Archives for June 2018

Top 10 Vacation Tips To Save Money in Walt Disney World

If you have been hanging around here more than one second, you know that I love all things Disney, and this of course includes vacationing in Walt Disney World. However, it can be very expensive to vacation there especially if you have kids. Over the years I have learned a thing or two to help cut costs while still having a ton of fun. Some things just don’t matter as much if it means you get to still go to your happy place, right? Check out my top 10 10 vacation tips to save money in Walt Disney World:

Save Money in Walt Disney World

1.) Bring food from home or order groceries: All WDW hotels have mini fridges, and all DVC (disney vacation club) rooms have microwaves, and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom DVC villas have full kitchens. If you are driving to WDW, bring food with you or stop when you get to Orlando for groceries. If you are flying, take advantage of grocery delivery services like Garden Grocer. One of my favorite Disney memories is staying at a DVC resort and grilling burgers and eating outside with the family at picnic tables. (Yes all villa resorts have grills!) We aren’t big breakfast eaters so have brought milk, cereal, and protein bars for breakfast, and even made sandwiches for lunch. It saves a ton of money because let’s face it, Disney food is pricey.

2.) Purchase base tickets: Choose a base ticket instead of a park hopper to save money. Remember, with a base ticket you can only go into one park per day, but you can go in and out of that park as many times as you want. If you have little ones, consider going to a park in the morning, then going back to your resort for a nap and swim, then head back to the park in the early evening.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

3.) Target gift cards: If you have a Target red card, you already (hopefully) know you save 5% on all purchases. Did you know this includes Disney gift cards? Pick up a couple everytime you shop at Target then save them for your trip. You can even pay off your hotel or package balance with them.

 

4.) Souvenirs from home: Disney shirts, toys, and the like are SO expensive. Like it’s painful. Thankfully, I have a Disney Store outlet near my house with great prices. I have bought toys and clothes for Emma Kate there and then given them to her when we are at Disney. We have even surprised her in the morning and said “Mickey or Tinkerbell left her a present overnight”. This way we can stay out of the stores and save some money. You can literally find a lot of the same toys from the parks at the outlet (there is even one in Orlando near Disney!) or online when the Disney Stores has sales.

5.) Bring your own water:  We always bring out own water from home by the case, but you can also bring a refillable water bottle, or ask for free ice water in a cup at any counter service location. A bottle of water at WDW is $3+, and I can get a whole case for that much. Save your money for other things!

6.) Choose where you stay wisely: There are tons of on site WDW hotels, and if you go at certain times of the year and are flexible with your dates, you can go when prices are lowest and snag a resort of package discount, maybe even free dining. However, don’t be afraid to look outside Disney property. There are several great hotels near Disney Springs as well that can save you a lot of money. Remember, holidays and summer are the most expensive and most crowded.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

 7.) Chase Disney Visa: We have a Chase Disney Visa credit card that we use for everyday purchases (please note, we pay it off in full every month!) and we earn points that translate into Disney dollars. (holla!) We use the cards for everything from gas to daycare bills to groceries and money adds up fast! I have a friend who paid for 3/4 of a Disney cruise with her points, so it is like getting free money! They also offer merchandise discounts as well around the parks.

8.) Share meals: At the sit down restaurants (not the fancy ones) we have found that portion sizes are quite large, and Emma Kate and I can easily split a meal. You can always get a mickey bar or popsicle later if you are still hungry, which is actually what I prefer anyway. 🙂

9.) Have an “off” day: Disney Springs has been revamped over the past couple of years and now it’s a destination in and of itself. The best thing? It’s free! (well, unless you have a shopping problem.) Free parking, free wifi, free live music, and chocolate samples. You can also play with Legos and there is a splash pad area that has kept Emma Kate entertained many times while we eat outside at Earl of Sandwich. Take a day “off” from the parks in the middle of your trip and hit up Disney Springs for a half day, then spend a half day at the pool, or ride the monorail around and look at some of the gorgeous hotel lobbies.

10.) Bring your own stroller: Lastly, if you have small kids, bring your own stroller. This will save you from renting from an outside company or renting one of the uncomfortable hard plastic ones from the parks, which by the way you cannot take back to your hotel. It may not be a huge savings but every little bit counts when you want to have the vacation of your dreams!

Save Money in Walt Disney World

Related: Tips for Pandora with a Preschooler

5 Things Friday XXXI

Hey-o! Happy Friday my friends. We made it through another week, which means time to catch up on some things that I either haven’t mentioned on the blog or that you may have missed on social media. (Psstt Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for the most up to the minute happenings!)

1.) Dumbo Teaser: Did you know that there is a live action version of the beloved story of Dumbo coming out in early 2019? YES! I grew up on this Movie, and Emma Kate’s “must do” ride every time we go to Magic Kingdom is Dumbo. I can’t wait for us to watch this together! Take a peek at the teaser now:

2.) Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama: Bobby and I are heading out on a press trip with Carnival Cruise lines next week, and we will be going to a new to me port (Bermuda) on the new to EVERYONE ship, the Carnival Horizon! I had the privilege of checking out this beauty at the naming ceremony last month, and can’t wait to sail on her for four nights with some other amazing bloggers. I will have wifi on the ship and will do my best to update as much as I can, signal permitting (again, the best place for updates will be Twitter and Instagram/Instagram stories).

carnival horizon

3.) Nerd Alert: If you follow my Instastories you may have already seen this, but lately I have been having problems with fatigued eyes, headaches, and having a hard time falling asleep at night. I decided to take the plunge and get some blue light blocking glasses. I found some cheap ones with great reviews on Amazon, and so far I am loving them! My eyes don’t feel so worn down at night, and I am falling asleep way faster than before. You can check out the affiliate link for the ones I purchased here.

4.) Action Hero: I was invited to be a Women’s Health Action hero! I will be partnering with them on different campaigns throughout the rest of the year, testing out products and things and telling you which I like, and why. It’s an amazing encouraging and uplifting program and I am so thankful to be a part of it. Look for #WHActionHero on social media for more.

5.) Adventure Island: Last weekend, Bobby and I took Emma Kate and my parents to Adventure Island courtesy of the water park, and we had a blast! We had never been and I will admit I was super impressed. It’s so fun to know something so great is just a few minutes from my house, and I hope we get to go back (especially because I totally want to rent one of the super cool cabanas!) Emma Kate loved the splash pad area with slides and more, and we even all went down a super fast and cool raft ride together (EK and my mom were not fans but they did good!) Bobby rode the brand new Vanish Point slide and said it was a lot of fun, and an adrenaline rush as you anticipate the floor dropping out from under you (YES it happens my friends!) Check out AdventureIsland.com for a fun promo they have going on through July 1 that involves Busch Gardens.

4 Tips for Stroller Running in the Heat

Now that it’s summer and all sense of a regular schedule has gone out the window, I have had to rethink some of my workout times and methods. I want to spend time with Emma Kate without neglecting my health, so it just makes sense for us to do some working out together. Thankfully she will still sit in the stroller while I run for three miles or less, so we are trying to do more of that lately. However, it. is. hot. Not only do I have to worry about being safe for myself, but also for my daughter, so here are my best tips for stroller running:

stroller running

1.) Sunscreen for everyone: I know it may be tempting to think that because they are in a shaded stroller or covered by a canopy that your child is safe from the sun, but they most definitely still need sunscreen! Also if you are a heavy sweater don’t forget to reapply. I use kids spray sunscreen on her body, and sensitive skin just for face on Emma Kate’s face. I use whatever is in the closet for myself. ha.

stroller running

2.) Dress appropriately: Cool, light sweat wicking clothing is best for everyone. I got Emma Kate some super cheap athletic gear at our local consignment shop. We obviously don’t need blankets in the summer! Don’t drape your stroller with a blanket because it traps heat inside and you need air to circulate as much as possible.

3.) Hydrate: Fill up a bottle of water for yourself, and for your wee one. A lot of strollers have a handy basket underneath where you can bring sunscreen, water, a towel, etc. along with you. I also purchased an accessory for my stroller that has two cupholders up top, and a flip down cup holder and tray for Emma Kate in front of her. It’s great for keeping her entertained with snacks, too.

4.) Time your run and route wisely: Try to run early in the morning or late in the evening when you aren’t in the worst of the sun, which is between 10-2. Not only will it be cooler, but there will also be more shade and everyone will be happier. I personally prefer running in the morning and getting it out of the way. Emma Kate is awake at 6:00 most days so it gives us something to do before the world is awake.

5.) Pick a good jogging stroller: I am currently loving the BOB Rambler! It is cheaper than other models, but still packs a powerful punch. It has 12 inch high impact tires for those bumpy roads, a swivel locking front wheel, and a 75 pound weight capacity. I also love the one hand recline adjustment, two step fold, and foot activated parking break. If some of the other BOB strollers are too expensive for your taste, know that the Rambler has the best features at a lower price point. 

You can check out the Rambler’s other features here and also find out where to purchase your own. Happy running!

RELATED: 10 tips for running in the heat

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of BOB, however all opinions are my own.

Cool Down This Summer at Adventure Island

Disclosure: I was provided free tickets to Adventure Island and Busch Gardens as well as attendance at a VIP party, however all opinions are my own.

Recently Bobby and I attended a special VIP party at Tampa’s Adventure Island water park. We had never been to the water park before, so were super excited to check it out before we bring Emma Kate on her first visit.

There were storm clouds all around, and it did pour on and off, but we still had a blast and got to see some of the awesome attractions and even make a few animal friends.

Did I mention they had delicious cocktails served out of pineapples? I may have had more than one, and was able to cross off a bucket list item!

As we were walking to our destination I immediately saw this fun kids area and can’t wait to bring EK back here. There is another splash area as well but we didn’t get to visit that part of the park.

Hello lazy river! This is where I will be spending my time friends.

We did get to see some awesome, tall, cool looking slides including the park’s newest attraction, Vanish Point. It is a drop straight down, yes the floor literally falls out from under your feet!

adventure island

Say hello to my friends that came to greet us. The flamingos were just walking around saying hey to everyone.

There was music and delicious island fare, and everyone was so nice and friendly. I give the food and drinks two thumbs up!

I had no idea you could rent cabanas here. This looks so relaxing and nice on a hot summer day. Rental is for the whole day and includes four lounge chairs, a mini fridge with water, meal vouchers, and all day locker rental.

Another shot of these awesome slides. We got to see someone go down the big yellow and green one in a family sized raft and it looked awesome. There is plenty to do here, and tons of dining options!

There are so many other slides, pools, and activities to explore at Adventure Island, and for a limited time, buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get an Adventure Island Fun Card for FREE*. Hurry! Offer ends on July 1.

adventure island

Be sure to Follow Adventure Island on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Huge Mistakes I Made As a New Blogger

I have been blogging over eight and a half years (wow) and there is still plenty that I don’t know. That’s what is so fun about this job, I learn something new every day because things change so quickly. If you want to be successful, you have to learn to adapt, which admittedly isn’t my strong suit…hence why this has been so good for me. Anyway, I’m rambling. I recently came out with an online guide for bloggers wanting to make money working with brands.  I wanted to help bloggers that were looking to make money with their blog and social media accounts that didn’t really know where to start. But then I started thinking…let’s back up to before you even get to that point, right? I feel like I skipped a step. I have a free email course for people wanting to start a blog, then I have my how to make money eguide I mentioned above…but nothing really for “in between”, so I thought I would craft a post with 5 huge mistakes I made when I was in my first 6 months or so of blogging in hopes that you can avoid some of them, and be on a faster path to success.

5 huge mistakes I made as a new blogger

1.) Blogging too often just for the sake of posting: When I first got into blogging, I was writing posts SEVEN days a week. Lawd. I mean, I know I didn’t have a child then so I had more time on my hands (can you believe I used to get BORED on the weekends?!? That clearly hasn’t happened in over 3.5 years)…but WOW that’s a lot of writing. The problem was, I felt like I “had” to blog every day because that’s what everyone else was doing, and so I would crank out a post even if I didn’t really have anything to say. This led to some really boring and useless posts that make me want to hide my head in shame. Now, I only blog typically two or three times a week, and my posts are much more informational and “deep”. Writing a post and editing photos is a big undertaking. Don’t get burned out by thinking you have to put up new content all. the. time. Because you don’t. It’s better to have QUALITY stuff that people will resonate with and want to come back for more of again and again.

2.) Not asking for help/not networking: Sometimes I will admit I can let my pride get the better of me, and this can lead to me trying to do things on my own. Blogging is NOT one of those things that you want to try to do on your own. Your peers are a wealth of information, and most bloggers are happy to share tips, help cross promote for you, and encourage you. If you put yourself on an island, you will remain on an island. People talk, PR agencies talk about bloggers to each other and to other bloggers. If you are viewed as someone who doesn’t play well with others, it could hurt you in the long run. There are some great Facebook groups out there you can plug into for some help and advice.

3.) Tried to be someone I wasn’t: I think at one time or another we have all fallen into this trap. We see someone else having success, and we want success too, so we do as they do. Granted there is nothing wrong with getting ideas from other bloggers, but there is a difference in getting an idea and making it your own, and trying to be someone you aren’t. Remember that your readers are reading your blog because they like you and what you have to say, not because you are just like someone else. Own your unique perspective and find your own voice. People will notice and you will find your tribe!

4.) Not being self hosted: It took me a minute after I started blogging to jump on the self hosted bandwagon. One because frankly I had no idea what it meant other than it sounding technical and complicated, and two, it meant spending money on my blog, and I had not even made any money, so it was scary to take that leap! Just remember, if you wait until you “have more money” to do things in life that have the potential to MAKE you money, then you will never make the leap. Being self hosted does have a cost, but it’s not high when you consider all the things you most likely spend money on in a week. You can get started for just $3.95 a month, and it will enable you to host ads on your site that will make you income. I don’t have to ever touch my ads and the money just gets deposited into my account every month, and it way more than pays for my self hosting.

5.) Not promoting my posts enough: When I first began blogging, I thought you wrote a post, shared it to Facebook and Twitter once, and that was that. It’s sad to think how many of my posts would have done so much better had I promoted them more. (I have gone back and reworked and re promoted some things, but still, it’s sad.) There are so many more ways to promote your posts, and you should definitely promote them more than one time! You did all that hard work, so get as many eyes on it as possible!

If you have any questions about the links above such as my free email course or my new eguide, let me know.

RELATED: The Ultimate Blogger Guide for Working With Brands

5 Things Friday XXX

Greetings! It’s been awhile since I did one of these posts (like, October!) so I thought it was high time to do a little catching up for those who don’t regularly follow my Instagram stories.

1.) Great but quick trip to NYC: I wrote a post about the naming ceremony and my time on the Carnival Horizon, but I haven’t talked a lot about my evening in the city and the next morning before getting on the boat.  Carnival put us up at the Sheraton Times Square, so we were right in the middle of the action. Amanda and I walked down 5th Avenue, past the Plaza hotel, and all through Central Park (even to the fountain from FRIENDS, see below). I have been to NYC one other time but not to the park and was super pumped to check it off my bucket list. The weather was rainy and chilly, but that didn’t stop us.

2.) Moving on up: The way Emma Kate’s daycare is structured, they go ahead and move children up at the start of summer instead of fall. Even though she turns 4 in September, she misses the cut off of September 1, so she moved from the young 3’s to the older 3’s this week, and I cannot believe how much she has changed in a year! Below is her last day of 2’s vs. last day of young 3’s and she had changed so much. I’m happy for her but sad for me at the same time. My little toddler is no longer so little.

3.) Timehop Sweetness: Some days I really dislike Timehop and things it reminds me of, but some days I love it! I was reminded yesterday that it has been TEN YEARS since we brought Bella home to be a part of our family. How adorable was she as a puppy?!? Dying over here. She was so tiny that she had a hard time jumping over the threshold to get in and out the back door.

4.) Disney Day: I have a gold Florida resident pass which means I am only blocked out for Christmas and spring break, but Bobby and EK are blocked out all summer as well after this weekend, so we are going to brave the crowds and go to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday with my parents. I just want to soak it all in one last time as a family before fall….along with every other family in central Florida I’m sure! Be sure to follow along on my Instagram stories and on Twitter.

5.) Make money blogging: I have gotten a lot of questions over the years about how to work with and pitch brands and how to make money blogging and via social media. Well I finally got my rear in gear and created a quick guide you can purchase. Check it out here and let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!