Posts

Great Questions Parents Should Ask Before the Student Trip

Your middle-schooler (who you are SURE just started kindergarten yesterday) is going on the school trip. You are certain he’ll never be able to function without you. He’ll lose his money, get lost in the big city or not get enough rest and end up sick. What’s a parent to do?  Take a deep breath and ask questions! The more you know, the better you’ll feel about letting your child travel. Here are some great questions parents should ask before the student trip.

Who’s in Charge?

Identify who the decision-makers are on the trip. Is there a reputable, insured student tour operator handling the details? Check to see if the company is a member of the Student Youth Travel Association. Will there be a designated tour consultant traveling with students? Is the coordinating teacher taking the lead? Are chaperones provided through the school or parent volunteers? Does everyone have clearances? Knowing who is traveling with your child provides peace of mind.

What’s the Safety Plan?

If this is the first time your child is traveling alone, safety probably tops your list of concerns. Check that a safety plan is in place- including emergency procedures for transportation, hotel and attractions. Ask if the group is using a communication app like Remind or Cluster to keep students informed of changes or challenges. Find out if a nurse will be available for medical emergencies or to assist with medication. A safety plan should be available to any parent who asks!

Which Mode of Transportation?

Typically, students travel by motorcoach or air. If your school trip is by motorcoach, ask for the safety record of the company. You can also find this information at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

If your group plans to fly, ask for the I.D. requirements (passport), carrier, and whether it’s a commercial or chartered flight. Will the group be separated or flying together? These may seem like common sense questions, but important to ask before the trip.

What is the Discipline Policy?

We hope our students behave like angels while away from home; the reality is that sometimes trouble finds them. Ask for the discipline code, which in most cases follows the district’s policy. Unacceptable behaviors and consequences should be clearly noted.

As parents, you’ll have many more questions about your child’s student trip- especially if it’s the first. These are great questions with which to start as you wade into the unknown! Arm yourself with answers and know that you’re giving your child an incredible opportunity to experience the world around them.

Day at the Museum

The class trip is planned and this year it includes a museum visit. Oh boy. Theres very little thats more intimidating than taking students into the hallowed halls of a cultural institution. Moving in large peer groups with gangly limbs flailing about, most think of students as high-risk museum visitors. However, museums love student groups! Just a few reminders and rules of etiquette can help ensure that the kids love the experience as well and the day at the museum is a successful one for all involved.

FOOD AND DRINK
A standard rule of thumb is that most museums prohibit food and drink in the exhibit areas. A caf or cafeteria may be available, or sack lunches permitted in designated areas. Chewing gum may also be prohibited- check with your specific site for details.

TOUCHING
Whether or not exhibits are hands-on is entirely dependent on the museum. Some encourage hands-on exploration, while others prefer a hands-off approach to preserve artifacts and displays.

NOISE
Student groups are noisy; its the nature of the beast. However, it is not impossible to be a bit more reserved while in a museum. The museum environment is often one of reflection and introspection. Using the universal indoor voice will make it a better experience for everyone.

BACKPACKS
As a general rule, leave backpacks on the bus or at the front desk. Carrying them into the gallery is risking bumping a display or damaging artwork.

CELL PHONES
Cell phones should be off or silenced while in a museum.

DOCENT
Your museum guide, or docent, is instrumental in making your experience exceptional. Docents are well-trained, knowledgeable and helpful. They will keep the group engaged and on task. Be kind to them!

PHOTOGRAPHY
Most museums try to eliminate natural light (both visible and invisible) to avoid damaging objects on display. Therefore, many discourage the use of photography to protect collections. This isnt always the case, though, and you should check with your specific institution for guidelines prior to your visit.

Museums dont have to be scary places for student groups. They are filled with opportunities to learn, appreciate and be inspired. Following a few common-sense rules ensures that all patrons have an exceptional experience and a phenomenal day at the museum.

A Handy Guide to Use When Packing for A Student Trip

In a world in which glamping is an accepted form of outdoor recreation, its no surprise that we tend to over pack. We want to be sure we have all the necessary creature comforts in the event of an apocalypse. However, when packing for a student trip, we need to be a bit more discerning. Chances are good that space is limited so we need to make the most of what we bring. Below is a handy guide to use when packing for a student trip

EVERY TRAVELER SHOULD PACK

Enough clothes for each day of the trip (including undies and an extra pair of socks!)
Gloves, hat, scarf (depending on weather)
Swimsuit / flip flops
Sunscreen / sunglasses / baseball cap or visor
Insect repellent (preferably wipes)
Layers (hoodies in case it gets cold, joggers, etc.)
School shirt or trip shirt to identify as part of the group
Nightwear that is appropriate for room sharing
Appropriate and comfortable shoes for walking
Closed-toe shoes for traveling
Toiletries including travel soap, shampoo (check with the group leader regarding hair dryers, curling irons, etc.)
Extra pair of lenses /glasses
Prescriptions in original packaging and a list of prescribed medications for the group leader (check with the group leader on specific protocol)
Phone / phone charger
Travel poncho
Limited cash / debit card (remember, most fees are included in the cost of the trip)

BUS TRAVELERS SHOULD ALSO PACK

A bag for the bus that includes anything you want to have handy but dont necessarily need once off the bus (change of clothes, snacks*, drink, headphones, make up, lip balm, sunscreen, hoodie). This bag typically stays on the motor coach while students jump off and on
A small backpack or cross body bag to keep with you while touring. Keep cash, phone, and other essentials in this one

AIR TRAVELERS SHOULD ALSO PACK

Photo ID / Passport (check with the group leader)
Snacks* for the plane
Dramamine (again, check with the group leader)
Backpack with a change of clothes in the event a bag is lost
Carry-on liquids, aerosols, creams and gels using the 3-1-1 rule (3.4 oz bottle or less; 1quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger)
Unlocked luggage for easier TSA accessibility
Bags that are discreetly labeled with identifying information

Remember, when packing for a student trip, excess is not an option. Keep it simple and smart and youll be prepared for a successful adventure!

*Check with your group leader regarding any specific food allergies

Teach & Travel has Fresh Ideas for Student Travel

Youre back. The class trip is over. You can breathe a sigh of relief since all went well and everyone had a fabulous time. You dont have to think about fundraisers and permission slips again until the fall except that youve already started thinking about it! You always plan your student travel to the same destination- parents expect it, administration expects it and students expect it. Heck, you inherited the trip from the teacher in your position before you! Wouldnt it be great to shake things up a bit? There are so many incredible, student-friendly destinations. Maybe its time to test the waters and try something different. Teach & Travel magazine is the perfect springboard when youre ready to dive in!

Top Student Destinations

While youre relaxing poolside this summer (ha- like teachers ever get to do THAT), take a minute to check out the most recent issue of Teach & Travel. Teach & Travel is the official publication of the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) and packed with valuable information for anyone planning student travel. The May 2018 issue highlights the top ten U.S., North American and international destinations for students. If youre ready to change things up, this is an excellent resource with which to begin.

Planning Tips and Ideas

Teach & Travel is a quintessential powerhouse of student travel ideas, statistics and solutions for your most challenging travel dilemmas. It provides great new intel on the places you think you already know and offers excellent alternatives when you want to try something new. Published five times a year, Teach & Travel always provides you with the most current travel industry updates, fresh ideas and important planning tips.

Student Youth Travel Association

As the primary publication of SYTA, Teach & Travel reaches 40,000 educators and SYTA member tour operators annually, ensuring its position as “Educators’ #1 Source for Everything Student Travel.” The digital copy is free to access online and makes for great poolside reading! Put Teach & Travel on your required summer reading list and youll be refreshed, inspired and ready for a new adventure in the coming school year!

Don’t Forget to Include the Class Trip in Your Back-to-School Plans

In teacher speak, the 4th of July signals the end of summer. Any teacher will tell you that once the fireworks are over, the mind jumps back into planning and prep mode for the next school year. The short summer break has refreshed and energized, allowing for a new perspective and excitement toward the coming year. As you prepare for your return to the classroom with renewed enthusiasm, dont forget to include the class trip in your back-to-school plans.

Summer is the perfect time to think about your pending class trip because you have some time! Once the school year is underway, youre swamped with lesson plans, deadlines, activities and more. Those last sweet weeks of summer allow you to focus on the nuts and bolts of the trip. You can choose your destination thoughtfully and take time to research your attractions. Youll have a better chance of those attractions responding to your queries if they arent knee-deep in the student travel season. You can lay out the perfect itinerary, considering flow and timing, proximity of attractions to the hotel and each other, etc. You can search for great educational programs or performance workshops, depending on the needs of your group. You can decide what kind of transportation will work best and secure contracts and rates early. You can think about the best fundraiser for your group or research grant or scholarship opportunities for your students. Finally, you can plan a payment schedule that makes sense for everyone and not scramble at the last minute to pay those deposits.

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel

If you need a helping hand getting started, give Kaleidoscope Adventures a call. As a leader in the student travel industry for more than 25 years and a former teacher at the helm, KA is equipped to handle your every need with ease. Trust the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures to make your class trip one your students will remember for years to come! Contact KA at (800) 774-7337 or email info@kaleidoscopeadventures.com.

If you plan trips on your own, theres a great new resource available that takes you step-by-step through the process. Group Experience was designed with busy teachers in mind and takes the guess work out of putting together your class trip.

As much as we want summer to last into perpetuity, the 4th of July is a reality check. Its time to get back in the groove and start prepping for a fantastic year in the classroom and beyond!

There are Great Benefits to Booking Your Student Trip Early

Traveling with students can present some unique challenges for the travel planner, particularly when planning on your own. It can be an overwhelming task fraught with missteps and missed opportunities. However, many of these can be addressed simply by doing your homework early in the game. If you plan wisely, youll find there are some great benefits to booking your student trip early.

Book Those Buses

Lets face it, students typically travel to their destinations by motor coach. While we all envision a cushy coach equipped with the necessary creature comforts, that may not be a reality if you book too late. Spring is a heavy student travel season; if you dont want to be stuck with a motor coach that resembles something from the 1970s reincarnated, book early!

Contracting early with the motor coach company ensures that your school is at the top of the priority list. Barring any last-minute accidents or breakdowns, your bus will most likely have those coveted outlets and Wi-Fi students simply cannot be without.

Guarantee Great Rates and Rides

In most cases, the motor coach is the largest expense of a trip. As the school year progresses and student trip planning begins in earnest, increased motor coach prices are reflected in the higher demand. The earlier the motor coach is booked, the better the price.

The same holds true for securing a highly qualified and respected motor coach company. Simply put, the best companies book the fastest (often 9-12 months in advance). Request quotes during the summer prior to your trip for the best selection.

Prioritize Performance and Workshop Opportunities

Many student groups are looking for the same kinds of performance or workshop experiences, and some of the best festivals or venues are obviously in high demand. If you take the time to reserve your spot early- even before the school year begins- youll safeguard the experience for your students. In many cases, booking early does not require a financial obligation, leaving you free to fundraise throughout the year.

Assure Your Spot at the Best Attractions

Regardless of your student travel destination, its important to understand that many of the most popular attractions, museums, shows, cruises, etc. are often booked well in advance. They are popular for a reason, after all! These once-in-a-lifetime experiences are must-dos for your students, so be sure to make your group reservations at least 6-8 months ahead of the trip dates.

Lock In Lodging

One final benefit to booking early is locking in great lodging. The best accommodations for your group might be just a few minutes from the attractions you want to visit. If you like it, put a hold on it! If you wait until 5 months from your departure date, chances are good that the property wont have availability and youll be staying at a less desirable place further from your points of interest. Hmmm more time on the bus with students. Lets get this one locked up!

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel

Booking your student trip early has some great benefits. However, if you feel like youre in over your head or out of time, reach out to a reputable student travel like Kaleidoscope Adventures to help plan the perfect trip. More than 25 years of experience and a former teacher at the helm means KA is equipped to handle your every need with ease. If you book with KA before June 30, 2018 and deposit $75.00 or more per person (depending on deposit requirements), youll receive one extra comp per 50 paying people excluding airfare. Thats a great benefit of booking early!

Trust the experts at Kaleidoscope Adventures to make your trip one your students will remember for years to come! Contact KA at (800) 774-7337 or email info@kaleidoscopeadventures.com.

Planning Student Travel in a Time Crunch

The decorations are packed away and the holiday bills are arriving by bulk mail. Happy New Year! If you are an educator, you know exactly what the new year brings a crush of responsibilities and deadlines! The school year is now moving in fast forward, and covering curriculum, completing extra-curricular activities and wading through the multitude of tasks on your desk can be incredibly overwhelming!

If you travel with students, its also time to wrap up (or begin!) plans for the all-important student trip. If you are a seasoned veteran of student travel, you know that deposits have already been taken and it is now time to collect remaining payments, confirm dates with transportation and accommodations providers and work on rooming lists.

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel

If you are new to planning student travel or if the new year has caught you off guard, relax! There is an abundance of travel resources available to make the entire process easier. A great starting point is Kaleidoscope Adventures (KA), a leading student tour operator for more than 25 years. KAs founder and CEO is a former teacher, so the company understands your challenges and time constraints like no other. The team at Kaleidoscope Adventures is accessible, competent and incredibly knowledgeable. They have the inside scoop on the very best student destinations and will work with you to create an itinerary that meets your curricular goals and budget needs. Planning your student trip with KA is so easy and convenient- especially when time is not on your side!

Another valuable resource is the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA), an organization that exists to promote and support the student and youth travel market. Youll find tips for choosing great travel partners, planning, safety, and more on the SYTA website. Its a comprehensive source for all things student travel.

Finally, you can always tap into online magazines like Teach & Travel or Student Travel Planning Guide. These publications highlight engaging student trips, tips and hacks for travel and safety protocol.

If the new year has taken you by surprise, you can breathe a bit easier when pulling together your student trip. These sites will help you streamline and save time and money. Unfortunately, though, you are on your own with those holiday bills!

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

 

Group Travel Planning- Set Your Travel Timeline


I have the good fortune to be married to a man who LOVES to travel. He has given me two children who LOVE to travel. It seems we are in a perpetual state of planning travel! We learned long ago that the key to a successful trip is planning on a timeline. The same applies to planning your group travel. The fundamental success of your adventure lies in laying it out ahead of time (kind of like packing your suitcase!)

Planning Your Travel Timeline
If you are a seasoned group tour planner or striking out on your own for the first time, youll have lots of questions to answer, lots of details to check off your list, and lots of deadlines to meet. Below are some GENERAL guidelines to follow as you prepare for your departure date. Depending on the unique needs of your group, not all of these checkpoints will apply. For example, some music or band festivals must be booked more than two years in advance or certain museums require reservations more than a year out. Again, think in terms of benchmarks, not specifics!


18 Months Prior to Departure
? Create your attendance list
? Determine the approximate length and dates of the trip
? Begin researching your chosen destination to find out what attractions, museums, theme parks, outdoor adventures, water parks, etc. you would like to attend and the costs associated with each.
? Begin researching transportation, hotels, vacation homes, dining and shopping (if applicable) and the costs associated with each.
? If this is a school trip, request approval from your administration

10 to 12 Months Prior to Departure
? Set firm dates
? If you plan to fly, final pricing may not be available until 10 months prior to departure. Also, arrange transportation to and from the airport once you have secured your flights
? Motorcoach/minibus companies also work 10 months in advance. If traveling by motorcoach or minibus, you should begin requesting pricing (called quotes) and book your transportation company
? Begin searching for hotel/vacation homes and request prices. Once you find a price you like, book it!
? If you decide to include meals in your trip, youll want to remember to choose a group-friendly restaurant or dinner show. Ask for their best group pricing and then book it before the space is gone
? If shopping is on your itinerary, this is a good time to request a meet and greet with the shopping center or store and secure discounts for your group
? If you are traveling with students, determine who will help chaperone the trip. Parents, teachers, sponsors, etc. need time to plan as well!
? Finalize your itinerary.
? Project the estimated/approximate cost per person.
? Begin promoting your trip (including the cost per person) via email, flyers, posters, website, social media, newsletters, etc.
? Set up a deposit and payment schedule for each member in your group as they sign up
? If participating in a music/dance/theatre festival, fill out all paperwork and submit
? If you will offer travel protection (its strongly encouraged), now is the time to research, fill out paperwork and submit


6 to 9 Months Prior to Departure
? Continue spreading the word about your trip via newsletters, social media, emails, meetings, etc., keeping interest alive with those who have signed up and possibly attracting a few more to participants
? If you are a school group, scouting troop, youth group etc., now is the time to fundraise
? If your trip is educational, research and create the curriculum to support your goals
? Distribute a copy of the itinerary to all members of your group (meetings, association, youth group, scouting, religious, reunion, etc.)
? Participants should be signed up and deposits paid
? Confirm all reservations including hotel/vacation homes, transportation, attractions, dining, shopping and travel insurance

4 Months Prior to Departure
? Continue promoting the trip and contact anyone who has shown an interest but still has not committed
? Continue fundraising if needed
? Collect payments per your payment schedule

3 Months Prior to Departure
? Final payments should be paid
? Finalize lists of all participants and choose roommates for hotels (if applicable), seating arrangements on the motorcoach (if applicable), and/or seating arrangements on your flight if flying
? Purchase all theme park, attraction, water park and dinner show tickets and begin making final payments to your chosen hotel/vacation homes, restaurants, transportation companies, etc.


1 Month Prior to Departure
? Schedule a final meeting to confirm the details of your trip including packing lists, travel tips and any last-minute information
? Gather emergency contact, medical and allergy information from each traveler
? Be sure you have all completed permission forms, travel insurance forms, etc.
While this timeline may seem a bit cumbersome, its a great tool for organizing your thoughts and details of the trip. Just as we always manage to get our bags packed and out the door on time, a little pre-planning will help guide you smoothly to your departure date as well!

Next in the Series Finding Stuff To Do!