ISUAA welcomes all to join the Traveling Cyclones

The Iowa State University Alumni Association has a special program called Traveling Cyclones which allows people to travel all over the world. 

Willa Colville

For over 40 years, the Iowa State University Alumni Association (ISUAA) has been planning trips around the world for students, alumni, staff and anyone who wishes to travel.

From exotic rainforest expeditions to cruises on the Baltic Sea, the Traveling Cyclones program hosts around 45 trips each year. 

When the program first started in 1975, the goal was to provide an educational experience outside of the traditional classroom. Each trip typically includes lectures on the history of the destination as well as tours from local guides. 

Shellie Andersen, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in marketing, currently works as the director of travel and business development for the ISUAA and helps plan these trips. 

“We continue to do [the Traveling Cyclones program] because it allows us to connect with our alums, of course they don’t have to be alums, anyone can travel with us,” Andersen said. “It’s another way for us to connect with [alumni] and build relationships with them. Then we hope they come back to be a part of the Alumni Association in different aspects whether attending other events, becoming members, donating [to the ISUAA], it’s just a way to make a connection.”

For many years the Traveling Cyclones program has mostly hosted alumni and people over 40 years old, but this fall they are introducing a young alumni traveling opportunity. Themed around the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” people ages 22 to 24 will travel through Spain visiting filming locations and immersing themselves in Spanish culture.  

Heather Botine of the Alumni Association helped initiate this opportunity as well as other opportunities for young people. She says in 2019, Traveling Cyclones will also bring back trips for newly graduated students. 

As employees of the ISUAA, both Andersen and Botine have hosted numerous Traveling Cyclone vacations. 

“The last trip I went on [with Traveling Cyclones] was my favorite and that was to Machu Picchu in the Galapagos Islands,” Botine said “It was just beautiful scenery, amazing history and architecture… [One of the ISU alums on this trip] said this quote and it has stuck with me. She said ‘Some people love to travel and some people are travelers.’ And these people were travelers. They were people who had been all over the world, who were adventurous and who really had a purpose for wanting to be there.”

In 2017, the Traveling Cyclones program hosted nearly 600 people on trips around the world. This number is an increase from the 500 they typically host each year. The trips last anywhere from 10 days to three weeks long in order to accommodate for those who wish to partake.  

There are 46 vacations planned for the Traveling Cyclones in 2018 with prices ranging from about $1,500 to under $7,000. Some of the destinations include Iceland, Cuba, Egypt and Japan. In January of this year, a group even took an expedition to Antarctica. 

For more information on the Traveling Cyclones program and how to register for a vacation, visit