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Must-Have Vacation Travel Products for Toddlers, Kids and Parents

Have the right travel products can truly make your vacation that much smoother! Some of these travel products are always going to be inside your luggage, like t-shirts and shoes. Other items you might not have ever considered – but once you use these unique travel accessories, you’ll wonder how you vacationed without them! I’ve also included airplane travel packing ideas for toddlers. So grab your travel bag and let’s see what travel products for toddlers, kids and grown-ups you could use on your next trip.

I have received complimentary product of some of these items to facilitate this post. No other compensation has been made and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 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!

Comfortable Vacation Tees

A cozy cotton t-shirt is a vacation must-have for everyone in the family. And if you’re headed on a “magical” vacation, like my family just did, these tees from the Polka Dot Pixie Shop are perfect for packing! Soft and comfortable, they were perfect for summertime in Orlando. I absolutely loved the creative designs and so did everyone else who saw them. I was stopped so many times in the Disney parks, asking where I got my shirts!

Many of the styles and designs are unisex (so that means I can snag my teenage son’s Jungle Cruise shirt whenever I want!) And each design is sold in a wide variety of sizes so it’s ideal if you like to do matching shirts on vacation.

DISCOUNT CODE: Use coupon code PIXIE at Polka Dot Pixie Shop for 15% off any order.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Hello Vacation! T-shirt by Polka Dot Pixie Shop

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

See this post for more ideas on what to wear to Disney parks!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including Disney-inspired tees!) for your next trip. #Disney #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Tshirts

Sleep Mask for Sweet Nights

We decided to keep our family on West coast time when we traveled to Florida. This meant staying up till midnight and sleeping in until 9 am most days in an effort to maintain their usual sleeping and waking times. My body instinctively wakes up as soon the sun shines into the room, so a well-fitting sleep mask is a vacation must-have.

This Brave Era Sleep Mask is 100% silk and hypoallergenic. It’s very comfortable and blocks out all ambient light in the room. I always sleep so much better when I slip on my sleep mask before falling asleep. Brave Era also offers silk travel sheets for the ultimate in vacation luxury!

Comfortable Camera Strap (With a Surprise!)

I’ve had the same Canon DSLR for years and it’s had the most uncomfortable strap ever. It would dig into the back of my neck so much I never wanted to take my camera anywhere. Wow, am I glad to have found Wrapped Creations comfy camera strap! She carries a variety of designs, including more Disney-themed straps like my Toy Story Land-inspired version!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The Wrapped Creations camera strap was so comfortable to wear all day

Simply attach the strap to your camera and it’s sooo much easier to carry a heavy DSLR. No more painful neck as the strap is made of soft fabric. And my favorite part? The hidden zippered compartment where you could store your cell phone, cash, cards or passport! I received so many comments on this unique travel accessory. In fact, while I was waiting with my daughter in line to see Goofy, someone asked me about the strap and they ordered themselves one immediately from their phone!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The hidden pouch on the camera strap from Wrapped Creations

Cross-Body Bag That Holds it All

When I’m traveling I want to be hands-free. With 4 kids I usually have my hands full enough, I don’t need to be holding onto my purse too! That’s why I prefer a cross-body purse and Baggallini are my favorite. I’ve had several versions over the years because they are so great even for everyday use. Right now I’m loving the Baggallini Everything Bag because it has a designated flap pocket for my cell phone. Roomy enough to hold your boarding pass and travel itinerary but with many individual zippered compartments to hold things like sunscreen and lipstick.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip. #Travel #TravelTips #TravelPacking #Packing #TravelAccessories

Comfortable Shoes for All Types of Weather

Pediped shoes are the go-to for my little ones on a daily basis. Since we were planning on lots of water play during our trip I was delighted to see that pediped has water shoes as well. Turns out visiting Orlando during Hurricane Season meant that we got a LOT more rain than we’d ever expected! Fortunately all of the pediped shoes that my kids wore during our trip were comfortable and dried quickly.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes have no “breaking-in period” so my kids were able to wear their brand-new shoes into the parks without any complaints about sore feet. Plus they are SO cute! Check out the pediped Outlet for discounts, then use code THANKYOU18 for an additional $10 off!

Here are more tips on choosing the best shoes for Disney!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes went easily from water to sidewalk

Travel Products for Toddlers Offers Safe Freedom

We have a “runner” in the family. When we took our family trip to Palm Springs, each time opened up the hotel room door, our toddler would shoot down the hall and run out of sight. I knew that when we traveled to Disney World I needed something that would keep her close but still allow some necessary freedom. Skip Hop backpack with harness for the win!!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

When traveling at the airport, I filled it with travel entertainment (more details on that in the next section). When we were in the parks, I put in a diaper, pack of wipes and disposable bibs for dining. My toddler liked having the choice of sitting in her stroller or wearing the Skip Hop backpack (she’d hand us the harness strap and say, “Hold my tail”!)

It was the perfect compromise for letting our toddler walk but still keeping her within arms reach. Skip Hop has an entire line of Zoo collection with whimsical travel accessories, including luggage and meal sets.

Entertaining Travel Products for Toddlers

The last time I’d traveled with my daughter on a plane she’d just turned one year old. Her “in-air” entertainment consisted of a teething toy before nursing to sleep. Now that she’s two I knew I’d need a bag of tricks to keep her occupied on the 5 hour flight. It appears that I packed all the right things because there was no boredom and zero tantrums on the flight! I was aiming for inexpensive and lightweight. Here’s what travel products for toddlers I packed inside her backpack.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Plastic Zoo Animal Figures – I brought a bag of these and divvied them up between my two littlest kids. Since there were so many of them and they were so inexpensive, I wasn’t worried if a camel fell on the plane floor. The kids loved lining them up on the tray table and “feeding” their animals Southwest Airlines pretzels!

Lacing Cards – My just-turned two year old might have been a little young for these but I was surprised by how long she played with them.

Disney Moana’s Necklace – This was a last-minute addition to my daughter’s travel accessories and I’m so glad I brought it. The necklace glowed when opened. She played with it frequently on the plane, showed it off to fellow travelers and used it on the trip as well.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Imagine Ink Magic Ink Coloring Book – These travel-sized “coloring books” include just one marker that does it all! No-mess, my toddler was able to scribble to her heart’s content onto the pages of the Magic Ink book with miraculously colorful results.

Stickers – My toddler happily peeled and stuck stickers for a long time. Don’t forget to bring paper or a coloring book to put the stickers in.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including these items that are toddler must-haves!) for your next trip. #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Toddler #ToddlerTravel

8 Things to Do in Palm Springs with Kids of All Ages

Whether exploring the golf courses in Indian Wells, the water park in Cathedral City, the zoo in Palm Desert or the aeriel tramway in Coachella Valley you’re sure to find adventure in Palm Springs with kids of all ages. With a toddler, 6-year old and two teens in our family, finding activities that interest all of them can be a challenge. Occasionally when we’re on a family vacation, my husband and I have to divide up so that the big kids can do activities just for them. It’s worth it for some activities, as you’ll read. I’ve also included a list of activities that are family friendly and that young kids and adults alike will enjoy together!

Visit Greater Palm Springs arranged complimentary admission to several of these activities (Living Desert, Children’s Discovery Museum, Wet n’ Wild Water Park & Red Jeep Tour). Renaissance Indian Wells provided lodging and dining credit. All opinions are my own.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

Palm Springs With Kids

While my family of six has taken California road trips in the past, we’d never explored Palm Springs together. Palm Springs takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive from San Diego, though we did run into some traffic that extended the drive on a Friday afternoon. We stopped for healthy snacks at a convenience store along the way. I’m sharing tips on where to stay and advice for lots of family activities when taking on Palm Springs with kids.

Renaissance Indian Wells

If you’re looking for a Palm Springs kid friendly resort that’s also classy and high in family-friendly amenties, the Renaissance Indian Wells is perfect all-around. From the moment we arrived, the staff made us feel welcome, telling us about the resort amenities (including complimentary bikes for touring the resort).

My family of six were placed into a 1 bedroom Executive suite, with a connecting two Queen bed room. Each room had a private balcony with an incredible pool and mountain view. Seriously, it was gorgeous waking up to this view! The spaciousness of the rooms and the ability to close doors between the spaces was ideal. While my big kids slept and my husband watched television, I was able to sit with the toddler in the quiet living space until she fell asleep.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

Roomy queen bed room at the Renaissance Indian Wells.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The spacious living room in the executive suite.

What’s for Families at the Renaissance Indian Wells?

The large and beautiful pool at the Renaissance Indian Wells is a big draw for families. After my 6-year old got over the disappointment that the resort pool didn’t have a water slide, he consoled himself on the sandy beach and in one of the two hot tubs! The pool area does get extremely crowded during the day and it’s easy to lose track of the kids. Also there aren’t any lifeguards on duty, so keep a close eye. There are towels available poolside, but bring your own flotation device for non-swimmers. I had to do a Target run for our toddler to purchase one.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The pool area is open very late which means if you have a pool view, you’re going to hear the noise. On one of the nights of our visit, there was an extremely loud “dive in movie” at the pool going on until nearly 10 pm. I recommend bringing ear plugs if you’re an early sleeper. A sleep mask is another good thing to pack as there were no blackout curtains in our room and the shutters didn’t fully block all the light.

There’s plenty to do at the Renaissance Indian Wells without the kids too. Check the young ones (ages 4-13) into Camp Oasis for the morning or evening session (reservations are recommended). Then adults can enjoy the resort spa, Spa Esmeralda with a variety of pampering services and treatments. My husband let me sleep in with the kids one morning while he took advantage of the fitness center and free classes. For dining, we enjoyed the unique and delicious burgers at CAVA for lunch. We found this location to be upscale but still comfortable enough for kids. There’s also Japanese specialties at Glo Sushi or Italian dining at Sirocco Pizza Company. Read my travel dining hacks with kids.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

A variety of burgers and fries to share at CAVA, Renaissance Indian Wells.

Tips About Palm Springs with Kids

The Palm Springs area is quite easy to navigate. The Renaissance Indian Wells is located towards the southern end of the Palm Desert area. Driving on the 111, we were able to access many of the family activities around Palm Springs within 30 minutes or so. As California natives we’ve done a lot of exploring outdoors in San Diego. If you’re not used to the warmth of the desert you’ll definitely have a few extra considerations. Use sunscreen and reapply a lot. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration. Aim to avoid the direct sun mid-day, seeking indoor activities when the weather is hottest.

1. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

While my husband and older kids took a guided tour on a jeep, my toddler and I explored at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert. We’ve done children’s museums in San Diego before but I was thrilled by the unique variety of things for my toddler to do here! We definitely could have spent the entire day playing here, my daughter was having a wonderful time.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The Children’s Discovery Museum offers over 80 hands-on exhibits, some of which are traveling for a limited time. My daughter is recently 2 years old and I was pleased that there was so much she was able to do here. She happily played “veterinarian” to stuffed puppy dogs, shopped for groceries, tested how balls and silks could “balance” on air jets and had a tea party in Toddlertown. I know that my six year old son would have enjoyed the museum and some of the more scientific experiments as well.

There are both indoor playgrounds and grassy areas outside (with balls and toys). There are also shaded picnic benches. When you enter into the main building be sure to head outside to visit the other galleries. Each of the buildings is air conditioned but you’ll be in the sun when walking between the galleries. Seating is limited for adults inside the galleries but that’s only to encourage grown ups to play alongside their kids!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

You might not think to pack the sunscreen for a museum but you’ll be walking outside between galleries.

2. Palm Springs Golfing for All Ages

Palm Springs is known for their golf courses. But you might not think to take the kids! The Indian Wells Golf Resort is conveniently located right next door to the Renaissance Indian Wells resort. Guests of the Renaissance Indian Wells resort can practice putting or driving balls for free after noon! You don’t even need your own clubs or reservations, just show up. A complimentary shuttle transports guests back and forth.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

Free putting in Palm Springs

My older kids (and my husband!) were so excited to try “real” golfing for the first time. While my husband and older kids played, the toddler and I walked around the pretty resort, taking pictures of the landscaping. There is a grill and bar with food for purchase, or complimentary water to stay hydrated.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

I took a few swings with the club too (it’s harder than it looks!)

3. Palm Springs Ariel Tramway

I have to admit that I declined the offer to take the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. My fear of heights got the best of me and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to take that ride! However if heights don’t bother you, I highly recommend taking the tramway and you can read more about it on this TravelingMom post.

4. Palm Springs Red Jeep Tours

If you’re looking for a desert adventure, here are many tour companies that will take you on a Jeep tour of  Joshua Tree National Park, Indian Canyons or Mecca Hills. The San Andreas Fault Jeep tour is what my family took with Desert Adventure’s Red Jeep Tours. Complimentary hotel pickup is available for guests staying in Palm Desert or Indian Wells. I opted out of taking the toddler so my three older kids and husband took the Red Jeep Tour. Phil was their tour guide. He picked them up directly in front of our hotel, which was extremely convenient. If your child rides in a booster seat, you’ll need to install it into the Jeep.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The tour takes place at the private Metate Ranch preserve on the San Andreas Fault. Phil tailored the private tour for my husband and kids. The tour takes place along an active earthquake fault system, which my teenagers thought was cool. My family learned about the Cahuilla Indians, about the plants and animals in the desert and saw a natural palm oasis with bubbling water from an underground aquifer. They also had time to explore in the deep canyons and take a brief hike. After panning for gold, my kids received a vial with some of the gold chips they’d discovered.

This is quote from my 6-year old about the Red Jeep Tour experience:

I liked panning for gold. I learned about a fire in the palm trees and heard stories about the Indian spirit words. Mine was called “Bright Spirit”. I like when I got the Indian arrowhead at the end.

This guided tour was my teenage son’s favorite part of our entire Palm Springs weekend:

It was a day to remember. I enjoyed the humor of our tour guide Phil and learning the history of Palm Springs. My favorite part was going to visit the reservoirs and see how they get water in the desert.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

5. Palm Springs Air Museum

With one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII aircraft the Palm Springs Air Museum will appeal to aviation fans and history buffs alike. My friend (and self-professed “aviation geek”) Leslie of Trips with Tykes talks more about the Palm Springs Air Museum.

6. Cabazon Dinosaurs

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are one of the quirkiest roadside attractions! Located along the 10 fwy, you can’t miss this collection of dino statues while driving into the Palm Springs area. If you’re a fan of the movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure you’ll recognize this area as one of the scenes. If you want to climb inside Mr. Rex’s mouth like Pee-Wee did, there’s a additional fee. Otherwise you can view and take photos of the other dinosaurs without any charge.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

7. Living Desert Zoo

As a San Diego native, I’m very familiar with our San Diego Zoo and didn’t know what to expect in Palm Springs. I was so pleased with our visit to the Living Desert Zoo! We visited early on Father’s Day and the crowds were very light, something I’m definitely not used to at the overly crowded San Diego Zoo. We were easily able to get close with the animals and linger as long as we wanted. I personally love the giraffes and it was incredible to be so close to them! You can even feed them for an additional fee.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

My husband and teens were excited to point out some of the plants in the botanical gardens, recognizing them from the jeep tour the day prior. There are 1,400 different species of plants here, all beautifully maintained.

In addition to the gardens and animals, the Living Desert also has nature hiking trails in its preserve. Each of the three trails is varied in difficulty. The Living Desert Zoo itself is very walk-able. We didn’t even bring a stroller for the toddler, allowing her to walk freely on the paved paths and the dirt trails. I do recommend close toed shoes. I wore sandals and my feet were quite dusty after walking through the exhibits! If you want to minimize walking or enjoy more of a tour, there is an in-park shuttle service for a small additional fee.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

Take time for the kids to admire the trains garden. This G-scale model train display is large and intricate with lots of fun interactive areas. Another can’t miss for young kids is Gecko Gulch. This play area offers plenty of shade and gives kids the chance to run around. The Saguaro cactus slide was a favorite!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The train exhibit at the Living Desert is a must-see for kids.

Note that summer hours are abbreviated. On the day of our visit (mid-June) the park was only open from 8 am to 1:30 pm. Also some activities, like the carousel, camel rides, nature trails and lorikeet feedings aren’t available year-round so be sure to check the online calendar.

8. Wet n’ Wild Water Park

If you’re visiting Palm Springs in the summer you might wonder how you can beat the heat. A day at the Wet n’ Wild Palm Springs water park was a great way for us to cool off as a family. Wet n’ Wild has attractions for everyone, including an intermittent wave pool, lazy river and several family-type slides. Of course there are also thrilling water slides for the adventure seekers too!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are plenty of dining options, offering the usual burgers, fries, pizza and nachos. Ice cream, funnel cake and Dippin’ Dots are choices for your sweet tooth. Unfortunately outside food is not allowed inside the park. However you can leave and return without additional parking charges (just keep and show your receipt) if you want to leave and eat elsewhere.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

You can bring bottled water, sports drinks and juice inside the park. You’ll also need your own towels. Lockers are available to rent and if you arrive early, grab a chaise under the shade. There are cabanas available to rent at an additional charge. Wet n’ Wild is not open year-round so be sure to check their online calendar before your visit.

What’s your favorite family-friendly activity in Palm Springs with kids?

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages. #PalmSprings #VisitGreaterPS #RenIW #Desert #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #California

 

Sounds Like Fun at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad

The Museum of Making Music is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a place to learn about instruments. To listen to music. It’s a place to learn about the history of music. And while learning about and hearing music is great, playing it yourself is even better! Fortunately everyone has a chance to get their hands on musical instruments inside the Museum of Making Music, as well.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum Galleries

Guests at the Museum of Making Music are encouraged to move at their own pace through the galleries. There are interactive buttons where you can hear music played. A good amount of history and background is included in each exhibit area. And of course lots of instruments to look at.

I enjoyed the music store gallery. There were so many instruments I’d never seen before inside the Museum of Making Music, including a harmonica that had scrolls similar to a player piano.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Actress Joan Crawford promoted the “player harmonica” (which was a flop!)

Hands On Learning

My five year old was so excited to play the tester instruments that are located throughout the museum. He had the opportunity to play a mandolin, electric guitar, gong, slide guitar and a harp guitar. I’d never heard or even seen a harp guitar in my life, but there is an entire special exhibition at the Museum called, “Floating Strings”, dedicated to the harp guitar.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

A beautiful collection of harp guitars (you can play one too!)

Leave plenty of time at the end of your visit. There is a large area with dozens of available instruments for free play. You can see a few of the instruments my son was able to play on this video. My son REALLY wants his own drum set now!

Visiting the Museum of Making Music

The Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA

Admission $10

Students $7

Under three are free

  • Located just a block away from the theme park LEGOLAND California, in Carlsbad (about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego).
  • Be aware the mid-day visits may include children from school field trips. Our tour guide recommended visiting the Museum in late August or September, when many schools do not visit.
  • There are concerts held at the Museum, check the event tab on their website.
  • The museum opens each day from 10 am to 5 pm (except Monday, when it’s closed).
  • Plan to spend at least one hour exploring this unique museum.
  • There is a gift shop to purchase your own music makers.
  • Strollers are allowed (thank goodness, because my baby napped through the entire visit!)
  • I’d recommend the Museum of Making Music for school-aged children and up.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

One Day Itinerary – Insider Tips for Disneyland with a Toddler

Planning a trip to Disneyland with toddlers? I’ve been taking my little ones to Disneyland since they were babies. I’ll admit that vacationing with a toddler at Disneyland can be a challenge. There are definite considerations and adjustments that need to be made in your trip when you have a toddler in tow! If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland with toddlers, check out my ideal one-day Disneyland with a toddler itinerary.

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!

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Disneyland With a Toddler

Before your trip, here are a few ideas and additional posts for Disneyland tips with toddlers about what you should plan ahead of time.


Disneyland With a Toddler

This is a one-day Disneyland itinerary with a toddler. I’ll outline what things you can see, do and eat in a single day at the Disneyland park with your toddler. You won’t be able to do EVERYTHING (you’d need more than a single day for that!). But these are the essentials that your toddler will enjoy!


Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

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Extra Magic Hour and Rope Drop

Most toddlers are early birds, which will make it easy for you to get to the Park before opening. Have a quick breakfast at the hotel or do what I do with my toddler – Give her a granola bar or dry cereal and a cup of milk, and let her nibble in the stroller while we’re walking to the gates!

Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours to enter the Parks one hour before official opening. Not all attractions are open but Fantasyland is! And Fantasyland is the perfect place to start with your toddler. Note that there are specific days that the Disneyland Park is available for Extra Magic Hour so check at the hotel for the schedule.

If you aren’t staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, you’ll want to take advantage of “Rope drop”. This happens in the 30 minutes before the Park opens officially. If you arrive during this time, you may be able to enter onto Main Street U.S.A. before the rest of the Park opens. There are often character greetings and the shops are open for browsing.

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Character Greetings

Toddlers are fickle little people. Some toddlers LOVE the characters. And some toddlers HATE the characters! I recommend letting your toddler watch from afar at first and judge from there if you really want to do the character meet n’ greets. There are plenty of characters around the entrance and hub of Main Street U.S.A. and if you’re there right at rope drop, you’ll be able to meet with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and more.

Check out this TravelingMom post with tons of tips on how to meet characters (with practical advice from a mom whose toddler is scared of Mickey!)

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Fantasyland

The first two hours inside Disneyland are important to maximize! Many vacationers will sleep in and arrive to the Park later in the day. It’s good to be an early bird and take advantage of the lighter crowds during those first few hours. I recommend hitting Fantasyland first with your toddler. Walk straight down Main Street U.S.A., across the Sleeping Beauty Castle drawbridge and into Fantasyland!

Most of the rides and attractions in the Fantasyland area are toddler appropriate (save for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which have a 42″ minimum height requirement). I’ve included all of the attractions here with key notes for taking your toddler –

  • Alice in Wonderland -Most toddlers enjoy this ride
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train- MUST DO
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – MUST DO
  • “it’s a small world”- MUST DO
  • King Arthur Carrousel- MUST DO
  • Mad Tea Party-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (fast moving)
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight-Most toddlers enjoy this ride, however it is dark inside
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough-Most toddlers enjoy this ride (lots of stairs to climb, which toddlers usually enjoy!)
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures-Can take Toddler but they might be scared (dark elements)
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats-Most toddlers enjoy this ride (slow boat ride, storytelling & miniatures)

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Lunch with Littles

Most dining locations offer toddler meals on their menus. And of course you can always request an extra plate and feed your toddler from your own meal. Feeding your child who has not yet turned three at a buffet location is free. I have more dining tips for little ones at Disney on this post.

I’m not a fan of full-service dining with a fidgety toddler. When toddlers are hungry they want to eat NOW! Also, my toddler tends to eat quickly and then clamor to get out of her highchair. This means I’m usually having to rush my meal or take it to-go!

Character dining can be hit or miss with a toddler. If your little one loves the characters, then yes, by all means book one of the character meals. But if your toddler doesn’t like the characters, I’d definitely skip the pricey character dining experiences.

Here are my favorite places to eat for lunch with my toddler at Disneyland:

  • French Market in New Orleans Square- outdoor covered patio dining with roast chicken, meatloaf and corn chowder. The restaurant often offers live jazz music.
  • Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland-indoor dining. My toddler liked sharing the flatbread and fries.
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country-outdoor covered patio dining with chicken nuggets on the kid’s menu.


Disneyland With a Toddler Requires Play Time

Toddlers can only take so much of being strapped into a stroller. They need to get out, run around and play a bit (best to do right before their regular nap time).

There are places for you to let your toddler walk (like Main Street U.S.A. and the plaza near “it’s a small world”) that aren’t too congested. Other areas like New Orleans Square and Tomorrowland tend to be very crowded and it’s easy to get separated. Here are a few places to let your toddler out for free play (for more details and more locations, check out this DisneyBaby post about play areas at Disneyland).

  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Toontown Play Areas including Donald’s Boat, Goofy’s Playhouse, Minnie’s House and Mickey’s House

This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Nap Time

Do NOT skip the nap! I repeat, do not attempt to skip sleep with your toddler! It’s tempting to want to power through your Disneyland day but you’ll pay for that skipped nap with tantrums and meltdowns!

You have several options for nap time, whether it be returning to the hotel, finding a quiet location or letting your toddler stroller sleep (my personal choice). Read more on this DisneyBaby post about ways to encourage naps at Disneyland.

Toddlers Love a Parade

You can’t miss the Pixar Play Parade or Paint the Night! Toddlers will love the vibrant colors, familiar characters and dance-able tunes. I keep my toddler in her stroller and roll it right up to the curb during the parade. This allows her a front row view to the show!

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Dinner at Disneyland

As dark falls on the Park, thoughts turn to dinner. As I noted at lunch, I recommend sticking to quick service locations. These are my favorites:

  • Plaza Inn on Main Street U.S.A.- Both indoor and outdoor dining. The fried chicken, veggies and mashed potatoes can’t be beat and the large platters are perfect for sharing.
  • Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland – Outdoor dining. I love the atmosphere here at night, with the beautiful colored lanterns that hang over the dimly lit patio. The Mexican food offerings are good. Just be sure to check the menu before sharing because some of the items are on the spicy side.

LOOKING FOR MORE PLANNING TIPS? THE Disneyland with Kids: Ultimate Resource Guide IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!


Other Must-Do Toddler Attractions

Any ride or attraction that does not have a height restriction is a-okay for your toddler! Rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion do not have a height restriction but use your best judgement before bringing your toddler aboard. Skittish little ones who do not enjoy the dark aspects or “spooky” elements likely will not enjoy these attractions!

I’ve noted the following attractions that are must-do with your toddler-

  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Enchanted Tiki Room (snacks are allowed inside!)
  • Jungle Cruise (there is a loud gunshot during the ride; the Cast Member “Skipper” will alert you to cover your ears)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (let her wield her own “blast” gun!)
  • Finding Nemo Submarines
This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day!

Inside Finding Nemo Submarines – Toddlers can stand and look out the porthole.

Nighttime Entertainment

If your toddler doesn’t mind the noise and can stay up late, the fireworks spectaculars at Disneyland are amazing. Another excellent nighttime show is Fantasmic! I recently viewed this show with my toddler and have a few pointers. You’ll need to collect a FastPass ticket for Fantasmic! early in the day to have standing room viewing. Note that you’ll be arriving to your designated location about an hour early and standing to wait for the show. That’s a LONG time to hold a squirmy toddler. By the time the show came my arms were spent!

I highly recommend booking a Fantasmic! Dining Package in advance. You’ll receive a meal at one of the designated locations and a seat to watch the show front and center. I’m totally doing this next Disneyland trip!

 

Thinking about taking your toddler to Disneyland? This one-day Disneyland with toddlers itinerary has all the insider tips for a magical day! #Disneyland #toddler #disney #FamilyTravel #California #TravelwithKids #Toddlers #ToddlerTravel #TravelTips

For more Disney itinerary ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Traveling with an Ergobaby Baby Carrier – Must Have Travel Item

Since my daughter was about two weeks old I’ve used a baby carrier. Neither of my boys liked their baby carrier experiences. But I’ll be honest- I didn’t consistently use the carriers with them, but I did with my daughter. Since my daughter was 5 months old (she’s now 17 months), I’ve traveled cross-country with her twice and the baby carrier has proven to be the must have travel item. Here are a few reasons when traveling with a baby carrier can truly make your vacation experience better and why the new Ergobaby Omni 360 is ideal for babies of all ages.

I received a complimentary Ergobaby Omni 360 for review in compensation for this post. No further monetary exchange was made and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Traveling with an Ergobaby Baby Carrier on Vacation

While it might not necessarily fit inside your diaper bag, a baby carrier should absolutely be something you take with you when traveling with a baby. I traveled alone to Walt Disney World, across the country by myself and my 5 month old. I would not have been able to do it without my baby carrier.

Even if you think that there will be plenty of people to hold the baby on the trip, bring the carrier. Babies can get easily overstimulated and appreciate the close quarters that a baby carrier provides.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

I use my Ergobaby baby carrier every day at home. See why I take it when I travel too.

Even if the baby is old enough to walk, bring the carrier. Little ones get tired and want to be carried and you won’t want to tire yourself out from carrying her.

Places like airplanes can have a lot of strange germs. Placing baby in a carrier can keep him from touching everything. And keeping him in the carrier also dissuade germy people from reaching out and touching the baby!

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1. Baby Carrier at the Airport

If anything, you want to be hands free at the airport. From having to take out paperwork like tickets, passport and ID, dragging your carry-on bag, and removing and putting back on your shoes, putting items on the conveyor for scanning, you’re going to need your hands. If you’re taking a stroller, that’s just one more thing to push around.

I preferred having my baby snuggled in close in her carrier while going through the airport. I was even able to pass through airline security with my baby safely sleeping at my chest. TSA swabbed my hands and allowed me to skip the full body scanners.

2. Baby Carrier on the Airplane

Since I was traveling alone with my baby, I didn’t have anyone to hold her on the plane. Having the Ergobaby baby carrier was so convenient during the flight. I did have to take my daughter out of the carrier during take off, as requested by the stewardess. But as soon as we were in flight, I was able to slip her back inside the carrier. This made everything from eating a snack, holding a book and yes, even using the bathroom that much easier!

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While you can’t baby wear during take off or landing, you can wear Ergobaby Baby Carrier in flight.

3.Baby Carrier While Touring on Foot

There are some places where pushing a baby in a stroller just isn’t conducive to the environment. For instance, what about when the terrain is rocky or steep (like on a hiking trail). How about when the streets are cobbled or overly crowded. Or perhaps it’s raining and you need to keep baby under an umbrella. In these cases having baby in a carrier makes so much sense. You’ll be able to climb stairs without looking for an elevator and easily navigate through crowds.

4. Baby Carrier in a Hotel

At the end of a long day, I found that it was sometimes tricky to get my baby to calm down and sleep. The strange location and having the entire family inside one room was disturbing her rest. Holding her in the baby carrier while I walked around the hotel room, prepping for the following day, allowed her to relax and actually fall asleep. Then I was easily able to transfer her into her crib.

5. Baby Carrier at an Amusement Park

In many cases, when visiting an amusement park, you’ll have a stroller with you. I suggest that in addition to the stroller, bring along the baby carrier as well. I tuck my carrier in the basket under the stroller and use it throughout the day. While standing in queue, you’ll be able to hold baby without sore arms. While my baby napped inside her carrier, we were able to go on family-friendly rides without disturbing her. I was even able to nurse her inside the carrier while I walked around the parks. Most convenient was being able to hold my daughter in the carrier while folding her stroller and boarding a Disney bus to and from the parks.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Some amusement parks will allow you to ride with baby in the Ergobaby Baby Carrier without any nap disturbance!

Tips for Your Baby Carrier

I recently received the Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier for review. Offering all carry positions, the Ergobaby Omni 360 can switch baby to face out or face you and easily adjusts from newborn to toddler (7-33lbs), no infant insert needed.

Get Used to the Parts

The various straps, buckles and buttons on your baby carrier can be overwhelming at first. Definitely sit down with the manual and your carrier to get familiar with the different styles of carry and techniques for the most comfortable fit for your baby. It helps to have another adult there to help you with interpreting the instructions and diagrams.

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Watch a Video

If you’re struggling to understand the instruction manual with pictures, try watching a video on Ergobaby’s Facebook page for more clarity!

Practice at Home

Your vacation shouldn’t be the first time that your baby has been in the carrier. Make sure both you and and the baby are comfortable with the carrier. Practice putting him in and out of the carrier and let him ride around the house to get used to it.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Get work done while baby naps in the Ergobaby carrier

Follow Size Rules

It is very important to follow the size rules for your baby carrier. Take into consideration the size of your baby and take note of what methods to use for each age.

My daughter is now a toddler, a petite 21 lbs and 17 months old. She still enjoys riding in her baby carrier, especially when traveling. She likes being close to me. However my arms and shoulders get so tired when holding her for extended periods of time so I’m happy to have the Ergobaby Omni 360.

Try a Variety of Positions

I can place my daughter facing in, which is perfect when she’s napping. In the Ergobaby Omni 360 my daughter can also face outward, ride on my back or sit on my hip. Velcro tabs and button closures help me quickly adjust the carrier for my baby’s size. Double-lock buckles are easy to snap in and release with one hand.

Comfort for Parent and Child

The fabric and design of the Ergobaby Omni 360 is soft and flexible, but still offers sturdy support. The padded straps and ability to crisscross in the back helps relieve any discomfort to my back when carrying my daughter.

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Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Phone Camera Tips for Capturing Your Best Shots

Everyone’s taking lots of pictures with their phone cameras. Naturally your phone is easy to carry with you, especially when traveling. And you can share images immediately on social media which is always fun! When traveling light, I leave my bulky DSLR camera at home and rely solely on my phone camera to take pictures. Here are a few tips for capturing your best shots on your phone camera.

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

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Taking the Best Shots on Your Phone Camera

We’ve all seen some truly fantastic phone camera shots that look like they were taken with a “fancy camera”. And we’ve seen the out of focus, smudgy and too dark/overly bright cell phone shares too. Here are some phone camera tips for taking the best shots! All of these pictures were taken with my Android, Samsung Galaxy S6.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

So happy I had my camera with me to capture this first taste of a Dole Whip at the Polynesian!

Clean the Lens

That’s a no-brainer when using your regular camera, but often forgotten with your phone camera. Use a lens cloth to clean up smudges for the most crisp images. In a pinch, the edge of your shirt will do.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Disneyland during Halloween time.

Getting in Focus

Getting that beautiful bokeh (or blurred background) is easy with your cell phone camera! Simply tap the spot on the screen that you want to be in the most clear focus before you snap the picture. Having the item close to the camera will create that lovely bokeh in the background.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Adjust Brightness Manually Before You Shoot

Things looking too dark or overly bright? Just before taking a photo, adjust the brightness manually. Simply touch your cell phone screen and slide your finger either right or left to brighten or darken your shot. My phone has a little light bulb icon that pops up on the screen to indicate brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

The sun was overly bright on this day at the Wyndham in Disney World. I adjusted brightness before taking the shot.

Turn Off the Flash (or Diffuse It)

Sometimes lighting is lower than you like but always try to resist using your cell phone camera flash. The flash can create some intense shadows, hot spots and maybe even completely blacken out the background of the image. Instead of using your flash, concentrate on holding the camera very still by propping your arms or using a travel tripod.

Another option is to diffuse the flash (especially helpful when photographing food in a dimly lit restaurant). Hold a paper napkin over the flash on the camera to lessen the strength.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

I wanted to capture the entire scene behind the Dole Whip cup so I didn’t use the manual focus for this shot inside the Polynesian.

Night Shots

I find that I can capture better night shots with my cell phone camera than I can with my regular camera. One tip is to hold your phone very steady. For this shot of the Disneyland Hotel pool area at night, I held my elbows on a railing so I didn’t wiggle the camera when I took the picture. Use the brightness feature sparingly to lighten things up as you wish.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Dark scenes that are far away aren’t going to show up well. You’ll need to get up close to the item and make sure that it’s fairly well lit. Also items that are moving quickly in the dark are going to blur if you try to photograph them. Aim to shoot items that are still or moving slowly and very well lit, like the float in the Paint the Night Parade (featured image at the top).

 

Crop Later Instead of Using Zoom

Zooming on your cell phone camera is going to make you photo look very pixilated and/or blurry. Better to take the photo as you see it and then crop later.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Don’t zoom! Better to crop the image later.

Sharing on Instagram

If you’re taking a photo specifically for Instagram, set up the shot ahead of time to best fit their square frame. You don’t want to have to crop out your favorite part of the picture to make it fit into the frame for Instagram. I wanted to capture not only my kids in this photo but the sandy beach and the hotel behind them so I took a wide shot and then cropped for Instagram.

 

Snapseed

Rather than using the same ol’ filters on Instagram that everyone else is using, edit your photos in Snapseed. This free app allows you to simply crop, brighten or sharpen images. Or you can get as complicated as you would in Photoshop on your desktop with curves and healing tools. Except that Snapseed is totally easy to use!

I used Snapseed on this shot at Port Orleans Riverside, including white balance and brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.


For more Disney photo tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Tips for Kids to Enjoy Walt Disney World Playgrounds

Working downtime into your Disney vacation schedule can benefit everyone in the family. When you’re not in the Parks, take time to enjoy the amenities like the pool, resort activities and the playgrounds. Allowing kids time to play lets them burn off extra energy. You might think that visiting Magic Kingdom is enough fun for kids but the long lines, structured activities and constant stimulation can prove too much for little ones. The various themed playgrounds available at many of the Walt Disney World resort hotels let kids do what they do best –  Play! Here are a few kid-tested tips to enjoying the Disney World playgrounds.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

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!

Hotels at Walt Disney World Playgrounds

Playground structures are located at many of the resort hotels and are intended for kids aged 2-12. On my last Disney World trip I had my preschooler with me. I made sure we spent time at the resort playground each day. I found that he was much more cooperative about waiting in lines inside the Parks when he’d had the free play time!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids will love The Dig Site at Disney’s Caribbean Beach, with several areas to play.

Not all of the Disney World Resorts have a playground. Here’s a list of those that do:

  • All-Star Movies Resort
  • All-Star Music Resort
  • All-Star Sports Resort
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • BoardWalk Inn
  • BoardWalk Villas
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Coronado Springs Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Pop Century Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

1. What to Expect at Hotel Disney World Playgrounds

Some of the Disney World playgrounds are more elaborate than others. Certain playgrounds are themed to the resort. Other playgrounds look like they’d be at your local park. Most will have some kind of climbing equipment, bars for hanging and slides.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

The Disney World playground at Fort Wilderness is under a canopy of trees.

During my visits (late spring) the playgrounds didn’t have a lot of kids. I’d expect that during busier seasons, there might be more activity. If your kids are anything like mine, they prefer when the playground has other children to play with! Check the times posted on when the playground is open (they generally close at dusk).

Some play areas at Disney World are under shade and others are out in the open. Play structure equipment can get really hot in the sunshine. Be sure to check before letting your child play. There seems to be a good number of benches and seating for adults around the playgrounds. But of course, sit where you can supervise your kids!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Coronado Spring’s Disney World playground is Mayan-themed like the resort.


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2. Just Add Water!

A few of the pool areas at the Resorts also have interactive play structures. Kids can climb, splash, spray and stay cool. Many have height restrictions which limit use to preschool age or young elementary. These play structures are nicely suited for little ones who aren’t comfortable with full swimming pools or can’t yet swim.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Elaborate pirate-themed water play structure at Disney’s Caribbean Beach

3. Other Places to Play

No playground? No problem! Many of the resorts have areas for kids to play or simply run around. Always be considerate of noise (especially if the location is near hotel room windows and/or it’s particularly early in the day). And of course observe all rules, stay out of flower beds and take heed of signs that restrict access. Pre-vacation consider picking up small things to entertain youngsters like mini bottles of bubbles.

Kids can run and do cartwheels on the lawn at Beach Club. There’s a game of corn hole in the bus waiting area at Port Orleans Riverside. Many hotels, like Coronado Springs Resort have sandy beach areas.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

No playground? Let kids run on the grass (so long as there’s no sign restricting it)

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

A game of corn hole at Port Orleans Riverside

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids enjoy playing in the sandy beach at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.


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For more play areas for kids at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play! #DisneyWorld


Tips and Products for Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

Over our spring break vacation to Monterey we lost my 5 year old son. One moment he was playing on the lonely beach in the sand with my husband. The next moment he was gone. It was the scariest ten minutes of our lives, not knowing where he was. Looking back there are a few things we should have done to ensure that he’d never been lost in the first place. And there are also steps and precautions we can take in the future to keep him safe. Here are my tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Getting Lost (Scary for Kids & Parents!)

On our Monterey vacation I was on the hotel balcony watching my sons and husband on the beach below. My husband and teenager were poking in the sand with a stick, looking for crabs while my preschooler ran up and down the wet sand behind them. When the baby needed a diaper change I took her inside and returned to the balcony a few minutes later. What I saw next made my heart stop.

My eldest son was yelling up to me, “Mom, is Dillon up there with you?”

Then I saw my husband. He was running up and down the beach, calling Dillon’s name. He was stopping strangers to ask if they’d seen a little boy in a blue bathing suit.

He didn’t go into the water, I knew that (he was scared of the ocean’s big waves). My eyes squinted at a crowd of people sunbathing in the distance. Had he wandered that far?

My husband was now in full panic mode. He ran around to the front of the hotel, concerned that my son might have gone with someone to the parking lot. My teenager was racing down to the crowd further down the beach. I raced down to the hotel lobby.

I met my husband in the lobby as he’d looped around the front of the hotel. He was cradling our 5-year old in his arms. My son had wandered into the lobby, wanting to return to the hotel room and asked for his mommy. The reception desk had wrapped him in a towel and had him stay put. Thank goodness, found.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

One moment he was there, the next moment he was gone.

Tips to Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

It was a scary 10 minutes and honestly, it’s taken its toll on us all. For the first month after our vacation, my son was extremely clingy and afraid of getting lost. He has cried during drop offs at school and Sunday school at church, something very unusual for my independent boy. I started trying to think of ways that we could have kept him safe.

Here are tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

I received complimentary product for testing and review. All opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. SafetyTat

If my son had been wearing a SafetyTat when he was lost, it would have saved us 10 minutes of worry. The hotel lobby would have been able to call me immediately! SafetyTat is a water-resistant temporary tattoo. The original SafetyTat can be pre-printed with your contact info and applies with a damp paper towel.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

The SafetyTat temporary tattoo is water resistant.

Write-on SafetyTat peels and sticks with a bit of pressure and can be personalized with the included water resistant pen. I love the idea of using the SafetyTat when traveling to busy locations like at the zoo, children’s museum or amusement park when kids can easily become lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Write your number to personalize the SafetyTat and keep kids safe on vacation

In addition to returning lost kids, several of the SafetyTats have specific child-safety needs printed on the tattoo. Alerts like, “I have Autism”, “Allergies – Ask First!”, “Non-Verbal” and “Alert – Diabetic” help other adults know immediately about your child’s special needs. These special SafetyTats would be great for children to wear when in large groups where they might be separated from their parents, like at day camp, church or at a party.


2. Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

I received a complimentary bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Repellent just in time for my trip to Orlando Florida. On my last visit, I’d gotten a nasty bug bite on the final day and it took ten full days to clear! I was hoping to avoid such a fate this time, especially for my kids!

The contents of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit are Deet-free and include lemon Eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, cedar bark, citronella, peppermint and rosemary blend. These non-toxic and pesticide free ingredients help to repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and other biting insects. It’s proven effective in children 3+, though I did use it sparingly on my 1-year old’s legs and arms with good success.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation., including the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

Spray Fairy Tales Bug Bandit before going outside to protect skin from insect bites

Simply spray the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit onto your body after dressed and ready to head outside. It worked like a charm! The smell is pleasant and works for several hours.

And then there was the day I forgot to apply the spray. I was headed to a conference and stepped outside briefly to access another building and within 2 minutes a bug got me. Within moments my ankle was swollen and itchy, ugh! I immediately texted my sister-in-law to remind her to spray the kids before they went outside! Happy to report that my kids returned from our week-long vacation without one bug bite.

3. Travel Baby-Proofing Safety Kit

Before settling in at the hotel, make sure you check out the room for any potentially hazardous items. Looped window cords? Furniture that your toddler or child could climb and topple over? Loose cables? Exposed electrical outlets? Bring a safety kit along with you on your travels to “baby-proof” the room (even if your child is no longer a baby, they might become curious).

If your baby will be using the hotel crib, be sure to inspect it for any loose screws, chipping paint or pinchable parts. If you’re taking medications with you, be sure that they stay inside their child-proof bottles and keep out of the reach of your children (consider a box with a lock).


4. Disinfect to Help Prevent Stomach Bug

Ugh, nothing ruins a vacation like coming down with the stomach bug. Help keep the bug from spreading through the family with frequent hand-washing, the use of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Wipe down things in the airplane before flying, like the arm rests and pull-down table. Disinfect items in the hotel room that are frequently touched, like the door knobs and remote control. Of course if spending your vacation in another country make sure that the water is drinkable before allowing your child to sip.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

5. Avoid Sunburn

If your kids are extremely prone to sunburn, consider indoor activities during the day and then swim at night. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid sunburn is to cover up as much as possible. My kids have Lands’ End rash guards with UPF 50 rating. A hat for toddlers that can be worn while their splashing will protect scalps and faces.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

And of course, you can’t forget the sunscreen! Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before getting into the water otherwise it’s just going to rinse off in the pool!


6. Pack a Get-Well Bag

Despite all preparations sometime your child may get sick. Rather than have to make a run to the 24 hour market at 3 am, have a get-well bag ready to go with what you might need.

7. Car Seat and Stroller Safety

Don’t assume that you’ll have the car seat you need when you arrive. For instance Uber may provide car seats for some children. However they don’t have rear-facing car seats that children under two must use. For infants and toddlers, it’s best to bring your own.

For pre-K and up, bring along a mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. Weighing only about one and a half pounds, the mifold is a booster seat designed for ages 4 to 12. So clever and convenient when using Uber, Lyft or a taxi.

If renting a stroller at your vacation location, be sure to inspect for any spots that might pinch little fingers. Always use the buckles to secure your child in tightly. Get in the habit of putting the stroller brake on each and every time you let go of the handle. You never know when the stroller might roll away from you. Never leave your child in a stroller unsupervised.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

8. Safety After Dark

If you’re worried about losing your kids, it can be even more challenging once night falls. Remind kids to stay close to you. Carry a flashlight. I keep a supply of glow necklaces and bracelets for my kids to wear when we’re walking about after dark. If walking in a dark area where there are vehicles, dress your children in light colored clothing. Consider adding a reflective strip of tape to their back and down each pant leg for better visability.


Other Things You Can Do to Keep Safety First

  • Before hitting the road for an extended vacation, be sure to schedule a pre-trip check up with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will be able to check for any developing illnesses.
  • Bring your child’s immunization records.
  • Dress your child in very bright clothing. It’s so much easier to see them if you can spot a bright yellow, orange or hot pink shirt.
  • Remind kids not to touch wild animals (this includes squirrels and pigeons)
  • Take a photo of your child each morning so you have a record of what they are wearing.
  • Before going into an establishment (like a theme park or museum) discuss what to do if lost.
  • Wash hands frequently and especially before eating.
  • Remind children to stay put in case they are lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


No Painful Feet! How to Find Foot Comfort in Your New Shoes

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

I hate shoe shopping. Okay, so I know I’m in the minority and lots of ladies love to buy new shoes. But I don’t. I HATE getting new shoes because it means I have to try them on, break them in and suffer through the pain and discomfort of new shoes. The thought of painful feet is enough for me to avoid buying new shoes. So I stick with the worn out and broken in shoes I already own. I’m on the hunt for foot comfort, especially when I know I’ll be traveling and walking a lot!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you! I’ve received complimentary product for some of the items reviewed in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Painful Feet? Try These Tips

  1. Compression Socks
  2. Open-toed shoes
  3. Shoes that don’t require “breaking in”
  4. Stick with what works for you
  5. Inserts

Compression Socks

Several years ago my husband and I flew overnight to Europe. It was my first long-haul flight and I made the mistake of taking off my shoes and putting on cozy socks while I slept. When it was time to get off the plane, I had to cram my swollen feet back into my shoes. By the time we reached the taxi I had blisters on every toe, across my heel and several of my toe nails were broken! Not the best start to a 10-day trip.

The next time I flew long distance you can believe I was wearing compression socks! I’ll be honest: I always thought that compression socks were for “old people” or if you were in the hospital and couldn’t exercise. But these adorable patterned socks from Vim & Vigr changed my mind (they are so cute!)

These nylon compression socks from Vim & Vigr have a multi-dimensional weave and 400-needle count that allow for comfort, flexibility, and breathability. They even offer socks for wide calves.

I hear that compression socks are great if you’re running (not that I’d know about that!) I’ve worn the Vim & Vigr socks on each flight since and no blisters or broken toe nails after flying again!

Vim & Vigr 15-20 mmHg Graduated Compression Socks – Nylon Collection – M – Cream & Black

Why I Gravitate Towards Sandals

After the birth of my last baby I realized that my feet had grown along with my belly! In fact I now have one foot that is over a half-size larger than the other foot – how annoying is that?! And it makes it nearly impossible to purchase certain shoe styles. I suffer with having one shoe too tight or the other flopping off.

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My 7 1/2 months pregnant feet walked the Disney parks in Crocs!

That’s why I tend to choose sandals over any other shoe type. Fortunately I live in Southern California, where I can wear sandals 75% of the year! Here are a few of my favorite sandal choices that are comfortable for long distance walking. I discuss more sandal options in my post, Best Shoes for Disney Parks – Why I Love Sandals! 


Comfortable Shoes for Kids (No Breaking In Period!)

I’ve been purchasing pediped shoes for nearly 6 years. They were my son’s very first pair of shoes. When I saw how comfortable they were for him and how much he enjoyed walking in pediped, they quickly became the only pair of shoes I would buy for him. It’s a happy day for him when he sees a box from pediped in the mail!


When I first found out I was having a baby girl, a pair of pedipeds Originals was one of my first purchases! They are the shoes she took her first steps in and I’ll be putting them into her keepsake box. Any other shoes she outgrows will be gifted forward to another child. We’ve handed down my son’s outgrown pedipeds to his cousins.

If painful feet stop kids from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My kids wearing their pedipeds at Walt Disney World.

I’ll be honest about the price because it might be more than you’re used to paying. Many people will not pay a high price for kids shoes, preferring to buy cheaper shoes. I’d much rather purchase something of high quality that is comfortable for my child, supports her feet and won’t fall apart or look worn after just a few wearings. My kids only have 2 or 3 pairs of pediped shoes and rotate between them (instead of a dozen pairs of “cheap” shoes).

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My son in his Flex Sahara Red sandals at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

Because many pedipeds are washable they uphold their look. And the high crafted quality means they last and last. My son is currently wearing pediped sandals he had last summer and they still look in perfect condition!


My only complaint? That my eldest daughter is now 13 and has outgrown them! I’ve only bought her pediped shoes for the last five years. She has one foot that rolls inward, causing shoes to get a hole in them after just a few wearings. Pediped is the only brand that we’ve found that will hold her foot solidly upright and not to roll. pediped footwear has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of healthy foot development.

Stick with What Works

I legit own 8 pairs of shoes total. Four of these shoes are exact duplicates of each other, just in different color schemes. I know what works for my feet so I tend to purchase two at a time.

I gave up a long time ago trying to wear regular high heels. Now if I’m dressing up I wear my favorite crocs Women’s Leigh Ankle Strap Wedge Sandal. I have them in oatmeal and black and they’re versatile enough to wear with either a dress or jeans. And the best part is that I can actually dance and walk comfortably all night in them (and not revert to the barefoot walk back to the car at the end of the night!)

If you have a favorite shoe, next time buy two so you can switch out between them!

Comfort Aids for Inside Shoes

Adding extra support where your foot needs it is a great way to get comfy. A little lift here, a little cushion there and your foot pain can be greatly relieved. I recently tried Silipos Active gel products. These conform to your body reducing friction, abrasion and burning sensations during high impact activities.

I tried Silipos Active Ball of Foot Gel Cushions. Slip the loop around one of your toes and the cushion rests underneath, covered by a sock. These cushions are so thin I wondered if they’d make a difference. I tested them on a 5 mile hike we took across concrete and gravel. I could really tell the difference after walking as I didn’t have the usual ache in my foot bones that I usually do after walking on that type of terrain.

Ever worn a pair of flip-flops when the center post cut into your toes? That is just the worst! Silipos Active Sandal Toe Protectors slips over that post to cushion between the toes.

How do you counteract painful feet? Share in the comments!

5 Reasons to Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

We’ve been LEGOLAND California guests since shortly after the park opened in 1999. I appreciate that it’s a park for a good variety of ages, with places for toddlers to roam, rides geared just for preschoolers and adventures for older kids too. These are my 5 reasons why I think you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Why You Should Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

Like the versatile LEGO play sets, the LEGOLAND California park is constantly reinventing itself. Over the last few years LEGOLAND has been consistently adding new and exciting pieces to their theme park. New sections like Ninjago World, Star Wars to Miniland USA and LEGO Friends Heartlake City have rejuvenated areas of the park. Additions to the resort like Sea Life Aquarium. LEGOLAND water park and the Resort hotel make LEGOLAND California a true family vacation destination.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Waiting for the water park to open at LEGOLAND California

1. LEGOLAND Water Park

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. I was so impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. There is a Duplo-inspired Splash Safari and Splash Zoo for toddlers & preschoolers. My kids liked the wide “family-sized” short water slides here. There are plenty of big-kid water slides too with lots of interactive ways to get wet. I’m partial to floating in the Build-a-Raft River.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The size of the LEGOLAND water park is impressive as well, with the addition of the Chima section. This includes a more slides and the Lion Temple Wave Pool. And the water park is about to get even bigger!

Opening next month is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides, enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon and enlighten their taste buds with the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.

The LEGOLAND Water Park is open seven days a week starting Friday, May 26 2017.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

2. LEGOLAND Hotel and Castle Expansion

My older two kids stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel with their grandma a few years ago and I’m jealous! This hotel is jam-packed with fun (if a disco-ball in the elevator and a treasure hunt in the room is any indication!) Check out this enormous pirate play house in the hotel lobby.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

This big pirate ship play area is inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel lobby

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has already broken ground and is slated to open in 2018. Given the popularity of the LEGOLAND Hotel, I’d expect this new hotel to be equally fantastic!

3. LEGO Fun for Babies

With all the bright colors and interactive elements, LEGOLAND California includes things for baby as well. Sweet and slow rides like Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise are appropriate for baby to enjoy. There are baby-friendly splash pad areas in Pirate Shores and Heartlake City (just be sure to bring swim diapers & a towel).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are some rides that I would have thought would be okay for babies to go on (like Safari Trek) but my 14-month old wasn’t tall enough. Make sure you check the height requirements before getting in line.

My baby’s favorite place in all of LEGOLAND is Duplo Playtown. She enjoyed walking around the playhouses, playing with the blocks and riding the LEGOLAND Express train. My preschooler was able to climb and explore in this area as well.

Book a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel and you can return to the room mid-day for a nap then return to the park later in the day.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Riding the LEGO Express Train in Fun Town

4. The Perfect Park for Preschoolers

Coastersaurus is a great first roller coaster. Mia’s Riding Camp is a cute carousel. Every preschooler loves the Royal Joust which takes kiddos on a LEGO horse ride through the “countryside”. Junior Driving School is a can’t-miss attraction for kids 3-5 (they can drive their own LEGO car!)

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers will love to drive their own car at LEGOLAND California Junior Driving School.

I love that there are places in many of the queue for little ones to play with LEGO blocks while parents wait in line. You can simply scoop up your kids before boarding the ride!

The 4D movie experiences are short films that preschoolers will delight in (3D glasses and quirky interactive moments will make preschoolers giggle!) Leave time in your day for a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. This area is nicely geared for preschoolers, with plenty of hands-on activities in this LEGO-splashed space.

Check out my TravelingMom post for all the reasons to take preschoolers to LEGOLAND.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers can gallop on a LEGO horse at LEGOLAND California

5. Stuff for LEGO-Loving Tweens and Teens

My teens love taking in all the brick-by-brick details of Miniland USA. The Star Wars section is of particular interest! The scenes replicated from each of the Star Wars movies are crazy-detailed and impressive (1.5 million LEGO bricks were used!)

There aren’t any wild thrill rides at LEGOLAND California but unique and clever wins over thrills in my book (The Technic Coaster, Knight’s Tournament and Ninjago the Ride are all cool for tweens & teens).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

LEGOLAND California features amazing Star Wars displays in Miniland

LEGOLAND California is also a foodie paradise as far as theme parks go. There are a great variety of flavors represented here, from Japanese style ramen bowls, smokehouse ribs and Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches. Of course there are the traditional pizza and burgers too. For dessert Granny’s Apple Fries are a can’t-miss. Your tweens & teens could happily eat there way around the park and be quite content!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel

Save money at LEGOLAND!

Purchase discount 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). 

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!