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Saturday, September 22, 2018

My Best Fall Travel Packing Tips

Okay, so most places it's starting to get cooler, or it will be when you are on your fall or holiday travel. Even when you have to pack larger pieces than for your summer trips, you can still pack light. I'm a big proponent of layering when I travel, since you never know if the weather will be unseasonably warm or colder than you expect. Don't fret though, because you can still pack light and bring everything you need for any kind of weather.

When we traveled to London and Paris in late October, the weather ranged from cool, crisp fall air to freezing temps with rain. It could have been miserable, but learning from my previous trip there, when all we had packed were winter clothes. The first 3-4 days were so warm out that I didn't need a coat and seriously wondered if I'd have to buy some short sleeve tops in order to not get heat stroke. Needless to say, nobody wanted a repeat of that. So, taking all my knowledge into account when packing, I chose several lightweight sweaters that I could layer other things with and went from there.

So, if the weather tends toward cold, cold, cold, your pictures are basically all going to be you bundled up in your coat and you aren't going to see anything you've got on underneath anyway (see title photo). With this in mind, it makes even more sense to bring as little as possible. You'll just need enough to keep you from getting bored and to go between laundry - think of it an excuse to take a break and relax a few times on your trip. Watch a movie, catch up on email or play a game. I bring the same thing for one week as I do for two. Three lightweight sweaters, a cardigan, two tanks and two tees that match your sweaters. Throw a dress, two pair of stretchy jeans or other comfortable pants and two pair of shoes. 

Keep in mind your travel outfit. I usually wear my favorite pair of jeans (with stretch), a tee and a cardigan, one pair of the shoes I'm planning to wear throughout my trip and keep my jacket and a scarf in easy reach. This way if it's cold, I can put more layers on, and if it's hot, I can remove my cardigan.

jeans | dress | cardigan | l/s shirt | t-shirts | tights

A pair of black jeans can double as nice pants for a night out, but a breathable dress can also work. Make sure to pack a pair of heavy tights in case it's really cold and you need some extra protection. Tights are multitaskers. When the weather is colder than expected, like a freak snowstorm, you can throw them on under your pants. I tend toward thinner skinny jeans, because the stretchy ones are comfortable, but may not be as warm as traditional jeans. For this reason, that extra layer might be necessary.

Make sure your tops all mix and match, so you don't have items that only go with some things in your bag. I like neutrals, like black and gray that I can add a pop of color to. You may end up like me and have to wear three layers at once, so if you bring three different color sweaters and three different color/patterns of tanks and tees, you're going to look like a bag lady. I like to go with solids for one layer and some patterns for the other. Above you have 3 long sleeve options and two patterned t-shirts. If you have to layer, these will all work together. The dress is also reversible (from Columbia), so you can make at total of 22 outfits with these pieces. You also have the added warmth of your cardigan and/or jacket.

yup, lots of photos of us just wearing coats and hats or scarves.

Look for shoes that will go with everything. I went to Europe with a pair of flats and tall packable boots, but I love the look of a short boot and a loafer. Make sure you have enough room for your foot to breathe in your boot and that both pair are comfortable to walk in all day long. I loved the boots I took, but they were a smudge too tight, or I overdid myself on the 478965322 stairs in Paris, because I left with a stress fracture in one of my feet. Boo. But at least I didn't notice the pain until the night before we were going back home. Maybe suck it up and wear your flats when hiking up 40 jillion steps, just in case.

Look at the weather before you leave, to be sure you're dressed for your destination. A pair of gloves and a hat are always good companions, because you'll be thrilled if you have them and need them, or miserable if you leave them at home and have to shell out money for them. We actually had to purchase another hat and scarf for Eric, who didn't think he would need them. Unless you're hoping for a lame souvenir, throw some in for everyone traveling. It'll make your life easier.

What is your best winter packing advice?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Theme Park Halloween Trips

Halloween is coming and if you're traveling anywhere, you're probably going to be hitting up a party of some kind. I'm off to do some Harry Potter-ing in Philadelphia before I come home for actual Halloween and our annual party with friends. If I could, I'd be at Disney though.

There's nothing like a Disney party, because everyone's a kid, whether you're 2 or 102. As you know, barely a year goes by without us making some pilgrimage to some Disney park, and this year I hit up Disneyland with my friend. 

Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party

If you've never visited Disney on a holiday, drop everything you're doing and start planning, because it is everything. I prefer Halloween, because school is in, it's less crowded, you get to dress up, the weather normally doesn't suck and everyone gets to trick or treat. Yup, everyone! Here are some other reasons:

Characters Dress Up

Mickey and the gang get in on the Halloween fun, too. Your normal characters come out in full costume (more so than usual) for pictures, making then highly sought after opportunities

Villians and Other Rare Character Sightings
Ever wonder why you never see Jafar or the Evil Queen or those nasty stepsisters? They're reserved for precisely these events. You'll also see characters like Tarzan, the cast of The Country Bear, Brer Fox and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Lines to meet and greet these characters can be loooooong, so be prepared to wait and possibly pick and choose. This year, I saw much less than normal, but it was also the very start if the partying for the season. Sometimes you get lucky and you can swoop in, get some photos and be on to the next thing before the crowds start up again. That's happened to me with the Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet group.

Did I Mention Candy?
Everyone with a MNSSHP ticket gets a candy bag upon entry. There are treat stations set up all around the park. Your map will tell you where and cast members have special Mickey light-up signs to guide you. We don't necessarily even want to eat all the candy, but it's included and it's fun and then we don't have to buy candy for trick-or-treaters.

Awesome Seasonal Shows
I'll admit it. Sometimes just the shows are worth the price of admission. They always center around the villains and this year WDW had a Hocus Pocus theme. The Sanderson sisters were back and calling on their "friends" to help throw the biggest, baddest bash ever. From where I was standing, I would have sworn the real Winifred, Sarah and Mary were there. That's how good the costumes were.

Aside from the castle show (strategize ways to get around that don't involve the castle, because you aren't getting in there), there is a fantastic parade. The Boo To You Parade always starts off with the Headless Horseman. I see they've gotten him to slow down his horse, so people can actually see him and get pictures. Alas, I was still to slow. Everyone gets a spot in the parade: the villains, your face characters and even obscure ones like the traveling ghosts. It's not to be missed. Wait out the night and do the second parade later in the evening and stake out a spot near the start. You won't have to jostle as much for s place to stand or wait to get across the road. Plus, when others are just seeing the beginning, you can be riding rides, getting pics or collecting candy.

Shorter Lines
Because everyone's there for candy, dance parties and Rare Character photo opps, the lines for the rides that are open are usually super short. Sometimes they add a Halloween twist to rides, like Space Mountain.

Special Magic Photos
You can always get some pretty special photos throughout the year, including the ones where they magic in a Disney thing into your photo. During Halloween, these magic pics take on a fun and sinister feel.

The Decorations

I love Halloween and harvest season. Disney overhauls their park every night the party is on by putting out an obscene amount of jack-o-lanterns, Disney-fied scarecrows, orange bunting and so much more. There are quite a few funky Halloween projections throughout the park as well. The more you look, the more you see. Plus there's a fantastic score of Halloween music in the background.

The Halloween Fireworks Are (Ooh) AHHmazing
Okay, yes. The fireworks are always amazing, but the Halloween ones are particularly awesome. They revolve around those sinister villains you rarely see, giving them a ghoulish vibe. The castle is used as a backdrop, so you'll want to get front and center for them, because the castle projections are half the fun.

If you decide that Halloween at Disney is for you, and I think you should, find a costume that isn't super involved, but still creative (you'll have to pack it) and plan to spend the morning and afternoon doing something else, because staying there for 16 hours is super tiring. You can get in a few hours before the party starts with your ticket, so you can enjoy the park before some of the rides close and get in a quick dinner before the fun starts.

What's your favorite time of year to visit Disney?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Get 300 bonus SB when you sign up for Swagbucks in September

All throughout September you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you're probably doing online already, like searching the web, watching videos, shopping, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, or PayPal cash. 

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here's how: 

2. Earn 300 SB total before October 1st, 2018. You'll get a 300 SB bonus for it! 

3. That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I've earned hundreds of dollars worth of SB that I use mostly for Amazon so I can purchase party supplies for my annual Harry Potter party.

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links and I will receive compensation in the form of SB when you sign up through that link.
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