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Holiday Travel Tips to Make the Journey Easier

Long lines, airport delays, roadways crowded with impatient drivers … tis the season for holiday travel! We’re all anxious to get home for the holidays (or maybe someplace more exotic!) so we can re-connect, relax and rejuvenate. However, sometimes the stress of traveling makes us question if it’s all worthwhile. It is! Below are some holiday travel tips to make the journey easier.

Be Flexible

If you’re traveling around Christmas or New Year’s, check the dates on which they fall. Try to avoid the days that will make for an extended break without missing work. Everyone wants to take a long holiday, so it’s going to be busy at the airport. If you can be flexible in your travel days, you’ll have better luck maintaining your sanity.

Don’t Delay

Try for the earliest flight of the day. Lines are shorter and flights tend to be on time at the beginning of the day. If delays pop up, you have a better chance of getting on a different flight later in the day.

There’s An App For That

There are tons of apps designed to make your life simpler while traveling. SeatGuru will help you find the perfect airline seat. Skyscanner will help you find the cheapest dates to fly and alert you when prices change. If you’re driving, GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas on your route. There are so many great options to ease the stress of travel right on your phone.

Pack Lightly

Don’t be a Del Griffith and drag a trunk on your trip. Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, pack lightly. Avoid checking bags if you can (eliminating the risk of a lost bag) or pack a carry-on with essentials like medication, change of clothes and important documents.

If traveling with children, pack a bag with hand-held games, small toys, snacks and books. This busy bag may be the difference between angelic behavior and a Frosty-sized meltdown!

Ship the Gifts

Here’s one of my holiday travel tips: ship the gifts! They take up lots of space, can be easily broken or the gift wrap ends up in shreds. If you are traveling by air, items can shift during flight or may be subject to search at security. It’s easier to send them on ahead if you can. If you buy online, many retailers ship for free during the holidays. Better yet, buy gift cards and eliminate the hassle!

Remember the Chargers

Let’s face it. None of us can go 10 minutes without a device, let alone an entire trip. Avoid the inevitable withdrawal by packing all charging devices in a one spot. If you want to be fancy, buy a little leather or fabric pouch ($10-$15ish on Amazon!). If you want an easy hack, use binder clips or an old glasses case to keep cords organized. Even an old makeup organizer that folds up will do the trick.

Breathe S-L-O-W-L-Y

No matter how well you prepare for your holiday travel, you’ll probably have a few glitches along the way. The kids will throw tantrums, other drivers will irritate you, long lines and loud crowds will try your patience. Take a deep breath, invest in some good ear plugs, and try to enjoy the ride. The destination is always worth it!

6 Surprising Facts and Fiction about the Pilgrims

Ah…. Thanksgiving.  If I close my eyes, I can still smell the globs of paste we used to make Pilgrim hats in elementary school.  My mom always had a turkey in the oven by 5:00 am and the house smelled heavenly when we rolled out of bed to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The Thanksgiving of my childhood is filled with memories of a lazy day, stuffing and football.  Just like the pilgrims of old, right? Surprisingly, the Pilgrims may not have lounged around in pasted paper hats watching football as much as we think.  In fact, many of the things we learned about the Pilgrims may not be entirely true!  Let’s explore some surprising facts and fiction about the Pilgrims!

Religious freedom in… Holland?

Pilgrims were Calvinist Protestants seeking religious freedom from the King of England. We all learned this lesson early in our school years. What you may not realize is that when it was denied, they moved to Holland first, where they worshipped as they wished for ten years. They didn’t like the Dutch way of life, however, and wanted to start over in a place where tolerance could be practiced. They didn’t want to convert the Native people or other settlers but simply wanted to live peacefully.  In 1620, they returned to England and began planning for their voyage to the New World.

Pilgrims didn’t drink alcohol!

While sailing 66 days across the Atlantic on the Mayflower, Pilgrims had a limited diet. They ate dried meat and fish, grains and flour, dried fruit, cheese and hard biscuits. Makes sense. They also avoided drinking water because it was unsafe. You may be surprised to learn that they drank beer instead (even the kids!). Once they arrived in the new land, they drank fermented apple juice similar to today’s hard apple cider.

First stop – Plymouth Rock

Not quite! The Mayflower first landed at the tip of Cape Cod in what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. They tried to sail to the mouth of the Hudson River, where they hoped the land would be fertile enough to farm. However, they ran into bad weather and got stuck. They planned to try again but the beer supply was running low (really!). They crossed the Cape Cod Bay instead and landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620.

Pilgrims named Plymouth after Plymouth, England

I really thought this was a bonafide fact. Wrong! Plymouth was named long before the Pilgrims ever made it their new home. A group of explorers in the region called it Plymouth (or Plimoth, to be completely accurate) years earlier. It’s just a quirky coincidence that the Pilgrim Fathers left Plymouth, England and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

New to this new world

Nope- not all of them!  One of the Mayflower’s passengers had actually been to America before the voyage. Stephen Hopkins was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. He was a tanner, merchant and assistant to the governor through 1636. He was also a former resident of Jamestown. Hopkins was shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609 and made his way to Jamestown in 1610. He returned to England in 1614 and his story inspired William Shakespeare to write The Tempest.  Hopkins must have had a taste for adventure because he again set sail with the Pilgrims on September 6, 1620.

The first Thanksgiving was a shared feast of turkey and pumpkin pie!

The Pilgrims struggled to survive in their first year. Of the 102 passengers, only 51 survived. They buried the dead in unmarked graves so the Native Wampanoag wouldn’t realize how many were lost. The Wampanoag then taught the survivors how to get the land ready for planting. In the fall of 1621, they shared a feast of venison, seafood, ground nuts, squashes, beans, popped corn and berries to celebrate the harvest. It wasn’t quite the turkey and stuffing we think of today. The entire meal was prepared by a handful of women who were probably up much earlier than 5 a.m.!

If you’re like me, these surprising facts and fiction about the Pilgrims may shake the foundations of your youth. Or you may just find them really cool! This coming year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in America. There will be lots of amazing events to commemorate this pivotal moment in our shared history. If you want your student group to take part in the celebrations, contact Kaleidoscope Adventures. They’ll help you set the record straight without paste and paper hats!

Be One of the First to Take Your Student Group to Hudson Yards

Just when you thought New York City couldn’t get any more awesome, Hudson Yards debuts. Backed by some serious star power and VIPs, Hudson Yards opened to the public on March 15, 2019. As the largest private development in the nation’s history, it’s an epic addition to the New York City landscape. Be one of the first to take your student group to Hudson Yards.

What is Hudson Yards?

Hudson Yards is a sprawling, gleaming 26+ acre complex on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan. It’s a neighborhood comprised of restaurants, shops, office space, residences, gardens and green space, attractions and the world’s first Equinox Hotel®.

How Do We Get There?

Hudson Yards is located between 10th and 12th Avenues from West 30th to West 34th Streets. Student groups can take the No. 7 Subway (which runs from Times Square and beyond) right to the new station, just steps from the east lobby across Hudson Park. The M34-SBS, M12 and M11 bus lines stop near the building as well. Groups may also take the Midtown Ferry which stops at the West 39th Street and West Side Highway terminal.

What Can We Do There?

Hudson Yards is home to some distinctly unique attractions, including the “Vessel.” The Vessel is a temporary name for the centerpiece of the complex and unlike anything ever built before. Students will love climbing 2,500 steps and 80 landings nearly one vertical mile above the Public Square and Gardens on a spiral staircase for different heights, angles and viewpoints of the city.

Snark Park is on the second floor of the Shops at Hudson Yards and is part of a “Floor of Discovery.” It is a constantly changing, interactive space seeking to recreate the familiar in new and creative ways. Art, retail and sweet treats come together in a themed, park-like destination. Right now, it is a hot spot in NYC for Instagram-able selfies (nirvana for student groups!)

Talk about a cool park – the Public Square and Gardens is built over railyards and cooled by jet engines! It’s built to be sustainable and used for year-round enjoyment. It’s an elevated paradise of flora and fauna and a marvel of engineering.

As if these attractions aren’t enough, there are lots of dining and shopping options perfect for students.

The Shed

The Shed is THE place to be for artists. It’s a movable venue that can adapt to host many different disciplines and audience sizes. It has a 500-seat theater, two floors of column-free galleries and a hall for large-scale performances. It also has an event and rehearsal space on the top floor known as Tisch Skylights.


While the writer of this piece quivers, students will quest to visit the Edge, the highest outdoor deck (1,100 feet!) in the western hemisphere when it opens in 2020. A glass floor juts out 65 feet from the building at 30 Hudson Yards for the most breathtaking, panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.

Be among the first to take your student group to Hudson Yards. It’s a shining new jewel in a city filled with treasures. As you plan your NYC travel, Kaleidoscope Adventures is ready to help. Trust the KA team of experts at 407-345-4899 for travel beyond expectations!

5 Festive Holiday Parades for Marching Bands

I’m one of those people who gets excited when the stores put up Christmas lights beside pumpkins. I can’t wait for the holiday music to start playing on a loop and I buy wrapping paper in bulk. We get a few short weeks when it seems as if the world is just a bit cheerier and people a little kinder. I want to soak it all in for as long as possible! One of my favorite ways to kick off the magic of the season is with a holiday parade. Lively marching bands, exquisite floats and giant balloons make for big smiles and happy hearts!  Here are 5 festive holiday parades for marching bands.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is the world’s largest! Bands of all shapes and sizes can apply to entertain crowds of nearly 3 million live spectators and 50 million television viewers. It’s packed with celebrities, floats, performances, and of course, those giant floating bits of pop culture! Applications are usually due no later than April 1st for the following year’s parade so start planning now.

Hollywood Christmas Parade

If you’re looking for a warmer parade route, think about sunny southern California and the Hollywood Christmas Parade. This one is held the Sunday after Thanksgiving and bands of all types are welcome to apply. Participation is based on a variety of criteria, including musicianship, marching ability, uniqueness and entertainment value. Bands must also be able to perform field show-type maneuvers while marching.

This parade promises to be packed with star power and pageantry so be sure to submit your application by the February 1st deadline of the parade year.

Nashville Christmas Parade

The Nashville Christmas Parade has been a Tennessee tradition since 1927. It includes celebrity appearances, elaborate floats, balloons and performing groups. The parade route travels the “Musical Mile” with hundreds of thousands of spectators ready to cheer on your group! It’s a great way to kick off Christmas – country style!

6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nearly 100 years old, the 6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest in the country! Balloons, floats and fan favorites are the hallmarks of this iconic Philadelphia event, along with talented marching bands and performers. There are spots for 19 talented bands of 90 or more!

America’s Thanksgiving Parade® in Detroit

Finally, mark the start of the holiday season with a Michigan tradition! The America’s Thanksgiving Parade® Detroit starts bright and early as hundreds of thousands of spectators line historic Woodward Avenue. They’ll watch as colorful floats, gigantic balloons and thunderous marching bands pass. Your band can take part in the fun and excitement based on their performances and quality of music as well as overall presentations. It’s a unique, once in a lifetime experience sure to set the mood for a joyful holiday.

Holiday parades are a great performance opportunity for marching bands and performance groups. There’s nothing like a live crowd or a chance to be in front of a televised audience. When the department store trees go up this year, think of them as a cheerful reminder that the holidays are almost here. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to kick off the magic of the season by planning your performance trip to a holiday parade!

Why Perform in A Bowl Game?

The excitement of bowl season is nearly palpable as late December closes in. Bowl pools are completed in every office, family gathering and on-line, while the big games are hyped on all channels. If you have ever attended one of these nationally revered events, you’ve heard the stadium roar to a fevered pitch as the crowd anticipates kick off! What a rush! Why perform in a bowl game?  It’s even better to be right in the middle of the action!

Why a Bowl Game?

There are a select few among us who have had the opportunity to be a part of the pre-game festivities for these exciting competitions, namely the iconic bowl parades. High school marching bands from around the country (sometimes the world!) converge on bowl locations to kick off the action and set the tone for fanatical game attendees. Audiences of thousands watch as these talented musicians wow the crowds with spirit and skill. It is truly a magnificent experience for both participants and viewers and a memory to keep for a lifetime.

Which Bowl Games are Open to Marching Bands?

There are lots of amazing bowl venues in which to participate! The Outback Bowl hosts young performers from across the nation at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. They can also take part in the Outback Bowl Music Festival, a four-day event packed with performances, competitions and clinics.

The Military Bowl is a spirited display of patriotism as the Budweiser Clydesdales lead the Military Bowl Parade in Annapolis, Maryland. You’ll energize the crowd during your pre-game trek to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

There’s always the iconic Tournament of Roses® Parade in Pasadena, California. It’s a New Year’s Day tradition featuring magnificent floral-decorated floats, equestrian units, bands and more.

Showcase your marching band as part of the Fiesta Bowl Parade.  Festive floats and giant balloons contribute to an impressive display of skill and showmanship as the parade route winds through Central Phoenix.

In many cases, participating in a bowl game puts your students in the national (or international) spotlight since games and parades are often televised. It’s a thrilling performance opportunity!

How Do We Apply for A Bowl Game?

Marching band directors looking to showcase their accomplished students’ skills need look no further than a bowl parade. While some of the bowl organizations use an “invitation only” approach to selecting bands, others require an application for inclusion.

One of the best ways to wade through the process of performing in a bowl parade is to partner with an experienced company specializing in student performance travel. Kaleidoscope Adventures is an outstanding choice with more than 26 years in the industry and granular attention to detail. You can be confident that they’ll get you to the big event with ease!

Now is the Time!

Why perform in a bowl game?  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed!  This year’s bowl season is nearly here but  Bowl Season 2020 is on the doorstep. Applications are usually due a year in advance and hotels book early as well. Now is the time to begin planning your bowl performance travel (or start saving for those bowl game tickets!)