Disney Cruise: Vacation Planning Tips

Our big family vacation of 2018 will be setting sail on our first Disney Cruise! We’ve always been into cruising. In our 10 years together, Sam and I have been on numerous cruises, sailing on different cruise lines, but we have never embarked on a Disney Cruise adventure, partly because we thought it would be best enjoyed once we had a little one. (Kids are not a requirement and we’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s a great option for an adults only vacation too.)

Planning this trip for a while, I’ve learned some tips and tricks I wanted to share and a few I learned from friends who have cruised before. As we get closer to our cruise, I’ll be sharing our packing lists, and of course all about the Disney Cruise experience from itinerary and excursions to culinary and entertainment. But for now, here’s what I’ve learned during the off-shore planning portion of Disney Cruise vacation planning.

Do Your Research/Plan Ahead

Compared to other cruises lines, a Disney Cruise is going to be more of an investment, albeit a worthwhile one. Once we decided this would be our next vacation, I began extensive research, looking into the different ships, ports, length of cruises, room options, etc. I read a lot of blogs (like these) to get real people’s insights on their experience and recommendations. This was helpful as we were making Cruise decisions.

Because I started the planning well over a year before the actual cruise, all the room types were available and based on what we chose, we were able to budget and plan accordingly.

Use a Travel Agent/Vacation Planner

I recognize I may be the minority when it comes to truly enjoying the research and vacation planning stage. For me, it’s all part of the fun and makes our trips feel more exciting and longer in terms of build up and anticipation. (I know, I’m weird…)

However, one of my good friends who just went on her first Disney Cruise used a travel agent to help plan her family’s vacation. She raved about the process and all the insider tips she received from her travel agent. The best part, using this service is completely free. Disney pays the travel agents! If you’re interested in taking that route, my suggestion is to Google “Disney Cruise Travel Agent + Your City” to find a vacation planner near you!

Find the Right Room Type for Your Family

There are several room types and levels available on a Disney Cruise and knowing the options, perks and pricing is a key component to making a decision on which cabin will be the best choice for your family.

Disney Cruises offer indoor cabins (which still include an interactive/magical port hole), port hole cabins with an ocean view, verandah cabins with a balcony and Concierge level cabins, which have a separate bedroom, dining and living space along with a larger balcony. Concierge level guests have access to concierge service off-shore (for planning, booking and early access to activities) as well as on-board during the cruise.

Land on Excursions Pre-Cruise

Again, this may be another Type A tip, but I’m a fan of having everything booked and figured out before we step foot on the ship. The Disney Cruise website allows you to explore all of the excursion options ahead of time, based on the ports being visited. You can also filter by level of activity, half or full day, etc.

As we will be stopping in Nassau and Castaway Cay during our five-day Cruise, we selected a full beach day at Blue Lagoon island for the Nassau port stop. This excursion includes a Ferry Boat ride to the island, full beach day, lunch and kid’s activities like face painting.

The other benefit to pre-booking, you can budget ahead and if you change your mind you can cancel up to a certain time period.

Book Character Meet n Greets

Before you set sail, you are able to pre-book special character meet n greets for your kids. Depending on Cruise status (the more you sail, the higher you climb), the pre-booking window will change, but once it’s open, check out the available character experiences and lock them in.

Our cruise will feature a Frozen experience (Elsa, Ana and Olaf) as well as a Princess meet n greet. Since W loves Frozen, I’ve already booked this for a set time, avoiding the stress of waiting in line!

Join the Private Facebook Group

This tip was another great one from my friend who just went on a Disney Cruise. Every cruise has a dedicated Facebook group you can join by answering three questions (simply search Disney SHIP NAME + Sail Date on FB). The group is made up of other people who will be sailing with you. There is a moderator and it’s a great resource for asking questions and getting pro-tips, especially for first time cruisers.

Fish Extender Gift Exchange

Another fun part of joining the Facebook group is the ability to take part in the Fish Extender gift exchange. This is not an official Disney Cruise activity, but it’s a way to add more magic and fun to your cruise experience.

If you choose to participate, there is a Google doc you can access from the FB group where you sign your family up (name, age, fave Disney character, cabin number). The gift exchange usually includes anywhere from 8-12 families that you’ll bring special gifts, dropping the surprises off at some point during the cruise.

To collect your gifts, you hang a Fish Extender (looks like a hanging shoe holder with pockets) outside of your cabin door and the families leave the goodies inside.

Since this is our first time participating, I’ll be sharing more about the experience after the cruise in a separate post. But it sounds fun and I’m looking forward to being part of the gift exchange!

For the Shutter Bugs: Prepaid Photo Package

This is another gem I discovered while going through the online check-in process. If you know me, then you know I’m OBSESSED with photos. So this pre-paid photo package was a no brainer. Cruises (regardless of Cruise Line) are notorious for selling photos for outrageous prices. However, most people end up buying at least a few since they’re professional quality.

By pre-purchasing the photo package you save 15 percent off on-board price. So you can definitely still make the decision on-board to buy the photo package, but I knew right away having ALL THE PHOTOS was necessary for me! There are three packages to choose from: 10 Digital Images, All Digital Images and All Digital Images + 10 prints. As I’d rather print my own pictures at a later time (or likely create a Shutterfly photo book), I decided on the all digital one.

Friends who have cruised with Disney before all shared the photo options are endless with photographers capturing moments with characters, family pics and more. So having the ability to take home all those amazing memories digitally made for an easy choice!

Hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about taking a Disney Cruise or in the midst of planning. For expert Disney cruising peeps, I’d love to know any additional tips, tricks or recommendations.

Excited take you all on our adventure and will be sharing more Disney Cruise related posts throughout!




The Soccer Chronicles

As a parent, you have all kinds of illusions of how things will work out. Then of course, there is always the reality J For us, having Westley play soccer was one such little scenario. We ordered him ADIDAS from head to toe, the cutest cleats with neon green laces, and on the very first Saturday of the season, we arrived on the field with the highest hopes and excitement. Our wild man looked so adorable and he loves the kicking the “soccer ball” with his dad. So introducing him to a full on team of other kids and a sport a week after turning three should’ve been a great idea…right? WRONG. Oh boy, was it not our best move. The universe has been laughing at us for this decision.

We made it five of the seven weeks of soccer. But, real talk, it was PAINFUL. Every week, we went out there and gave it our all, but for me and for my husband, it was an anxiety-ridden hour. You tell yourself every week: “Let’s have fun. Let him do whatever he wants. We won’t get stressed or frustrated.” But it’s just so hard when your kid is just not listening or interested. Granted, he loves kicking the ball and running, but it’s on his own terms.

It’s been a rollercoaster and truthfully we only have ourselves to blame. Clearly, we were too eager to get him going in a fun sport. But I had no clue when we signed up for the team that said “age 3” that his entire team and most of the kids playing in general were four, four and a half and some almost five. If you’re a parent of a young child I’m sure you can appreciate the wild difference six months make. I know I definitely do after this experience.

Our other big issue is Westley’s size. He looks a lot older than he is because he’s tall. So I think most people automatically assume he’s three and a half or even four. He was bigger than most of the kids on his team, but developmentally he literally just turned three, so he’s not on their same level. That’s always been something I deal with and I try and make it a point to let people know his age right away, so they’re not expecting him to behave like a much older kid.

I talked to a lot of parents on the field and most of them were incredibly understanding and kind – mainly because either their own kids were not listening or participating or because they’d been through two to three seasons before arriving at where they are today. It was re-assuring to hear this from other parents. Our kid wasn’t that different from theirs and basically the first few seasons of any sport with a small child is torture for the parents. Of course, there were a few judgmental glances and comments. One in particular from what I imagine are some kid’s grandparents. An older man laughing and pointing at W and saying: “he has no interest in this.” (hahahaha) As a Mama Bear, I wanted to yell at him, but that’s not how I roll, so I let it roll off my back.

It may just be me, but I think a lot of older people forget what it’s like to have very young children and definitely love to either openly judge you or give their opinions. C’est la vie. I just hope I remember these days two decades from now and show other parents some grace and kindness. There’s not enough of that in the world.

We did our best and I think for the most part Westley had fun. He sure looked adorable every Saturday. I will say i9 Sports and his coach as so sweet. Coach Marcel was so patient with him and encouraging and I was so proud of the time Westley did spend on the field whether practicing or his 2 minutes of playtime.

We will definitely be back. But the lesson here is we need to hang back and let him mature a bit. Our soccer dreams aren’t over, they are just on hold. We’re going to try again this summer during the Soccer Clinic, so he can be in a smaller group and learn the basics. By then, I hope he’s more mature. And if it doesn’t work out, then it’s on to the next thing. I never want to force anything on my child. Every kid is different, with different skills and passions. As a parent, we need to support and encourage whatever makes your kid shine.


I definitely wasn’t blessed with sports skills and my mom never forced anything on me. I distinctly remember when ballet and choir became too demanding along with school responsibilities and she told me, just pick one. You don’t have to do everything, especially if it’s not fun. So I’m taking her advice and my own.

I’ll report back this summer and see how “Soccer Take 2” goes.

Until then, W can kick the ball around with his dad and play on his own terms.







My 8 for 18

This year is already flying by. I intended to get this post written the first week of the year, but it’s been fast and furious. Between Westley’s birthday party, work travel and life — I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write.

I’m not a fan of resolutions because it becomes a joke to see how fast they can go down the drain. Instead I see every new year as an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and let go of what doesn’t work and continue doing what makes you happy.

So with 2018 moving at a frantic pace, here are my eight commitments to myself and my family for this year:

1.Choose Happy – you can always look at something from a positive or negative light, so this year I’m choosing to embrace the good in everything.

2. Be Present – it’s so easy to get distracted, wooed by your phone, social media, held hostage by your inbox. We have so many devices and distractions, but I’m making a concerted effort to push it all away when I’m with my family.

3. Be Kind – there is so much hate and negativity in the world, so my goal is to always be kind, even to those who don’t return it. You never know what someone is dealing with or why they choose to act the way they do. Regardless, always take the high road and kill them with kindness.

4. Stay Fit – last March, I began working with a personal trainer and it has been a game changer. Working out has become a passion and a key part of staying sane and happy. I love seeing how much stronger I am with each work out and pushing myself to do more reps, lift heavier weights or conquer new exercises.

5. Reward Myself – as a working mom I’m always on the go and doing things for others. That’s 100 percent fine by me, but I also want to continue making time for myself from workouts and manicures, to quiet mornings and bubble baths.

6. Nourish my Marriage – I am lucky to have a true partner in life who supports me and believes in 50/50. Having a child has made our marriage stronger and we have so much to be thankful for, but I always want to make time for us. From late night talks and date nights to belly laughs and weekend getaways, I never want to lose what makes us, us.

7. Support my Tribe – I have so many wonderful women in my tribe who I love and respect. Often times we don’t see each other as much as we’d like, but I’m committed to making time for lunches, manis, ladies nights and if not, at least phones calls, texts and lots of positive vibes sent your way.

8. Keep Creating – I was so excited when Word Press sent me an email alerting me that this domain is a year old and it’s time to renew! That means I’ve been blogging consistently for a year and I love it. Having a creative outlet to share my thoughts is rewarding. I love hearing from people I don’t know who find what I create valuable. I want to keep sharing, creating, photographing and looking off into the distance, while I dream BIG.

Can’t wait to read this post next January and see how I did. I’m excited for this year and what lies ahead.



Mom Hacks: Car Seats

Since I have a lot of friends who are either brand new moms or currently pregnant, it was pretty perfect timing that Reviews.com reached out to share with me some of the research and findings surrounding car seat choices.

There are so many decisions to make as a new parent and many times we make them with zero point of reference and very little research. There is no parent handbook and in my opinion, there are no right or wrong ways to do things. I’m a firm believer that what works for you and your family is the best decision always. No one lives in your shoes, so as a parent trusting your partner and your instincts is always a good idea.

Everyone will always have an idea, opinion, suggestion, etc. So with that said, I’m sharing overall info for all the new parents out there to consider when selecting a very important piece in your child’s arsenal of safety tools…the Car Seat.

As the folks at Reviews.com share, all car seats are designed to be safe, but some are definitely easier and more convenient to use than others. Their team of experts worked with over 100 parents to identify the most sought after features, while also consulting with child passenger safety technicians and pediatricians. They then compared the functionality and features of an infant car seat vs. a convertible car seat.

Since both serve unique purposes, they ultimately created a guide for each to provide parents with all the info needed to make a choice that is right for their family.

You can read more here about their tests and recommendations:

Infant car seat: https://www.reviews.com/infant-car-seat/

Convertible car seat: https://www.reviews.com/convertible-car-seat

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For W, we started with the infant car seat that was part of our travel set, which I absolutely loved. We each had a base installed in our cars and would take W into daycare in the car seat. When they’re little babies, the flexibility of the portable car seat is awesome. You can go from the car to the stroller in one easy click!

Once he was close to a year (he was big and tall y’all), we transitioned into the convertible car seat that will then become a booster once he’s old and big enough.

Good luck to all the mamas out there as you navigate all the safety and tools needed to keep those sweet babies safe.



Motivation Monday: The 30-Minute Challenge

For the last month, I’ve been waking up about 30-minuets earlier than normal to see what I can accomplish during this time. Everything from laundry and loading/unloading the dishwasher to quiet “me time” and reading.

It sounds simple, but giving up 30 minutes of sleep has been a game changer in terms of productivity and taking back my weekends.

This idea came out of a recent workshop I attended/guest hosted given by my friend and life coach, Chelsea Quint. The workshop was all about approaching the holidays stress free and having more joy, but it turned out to be much more beneficial than just for one season.

As the women gathered in the “living room” of a lifestyle retail space, Hearth & Soul, sharing their thoughts on what brought them joy versus what induced stress, one of the attendees shared a simple, yet transformative idea. She had started waking up 30-45 minutes early to do chores around the house with the goal of not spending her entire weekend doing these very things.

I could immediately relate. While we usually run errands and do house work as a family unit (with the toddler usually undoing what we do), it would be way more fun to do other things during our time off from work. Things we enjoy much more than laundry!

The idea struck a cord in me and on that rainy Sunday, I committed to waking up 30 minutes early as a test. Certainly 30 minutes is doable and would not result in me giving up too much precious sleep.

The results have been phenomenal! First, I feel much more energized and ready to take on the day by the time my old “wake up time” rolls around. I’ve already accomplished so much, had some quiet time and am ready for the day.

I also have noticed a difference in the amount of weekend chores we have to do. Laundry is usually finished (or close to it) by Friday and the house is in pretty good shape.

This extra time also let’s me exercise creative outlets outside of work. For example, I wrote this blog during a few of these early morning sessions!

I also use this extra 30 minutes to sometimes get ready earlier, and run an errand before work like dropping off dry cleaning or running by the post office.

My verdict – I’m committed to giving myself these 30 minutes. It’s life changing. It makes me happier, healthier and more energetic. Win win.

What would you do with an extra 30 minutes a day? If you’ve tried this, I’d love your thoughts!



Visit Maine: Family Vacation Itinerary

I’ll preface this by saying outside of a lot of research on the destination and a few must dos (aka Lobstering), we did not set out on this vacation with a full on itinerary. However, our week long journey ended up being pretty awesome and epic, so I figured for those of you wondering about Maine, an itinerary post could be helpful.

A lot of people have asked why Maine? First off, it’s absolutely gorgeous in the summer time and very different from our Florida surroundings. As I travel a good bit for work, when it comes to family travel, we always try to find destinations that are new to all of us. Another factor that played a role is our little wild man. As our first big family vacation, we wanted to stay domestic and East Coast (given this was W’s first flight). And finally, I have to say, domestic travel is severely underrated IMO. Granted globetrotting is awesome and I’ve been to Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico and all over the Caribbean, BUT our own country is absolutely GORGEOUS and so incredibly diverse. So as a family with a young child, our plan is to explore and enjoy the good ole US of A and leave the international travel for when W is older and better able to handle and appreciate it.

We traveled with our 2 and a half-year-old, so everything we did was family friendly and especially toddler friendly 🙂 Here is a breakdown of our aMAINEzing vacation.


I can’t say enough about Capt. Phil and Tina’s getaway. This has been by far my greatest find EVER on AirBnB. I stumbled upon this gem by doing tons of research on apartments and homes available in Southern Maine. Once we landed on visiting Southern Maine, I began my deep dive into the area and even ordered the Visit Maine CVB magazine (old school, I know). Then we narrowed our search to a cute little town called Ogunquit and began looking for places to stay. We definitely did not want to stay in a hotel for 8 nights, so I went straight to AirBnB and started searching for apartments and homes.

After exploring a few likely candidates, Capt. Phil and Tina’s getaway quickly rose to the top. They had 20+ reviews and every single one was five stars. And honestly after staying in their beautiful guesthouse, I would give them 10 stars, if that was possible. Their place is technically in Wells, which is a town right next to Ogunquit and by that I mean, it’s literally on the same main road – practically one in the same.

The two-bedroom, one bath cottage was absolutely perfect and impeccably decorated. You could say Tina is the Joanna Gaines of Southern Maine. No detail was overlooked and everything we could have needed or wanted was provided. Capt. Phil and Tina were born to be hosts and embody hospitality.

When we arrived at our little slice of Maine heaven, we were pleasantly surprised to see the set up. Tina had baked us a fresh fig pie (made from her tree), Westley’s room was a toddler paradise complete with bed rails, giant stuffed Dori and Nemo fish, books and a basket full of toys. There was a beach cart with chairs, an umbrella, towels, sunscreen and a red wagon for W. The house was stocked with toiletries, hair tools (did not need to bring my flat iron and curling iron as Tina provided them), a high chair, beach bags, books, magazines and everything you could need for a successful week long stay. Tina is so fabulous that she even bought us a stroller for Westley as we had forgotten to bring ours. Seriously, they went above and beyond.

And then of course the highlight of our trip was the incredible “Sea to Table” experience – Lobstering with Capt. Phil in the morning and then a four-course meal prepared by Tina at home. More on that below!

Fabulous Food

This is one of my passions, so needless to say, I had quite the laundry list of food stops researched and saved on my Yelp collection for Maine. I spent a lot of time reading reviews, looking at food pics (#foodporn) and curating a list of food stops that would be fulfilling!

Clearly, lobster was one of our Maine objectives, but we also wanted to try a variety of other food, so we ate everything from tacos to Indian and it was all delicious. Food in Southern Maine is part of the attraction. Here’s a taste of our foodie adventures:

  • All the LOBSTA
    • We ate lobster every day…sometimes twice a day and it never got old. I mean, Maine lobster is EVERYTHING and it’s prepared in so many ways, and did not disappoint. The Maine Lobster Rolls are as good as everyone says and we tried all kinds of interpretations from hot with drawn butter to cold with light mayo and scallions. And while we did not try this, even McDonald’s had a Lobster Roll offering. LOL.
  • Sea to Table with Capt. Phil and Tina
    • This was an unforgettable experience all around. Our hosts Capt. Phil and Tina offer a special excursion to guests of Lobstering and a homemade meal with your live catch. This was hands down my favorite part of our vacation.
    • We woke up early on Monday and drove to the Wells Marina, boarding Capt. Phil’s boat. It was a beautiful, cool morning – the air was crisp and the water was ice cold. We embarked on our lobstering adventure by going to five different traps and taking home five lobsters including a big mama (that I would end up eating that night). As part of the excursion, we learned all about the lobster industry and the crustacean — from how to identify whether it’s a male or female to a lefty or righty. We also saw porpoises and did some fishing. Overall it was a magical Maine morning.
    • We wrapped the adventure with an incredible poolside four-course meal that evening starting with a caprese salad, followed by homemade lobster bisque (Westley loved it), steamed, fresh caught (by us) Maine lobster with drawn butter paired with corn-on-the-cob and new potatoes and a raspberry vanilla cake. And of course, crisp and delicious white wine.
  • BeachFire Grill
    • This was our first dinner stop in Maine on Sunday night. It’s right on Main Street in Ogunquit and was a tasty kick off to our trip. We shared the signature nachos with buffalo chicken, a lobster roll (our first! in Maine) and Fish n Chips with local Haddock, malt vinegar and tartar sauce.
  • Tulsi North
    • Our 6-year wedding anniversary fell during our vacation, so we celebrated with our favorite food, Indian. I was not expecting such a gem in Maine, but this spot was legit and one of the best Indian meals we’ve ever had. We ordered chicken tikki masala, palak paneer and lamb korma. The flavors and sauces were next level and the lamb was the most tender we’ve ever tasted. Finished the meal off with Indian beer. Cheers to six years 🙂
  • Jake’s
    • This was home to our favorite Lobster Roll and you order and pick up from a window. We tried both versions hot with drawn butter (our fave) and traditional, cold with light mayo and spices (only time we say yes to mayo) served with hand cut fries and fresh battered onion rings. YES!
  • The Maine Diner
    • As avid watchers of Guy Fieri’s Triple D, the Maine Diner was a must visit. It is a traditional diner with incredibly creative food. We tried all of Guy’s favorites including the famous Lobster Pie, seafood chowder (best chowder we had) and a lobster club. Topped off the meal with a homemade chocolate cream pie. A winning combo.
  • Feile Irish Pub
    • A local treasure, this real deal Irish Pub is located in a historic old structure that housed the Lindsey Tavern from 1799 until the mid-twentieth century. Owned by an Irish couple from Limerick, the Pub had great food and great beer all with live Irish music as the backdrop. Westley of course LOVED the live music. Food wise, we shared the Nachos O’Houlihan (house cut potato crisps with bacon, cheese, and rosemary beef gravy) Bangers n Mash and a Reuben. Nom nom.
  • Jameson Tavern in Freeport
    • We stumbled upon this historic eatery while spending the day in Freeport. We had some local brews and the lunch special which included a Maine Lobster Roll paired with Clam Chowder.
  • Cobblestone Grill in Old Orchard Beach
    • Before we hit the arcade and carnival rides, we fueled up at this Italian Café. Great service, atmosphere and food. We noshed on a lobster quesadilla (it was amazing) and chicken parm sub.
  • Pizza Napoli
    • This was the perfect lunch post walking the Marginal Way. Simple, but tasty we ordered a large specialty pizza (Italian style) and Coca Cola classic.
  • Las Olas Taqueria
    • If you know me, you know I LOVE Mexican. This local, QSR spot had fresh tacos, burritos and quesadillas and a caliente salsa bar. Perfect lunch spot.
  • Scoop Deck
    • We all scream for ice cream! This place was sweet on all fronts from the décor to the 70+ flavors. We each ordered a cup of homemade ice cream and topped off the outing with a photo shoot (Instagrammabale moment anyone?) in front of the “Life is Sweet” mural.

Things to Do

A sample of our family fun and Maine adventures!

  • Ogunquit Playhouse
    • This 85-year-old theater is such a treasure. During the summer they put on spectacular children’s shows with the Junior Players and these kids are truly talented. We were lucky enough to catch a matinee of Lion King, Jr. Westley loved the musical and it was a perfect start to our Sunday.
  • Portland Head Light
    • A quick hour drive to Portland made for an awesome day trip. We spent part of the day at one of Maine’s iconic lighthouses in Cape Elizabeth. The setting was absolutely magical, hiking down to the rocks and water and took it all in.
  • Portland Science Center Real Pirates Exhibit
    • We saw this advertised on a bus at the Head Light and decided on a whim to visit the National Geographic exhibit. This was a very rich exhibit with lots of artifacts, authentic pirate treasure and history on one of the most famous pirates and his sunken ship, discovered off the coast of Maine.
  • Marginal Way
    • This mile-ling scenic walkway ends in Perkins Cove and borders the beautiful cliffs and water. We brought the stroller and took in the beautiful scenery, making stops along the way to sit on the many benches that overlook the water. Not to be missed!
  • Ogunquit Beach
    • Being a Florida girl, I wasn’t sure if Maine’s beaches would be up to par. Happy to report, while the water was COLD, the beaches were beautiful. Ogunquit Beach was unique because on one side you have a bay and then the beach on the other side. There is a current that takes you from the bay side to the beach and many people brought floats, making it a lazy river type ride. The other part we loved about the beach was how far back the water was set during low tide – probably a half mile. There were tons of small pools, sand bars and waves. Perfect beach for a toddler. Next time, we’ll bring a wetsuit though 🙂 
  • The Ogunquit Trolley
    • While this isn’t necessarily an attraction, the Trolley was a great way to get around town and something W thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a great way to see Ogunquit and enjoy the summer breeze.
  • Playland at Old Orchard Beach
    • This classic boardwalk amusement park was tons of fun from the giant indoor/outdoor arcade to the rides. There are tons of kid friendly rides and the operators are teens rather than carnies J
  • L. Bean HQ + Village in Freeport
    • This little port town is a shopper’s paradise. We visited the enormous L.L. Bean headquarters, which is more like its own little city with multiple buildings, an amphitheater and even a children’s village. We then grabbed lunch (lobster roll and chowder of course) at one of Maine’s oldest Taverns.
  • Boston Duck Tours
    • To maximize our last day, which also included travel back home, we left Maine early and did a 9am Duck Tour in Boston. This was a fun and fast way to see the city by land and water.

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Toddler Travel Tips: Brace Yourself + Have A Drink

Optimistically or naively, we decided to take our first official family vacation (or trip as some of my wiser mama friends have told me – vacation is just the two of you) to Maine. This meant a two flight journey there and back (four flights total) with our strong-willed two and a half year old toddler. I know, I know, you probably think we’re crazy…jury’s still out. The trip was a roller coaster in the sky with ups and downs, but certainly a trip we will never forget. 😆 After flying with our sweet and spicy W (tantrums on the floor and all 😱😱😱), here are my tips for traveling with a toddler (tyrant):

Invest in Delta Comfort (or 1st Class)

  • Feel free to apply this to whatever airline you choose — just choose one that offers some kind of upgrade 😃 First things first, there are drinks for mommy and daddy. 🙌🏼 Second, it’s closer to the front and you have more leg room (especially nice for the tall hubby). We chose aisle 10, which is the first seat behind first class, to ensure even more leg room and the closest seat possible to the front.
  • While the ticket may be a bit pricier (not wildly different from coach), is there really a dollar figure to keep you sane? Exactly. 😜

Buy a Jetkids

  • This little invention is definitely worth the investment. It’s a BOGO — a riding suitcase + airplane bed. Need I say more! W was definitely the talk of ATL – everyone from flight attendants to travelers asked about this amazing contraption. It kept him busy and entertained, provided a fun ride, storage for toys and books and a bed on the plane. Now, if they only made these for adults 👌🏼

Sky Club It

  • If you have a long layover (we had a 2+ hour layover), do yourself a favor and go straight to the Sky Club (or airline equivalent). It is much more safe and intimate than the gate and provides a welcome change for parents and toddler.
  • Outside of the food options, coffee, juice and water, there are complimentary adult drinks to help you deal with toddler travel. I enjoyed some white wine, while the hubby partook in Bloody Mary’s. Another win, the private bathrooms with a nice changing table and plenty of space for toddler play time. W enjoyed his time in the Sky Club and it paid off majorly, when he fell asleep on the flight. With a Delta Platinum Amex, it’s $29 per person. Best $60 I’ve EVER spent.

Tire Them Out

  • First, make peace with the fact that you will have two kinds of people to deal with: the sympathizers (those who have been in your shoes and totally understand) and the judgers (those who have selective memory or have never been in your shoes). Once you have come to terms with that, focus on your give zero f$&@s attitude and let your kid run wild in the airport, sky lounge or wherever. Trust me, this paid pay off BIG when he immediately passed out upon boarding the plane, sleeping for 2 hours. 👌🏼🙌🏼🙏🏼

Board LAST

  • When I travel for business I’m happy to board early with Gold Medallion. As a traveling mom, zone FAMILY (aka last to board) is a blessing in disguise. Our strong willed toddler is equally awesome as he is restless. We learned during our first flight that early boarding was not a good thing. He wanted freedom and was not interested in his seatbelt. Our second flight, we waited until last call, making the wait one before take off minimal. You live, you learn.

Gummy Bears FTW

  • This was a Pro Tip from my work wife BFF, KA who suggested gummy bears during taxi, take off and landing. As most kids don’t know how to pop their ears and can’t chew gum that young, gummy bears are a welcome treat that will keep your child occupied and chewing during critical flight times. Since W doesn’t often get to enjoy candy, this was a highlight for him and avoided any ear issues. Win, win.

Overall, travel days were better than anticipated. I set expectations low to then be pleasantly surprised. W is not scared of flying, which is awesome and between our four flights, the first was the toughest, but after that it was smooth-ish flying.