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WonderWorks Will Turn Your Group Plans Upside Down!

Planning a student trip. Planning a homeschool trip. Planning a scout trip. Planning a family or faith-based trip. If you can check any of these boxes, be sure to check this one:

? Include a visit to WonderWorks in your plans!


WonderWorks is an experience (or experiment!) in fun like no other. As soon as the building is visible, its clear that things are not as they seem! The upside-down faade is explained to guests as a once top-secret laboratory located in the Bermuda Triangle in which an experiment gone wrong landed it in its current destination- upended!

Inside, the atmosphere at WonderWorks is charged with fun, excitement and more than 100 interactive displays and exhibits at your disposal. Science is at the heart of the experience, and all the activities are geared for maximum play. Lie on a bed of nails, conquer the indoor ropes course, or move at the speed of light. Challenge your mind, body and imagination in the Wonder Zones or dazzle your senses with the mystery of magic. Take in a 4D-XD (or 6D in Myrtle Beach!) movie or light it up in a black-lit laser tag arena. Theres so much to do in this world of edu-tainment!

WonderWorks loves groups of 15+ and promises an incredibly wacky adventure for all! WonderWorks has locations in six great group destinations. Each is uniquely engaging and offers guests a completely unexpected and upside-down approach to fun. When planning your group travel, be sure to check this one off your to-do list!

 

Oh, What A Knight!

The term medieval conjures up some pretty powerful images. Princesses, castles, plague (lets skip that one) and, of course, blade-wielding, powerful and chivalrous knights. Its enough to make a frequent reader of historical romances like myself swoon! Imagine the pageantry, the clashing of swords, damsels in distress and wondrous feats of horsemanship. Wouldnt it be wonderful to travel through the ages to such a gothic era?

Fortunately, we dont have to time travel- simply visit the nearest Medieval Times for a dining and entertainment experience like no other. Medieval Times is a spectacular evening of food and showmanship that will have you leaping to your feet and cheering on your favorite knight!

The Medieval Times experience begins the instant you enter the castle doors. The atmosphere is charged with excitement, and royal decrees are shouted from balconies as it is determined which gallant knight will be representing you in the tournament. The energy continues as you are seated for an exquisite, four-course meal fit for royalty. Service is exceptional and incredibly efficient. Once the guests appetites are satisfied, the main event begins!

Knights dressed in varying colors and their stalwart mounts enter the ring, preparing for the tournament. Steel clashes with steel and sparks fly as the tournament gets underway. Viewers hold their collective breath as they watch in wonder as noble knights and their equestrian counterparts parry and thrust with unrivaled skill. Its a thrilling display of brawn and grace, while spectators are drawn into the action by the honorable and gallant knights. As the evening rolls out, the knights and their steeds join forces for the ultimate good of the kingdom, bringing the crowd surging to their feet and thundering applause.

Medieval Times is an experience that touches all the senses and inspires the audience with dazzling displays of might and metal. It is an especially outstanding venue for groups of all sizes, including student groups, scout groups, homeschool groups, family reunion groups, and more. An 11th century castle is an outstanding platform for both entertainment and education. Grab your shield and join in the revelry!

 

An Incredibly Surprising Pizza Place

When my children were small, they loved to spend time at the local pizza entertainment center. It was an overpriced, cramped play space with unappetizing food and the promise of a weeklong illness due to unsanitary equipment. I truly dreaded the arrival of those party invitations and breathed a silent sigh of relief when they outgrew the center.
Imagine my surprise, while recently traveling in Tennessee, we stumbled upon Americas Incredible Pizza Company and my now much older children wanted to stop. Visions of that filthy rodent from our local center danced through my mind as I tried to argue against it. Overruled completely, we entered the Incredible Pizza Company and I forgot all my reservations!

Americas Incredible Pizza Company is just that- INCREDIBLE! Sparkling clean tiles of retro black and white greet you as you enter a vast space made for food, fun and family. A seemingly endless buffet of mouthwatering favorites, including pizza, pasta, homemade soups and sauces, hot dogs, tacos (80+ options!) can be found, along with fresh, crisp salads and scrumptious desserts. The food is spectacular and prepared with care- more than 100 different varieties of pizza are made daily! So many divine choices

The food is only part of what makes this place amazing, though. Americas Incredible Pizza Company brings the fun as well! Our quick stop turned into an afternoon of gaming, bowling, bumper cars, mini-golf and rides. Bright lights and dazzling displays promising thrills, chills and spills- its truly a dining destination not to be missed.


Americas Incredible Pizza Company is a wholesome environment tailor-made for student groups, homeschool groups, sports teams, faith-based travelers, dance and drama clubs, scout groups and more. Group events with ten or more people qualify for discounts (if booked at least 24 hours in advance). Dedicated space is available along with the buffet and a large selection of games and attractions. The facility is alcohol-free, making it perfect for kiddos.

Americas Incredible Pizza Company lives up to its name on every level. Americas Incredible Pizza Company has locations in great group destinations- plan your group’s visit today!

Hard Rock Caf Rocks Your Student Group

Teenagers love two things music and eating. I happen to have a teenager (of the male variety) and I can verify that music and eating top his daily to do list. I went from weekly grocery shopping to what feels like hourly grocery shopping in the span of two short years! Conversely, I have no idea what is on his playlist (and prefer to keep it that way). I do know, however, that if teenagers are well-fed and given a chance to kick back with some great music, they are ultimately happy campers.

Enter Hard Rock Caf, the quintessential dining destination for your student group. Hard Rock Caf is a master at knowing what kids like, from colossal, mouthwatering burgers to the sights and sounds of rock and roll! Hard Rock Caf has tons of locations in great student destinations, each with a unique flavor and style. They cater to groups of 15 or more and can offer a dedicated menu- including those legendary burgers, golden, breaded chicken tenders, gooey mac and cheese, smoky pulled pork or a classic Caesar salad. The portions are monstrous (perfect for teens) and each meal is topped off with a warm and fully-loaded chocolate chip cookie. If you prefer alternative choices, theyll work with you to design a menu that will perfectly satisfy the needs of your group.

While your group is in the house, they can browse the huge and varied collection of authentic rock and roll memorabilia. Theres much to see to keep the kids occupied, and the music is always pumping, keeping the energy of the trip high. Dont forget to make a quick stop at the Hard Rock Shop for those all- important t-shirts!
Hard Rock Caf is an outstanding dining choice for your student group. The staff is courteous, servers friendly and efficient, and the atmosphere made for fun! Hard Rock Cafe is an epic dining experience the students wont soon forget!

An Adventure in American History- Coastal Virginia

Bright sunshine, warm sand and the relaxing sounds of the ocean thats my idea of a perfect vacation. Roadside markers, historical sites and guided tours thats my husbands idea of a perfect vacation! Fortunately, our visit to Coastal Virginia met the mark for both of us (the kids had a fabulous time, too!). If you havent had the chance to visit this stunning and historically significant region, its time to plan a trip. Coastal Virginia is a top trending destination guaranteed to please all the travelers in your group!

 

Photo courtesy of Visit Norfolk

Norfolk is a hub for all things maritime-related. One of the first shipyards in America and host to the battle of The Monitor and Merrimack, Norfolk is now home to the largest naval base in the world. Anyone with an interest in nautical happenings will fall in love with Norfolk! Take a tour of the Nauticus National Maritime Museum and visit the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships built by the U.S. Navy. Be sure to stop at the MacArthur Memorial, final resting place of General Douglas MacArthur and home to award-winning exhibits. Finally, any trip to Norfolk must end on the water! Sail the beautiful harbor in style on an American Rover Cruise (you might even get to take a turn at the helm!).

Photo Courtesy of Newport News Tourism Development Office

Just a quick jaunt up the road is charming Newport News, settled in 1621. The Mariners Museum and Park is a must-do in this lovely piece of Virginia real estate. Youll have the chance to experience the Monitors story in a way that history books cant do justice! The Virginia War Museum sheds light on the history of the American military with unique, personal artifacts, weapons and other fascinating pieces of war memorabilia.

Photo courtesy of Newport News Tourism Development Office

If southern living is more your thing, youll definitely want to check out the Lee Hall Mansion- a picture of the antebellum south frozen in time. The Virginia Living Museum gets you up close and personal with Virginias natural heritage and beauty with interactive exhibits and discovery centers. Theres much to do in this little slice of heaven!

Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach CVB

Now that weve (momentarily) satisfied the history-seeking wanderlust in my husband, its time to relax on that sun-soaked beach. which I enjoyed for 2 glorious hours before we were off on our next adventure!

Virginia Beach is truly a magnificent place for walks on the beach, casual beach front lunches or breath-taking sunsets. Our kids love the energy and excitement of the boardwalk and I love tucking myself under the beach umbrella with a good book while the waves crash around me. However, Virginia Beach is so much more than just the beach!

Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach CVB

When you are ready to shake off the sand, a trip to the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center is a great option for cool, indoor fun! More than 10,000 animals are featured and countless interactive exhibits are available. Follow your wildlife encounters by taking to the tree tops as you climb and zipline your way through Adventure Park. What a view!

Photo Courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Just about an hours drive from Virginia Beach is the ultimate destination for history buffs. As my husband certainly qualifies as a buff, Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement top the list of required stops.

Colonial Williamsburg is the worlds largest living history museum. As you step onto the gravel roadways, you are stepping back in time to the 18th century. Visit the apothecary, talk to the artisans and craftsman of the era, and engage in political discussions relevant to the day as the colonists debate a war of independence. Its an experience you wont soon forget (especially if you manage to land in the stocks!!)

Photo Courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

The historic Jamestown Settlement provides a glimpse into the lives of settlers in the first permanent English settlement in America, as well as their Native American counterparts. Almost everything is interactive, and kids (and adults) are encouraged to take part in village activities as well as climb aboard reproductions of the three ships that delivered the settlers in 1607.

Our family loved our trip to Coastal Virginia- its exciting, educational, and yes, even relaxing for Moms (at least for an hour or two!) It’s also a great trending destination for student groups- check with the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures to plan your trip! Call 407-345-4899 or email info@kaleidoscopeadventures.com.

5 MORE Awesome Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

If the first five attractions dont keep me busy enough when I finally get to the Smokies, these next five certainly will! Here are five more awesome things to do with your group or on your own when visiting the Smoky Mountains
Family Fun


On the must-do list is Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies. Voted Americas #1 aquarium by TripAdvisor, it is also a top destination for viewing penguins. Yep- right in the heart of Tennessee! Pet stingrays and horseshoe crabs, check out 12 ft. sharks and explore the aquarium in a series of clear underwater tunnels. The beauty of Ripleys Aquarium is that its super family-friendly and groups can take advantage of education programs, tours or even music programs.

Wander over to WonderWorks for over 35,000 square feet of edu-tainment. The building itself is upside-down (the story behind it can be found inside) and within its walls are more than 100 hands on exhibits to intrigue and explore.
A Need for Speed

Race over to NASCAR SpeedPark for 22 race themed go-kart tracks, rides and attractions. The twists and turns are thrilling and the collection of NASCAR memorabilia is the biggest in the Smokies.

Zip over the to The Track Family Recreation Center for a fast ride on a three-story go-kart track or a crazy free-fall into oversized safety cushions. Bumper cars, bumper boats, mini-golf and bungee round out a full day of fun!
Goats on the Roof?

Heres an attraction thats sure to get your attention! The Coaster at Goats on the Roof is an alpine coaster, topping speeds of 30 mph and careening down a mile-long track. Follow your ride with homemade ice cream, gem mining and some quality time with the goats!

Shows, Shows and More Shows


While the Smoky Mountains offer a plethora of intoxicating adventures, Im looking forward to kicking back in a comfy seat and enjoying one of the many superb shows available. Country Tonite, Magic Beyond Belief and the Smoky Mountain Opry are on my short list of energetic and engaging performances. There are so many fantastic shows that are family and group friendlycountry classics, comedy, gospel, Broadway, pop, dancing, singing- even live animals! Dazzling special effects and world-class performers make for outstanding entertainment.

The Island

When visiting a destination in the middle of a mountain paradise, the word island doesnt quite fit. Unless, of course, its The Island in Pigeon Forge! The Island IS a destination, with eating, shopping, play and stay options in one exciting entertainment complex. Ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, get lost in the Mirror Maze or check out the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. Use your wits in the Escape Game, jump into the Thunderdome, or take a ride that requires all senses at the 7D Dark Ride Adventure. Foodies (like myself) will love the restaurants, food carts and eateries while shoppers (like myself) will love the 35+ retail and specialty shops. Theres even a four-star Margaritaville Island Hotel where guests can waste away in complete comfort!

As stated at the outset of these posts, I have never been to the Smokies. As I finish writing this, I am making reservations for my great Smoky Mountain Adventure I just might even include my husband and kids in my plans! When you are ready to plan YOUR group trip to Pigeon Forge, Sevierville or Gatlinburg, dont forget to check the Group Travel Odyssey page for a simple and convenient way to request group pricing at the best accommodations, attractions, entertainment venues or restaurants. If you prefer to let someone else handle the details, contact the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures at 800-774-7337 or info@kaleidoscopeadventures.com. Maybe Ill see you there!

 

 

5 Awesome Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

Full disclosure much to my regret and dismay, I have never visited the Smoky Mountains. My husband has been there (many times), my family has been there and my travel industry colleagues have been there. My kids friends have been there and several high school traveling groups I know have been there. I guess the take away from this intro is that everyone I know has visited and fallen in love with the Smoky Mountains. I seem to be the only one who has yet to experience the splendor of this magnificent spot tucked away in Tennessee. I plan to rectify that very soon so that I can write with first-hand knowledge and experience!

Based on discussions with these many and varied groups, it is abundantly clear that Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville are outstanding destinations for families, students, sports groups, performance groups and faith-based travelers. There really is something for everyone in this delightfully appealing region of the country!

Go “Glamping”
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Smokies is Aunt Bugs Cabin Rentals, a leader in luxury cabins in Pigeon Forge. Cabins range from one to eight bedrooms, and are surrounded by shopping, shows and stunning vistas. Amenities can include jacuzzis, private indoor pools, game rooms, theater rooms or even rock climbing walls- theres a cabin for every budget or group size! I love the outdoors but appreciate creature comforts when planning my lodging- Aunt Bugs definitely unites the two in spectacular fashion!


Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede
If youre looking for a break from the usual vacation dining experience, look no further than Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede. It really is a dining experience! Horses, pageantry, trick riding and a good ole rivalry between the North and South, the Dixie Stampede will keep you cheering while enjoying a fabulous, southern-style meal. Bring a group and salute the red, white and blue!


Defy Gravity
There are two really cool opportunities to defy gravity while in the Smokies- Flyaway Indoor Skydiving and Outdoor Gravity Park. Flyaway Indoor Skydiving lets you experience the freedom of skydiving in the safety of an indoor wind tunnel. There is nothing more exhilarating than the moment you realize you are soaring through the air with nothing more than a flight suit (well, and an instructor, goggles helmet, gloves and earplugs!)

Roll down a 1000 ft. hill in a spaceship-like OGO (wet or dry- depending on the season). Outdoor Gravity Park is the only place in America where you can experience three, unique zorb experiences. Individuals or groups of 3 can roll along zig-zagging tracks or speed down the hill in a ventilated and sometimes wet giant plastic ball. This is extreme adventure like no other!


Take to the Water (or the Trees!)
Whitewater Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors is a great option for groups or individuals looking to raft the scenic Pigeon River. Class III-IV whitewater for ages 8 and up or milder Class I-II river floats for ages 3 and up are available with a professional guide leading you all the way. Experience the splendor of the Smoky Mountains from an entirely new perspective. I will be choosing the float option ????

Start the day Rafting in the Smokies with Class I-IV rapids, or take to the tree tops with a zip line course. You can hike, complete a ropes challenge course, or cross a 150 ft. suspension bridge to a 10-acre Adventure Island and playground. This is family friendly fun at its best!


Titanic Adventures Awaits
The ill-fated voyage of the Titanic holds a unique place in American history. It continues to intrigue and beckons us to explore the stories of its passengers. Now visitors can learn more about Titanic at the immense, ship-shaped permanent attraction in Pigeon Forge. Completely interactive and filled with artifacts, groups can investigate all the museum has to offer, even participate in the Titanics First-Class Dining Experience.

If this agenda doesnt wear me out when I visit the Smokies, the next five awesome attractions will definitely test my travel mettle- read more in my next post about the dazzling and fun-filled Smoky Mountains!

 

Washington D.C.- A Civics Lesson in Action

Teachers, homeschool co-ops, scout groups, history buffs lend me your ears! If you are trying to inspire, educate or simply love this wonderful nation, consider planning a trip to its capital.
Theres no better civics lesson than a trip to Washington D.C. Of course, there are the attractions with which most people are familiar; a visit to the most prestigious address in the world, a tour of the monuments, or an awe-inspiring stop at Arlington Cemetery to witness the changing of the guards. However, Washington D.C. boasts some hidden gems as well! My goal is to shine a light on both to ensure you dont miss a thing!


National Museum of American History
This Smithsonian is dedicated to the preservation and heritage of American History. View the original Star-Spangled Banner- the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen our national anthem. Explore the integral role of women in our nations history or delve into our unique religious heritage from colonial days to the present.


National Museum of Natural History
Feast your eyes on the largest blue diamond in the world or explore ancient Egypt (even the remains of a mummified cat!) The National Museum of Natural History is a treasure trove of must-sees.


National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. documents the incredible history of flight and aviation, including the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. Dont forget to rocket over to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for a close-up of the Space Shuttle Discovery!


International Spy Museum
Make it your mission to get to the International Spy Museum, an astounding collection of espionage artifacts that would make Maxwell Smart jealous! Jaw-dropping stories, interactive exhibitsand interviews with real spies- awesome!


The Newseum
The Newseum is a high-tech, interactive museum highlighting the past, present and history of journalism. The Newseum is a must-see in a city of great attractions. Celebrate the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans under the First Amendment.


The Holocaust Museum
The Holocaust Museum is Americas official memorial to the Holocaust. This is an extraordinary and powerful opportunity to learn about and remember both the victims and survivors of the systematic persecution and murder of more than 6 million Jews (reservation required).

The Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral is an opportunity to explore a masterpiece of architecture in this active Episcopal Church for all people. Look closely- a piece of the lunar surface is housed in one of the stained-glass windows (known as the Space Window).


The National Archives
The National Archives is a great chance to study how the actions of the Federal Government are based in our Constitution. Participants take on the roles of archivists and researchers completing a very important assignment: providing the President of the United States with real-life examples of our Constitution in action. The National Archives houses the three original Charters of Freedom, including the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.


The Monuments
No trip to Washington D.C. is complete without a visit to these monuments to freedom and sacrifice. Stops at the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, F.D.R. Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial are powerful reminders of those who gave all for every American.


Arlington Cemetery
A stop at Arlington Cemetery allows you to witness the Changing of the Guard, visit John F. Kennedys gravesite and the Lee Mansion and pay respects at the Tomb of the Unknown. Its a somber and incredibly moving experience for visitors.


Fords Theatre
Step back in time and experience history at Fords Theatre the site of President Abraham Lincolns assassination. Tours, educational programs and even live theatre are available in this historic venue.


House of the Temple
Heres a unique attraction that most dont realize should be part of the itinerary! The Masonic House of the Temple offers a glimpse into the secret world of the masons. The building, completed in 1915, is an adaptation of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Guided tours are available at this home of famous abolitionist and reformer, Frederick Douglass. Catch a glimpse of the statesmans life and legacy.
Fort Reno Park
Civil war buffs will love this spot, part of the Rock Creek Park and the site of the only civil war battle to take place in Washington D.C. As Rock Creek is a national park, its a quiet escape from the bustle of the city amid majestic scenery. Ranger-led tours are available.

As you plan your trip to Washington D.C., its important to note that many of the attractions are FREE (we all love FREE!) There are very few destinations with so much to offer at such a low price point. It truly is a living history lesson that should not be missed. Call the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures or email info@kaleidoscopeadventures.com to plan your trip. Time to get packing!

 

 

 

Make Way for Students

The first time I visited Boston, I was fresh out of college and working for a non-profit. I directed a program in conjunction with public school librarians and had the opportunity to travel with them throughout the country. I distinctly remember leading the way through the Boston Public Gardens as a nave, bright-eyed 22-year old, with 14 librarians trailing behind me. It was oddly representative of the Make Way for Ducklings story by Robert McCloskey, with a quirky twist of characters. Even now I vividly remember marching past the bronze duckling statues and trying not to snicker at the irony of it all!

I fell in love with this charming city (even in the middle of the Big Dig) and have returned many times over the years. It is a spectacular choice for student travelers and librarians alike, always evolving and always exciting. If you travel with students and are looking for a fresh destination, consider Boston as a unique alternative.

Photo courtesy of Freedom Trail Foundation

Boston is a stunning city in which the past co-exists beautifully with the present. Rich in history, student groups can walk the Freedom Trail and experience the genesis of the American Revolution. They can stand in the hallowed space of Faneuil Hall and imagine the inspirational oratory of our forefathers. They can browse the market place, explore the shops, or sample of traditional New England chow-dah.

The USS Constitution is out of dry dock and ready for visitors after a 2 year, meticulous conservation effort. Students can learn about the Constitution and the War of 1812 through narratives, hands-on experiences and self-guided or facilitated programs. The beauty of this attraction is that the education department will work with your group to meet your curricular needs.

Boston Harbor Cruises offers an incredible historical tour of the inner and outer harbors, highlighting tales of land and sea both past and present. Students will also get a crash course in ecology, focusing on the cleanup of the harbor and learn about the nations oldest, continuously manned lighthouse. Very cool!

While your group is hanging around the harbor, they can stop by the New England Aquarium to check out a four-story Caribbean coral reef, the Amazon rainforest, or an adorable colony of penguins. Follow your indoor adventures with an outdoor ride on a wicked fast catamaran. This sleek, high speed vessel (seating up to 400) will quickly take you to the whale-watching action- an experience not to be missed!

Moving from water to land (and back to water!) is the famous Boston Duck Tours. Youll hop aboard an amphibious landing vehicle and travel through the streets of Boston right into the Charles River for the best and most unique views of the city. The ConDUCKtors narrate with both wit and skill, highlighting the very best Boston has to offer.

Wide eyes, blue bodies, paint and percussion your students will LOVE a performance by the Blue Man Group! The silent humor is infectious, the drumming loud and the toilet paper abundant; a perfect recipe for entertaining teenagers. Even those quiet-loving librarians were hooked on the controlled chaos of the show!

Younger students or homeschool groups will appreciate a trip to Legoland Discovery Center Boston, the ultimate indoor Lego playground. Build, play and engage in STEM or Language Arts activities with those wonderful brightly colored building blocks! Theres so much to explore and enjoy!

Dont forget that just a quick drive south is Plimouth Plantation, a completely interactive living history museum detailing Americas founding story and its shared history with the Wampanoag people. Its an amazing journey through time as students chat with Pilgrims going about their daily business or participate in Wampanoag life in the Native American village.

Weve just scratched the surface on what Boston offers students- they can tour Harvard, go behind the scenes of Fenway Park, board the Boston Tea Party ships, get lost in the Mapparium, or check out the new Dreamland Wax Museum. Of course, there are tons of great choices for student accommodations, transportation and dining as well.
If you plan your own trips, check out Group Travel Odysseys Boston page for everything you need to plan your student groups trip in one convenient place. It really streamlines the process and saves time! If you prefer a full-service travel planner, Kaleidoscope Adventures is an industry leader in student travel and will handle all the details of your trip with precision and personal attention.

Every time I visit Boston, I think Ive finally done it all, and every time, Boston surprises me with something new. Thats why Boston is one of the hottest destination trends for student groups and librarians alike. Oh, and when you do visit, check out those bronze ducklings in the Public Gardens and think of my friends trailing behind their 22 year-old leader- I guarantee youll giggle just a little!

 

Group Travel Planning- Finding Stuff to Do!

As I have previously stated, my family has a deep and abounding love for venturing into the unknown! Our 10 year old daughter begins with the globe (even though most our travel is in the continental U.S. sigh) and works her way through maps, atlases and the weather channel to plan her wardrobe. Our son (14) begins to Google search everything within the destination and my husband appears with the dreaded ITINERARY. Yes, our family travel plan includes a detailed itinerary with highlights and schedules. Theres no fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants vacation for us!


I used to resent the I word and long for a wildly impromptu three day weekend, until I remembered the vacations of my childhood. My parents were novice travelers (at best!), and planning our adventures ahead of time wasnt even a consideration. As a result, you could find us driving all hours of the night in our station wagon searching for a place to sleep- usually a suspicious-looking roadside motel that my mother attacked vigorously with a can of Lysol! If we made it to our vacation spot, we wandered aimlessly, unsure of what to do once we were there! I vividly remember going to Cocoa Beach on a day that was raining and in the low 60s because we didnt know what else to do! I suppose these memories have made me more accepting of the I word, and frankly, we squeeze a lot of fun out of our excursions thanks to my husbands planning and forethought!


Finding Stuff To Do!

The same fundamental principles apply to your group travel planning. Its all in the research! When you plan on your own, you dont have the benefit of a tour operator to do the work for you. You do, however, have access to an abundance of information at the click of a button! CVBs (convention and visitors bureaus) can be found in most destinations and are a great resource for finding group-friendly attractions, accommodations, dining and more. DMOs (destination marketing organizations) serve a similar purpose and can be very helpful when planning a visit to a location unknown to you. These organizations exist to give you a better understanding of all the destination has to offer your group.

Another exceptional resource is Group Travel Odyssey– a website designed specifically for those planning group travel directly online. Group Travel Odyssey has the best group-friendly entertainment, hotels, restaurants, transportation and shopping IN ONE PLACE! Theyve done the work for you! Its super-simple to use:
Click on the destination you want to visit
Pack the activities, accommodations, dining options, shopping and transportation in which you are interested in your virtual suitcase
Go! Your group quote requests are now on their way! The suppliers you want will then reply directly to you with availability and best group pricing within 48 hours- just like the pros!

Group Travel Odyssey is truly a unique and convenient tool for those who plan their own group travel.
GTO helps streamline and simplify the process, without a lot of clicking around.

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel

If you prefer to let someone else handle the planning for you, let the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures take care of the details. As a leader in the student group travel industry for more than 20 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures will find the best destinations and attractions for your group – at a great price!

There really something to be said for putting together a well-planned itinerary Dont you just hate it when your husband is right?

FINAL INSTALLMENT IN THE SERIES- SAFETY WHEN TRAVELING WITH STUDENTS