10 Tips When Flying With A Toddler

As a military spouse whose family lives 2,000 miles away I have flown solo with a baby/toddler more than a few times! As I wrote about in The Joys of Flying With a Toddler it can be a pretty harrowing experience! Here are my top 10 tips to help you make it through!

Tips For Flying

1. Know What You Can and Can’t Check  Many airlines will let you bring a stroller, boppy and diaper bag (plus a few various stray items like teddy bear & blankie) and not count them towards your luggage total. They have started to crack down in recent years, however, so double check so you don’t end up scrambling to pay for another bag! Things like pack-n-plays aren’t covered so if you’ll be staying in a hotel use theirs or if you’re staying with family check around and see if anyone has one that you can borrow.

2. Light Up Shoes Set Off Alarms Does your toddler have a pair of those super cute light up shoes that go off when they step-leave them at home! The compound in them that causes the lights sets off the bomb detectors and will result in you both getting patted down.

3. Think Outside the Toy Box While I highly recommend the old standby options of new toys and books to bring along for the flight (a must!) toddlers are usually entertained the most by random objects. Give them a wipe to “clean” everything-the tray, the seat, them, you, etc. Not only will they find this very amusing they’ll also be wiping those nasty germs away! Pens and paper (since they’re usually a big no no) are also guaranteed to be winners!

Flying With a Baby

4. Bring Your Own Snacks The cost of food is ridiculous on flights these days and usually not that great. While liquids are restricted you can still bring your own food along so pack up some of your toddlers favorite treats to sprinkle throughout the flight. This is one time stuffing cookies down their face is totally ok!

5. Don’t Give Juice Thinking that since snacks are good drinks would be better proved catastrophic one flight when we got stuck on the runway and Amber ended up leaking through a diaper after one too many sippy cups of juice. Stick to water only to avoid frequent potty breaks or accidents!

6. Protect Your Things. There are so many things to worry about that you probably won’t be thinking much about your own. Nothing spoils a flight like a scratched iPhone that got thrown and squooshed while in your purse or diaper bag. Even worse is when you arrive at the airport to realize that not only is your luggage lost the little thing tag they gave you got snapped off and who knows when you’ll see or hear of it again? By buying high quality leather items like the Royce Leather iPhone Sleeve and the Royce Leather Big Tag will give you peace of mind to tackle the really important stuff-like quietly miming your child’s favorite action song–for the 50th time in a row.

7. Pack Clothes for You and Baby Always pack a spare set of clothes for yourself as well as your baby. Accidents, spills, blowouts, and throw up will probably ruin both sets of clothing!

8. Ask To Move. If you’re lucky enough to have a flight that’s not completely full see if the stewards will let you move to an empty row or swap with someone who is flying solo-room to stretch and crawl or sit can turn a flight from a nightmare to a breeze!

9. Don’t Be Afraid to ask for Help! Especially if you’re going to be flying solo with baby don’t be shy about asking for help. I’ve found that most people are especially sweet and accommodating-and just ignore those who aren’t!

10. Breathe! Like all else in life-this too shall pass!

I was provided with the pictured case and tag by Shoplet your stop for Office Supplies and more! All opinions, tips, and cute rolly-polly babies are my own.

Roadtrip-a-Matic to the Rescue

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a military family we’ve gone on more cross country road trips the past 7 years than I care to remember! During our road trip from Boston to Texas last Spring I was pleasently surprised at how absolutely breathtaking Pennsylvania was! It was definitely one of the prettiest states to drive through-so I can see why pa-roadtrips would be highly recommended!

On their website the Roadtrip-a-Matic takes the guesswork out of vacation by having pre-planned roadtrips with details from where to go, how long to stay, and where to eat and sleep–all that you have to worry about is the packing! It’s like having that local friend who knows just what hot spots to check up on, and which to avoid! And after being the “insider” at several locations, I can assure you that kind of information is priceless!

My favorite would be the Kidsylvania trips–The Alleghenies looks like it would be right up our families alley with the Children’s Museum and amusement parks! 

There are a ton of different categories of trips–everything from art lovers to those who would love to visit the big cities or the rutic local spots. So hop on over and take a peek and start planning your own road trip!visitPA-Roadtrip_box_720px.jpgvisitPA-Roadtrip_box_720px.jpg

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Armed Forces Day ~ Military Deals, Specials, and Tips to Save

A very happy Armed Forces Day!

To help celebrate I thought I’d share some *awesome* deals and specials that I’ve come across lately for military as well as some of our own money saving tips. Because I truly believe that everyone who serves their country are entirely underpaid, and I love it when businesses reach out with thank yous in the form of discounts or freebies!

Hotels: A great traveling tip is to always ask if the hotel provides a military discount. I think that in all our travels across the country we have only been told no once. This normally knocks off anywhere from $10 – $30 per night and that adds up fast!

Many cell phone carriers provide military discounts, we’ve been with both Verizon and Sprint and they both give military discounts.

Always ask if a car dealership gives a military discount-we were given one on my vehicle but not on hubbies–it never hurts to ask though. (be sure that you do it *after* any other prices have been knocked off though–or they’ll probably take that $500 off they were going to anyways under the name of a “military discount”)

Waves Of Honor: Free Admission and Discounts to the Busch Gardens and Sea World Parks

Military Families can also get a FREE Annual Pass to the Nation’s National Parks (reg. $80)  – the pass can be picked up at any National Park or Wildlife Refuge that charges an entrance fee, and an ID must be shown to obtain the pass.

Blue Star Museums : over 1600 museums nationwide that are offering free admission to military members this summer.

Veteran Tickets: Free tickets to major events for Veterans and Active Duty

Free One Year Membership to Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Free Custom Military Support T-Shirts (just pay shipping!)

Deployment Resources:

Free Deployment Photography: Photographers offer free sessions pre/ during/ post deployment.

 Free Welcome Home banners for military

Restaurants that provide military discounts

Do you have any great deals/specials/sites that I’ve missed? If so please comment and I’ll add them in!

Virginia Beach ~ Living the Life

One of the *best* parts of being a Coastie Wife is that you always live, well, on the Coast! We have been incredibly blessed in our duty stations since each place that we’ve lived has been a vacation destination (Washington DC, Crystal Coast in NC, and Boston) Since I’ve been so lucky as to live in all these places and get the “insider scoops” I thought I would start sharing some of my best experiences with you all! Today I’m going to focus in on all the ways to love the moment at Virgina Beach!
Even though Washington DC is jam packed full of amazing things to do when my parents and siblings flew out for a big DC vacation we all made sure that a trip to visit Virginia Beach overnight was a top priority! It was great that it was just a little over 3 hours from where I lived in Lorton, VA.

Our first stop was the very fun Virginia Aquarium. It was the “just right” size to take a few hours through and get to see everything. The otters were especially fun as they stopped their playing and jumping around just long enough to check us out and wonder why we were staring at them. The touch tank was really big and full of friendly sting rays so we all got to touch several of them. We also got to see critters that weren’t an official part of the aquarium–the little lizard in the picture above was just off the path walking in and we spotted several cardinals while having lunch on the little patio at the aquarium. It was a lot of fun!

The best part of the beach is, of course, the beach! Our ocean front motel gave us easy access to the white, wide sandy beaches which we all fell in love with! There are so many miles of sandy beach that it feels like you have it almost all to yourself-and who can beat that?! Even in May the day and water were warm enough for swimming and splashing and we had a ton of fun doing that and building sandcastles (hey–no judging–sandcastles are fun for everyone!)

All that hard work of splish splashing made us fairly ravenous, but thankfully a local pizza joint hit the spot! After dinner we cruised the main strip of town which proved to be extremely fun as well. Like a giddy school girl I get excited when I see anything Coast Guard–so I was both excited and bummed to see the old Coast Guard station even though it was closed. We also found an epic statue of Poseidon and got in touch with our inner pirate at one of the many fun and funky tourist stores that line the main street (See my fierce pirate face? I totally could have been in the Pirates movies–Yaaarrrr matey!!!!) Top the evening off with some ice cream from a buzzing shop and our extremely fun visit was complete. I would love to bring Amber and Tyler to Virgina Beach someday!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach blogging program to earn My SocialMoms Rewards points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on the topic, click here.

Ten Tips for Getting Good Travel Deals

As a military family it seems like we’re constantly moving or traveling to see one family or another! As I mentioned in my last blog post (well, several blog posts!) we’ve moved five times in the past five years! It’s basically a necessity for us to find good travel deals and ways to save money while traveling! Here are my top 10 tips!

1.      Make use of all the travel comparing sites! Everyone has heard about all of the different websites out there that compare flights and get you discounts, they really do work! We have had the best luck with Cheaptickets.com and Expedia.
2.      On a second note be sure to shop around and check! We’ve found that the least expensive price will vary from time to time and site to site so it always pays to look around a little bit!
3.      Book flights on Wednesdays – they are cheapest usually so if flexible plan your trip around tips like that. We always try to purchase as far in advance as possible to take advantage of the lower rates.
4.      Don’t skimp on travel insurance! That $15 will be so worth it if plans suddenly change as has happened to several people in our family over the year!
5.      Watch the Luggage. With the new baggage fees for some things it’s more expensive to bring them than to buy them! For example when I was visiting my family last year it would have cost me $50 to fly our pack n play along with us. My mom figured out that she could purchase a decent one for $30 and then just keep it there for future grandbaby visits. Saved us $20 right then and who knows how much down the line!
6.      Know what you can bring, or not! You can check strollers and car seats in for free, however, and bring a diaper bag along as well. Be sure to know these ins and outs so you bring along all you can without spending a bundle!
7.      Watch food prices! 3 meals “out” a day gets ridiculous (not to mention how sick of fast food you get after just a few days of it) To avoid this book hotels that serve a *good* continental breakfast and fill up there before starting your day.
8.       For lunches and snacks on the road buy things at the grocery store ahead of time—so much cheaper than at the gas stations!
9.      This goes for airplanes too, you can’t bring along liquids but you sure can pack a sub sandwhich in your carryon! All the other passengers were drooling at mine while they ate their stale pretzels!
10.  Be watching gas prices and fill up when you see the lowest one regardless of where your tank needle is at.

Little tips like these can go a long way to saving you a whole lot! Happy travels!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Southwestern Wyoming

On August 7th we decided to adventure a little closer to home. One thing I love so much about Wyoming is all the wildlife you see everywhere. On our way out we saw a group of wild horses. Of course we had to stop to show Amber!
She hitched a ride on Grandpa’s shoulders up to the Indian Petroglyphs
The sandstone is covered with Indian carvings
One of my favorites was this little guy

Amber thought they were pretty cool!!
One of my favorite things about where I grew up is that you can see for MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our next stop was Boar’s Tusk which is the inner core of an ancient volcano
While Amber played in the dirt (go figure)

Us older kids climbed up into the middle of the volcano

Crazy picture taking ensued

To get back down we slid on rocks the whole way–it was way fun and so much easier!

Our last stop of the day was the amazing Killpecker Sand Dunes. They are the second largest moving sand dune system in the world, second only to that in the Sahara Desert.

Amber loved playing in the sand

While I got to go for a ride on the 4 wheeler–Woo Hoo!

Another thing I LOVE about Wyoming is the bright blue sky!!!
this pic wasn’t edited or enhanced at all

My Ansel Adam-esque self portrait

Again–another amazing day!!!!!