KAndid Advice for Washington D.C.

There’s no better civics lesson than a trip to Washington D.C. There are standard favorites and must-dos… the Smithsonian Museums, monuments and memorials, a walk past 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, there’s so much more to experience in our nation’s capital than you may realize. The Kaleidoscope Adventures staff has years of experience touring our nation’s capital with students. As a result, they have collected some exceptional nuggets of wisdom to help you make the most of your Washington D.C. trip.

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Robin (Kaleidoscope Adventures President) always includes this stop on D.C. itineraries. The National Museum of the Marine Corps tells more than 200+ years of the Marine Corps’ rich history, with collections that highlight “the warrior on the front lines to the families on the home front.” It’s a great venue for student groups, who can even enjoy a boxed lunch in the Devil Dog Diner!

National Archives

The National Archives is a hot spot for Ray (KA consultant) and 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 also houses the three original “Charters of Freedom,” including the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.


Noelle (operations) is a big fan of the Newseum for student groups. The Newseum is a high-tech, interactive museum highlighting the past, present and history of journalism. It’s super easy for groups of all sizes to navigate and students are fascinated by the engaging exhibits.

The National Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles Airport (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)

This facility is a companion facility to the National Air & Space Museum on the Mall and a favorite venue for Keith (chief operating officer). Students may remember it from the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie. Keith likes it because it’s an in-depth experience of American aviation history (he’s probably a fan of Jetfire as well!)

FDR Memorial

Another Keith highlight is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Situated halfway between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, it’s path winds past waterfalls, bronze sculptures and FDR’s own powerful words carved into the granite walls. All the D.C. memorials should be on your tour list, but this one really should not be missed.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Michelle (KA consultant) likes to round out the itinerary with a stop at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Guided tours are available at this home of famous abolitionist and reformer, Frederick Douglass. Catch a glimpse of the statesman’s life, legacy and impact on America.

House of the Temple

Here’s a unique attraction that most don’t 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. It’s about 10 minutes outside of D.C. but definitely worth the stop.

Instrumental Performance Clinic

Joseph (senior tour consultant) has a secret weapon for band directors in his D.C. arsenal. One of the most effective concert band clinics with the highest music education content exists in Washington DC. Professional musicians will sit in each section of your concert band or wind ensemble while the ensemble works with a conductor/clinician on the podium. The pros will play along with your students. They’ll also play separately so the conductor/clinician can demonstrate specific concepts or subtleties that are best be heard, rather than explained. Watch the performance standard of your ensemble rise before your very ears!

As you plan your student trip to Washington D.C., tuck these tips in your back pocket. Better yet, call Kaleidoscope Adventures directly to chat with our expert staff. More than 25+ years in the student travel industry gives us some serious street cred! We’ll work with you to create a unique itinerary that meets all your objectives. KA really is travel beyond expectations!

KAndid Advice for New York City

New York City reigns supreme as one of our favorite student destinations. There’s so much to see and do, it’s hard to squeeze it all in. Our expert staff has some great group tips for getting the most out of New York City!

Rockefeller Center

Stephanie (tour consultant) absolutely loves Rockefeller Center for student groups. It’s a one stop shop for the best of NYC. The observation deck at Top of the Rock is usually less crowded than the Empire State Building and offers a stunning, unobstructed view of the city. The NBC Studios tour is popular with students and tons of fun. If traveling during the winter months, a stop at the ice rink is a must. If traveling during the holidays, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is a spectacular must-see!

Freehand Hotel

Steven (tour consultant) is a big fan of the Freehand Hotel for accommodations. Located in the historic Flatiron District, the Freehand has an artsy vibe, great food and a unique flair. Students will love this distinctly New York City experience.

Dough and DeKalb Market Hall

Kadianne (operations manager and former resident of NYC) knows its “sweet” spots. A favorite is “Dough,” located in Brooklyn and the Flatiron District. Dough is known for its legendary and mouthwatering doughnuts. DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn is also a great option for all kinds of local flavor – students can taste a little bit of everything!

One World Observatory

One World Observatory at the Westfield World Trade Center is another favorite stop for Kadianne. SkyPod elevators climb 102 stories in 42 seconds for a view like none other!

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Keith (chief operating officer) understands The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers a rare opportunity for the youth of today to interact with the heroes of the past. Precious few years remain that will allow younger generations to spend time face to face with those who served on ships like the Intrepid. Capture these teachable moments before they slip away.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Ellis Island

Keith also has another awesome gem to share with student groups- the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This landmark building tells the story of immigrants to New York City between the 19th and 21st centuries through the personal experiences of those who lived here. Couple this experience with a trip to Ellis Island  and the Statue of  Liberty to help students understand the role of immigration in our nation’s evolving identity.

Staten Island Ferry

If you just want a great harbor view (and photo op!) of the Statue of Liberty, Michelle (KA consultant) suggests a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Leaving approximately every 20 minutes from Battery Park, the ferry is free and takes your group right past the Statue.

As you plan your student trip to New York City, tuck these tips in your back pocket. Better yet, call Kaleidoscope Adventures directly to chat with our expert staff. More than 25+ years in the student travel industry gives us some serious street cred! We’ll work with you to create a unique itinerary that meets all your objectives. KA really is travel beyond expectations!

Selling Trips to Parents and Students

You have a great idea for a trip. You just KNOW the kids are going to flock to sign up for this epic adventure which will seamlessly tie together your curriculum and probably put you in the running for teacher of the year. You confidently post the sign-up sheet and wait for the signatures to pour in. Three days later, you are still waiting for that first lucky student to put pen to paper. What’s going on?!?

Expert Teacher

As a teacher, you have unique skills and talents. You affect change and influence lives in a way that most people cannot. You juggle students, parents, administration and community while handling mountains of paperwork and instruction. You recognize teachable moments when they pop up (thus the reason for your trip!) and neatly incorporate them into your instruction. That said, selling trips to parents and students is probably not in your wheelhouse.

Expert Salesperson?

Being an expert teacher does not necessarily qualify you as an expert in student travel promotion. Regardless of the inherent awesomeness of your trip, it can be a challenge to convince students and parents to sign up. You have to generate a little buzz, create a great marketing campaign, address parent concerns and manage the financial aspects of the experience. In short, it requires a LOT of work!

Tools to Make it Happen

Trips are successful and well-attended when you plan with the right tools. Kaleidoscope Adventures will get your trip on track with helpful resources developed by our in-house marketing team. Our marketing kit includes:

• Engaging video created for parents and students to help build excitement for the trip
• Relevant and clearly-presented information about your chosen destination
• Value of travel as part of a well-rounded education
• Inspiring student testimonials about how travel impacts lives
• Fundraising options and ideas to help your trip succeed

We know you have a lot of time and energy invested in planning this incredible opportunity for students. However, you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone! Filling those participant slots is a lot easier with a little help from the experts. Trust Kaleidoscope to take the lead on your adventure and motivate students to sign up for your once-in-a-lifetime teachable moment!

A Handy Guide To Use When Packing for A Student Trip

In a world in which “glamping” is an accepted form of outdoor recreation, it’s no surprise that we tend to overpack. 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 don’t 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
• 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 you’ll be prepared for a successful adventure!

*Check with your group leader regarding any specific food allergies

Great Travel Apps for Student Groups

We live in a world dominated by apps and easy access. We use apps to find our way around, order food, shop, entertain ourselves, organize schedules, etc. They make our lives easier and so much more convenient. Travel is no exception. There are lots of great travel apps for student groups that can help make planning and executing your student trip simple and fun! Here are a few great options…


Remind lets you communicate faster with real time messaging for the group. You can schedule reminders or provide updates to the itinerary as needed.


Groupme is an app that works on every device and functions like a private chat room for your group. It’s free group messaging for quick updates and alerts – perfect for traveling student groups.


Cluster is a simple, user-friendly app that can create group text threads with photos, videos or all-important messages. Members are by invitation only, keeping your communication private.


Group Travel Videos™

Group Travel Videos™ is one of our favorite student travel resources. They have an app that allows you to upload and share photos while you travel! These photos will be used to create a masterpiece of memories as a hard copy digital video AND a streaming digital version that can be stored on whatever media you choose. You can even provide your own performance music or live video clips to be added at no charge!

Group Travel Videos™ has also added a geo-mapping and messaging feature to their app as well. It allows the teacher to view where the class is while on tour and can message a single traveler or the entire group. It’s really an outstanding communication tool for the travelers and a huge reassurance for nervous parents.

Traveling with students is a lot easier if you make the most of the helpful resources and tools available. These are just a few great options that can save you time, energy and (possibly) your sanity!

Have a Safe Trip!

Every time my husband travels (which is A LOT), I say these four little words as he heads out the door.  I would imagine most people say them.  After all, we want our loved ones to return home better for the experience of traveling, not worse.  When students travel, a safe trip is priority number one.  That’s why it is so important to choose a travel partner with a great safety record and plan.

Your trusted travel provider, Kaleidoscope Adventures, makes student safety the most important consideration of each trip.  The expert team at Kaleidoscope has more than 25 years of experience in the student travel industry.  During that time, they’ve learned a few things to help make the experience as safe as possible.  When you travel with KA, you can expect

  • ONLY vendors that have been carefully vetted
  • On-site inspections of hotels
  • Professional on-site tour directors
  • Interior corridors (no balconies) – a must for student groups
  • Overnight security as an option for all trips
  • Motorcoach companies with outstanding safety records and up-to-date equipment
  • An emergency phone line staffed by Kaleidoscope team members 24/7 during the trip
  • Luggage tag and travel lanyard for each participant
  • Certificate of insurance upon request

These are just a few of the safeguards in place during a Kaleidoscope Adventures trip.   We know the unexpected can happen at any time.  However, a little pre-planning and commonsense can go a long way in reassuring nervous parents and making the experience better for everyone.  Rigorous and comprehensive safety measures are just one more way Kaleidoscope Adventures does travel beyond expectations!

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!