I have never been to a Disney Park. A weird admission from a travel and media geek like myself.
See my parents didn’t really love theme parks. I don’t think my dad went to a single one with us as kids. And the biggest theme park I had been to before 2015 (I was 24) was Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado.
It wasn’t that my dad didn’t like fun, or even Disney movies. In fact he adores the music from quite a few of them, it was the crowds and the noise and the heat, and most importantly, the cost.
When you’re living below the poverty most of your childhood, a Disney vacation is at the bottom of the list.
Therefore, at the age of 28 I am taking on the work of planning a day at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World!
What I thought would be a simple planning of a day or two has turned into months of opening dates and reservations and hourly details. It’s insane.
Therefore, what has been a deep dive into planning a Disney World vacation, and at times a headache, has lead me to thinking that other people could use some guidance. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks to figuring it all out, saving money, and having the best time possible! I look forward to helping others along the journey.
It’s common that we want a global and team participation in the big things in life. Even if we aren’t huge sport fans there is a longing to see the Olympics or world cup. Even secular peoples flock to Oberammergau, Germany every ten years just to experience the unique Passion Play. Those that are not huge beer fans go to Oktoberfest. The point is, that we long to be a part of big events as people. We want to experience what “everyone is talking about” and the “FOMO”* is a real deep seeded desire. *Fear of Missing Out
If you do decide to go to the next “big thing” make sure you do your work to make it happen. The truth is if you don’t buy your Oberammergau tickets in 2019, there won’t be any. If you don’t book hotels in X city for the Olympics, you’ll be sleeping on someone’s couch for $300 a night.
Here are my tips to making sure you have a good time.
Really think about if it’s an experience you want.
When you are thinking you want to attend an event, really check with yourself on if it’s something you want to experience. Are you REALLY that into Football? When you’re seventy, will you still talk about this event? There are a lot of things I actively avoid because it’s not that important to me, and the chaos or cost of going is not worth it.
Do your research.
Start with the internet and get a good idea of dates, places, cost, and what may be required of you to attend the thing you’re interested in. Cross compare data from the last time an event was happening and mentally prepare yourself for the good, bad, and ugly.
Ask for help.
Go to online forums and ask for information and tips from people that went to the last big event. Maybe someone from last year’s Burning Man can explain just how many wet wipes you should take. Community aid can be very helpful, if not genius. However, tread with caution as opinions can murky the water.
Travel agents know an insane amount of information on different parts of the world, events, locations, and how to make your journey safe and comfortable. If you are attending a well-known event like the Olympics or World Cup they are likely already in the loop on how you can book train tickets, or hotels. If they don’t know, they have endless resources to assist in the research and understanding of the events to help you have a better time. They’re experts for a reason, and none of them would survive the digital age without being some of the best thought leaders in the industry.
Be realistic about expenses.
If you are going to a big event, you WILL pay a premium for everything you do. During events the cost of food, lodging, transportation, and basic needs is likely to increase. If you took an economy lesson in school, this is that whole supply and demand thing.
Budget high, plan on more.
If anything is true about travel, it’s that you will spend more than you wanted to or planned to. It’s inevitable when you fall in love with a hotel, or a dinner spot, or that purse you just HAD to have. However, so you don’t go home with no money for rent, make sure you save more than you expect to spend.
Check your mental fortitude.
Really check with yourself if this event is worthwhile. While it may increase your Insta-Views, or you might have something new to share with your friends, make sure it’s what YOU want. So many times we latch onto trendy locations as a must visit because EVERYONE else is going there. However, that doesn’t mean it will really serve you or what you want to experience. Really think about if you can deal with the crowds, standing in lines for hours on end, and general chaos of traveling to this supposedly great event.
Take a friend.
The buddy system is particularly helpful for crazy events. Having a friend can help keep you sane, safe, happy, and get you home in one piece. A friend means someone to make memories with, even if it’s a memory of sitting in a muddy field at a festival. This is one of those situations where a bestie might just be a necessity.
Plan over a year in advance.
Most of these large events are scheduled REALLY far in advance. If specific dates are not shared, most of the time a rough time frame is. This is an important time to monitor flight pricing, tickets, and other arrangements you may need to go. This means a chance to see the total cost, save accordingly, and make sure everything else can get into place.
Have realistic expectations.
Most importantly, you want to have a good time if you are shelling out thousands of dollar. However, anything and everything can go wrong. Don’t expect everything to go perfect on the day of or days of. Like a wedding day, there is ALWAYS something that will go wrong. In most instances, be grateful that no one was hurt, and nothing was stolen.
I think about my weight and my size and my fat and my thigh gap and my chicken wings and my double chin. Every day. I think about these things.
I think about the fact that when I was a teenaged I worried about the same things. At a smaller size. At a lower weight. At a thinner face and chin.
I think about how every single day as a women or a teenager and even a preteen has been a self-conscious rage inside myself. A narration of insecurity and hatred field at my body. A constant tune of how I was never good enough.
I also know, that every women feels the same way or has felt the same way. I also know that we rarely discuss the constant mental battering we do. To ourselves, sometimes to others,
Our culture has beaten an ideal into our mind that is impossible. Impossible because it changes all the time. Impossible because it’s manufactured. Impossible because the system is rigged in its favor.
Every day. Think about that. Every day we pick at our lives. Pulling at stitches and scans, sometimes to bleed, sometimes a reminder. We go under the knife more and more for thinner and slimmer and better. We dad and crash diet. We tell our friends to join the cult of Keto or vitamins or CrossFit or no carbs. We buy waist trainers and folds of fabric to hide.
None of this is “new” per se. Humanity has a long history of fashion with its own bindings and stitched to alter our looks. What is new is that we are constantly stewing in a brew of unrealistic ideals. What was once just movies and magazines is a constant pull for our attention. What was once books and parties is 24/7 advertising. We are born and raised in “everything about us is wrong – to be better we must…”
The body I hated at 16 changed at 26 and will continue to. Why couldn’t I love it at either stage? Why must I pick at it now?
I treat myself, and I know others do the same, with so much hatred at every stretch mark and bump. I fuss over numbers that only have meaning because we give meaning to them. We are unreasonably cruel to our existence and experiences.
The truth is that at size 0 or size 24 your body is fine. Your body is this amazing thing that keeps you alive and takes you places. Your body has free thoughts. It can create life. It is a beautiful thing. Yet we are so cruel and so hateful to it
This is joy to say be unhealthy, it is to say, be happy with yourself. Don’t sit in the mirror and hate. Exist and love and be in every moment. All of it is fleeting. When you’re 90 years old and covered in wrinkles, smile that you had experience that gave you the smile lines.
I remember my grandma looking in the mirror and bemoaning her aged skin, her crooked bones, her gray hairs. But I also remember always thinking she was so beautiful with her makeup and perfume and scarves, and most importantly her kindness and love that filled my childhood home.
The choice is yours. See your beauty for what you have, or live a life hating yourself. I’m personally choosing the former.
Most childhood stories ring of a similar truth. There are fishing tales and campfire stories. Hikes and vacation foibles. There are similar white middle class stories that people relate to – I don’t.
My stories are a little more out there, if you will. My dad wanted to live in 1895, my mother practically grew up in that time. My dad came from his imagination and re-enactments. My mother came from a sheltered log cabin childhood. I’m not lying.
My childhood stories involve historic recreation underwear and hiding my Barbies because they weren’t historically accurate. It’s looking like Little House on the Prairie and hiding under wagons in a mock “Indian Raid”. (Mind you I was five and the line between playing and reality was very thin.)
Childhood stories are my dad trying to show me to skin a wild rabbit he had shot (I was maybe 7). The gore wasn’t the problem, instead I freaked out that something was dead and he was the one that killed it.
My stories are getting lost in the woods, or family friends’ kids leaving me behind. It’s being used to peeing in the woods, then peeing in your aunt’s yard in the city and your aunt freaking out on you!
My summers were scrapped knees and cotton dresses, lace trimmed pantaloons and matted hair from playing in the woods.
Good or bad I watched horses get castrated. We had anatomy lessons over butchered animals. We were shocked by left raccoon carcasses my father failed to warn us about.
I’m the woman that had a harder time starting a camp fire with matches, because I had only ever used a flint and steel. I’m the woman that has a more than passing interest in anatomy and the medical grotesque.
My stories don’t match the normal – but my stories do make for an interesting ice breaker.
Venice is one of those places one dreams about visiting. It’s a bucket list destination full of legends, art, myths and plenty to explore!
If you are heading to Venice, here are a few things to remember before you hit the road…. I mean lagoon.
There are no cars allowed on Venice. No cars. This means you need to take a train, or boat to the city. Trains arrive on the main island through Santa Lucia station. Planes are at the Marco Polo airport, where the train or a bit can be taken into the lagoon. If you have a car leave your car parked and take the ferry to Venice, Lido or other island.
Take the Gondola ride! It’s expensive but worth every second. You wouldn’t go to Paris and miss the Eiffel Tower, don’t miss the Gondolas!
Travel in the off season! Avoid the crowds and have a better time. Go in the fall or early spring to see more with less chaos.
Learn a little. Pick up a book or two before you go and learn some about the rich history of Venice. This will bring everything you see more to life.
Get off the main island. If you have time, get out and explore the Venice Lagoon islands such as Burano and Murano for charming villages and awesome art. If a beach is more your style, head to Lido.
Meaning, I have one idea of how it all should be, and then reality takes a dump on my ideas.
It’s the universe. There are no rules or regularity. We have no control, only perceptions of control. While we can steer the sails on our ship, we also face storms and waves, and giant killer squids. Mostly we survive, sometimes we almost drown. We usually come out as stronger swimmers for the next round.
If anything, at my very wise age of 28 (insert sarcasm symbol), it is that I can either fret about every awkward thing I have done (this list is painfully long) or I can move on and sail to the next day. (I really like the idea of being on a ship, because sailing, and oceans, and mermaids that can be whatever fucking color, because mermaids…)
My life hasn’t been cushioned, instead I usually fall on my ass, dust myself off, and find the next patch of ice I can slip on. I have had to work for 95% of what I have on my own, but I also know that that last 5% has been vital to my survival. I cry a lot, because existential crisis’s are real. but I also laugh until tears run down my face because “A Day Without Laughter is a Day Wasted” ~Charlie Chaplin.
I am messy and insecure. I am overly confident and painfully awkward. But whatever. I can either self help myself into a coma or I can just take everything as it comes. My only real competition is myself and my success is measured on moving forward.
When I TRULY think about all I wanted to achieve by my late 20s, I realize I have done more than I truly thought I would get to. I have things together. The puzzle is a little lop sided, I slammed a few pieces in where they didn’t fit. There are still pieces missing, but it works. There is actually a coherent image of something resembling a normal existence.
I have learned that life is not an immediate success, some people get it right away, but that is so very rare. Instead, and probably for the best, we have to prove ourselves and fight forward, and make things happen. To not is to accept defeat, which is something I simply won’t accept.
All I am saying in this, is that maybe we all should be happier with ourselves and where we are. We should embrace our lives as just are, and accept the chaos as what is. I am the first to jump into learning and growing, but I am also okay with not killing myself with too many projects. I have learned to create boundaries and limits where needed. These are all vital for survival.
Overall, just love yourself and your journey and your mistakes. It’s okay, you are just learning, even at 20 and 40 and 90, you are learning.
Located on the west coast of Italy, a part of the Italian Riviera is the ever increasingly popular National Park of Cinque Terre. Millions visit the area every year from Florence and Rome, making it a top destination for travelers.
The appeal of The “five lands” is its sweeping landscapes, rich views, and unique adventures.
Here are my tips for visiting this enchanting location.
Catch an early train
Most people start from Florence, catch a regional train from Santa Maria Novella to La Spezia. At La Spezia you can buy your day or multi-day pass to the National Park and access to the train network in the region
If you are renting a car, park in La Spezia, and buy your pass just the same.
A small train network links the five villages (lands) running approximately every 20 minutes in each direction (north or south). This is the easiest way to get from city to city.
Note that there are no cars allowed in the cities and that there is a bus line that also connects the region but it’s less consistent and requires more walking.
The earlier you go, the better! This will help you avoid crowds and heat.
Bring your hiking shoes
There are over 70 miles of trails that links the five villages are region. The views from these trails are magnificent and offer amazing photo opportunities.
The trails are tough, but you do escape the crowds and enjoy some fantastic nature along the way.
Check trail conditions before you go, as wash outs are common.
Check your trains
Train schedules are more of a guideline than a rule in Italy. Therefore, make sure you read the schedules and allow extra time to get back to La Spezia and then your “home base” if you’re doing a day trip.
If you can, stay a couple nights and truly take in the cities!
Off season or bust
If you can, go right at the end of summer (September/October) or right at the beginning of summer (March) so that you can enjoy the region sans millions of tourists. This allows a local connections that is often missed in June and July!
As about 10% of College Students in the United States do, I did a study abroad program. I chose Italy before I started college, and stuck with Italy, specifically Florence. While the fees were high and the time away from my partner (now husband) was hard, it was worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY and every hard day to have the experience.
Reflecting on this trip is a constant aid to my work today, and a reminder of just how much I have seen and enjoyed since I graduated from high school in 2009.
Today, I share a little video on the PERFECT Day in Chianti and where you should head on your next journey to Tuscany.
We get a lot of tourists to our part of Colorado and for good reason. We’re neighbors with Rocky Mountain National Park, we have some fabulous white water rafting, and we’re enroute to many other natural wonders. That being said, many people hit the Rocky Mountains without much knowledge or understanding of safety and comfort. Here are some tips and tricks to keep you safe, and happy when you hit the woods.