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Resolve to Travel More with Family

New Year’s Eve is upon us (hard to believe, right?!) As I reflect on our family’s 2019, I find it’s not the “stuff” that makes it into our highlight reel, but rather the experiences we’ve had. A cross-country trip with our teen and tween, a jaunt down south for a family wedding, a weekender with grandparents to the eastern seaboard. We managed a few precious days in Costa Rica and a father/son bonding experience in Chicago. These are the moments we remember- not a trip to the mall (although my daughter may disagree). As 2020 approaches, my New Year’s Resolution is clear. I plan to resolve to travel more with family!

A Time to Unwind

Families live crazy, chaotic and busy lives. We are constantly running from one activity to the next, squeezing in homework, work, meals and whatever else comes down the pike. It’s frantic, fun and sometimes stressful. Family travel is a chance to leave that pressure behind and RELAX. If you can’t remember what that word means, scroll through your most recent vacation photos for a visual reminder.

A Time to Disconnect and Re-Connect

Family travel is also an opportunity to re-connect with those people living in your house who sometimes remain unseen for days, otherwise known as your kids! So many things vie for our children’s attention- school, friends, sports, band, cheer, and the ever-intrusive technology. Do you long for the days when you could have a conversation with your child? Do you pine for something other than a text that it’s time for a pick-up? Taking a few days to disconnect from devices and re-connect as a family is priceless!

Holiday Card Fodder

Taking time to travel as a family means making memories to last a lifetime. Traveling with extended family like grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lends a special significance to the experience. Go somewhere exotic and soak up a different culture or lifestyle. Take a day trip and spend quality time learning about regional differences or similarities. It really doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you go together. Imagine how interesting next year’s holiday card will be when you share your family’s adventures!

Yes, spending more family time exploring this wide, wonderful world is my new year’s resolution. On behalf of the Kaleidoscope Adventures family, we wish you a Happy 2020 and many magical journeys with your loved ones!

There’s No Place Like NYC for the Holidays

Sleigh rides, snow and New York City! It’s never too early to start planning your holiday travel. New York City tops the list of fabulous holiday destinations for groups- particularly students. The Big Apple is always humming with activity, but has a singular energy fueled by anticipation as the holidays approach. The weather is crisp, the people move briskly and the stage is set for wonder. There’s really no place like NYC for the holidays!

Holiday Windows

One of the best holiday traditions in New York City is also FREE! The holiday windows at retailers throughout the city never disappoint with their creativity and style. They beckon shoppers to explore wares within the stores using artistic and often mind-boggling displays. Most windows are usually revealed right around Thanksgiving and typically remain on display through the new year. A truly dedicated window shopper may want to consider a holiday windows walking tour.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

Break out the disinfectant and strap on those rental skates for another time-honored tradition- ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Situated in the heart of Midtown, the Rink at Rockefeller Center opens in October and remains open through the spring. General admission skating is first come, first-served, and everyone in your party must wait in line together. Admission ranges from $25-$32, depending on the time of year. There are opportunities to reserve ice time, but it can get pricey.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit some time in November and remains a shining beacon through January 17, 2020. Take in this glorious evergreen while gliding gracefully on the ice- or clinging to the rail as the case may be!

Top of the Rock

Head off the ice and up to the Top of the Rock for spectacular, sweeping views of midtown Manhattan and Central Park. Everyone will love the birds eye view of the city as it sparkles and shines- there’s really nothing quite like it!


Once you’ve experienced the city from above, bring it down to street level and jump on THE RIDE. THE RIDE has a holiday edition of its unique, 75-minute production, allowing you to stay toasty warm on the specially designed motor coach as you are escorted through 4.2 miles of dazzling sights and sounds. The seasons of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza are celebrated in brilliant style with seasonal music, specially choreographed performance events, additional cast members and much more!

Christmas Spectacular

Kick off the holidays with style (that’s right, I went there!) with the iconic Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular. This show runs from November 8, 2019 through January 5, 2020, embodies the holiday spirit and is an experience like no other. The Rockettes performs extraordinary moves in gorgeous costumes, amid breathtaking backdrops and inspiring music.

If you are traveling with students, check out the Radio City Stage Door Tour for an insider’s look at Radio City Music Hall. It’s a guided tour through hallowed halls, where secrets of the stage are revealed and you can even meet a Rockette®!

While the calendar may soon say 2020, the spirit is singing that there’s still time to enjoy this festive season. Gather your group for a merry little visit to the Big Apple – there really is no place like NYC for the holidays!

Meet Darcy Williams from ‘After Sectionals’

Midwest Clinic

In just a few short days, band, orchestra and music leaders from around the globe will converge in Chicago for the 73rd annual Midwest Clinic. It’s the biggest music education conference in the world. There’s so much to see and do! Four hundred plus vendors, clinicians from around the world and instruction that is both practical and motivational are the hallmarks of this dynamic event. If you plan to attend, you’ll need a game plan to see it all. As a highlight on your must-do list, be sure to stop at the Kaleidoscope Adventures booth.  When you do, you’ll meet Darcy Williams from ‘After Sectionals’!

‘After Sectionals’ Podcast

Most band directors are familiar with the voice behind the wildly popular podcast. Darcy is recognized as a no-nonsense director and dispenser of valuable advice. She shares the microphone with two colleagues, Jenna Yee and Alex Ortega. Each brings a unique perspective to the band experience. Together, they share their adventures, lessons learned and common-sense guidance with band directors everywhere. First year directors and seasoned veterans alike have found ‘After Sectionals’ to be a great resource for instruction.

Helpful Resources

Podcast topics dive deep into the world of classroom management, motivation and even “staph” development (very clever!). They discuss the nuts and bolts of contest ratings, the value of mentors, managing expectations and successfully navigating a home-work balance. Midwest Clinic is your chance to get up close and personal with these band gurus and ask the burning questions for your program.

Darcy Williams isn’t new to Midwest Clinic. Her band performed brilliantly at the conference in December of 2015.   She, along with Jenna and Alex, also conducted the well attended “Teaching Rhythm Logically” clinic in 2016. She adds positive energy and expertise to an already amazing show.

Exclusive Partner with Kaleidoscope Adventures

This year, ‘After Sectionals’ has become an exclusive partner with Kaleidoscope Adventures. As a leader in the performance travel industry, KA shares a passion for music and excellence in education. Its reputation for outstanding performance travel is second to none. Collaborating with the team at ‘After Sectionals’ can only enhance the good work each is doing on behalf of music programs everywhere!

Live! From Midwest!

As part of this exciting collaboration, ‘After Sectionals’ will be podcasting from the Kaleidoscope Adventures booth at Midwest Clinic. It’s a great opportunity to meet Darcy Williams and the KA team, ask questions, and plan your next performance trip. These are the experts who know the ins and outs of performing and performance travel. Parades, festivals, amusement parks, competitions and more, they’ll help you “fine tune” the perfect experience for your group.

As you plan your path through the myriad of booths, clinics, workshops and performances, be sure to stop at the KA booth to meet Darcy Williams from ‘After Sectionals.’ It promises to be a unique highlight for both conference participants and hosts alike. During an event brimming with amazing opportunities for music directors and teachers, be sure to check this one off your list!

How To Get REAL ID Ready

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005. We’ve had 14 years to prepare, yet most of us probably haven’t. Heck, most of us probably don’t even know what REAL ID is! The time for playing ostrich, however, is over. As of October 1, 2020, EVERY air traveler 18 years or older MUST have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. For all the procrastinators out there, it’s time to get REAL ID ready!

What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is the federal act requiring minimum security standards for state-issued identifications (like driver’s licenses). It prohibits federal agencies from accepting ID that doesn’t meet these standards for official purposes. Purposes include boarding federally regulated aircraft, accessing federal facilities like military bases or federal courthouses or entering nuclear power plants. REAL ID is intended to be a consistent safety measure for our national security.

How can I tell if I have a REAL ID?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, all REAL ID compliant cards will have one of the following marks on the top of the card
Examples of REAL ID markings
If you’re ID doesn’t have one of these marks, it’s not a REAL ID!

Is a REAL ID the same as a passport?

REAL ID and passports are NOT the same. If you are traveling internationally, including Canada, Mexico or cruise travel, you still must have a passport. If you are traveling domestically, a REAL ID or a passport is acceptable.

Does my student group need REAL ID to travel?

Students under the age of 18 do not need identification to fly in the U.S. when traveling with a companion. Students 18 and older will need a REAL ID or other form of acceptable identification.

Is my state issuing REAL ID?

As of September 5, 2019, all 50 states and territories are on track to issue REAL ID compliant licenses and IDs by October 1, 2020.

How do I get a REAL ID?

Each state may require slightly different documents at its driver’s licensing centers so check the website before going in person. Minimum requirements are full legal name, date of birth, social security number, 2 proofs of address and lawful status.

How much does a REAL ID cost?

Fees for a REAL ID vary by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, the cost is $30 plus the cost of a license renewal. In Virginia, a REAL ID is $10 plus the renewal. Check with your state’s driver’s licensing center for rates prior to applying.

What if I don’t get a REAL ID by October 1, 2020?

If you don’t have a REAL ID or other acceptable form of ID by October 1, 2020, you will NOT be allowed beyond the TSA security checkpoint. The TSA WILL accept U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, enhanced drivers’ licenses from MI, MN, NY, VT and WA, and DHS trusted travel cards such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.

Yes, 14 years have passed in the blink of an eye (ahem) and it’s time to get REAL ID ready. If you have travel plans that include a domestic flight after September 30, 2020, check this one off your list today!

5 Great Reasons to Give Kids the Gift of Travel

It starts in October. The stress begins to build as I think about what to get my kids (16 and 13) for Christmas. AirPods? There’s $200 I’ll never see again. They’ll be lost before the new year. Gift cards? They seem a bit impersonal. I suppose there’s always the standard socks and underwear… Oh, how I long for the days of American Girl dolls and Legos! As I ponder this dilemma, a red and green light bulb goes off in my head. I know what I can do! Each has the opportunity to go on a school trip this year. Wouldn’t it be great to give the gift of travel?  An amazing experience rather than a “thing?”

Encouraging kids to travel is a wonderful way to help them stretch beyond their comfort zones and explore the world. Allowing them to travel through school gives them a chance spread their wings outside the eyes of parents. It’s also a great lesson in independence and responsibility! Here are 5 great reasons to give kids the gift of travel.

Real Life Learning

We send our kids to school to prepare them for real life. Allowing them to learn beyond the walls of a classroom is as “real life” as it gets! Time outside of school pushes them to adapt to new situations and fosters a willingness to learn. It makes education hands-on and not just something to be found in a book. Connecting the curriculum to reality is what educators strive for. Travel accomplishes that goal and many more.

Academic Benefits

Kids who travel have are more willing to learn, participate in class discussions and get better test scores. A recent study by the Student Youth Travel Association studied the impact of travel on nearly 1.2 million students. Among many other positives, it found that travel improves the classroom experience. This landmark study found student travel to be “significantly more effective than computer-based learning and classroom instruction alone.” This holiday gift will have a lasting impact!

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Do you remember the feeling you had when you first got your license? That small taste of independence? It was a life-changing, confidence building moment to know that you were in control. Today’s non-driving, Uber generation aside, travel does the same thing for teens’ confidence and self-esteem. It promotes self-expression and an outgoing disposition. It also encourages cooperation and collaboration among peers. Our children will rise to the challenges we set – if we allow them to try! Our job as parents is to teach kids how to be in the world, not fear it. THAT’S a gift!

Cultural Awareness and Social Responsibility

In a world consumed by technology, it’s nice to look up once in a while and see what’s happening around you. Travel teaches students that the world is bigger than what they know. It introduces them to people and places that are different, yet sometimes very much the same. When forming opinions about others and the world around you, it’s important to do so with first-hand knowledge. Kids who travel have a strong sense of their place in the world, are more tolerant and respectful of others, are more collaborative and adapt more readily to new situations. Seems like a great takeaway from the holidays, right?!?

It’s Fun!

Kids have so much on their plates today. Practices, competitions, school, clubs, jobs and on and on. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some fun? Going on the class trip (or any trip) is a great time with friends and a great memory to keep. I think we would all appreciate a little joy in the endless to-do list of life!

Travel is the perfect present. You don’t have to wrap it, it has amazing benefits, and you can’t lose or break it. When you’re thinking about this holiday season, consider these 5 great reasons to give kids the gift of travel.  It’s an investment that shapes lives!