Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

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

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing summer travel tips.

“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 drive ahead of you, it’s helpful to have a bag of tricks ready to occupy and entertain the kids on your road trip adventure!

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

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

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!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Brothers Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Fruit Crisps, Disney Frozen Food Storage Container By Zak!, Disney Pixar Cars Fruit Flavored Snacks, Disney Mickey Mouse Tritan Water Bottle, Bumkins Disney Baby Reusable Snack Bag


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.

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

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!

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!

Photo Credit: Mouse Ears Mom

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.

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.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Art of Coloring: Disney Villains, LEGO The Disney Series Minifigures, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Little Boys Toddler T Shirt, Disney Frozen Glow Wand


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?” 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”

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

A rare road trip treat, Slurpees!

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!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links)Disney Storybook Collection, Inside Out Read-Along Storybook and CD, Disney’s Greatest, Vol. 1


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:

Disney with Your Preschooler-Insider Tips for a Magical Day

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

Disney is 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.

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 Disneyland 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! Here is a list of the Disneyland height requirements.

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

What tips do you have for taking preschoolers to Disney?


Park Savers logo

I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets that you can purchase in advance (affiliate link)

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!

Kids FREE in San Diego for October!

Kids free?! 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 gone, 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.

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets to free transportation; We are talking big deal savings here, including free admission to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park , SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOland California! See the Model Railroad Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the New Children’s Museum. Take free rides on the Amtrack Pacific Surfliner and free cruises on the Hornblower. Kids dine free at the Corvette Diner, Hard Rock Cafe and many hotel restaurants. Visit the Birch Aquarium, U.S.S. Midway and Belmont Park…for free!




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)


Avoid August and 21 Other Surprises Discovered on an Adventure Abroad


How to Encourage Shy Kids to be Brave at Disney


Wonderment Abounds at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA


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




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 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

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 We also received complimentary lodging at the Residence Inn in Portland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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.


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.


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!




Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – On-the-Road in Portland

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration - On-the-Road in Portland

Not to be confused with the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration that recently took place at Walt Disney World, the On-the-Road events are a multi-city tour that brings the magic to three locations around the nation. This event accepted applications for those who were interested in receiving an invitation. Options were Portland, Austin and New York City. I applied for Portland, then crossed my fingers and waited. Portland is the first stop on the On-the-Road tour this summer.

I am pleased to say that earlier this week I received a magical email inviting me to attend. After a day of discussion with my husband, we took the leap and I sent my RSVP saying “Yes!” We booked our flight tonight so it’s finally starting to feel real to me now.

My little heart is a-pitter patter with excitement on taking this trip to what will surely be a conference filled with content and connections. It will be my first Disney-sponsored conference (and only my second blogger conference ever). I am excited to fill my brain with knowledge and to lift my heart with hope for the future of this blog.

I started Saving Up for Disney less than one year ago after the death of my father. I knew I wanted to do something in his honor, as he was my introduction to the world of Disney and loved Disneyland and what it stood for. Since starting this blog I have been able to see, experience and write about so many new and wonderful experiences. I am truly blessed to be able to connect with like-minded souls through my blog and through my writing.

Snippet from the Invitation


The conference is on June 9th, 2015. Please follow my adventures along the way! My husband and I have decided to make a little vacation out of the opportunity and will be flying in to Seattle a few days early. We’ll drive down to Portland and see the sights along the way. Look for the hashtag #TMOM (@TravelingMoms) during the trip. On conference day I’ll be using the hashtag #DisneySMMC.

You can also follow the conference highlights straight from Disney @DisneyMoms on Twitter and WaltDisneyWorld on Instagram.



I’m a Traveling Mom! #TMOM

La Jolla, CA

I’m so fortunate to live in a tourist paradise, sunny Southern California! As a San Diego native I have had the privilege to explore so many beautiful places just outside my front door. But there are many more that I’ve yet to experience! It’s my goal to try new and exciting things in my own area and share the reviews with you all. If there is anything I like to do, it’s to brag about my lovely hometown. And what better place than at!

I have been so blessed to have been invited to post as a permanent author on Traveling Mom. I recently had three guest author articles listed and have several more in the works, all with a SoCal spin.

SoCal Traveling Mom, Julie Bigboy

The motto of Traveling Mom is “We’ve Been There”. You’ll find articles and reviews for locations around the World. Before your next trip, check the Traveling Mom site because chances are, one of the writers has a review about it!

Traveling Mom, We've Been There!

Thank you to Traveling Mom for accepting me into the flock. I can’t wait to post my SoCal experiences and share them with the world! Please consider following along with me and posting a comment on my articles at





SoCal Guide – Budget-Friendly Winter Fun in San Diego

Image from San

Looking for Winter fun in San Diego? Pull out your calendar and fill it in with these budget-friendly family ideas. Some start as early as this weekend!

Balboa Park December Nights

Image from A Plus

Friday Dec 5th from 3-11pm

Saturday Dec 6th from Noon-11pm

The 37th consecutive year of San Diego’s largest free community festival! Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings. This is always a busy event so arrive early!

Enjoy food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages. Watch the traditional Santa Lucia Procession at the Plaza de California. Gift shop at the museum stores and Spanish Village. There are also musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree.

New this year is the “December Flights” Zipline. Take a two hundred foot Zipline ride past the historic and beautifully lit Moreton Bay Fig Tree!

Viejas Outlets Presents…Winter Wonderland

Image from Red

December 5-7th at 6pm

Exclusive viewing of the movie Frozen will take place at the Viejas Ice Rink. Plus, the Snow Queen and Snow Princess will visit the Outlets on Friday, December 5, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm!

Guests can skate at the rink (for a fee) from November 1, 2014 through January 4, 2015.

Together: A Holiday Spectacular  – The Viejas Outlets comes alive with Holiday Spirit

Image from

Opens November 21, 2014
Every 15 Minutes, 5pm – 10pm, 7 Days a Week

Enjoy enchanting holiday vignettes that combine fire and snow, water and light. The show features water fountains, lasers, fire cannons, pyrotechnics and state-of-the-art special effects, all choreographed to best loved Christmas music!

La Mesa Village Christmas in the Village

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Friday, Dec. 12, 2014  5pm-10pm

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014  5pm-10pm

Pre-Parade starts at 4:30 with our Salute to America. Holiday Parade starts at 5pm both nights.

Santa will be at the Goodwill Plaza this year at 8250 La Mesa Blvd. Come and see Santa right after the Parade to 10 pm. (No charge to see Santa)

The Village is transformed into a Victorian Wonderland complete with strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers. Live Music is featured in a number of stage areas. There will be carnival rides, ponies and puppet shows for the kids. Warm up at one of the many bonfires that fill the Boulevard and enjoy the shop, boutiques and restaurants that stay open late during event.

Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

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December 13th & 14th from 6pm – 9pm

Museums, historic homes, stores and restaurants in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will be open late and richly decorated in period holiday adornment (admission fees still apply to some locations). Enjoy special holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers and do some holiday shopping at the same time.

63rd Annual Las Posadas re-enactment begins at 2:30pm on December 14th. This centuries-old tradition is a re-enactment of the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem. The event begins at 2:30 PM with carolers and children’s choirs in the state park, with the live theatrical procession starting promptly at 5:00 PM. A piñata party for all the children follows the parade.

North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

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Saturday, December 6th

Parade 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Festival 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

All day parking will be available at the North Park Parking Garage for $1.

For the 51st year, this joyous holiday parade marches through the historic neighborhood of North Park From University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets, the parade includes marching bands, dance groups, vintage cars and of course, Santa Claus will be riding atop a red fire engine!

La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

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Sunday December 7th, 1:30pm

The event through downtown La Jolla includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus. The theme for this year’s parade is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.”

Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

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December 26th at 3pm

Free street-side viewing or purchase a seat in the grandstands for $20, here.

This is “America’s Largest Balloon Parade”! World-class marching bands, magnificent floats, drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons (more than any other parade!) This parade is broadcast to a nationwide television audience.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

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Sunday December 14th & Sunday December 21st

The procession will start at 5:30 p.m. and will follow the predetermined parade  route.

More than 80 boats lavishly decorated according to a new theme each year (Theme for 2014 is Children’s Stories). The parade takes approximately one  hour to one and a half hours to pass any given point along the parade route.  The approximate arrival time of the parade at various locations are:

  • Shelter Island (start of parade) -5:30 p.m.
  • Harbor Island                             -6 p.m.
  • The Embarcadero                       -6:30 p.m.
  • Seaport Village                            -7 p.m.
  • Ferry Landing on Coronado       -7:30 p.m.

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Saturday December 13th from 6pm – 9pm

Dozens of vessels take to the water for the annual parade. The boat parade starts at Quivira Basin. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

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Saturday December 13th from 7pm -9pm
Fishing boats, sail boats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag circle the Oceanside Harbor. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station.

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

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Open for 12 nights in December.

Event hours are 5-10 pm.

Adult admission is $15 and child admission is $10. Kids under three will be admitted free of charge. Military, group and event discounts are available.

Walk through the magical lighting displays, ride Polar Express trains, explore Candyland, feed live reindeer, take a photo with Santa near a 40′-tall Christmas Tree, enjoy the festive fare and so much more!  Parking will be available in the Lexus Premier Lot, Padres Parkade and Tailgate Parking Lot for $10.

Holidays at the Del

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It was at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1904 that America experienced the first electrically-lit outdoor Christmas tree! This year’s holiday theme is “Building Seaside Memories”. The resort’s lobby Christmas tree will be decorated in an elegant ocean theme. Stop by to admire the holiday decor, book a Sunday brunch with Santa or the Holiday Tea, purchase tickets to see An American Christmas performed by Lamb’s Players Theatre and enjoy outdoor Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado Skating by the Sea.

Garden of Lights at the San Diego Botanic Garden

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December 6th – 30th from 5 pm to 9 pm (Closed on December 24-25)

Price: Members – $8
Non-members Adults – $14
Seniors, Active Military & Students – $10
All Children 3-12 – $6
Children 2 and Under – Free

The Garden has been transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 100,000 sparkling lights. Activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, refreshments and hot mulled wine (on select evenings). Some of these activities are included, others are an added cost. Snow also ‘falls’ on select nights!