Not all guides are created equal

All over Pinterest you can find packing guides for families and kids. Well here’s my adults only guide to packing for Disney. This guide includes some of my go to travel essentials for every vacation and also ones geared specifcially for Disney!

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1. Coalface Cleansing Charcoal Bar

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Heat and Humidity wreak havoc on my oil and acne prone skin. So I can’t go to Florida without my Charcoal Bar. This bar acts as both a exfoliator and cleanser. It greatly reduces oil, redness and the absolute best acne cleanser I’ve ever used.

2. Boots Botanics Rosewater Toner

 I’ve raved about this spritzer a thousand times. It is my go to travel essential. I will bring it in my day bag to Disney and spritz it on my face or neck when ever I need to cool down.suffer from occasional psoriasis so I use it to ease red, itchy and dry skin. Bring it on flights to keep your skin hydrated. It also cleans and tones the skin.

3. Handheld spritzing fan

I absolutely hate being hot.  So I’m bringing a pocket fan with me in my day bag. A MUST HAVE for Disney since there’s a lack of shade and crazy Florida heat.

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4. Body Glide for Her

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As a voluptuous lady when I mix heat, walking and shorts I suffer from chub rub. THE HORROR! The solution? Body Glide. It looks like a deodorant  stick, but it’s actually a moistening balm. Body Glide is made from all natural, plant-based materials. It acts a protective layer between your skin and irritants. Apply it in the morning and reapply throughout the day.

5. Sunglasses Straps

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Lily Pulitzer Sunglasses Strap

I live in my Ray Bans when I travel. If I lost my sunnies on a rollercoaster I would be devastated. To insure your glasses wont slip off at Disney it is essential to invest in a pair of Sunglasses Straps! I’m bringing an adorable strap from Lily Pulitzer that is featured above. You can find a wealth of options on Amazon.

6. Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF

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Walt Disney didn’t believe in shade. So at Disney parks you’ve got to protect your skin. I love using Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens. The new “Sport” line holds its own against sweat and water and still has the amazing tropical smell of the classic brand. You can even find mini travel size bottles at target that are perfect for your day bag and carry-on luggage friendly.

7. Pimp out your MagicBand

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I love the idea of the new Disney MagicBands. It acts as a hotel key, credit card, reservation holder and your park ticket. They make you feel like a VIP. But they are butt ugly! Make your band for fashionable and stand out in the crowd by “pimping” your band! I used myfantasybands.com and got the gold glitter to go over my pink band. But there are hundreds of companies on Esty that focus on decking out you MagicBand with stickers, paint and more.

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8. Alcohol

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No good adult trip is complete without a bit of drunken mischief. But at Disney drinks can be very pricey! The solution? Bring your own booze! Disney allows you to bring basically any food or drink into the park as long as it’s not in glass. Obviously you can’t bring a bottle of Vodka. But you could sneak in your own spirits! For my trip I purchased these sneaky flasks. Each tube will hold two shots of my favorite beverage. No enough to get wasted, but should spice things up a bit! If you do this remember to drink responsibly and know your environment (don’t black out at Magic Kingdom in front of a ton of princess dressed six-year olds).

9. Waterproof Swimsuit Bag

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Wet Bag from Etsy

In order to make the most out of your trip go from the water park straight to magic kingdom by throwing your wet suit into a tiny wet bag. It seals in moister to protect your other belongings and it small enough to throw into your backpack.

10. Portable Charger

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Disney now has park-wide free wifi! So you will be able to use all your favorite applications. Which is sure to drain your cell phone battery. Since you most likely won’t find a free outlet (unless you want to pay Disney at their hourly charging station). Be sure to pack your own portable charger. You can buy cheap ones on Amazon.

11. Rain Poncho

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You could buy a “vintage” Disney Yellow Poncho on Etsy

One of the biggest cash cows at Disney are their rain ponchos. If it starts to sprinkle you will see hoards of families rushing into the stores to snatch up these (now clear) plastic beauties. Save yourself $10 and buy one in advance at the Dollar Store. You can find compact folded up ones that you can keep with you in your day bag.

12. Quick Dry Sport Towel

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I hate carrying around big bulky beach towels. Especially when I’m packing a carry-on only suitcase. Save room and invest in a thin and mighty Sport Towel. These towels are quick drying and ultra absorbent. Plus they’re compacts and lightweight which is perfect for traveling.

13. Hand Sanitizer
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Thousands of children mean millions of germs. Pack hand sanitizer and protect yourself.

14. Brita Sport Filter Water Bottle

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Disney now offers free ice water at every shop, restaurant and kiosk. Don’t buy bottled water! Bring your own bottle and fill it up. Save the earth and some major cash. I like the Brita Filter bottles. You can fill using regular tap water and rest assured that your water is filtered and clean.

15. Doterra Travel Kit

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I just invested in my first Essential Oils kit and I am excited to test them in the field! With a Travel Kit I can bring travel size morsels of all the best oils. It’s like walking around with an all natural pharmacy! I’m going to bring my On Guard, Breath Easy, Slim and Sassy, Deep Blue, Lemon, Frankincense, Peppermint and Lavender oils! All can cure most everyday ailments.

16. Grid It! Organizer (small)

207_xlargeWhen I’m traveling I like to know that everything I bring has its place. I don’t want to have to fumble through my bags searching for a pen, lip balm or hand sanitizer. That’s why I swear by my Grid It Organizers. I have them in all sizes. The small one is perfect for purses and the medium on is great for backpacks. Whenever I pull mine out people always comment on how cool it looks. Never loose your extra memory card, highlighter, or batteries ever again! Get organized and invest in a Grid It.

17. Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration

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So much good in one bottle

After spending all day in the sun your skin will need some serious TLC. I love the Hawaiian Tropics After Sun location. It smells like walking through a Hawaiian green house full of hibiscus flowers. It contains aloe vera which is great for cooling the skin and easing burns. You can purchase travel sized bottles at Target!

18. Lifeproof Case

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 5.29.01 PMI have the absolute worst luck with my cell phones when traveling. I drop them on rocks, loose them while kayaking, they get stomped on by horses, ect. Literally the worst luck! So I recommend investing in a powerful case like the Lifeproof. They are extremely durable, waterproof and strong. I like the Lifeproof because its slender and modern looking.

19.  Personalized Ears

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Find an adorable and unique pair of ears on Esty

Stand out from the crowd and get a better deal on ears before you get to the park. You can find Minnie and Mickey ears in every style and character inspiration on Etsy.com. I loves the Alice in Wonderland themed ones featured above!

20. Drawstring Backpack

shoppingAvoid terrible backpack tan lines and bring a drawstring bag with you.  If you’re a light packer this will be the best way to tote your goods. Find a lightweight, durable and waterproof one. Mine is a little more hight-tech then one pictured. You can find Drawstring bags that have zippers and pockets at athletic stores.

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There it is my adult’s packing guide to Disney. Have any items to add to the list? Let me know!

Happiest Place on Earth

In just a few days I depart for the happiest place on earth! I’m going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

My brother booked his trip to Disney as a surprise anniversary present for his wife (and one of my best friends). They are going up early and I will meet them there. Hooray for spontaneity!

I absolutely love Disney. It really is a magical place. The parks are alway gorgeous and well maintained. There’s always something new, surprising and imaginative. They have gourmet and junk foods that will satisfy all your cravings. I love the shows, characters, parades and rides.There may be long lines, crying kids and overbearing heat, but you don’t care because you’re in Disney!

My history with Disney: 

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I was so cute.

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My favorite character and I!

1990s: My first experiences with Disney were at EuroDisney in Paris, France. As a child living in Germany my family would take regular trips to EuroDisney. I remember staying at The Old West Hotel (that’s no longer there). There’s a hilarious photo of 5-year-old me in Mickey ears, bawling my eyes out in front of a Native American Statue. I wish I could find that photo (there’s a recreation one below). This is where my parents discovered my love for Chip and Dale. Most children go crazy for Mickey or the Princesses. Not me. Apparently I was all about Chip and Dale!

2005:

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My Brother, Mother and I infront of EuroDisney

My next trip to Disney was only for a few hours. EuroDisney used to have a whole mini-park outside the park. You used to be able to walk around the themed hotel areas for free. You could see shows like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, carol singers and more. My parents and I were visiting my brother in Germany and we took a day trip to Paris. Because my Dad is a notorious cheap skate (XOXO Daddy) we stayed outside of Paris and near Disney. It sucked to have a commute to Paris but it was great to be able to browse downtown EuroDisney. I was able to create the classic Becca crying photo in front of the Native American.

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Recreation Photo

2010: 

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The Boys and I

The first time I went to Disney World was Spring Break of Sophomore year. The gang (Nina, Jamie, Phil) and I went to Orlando. We stayed at Phil’s family time share and park hopped throughout Disney. We had a blast drinking at the time share, laughing at each other and being extremely obnoxious everywhere we went (as young people often do). I remember going to Magic Kingdom for the frist time and it being absolutely Magical. We had an amazing time. The weather was perfect, the lines were short and we did almost everything! We also went to Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom was my favorite. I can not wait to go back and see how the parks have changed.

2013:

In 2013 I went on a trek throughout Western Europe with my friend Jenny. She and I had a blast exploring England, Ireland and France. We visited Paris last. Jenny began feeling sick toward the middle of our week in Paris. So it was surprising that she wanted to go to EuroDisney. I was up for anything so I went along. In hindsight we probably should have saved our money.

  1. Because Jenny was massively sick.
  2. I’ve already been there before.
  3. It’s very expensive.
  4. It’s just like Disney in America.

Jenny was at the middle stages of some sort of head cold/flu and she was not a happy camper. So a majority of the time there was spent by me trying to cheer her up. Also Disney doesn’t have very many actual rides. Like the Disney in America it’s catered to children. So most of the rides are animatronics train or boat rides. The lines in the park were insane. So I think we only ended getting on five or six things before we left.

Ultimately, I had a decent time. Jenny on the other hand had to find a French Doctor that night.

2015:

This will be my first “Adult” trip to Disney. I’m going with my two best friends (my brother and my sister-n-law)! My old roommate Cortney will be there the same time. I plan to drink around the world at Epcot, ride the Toy Story ride several thousand times, and eat tons of chocolate!

How I’m getting there: I cashed in my Chase Safire Rewards and got free plane tickets!

Where I’m staying: Disney’s All Star Music Resort! So it’s not the ritz…but it is the cheapest hotel at Disney World and I’m on a budget! Besides I don’t think I’ll be spending that much time in my hotel room.

What I’m doing: I got my MagicBand so I’m going to be riding like a VIP! Just kidding… I will have access to early openings and late stays at the park. I’m skipping the Magic Kingdom (been there, done that) and exploring Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

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Top Destinations in Hampton Roads

During my travels abroad I often find myself trying to convince my new foreign friends to make a pit stop in my hometown during their next adventure in the USA. Here’s my list of must-see things in the 757!

hrregionmap-profilesFirst off what is “Hampton Roads”? 

Hampton Roads (area code 757) is the name of the region in Southeastern Virginia, United States. It combines several cities including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Williamsburg, Hampton and more. Hampton Roads is renowned for miles of waterfront property, beaches, theme parks, history and it’s large military presence.

My Top Destinations (In no particular order)

1. Paradise Ocean Beach Club

My favorite summer spot is Fort Monroe’s Paradise Ocean Club. It is a privately owned beach on the Chesapeake bay that is clean, secluded and makes you feel like you’re at a 5 star resort. Why bother fighting tunnel traffic, searching for parking and wrestling with noisy crowds when you can go to Paradise Ocean Club? There you can rest comfortably in free beach chairs, have cabana boys serve you on the beach and then take a dip in the pool after sun bathing in a safe atmosphere. For only $5 (you’d pay more at the ocean front for parking alone!) you can enter the private beach. The club features miles of clean beaches, a beautiful olympic sized pool, oceanfront restaurant, beach bars, plus volleyball and corn hole courts. The best feature of the club is you can drink on the beach (it’s illegal to drink on the public beach).

2. Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield VA

Windsor Castle Park is in the heart of downtown Smithfield. It is a 208-acre riverside park that features miles of woodland trails, picnic areas, a dog park, fishing pier, bike trails, and a kayak/canoe launch. I absolutely love coming to this beautiful park. I usually go on my own for some meditation and reflection. It is a safe, well lit and well maintained park. My favorite part of the park is the kayak launch and the water system. There are tiny canals, large rivers and miles of tidewater to explore. On the water you can view crabs, fish, birds, turtles and more. Everything about this park is relaxing and calm. An absolute treat for the city dweller like myself.

3. The Leaping Lizard Cafe

A must stop eatery for all visitors of Virginia Beach is The Leaping Lizard cafe. The cafe features fresh ingredients, organic, gluten-free, vegan and other gourmet options. You can eat inside or on the comfortable patio. There’s also a built-in farmer’s market and antique shop. Every day their menu changes. I’ve had delicious sandwiches, delectable soups and the most heavenly pies.

4. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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Since you’re visiting Hampton Roads why not take a pit stop and explore Europe? That’s right, you can visit Germany, France, Italy and more right in our backyard! Busch Garden’s Williamsburg is a world famous theme park that is a must-go for all VA Beach visitors and residents. The park has been voted “Most Beautiful” in America for the past 10 years. There are always fantastic shows, fun rides and great food! My friends and I often take on-a-whim trips at the end of our work days or when ever we are bored. This theme park never gets old! If you have time visit Water Country USA as well!

5.  The Naro Theater and Ghent, Norfolk

Need something to do Friday night? Why not visit the Ghent area of Norfolk. You could grab dinner at Luna Maya. Where you can feast on true South American options made with homemade sauces, real chilis, spices, and herbs. The absolute best hispanic food in the Hampton Roads. Then you can catch an indie film at the Historic Naro Cinema. This movie theater features limited release and foreign films. All for low-low prices. On a date? Snuggle up on the second floor for some privacy. After the movie try one of the many pubs and bars on 21st street. I recommend The Public House. Still want more? How about a late night desert? Sassi’s Cake’s and Sweets is a bakery and bar!  When in Ghent you’ll never find a shortage of good food, drinks and atmosphere.

6. Dance, Dance, Dance

My friends and I love to go dancing. Here are my favorite dance spots in the 757.

  • The Eagles Nest in Chesapeake
    • Not just a country bar! They have a country dance floor, a pop/hip hop dance floor, live bands, bull riding, corn hole, three bars and so much more. This is also the most diverse club I’ve ever been to. Every age, race, gender, whatever…all come out to Eagle’s nest and have a good time!
  • The Banque
    • I am the most un-coordinated person you might meet but I absolutely love line dancing. The Banque is a country-western bar in the hood of Norfolk. If you love people watching this place is the mecca. There are always tons of newbies, so you’ll never feel to inadequate. Plus there’s alway people willing to teach you the newest dance craze. So throw on your tightest pants, hot boots and a plaid shirt and getting kick’n.

7. Get Artsy

One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is to paint. In Norfolk and Virginia Beach there are a couple of great shops where you can get creative and make something one of a kind.

  • The Mermaid Factory
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    My ombre mermaid!

    • Need a great souvenir from your 757 trip? Why not paint the symbol of Norfolk? Design your own mermaid at this unique little shop. Take an hour or so and create a one of kind ceramic mermaid that you can take home that day!
  • Color Me Mine (In VA Beach & Norfolk)
    • Paint pottery, drink wine and have a great girls night out!
    • $10 Studio Fee (Covers paints, glaze, firing, table fees) + the cost of your piece (ranging from $10-$100).
    • Takes about 5 days to get back
  • Paint ‘n Sit
    • This studio offers painting parties, classes and open studio. You can paint canvas or wine glasses. They’ll take you step-by-step through the painting process so that you can create a masterpiece.

8. See a play!

The Hampton Roads has an outstanding theater community. We have a plethora of professional actors and theaters. Many of which reside in Norfolk. Almost every night there is a play or performance happening. Here are links to some of the local theaters:

9. Drink, Drink, Drink

There are some fantastic bars in Hampton Roads. Here are some of my favorite:

  • O’Connor Brewing Company 
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    O’Connor Brewing Company

    • O’Connor’s is a working brewery and Tap House! They feature a huge beer hall, tasting room with a 24-tap bar, plus shuffleboard and corn hole!
    • You can sample flights of beer brewed on campus as well as other exclusives only available at O’Connor. This place is seriously a good time!
  • The Bier Garden in Portsmouth
    • A traditional German style restaurant with amazing food and a huge selection of German and international beers.
  • The Birch 
    • Craft Beer, artisanal Cheese and great atmosphere
  • Mermaid Winery
    • On a cool summer’s night my girls and I love to relax on the patio at Mermaid Winery. You can order flights of wine to sample, appetizers and spend the night gossiping and hanging out.
  • There are seriously tons of bars in Norfolk alone…this list could go on forever.

10. Shop till you drop

There are about six major malls in the Hampton Roads. All with their own different draws. But here are some of my favorite little shops in the 757. Ones that are locally owned and truly unique.

  • Kitsch
    • Kitsch VA is a store that sells handmade and artisan products made in Virginia. This is the perfect place to find a unique gift! They have cute toys, accessories, art prints, bath products, vintage finds and much more. The staff is friendly and the store is simply adorable. I always take Norfolk Newbies here and it quickly becomes their favorite local shop.
  • With Lavender and Lace Vintage Clothing
    • This is a magical shop full of stunning vintage clothes, antiques, and vinyl records. The owner Kelsie is a blogger goddess, who will become your fashion icon and girl crush. The store is charming and beautiful. You can find cool sun glasses, jewelry and gorgeous clothes.
  • Vinyl Daze Records 
    •  I am a huge fan of vinyl. My personal collection tops 100. So of course one of my favorite shops is a Record Store! Vinyl Daze is located in Virginia Beach. They sell new and used vinyl records and accessories.

So there it is! My list of Must sees and Must Do’s in Hampton Roads. This is only a short list. There are tons of things I’ve left out. So come visit me and my city and I’ll show you the town!

Urban White Water Rafting

This weekend my girlfriends and I went white water rafting the in the heart of Richmond, VA.

We used Living Social Escapes to find a half price deal for a day trip along the James river!

The company we rafted with is Riverside Outfitters. We ventured down the Jame’s River and experienced the only Class II – Class IV white water rapids running through a major U.S. city! We were given detailed instructions and a safety demonstration before meeting the water at Pony Pasture Park and Reedy Creek.  We saw Great Blue Herons, ducks and lots of fish. 10171234_10152629630825813_4431559008784995684_n 10665369_10152629630275813_6537525352180514715_n

10600441_10152629630635813_654692621325008350_nAfter a crazy fun journey down river we piled into a bus and headed back to the outpost for beers and socializing. Everyone in my group (even the most timid and inexperienced rafter) had an amazing time. I can’t wait until the weather warms again. I will defiantly being going rafting with Riverside Outfitters again!

Skiing in VA

I haven’t been skiing in several years. My parents and I used to often. But then my dad hurt his back and Mom was sick. So when my roommate Chelsea invited me to join her I couldn’t resist.

Chelsea’s step dad is a Ski Guard so our accommodations and lift passes were free! #score

So we piled into my brand new Subaru CrossTrek and headed up North to Winter Green Ski Resort.

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We expected to have to slum it on the floor of the guard cabin but were lucky enough to find an available room! We each got our own beds.

We spend the weekend on the slopes surrounded by the beautiful Virginia Mountains. I rekindled my love for snow and speed.

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We had a great time afterwards warming up with wine and spaghetti prepared by Chelsea’s hilarious mother.

The drive home was long and quiet. Chelsea and her mom fell asleep and I jammed to Frank Turner and thought about my Mom and how much fun she would’ve had the trip. We were all very happy to have heated seats.

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Alcohol and Tattoos

On our second day we went to Universal Studios. Where again we had amazing luck and encountered virtually no lines. We saw every show and rode every ride in less than half a day. It was fantastic.

After lots of fun we ventured out of the park to Universal way. A magnificent tourist destination full of kitsch restaurants and expensive shops.

While walking around we came upon Hart and Huntington Tattoo Parlor. Ashley decided she wanted to get the Deathly Hollows from Harry Potter Tattoo.

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I had been wanting a tattoo for a long time and that “what the heck”. #yolo. So I went ahead and booked my appointment to. We both had 11pm appointments with a tattoo artist who had competed on “Tattoo Wars”.

After all our paper work was complete we had a few hours to kill so we headed to The Hard Rock Cafe. We had a couple of drinks to mellow us out and make us braver and then headed to get our tattoos!

It was relatively painless and I am in love with my new ink!

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It’s from the Vanessa Carlton album “White Rabbits on The Run”. It symbolizes being a leader, following your dreams and getting lost in wonderland.