Choose A Reliable Tour Operator with Professional Memberships

Your expectations are high when traveling with students. You expect an outstanding safety record, personal attention and quality transportation and accommodations.  You demand expert trip consultants and great, student-friendly attractions. That’s why it’s so important to choose a reliable tour operator with a stellar reputation and track record of success.

Look for a company that is a member in good standing with professional organizations like the Student Youth Travel Association and American Bus Association. These organizations exist to provide guidelines and safeguards for best practices in the travel industry.

Why ABA Matters To You

As January winds down, the American Bus Association (ABA) is gearing up for its annual conference. Marketplace 2019 will take place January 25-29 in Louisville, KY. As a professional member for more than 25 years, Kaleidoscope Adventures will have a strong presence at the show. If you aren’t quite sure why this should matter to you, consider the following:

• Regulations for student travel are constantly changing.  ABA is up-to-date with the latest policies that affect your trip

• The conference hosts outstanding education tracks focused on current industry trends and standards. Highlights include social media, travel safety and the latest travel innovations

• Tour operators attending ABA have a direct connection with vendors.  They have access to the newest and best student travel products (attractions, shows, technology, travel protection, etc.)

Professional Memberships Help to Ensure High Standards

Active membership with the American Bus Association and other professional organizations helps to ensure a higher standard of service. Kaleidoscope Adventures understands the role these organizations play in providing the best possible experience for travelers. The KA team will be in Louisville this week, soaking up the latest information and best practices to provide travel BEYOND your expectations. When you plan a trip with Kaleidoscope, be assured that it will be unrivaled in quality and excellence!

7 Hidden Gems in Nashville

Travel is more than just the destination. It’s about the journey! It’s finding and appreciating those tucked-away places others may miss. My next few blogs are going to spotlight some lesser known attractions. I’ll share some of the best kept secrets in great destinations for students, families, homeschoolers and more. Let’s start the hunt for hidden gems in Nashville, Tennessee!

7 Hidden Gems in Nashville

Cooter’s Place

Dukes of Hazzard fans, rejoice! Cooter’s Place is owned and operated by Cooter (Ben Jones) himself. You’ll find tons of show memorabilia and props (including a General Lee!) in this good ole boy’s tribute to Hazzard County. Yeeee-haw!

RCA Studio B Tour

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Hanging in RCA Studio B are the Christmas lights Elvis requested the summer he recorded his Christmas album. He wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit and needed  lights for inspiration.  Nearly 60 years later, the lights are still there!  I guess his Christmas wasn’t “blue” after all!

The Parthenon

As the centerpiece of Centennial Park, The Parthenon isn’t exactly hidden. It is surprising, though, to find an exquisite replica of famous Greek architecture right in the heart of the city!

Men’s Restroom at the Hermitage Hotel

Yes, you read that right. This restroom has been voted the most famous in America! There is rumored to be a secret tunnel hidden behind the wall that runs to the state capital. Allegedly, legislators can sneak a break between sessions. Talk about a hidden gem!

Hatch Show Print

Be sure to stop at Hatch Show Print. The custom poster designs and letterpress that came out of this historic shop captured the magic of the south, and country music in particular.

Batman Building

The AT&T building makes a unique impression on the Nashville skyline. It’s one of the 12 most original buildings in the U.S. and tallest in Tennessee.  Fire up the bat signal and snap a selfie!

Ryman Auditorium

Ok, this one isn’t really hidden, either. In fact, it’s one of Americas’ most cherished landmarks. The Ryman is known as the Mother Church of Country Music and boasts a 125-year history of inspiration and music. Countless legends have started here. You never know who you may run into in these iconic halls!

Nashville is a treasure trove of hidden gems for groups and families alike. Plan a trip and start exploring!


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.

Crowdfunding for the Student Trip

The first weeks of school are upon us and the fundraiser forms have arrived. Ugh. I can almost see the neighbors locking their front doors and hiding behind the curtains. Really, there’s only so much cookie dough a person can eat! If you’re ready to put away the wrapping paper and try something different, crowdfunding may be the answer.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a relatively new, online alternative for raising funds for the student trip.  It’s the practice of collecting small amounts of money from large numbers of people online. Crowdfunding sites allows tour groups to collect and organize donations from people they know (friends, family, etc.) AND those outside their inner circles (think businesses looking to donate to a good cause). Creating a group campaign in this way helps to ease the pressures of individual fundraising while working toward a financial goal.

Which crowdfunding sites work for student trips?

There are lots of great sites out there to explore. However, there are a few that work really well for student travel.

Fundmytravel is specifically designed to give travelers a platform for raising money. Fundmytravel takes 5% of donations and payment processor fees.

Fundly is free to create and share your campaign. However, they deduct 4.9% of each donation you receive as well as a 3% payment processor fee.

Gofundme is probably the most well-known online crowdfunding site. Gofundme now has a 0% platform fee but charges a 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction fee for payment processors.

How do we start crowdfunding?

Each site gives simple, clear instructions for setting up your campaign. Regardless of which you use, start with an engaging story that inspires giving and lots of appealing imagery. Share and update often to build momentum!

Crowdfunding for your student trip taps into the power of social media and the internet. It’s a great option for the digital world in which we live- and you just may get to see your neighbors again!

Kaleidoscope Adventures’ Stellar Student Scholarship Program

Kaleidoscope Adventures believes that travel is a key piece of a well-rounded education.  It’s a window to the world, promising new experiences, cultures and people. However, many students simply can’t afford to join the class or performance trip. Kaleidoscope Adventures, a leader in the student travel industry for 25 years, understands the challenges that interfere with opportunity. As a result, KA created the Stellar Student Scholarship Program.

Stellar Student Scholarship

The Stellar Student Scholarship is a 100% paid trip for a deserving student. If you have booked a trip with Kaleidoscope Adventures (or are in the process of contracting), you can nominate a worthy student. This can be someone who has demonstrated leadership, improvements in school or simply needs a helping hand.

Nomination Criteria

• Student must be registered for the school trip

• Student must be in good academic standing with the school

• Student must be active in the community or volunteer

Send Nominations to

Nominations should highlight the student’s character and reasons for your nomination.

*Please note that only one student per school is eligible

Nomination Deadlines

• September 30th (if traveling October through February)

• January 30th (if traveling March through September)

About Kaleidoscope Adventures

Founded and headed by a teacher, the staff at KA understands what it takes to make student travel a reality for ALL students. For more information about Kaleidoscope Adventures or the Stellar Student Scholarship, click or call (407) 345-4899.

Tips and Apps for Student Group Safety in the Parks

Ready to Wing It? Deciding if Air Travel is Right for Your Group

As the wife of a former student tour operator, I spent many restless nights worrying. Baseball groups heading to spring training in South Carolina or bands making the long drive to Orlando were often the culprits. While it was cost effective, motor coach travel wasnt always the most convenient option for groups traveling long distances. Fortunately, we found The Air Travel Group and a much simpler way of getting from here to there!

Drama / Theater Trips by Kaleidoscope Adventures

The Air Travel Group books airfare for groups of 10 or more traveling together (think bands, student groups, mission trips, family reunion groups, etc.). They provide custom travel solutions for organizations looking to coordinate flights. The Air Travel Group will get your group a free quote and help with the overwhelming task of booking. Best of all, their top account status means access to private fares and better contract terms for your group.
If you havent considered group air travel before, The Air Travel Group offers some outstanding benefits:

Flexible contract terms
Delayed ticketing
Deposit to hold space
Free name changes
Free add/drop

They truly make booking airfare hassle-free and provide tons of support both pre-departure and during travel when those pesky delays or cancellations pop up.

When planning group travel, air transportation is often not considered because its perceived as cumbersome, expensive and fraught with opportunities to make mistakes. The Air Travel Group virtually eliminates these stressors in a click! The service is completely free and worth checking out. Based on destination, size of group and cost, you may find you prefer to wing it!

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


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)


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


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!

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!