Tag Archives: tips

Today’s Tip: Disneyland With Toddlers

Full disclosure: my first trip to Disneyland with a toddler was mostly a bust. My son was three years old when I decided we were ready for our first trip to Disneyland. He walked through the turnstiles, saw the hordes of people, heard the Disney band marching towards us-trombones blaring-and he cried. He covered his ears, asked to be picked up, and declared his trip to Disneyland was over.

So it was, that our first trip to Disneyland together involved a lot more tears and bribery through Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwiches, than the magical memories I’d hoped for. Here are the lessons I learned. Don’t laugh, I was a rookie mom.

1. Just because all the other toddlers are doing it, doesn’t mean mine will. I saw plenty of  bouncing, laughing toddlers float by me on the Pirate of Caribbean boats. They were apparently not the least bit bothered by the realistic pirates, skulls, and the cannon battles. So off we went  into the pirate’s lair. My son hated me the whole day after. In fact, he refused to go on almost all other rides-even the harmless Heimlich’s Chew Chew train (a green caterpillar cruising at 2 mph through giant fruit and yelling in a bad German accent) was too suspect for him to even attempt. I knew my child was super sensitive to most of the Disney movies at that age, why did I think going on the rides would be any different? I let peer pressure get the better of me. Just say no.


2. You will travel 7 hours, spend hundreds of dollars, and your child will want to ride the Monorail 5 times (and the Jungle Cruise 6 times). I quickly found that my very active three-year-old boy was not captivated by most of the Fantasyland rides, he would rather run around Tom Sawyer Island, ride the train, and pretend he was an explorer in the Jungle. I altered our ride plans after our first horrid day, and went with his natural interest in trains, dirt, and running like crazy through jets of water. Our day was a lot less filled with princesses and pirates, but a whole lot easier. You may not like where your toddler will take you, but just go with it.

3. There are crowds and then there are holiday crowds. I didn’t realize that the crowds during Easter week would make our visit three times harder. The seas of people, umbrella strollers, and noise were too much for sensitive little guy to handle. I wasn’t too fond of it either. If you don’t get to visit Disneyland often and have invested a lot of money into your trip, you don’t want to spend your precious time standing in line for the parking tram.

4. Plan or perish. I made a lot of mistakes on that first trip, but my lack of planning is what really did me in. The extent of my planning involved printing out a Disneyland map and checking out some of the ride descriptions on their website. I didn’t give too much thought to making a plan for our day. Because of our ill-fated first trip, I have learned a whole lot more about the best ways to enjoy Disneyland (at any age). Do your research, there are a lot of resources online to help you.

5. Nobody took my Mother of the Year award away from me. Sure, I made mistakes on my first trip, but there were things I couldn’t have foreseen. My son’s reaction was all his own, and maybe no amount of planning and preparation would have prevented it. Toddlers are lovable but unpredictable little anarchists. Do what you can to make your toddler’s first trip to Disneyland enjoyable, and if else fails buy him a Mickey-shaped popsicle. Then find yourself a shady bench.

Today’s Tip: Pack It Up

I dislike packing so much, that I am not enjoying writing the topic very much either. Wait. Don’t go anywhere. Just because the topic of packing makes me a bit grouchy, doesn’t mean it’s not an important one to discuss. Behind every other travel tale I’ve ever written about on this blog, is a well-packed suitcase. Or two.

I was never good at packing before I became a mom, and my shortcomings were only aggravated when my little travel companion (along with all his kiddie stuff) came into the picture. But I had to rise above my inability to make a packing list, carry small suitcases, and bring enough pairs of socks. It has been a learning process, but I’m just becoming more of a packing ace with every trip we take.

I haven’t packed a suitcase bigger than a carry-on for each of us for the last few years, even for trips longer than 2 weeks. I know some of you are not impressed by this, since you can travel the world for years with nothing but a backpack. But for the rest of you who haven’t stopped reading this post yet, I’m going to offer up some of my expertise.

Here’s how I pack it up.

1. I’m addicted to packing cubes. Initially, I bought packing cubes because I was looking for an alternative to disposable plastic bags. They have turned out to be a great investment. I just roll (this step is key) the clothes, fill the cubes, and easily stuff them into the suitcase. I like that I can separate items of clothing for my son and that I have different colors for his and mine. As an added bonus, the packing cubes easily come out of a suitcase and into the dresser drawer of a hotel room.

2. I choose the outfits wisely. I am not a fashionista when I’m at home, so I don’t pretend that I’m going to be one while on my trip. I pick a few basic colors for my clothes, take few shoes, and try to choose clothes that will wash easily. Luckily, my son would wear his favorite shirt every day if I let him, so he doesn’t have a hard time limiting the outfits he packs.

3. I prepare for the inevitable laundry. There is no way to pack light, travel for a lengthy period, and get away with not doing laundry. If you know of a way, please do share. I can’t afford to have the hotel do the laundry for me, so it usually means a lot of Woolite and hanging clothes to dry in the hotel bathroom. If the hotel has a washing machine on the premises (or even better, in your room) then you’ve got it made. The keys to washing clothes by hand are: to take clothes made out of materials that will dry quickly and to use a travel towel to wring them out. I love my travel towel so much, I could write a whole post about it. Stay tuned, I know you’re eagerly anticipating that post.

4. Seriously, we don’t have to take every toy we own. This rule goes for both me and my son. I realized I could live without my bulky laptop and he doesn’t have to take his baseball bat (although it may have come in handy while we were in the subways of NYC this summer). When my son was younger, I would pack up too many of his playthings for fear that he would get antsy and whiny. He never played with more than a few things, since we were always too busy on our travels. Besides, I found that it’s better to save room in his backpack for a few souvenirs.

5. If I didn’t pack it, I can always buy it when I get there. This mantra was the hardest one for me to learn and follow. I came to the realization that there were very few things that I absolutely couldn’t leave my home without (medications, documents, and my phone), everything else I could do without or just buy when I got there. I learned the hard way, that I don’t have to take enough cotton balls to fill half my suitcase.

Feel free to share any of your packing tips in the comments below. I’m always looking to improve my skills.

Linking up to Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday.

Favorite Summer Vacation Posts

There is still plenty of summer vacation left here in California (trust me, this teacher has counted the days on the calendar), so get out there and enjoy those long, sunny days.
Here are some posts to help you in all of your summer travel endeavors.

If you’re itching to take a road trip…

I wrote a post for the Trekaroo blog on how to tackle a road trip along the central coast of California.

So you’re ready to hit the road along the coast, just don’t forget the beach bag. Read here for some California road trip tips.

Here are my thoughts on packing busy bags and taking technology on the road.

The kids and moms will be hungry as soon as you pull out of the driveway, here are some tips on what me and other mom travel bloggers pack in their snack bag at Cascadia Kids.

It’s not summer without a trip to the beach…

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a tropical paradise and would like to take your kids swimming with the fishes, read some of my snorkeling tips.

I loved to snorkel in Maui’s Kapalua Bay. Please send me a photo if you do go, I’ll live vicariously through you this summer.

One of the top searches to the blog this month has been fried artichoke hearts in Santa Cruz. And it often leads readers to this post on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This is definitely one of my favorite places to eat fried artichoke hearts (they may not be the best you can find, but you just can’t beat the ambiance).

If you’re ready for some s’mores…

Our all-time popular post is about some favorite California campgrounds with kids.

Here are some tips for you newbie campers. Or if you’re a seasoned pro, tell me what else I can add to the list.

Today’s Tip: Recommendations From My Road Trip

IMG_2774We’re back from our road trip to Southern California and on the long way back home I had plenty of time to come up with a list of some important things to consider when planning a road trip in California. Lucky for you, I’m willing to share my top three recommendations:

1. Take some sunscreen and put it on your left arm. You’ll be spending so much time in the car, that you may begin to suffer from a driver’s tan, or worse, a sunburn. Add an extra layer for those driving hands.

3. Be beach bag-ready. It’s not over until there’s sand in your beach bag. Lots and lots of sand. I like to pack a beach bag with our swimsuits, sunscreen, travel towels, and even my beach book. So whenever we see a good beach, we pull over and make that our pit stop. Don’t be caught fishing in your luggage for your swimsuits.

4. Make the perfect California song playlist. This is a state that has gotten more than its fair share of songs written about it, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. When you’re driving through Los Angeles traffic, you’re going to want to be singing “Nobody Walks in L.A.”. You’ll want to break out into song, because the alternative is breaking out into tears. Trust me.