Disney Planning -Do I Need This?

Florida, Travel, United States

There is a lot of information on what to bring with you to Disney, so many different opinions and ideas and expectations. In fact, you could pack three backpacks and still not have “everything you need.”

While, I am speaking from what I have learned, and what we are planning to use. I am also speaking from experience visiting other theme parks, festivals, and traveling a lot in the last ten years. However, I may revise this sometime in November, depending how my trip in October goes.

The truth is that you need what you would need for any day out. If you don’t plan to return to your hotel halfway through the day, bring it. If you need it regularly at home, at work, at running errands, maybe bring it. If you don’t hardly ever use it, don’t bring it. This will vary on who you are taking with you to Disney, your medical needs, and your specific preferences, but I am a big fan that you should always pack light (believe me I have learned this the hard way).

For my family we will be packing light to make the day more enjoyable and not have to deal with so much junk. My group will be Disney bounding, but in like the most practical way possible.

My stepdaughter will be Minnie Mouse, as will Cousin Ivy. Ivy’s outfit has a denim jacket in case it rains, but I will also be buying dollar store ponchos for them. I will be Disney Bounding as Mulan, with a green rain jacket.

For bags, I will have a large Mulan backpack and my stepdaughter has a small glittery backpack. My stepdaughter should be able to have a water bottle, snack, sunscreen, and a poncho in this bag. I will have enough room in my bag for my stuff, plus any souvenirs we pick up.

We will also be minimizing additional things we’re taking. I will only take my cell phone (IPhone XR) and a mini-cam (similar to GoPro) for the day with only one tripod. My stepdaughter and Aunt will have their cell phones, but that’s it. The less gear we have the better. (I may bring a charger and/or a charger pack).

I won’t bring things we won’t use, but here is our comprehensive list.

Rebecca’s Bag Lily’s Bag
-Mulan backpack
-Rain jacket
-Wet wipes
-Ibuprofen
-Lotion
-Sunscreen
-Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
-Wallet
-Charge pack
-Cell phone
-Water Bottle
-Snack/food
-Water bottle
-Wallet
-Sunscreen
-Poncho
-Cell phone  

Something I have invested in to make the trip easier are the Magic Bands that you can link your tickets to. I also got a gift card for my stepdaughter to use as her money. This is because she is traveling with my sister, Aunt, and Cousin Ivy on her day at Epcot. The magic band means her ticket is already set up, she just has to scan it when she gets to the park. If I make any fast pass reservations, they will also be on her band. Then my sister or aunt have one less thing to worry about. Her money is on a gift card so she won’t be tempted to buy some random thing at the airport and run out of money for food on her day in Epcot. If you also have kiddos that wants everything they see, give them a gift card and explain that’s their allowance for the trip. That way they will think twice about purchases and extras. I also got a magic band for myself, only because I feel it will be easier to deal with at the parks.

While it’s tempting to take everything “just in case”, know that Disney is also prepared for just about everything. If you need a band aid, go to guest services or a first aid stand. If you need a diaper, they have stations for infants (Baby Care Centers). Most importantly, have enough to have fun, and don’t worry about everything else!

Disney Planning – What are we Riding?

Florida, Travel, United States

More on Disney

Once you have selected which Disney parks you want to visit on which days and with who, you will have to narrow down the rest of your ideas. Gone are the days of visiting a theme park and riding everything or eating everything in one day. In this digital era, you will need to plan, plan, and plan.

Probably one of the most important things to figure out is if everyone can ride everything. Like most theme parks in the world, you need to be tall enough to ride, healthy enough to ride, and within other size requirements. Naturally, this will make it harder for young kiddos, and bigger adults. My husband is 6’4” and a lot of things are not built for people of his height. I am 5’2” and many times things are not adjusted for my short (roller coaster pads sometimes give me headaches as I am jostled around). If you are plus sized, some of rides will be downright uncomfortable, so it’s important to read reviews and make a list of rides that work for your group. For a good list and information, click here. For those with health conditions such as heart, back, and neurological, pay attention to warnings and do your research before you travel. There is nothing more disheartening than telling your kiddo that they can go on Splash Mountain, but they have not quite hit the required 40”.

My personal tip, if you are traveling with littles, is to go to the Disneyland, click here, and Disney World, click here, websites and review every single ride and their height requirements. Make a list of everything that is small person friendly and then pick what are the top rides for your group.

Also, as a side note, don’t try to push the rules and make the kids seem taller, these size guides are for your child’s safety and enjoyment and you will likely get caught!

IF you are not traveling with vertically challenged people, then select what rides you have not done, look the most fun, or are considered “classics”. I am looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean.

Once you have a list of rides, arrange them in a hierarchy of what is the most important. For my upcoming trip, it will be Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. As I have never been to Disney World I have set plans on these. Mostly, I NEED that photo of my stepdaughter and I coming off Splash Mountain! However, your priorities may differ, maybe you need to see Ariel in her Grotto, or Dumbo is your jam, totally fine. My tip is to get the My Disney Experience App and review what is the most popular on a similar day you are visiting. So if you are going on Tuesday in October, look at Tuesdays and see what have the longest wait times through the day. From there you can select were you can use your FREE Fast Passes.

Fast Passes are essentially a line skip option, or a reservation for a ride. Everyone gets 3 selections to start their time in Disney, pick 3 and use them, then get 3 more for your day. Passes can be cancelled and altered throughout your time in Disney and you can make initial reservations 30 days ahead with tickets. If you are staying on property, you can make reservations 60 days in advance.

Perhaps the most important part of all of your activities planning is so you get to see your top activities, and save time waiting in line. Fast Passes allow you to skip the 2-hour wait for Frozen Ever After and get on with your day.

As an additional tip, if you can’t get a fast pass for what you want, monitor availability throughout the day to see what may become available as people cancel or alter their Fast Passes.

Happy Travels!

Disney Planning – Getting Started

family, Florida, Travel, United States

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.

Happy Travels!

Part 2

North Country

musings, Travel, United States, wyoming

The drive to my parents’ home is far from a thrilling one. Three and a half hours one sits in one direction. About 230 miles. Northward we go. The car sits in cruise control at 80 mph and we listen to audio books or favorite road trip songs and we go. We travel along swaths of interstate where you can see no one for miles. We pass ancient stone features and the occasional exits that resemble towns. It’s desolate.

Compared to Colorado it’s vast nothingness. It’s open rolling hills dotted by specks if cows, sometimes domesticated American Bison, sometimes horses. This time of year it’s all the color of straw. Last years’ grass turning into remnants before bursting with new life. It’s not much.

A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

I Hate Monotony

family, food, musings

As the title says….I Hate

And I am trying to make a life that has the least amount of monotony as possible. I want jobs that are different every day. I love meeting new people and eating new food and seeing new places. I don’t like staying in one job or home or outfit in too long. I love change if it means doors for possibilities (which it almost always does). I am a glutton for experiences from goat yoga to snorkeling to cliff diving (one and done with that one).

Yet, the older I get the harder it is to shake the shackles of life and repetition and needs. See my home needs cleaned regularly for health and sanity and organization. My body needs food several times a day. My body needs exercise and bathing. Bad habits of not doing these things turn my smooth life into a tornado of mess. So monotony clings to the air like cellophane, necessary at times, but suffocating.

While I don’t love any of the chores of household needs, I realize that these are a part of survival. Without them life is less enjoyable or impossible. So I’ve started lying to myself…. sort of.

Instead of dreading cleaning I just acknowledge it’s what needs done. Instead of having to get “everything done” on the weekend I delegate to my family members and accept my limits when say not all the laundry makes it in the drawer. I just tell myself it won’t end, it’s part of life, it’s not a big deal. And it’s not.

I won’t ever love the same old same old. But I can make it better. I blare music so I dance and mop. I listen to audio books while I put away laundry. I de-clutter and get rid of things while I clean and put things away.

To push it further I am finding magic in the new Netflix series (Tidying Up) where principles of gratitude and new perspective guide people into a happier life. Monotony is a part of life, but it’s ok.

Perhaps most surprising is that I am coming to enjoy the cleaning process, not just the results. It’s nice to do mindless things sometimes. It’s nice to find new cleaners I like and to make old furniture look new. It’s nice to shine my shoes. Perhaps that’s the kicker, appreciate the simple things and what all we have. Embrace the stillness and calm of laundry and vacuuming. Take things as they come and don’t resist everything that’s “not fun”.

Just some thoughts….

True Colors of the Colorado Rockies

colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Photography, Travel

It’s no doubt that the Rockies offer a lot of gold in their autumnal splendor. “Gold in them there hills” is a common refrain as aspens gild the mountain sides in mid to late September. I love the aspens, and their splendid colors are some of my earliest memories. Yet, when you go a little further afield you see a new landscape of colors, flora, and stunning colors that are often missed to “leafers” in Colorado.

Colorado offers a wide variety of plant life that glows in reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn. While we lack the vivid diversity of the east coast for leaves, we make up for it in unique coloration and stunning mountains as a platter. It is hidden in back roads and dirt lanes that fall can be truly found.

Last week we took to the Old Fall River road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The journey winds from around 8,000 to about 12,000ft above sea level offering a feast for the eyes and senses. We drove before sunrise to beat everyone up there and it did not disappoint. Birds and animals ran freely without a care for tourists. The golden dawn provided a guiding light as it played joyfully on the mountain crevices. It was well worth leaving the house it 5:30 a.m.

DSC_0113DSC_0106

Of course RMNP is not the only place to find these wonders. In fact the state is full of hidden gems in the mountains. My advice, to feel truly amazed by the autumn beauties, is to go somewhere new, get up early, and ask locals what is the best view. I also suggest planning to explore things you may not otherwise such as Alpine valleys, and ridges that are home to some of the most delicate but intriguing plant-life on the planet. Many of these gold and red beauties have taken decades if not hundreds of years to make it to today.

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Happy Travels!

More Reading:

RMNP

Fern Lake

Camping RMNP

I’m Your Fall “Basic Witch”

colorado, Colorado Events, love, musings, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel

No shame in being Basic you all! I love the little things that come with fall.

Seriously, why do we mock the things that make the world a happier place? In a sea of crappy news and unsettling politics I am damn well delving into a sea of things I love, when I can.

That means enjoying some pumpkin pie spice flavored coffee and fuzzy pajamas. I will take my Girl Scout troop to a corn maze and I will go buy some pumpkins and carve them into some awesome designs. I will wear my black boots with skinny jeans and cute socks and all my scarves. Because these are things that make me smile. These are things that make my little life joy.

So this season I encourage you all to just love the things that bring you joy. If you love leaves, go roll in some. If you love pumpkin patches, frolic in one. Because, who cares? The reality is that your joy and helping small community farmers will bring happiness to someone else.

image-947

One of the reasons that I love this stuff so much is because I grew up in the mountains where fall was such a short amount of time we barely enjoyed it before it was all gone. At 9,500 feet above sea level, the leaves change in September and by October 10th they are gone. There are no pumpkin patches or corn mazes because nothing grows that high. And the journey to such a thing was at least two hours away, a trip my parents could not afford.

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Yet, with all of these restrictions my mom made the most amazing treats in the fall and winter. Caramels and leaf cookies with brown sugar. Pumpkin pies you wanted to sink into and die because they were so divine. Roasts and potatoes and carrots that were perfectly savory and bone warming after cold days feeding horses and cows. There was always sweet and spicy hot chocolate and apple cider. All of it brings me a smile just thinking about it now.

So while I dreamed of haunted carriage rides, I had the divine sweets to make up for it. So to honor the fun, and my earliest memories of golden aspens, I delve into the joys of autumn with a happy heart and a love of all things.

I hope you do too.

What are your favorite seasons? What do you love to do?

Playing Renaissance

musings

If you have gathered anything from my love and passions while reading this blog, it’s that I’m a bit of a history geek.

My first passions started with medieval and renaissance Europe as a teen. Which lead me, almost annually, to the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Since then, I go every year or two with a group of friends and a wad of cash to enjoy a fun and silly adventure.

Held every weekend in the summer, usually June to early August, the festival is all that a Renaissance festival can be expected to be.

It’s the perfect chance to dress up in a cute, sexy, ridiculous, or just funny costume. Over the years I have made, worn, and even bought some fun get ups. There was a princess or three, movie costumes, a pirate a couple of time, and most recently a maiden costume.

It’s not a historical trip I seek anymore, as I am fully aware of the inaccuracies and absurdity of the festival. Instead, I seek out the shows, frozen margaritas, and artisan goods. I enjoy a day of walking and talking with friends, and I love seeing the care and details taken with homemade costumes.

If you find yourself along the front range of Colorado in the summer, stop by for a turkey leg or two.

Dam the Heat, Paddle the Reservoir

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Travel, United States

Colorado has had a hot summer, along with much of the United States. With the heat comes the discomfort of not having great air conditioning at our apartment and many other homes in the area.

When the days hit the 90s and up to 100, many of us take to the mountains, or the Poudre river and finally, our Horsetooth Reservoir. “Horsetooth” (as the locals call the area) was established in 1949 and was created to stabilize the water system of the region. Since then it has been a great recreational area for locals and visitors.

This summer a friend of mine encouraged me to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding at the reservoir as a way to have fun and try a new skill. I found a new sport that has proved to be a great way to cool down and have fun.

I took my stepdaughter on my first times out, and the second time for a chance to really experiment with a SUP (Stand up paddle board). I found my spills into the water a hilarious and amusing way to cool off. Paddling meant a great workout and just enjoyable to take in the scenery and other paddlers. Our favorite is seeing those with dogs on their boards who are having the time of their lives.

If you want to check out paddle boarding on Horsetooth Reservoir the best area is on the North Shore (Satanka Cove). This area has less people in motorized water crafts (I’ve only ever seen jet skis).

There are two companies that operate rentals on the shore, and both charge approximately $20/hour. They have life jackets included in the rental price, and two smaller people can comfortably fit on a board. It’s a great experiment in balance and fun. If you want to try something more intense yoga classes are held regularly.

Comedy Overlook Rentals

What’s SUP

For weekends you can sometimes hold a rental to ensure you get your board.

Parking and access to the reservoir is $7 for the day per vehicle. 

Most importantly, have fun and Happy Travels!….

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