Year in Review: Highlights of 2018

2018 was an exciting, adventure filled year for my family. We started a bit early by purchasing a new 2018 Chevy Equinox, and to date-exactly 54 weeks later- we have over 26,000 miles on the odometer. We’ve been as far west as Texas, as far south as Florida, and as far north as Maine. We’re explored over a dozen states, over twenty National Parks Service locations, over two dozen museums, two baseball parks (that brings our total count to 24 out of the 30 MLB parks), and created countless memories.

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Free Things to Do at Disney Springs

This week marks Mickey Mouse’s 90th Birthday- Happy Birthday to Mickey! As a child, I enjoyed visiting “the Florida mice” as we referred to them, but now, as an adult, I think I enjoy, and definitely appreciate, visiting Disney World more with my husband and children. We were just there this past summer and I am already scheming about ways to visit again in 2019!

We spent an entire afternoon at Disney Springs, a 120+ acre complex that encompasses over 60 options for dining (from snacks to quick service to full service restaurants), dozens of retail stores (including the world’s largest Disney merchandise store, World of Disney), and plenty of places to explore. The complex was completely remodeled and reopened in 2016 and is divided into four sections: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side, and Town Center.

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My Top Disney World Dining Recommendations

This past weekend, I was at a party chatting with a friend about her upcoming trip to Disney World. She asked for my dining recommendations. Before she knew it, I had pen and paper out, my My Disney Experience app on my phone open, and it was about thirty minutes before she could get a word in the “conversation”. I had a LOT of recommendations.

We’ve been to Disney twice already with our children, and have five days booked for this summer, as part of our larger road trip. While I wouldn’t consider myself a Disney expert, I did speak to a lot of people for personal recommendations and read a lot of blogs before each of our trips. I was very interested in where to eat to have the best family experience.

You can make dining reservations 180 days from the start of your stay. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make dining reservations ahead of time, and as soon as you can. When you make a reservation, they will ask for credit card information to hold the reservation. There are various cancellation policies based on the venue; some restaurants give you up to five days, and some are within 24 hours of a reservation. There are also a few dining options that will require you to prepay for your meal. Disney has various dining plan packages at various price points, and include snacks, quick service meals (you order at a counter, pick up your food, and find a place to sit), full service (buffet and menu options), and formal dining. Note: Disney Dining Plans are only available if you are staying on a Disney owned property.

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10 Items to Bring on a Road Trip

If you have not noticed by now, I like to be prepared. As much as possible. I often overplan. I’ve shared some tips for how to pack a suitcase and how to pack a car, but recently I read an article from Real Simple (Cash- Saving Hacks for Everyone Vacation, June 2017) ,one of my favorite magazines, that reminded me of some things I like to purchase ahead of time. Buying these items before I leave home helps me avoid running to a grocery store or pharmacy in the middle of an adventure, or late at night:

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