Meet Kimberly. Kimberly is a Tour Consultant and the manager of Brightspark Travel's California office. She works hard to serve West Coast teachers, puts together events such as our Disney Y.E.S. Preview Tour and collaborates with team members to build out our international student tours.
What is your personal experience with travel?
My senior class trip to Paris and London was a formative experience for me. I’ve always been a history buff, but seeing historical sites like Versailles and the Tower of London in person was awe-inspiring. Because of that experience with my class, I went to college and majored in international affairs, studied abroad and then went into the student travel travel business, where I could give other kids the same opportunity that I had when I was 18.
I’ve been an avid traveler ever since my first international student tour. My most recent trip was to Costa Rica last month. I’ve been all over Europe, as well as Asia, Latin America and Canada. Next up is (hopefully) Australia and New Zealand.
What tips do you have for teachers traveling with students?
Plan early! One of the most important things to remember is that these trips aren’t built in one day. It takes time to put an itinerary together. It also takes time for families to fundraise for their kids. The more time you can give your families, the better.
I also advise travelers to be flexible. Travel is about adapting the unexpected. And something unexpected will always come up on tour.
What factors do you consider when planning an itinerary?
It’s important to know the “goal” of the tour: is the teacher looking for historical relevance? Language immersion? Leadership building? I also think about the length of the tour and the group’s budget.
What are some of your favorite destinations for groups traveling to the West Coast?
You can’t beat San Diego – Balboa Park has some really interesting museums and the world famous zoo. There is also the USS Midway, for those interested in military history. Old Town is fun for kids to explore and shop, and the Mexican food there is top notch. Time permitting, I’d suggest adding Los Angeles. Groups can enjoy a Disney YES program at Disneyland or take in the views from the Getty Center. So many options in both cities!
Why do you love working in student travel?
Student travel is really about opening kids eyes to the world outside their classroom and hometown. When I’m planning a trip, I often remind myself that this could be the only chance some of these kids have to see the places they’re visiting. So I make sure that I give them the best experience possible in the hope that they come away with a better understanding of themselves and the world they live in, and that they continue traveling throughout their lives.