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Can’t Afford a Trip? 7 Ways to Take a Family Vacation on a Budget

Taking a Family Vacation on a Budget

For a majority of families, what stops them from the family vacation of their dreams is their wallets. They think they can’t afford a vacation.

I think they’re wrong.

Even as a family on a tight budget, we’ve found that there are many ways to make a vacation happen.

Travel brings so much joy, adventure and memories to families. I can safely say that most of our happiest family memories are from our vacations. I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.

So why aren’t you taking a vacation? What is truly stopping you from planning and going on that dream vacation? And if your answer is “money”, here are a few ideas to consider.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Think You Can’t Afford a Trip?

According to a recent survey on Spring Break Family Travel, conducted by Vacatia, TravelingMom and TravelingDad, agreeing on a budget and coordinating payment is a concern for 36% of respondents. If you’re on a tight budget than you might fall in that 36% range.

I’ll be frank though – My family is on a tight budget and we still find a way to take several vacations a year. I think family travel is way more important than having the newest gadgets. That little sacrifice can go a long way! Here are 7 ways we make those all-important vacations happen:

1. Day to Day Savings

Naturally your day-to-day spending can make or break whether you have extra vacation money or not (those lattes add up!) By cutting back on little things (generic instead of name brand, packing a lunch instead of purchasing), you can always seem to “find money” that can be used for your vacation.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Every dollar counts! Put saved money towards your trip & get the kids involved.

Yeah, it can be a downer to eat pb&j from home when you’d rather get a sandwich at the deli but the $5+ savings means more money for you to take that trip. But there are little ways to cut back without it feeling like a major sacrifice. Consider a month of no extra expenses. Take a hard look at all the money going out and choose a few easy ways you can save on expenses.

2. What Can You Do Without?

I’d rather plan another vacation than have cable television. That’s just me, but traveling is just more fun than watching TV. I make the choice to do without. What do you have that you could cut back, freeing up more money for a trip?

It can be hard to tell the kids “no” when it comes to spending on things. When my older kids ask why they can’t have a cell phone or my preschooler wants a toy at the store, I use a distraction technique. I remind them about an impending trip and how we’re using extra money towards our vacation. Then I’ll bring up a certain part of the trip I know they’ll want to talk about and soon enough they’re excited, talking about the vacation instead.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

3. Buy Less Stuff

A recent article suggested that parents should spend less on toys and take more vacations. I’m all for that. We save toy purchases only at Christmas and even then, we try to choose high-quality classic items that work for a wide age group.

We take this concept of limiting stuff even further by branching out into other parts of our home. All the money saved by not buying “stuff” (Dollar Spot, I’m looking at you!) goes into our vacation fund.

4. Use Points for Your Trips

I’m not a huge credit card hacker but I do have a few practical and very easy tips for earmarking points towards travel. Since we do a lot of Disney travel, I have a Disney Visa that I use to pay household bills. The Disney Dollars earned go towards our meals at each trip and we have very little out-of-pocket expenses there.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Our Costco Visa is used solely for groceries and gas and we earned about $250 in Costco cash last year. I took the check we received to Costco, they cashed it out for me and I’m using that money on our road trip. I’ve also plotted out on a map where all the Costco gas stations are on our route so we can get our gasoline at a great price! We purchased 2 new cell phones at Costco last year and received a $450 Costco gift card rebate so this is our gas money for the road trip.

I also use and love Ebates and book all my travel through the links. I get paid in a “Big Fat Check” and naturally, that’s money to go right towards the vacation.

5. Realize that Separate Vacations Are Okay

According to the responses in the survey, 38% say that coordinating everyone’s schedules is the worst part of planning a vacation. And once you do choose a date that works for everyone there’s also the challenge of making everyone happy. 32 percent say the ickiest part of planning is finding a destination that makes everyone happy and 24 percent say it’s choosing accommodations that will make everyone happy.

Here’s a solution to this issue – Plan separate vacations. Don’t wait until you can get things “just right” because that day might never come. When trying to work out a trip between my husband’s work and school schedule, the kid’s school year and allotted vacation time, finding that week when everyone is available is the equivalent to a needle in a haystack.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

We compromise with separate vacations. My husband likes going to Disneyland as a family once a year for a few days but traveling cross-country to Walt Disney World for a week is not his idea of fun. He’d rather be riding the ocean waves in his kayak, fishing for tuna (definitely not my style!) while the kids play in the sand.

Our kids get the best of both experiences and nobody is gritting their teeth through a week of something they’re not happy with. And on the budget-side of this, a vacation with fewer family members is going to cost less.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

6. Find Ways to Budget on the Trip

Once you nail down the itinerary, decide what features of the trip are the most important to you. If spending time at a fancy hotel suite is a must-do, place the majority of your budget there. If you don’t care where you lay your head, then scrimp on the hotel costs and drop your money where it matters most, like on activities or meals. Survey respondents note that they spend about half of their travel budget on accommodations, which tells me that maybe the call of the upscale hotel pool is high!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

7. Take the Time Off (and Save More)

If you’re white-knuckling those sick leave hours, you might need a vacation! Here’s a hint: Your coworkers can survive without you. Take the vacation time!

If you wait until summer vacation when the kids are out of school, the costs of a trip during peak travel season will be higher. Consider pulling the kids out so you can plan your vacation when the travel prices are best. I’m taking my kids out this spring for 5 days so we can take a road trip. I was able to contact their schools about independent study. The kids will be able to get their school work done on the road and not get “dinged” with unexcused absences while they’re gone.

Research tells us that family vacations have long-lasting impact on your child’s happiness. I know that seeing my children soaking in new experiences is going to have a greater impact on their lives than any gadget ever will!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Save money on your family vacation!

Purchase discount vacation packages to destinations like Orlando, Hawaii and California from my affiliate Get Away Today. They even offer a layaway program for as little as $125 down.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

 

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers – FREE Baby Packing List Printable!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SuperAbsorbent #CollectiveBias

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers? This FREE Baby Packing List Printable will Help You Stay Organized! #ad #SuperAbsorbant

Traveling with a Baby

In just a few days, I will be taking my baby on her first extended vacation. When traveling with a baby, there are so many little things to remember (and forget!) I have created a free printable baby packing list for our trip, including tips on figuring out how many Huggies Plus diapers to pack on our travels. When it comes to traveling with a baby, it’s easy to over pack. But when diapers are concerned, you never want to be stuck without! I’ll share how to figure out how many diapers to bring with you on the trip as well as what other essentials should be in your baby’s travel bag. Keep reading for the free baby packing list printable!

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers? This FREE Baby Packing List Printable will Help You Stay Organized! #ad #SuperAbsorbant

This post contains affiliate links

Diapers are Number 1 on the List!

Huggies Plus is the only brand of diapers we purchase and I always buy them in bulk at Costco because the price is just right. My little gal isn’t moving around much yet at 5 months old, so we buy Huggies Little Snugglers Plus. When she starts crawling we’ll switch to Little Movers Plus. These diapers are well-designed and fit my princess snugly and perfectly. Huggies Little Snugglers Plus and Huggies Little Movers Plus are only available at Costco.

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers? This FREE Baby Packing List Printable will Help You Stay Organized! #ad #SuperAbsorbant

Check out the current offers:

  • Little Snugglers Plus (Sizes 1 & 2) – $37.49, $31.49 after $6 discount and Free shipping (this offer valid 9/1 to 9/25)
  • Little Movers Plus (Size 3, 4, 5, & 6) – $42.99, $36.99 after $6 discount and Free shipping (this offer valid 9/1 –to 9/25)
  • Starting in August Little Snugglers Plus will also be available in size Newborn starting – $29.99 available in select warehouses and online at Costco.com

With several trips planned where my baby is in tow, coming up with a great packing list is imperative! Two weeks ago I took my daughter for her first overnight hotel stay at Disneyland. We’ll be traveling by car for a family trip this week back to Disneyland and staying for three nights. Then later this month, I’ll be traveling cross-country with the baby all by myself! It will be her first flight and as we’re going to Walt Disney World, I need to pack everything I’ll need for her. I won’t be able to make any stops at the store if I forget something!

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers? This FREE Baby Packing List Printable will Help You Stay Organized! #ad #SuperAbsorbant

How Many Diapers to Bring?

So, how can you figure out how many diapers to bring with you on a trip? In the week leading up to your vacation, take note of how many diapers you go through each day with your baby. I have a notepad and a pencil on the shelf above her changing table to make a tally. Average the number of diapers you’ve used over the week to figure out a daily amount and then multiply that by the number of days you’ll be away from home. Then put in about two extra diapers per day of your trip…just in case!

Be sure to check out these other #SuperAbsorbent Huggies Plus diaper ideas!


What Else to Pack for Baby?

Besides what you usually bring for baby in the diaper bag, there are a few other helpful ideas when traveling with a baby.

 

 

If baby is too small to sit up or too big to fit in the bathroom sink for a wash, consider an Inflatable Bath Tub. This Inflatable Duck Tub will make bath time easier and it won’t take up any extra space in your luggage.

Moving around blindly in a dark hotel room when baby wakes at night is recipe for disaster. And you don’t want to turn on a light and risk waking everyone else up either. Plug in a nightlight like this Touch Control Night Light Lamp to help you see where you’re going and make midnight feedings and diaper changes easier without waking everyone else in the room.

Hotel rooms can get chilly with the air conditioner running. Bundle baby in a sleeper blanket like this Fleece Sleepsack to keep her cozy while she sleeps.

Pack a few baby books but make them lightweight and able to hold up to wear and tear, like the Indestructibles Baby Book. Pick up several and you can entertain baby with a story on the road (or she can just chew on the pages, whatever!)

I try my best to keep track of everything when traveling but inevitably something ends up missing. It’s usually the sippy cup that rolls under the car, falls out of the stroller or gets left at a restaurant. Skip the pricey sippers and buy a set of these Take & Toss Spill-Proof Sippy Cups. Then if one gets lost, you’ll have a few to spare.

Fortunately my little one loves being in a front carrier (my boys never did though). If you have a baby who likes her Baby Carrier, definitely bring it with you and it will make travel so much easier. I spent hours carrying my princess in her carrier at Disneyland last week and I was so comfortable and she was able to nap while we rode on rides. When I remember carrying my boys in my arms I was always so much more exhausted and my arms were aching by mid-day!


Traveling with Baby – Free Printable Packing List

Click the link above to print it or PIN it now to save for your next vacation with baby!

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers - FREE Baby Packing List Printable! #Ad #SuperAbsorbant


Where are YOU traveling with your baby? Share with me in the comments!

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Prepping the Car for a Family Day Trip

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

Living in San Diego, we don’t have to drive far to find great adventures! Our summer plans include visits to the beach, local amusement parks, museums and even a drive to the mountains for a hike.  I bought my car brand new almost 12 years ago. It has over 140K miles on it and still runs great! Regular maintenance and oil changes is key, of course. Here’s how we have fun on our day trips, what we pack in the car when we hit the road and how the Walmart Auto Care Center gets the car in top shape.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Where To Go

You don’t have to go far to find family fun. Check local activities in your area for a great day trip, some place you can drive to and return home in the same day. Even if it’s just a nice picnic spot in a park, make a day out of it by bringing some outdoor games like a frisbee with you. Or grab a favorite board game and enjoy playing on the grass. We like to head out into the mountains for an afternoon fishing at the lake.

Have everyone in your family give some input on a place they’d like to go and then choose one each week until you’ve covered them all! My big kids wanted to play baseball at the park, I wanted to wander through Old Town San Diego and my little one wanted to swim at the bay. We’ve covered all three this summer and still have a few more fun day trips planned before school starts up!

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

What To Bring

Depending on where you’ll headed, your day trip packing list may vary. I have written this checklist on Traveling Mom for essentials everyone should pack with them in their bag. I keep a fabric bin in the trunk that’s loaded with day trip needs so I’m always ready and I can save myself some time.

If you’re going to be gone all day and would like to budget your meals, make sure to pack snacks and lunches to avoid having to make a costly stop for fast food. Bottled water is a must and I plan on three different snacks per person for the entire day. We like to choose snacks that can handle the heat inside the trunk, like nuts, dried fruit, apples and crackers. If you bring a lunch that needs chilling, place a small cooler in the car with a freezer chill pack that will keep everything a good temperature.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Don’t forget a towel, waterproof blanket or beach chairs to sit on. A disposable tablecloth is a good idea if you are going to be dining al fresco (picnic tables aren’t always the cleanest). On that note, bring hand sanitizer too, in case you aren’t able to wash hands before eating.

If you’re going to be gone until sunset, take note of the weather and bring a jacket if necessary. I like to bring my kids at least a clean shirt and shorts to put on at the end of the day so they aren’t sitting in the car wearing sweaty and dirty clothes! Bring a big plastic bag to throw everything in at the end of the day and pop it in the trunk to clean out when you get home. This will help you keep all the mess in one place.

How To Prep

My car has a lot of miles on it but it never lets me down. Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil helps clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Make your life easier and get your oil changed with Pennzoil at Walmart’s Automotive Care Center. So nice that you can shop for your day trip and get your oil changed while you shop. You’ll be ready to hit the road immediately after check-out! I loved that I was able to drop off my car in Walmart’s Automotive Care Center and take the kids inside the air-conditioned store to pick up snacks for our recent drive up the coast to a theme park.

High mileage oil changes are on Rollback at Walmart ($35.88) from June 15 – September 28 so it’s a great time to prep the car for those summer adventures. Find your Walmart Automotive Care Center and drop in (no reservation needed) to get the oil changed on your vehicle so you can be trip ready too when the adventure-mood strikes!

What family day trips you have planned this summer? Share with me in the comments.

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Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

“Are we there yet?” Does that sound familiar? Long road trips can be challenging for adults, let alone kids! I’m personally not a fan of being confined to my seat for long periods of time. Kids in particular can get cranky when sitting too long. Fortunately for my family, it’s only about a 90 minute drive to Disneyland, so we often drive up and back in the same day. But if you have a longer road trip adventure ahead of you, it’s helpful to have a bag of tricks ready to occupy and entertain the kids when driving to Disney!

Here are my kid-friendly road trip tips for driving to Disney!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

1. Reward Good Behavior

In the days leading up to our vacation, I use a “Disney Dollar” system to reward good behavior and pay for jobs done that are above and beyond the usual chores. The kids can use the Dollars earned on souvenirs during the trip. Cash prizes speak to everyone, don’t they?! Whining and fighting in the car doesn’t have to be the norm, especially if you give incentive towards good behavior.

You could incorporate this tactic on the road, handing the kids Disney Dollars that you print at home as reward for appropriate behavior. Whining or fighting may “cost” them their cash. Kids can then cash in their faux money for the real thing at the end of the road. Bribery? Maybe…but if it gets you a few hours of peace, so be it!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

2. Feed ME!

There are lots of fun Disney dining ideas to use in the car, from sippy cups, plates, snack bags and water bottles. Stock up on Disney-themed food snacks in the store or online to feed the kids on the road and it makes the anticipation to your destination all the more fun!


3. Draw Me a Picture

I converted this empty Chick-fil-A salad container into a self-contained art box. We dine at Chick-fil-A about once a week and I always order my favorite, the Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch dressing! So why not upcycle those sturdy salad boxes into something useful? I decided to turn my boxes into a road trip art box.

My kids could entertain themselves for hours with drawing so having an art box for a road trip is ideal. But I don’t want crayons melting between the seats or markers making their way to the floor so it’s best to have everything contained in one box per child (no fighting over the art supplies this way either!)

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

I gave my son a sheet of Disney themed stickers to decorate his box and filled it with drawing implements. A good supply of blank drawing paper, printable Disney coloring pages and activity sheets attached to a clipboard is sure to keep him occupied in the car!


Save money on Your Disney Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


4. Play a Game

One of our favorite travel games is “Guess Who I Am”. One person gives three clues about a Disney character and the other people in the car have to ask questions until they are ready to guess. The game would go like this: “I am yellow, I like honey and I live in the woods”. Then the other people could ask yes or no questions about characteristics, like “Do you wear clothes?”, “Do you talk?” or “Do you have fur?”. The game goes on until someone is ready to guess, “Winnie the Pooh!” Obviously this game can be played to the child’s age with more recognizable or obscure characters.

Or try the Alphabet Game and take turns naming Disney characters through the alphabet, like “A is for Aladdin, B is for Bambi, etc”


5. Answer the “Are We There Yet?” Question

Mouse Ears Mom has this perfect printable countdown calendar to use in the days leading up to your vacation. What if you took this concept into the car? Tape the pieces across the inner door frame of the car or across the ceiling (someplace where your child can see it) and move the Monorail to count down the hours until you reach your Magical destination!

You could also print out a map and slip the paper into a plastic sleeve. Use a wipe-off marker to show kids how far you have gone on your route.

Photo Credit: Mouse Ears Mom

6. Give them Early Souvenirs

Everyone loves a present! Stock up with a few fun things that you can wrap and surprise the kids with on the road. Coloring books, the new Disney LEGO figures, a character t-shirt and glow-sticks (for them to use in the parks at night) are all fun & cheap.


Driving to Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Knock out travel boredom with these helpful kid-friendly road trip tips

7. Stories and Songs

I’ve never been able to read in the car (I get motion sickness!) but toting books in the car can occupy the time nicely. If you can’t read, consider a story on disc that everyone can enjoy along the way. And of course Disney music from the parks and soundtracks will get everyone singing and in the mood for the wonderful times ahead!


For more summer travel tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Summer Travel Tips Loop:

Driving to Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Knock out travel boredom with these helpful kid-friendly road trip tips

Disney with Your Preschooler-Insider Tips for a Magical Day

Disney Parks are perfect for preschoolers!  The colorful parades, yummy treats, everything in Fantasyland and the familiar Disney Junior characters around the park are ideal for preschoolers. On the flip side there is also the possibility of waiting in long lines, new experiences that could make preschoolers nervous, loud noises and strange food that might sour the perfect Disney day. I’ve traveled to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland with my preschooler and it’s always been a fun and exciting adventure! I’ll share my tips on how to make the most of your day.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Here are my top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with Your preschooler!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Skip School

Pull your kid out of preschool for the day and plan your Disney vacation on a weekday. Ideally you should visit when most elementary-aged kids are in school with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday being the best. Avoiding weekends, summer and school holidays will help minimize crowds as well. 

Pack a Preschool Bag

Be sure to take in everything your preschooler will need for the day. My 4-year old likes to wear his own little backpack, filled with necessities. I toss in an extra pair of clothes, a few snacks, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. If you are staying into the night, grab a few glow in the dark treats (like bracelets or wands) from the dollar store pre-trip for your preschooler to wear. Easier to spot them in the dark and they love the glow, of course!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Measure Up

Before your visit, measure your preschooler while they’re wearing the shoes they’ll wear on the trip. From here, check their height against the online height restrictions for each ride. Don’t promise a ride on Splash Mountain until you can be sure that your preschooler is tall enough to ride! At Walt Disney World you can sort the attractions by height. Here is a list of the Disneyland height requirements.

Visiting Walt Disney World with a preschooler? These are the insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disney!

Follow Their schedule

Is your preschooler accustomed to waking, eating and sleeping at a particular time? You might want to consider sticking to the same schedule, especially if your child is sensitive to change or if pushing back meals and bedtimes make them moody. If you really want them to stay up later for the vacation, plan ahead and start extending their bedtime by 15 minutes every night for the week leading up to the trip.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Nervous about riding.

Know What they Like (and What They Don’t Like)

Preschoolers are notoriously opinionated (at least mine are!) Ask them ahead of the trip what rides and shows are “must see” and make sure at the very least, that those things happen. Only you know your child’s likes and dislikes. If you know that your kid is terrified of characters, don’t force them to hug one. Same goes for forcing your preschooler onto a ride that they are afraid of. Your preschooler is going to have a rough day if they feel pressured. Check out this post with tips on what to do with nervous kids.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Preschool Dining is Easy

Jambalaya? Monte Cristo sandwich? Your preschooler may turn up their nose at such nontraditional fare. But even the pickiest preschooler can find great bites at Disney. Most restaurants offer a kids meal with childhood favorites like pizza, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and fries. Look for the Mickey Check Meals for healthier options that include veggies and fruit. Does your preschooler love characters? A character dining experience, like Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn can be a memorable way to capture photos and collect signatures.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Strollers are Still a Good Idea

Even if your preschooler hasn’t ridden in a stroller in years, the miles of walking and the hours of standing in lines will take a toll. Achy feet and tired bodies add up to cranky kids so consider bringing a stroller. Even a small umbrella type is better than nothing. You especially don’t want to be carrying an exhausted preschooler out of the park at the end of the night! Your preschooler might even surprise you and take a mid-day nap.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Let Them Burn Off Steam

Preschoolers need to MOVE! Find play areas that will allow them freedom to run around a bit. Allow about an hour in your schedule for them to play freely. This might mean taking your preschooler back to the hotel pool for a swim. After some free play, your preschooler will hopefully have more patience for standing in lines.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Follow Their Lead

It can be hard to follow a touring plan with preschoolers so don’t be afraid to ditch the schedule and let your preschooler take the lead. They want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania three times in a row? Go for it! They are enamored with Minnie Mouse? Get back in line for the meet n’ greet and let your preschooler say hello again. When you follow your preschooler’s lead, sometimes some really magical things happen!

Traveling with a baby, toddler or tweens? Be sure to check out these posts as well.

 Babies-PIN  Disneyland with a Toddler - Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day at the Happiest Place on Earth!  PIN-Tweens and Toddlers at Disney

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

Visiting Disneyland with a preschooler? These are the insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disney!

Free Things for Families in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Free Things for Families in San Diego's Balboa Park

Free things for families to do together is always great, right? And in a location with a 100+ year history that’s full of outdoor hiking trails, culture, playgrounds, museums, art, music and dancing? It’s the perfect place for learning and exploring…or even just a simple picnic and a nap on the grass!

Check out my top 21 things to do in San Diego’s Balboa Park that are completely free. Please stop over at TravelingMom to find out more!

Kids FREE in San Diego for October!

Head West for the autumn and take advantage of all that’s available for kids, free in San Diego for October! Take advantage of 100+ free activities and deals for kids in the month of October throughout San Diego county! October is a great time to visit San Diego. The summer crowds have thinned, the weather is still quite warm and of course, all the fun, free things for kids that are being offered in the San Diego area for the entire month.

Find out What's New at LEGOLAND California, including the innovative NINJAGO World

Legoland CA (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Legoland California)

Kids Free in San Diego

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets, free whale watching to free transportation, there’s enough here for a month of fun!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


BUY ADULT TICKET AND THE KIDS TICKETS ARE FREE!

Book your San Diego vacation directly through my affiliate Get Away Today and save even more!! You can even purchase your adult tickets on the site and the kid’s tickets are free.


What’s FREE for Kids in San Diego?

We are talking big deal savings here (click the links to read one of my personal posts with tips about each attraction)

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

SeaWorld San Diego (including their Halloween Spooktacular event

LEGOland California

Birch Aquarium

New Children’s Museum

Cabrillo National Monument (see this post about Point Loma that also includes a review of restaurant Officine Buona Forcetta, offering kids free ice cream in October)

Balboa Park attractions and Museums, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and Model Railroad Museum.

Downtown San Diego itinerary attractions, including the U.S.S. Midway.

Seaport Village restaurant kid meal at Buster’s Beachhouse

Fishing at H&M Landing

Free Play & Rides at Belmont Park

Old Town attractions, including free Old Town Trolley Tours and kid’s meal at Casa Guadalajara.

100+ free kids attractions, theme parks and dining in San Diego for the month of October.


How to Get Your Tickets

You can purchase adult tickets for the following attractions at Get Away Today and one child’s ticket per paying adult will be included for free!

LEGOLAND California

SeaWorld San Diego

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Safari Park

U.S.S. Midway

Old Town Trolley Tours

Kids free in San Diego?! 100+ free kids attractions, theme parks and dining in San Diego for the month of October.

 

This Traveling Mom has Gone Around the World!

I have been writing for Traveling Mom for the last few months and love being able to write about my experiences. I don’t nearly travel as much as I’d like but because I live in a tourist city, I can satisfy my travel itch with day trips. That’s why my niche is as the Day Trips Traveling Mom! Here are a few of my articles. I’d love if you stopped by and shared or pinned.


Walt Disney World Magical Express Bus – What I Loved (and my $80 mistake)

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Avoid August and 21 Other Surprises Discovered on an Adventure Abroad

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How to Encourage Shy Kids to be Brave at Disney

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Wonderment Abounds at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA

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What to Eat at Pike Place Market in Seattle if You Don’t Like Seafood

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What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest – Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Vacations are the best!! Restaurants, dressing up, going out late and best of all…no housework!

My husband and I headed up to Portland for the #DisneySMMC, Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference but first we took a few stops. We flew into Seattle, drove to Gig Harbor to stay with friends, then finished up in Portland. For my first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t have to bring an umbrella or a rain jacket because the weather was in the high 80s! Beautiful bright blue, clear skies so I could dress pretty much as I do at home in San Diego. I decided on a color palette of black, white and red (with a dash of hot pink) to keep things simple and still “Disney-fied!”

My husband and I opted to share many of our meals most of the trip so we could try as many different flavors as possible. Fortunately we were able to agree on dishes and we only experienced amazing meals for the entire 4 days. Here is our adventure:


 

First time visiting the north #seattle skyline #tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Day One – Seattle – We flew out of San Diego at 6:30 am. I wore a black tank under this fun and quirky reversible Mickey top from Shirts.com. I liked that it was a nice lightweight layer and that I was able to turn it inside out (two shirts in one). I wore this top throughout the entire trip, it was very versatile. Plus it features classic Mickey!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

My reversible Mickey shirt, complements from Shirts.com

We explored Pike Place Market in the afternoon. I was a bit concerned that it would smell like seafood everywhere (as I wrote about in my post on Traveling Mom) but there was plenty to eat besides fish. We shared a sandwich at Le Panier and each splurged on a pastry. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

As we headed out of Pike Place Market, we stopped at an information booth and my husband asked where we could find the best fish and chips. The guy pulled out a map and quickly told us where to drive. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We drove for what seemed like forever, ending up in Edmonds, which I don’t think was where the guide had directed us to go (since it was completely off the map!) We shared a late lunch, a plate of light and flaky fish and chips at Arnie’s Restaurant which overlooked Puget Sound. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Our hotel was in Bellevue. By the time we headed out for dinner, it was nearly 8pm. We drove into the downtown area and dined at the Tap House Grill. We sat at the bar and ordered a burger platter to share. Fresh ground beef with cheddar and fries…this was heaven.  Tap House Grill features 160 beers on tap, the largest number in the Northwest. I discovered that I love the ciders, especially the very refreshing Wyders Pear Cider. We had the best bartender ever and he even comped my husband’s beer because he liked it so much!

  Who are these people, going out to dinner at nearly eight?! People on vacation without kids, that’s who!! #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We returned to the hotel and nibbled dessert, Rainier cherries purchased that morning at the Pike Place Market.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Rainier cherries in Washington


Day Two – Gig Harbor – I have a friend that just moved to this area so we were going to be staying at her house overnight. We decided to explore the little town first and discovered that it was “Gig Fest” that day. The town was hosting a classic car show, the Knights of Columbus were serving salmon burgers and oysters on the half-shell, there was a band playing and they were going to be blessing the fleet of fishing boats later that day. What an opportune time to visit, we loved it! My husband dug right into the seafood spirit with a plate of oysters.

Our #vacation motto, eat like the locals #oysters #washington (except me, I’m picky!)#tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

It was a gloriously sunny day and we were informed on more than one occasion that this weather was particularly rare…lucky us!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I held out for lunch from the 7 Seas food truck (The Galley) parked outside their brewery. What a cool vibe the 7 Seas Brewery had! Guests are encouraged to bring in a picnic lunch and dine on the benches inside and out with their family.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Food truck goodies included a gourmet salad with goat cheese and a Philly cheese steak sandwich. No ciders served here so I settled for a beer/orange juice combo. It was…interesting. At least the food was delicious!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

This is the view from my friend’s backyard. It was lovely and warm and we ate dinner on the porch as the sun was setting. I adore all the trees here, it’s all very relaxing. I can see myself living here (if only it weren’t so far away from Disneyland!)

  View of the backyard, wow #gigharbor #washington   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What a meal they treated us to! Ribs, corn on the cob, beans, salad and biscuits. Good food, good wine and good friends, what more could we ask for?

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC


Day Three – Portland –  After a few hours drive south, we hit Portland. We were staying at the very hip Residence Inn in the Pearl District. Maps in the lobby guided us around the area and we walked only a few blocks before coming upon the BridgePort Brewing Company. My husband stopped dead in his tracks when he saw another diner eating a huge bowl of chili verde and he just had to have one for himself.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had the delicious Brewpub salad with apples, goat cheese and hazelnuts. The Saint Johns pizza with simple garlic, tomato and mozzarella hit the spot (and yes, I did almost finish this by myself!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

That evening we attended the MyPrintly Event in Portland. It was a fantastic night with crafts, cupcake decorating and photographs. We were able to print out as many of our personal photos as we wished, using the HP printers provided. It was my first time using washi tape, so fun! I wore one of my favorite black and white dresses but alas, forgot to take a picture (that’s a bummer, since this event was ALL about pictures!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had no idea the sun set so late in the Pacific Northwest. It was nearly ten by the time we were driving back to the hotel and the sun was just going down. Isn’t it pretty?

Pretty #portland #sunset #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on


Day Four – Disney On-the-Road event in Portland – This is what I wore to the Disney Social Media On-the-Road Conference. I chose a stretchy pencil skirt from Target and a structured jacket from Kohls. I paired it with a lightweight crinkle top from Lauren Conrad’s Minnie Mouse collection at Kohls. I love my wedges from Crocs. They are cute and comfy. The piece de resistence is my mom’s vintage Mickey scarf. I received so many compliments on that scarf, including from Erin Glover and from Mickey himself!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC


Touring the Pearl District in Portland – After the event we had time to burn so we wandered the streets in the Pearl District near our hotel. I slipped on my jeans and another Lauren Conrad Minnie Mouse collection top, one that features a white bow design.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We ate a light lunch inside the bustling Whole Foods Market. Here you can make your own box of food, picking and choosing from the hot and cold dishes. Curry chicken with rice and a salad with mandarin orange soda was very tasty on a warm day. Also very reasonably priced. 

#portland #lunch in a box   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

At this point in our adventure, we’d done a lot of walking and a lot of eating! We dropped off the rental car at the airport and flew back home, full of delicious food and wonderful Pacific Northwest memories.


Disclosure: I was given the reversible Mickey sweatshirt from Shirts.com. We also received complimentary lodging at the Residence Inn in Portland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Practical tips on what to do before going on vacation (plus one thing you SHOULD NOT do!)

What do you need to do before going on vacation? So much to think about when you’re going out of town besides what you’re going to pack and what sites you’re going to visit when you get there. You need to consider several things before you hit the road. Here are my tips on what to do before going on vacation and something you shouldn’t do once you go!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing from these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Before Going on Vacation

We don’t leave town very often. More often than not we’re taking day trips or just simple overnights. However if you’re heading out for an extended trip there are a few things you should do. Before you head out of town, there are several things you’ll need to take care of.

Time for Your Check-Up

See the doctor if you have any health concerns before traveling. Refill any prescriptions and pack a first aid kit along with any medications you might need while you’re away.

Tune Up Time, Too

If you’re driving your own car, make sure that you get a tune up and any scheduled maintenance. Check air pressure and tire wear. Always best to get auto work taken care of beforehand so you aren’t slowed down by any unwelcome break-downs on the road. I had a friend lose an entire road trip travel day because her vehicle needed repair along the way.

Leave Your Contacts

Leave emergency contact information with friends and family. Make sure that someone has your entire itinerary, from your flight numbers to which cities and hotels you’ll be staying at. Leave your cell phone number with neighbors so they can call in case of an emergency at home.

What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Put a Hold on It

Make sure you don’t have any packages coming to your house that will either be left out in the elements until you return or stolen off your porch in your absence. I use UPS My Choice, a free service that allows you to track, reroute and reschedule packages. Arrange a hold of your mail with the USPS and they will deliver it upon your return.

Security

Consider investing in a Panasonic Home Monitoring System. I was given one at the Traveling Mom’s conference. I know that the next time we go out of town, I can be reassured knowing that I can open the app on my smart phone and see what’s happening at home while I’m away. The Panasonic Home Monitoring System gives you peace of mind.

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Pay Your Bills

You’re already spending enough on the trip, so you’d hate to return to a bunch of late fees because your forgot to schedule your payments! Either prepay them all or schedule online to pay in your absence.

Make a Copy

Photocopy your driver’s license and credit card numbers of the cards you are taking with you. Leave one copy at home and take another with you on the trip. Take note of the phone numbers of the companies in case your card is lost or stolen and you need to cancel it while on the road.

Create a Packing Check List

It’s so easy to forget the things that are staring you in the face (Toothbrush? Eye Glasses?) Check and double check that you have it before zipping up the suitcase. I like this easy to read one, Knock Knock Pack This! Pad.

Clear Out the Fridge

Get rid of the leftovers now and make sure to take the garbage out before you leave. Make sure that you run the dishwasher and clear the sink of dirty dishes or risk coming back to bugs or a stinky house, yuck!

What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Now that you’ve taken care of all this business, what is one thing you should NOT do once you’re on your vacation?

Don’t Broadcast your Vacation

Unless someone is staying in your home, you don’t want to tell the world via social media or your home answering machine that nobody’s at your house. You never know who’s stalking your Facebook page and would be happy to help themselves to your electronics and jewelry while you’re out of town! Wait to upload vacation pictures from your phone until you’ve returned home.


What are your family must-do items before leaving on vacation? Let me below in the comments!

 

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