5 Tips for Running When you Travel

Update: This post on 5 Tips for Running When you Travel first appeared in 2015, and I have now updated it, in October of 2018. 

If you are anything like me, you might make excuses when you are traveling for why you can’t go for a run. I have used every logic possible to talk myself out of a run, but in the end, I always regret not running when I travel. When I’m traveling, no matter if it’s by car or air, I always tend to eat more unhealthy than I do at home, and I’m sitting more than I do at home, so if there was ever a time I needed to run, traveling is when it is! So below I have compiled 5 Tips for running when you travel. Enjoy!

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

1.) Research the area: It’s not wise to just take off running from your hotel without knowing a bit about the area. Maybe you could even try to connect with local runners on social media and ask them their favorite routes. Traveling is a great time for exploring a new place! Maybe find a route that has a convenience store you can stop at along the way for a bottle of water, or a park with a scenic trail. Remember, knowledge is power!

2.) Pack well: I know there are a million thoughts going in and out of your head when trying to pack for a trip, and thinking about running gear may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have everything you need all together in one bag you may be more likely to actually go for a run when you reach your destination. I bring a drawstring bag with my GPS watch, headbands, GU, body glide, sunglasses*, etc. whenever I travel so there is no excuse and no rummaging around in my suitcase. Then it’s just a matter of throwing in a couple running outfits and my shoes!

3.) Be safe: Always tell someone where you plan to run and what time you will be back, even if it’s a text to a friend or a front desk worker at the hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings! If you listen to music, make sure you can still hear your surroundings. You need to be on the lookout, especially in a bigger city where you may be crossing streets or around a lot more cars.

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Stopped at a crosswalk on a group run in Boston at the Healthy Living Summit.

4.) Make time: This is a big one for me! Travel wears me out y’all. The last thing I want to do after a long day of driving or flying is lace up my running shoes! It is important to look at your schedule and pencil in a time to hit the hotel gym or run the roads, or it may not actually happen. Sometimes the only available time is late at night, but it’s a good excuse to get out of your boring hotel room.

5.) Call the hotel: Hotel workers are your friend! Usually, they are super knowledgeable of the area, and can hopefully tell you areas you should probably avoid, or a place where runners go on the weekend to log some longer miles. They may even be able to give you the number of a local running store you can call for help as well. It never hurts to ask!

Thanks for checking out my 5 Tips for Running When you Travel.

QOTD: What is your best tip for running in a new place? To you venture outside or stick to the hotel gym?

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through my link I receive a small commission.

Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K

Update: This post about the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay 5k was originally published in 2013, but I have since updated it and am republishing it now, in October of 2018.

Disney Cruise Line has a private island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. They also have a FREE 5k race you can run with a real medal given to you at the finish line. I have written other Castaway Cay 5k posts, you can search for them after reading this one, which is Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K including a walkthrough of how the morning goes. (If you want the short, bullet point tips version scroll down to the bolded wording)

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to at the end of the voyage. The Castaway Cay 5k is considered a runDisney run. It is a free fun run and is a 5k distance that has a race clock so you can see your time at the end.

The process of the 5k has changed over the years, but as of January 2018 when I last ran, below is the process:

-You sign up at the shore excursion desk and are given “tickets” telling you where to be and when.

-There will also be information in your navigator on where/how to sign up and where to be the morning of the race.

-We met in the main nightclub area which will be different depending on the ship you are on.

-They won’t let you in to “sign in” until a certain time, and the line outside gets quite long.

-BRING YOUR ID AND SHIP CARD. They will sign you in, and give you a race bib and safety pins

-Take a seat and hang out and meet new people until they come on stage explaining the debarking process and race map to you.

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Typically, you walk off the ship together and to the starting point by the bike rentals. Please note it’s a pretty long walk, so be prepared.

At 9:30 when we were cleared to go ashore onto Castaway Cay (time changes depending on sailing). We walked together off the gangway as a large group and onto the island. A cast member led the way.

PRO TIP: Grab some towels to put into your backpack. Backpack? What backpack? That leads to my most important pro tip. Bring all your stuff for the day with you! They have a large box to store belongings in at the start/finish line. Trust me, you don’t want to walk aallll the way back to the ship after to shower and change then come aallll the way back. That will waste an hour of your day on this beautiful island. Instead, we pack a bag with our swimsuits, shower wipes, deodorant, sunscreen, and anything else we will need for the day post-race. Then after we run, we shower off outside the bathrooms, then go in to change, wipe off, and get ready for the day.

Ok so where was I. The starting line is also the finish line, and there are directional arrows on the course. The biggest problem people have is that they don’t listen. You have to make TWO TOTAL LOOPS at one point in the race and for some reason, this is confusing for people.

castaway Cay 5k

There will be cast members there to help get everyone lined up and ready.

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Just like any race, it’s harder to move at first then it thins out pretty quickly.

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Soon after you start you will see your first directional sign in red (below). As long as you aren’t in first place just follow the people in front of you ha!

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You will then see a cast member standing by a water stop directing you into the bike loop.

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The loop is my least favorite because you have to run it twice and it’s just tree after tree.

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After you exit the loop, you head down the airstrip to Serenity Bay.

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Once you get to the end you are supposed to loop it like a cul de sac and come back the other way then head into the loop again. Some people cut this turn short and cheat but I feel that only cheats yourself so just run the whole thing. 🙂

You then head back down the airstrip and this would be a great time to grab water before heading back into the loop if you need it.  After you make it out of the bike loop you head back towards the finish line which was the way you first came/also the start line. The finish feels great, and be sure to watch the clock as you cross so you can see what your time is.

Castaway Cay 5k

There are water coolers at the finish line, plus your medal! There was a photographer as well who was taking pictures. If you buy a photo package they have adorable little race decals at the bottom!

There are bathrooms near the finish (which is where we change) and there is also a shop that sells 5k merchandise. Be mindful that they have been known to run out, so don’t wait until the end of the day if you want a cute shirt.

We then grab our bags out of the box and change, then head to the tram stop which happens to be right by the finish line. We then head out to Serenity Bay, and hit the beach for an amazing and relaxing day on Castaway Cay!

Here are my best tips summed up that I have learned after doing the Castaway Cay 5k 10 times that may be useful.

1.) Bring your beach clothes and things with you in a bag or backpack so you don’t have to go back to the ship. You will waste a good 45 minutes to an hour walking back, showering, and coming back out when you can change and shower at the beach. They have a large bin you can keep your things in at the start line.

2.) Get towels when you get off the ship. I am so glad we did because they did NOT have towels at Serenity Bay and we would have had to go back and get some.

3.) Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat. It’s HOT and there isn’t a lot of shade on the course, especially on the airstrip.

4.) Hydrate! They set up a water stop at the bike loop, but you can also take advantage of the water stops in the bike loop and at the Serenity Bay tram stop.

5.) SOMETIMES they have a Disney character waiting at the finish line (didn’t this time but did last time) so bring a camera or phone to capture the moment!

6.) If you want to see the island but don’t want to run, there is an “island power walk” that leaves just a few minutes after the 5k that you can join in with, or you can always rent bikes.

7.) Be sure to look at your finishing time as you cross, it’s on your left up high in a brown box

8.) At the souvenir shop right by the finish, they sell 5k finishers shirts. I wouldn’t wait until late in the day to get one in case they run out of your size. I snagged mine right after I finished the race and they had plenty.

9.) Bring your ID and ship card or you can’t check in for the race or get off the ship!

10.) Have fun! Just remember, you burned extra calories so now you can enjoy an extra Konk Cooler on the island!

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(This photo is taken from the start. When you are coming into the finish, the clock is facing the other way so you can see your time.)

Special note: Apaprently this happens VERY RARELY but it does happen and unfortunately it happened to us. We were unable to dock on Castaway Cay on one of our cruises, but we still had the 5k on the ship! We had to run around a certain number of times (9 maybe?) and they had a water stop set up and we got our medals. Not ideal, but it was nice to still get to run the race anyway! Read more about that Castaway Cay 5k experience here.

I have loved running the Castaway Cay 5k on the beautiful island, it’s a great way to start your day and you get a fun souvenir, too. Slow or fast, it doesn’t matter, be sure to give this a try on your next cruise!

Visit Travelwiththemagic.com for Disney Cruise Line information.

7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room

Emma Kate just had a birthday, and she obtained a lot more, well…stuff. We also got rid of some things, but it just seems to keep growing, yall! I was on the hunt for some great ways to organize her things, and I thought since I was having this issue, some other people may be having it as well, so I thought I would turn it into a post and share.

7 amazon finds to organize your kids room

Here are 7 Amazon finds to organize your kid’s room:

1.) Delta Children Deluxe Multi-Bin Toy Organizer with Storage Bins

Little things. Little people. Little Pieces. Little parts. They are everywhere and drive me bonkers. The idea of having bins we can take out and put back in is super appealing, and we can organize them in each bin. Plus it’s pretty compact and Emma Kate can help clean up with this one.
7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid's Room


2.) ClosetMaid 1499 KidSpace Open Storage Locker, 49-Inch Height

I wish I had known about this in our first house that didn’t have a mud room! This would be perfect for a hallway, or even inside the closet for your kids to hang up their coats and bookbags when they come home. Plus, it’s super cute!


3.) Goldenvalueable Hanging Mesh Space Saver Bags Organizer 3 Compartments Toy Storage Basket for Kids Room organization mesh hanging bag 2 Pcs
Set , Pink and Purple

How fun are these? I like that you can see through them so you don’t have to try and remember what you put in each one! Would be fun for stuffed animals or dolls.

4.) Naomi Home Kids Toy Sling Book Rack, Primary Colors/Natural
I don’t know about you, but we are drowning in books. Emma Kate has a ton, and then I saved a bunch of mine from my childhood and we add them into the mix. I feel like when they are in stacks we end up reading the same ones over and over, but this would help us to see more of them at once.

5.) Bath Toy Organizer -The Original Tub Cubby – Large 14×20” Quick Dry Bathtub Mesh Net

EK is at this stage where she wants to put all her toys in the bathtub and have a “pool party” with them. Which is fine until it’s time to get out and then they are just all over the tub, some with sitting water in them, and that’s just not super sanitary. I love the idea of this net so they toys can drain, and also it’s a place to store soap and shampoo bottles.



6.) Weekly Dry Erase Board Calendar Stain Resistant Technology Magnetic Whiteboard Planner for Refrigerator

My child thrives on a schedule, so knowing what is going on the next day is important to her. She can’t read yet, but I think creating picture magnets and putting them on the days of the week would be a great way for us to all stay organized.


7.) Bean Bag Stuffed Animal Storage

Yall. I wish these were around when I was a kid. I had a million stuffed animals and it would have been great! Instead, we had real bean bag chairs, and they would get a hole in them and little white balls would spill all over the room, and then we had to patch them up repeatedly with duct tape. Ah, the good ole days. This is a great way to have a cute place to sit and keep all the furry friends out of sight. Love!

7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid's Room

As a part of the Amazon affiliate program, if you purchase a product through one of my links, I receive a small commission. Thanks for checking out these 7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room!

Related: How to tame your kid clutter while teaching them valuable lessons.

 

How To Start a Blog: FREE E-Course

UPDATE: This post was originally published in 2016 and I updated it in October of 2018.

Blogging has changed my life. Literally. Before blogging, I was working a “regular” job, not feeling like I had a creative outlet, and I just felt lost. After I started my blog, not only did I start making money, but I met so many people who are now my best friends. I have had opportunities to travel, run awesome races, try new products, and really spread my wings. I think anyone can blog, and love helping people realize that they too can “do it.”

How to start a blog

However, I have found that one really long blog posts with instructions on how to do something can just be too big and overwhelming.

I have truly enjoyed the few e-courses I have participated in, and thought to myself “hey, I can do that!” Basically, if you choose to sign up for my free e-course, you will be getting a series of five days worth of emails on a topic near and dear to my heart, which is how to start a blog.

 

I wrote a blog post about three years ago with tips on starting your own blog, and to this day it is one of my number one most read posts of all time. The post was decent, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface and left a lot of readers hanging on exactly how to go about doing the things I talked about in my blog post. Enter my e-course!

how to start a blog free e-course

I am SO excited to be offering this to you, my awesome readers. I know there are a bunch of you out there who would love to start a blog (and would be great at it!) but have no idea where to begin. It can be scary and overwhelming, but it is totally doable. Back when I began blogging, I had no help and just learned as I went.  I want to help you to not make the same mistakes I did, and I want to simplify the process for you. Also, if you already have a blog, you may still enjoy the course because, in the last couple of days of it, I give some tips and tricks that could be helpful to you.

Take a step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. Everyone has a unique perspective on the world to share, something that makes you special. Your words matter, so don’t keep it to yourself!

Please don’t waste months trying to figure things out on your own when I have already done the hard work for you. Sign up for my five day free e-course and get to blogging. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You can sign up by clicking the photo above or by clicking this link.

Related: 5 Reasons to get over your fear of starting a blog

PS: You can still sign up to get the free fitness and goal tracking printables.

7 Weight Loss Tips for Faster Results

When you decide you want to lose weight, you don’t want to wait until next year or next month to do it. It’s hard to even think about having to wait a couple of weeks to start seeing results. While there is no magic pill to get to where you want to be, there ARE ways to make sure you are on the fastest path safely possible to reach your goals. Here are 7 weight loss tips for faster results:

7 weight loss tips for faster results

1.) Eat All the Veggies: Not only will veggies fill you up so you won’t want to eat junk food, but they are rich in vitamins and nutrients your body loves to stay healthy and happy. You will feel better, look better, and be on your way to weight loss in no time. Don’t like veggies? Search Pinterest for recipes that “hide” that veggie taste. People are so creative and have come up with amazing recipes!

2.) Drink at Least 8 Glasses of Water: Water is great for your skin, fills you up, and keeps your systems running smoothly. It’s such a simple thing but just doing this ONE action can jumpstart your weight loss.

3.) Move 10,000 steps each day, with 4 days involving getting your heart rate UP HIGH (even if only for 15 minutes): Get a step counter or Fitbit* and get to walking! You should be moving a MINIMUM of 10k steps a day, plus several days of higher intensity workouts. Keep in mind doing hours of cardio isn’t the answer. Short bursts are super effective too!

4.) Track Calorie Intake…For Awhile: I use My Fitness Pal when I feel like I need to get back on track after a vacation of several days of not eating properly. It’s free, and a great way to give you a visual of exactly how many calories you are consuming in a day. That in itself is eye-opening enough to help you lose weight.

5.) Don’t Drink Your Calories: I will always remember this phrase from back when I used to watch The Biggest Loser. Jillian Michaels used to tell the contestants to never drink your calories! They are empty, you will still be hungry after, and they add up quick. Just look at a Starbucks menu and you will see what I mean. So many drinks have MORE calories than an ENTIRE MEAL and people drink those drinks PLUS eat a meal and then wonder why they aren’t losing weight. Stick to water except for an OCCASIONAL treat and it will quickly make a difference!

6.) Find A Workout You Love: Not all workouts are for everyone. Some love running, some love stand up paddleboarding, and some love tennis. Experiment and find what you love because then you are way more likely to stick with it. I would much rather play a game of volleyball then run for an hour, and that’s ok!

7 weight loss tips for faster results

7.) Get More Sleep: Cramming too many things into your schedule makes you less likely to want to work out or eat properly, so right there you are sabotaging your efforts. On top of that, your body will be stressed and you are more likely to get sick, so then you won’t be able to work out either! Studies show that getting enough sleep can help aid in weight loss because only getting a little bit of sleep can mess with your metabolism.

I hope you enjoyed these 7 weight loss tips for faster results!

RELATED: 7 Fitness hacks for the unmotivated

*If you purchase through this link, I will get a small percentage in commission.

Photos by rawpixelSara Dubler, Arek Adeoye, Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

Tips for an Adults Only Disney Trip

Update: This post on tips for an adults only Disney trip originally appeared in 2016, but I have updated it for 2018. Thanks for reading!

It’s no secret I love Walt Disney World. When I tell some of my friends my husband and I are going alone to Walt Disney World for the weekend without Emma Kate, they look at like I’m crazy. Why would I want to spend my adults only time with a bunch of kids? That’s when I get to explain our “Disney style”, and how it’s very different than a trip would look with Emma Kate in tow. While trips with her are super special and so much fun, there are “other ways” to tour the world as well.

Tips for an adults only Disney trip

So, here are my top five tips for an adults-only Disney trip, and maybe you will then see why we find our time in Disney so relaxing and enjoyable.

1.) Go Deluxe: I know it’s not in everyone’s budget, but if you can swing it (go at a cheaper time of year, use discounts, save up for a year etc.) I recommend staying at a deluxe resort, and if you save lots of pennies, splurge on a club level stay. I have stayed club level at all the Disney resorts, and it is truly a special treat. Honestly, it’s not worth it if you plan to jump up every morning, grab breakfast at the park, and stay gone until bedtime, but if you want to enjoy Disney at a leisurely pace, it’s the way to go. (Think: continental breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, wine and appetizers in the evenings, cordials and desserts at night.) Plus a lounge for you to sit in and read a book, chat with family members, or simply use it as a meeting spot. There are also dedicated cast members who help just club level guests with questions, dining reservations, and more. We love to eat and relax so it works for us!

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Even if you can’t splurge for club level, I recommend a deluxe resort if you plan to take things slow and spend time at your resort. Deluxe resorts have the best pool areas, lobbies, and food options, so there is plenty to do just soaking up the theming.

Even if you can’t splurge for club level, I recommend a deluxe resort if you plan to take things slow and spend time at your resort. Deluxe resorts have the best pool areas, lobbies, and food options, so there is plenty to do just soaking up the theming.

2.) Less park days: Here is where you can actually save some money. If you are going for a week, only get 4-5 days of park tickets and spend your other days doing things around your resort,  or even visiting the other resorts on property. There is plenty to do, which leads me to the next tip…

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3.) Beyond the Theme Parks: Since you have a couple of “free days” with no park tickets, take time to explore some of the lesser-known Disney fun such as Disney Springs, miniature golf, water parks, going fishing or parasailing, or enjoy tea at the Grand Floridian. I actually wrote two blog posts a while back about things to do beyond the theme parks. You can check them out here and here. Check out the awesome cabanas you can rent pictured below if you are at the Contemporary!

 Adults Only Disney Trip

4.) Sit on a bench: I know this sounds silly, but to this day it is one of my favorite things to do in Disney. People watching. I love grabbing Starbucks and finding a bench or laying in the hub grass at Magic Kingdom, and just watching the crowds go by while soaking up the Disney atmosphere. I feel like so many people rush from one ride to the next, that they don’t always take the time to really just soak in the fact that they are in Disney World! Stop and take a break and just be for a little while on your next trip. Grab some popcorn or a drink and just savor the moment.

 Adults Only Disney Trip

5.) Eat. A lot: I know everyone eats more on vacation, but when you are traveling with small kids, you typically don’t eat at fancy table service restaurants enjoying four-course meals. It’s more of let’s stick some chicken nuggets in your mouth and move on before they have a meltdown. This is your chance to enjoy some of the nicer restaurants, just taking your time and enjoying your vacation and the atmosphere. Some of my favorites are: California Grill, Narcoossees, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Citricos, and Artist Point. Be sure to schedule in a lot of time to sit and eat nice dinners, or even nice breakfasts and lunches, too! Whatever you want, it’s your vacation!

This was on our honeymoon! Babies!

These are just some of my tips for planning an adults only WDW vacation. The key is to relax and enjoy without feeling like you need to be somewhere every five minutes. That doesn’t sound very relaxing and enjoyable to this girl. You earned those vacation days my friend, and you don’t have to have your kids with you to enjoy Walt Disney World. Have fun!

 Adults Only Disney Trip

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite tip for an adults only Disney trip?

Is Your Child in the Right Britax Car Seat?

Disclosure: I was provided a Britax car seat, however, all opinions are my own.

Is your child in the right Britax car seat?

Emma Kate turned four on Monday, and over the past couple of months, I had some serious questions about what type of car seat she should be in. Since this week is child passenger safety week, I wanted to share my findings with you because, like me, some of you may be a little unsure as to what type of seat your child should be in as they grow. Especially for someone like Emma Kate, who is very tall for her age, I wanted to make sure she was comfortable, but more importantly as safe as possible.

For a couple years we have been in the Britax Boulevard ClickTight seat. First as a rear facing seat, then eventually as forward facing seat. However, over the summer we noticed how tight the seat was getting on her and she just seemed huge in this little seat, so I started doing some research. Thanks to some help from the kind folks at Britax, we were able to figure out a good option for Emma Kate and this new seat, the Frontier ClickTight, fits her so much better!

It has cupholders and will grow with her, even as a backless booster when she is ready to get out of the five-point harness. It has 2 layers of side impact protection, and a foam lined headrest. There are also multiple recline positions, and there is a 9 position quick adjust harness (it really is quick adjusting!) She feels like a big girl in it and I know it has the same safety and quality features as Britax seats we have had and enjoyed in the past.

Here are some things I learned about fitting your child for a car seat (pro tip: their website has a tool that helps you decide what Britax car seat to get for your child based on a number of factors. Check it out here!)

Child Fit & Best Practice:
• Rear Facing: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Britax strongly recommends that children ride rear-facing to the highest weight or height specified.
o Shoulder harness straps should be in the closest position at or below the child’s shoulders.
• Forward Facing: Britax strongly recommends that children should be secured with a harness system until they exceed the weight or height limits specified.
o Shoulder harness straps should be in the closest position at or above the child’s shoulders, parallel to
level ground.

Looking to put your child in a booster? Here is what you should know (also check out the Booster basics page)

“Belt-positioning boosters are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing harnessed seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is best for children to continue to use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether in the back seat for as long as possible. If your child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat but is not yet ready to stay seated properly in a belt-positioning booster using the lap and shoulder belt, consider using a Harness-2-Booster for the transition.”

 

How To Tell If It’s Time To Move Up

How can you tell that your child is ready to move on from their forward-facing car seat into a Harness-2-Booster? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Your child reached the top weight or height allowed for their convertible car seat with a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the user guide.)
  • Your child’s shoulders are above the top harness slots in their forward-facing seat. (This was Emma Kate’s problem!)
  • If your kid is a wiggle worm or sleeps often in the vehicle, then the booster may not be an appropriate selection just yet.

And finally, you may be wondering when to switch your child to a vehicle seat belt. Check out these tips:

Britax recommends that you continue to use a car seat to the upper limits of its recommended use, or until your child can fit properly in the adult seat belt.

To be able to fit an adult seat belt, a child must:

  • Be tall enough to sit without slouching
  • Keep his/her back and buttocks against the vehicle seat back
  • Keep his/her knees completely bent over the front edge of the vehicle seat
  • Keep his/her feet flat on the floor
  • Be able to stay comfortably seated this way, AND
  • The vehicle seat belt must be positioned correctly across the child’s hips and shoulder/middle of the chest

Not sure if your seat is installed correctly? Visit www.SafeKids.org to locate a checking station near you.

Britax car seat

Thanks so much, Britax for making sure Emma Kate was safe and comfortable in her new Britax car seat. Now, this mama can rest easy!

Related: Tips for stroller running in the heat

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

6 Tips for Running the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

The runDisney Wine and Dine half marathon weekend is definitely a favorite of mine because I love to eat, and naturally love EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival. This is also a great time of year to visit Walt Disney World as it’s starting to slowly cool off, and Christmas decorations are starting to go up!

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

Since this race has switched to a daytime race, I decided to update my tips post so that it makes more sense for the current race weekend situation. Here are my best tips for running the Wine and Dine half marathon.

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

1.) Hydrate in advance: Don’t wait until the night before to decide to start drinking water. The race will be HUMID and you will sweat a lot. Carry a water bottle with you days in advance, at the expo, to the parks, etc. Also hydrate on the course. There are plenty of water stops. I take one cup of Powerade and one cup of water at each stop starting with the second one. (I typically run through the first one).

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

2.) Prepare for before and after the race: If you are checking a bag, make sure you don’t put any valuables inside as runDisney is not responsible for anything stolen. If I’m driving I put my car key in my bag as well as a phone external battery and charger and a jacket because I always get cold quickly after a race. If you are meeting someone at the finish line, make sure you have a plan as to where you are meeting because cell service may be spotty with all the people in one small area.

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

3.) Watch your footing: runDisney does a great job of lighting up the roads, there are still some dark spots early in the morning and I have seen people trip and fall on the reflectors in the middle of the road! Also, running through Animal Kingdom will be tight, and has some uneven pavement so pay extra attention running through that park.

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

4.) Watch your food intake: Do not eat any news foods the day of or before the race. I know the unique foods at the Food and Wine festival are tempting, but save it for after the race and at the after party! As far as on course calories, there will be either sport beans or gels, so make sure your stomach can handle it, or bring your own fuel.

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

5.) Read the official race program: Be sure you know the course, where the aid stations are, and what time to get on a bus. Be sure you get to the race in enough time to go to the bathroom and check your bag. A good reason to know the course: real bathrooms! You will be running through the parks, so I always try to take a bathroom break if needed in a “real” bathroom. There is also a map showing you the set up of the pre race area and where to go to get in your corral. If you are in corral A in particular, they close it off early and start moving them up around 5:00. I have missed my corral before and had to weave through a lot of people to get up to A because they had already moved to the starting line. Not a fun experience!

rundisney wine and dine half marathon tips

6.) Enjoy the after party! If you registered for the half marathon, you get automatic entry into the party at EPCOT on Sunday night. It starts at 10:00, and be mindful if you get there early that they shut everything down from 9-10 to clear out the park so you won’t be able to get food or ride anything during this time. Take lots of pictures, enjoy the food booths and a park with less people in it. Congrats on a great race!

To get excited about the race, be sure to check out my past two Wine and Dine race recaps from 2011 and 2012! Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

QOTD: Will you be running this weekend? Do you have any tips to add?

Looking for more info on runDisney races? be sure to check out their website for more information!

Tips for Running a runDisney Race

I have gotten a lot of questions from people about runDisney races over the years. Tips for getting the most out of the weekend, what to expect, when to go where, special things to note that are different from regular races. Well, I thought it was high time to compile all of my info into a blog post of tips for running a runDisney race to share with you all!

tips for running a rundisney race

 

 

Expo: Try to get to the expo the first day it is open if you are able. Merchandise can run out, especially in popular sizes, after the first day. For marathon weekend, all the Goofy merchandise was sold out by Friday afternoon, and the expo had a line to even get into the building!

tips for running a rundisney race


Waivers: A couple weeks before the race, waivers will become available online and you will be able to see what corral you are in for the half and full marathon. Feel free to print it out in advance, but there will be printers at the expo you can use if you forget. Remember, you have to PERSONALLY pick up your own bib and show a photo ID.

Characters: There are plenty of characters along the course, especially within the parks. Have your phone or camera out and ready to hand to the cast member, and give them any instructions you want to give. They aren’t all “great” at photo taking, I had to tell the to tap the screen to focus the picture after getting a few blurry ones. Bummer. There will also be professional photopass photographers on the course and at some of the character stops, so be sure your bib is visible to the camera when they are taking your photo. If you purchase Memory Maker or if you are a gold or higher annual passholder (for FL residents) you get all the photos for free! Huge perk in my opinion!

tips for running a rundisney race

Fueling: There are PLENTY of aid stations and I have never brought my own water bottle. There was water and Powerade available about every 1.5 miles. I do bring my own fuel/gel minus one for the half and two for the full (there is one clif shots or sport bean stop during the half, and two during the full). If you aren’t used to taking these products, be sure to bring your own or practice with them before the race. These are the ones I take and love. They taste like vanilla frosting!

Hotels: Be sure to stay at a host hotel on property (or at Hilton Bonnet Creek, they have half and full marathon transportation) for the least amount of stress come race morning.  Not only will you be surrounded by other runners, but it is the only way to have official race and expo transportation, which is important when you don’t have a car!

*Bonnet Creek note. While they do NOT have a bus for the 5k or 10k, I drove myself to these races and there was no traffic in the morning, and it was super easy. You could also Uber for very cheap as it’s less than a 10 min drive.

tips for running a rundisney race

Transportation: There are buses outside of the host resorts to take you to the expo and the race and back if you stay on property. Typically there are big signs out front of the resorts directing you to race transportation pick up. If you aren’t sure be sure to check with the front desk at your hotel. After the race, there are buses near the family reunion area to take you back to your resort, just look for the signs so you know which line to get into. Keep in mind the time when you decide to get on a bus. There is a LONG walk from the family reunion area to the corrals for marathon weekend (half and full) and Princess weekend (half), and it is a slow walk full of people, so allow yourself even more time than you think you would ever need. Trust me on this one!

Sweepers: You have to keep a 16:00 per mile pace or you will be swept off the course. They have busses at certain cut off points to transport those who cannot maintain pace. Keep in mind Disney doesn’t start the timer as far as SWEEPERS go until everyone crosses the start line, so you have a bit of a head start as long as you aren’t the last one to start. Try to get to the front of your corral to have more time.

tips for running a rundisney race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weather: You can’t control the weather, neither can Disney. I have run in Disney in weather in the 20’s and in the upper 70’s. Be prepared when you pack for ALL weather situations, they can quickly change. A garbage bag is a good alternative to a poncho, and remember that if you throw off old sweatshirts, etc. Disney picks them all up and gives them to charity. runDisney has had to cancel a race before due to lightning, so just make sure you pay attention as they will make announcements for these types of situations on social media.

RELATED: I love this jacket for running!

tips for running a rundisney race

Finish line/family reunion area: After you cross the finish line and get your medal, Disney will give you water, Powerade, and a little box of snacks. Then you can take photos, get your bag at gear check pickup, and meet your family in the family reunion area. There are big signs with letters on them so plan a meeting spot to meet up with friends and family after you finish the race otherwise you may be wandering around for awhile because cell reception is horrible with so many people in one place.

Training: There are training programs on the runDisney website to help you get ready for your big race day!

Gear check: Disney gives you a big clear bag when you get your race shirt, and there is a sticker with numbers on it, you put it on the front of your bag (or they will give you a sticker race morning, depending on the race) and this makes it your gear check bag (be sure to tie a knot in the top of the bag so your stuff doesn’t fall out!) I pack my Magic Band for walking back through EPCOT to our hotel if I feel like it and am staying in the EPCOT resort area, my license and keys if driving, flip flops, a jacket, a towel, and my hotel room key if staying off property.

Corrals/proof of time: You are put into a corral based on your proof of time from a 10k race or longer. If you have no proof of time, you will be put towards the back. Be sure to put an accurate proof of time, runDisney checks them and puts you into a corral accordingly. There IS a cut off date for proof of time! The volunteers DO check corrals and have flashlights to read your bib to make sure you are going into the right ones.

tips for running a rundisney race

Bathrooms: There are plenty of port-o-potties at the start, but there will still be lines so arrive early. There are some at the family reunion area but we usually skip these and use the ones right before you get into the corrals, they usually have shorter lines. There are also potties all along the course, but we usually try to wait and use the “real” bathrooms in the parks. There are some you run right by in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, as well as in Frontierland. When running the full we have stopped at the ones at the Ticket and Transportation center as well, and you run right by some in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

 

tips for running a rundisney race

Family fun run/5k: The 5k is typically the day before the 10k, early in the morning. It is a fun run, but you still get a shirt, bib, and medal. There are characters along the course, and it’s a fun relaxing way to get a taste for runDisney racing. The 5k typically doesn’t fill up as fast as the half marathon. No strollers allowed.

tips for running a rundisney race

Kids races: The littlest runners can take part in runDisney races too! There are kids races at the Wide World of sports (think diaper dash and kids one mile run). These typically take place Friday and Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Kids get a shirt and a medal. Emma Kate has done 2 and loves it!

tips for running a rundisney race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectating: Have a plan! Disney has info for spectators on their website. The chEAR squad packages are nice, but not necessary to see someone at the finish. I know a lot of spectators that catch their runners at multiple points during the races, relying on Disney transportation to get them around and the monorail to the finish line.

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I also have some personal tips….

-Have FUN! runDisney races are great for running with friends and family Don’t take yourself too seriously!

-Take lots of photos! Where else do you get to run through a castle and get character photos in your running gear? Enjoy the cool things you don’t get to do at other races

-Be prepared. All right boy scouts, always be prepared for any situation. Don’t forget things like chapstick, tissues, layers to keep warm, sunscreen, and your camera.

-Wear your medal around the parks after the race, be proud! Other runners will be doing the same.

-Bring extra safety pins in case there aren’t any or enough in your bag or you lose them (guilty).

-If you are wearing a costume practice in it beforehand to make sure it doesn’t rub or chafe. I use body glide especially when wearing costumes!

-Need packing advice? Check out my “packing for a runDisney race” vlog to make sure you have everything you need!

-Check out the runDisney website and Facebook page, they are always updating them with great info and photos to get you pumped up!

-Check out my runDisney page for lots of tips and race recaps from past races!

QOTD: What are your best tips for running a runDisney race I have left off?

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