Friday, August 30, 2013

Would you believe this is Hawaii?

Would you believe this is in Hawaii?  On MAUI of all places?  Well, it is, and its at the top of Mt Haleakala just after sunrise.  It was 30 degrees!!! BRRR COLD!!! But what an amazing place!!















What is Photo Friday? 


  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated. 
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo. 
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well! 
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required. 
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.
  • Feel free to leave a link to your Friday Photo in the comments!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday: Lei Hat! or is that Le` Hat?

This photo comes from the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet in Honolulu.  We had a great time, and these "kids" Leis fit perfectly on B's head.  He ended up wearing it that way to the Luau we went to!  Good Memories!















What is Photo Friday? 


  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated. 
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo. 
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well! 
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required. 
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.
  • Feel free to leave a link to your Friday Photo in the comments!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Photo Friday: Silly Seat!

I think this is a neat idea... I'll try to post a picture from our travels with B every Friday.  Something fun or interesting, or maybe something that just captures our little man's personality!

Speaking of that personality, here it is on display.  Silly and smiling!  This one is from the airport in Maui just after we landed!













(This is my Photo Friday for this week in conjunction with DeliciousBaby.com)

What is Photo Friday? 


  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated. 
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo. 
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well! 
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required. 
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.
If you want to link to your photo right here:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pre-Cruise Thoughts on Air Travel with Allegiant

Allegiant Air - Pre-Cruise Thoughts

We are flying to Florida and back on Allegiant Air, and I already have some thoughts on the subject.  Few blogs I've read have taken the time to review/ruminate on items both before and after a cruise, so I hope this gives a unique insight to the experience.

I also want to preface this a little by saying that a lot of what I've learned already could easily come across as negative tword the airline, and that is not the intent.  Allegiant gave us a great price, even after add-ons and restrictions.  I just hope that an awareness of what they do and do not charge for will help you guys make an informed decision later!

Thought 1 - Cost

The primary reason we chose Allegiant was cost.  We shopped around and they were SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than other options.  This is both a good and bad thing as I've come to find out.
Allegiant's ticket price is LOW, but that comes with nothing, no bags, no food, no chosen seats, nothing.  I'm not saying thats a bad thing, heck its great if you want nothing, but be aware that you will have to pay for options.
What did we pay for:
Seat Choice
Checked Baggage
Carry On Baggage (yes, your reading that right)

So, if you aware going in, your good, and in the end, we did get our flights for way cheaper than I thought we would.  I'll go more into the Baggage fee's in a seperate "Thought"

Thought 2 - Airport Choice

I highly encourage you to research before you click Buy, especially with Allegiant, as our fare is not refundable.  The biggest regret I have is the airport we are flying to.  Our tickets take us to Sanford Airport instead of the main Orlando Airport.  This airport is about 50ish minutes away from Port Canaveral.  There are no free, or even cheap, shuttle options into Orlando proper or into Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach.
I believe about the cheapest we were able to find ONE WAY transportation was about 125-140 dollars.
We ended up renting a car for about the same, but be aware, Sanford Airport does require a little more logistical planning than some other destinations.

Thought 3 - Baggage

Allegiant doesn't give you much, and Baggage is a good example.  As of the time I'm writing this, ALL Checked bags require a fee.  Its $14.99 to $35.99 per segment for the first 2 bags, and more for 3 or more.
Your also limited to 40 pounds per bag, which seems low compared to other airlines.  Pound 41 incurs a $50 upcharge.
Carry-on's don't get a reprieve either.  Carry-ons are limited to 25 lbs and carry a fee of $10 to $75 dollars depending on when you pay (online before, or at the gate).
You are allowed one "Personal Item" for free, but its quite restricted.  Here is the excerpt from their site:

One (1) personal item, such as a purse, briefcase, laptop computer, small backpack, small camera or food container, not to exceed exterior measurements of:
7 in. H x 15 in. W x 16 in. D (17.8 cm x 38.1 cm x 40.6 cm)
which must fit completely underneath the seat in front of you. There is no charge for one personal item, provided it does not exceed size requirements.

So, that being said, be prepared for the baggage fees associated with flying Allegiant.  
Again, I'm still not saying this is bad at all, we STILL ended up cheaper than other options.  But don't get caught by surprise.
Good to note, Allegiant DOES post what the fee's will be by segmant on their site, so you can figure this out ahead of time.
Our plan to Mitigate this is to pack our suitcases (we purchased 2 checked bags) and weight them, anything over 40 lbs (or less maybe) will get MAILED to the hotel before hand.  Make sure to call your hotel and verify that this is ok!

Thought 4 - My Conclusion

If I were allowed to cancel it all and start over, I can't say that I would arrange travel the same way.  I would still rent cars the same, but I would probably fly to Orlando instead of Sanford, and would probably not have chosen Allegiant.
That being said, we are traveling for a great price, and I'm open minded about the situation.  It may turn out to be great, less crowded, and less stressful than a bigger airport on a different airline.  We will just have to see!

TTFN!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Cruise Plan

The Plan

I was starting some other post drafts, and realized, its a good idea to start at the beginning.

So, let me run down the current plan for you guys, so you know what we are expecting, and you can tie it all together as we talk about what, where, and the how of this cruise.

Pre-Cruise

We will be flying down the Thursday before our cruise.  Leaving directly from our local airport and flying straight through to Sanford/Orlando airport.
We are flying Allegiant Air, and that has its ups and downs.  I'll get into detail some other time.

We are staying at the Marriott Courtyard in Cocoa Beach Thursday and Friday night.  This hotel is just a few miles from the Cruise Terminal, and gives us access to the beaches and attractions of the area.

We will be renting a car from Avis.  They have a free shuttle from their location to the port.  A lot of the rental companies do, but this one gets great reviews on YELP, so we went with that.

We will have an entire Friday to kill, so we have planned something AMAZING!
We are going to the Kennedy Space Center!!  WOOT!!!  The new Atlantis Exibit is open, and I can't wait!!
In researching this trip, and bearing in mind a toddler, this kept coming up.  They have a "Childrens Play Dome" that looks like I would have fun in, let alone an energetic 2 year old!  I think this is going to be WAY to much fun!

As well, we have some friends going on the trip with us, and they will be joining us at the Kennedy Space Center!
Doesn't that look like fun?

The Ship

The Carnival Dream
This will be our home-away-from-home during the cruise, the Carnival Dream.
  • 128,000 Tons
  • 3600 Passengers
  • 1004 ft long
  • 122 ft wide
  • 1300 crew members
Its a big ship, the biggest of the 3 we will have sailed on!  And yes, this is the ship that got "stuck" in St Martin after a back-up generator failed a test.  If you ask me, I'd rather be stuck in St Martin with full access to normal ship activities, and all the wonders of the island, than sail with without a backup generator!

The Room


Our cabin will be 10259 on the Lido Deck.  This is a Balcony Cabin. (and the Internet provided this pic:)

The Itinerary

  1. Saturday - Port Canaveral
  2. Sunday - Day at Sea
  3. Monday - Cozumel, Mexico
  4. Tuesday - Mahogany Bay, Rotan
  5. Wednesday - Belize
  6. Thursday Costa Maya, Mexico
  7. Friday - Day at Sea
  8. Saturday - Port Canaveral

The Activities

In Cozumel we are hitting one of N's bucket list items.  We are swimming with the Dolphins and Dolphinaris,  Even B gets to participate, and he is FREE!  Granted, he doesn't get to do the swim part, but he gets to be down in the water with us.  
We purchased this one through the cruise line, as it was actually cheaper (don't have to pay for B) and included lunch.  I have read that you can not take your own pictures, and they photos taken there are MEGA expensive.  I will report back later.

In Rotan, we are booking a "Private" Tour.  Basically, we get our own driver for the day to take us where ever we want.  Beach, food, sightseeing, etc, etc.  We are also adding a visit to "Monkey Business".  This is all through Bodden Tours

In Belize, we are doing something special.  This is our 3rd cruise, and our first was our Honeymoon.  We visited Belize aboard the Carnival Glory way back then.. and we visited a TINY little island as our excursion.  This island is named Goff's Caye, but also known as Gilligan's Island by the tour operator.  Despite battling sea sickness and bad weather to start, we still have great memories.
This tour is no longer available through Carnival, but we have booked it ourselves.  We can't wait!!

In Costa Maya we will be experiencing an ultimate day of relaxation.  We have booked a private beach day at Almplena Hotel Eco Beach Resort.  A nice all-inclusive day of beach relaxation, swimming and snorkeling.  I CAN'T WAIT!

Post Cruise

After the cruise, we will spend one more night in the Courtyard Marriott, and then fly home Sunday afternoon.

Pre-Cruise Thoughts

I am really excited for this cruise.  Even more than getting to spend time in a tropical paradise, with unlimited food, warm sun, sandy beaches, and fruity cocktails, but more so to get to experience this with our toddler.

I've read a number of posts online, and blog articles that admonish parents who DARE to take their children on a cruise.  The reasons I hear for this are varied, but none of them are worth the time it took to write.
Sure, my son may not remember this cruise when he is an adult, but I'll have THOUSANDS of pictures to share with him.  I will also get to see the joy and wonder as we board the ship.  I'll get to watch him try new foods.  I'll get to watch him build sand castles, play with monkeys, splash in the ocean, and MANY MANY other things.  These will be memories that I get to keep forever.  And, trust me, this will not be B's LAST cruise!

That's it for now.  The next few posts will be all about planning, gear, timing, packing, and preparing for a cruise with a toddler!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hawaiian Vacation Toddler Tips and Tricks

I know some of you won't care about the gory details of our trip to Hawaii, but may what to learn from our experience   So, I have deiced to do a shortened "Tips and Tricks" post here to give you all of the best and most useful information based on what we learned.

Lets do this as a Top 10 List!! That should  be fun!

Yep, RANDOM B Picture!

Top 10 Tips and Tricks for Hawaii with a Toddler

  1. Baby Wearing
    1. No need for a stroller if you strap baby to your back and go!  Its great for vacations, and B LOVED IT!  We used a Becco Butterfly 2
  2. Pearl Harbor Restrictions - KNOW THEM!
    1. No Bags (diaper, camera, purse, etc)
    2. No Strollers
    3. Under 4 not allowed on the Bowfin
    4. You CAN buy a bag in the gift shop to put your stuff in and carry that around
  3. Valet Parking is a wonderful thing!
    1. Sleeping baby?  No worry, pull up to the door
    2. Let your Toddler do the tipping!
  4. BRING A CHANGING PAD
    1. You will probably end up somewhere without a changing table!
    2. A LOT of planes do not have a place to change your little one!
  5. Call ahead for a Crib or Pack and Play
    1. Many hotels will have these available for you, call and ask!
    2. If not, there are services on the islands that rent them for reasonable fee!
  6. Pea Pod FTW!
    1. This little portable bed is a great option for naps anywhere, or for a place to sleep in the hotel or condo!  
    2. Great alternative to a Pack and Play
    3. A Shady spot on the beach!
  7. Flotation Devices - bring um!
    1. A Floaty swimsuit is a great help for a nervous swimmer (not a life saving device!)
    2. An Infant PFD can help keep your toddler safe!
  8. Divide and Conquer!
    1. This works great at the airport.  If you can't all board early (even if you want to), then ask about ONE of you boarding early/first to get the car seat setup, or ditch carry-ons while the other parent or friend entertains the toddler until the last minute!
  9. Dollar Store Time Killers!
    1. Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of cheap, simple toys.   Wrap each in colorful paper.  Every time you need a distraction for baby (like on the plane!) bring out a "present".  Not only do you get the joy of opening, but then they have a BRAND NEW toy to play with!
  10. Remember, your little one is going to take their cues from you!  If your happy and smiling, they are much more likely to be the same.  If your grumpy and short with people... they will be to!  Your on vacation, so enjoy!
A few other miscellaneous items that didn't make the "Top 10":


  • Double check your car seat's fit at the car rental place.  We ended up having to return a Chevy Impala because our seat didn't fit, and that cut out a big chunk of our next day.
  • A Car Seat Travel Cart turns your Car Seat into a stroller!  This worked great!
  • Pack some easy snacks for either car travel or air travel.  Baggies of Cereal or Crackers worked great!! So did squeeze pouches of Apple Sauce!
  • Dum-Dum suckers as a treat for good behavior!  These also were awesome for takeoff and landing, as the sucking can help keep their ears comfortable!
I hope these were helpful!!  If you do want to check out more detailed accounts of our trip, start here: