Kaleidoscope is a full-service student tour operator providing student and group travel, school and class trips throughout the world for over 20 years!

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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!

Group Travel Planning- Tips and Tricks to Make It Easy!

When I was 13, our church youth group decided to take a trip to Cape May, NJ. We thought it would be a great bonding experience and great fun, since most of us hadnt yet traveled beyond the borders of our small town. This was, of course, long before the days of the internet and access to abundant information on group travel planning.
We piled into cars marked with Cape May or Bust, loaded down with sleeping bags, pillows, LOTS of beach gear, and even a TV (yep- someone thought that was a good idea!) What we didnt have was enough deodorant for our teenage passengers or a clear idea of our travel plan. As a result, we slept on the floor a local church, showered with a hose in the back yard of said church, and returned home feeling less like we bonded and more like survivors of a catastrophic event!

Fortunately, todays travelers have it a bit easier. A quick search online can help identify resources and help you plan for a fabulous group travel experience for all ages! As a fellow travel enthusiast, Im going share some of the best tips for planning group travel directly online in this series.

Purpose of Your Trip
Theres a reason for every adventure! While it may seem obvious, its very helpful to identify your groups purpose for traveling. Perhaps you are the leader of your youth group looking to create a bonding experience (good luck!) or a classroom teacher hoping to connect your curriculum to real world experiences. Maybe you are a coach taking the team to a tournament in an unfamiliar state or a music director aspiring to showcase your groups talents at a new and exciting venue. Think about the purpose of your trip and what you want your group to take away from the experience- it will really help clarify your planning!


When to Travel
The best time to travel depends on a number of factors – weather, school schedules, vacation time, tournaments, etc. Consider the following

Spring: The weather in March through May is warmer in the southern states than the northern. If you travel during this period, reserve flights and hotels far in advance to avoid disappointment during this busy group travel period. Remember, most school trips take place in March, April and May due to spring break, grad nights, and more.

Summer: Summer offers the most flexibility, but keep in mind that if your trip includes youth, many students may have summer jobs, travel with their families, participate in sports or go to camp. If you are a religious, reunion or sports group, a summer trip is probably one of the best times for you to travel.

Fall: This is prime time for corporate meetings, religious retreats, scouting trips and more. Airfares are traditionally less expensive in the fall which can benefit your budget.

Winter: This is a marvelous time to travel since you probably wont encounter the congestion of a summer trip. Many groups travel to warmer climates to escape the cold while others embrace it through winter activities like ski excursions. Remember though, if you are flying, airfares are higher and winter weather could force flight delays. You may also have trouble recruiting because the winter holidays are times for family gatherings.

Choose Your Planning Resource
Once you have identified your purpose and time frame for traveling, youll be ready to tackle the rest of the trip details. Planning your own group travel can be overwhelming if youve never done it before or are using the wrong resources. However, travel planning companies like Kaleidoscope Adventures can help simplify the process with tons of great resources available at the click of a button (a little different than planning our ill-fated Cape May trip!). Once you have identified your purpose and time frame for traveling, youll be ready to tackle the rest of the trip details.

Next in the Series- Choose Your Destination