring Europe. It might be wise to exercise caution and use bottled instead of tap water in most European countries. The Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has a hot line offering international health requirements and recommendations for foreign travelers. A touch tone phone is needed for the service, which is available 24 hours a day at (404) 332-4559.

Jet Lag:

Jet lag is the discomfort that travelers feel when adjusting to a new time zone. These effects are the body's response to having its natural rhythm upset and can include dehydration, headaches, insomnia and general fatigue. You should not be alarmed if you suffer these discomforts after a long international flight. Keep in mind when planning your trip that the hours of arrival and departure can affect the way you'll feel. Leaving for a long trip in the morning is an easier adjustment than leaving in the middle of the night. Additional steps can be taken to minimize the effects of jet lag. A few days before leaving, try to adapt your sleeping and eating schedules to your destination's time zone. Adequate rest is important, since the effects of jet lag will be more pronounced if you are tired before departing. After boarding the plane, reset your watch to the new time zone. If it is not nighttime at your destination, stay mentally and physically active. Eat lightly and drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine and carbonated beverages.


Whether your vacation lasts a day or a month, chances are you will come home wishing you had shot twice as many pictures. Almost all airports check luggage with x-ray scanners that may fog unprocessed film, so consider buying protective foil film bags at a camera shop or mailing exposed film from countries overseas directly to your U.S. processor. Be cautious in your picture taking if you are traveling in Eastern Europe. Do not photograph industrial structures, border areas, airports, or police or military personnel. If you are unsure what subjects to photograph, ask first. Taking unauthorized pictures may result in confiscation of your film or possibly your camera.

When To Go:

The warm months are perennial favorites with vacationers. However, off season rates, hotel availability and a smaller number of tourists make winter a worthwhile alternative.


Generally, the weather of eastern and central Europe resembles that of the New England states: freezing temperatures in winter, rising to the mid 70's in summer. Naturally, there are exceptions: northern Poland and Russia have colder winters and cooler, but still pleasant, summers. Areas bordering the Mediterranean and Black Sea tend to be warmer throughout the year. Most of the southern European countries have warmer weather than the latitude would indicate. Summers are hot and dry; winters are mild and rainy. Snow covered mountains are never far away. Despite its reputation, weather in the British Isles is more pleasant than in other countries of similar latitude. Fog and rain are especially evident in early winter. Spring, with the exception of April, is the driest season, and England's sunny Indian summer sometimes extends into November. Temperatures are equable - they do not often rise above 80 F or fall below 20 degrees.

Train Travel:

A good way to see Europe is by train. Passes may be purchased for a Eurailpass, French Railpass, BritRail Pass, SpainRail Pass, Swiss Pass, Netherlands Rail Rover. Refer to each country.


Travel Documents:

Passports - The primary document for U.S. citizens who travel abroad is the U.S. passport. If you already have one, be sure to check the expiration date. Some countries require as much as 6 months validity. Passports issued to persons 18 and over are valid for 10 years from the date of issue; passports issued to persons under 18 are valid for 5 years. If applying for a passport for the first time, the procedures are relatively simple, but must be strictly followed. You can apply for a passport at any federal or state court authorized by laws to naturalize aliens or at passport agencies of the U.S. Dept. of State. Certain U.S. post offices are also authorized to issue passports. Check with your local post office to see if it is part of this State Dept. program. Each individual of a family must have a passport. The major requirement after you've completed your application is proof of citizenship. The proof preferred is you birth certificate. If this is not available other proofs are acceptable such as census records, newspaper files, family Bibles, school records, or affidavits of persons who have personal knowledge of your birth. This type of proof may be used provided a notice from appropriate authorities is submitted showing that no birth record exists. In addition to proving citizenship you must have some method of proving your identity. You will also need 2 identical photos taken within 6 months. Color photos are acceptable - vending machine photos are not. The time to receive a passport will vary depending upon the season. It is a good idea to carry 2 extra passport photos and a photocopy of the first 2 pages of your passport in case it is lost or stolen. American embassies usually accept this as proof that you actually possess a passport. Keep your passport handy at all times while traveling.


A visa is a stamp affixed in your passport by an official of the country you plan to visit - usually before you arrive - indicating that your travel to that country has been approved. Visas aren't required for U.S. citizens traveling in most western European countries for a short period of time. Some countries require a visa for stays of more than 3 months. For eastern European and communist bloc nations, visas are required for any length of stay. Further information may be obtained from the State Dept. in Washington, D.C.

Driving Documents:

Although a valid U.S. driver's license is honored in several European countries, many require you to carry a translation of it in the local language. For that reason, you should obtain an International Driving Permit, which serves as an official, international translation of you license. The IDP is written in nine languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. You should carry both your U.S. drivers license and your IDP.

Wardrobe and Luggage:

Before going on a shopping spree, check your existing wardrobe for possibilities. While a suitcase full of new clothes seems exciting, seasoned travelers report that tried and true favorites usually prove to be more comfortable. This is especially true for shoes. Sore feet and blisters can rob you of sightseeing. Color coordinate your wardrobe to make each outfit do double duty. Try to anticipate your needs while avoiding unnecessary bulk. Wash and wear articles are invaluable. Pack no more than 3 pairs of shoes, including a comfortable pair for walking. Don't forget rain wear, especially for countries bordering the Gulf Stream. Baggage depends on where and how far you want to travel and what modes of transportation you will use. If you go by ship the amount of luggage you take is usually not a problem, but what to do with your extra suitcases while touring is another matter. International airlines limit baggage by size: reguirements vary from carrier to carrier, so check the ones you plan to use before you pack. There is usually a charge for baggage that exceeds the maximum size. In packing, the cardinal rule is to fill all the space. Stuff extra shoes with socks and underwear; roll t-shirts to make crush- proofing for jacket shoulders. When you can, roll rather than fold garments, particularly sweaters, jeans and t-shirts. Place tissue paper in those clothes that you must fold. This will help to prevent wrinkling. Place odd-shaped items in the back of the suitcase and fill in around them with small, rolled articles. Put liquids and lotions in plastic bottles, leaving some air space for expansion in hot weather and high altitudes. Then put the bottles in plastic bags so leakage won't soil anything else. Carry extra plastic bags for laundry and wet items. Include a spare fold-up tote bag for purchases in route. Soft-sided luggage presents special consideration. Pack shoes and heavy items in the back. Distribute weight evenly from side to side so the bag will be easier to handle and its contents won't shift. Roll as much clothing as you can; fold other garments over each other to minimize crumpling.


Getting There By Air:

Jet transportation has brought most parts of the world within easy reach, and flights to Europe originate from many of the principal cities in the U.S. and Canada. Rates fall into 3 basic classes - first, business and economy - and vary according to season, one-way or round-trip passage, duration of trip and stopovers. Consult a travel agent, special-value fares and the most direct air routes to your destination.

By Sea:

The Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship crosses the Atlantic regularly. Costs vary according to the class, type of accommodations, season, and itinerary. Numerous air-sea combinations can be arranged. Consult your travel agent for additional crossings by various companies. Shipping Your Car to Europe - Unless your stay abroad exceeds 6 months, shipping your car overseas will be very expensive. If you choose to do so, contact a freight forwarder for information on shipping vehicles to Europe. Major steamship lines accept cars as accompanied baggage, but space is limited, so it is important to make reservations for both passenger and car space well in advance of your desired sailing date. Because the gasoline will be drained from your car for shipment, arrive at the dock with as little gas in the tank as possible.

Public Transportation:

Europe's transportation systems offer several options if you don't want to drive. Intercity flights can save hours of vacation time. On the other hand, Europe's economical trains offer a leisurely and intimate view of the countries through which they pass. But take note: European nations levy a 10% surcharge on cancelled flight and train reservations. During the summer tourist season, you might try a combination of train and car travel. Transporting your vehicle by rail is an extra convenience. Large cities which usually have efficient subway systems, promote public transportation with discounts to tourists.


Camping in Europe has become increasingly popular with North Americans. Thousands of camping areas maintain both primitive and modern sites; some have bungalows for rent. International camping permits are available by writing to the National Campers and Hikers Association, 4804 Transit Road, Bldg. 2, Depew, New York 14043.


Gasoline, or petrol, costs considerably more per liter in Europe than in the U.S., so plan accordingly. As in the U.S., gas at motorway stations costs more than elsewhere, and self-service pumps offer lower prices. There is often a 5-liter (slightly more than 1 gallon) minimum on gas purchases. Also, since gasoline is a precious commodity, use a lockable gas cap. Horns: In most of Europe's large cities and resorts, use of the horn is prohibited; tourists may be fined if they use their horns for other than emergency purposes. This is especially true in Paris. Fines for traffic violations are usually paid on the spot, usually in local currency.

Right of Way:

The general rule of the road is to drive on the right and pass on the left. In Great Britain and Ireland, however, the rule of the road is to drive on the left and pass on the right. In either case, passing laws are strictly enforced. Watch for road markings and don't cross a solid white or yellow line marking the center of the road.


European city dwellers often take to the highways in droves during the weekends. For that reason, you may want to plan your trips into the countryside for the weekdays and use the weekends for urban sightseeing.

Part of the Florida Geographic Alliance's collection of lesson plans.