Five Fabulous Travel Tips As Seen In My 3TV Segment

Just in time for your summer travel plans, I have put together my top five fabulous travel tips that I swear by plus a few amazing places I recommend for family travel, both local and far away. If you caught my segment on the KTVK 3TV morning show, Your Life Arizona, and want more information about the travel tips I shared, here is the information with the links to the different items and places I recommend.  And be sure to go to my blog’s search bar to look up your desired destination to see if we have covered it.

Travel Tip #1 – Packing/Planning Fail Safe Forget Nothing Tool 

Once I discovered the Pack This! Travel list pad by Knock Knock, I have never looked back when it comes to packing planning. I call it packing planning because when an item is left behind, it will usually cost time and money to either purchase what was forgotten or have it shipped, which can be costly.  The Knock Knock Pack This! Pad is my favorite travel tool ever.  It is a handy exhaustive one page at a glance packing list that includes everything one could ever think of to pack for a trip.  Items that I wouldn’t consider like an umbrella, binoculars, bug spray, sunscreen and more. Every time I use this list, I forget nothing and my packing is done faster and is more efficient.  I swear by this and I buy my pad (60 sheets 6 x 9 size) for $6.99 at knockknockstuff.com and at amazon for only $4.85.

Travel Tip #2 – Best Wrinkle Free Clothing Tip Ever!

I don’t remember where I first heard this tip years ago, but I have never arrived with a wrinkled garment since. Here’s hoping it works for you since it has been failsafe for me. Simply dry clean the garments that you want to arrive wrinkle free before you travel.  The trick is to keep the clothing covered in the dry-cleaning plastic wrap it came home in.  Gently fold dry cleaned clothes on hanger and still in dry cleaning wrap and place on the very top of your suitcase after all other items are packed.  Give it a try. I have been pleasantly surprised how this has worked for me every single time.

Travel Tip #3 – Suitcase Type

Be loud and bold with your suitcase design for several reasons.  If your suitcase is a unique and colorful design, you will find it fast when it is coming off the conveyer belt at baggage claim.  Plus, if it is lost in transit, it will be easy to describe to airport and airline personnel.  I also finally bought a larger roll away suitcase that fits all my items.  We women do pack a lot and that is because we have a larger variety of shoes for different outfits and occasions, we tend to pack some our kids’ things with ours as well, we have more accessories than men typically do, etc.  Buying a larger than average suitcase has made me a one suitcase gal now.  I didn’t think that was possible!  So, consider buying the larger rollaway version if you usually have two suitcases.

Travel Tip #4 – Research Airport

Chances are that you will spend a good deal of time at airports.  Arriving early or being delayed, I have learned to research the airport I am traveling to ahead of time.  Doing this has made the trip even more fun.  I know that airports don’t sound fun, but since you must spend some time there, why not get there early for less stress, get all checked in and then enjoy yourself a little.  Plus, some airport websites offer coupons redeemable at the different stores and restaurants.  For example, San Antonio International Airport has coupons for airport restaurants, stores and more, including a tasty wine themed eatery.  So, check your airport website to see what is available and if coupons are also offered.  Here are some of my favorite airport attractions, so if you are stuck there for a bit, try these unique spots…

*Vino Volo in San Antonio International Airport – This cool restaurant offers gourmet wines from around the world.  I ordered a flight of red, white and champagne when I was there.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable to get to sample wines with a nice salad before I boarded my flight. Plus, I could use the coupon I accessed from the airport website to purchase a bottle of wine sold there if I had decided to buy some Vino.

*Be Relax in LAX – The last time I was at LAX, I enjoyed a very well done 10-minute shoulder, head and neck massage at Be Relax in Terminal 1 at LAX.  It set me back $29 (and I added a tip), but it was worth it because it was really good and therapeutic.  Plus, it is nice to board feeling somewhat relaxed.

Those are just two examples.  I also like that our airport here in Phoenix, Phoenix Sky Harbor has a ton of local favorite restaurants in the different terminals. So be sure to check the different airport websites to know where to go to eat, shop and relax while you wait.

Travel Tip #5 – Check my Blog!

I absolutely love travel blogging, so whenever I go anywhere, whether it be a staycation in Tucson, or all the way to marvelous Maui, I share my specific city recommendations in the travel section of my blog.  So, before you go, enter your destination city into my blog’s search bar to see if I have covered it. I also have team writers who have reviewed a Disney cruise and more. Here are some of our fun recommendations to some of my favorite travel destinations…

*Maui – my blog lists our top ten things not to miss in Maui and my family’s #1 favorite attraction is the Twin Falls hike that is beautiful and family friendly. We were especially impressed with the package that we booked called Hike Maui that included kayaking, snorkeling and the wonderful Twin Falls hike where we got to taste food right off the trees on our way to the waterfalls.  Once at the stunning waterfalls, we could jump off cliffs into the water and swim in freshwater pools.  We were also given Awapuhi plants, which contains the organic ingredients that Paul Mitchell uses in their Awapuhi shampoo.  My kids opened the plant and washed their hair under the waterfall.  It was such a cool day and purchasing the 7-hour activity package was the way to go. I have all the links to all of our Maui recommendations in my Maui article here.

 

*Washington DC – One of our favorite Smithsonian museums is the Newseum and a lot of tourists don’t consider this relatively new attraction.  It is like visiting an American history museum through the eyes of legendary and current journalists and it is very cool.  Exhibits like the original microphones used by FDR during the Fireside Chats, front pages from newspapers from around the world the day after the horrific 9/11 are displayed.  In addition, historic original newspaper pages from some of our country’s most famous events like when Marilyn Monroe was found dead, when the Hindenburg crashed, when wars ended and more.  There is another interesting section that shows a very cool and even emotional Pulitzer Prize photograph section and so much more.  I highly recommend this fascinating museum that also has an interactive area that lets visitors of all ages take home a flash drive of themselves being a reporter in a simulated news station.  So cool!  Check out my article with links about this here.

*Sedona – I cover a lot of local trips and staycations here in Arizona, too.  Check out my Sedona article to see where to stay, what to eat, what attractions to try like the Pink Jeep Tours and more.

It was very cool that our tour guide made stops along the tour so that we could get out and take pretty pictures as we learned about the history of lovely Sedona.

I have also reviewed most of the resorts here in the Phoenix area, as well as in Tucson and articles about Flagstaff, too.  My Sedona article is here.

*Amtrak train vacation – My son got to take an Amtrak train vacation with his grandparents so he wrote a comprehensive review for us on my blog.  He did a great job, so if you are considering a train vacation, be sure to see that article on my blog.  My son’s Amtrak train trip article can be found here.

Some of the other destinations we have reviewed on managedmoms.com is a Disney cruise, a California road trip that took us from southern California all the way up to San Francisco and more. 
So, before you go, check my blog and happy travels to you!

 

 

 

 

Travel: Disney Cruise Review-Is It Worth The Hype?

Our very talented managedmoms.com writer, Lisa Walton took a Disney cruise with her family and lucky for us, she wrote a review, complete with great pictures!  So if you are considering a Disney cruise for your family vacation plans, Lisa tells us if she thinks it is worth it and worth the hype…

Lisa says:

Disney Cruises….worth the hype??

Absolutely!!

cruise boat

We are HUGE Disney fans in our family.  Living within driving distance to Disneyland we’ve made countless visits. We finally took our dream trip to Disney World a couple of years ago.  So we knew it was only a matter of time until we did the Disney Cruise.

We took a trip a 7 day cruise from L.A. to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Disney Wonder last spring.  As first time cruisers, we had some reservations.   However, it was hands-down the best vacation we’ve had as a family!  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThere is something for everyone to do, in fact there is so much to do it can be a bit overwhelming.

We spent $2400 (and received $200 on-board credit) for an inside stateroom.  I was hesitant about not having a window, but for the little time we actually spent in the room we were very glad to have saved that money to use on Port Adventures.  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe cost included our cabin, taxes, port fees, food, and non-alcoholic beverages.   The soda station was located on the top deck was available all day/night, however if you ordered soda in the bars/lounges you had to pay for it.  We learned to walk up and get our sodas to avoid those charges very quickly.

 Dining:

Family_Picture_Disney_CruiseDisney has what they refer to as rotational dining.  This means that you rotate between their restaurants each night.  On the Disney Wonder they have 3 restaurants (Animator’s Palette was our favorite).  One of the perks is that your dining staff follows you from restaurant to restaurant.  Your servers get to know your likes/dislikes and go above and beyond to make your dining experience “magical”.  Our servers were amazing, we were sad to say good-bye to them on our last morning. disney dessertOur appetizers, dinners, and desserts were all delicious.  We never had a bad meal onboard.

There is always food available.  They have several buffets, and offer snack-type foods on deck near the pools (pizza, burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, etc) even late into the evenings.  But never fear, room service is always available, and included in the price of the cruise!  In addition, for those foodies, there is a high-end gourmet restaurant called Palo (reservation only) for adults that is not included in the price of the cruise.

 Shows:

charactersDisney Entertainment is top-notch all the way.  They showed 4 different musicals and they were all spectacular!  “The Golden Mickeys”, was an Oscar-type award show.  This was our formal night, so we dressed up to walk the red carpet.  The “Toy Story Musical” was phenomenal; the sets/costumes were exactly like you just stepped into Andy’s Room.  The music was fabulous; our favorite was Sid’s song “The Master of Destruction”.   Disney “Dreams” was our all-time favorite Disney Cruise (original) musical!  We could have watched that several more times.  They also had jugglers, comedians and an amazing ventriloquist that held family shows and adult shows in the late evening.

Activities:

jack w with mickeyThe Activities crew onboard was the best!  They are all very personable and entertaining and will quickly lure you into all of the action on the ship.  They host dance parties, races, karaoke, scavenger hunts, sporting events, Bingo, and a variety of game shows.  There are cooking presentations, variety of wine/beer tastings and educational classes as well.  The staff hosts deck parties during the cruise Cast Away Party, and Pirate Night.  These were so much fun!  Disney is also the only cruise line that has onboard Fireworks while at sea.

mickey_poolThere are 3 separate pools onboard:  a children’s splash pad, children’s pool (and water slide), family pool, and adult-only pool.  There is a movie theater, and daily movies shown poolside for all of your favorite Disney & Pixar movies plus new releases.  There is a health club and an award-winning spa with a wide variety of offerings.  There is so much to do, you’ll never even get through a fraction of the fun that they offer.

 

 Kids’ Clubs:

As a teacher, I’m pretty particular about kids’ programs.  I have to say, I’ve never seen such a well-run program as on the Disney ship.  There is a nursery for young ones, Oceaneer’s Lab and Club for the K-5 age group, Vibe for the tweens, and the Edge for the teens.  Each “club” offers its own activities from the early morning, to late into the evenings.  They have character greetings, science experiments, cooking classes, and many wacky races, scavenger hunts, adventures, karaoke, dance parties, and many more activities. They even did a mini musical and performed on stage in the Walt Disney Theatre on the last day.

Several times I saw kids crying at these locations, but it was because their parents were checking them out and they had to LEAVE!  Each area is age-specific and has a high level of security in place.  Kids have to wear computerized bracelets that check them in/out of each center.  Parents have a secret password to give the staff in order for children to be released only to them.  However, older kids have the ability to sign themselves in/out of their programs.  jack w charactersEach stateroom has 2 wave phones (onboard cell phones) so keeping in touch with your older kids is easy.

Traveling Tip:

The “Daily Navigator” is the most critical piece of information for a Disney Cruise.  It is delivered to your stateroom every evening.  It has a schedule of all the activities, movies, shows, and events for each day for kids, families and adults on this ship and in the kid programs.  Our favorite thing to do before bedtime was to pore over the Navigator and highlight the activities we couldn’t miss for the next day!  It has port information, time/weather information; store hours, restaurant information and dress code for each day as well.

 

Port Adventures:

These can be set up in advance on their website or on the ship itself.  Depending on the type of cruise you are taking, they have events from leisurely family activities, to more daring adventures.  These are not included in the price of your cruise, and so you can tailor your adventures to your taste, lifestyle, and budget.  Even when in port, there are still activities on the ship, we found it was a great time to catch-up on our pool time when they weren’t so crowded.

 

Booking New Cruises: 

Disney offers great discounts if you book your next cruise while on board.  In fact, we loved this cruise so much we booked their 7 day Pacific Coast Cruise (San Diego, San Francisco and Ensenada) for October, and saved 10% plus earned additional money in onboard credit! Currently Disney has four ships, and sails from Los Angeles, Vancouver, Cape Canaveral, Galveston, and Miami.  They have itineraries to Alaska, the California Coast, Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, and Europe.  We are huge fans, had a fantastic vacation, and look forward to traveling on another Disney cruise ship in the future.  It truly was a magical time!  Still not sure? Condé Nast Traveler 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards voted Disney Cruises the number one cruise line again this year…check it out!

 

No compensation at all was provided for Lisa’s review.  The trip was taken 100% on their dime and her opinions are 100% her own.

About our writer, Lisa:

 

Lisa Walton–Parenting tips & Family Matters
Valley Teacher and Mother

Lisa Walton has been a teacher in the Valley for over 18 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Deaf Education from Illinois State University; and Master’s Degree in Special Education from Arizona State University. She currently works as an itinerant teacher, collaborating with regular education teachers in the public schools.

Read more about Lisa on our team bio page