NOTE: This was written by my 14-year-old daughter Olivia. She wanted to share her perspective on our recent Adventures by Disney trip to Costa Rica. I’ll be writing about our trip soon! For now, enjoy it through her eyes!
Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney was honestly one of the most AMAZING trips I have ever taken! I say this because normally, when you go to a different country, you just stay in a tourist part, but with Adventures by Disney you feel like you are living in the country’s culture. You get to see how other parts of the world live their lives whereas if you stayed in a resort that is “Americanized,” you don’t get the full effect of what the country is about. One thing that you don’t get to have on a regular vacation that you get with Adventures by Disney is that you travel with a group. When my mom told me about the trip, I was really nervous about traveling with people I don’t know. But in the group you get to meet new people and make friends, which just makes the trip so much more fun.
Taking a trip to Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney, you sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone – such as flying on a small plane (by the way, it scared me so much), but it is worth it! In Costa Rica, all of the jungle is untouched, and we got to take a boat ride through it all. It is absolutely beautiful! We got to see amazing wildlife such as an array of monkeys, a bunch of basilisk lizards, dolphins, a ton of pretty trees and gorgeous flowers. We would not have been able to see all of this if we weren’t traveling with Adventures by Disney. We probably could have seen the rainforest, but not in the same way, where people don’t normally venture.
After we visited the jungle, we traveled to Arenal in Costa Rica. Here we saw an active
volcano, zip lined, and white water river rafted! Every morning when we woke up, we saw a magnificent view of the volcano. The zip lining was awesome because it was over the rainforest canopy! When you looked down, you saw treetops and I thought I was on top of the world!
The next day we went white water river rafting. This was adventurous because we had up and downs, bounced side to side, and had many rocks to bump on! While we were river rafting we even saw monkeys playing overhead!
After our adventure in Arenal, we went to another part of Costa Rica. At this stop we were on a beautiful beach! Here we took a catamaran and had a kid’s night! The catamaran was sumptuous! We took a ride out to a snorkeling sight and snorkeled. Since I did not see any exciting fish, I decided to just play in the water and jump off of the catamaran with my new friends. That night the kids had a night to eat dinner and watch a movie while the adults had dinner on their own.
The next day was dismal because we were leaving to go back to reality, but we made the most of it. We had a farewell dinner with all of our new friends and said goodbye. Honestly, I have never felt this sad about leaving a trip. When my family was home, we all wanted to go back. Yes, at first you are very sad about leaving, but when you get to tell other people about the once-in-a-lifetime things you got to see, you start to realize what memories you made, and how you lucky you are to be the one sharing them. I’m excited to start planning our next Adventures by Disney trip!
Want to learn more about all the places you can explore with the ease and safety of Adventures by Disney? Check out this e-brochure and then get with me to start planning! http://disneybrochures.com/5m28
My services are complimentary when you book your vacation package with me! Request a quote at http://www.lendmeyourmouseears.com/quoterequest. Or contact me at email@example.com or 501.772.3137. You can also find me on Facebook at Alison Murtha Chambers — Small World Big Fun.
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Ready to plan your trip? My services are complimentary when you book your trip with me. Fill out the form here: https://lendmeyourmouseears.com/quoterequest/ Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 501.772.3137.
*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings are based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per-adult charges may apply if there will be more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. 25% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available for Value and Moderate Resorts and Moderate and Deluxe Suites.
When I tell people that I’m going to Disney World or Universal Studios or some other fantastic destination for a work trip, they assume that I’m going to be playing in the parks all day. But really, I’m like a super-secret ninja spy scoping out the parks to make sure you have the best possible travel experience.
Seriously, the reality is that I make a point of going to the parks regularly so that I can stay on top of new things happening that might affect the way you tour the parks. You wouldn’t want to use a travel agent who uses Google to answer all of your questions, would you? You want boots-on-the-ground perspective and I aim to give it to you! In addition to staying current on changes, I like to troubleshoot issues I see people having and finding ways to spare my clients the same mishaps.
I like to look for what I call the “breaking points” for people – the areas where families find themselves at the end of their rope, frustrated and ready to call it a day before they’ve really gotten going. One of the biggest breaking points I have found is at the exit of a ride. Theme park designers are marketing geniuses, spilling you off of a ride into a store with merchandise related to the fantastic ride you just enjoyed. Parents and children are arguing over yet another toy their child just has to have. Inevitably, I see parents telling their kids no, leaving the store with a child in tears, questioning why they decided to take a vacation if all their child is going to do is cry over a silly toy.
This is where my “ninja” skills come in. I have a solution for you! Kids like to feel they have control, and they are inundated with things they “must” have. Rather than dread the battle, try giving some freedom to your child, while still calling the shots.
Before you leave home, give your child his own wallet, with his own money in it. The terms are that you will let him spend this money on whatever he wants. You won’t argue over his choice, even though you know he doesn’t need another stuffed animal. But when that money is gone, it’s gone. There will be no more. The key here is that you have to stick to those terms. If you waiver at all, or enter into negotiations at any time, then this system will not work.
Whatever amount of money you decide to give your child, put it in their wallet in small bills. Children don’t grasp the concept of money well, but they do understand when they have a lot of something and when that starts to dwindle. You can hold on to their wallet for them so that it doesn’t get lost or you can let them have that responsibility.
I have tested this method on my three children, now ages 13, 9 and 8, since each of them was 3 years old and it has never failed me. I have been shocked at how it ended the “can I buy it now” battle and how much money it saved me! It also teaches the life skill of money management. So now your vacation is a valuable learning opportunity as well!
Do you have a question about touring the parks that you’d like to ask me? Let me know! I’ll be going on another one of these work trips in a few weeks – to both Disney World and Universal Studios – and can’t wait to come back with tons of new information and ideas to share!
Want to benefit from more of my expertise? Let me plan your trip!
With the ease of the Internet, you might be wondering why you need to use a travel agent to book a Disney trip. I specialize in all things Disney, so I could give you tons of reasons, but here’s my Top 5:
1. It’s FREE! It would cost you exactly the same to book your trip on your own directly with Disney as it costs to book through me. Disney realizes it can be overwhelming to plan a trip, so they compensate me without passing that charge on to you (so there’s no need to price shop!)
2. I watch for special discounts and work my hardest to get those discounts applied to your vacation, even after you’ve already booked your trip! So using me actually can SAVE you money!
3. I guide you through all of the planning process – I help you figure out which of the 27 resort properties is best for your family and which time of year works best for your needs; I get up at 5 a.m. 180 days before your trip to get you the best dining reservations; I help you plan your park itinerary and FastPasses (Disney’s “ride reservation” system); I make sure you know how to navigate the parks and the technology Disney employs to make your trip as seamless as possible. In a nutshell – I handle it ALL! You just pack and go, and I even give you a packing list!
4. Think of me as your personal “Google” when you have questions! Did you know that if you search “Disney World,” there are 181,000,000 entries? Do you really want to sort through all of that to figure out what information is still relevant when you could just send me an email, text or Facebook message and get a quick, accurate answer?
5. I work for an EarMarked Travel Agency, a designation given by Disney to recognize our extensive knowledge of all things Disney. We are experts in the Disney resorts, restaurants, rides, and more; Disney Cruise Line; Adventures by Disney (guided tours to destinations all over the world); and A’ulani, a Disney resort and spa in Hawaii.
Quite simply, helping plan your dream Disney vacation isn’t a job to me – it’s my passion! Let’s get started! Request a quote here: Request a Quote
Or you can call me at 501.772.3137 or email me at email@example.com. You can also get the latest updates by “liking” my FaceBook page at Alison Murtha Chambers – Small World Big Fun!
Warning: this one is going to be a little mushy, but I promise it will have a point if you just hang with me. This weekend, I spent 5 hours driving to watch my 13-year-old daughter swim in a big meet. It was her first “team travel” meet, which meant it was my first time to not have a gaggle of girls in the car entertaining me. So I turned to Carrie Underwood. Not my smartest decision.
If you’re not familiar with Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” she sings about growing up, moving out and her mother telling her to remember her. So I had an ugly cry. Because it hit me like a freight train that after this year, I only have four more Christmases with her at home. And then she’s off to start life on her own. If you’re not at this stage of life yet, celebrate the little things while you can because it’s coming fast and when it gets here you probably won’t be ready for it, either.
This is the time of year when we reflect on the things we’ve done and we plan for better things ahead. As I look to next year, knowing the next four years are going to fly by way faster than I want them to, I think about all the things we’ve done as a family and all I still want to do with my children. I want to broaden their horizons; to experience other cultures and peoples; and see beauty in far away places. I want to give them memories that they can hold on to for a lifetime instead of things that will eventually be thrown away. But honestly, I really want those memories for myself even more.
So I’m starting a four-year mission of traveling in 2017. I’m making this a priority for my family and we’re starting big with an Adventures by Disney trip to Costa Rica for Spring Break, where we will get to immerse ourselves in the beauty of the country and will get to meet its people, hear their stories and see how others live. We will zip line over the rain forest, sleep at the base of a volcano and go white water rafting. The beauty of this trip is that once we land in Costa Rica, I don’t have to do anything but enjoy my family – Disney handles all of the little details. And I am SO excited about that because I want to drink up every last moment I have with my kids while I can.
Beyond making memories, traveling can do so much more for your kids. Teaching them how to travel – how to use their money wisely, how to navigate unknown places and how to adapt if things don’t go exactly as planned – those are tangible benefits that will serve them well as they move out into this world on their own. And while I’m not ready for that, I want them to be ready for it when the time comes.
If you are finding yourself eager to make memories with your family – whether it’s a trip to Disney World or Disneyland, a cruise to the Caribbean or a trip to a foreign land, I would be honored to help you craft an adventure you can treasure forever. Don’t put it off because you think your little one is too small. She will be grown in the blink of an eye.
If you want to have that ugly cry for yourself, check out Carrie Underwood’s song here: Don’t Forget to Remember Me
For those who have had the misfortune of traveling with me, they will tell you that where Alison goes, there will be rain. Our most recent trip to Disney World was no exception. BOY! Did it rain!
As my son says, “We survived a Tropical Storm!” And technically, he’s right. Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall to the north of Orlando and we were left to make the best of our vacation in the deluge that preceded and followed the storm.
Here is what Hermine was gracious enough to teach me:
- Sing and dance with your kids in the rain. Whether the rain ruins your trip depends less on how wet you get and more on how you react to it. Your kids will look to you to decide if the rain is going to ruin their dream trip, so my advice to you? If it’s going to rain, dance your way through and make the best of it. Keep your sense of humor.
- Scotchgard works! It is common to have an afternoon shower in Florida but when I realized we were looking at more than the typical rain, I started looking for some additional ways to keep dry. We put Scotchgard on our shoes, backpacks, hats, pretty much anything you can put it on. And I was shocked by how well it worked. Think like a Boy Scout and be prepared!
- Outerwear is your friend! I always recommend taking a poncho and keeping it in a Ziploc bag so you can put it back in your bag after you are finished wearing it without getting everything else wet. But if you know you are likely to have tropical storm-type rain, invest in some high-quality rain gear. It’s worth the investment (and because I know it’s always going to rain since I have to travel with myself, I’m sure to use it again! Chances are you will, too.)
- Protect your feet. I pack two pairs of shoes for everyone so that if it rains a lot on one day, you’ll have dry shoes the next day. If you have comfortable shoes that can get wet (like Chacos, because you need support), then wear those if you can. Wet feet are more likely to get blisters in tennis shoes. But flip-flops won’t give you enough support. You can also get creative with how you dry your shoes. I stick a hairdryer in each shoe and let that do the work for me. You can also take out the insoles and stuff your shoes with newspaper, which should help them dry overnight.
- Don’t forget your stroller needs shelter, too! If you don’t have a rain cover for your stroller, consider buying one. If you don’t have one made for your stroller, you can use heavyweight shower curtains and clips to attach it. They are sturdy enough to keep everything dry and can be tied to the stroller if wind becomes an issue. Most of the stroller parking areas are not covered, so you will want something to keep them dry while you are staying dry.
- Get creative! You know those hand dryers in the bathrooms? You can flip those upside down and you have a great way to dry your hair or clothes!
- Be flexible. I don’t mean it’s time to start stretching to show off your athletic prowess, I mean be willing to toss the plans you originally had for the day according to the forecast. If you know it’s likely to be raining when you had planned to be taking a break in the room, you should modify that plan so you can take advantage of the driest part of the day. Get to be best friends with your My Disney Experience app and change those FastPasses around. It’ll be OK!
- GO – into the parks! I know the temptation is to stay in the room and wait it out, but that is exactly what everyone else is doing! Seize the (wet) day! Almost all of the rides and attractions will still be running and you’ll be able to get on and off of them with no wait! A Disney dream come true!
- Ask Alison. This one may be the most important – be sure to find out when I will be visiting Disney. It might be in your best interest to avoid being there when I am! Seriously, if you book your trip with me and it looks like you might experience a lot of rain, have no fear! I will be sure to send you my extra-special, super-secret list of rain tips not mentioned here.
Have tips of your own? Please share!
It’s back-to-school time and we are seeing cute first day pictures and comments like “Look at my baby starting high school! Where did the time go?” or “They’re growing up so fast! Time please slow down!” But that’s the thing. Time won’t slow down. We have to make the most of it while we have it. And I don’t know anyone who feels like they have an abundance of time.
In 17 days, my family and some awesome friends get to step into the “bubble” that is Disney. I won’t be looking at the news or watching TV or reading through Facebook because I’m bored. I’ll be soaking up time with my loved ones. Precious time, creating memories not just for them but also just as much for me. Because those little people will eventually grow up to have their own families and I’m going to cherish these memories of time spent together.
You hear a lot about Disney “magic,” and everyone will have his own definition of what that is. For me, Disney provides the perfect setting to block out the sadness and anger in our world today and focus on laughing and seeing things through the lens of my kids. Disney vacations are unique because there are very few places where you have the ability to bridge the gap in ages in your family. Do you have a teenager and a toddler and want to have the grandparents on vacation, too? You can all have a great time without needing to bring a friend along to entertain the teenager or worrying about keeping everyone happy. You can all have fun together.
And that’s why you NEED a Disney trip pronto! Our world is so deeply divided right now and day after day our Facebook newsfeeds are full of sadness, anger and hate. We need a break from the madness. And because no matter how badly we beg for it, time isn’t going to stop. So take advantage of it while you can!
Let me save you TIME by planning your trip, at no cost to you when you stay on Disney property! Great discounts for the Fall were just released this week!