Your guide to an 11 hour layover at LAX! What to do, see and eat in Venice Beach.

What to do, see and eat on an 11 hour layover at LAX…

My journey to Australia started with an 11 hour layover at LAX, after my 4 hour flight from Atlanta. I have created a guide on what to do, see and eat in Venice Beach during your long layover. Got luggage? I have the solution for that too.

A problem that I have run into a few times on long haul flights, is not having a place to store my luggage so that I can explore the city and not having anywhere to freshen up before my long flight. I ran into this problem when leaving the Maldives. The last water taxi for the airport, left the resort at 4pm, but my flight out did not leave until 11pm. Passengers are not allowed into the airport until 2 hours prior to departure, so unless your resort has a lounge there, you must wait outside in the heat before your flight opens. It was too late to take a tour, so we sat at the airport for 5 hours.

Hotels by day solves this problem! Hotels by day allows you to experience a great hotel by day, without paying for the night stay. I downloaded the Hotels by day app and booked a room at the Courtyard Hotel at LAX, in less time than it took to get my luggage from baggage claim. The room was available to me from 11am until 9pm. This was perfect since our flight to Australia left at 11:30pm. The hotel had free shuttle service from the airport, so that saved us money. The room was ready when we arrived at noon. We freshened up, changed clothes and headed out to explore Venice Beach!

Venice Beach is the nearest beach to LAX. It is a $20 uber ride and right in the middle of the shore, great shopping and amazing food. Here are my recommendations on what to see, where to eat and what to do, while on a long layover at LAX.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica are beside each other, but you will get to Venice beach first. There was so much to do and see, that we spent all of our time here.

1). Walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk…

The boardwalk is filled with street artist, souvenir shops and a beautiful coastline. Stop for a moment to watch the kids skateboard, catch a magic show and take some beautiful photos at the colorful lifeguard shacks along the beach.

2). Do it for the gram..

There is beautiful street art and murals on every building and street corner in Venice Beach. Don’t be shy about getting the shot. There were tourist with cameras and tripods everywhere. Some people even had professional photographers with them to get the perfect shot.

3). Eat!!!

Abbot Kinney Blvd is the hot spot for food and shopping. We took a break and ate at several restaurants while we were shopping. Our favorites were:

The Butcher’s Daughter

Blue Star Donuts


Vegan Pizza

4). Where to shop…

Toms has their flagship store on abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, and it is the perfect place to shop and sit down to have a cup of coffee at the same time. If you are a fan of the “Shahs of Sunset”, you can visit Asa Kaftans .

5). Watch the sunset…

The High Rooftop Lounge is the best place to watch the sunset if you have time.

We let the traffic settle down and headed back to the hotel room around 7pm. We showered, packed up and headed back to the airport and had plenty of time to check in for our flight to Australia.

Happy traveling!


Where to stay, what to eat and what to do with 8 days in Australia.

Your 7 day guide to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Traveling to Australia had been a bucket list trip and dream of mine for many years. I had always been attracted to what I had seen in photos of Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbor and the Great Ocean Road. Last June, I came across a flight deal to Sydney, Australia that made my dreams come true. I started planning immediately and came up with an itinerary that gave me a taste of many things that the Continent had to offer.

We stayed in a chain hotel, Airbnb and a Bed and Breakfast. We rented a car, hiked several mountains and went on a bush walk. We drank fine wine, relaxed at a spa and visited too many beaches to count. I’m giving my recommendations of where to stay, what to eat and things to do with just one week in Australia. You honestly need at least a month there to explore. This itinerary will give you just enough to be satisfied and want to come back for more.

We had an 11 hour layover at LAX, so I will give you the details of that in a separate blog post.

Day 1: Arrival
You will likely have an overnight flight that will arrive into Sydney during mid morning. It is important to stay awake and get adjusted to the time change since Australia is 15 hours ahead of Eastern time. Your hotel may not be ready for you to check in, but they will let you store your luggage and freshen up.

Transportation: The train will take you from the Sydney airport, right into Circular Quay (the Sydney harbor and the Rocks) for $15 one way. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get into the city, especially if you are traveling solo.

Where to stay: The Holiday Inn Old Sydney is about 500 feet from the base of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Circular Quay train station. It gives you the comforts of a chain hotel, has a nice full service restaurant and a rooftop pool and hot tub with amazing views of the Harbor.

Where to eat: The Spice Alley is an Asian Food Hall in the Chippendale/ Haymarket area of Sydney. You will need an Uber to get there, but it will be worth it. We went for dinner one night and lunch the next day. There is a cute mall on the next block that has an Asian cosmetic store called “Blush Cosmetics”. I got the best hydration sheet masks from there for about $.50 and I wish that I had gotten more!

What to do: Use this day to explore the Sydney harbor and get your photos of the bridge and opera house in. If you have time, you can take the train to the Featherdale Sanctuary and get your picture taken with the Koalas.

Day 2: Hike the Blue Mountains. This will be an all day activity and a bbq lunch. A chance to try Kangaroo at the bbq is included. I highly recommend that you do the hike with Coast Warriors. Abe and Nate were excellent tour guides and they grew up in the area. They are very knowledgeable about the Blue Mountains and make the day really fun. They took us to see kangaroos before the hike and provided pillows in each seat for the ride back into town.

Day 3:

What to do: The Sydney Bridge Climb. This climb is iconic and should be on your list of what to do when visiting Australia. You can do a half bridge climb that will take you a couple of hours, or the full climb that can take up to four hours to complete.

What to eat: We had plans to eat at the Sydney Tower buffet and enjoy the view, but we ended up back at Spice Alley.

We had a 9pm flight to Melbourne, Australia that night so that we could start fresh in a new city the next day.

Day 4: Melbourne, Australia

Transportation: We got brave and rented a car to get around since there were so many things outside of the city that we wanted to do. We also arrived late, so public transportation was limited and Uber’s/ Taxis are expensive to the airport here.

Where to stay: We stayed at the Carlson View Serviced Apartments. It was an Airbnb type situation that worked out very well. It was also my first experience with staying in someone else’s home, but the whole apartment building was dedicated to “hotel rentals” and the process was simple and professional. My only complaint is that the car park was two blocks behind the apartment building, and we didn’t feel safe walking to and from the apartment when it was dark. There was an all male hostel and bars on the side streets where guys just hung out at all hours. We were ok and never approached, but it was a bit intimidating for two female travelers.

What to do: The first morning, we woke up very early and drove to Hosier Lane to check out the street art. After that, we drove to Brighton Beach to take photos at the bathing boxes.  After that, we drove down to the Mornington Peninsula to the winery and hot springs. They are close to each other, but about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne.

After we had lunch at the winery (info below) we spent the rest of our afternoon at the Peninsula Hot Springs. We had four hours of relaxation and spa treatments for $36 usd. I still can’t get over this one and can’t wait to go back!

What to eat: Montalto Olive Grove and Winery. Montalto Restaurant is the highlight of any visit to Montalto estate. They have been awarded 14 Chef’s hats since opening in 2002, and offer a warm and relaxing dining experience with seasonal local and estate-grown produce, cooked on their wood fire grill.

Where to shop: Queen Victoria Night Market. Also known as ‘Vic Market’ or ‘Queen Vic’, the Queen Victoria Market has been in Melbourne for more than a century. A historic landmark spread over two city blocks, it’s a vibrant and bustling inner-city Market where you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. The Night Market runs seasonally over Summer and Winter, Wednesdays from 5pm.

Day 5: Great Ocean Road. We took a small group tour of the Great Ocean Road with Go West Tours and our guide Damon was very knowledgeable and accommodating. We saw Koalas, did a bush walk, visited several beaches and saw the infamous Twelve Apostles and Gibson’s steps. One tip that I would give you is to skip the pre paid lunch at Apollo Bay and head to the main road to eat at a better restaurant and spend some time shopping for souvenirs. The bus has WiFi and it is a 3 hour ride back to Melbourne, so bring a jacket or blanket, small pillow, headphones and entertainment. This is an all day tour and you will get back to the city around 9:30 pm.

Day 6: We had a 7am flight back to Sydney so that we could have a full day at the beach. We landed at 8am and took an Uber to Coogee Beach.

Where to stay: We stayed at a cute Bed and Breakfast called the Dive Hotel. The staff knew that we were coming early, so they had a place for us to store our luggage and had breakfast ready. By the time we freshened up, had breakfast and nailed down our plans for the day, our room was ready. They made it a priority for us.

What to do: at this point, we are exhausted and I’m tired from dragging a bunch of luggage around. Of course, I overpacked. There was a shipping post right behind the hotel and I was able to send half of my things home, cheaper than the cost of checking a second bag. We napped for a couple of hours, then got out and did half of the coastal walk from Coogee Beach to Maroubra Beach where the natural infinity pools are. Along the way, we passed McIvers Baths for women and children. It is the oldest Aboriginal birthing pool in the area and it is still open and operating. You can go in for $2.

What to eat: Coogee has so many great places to eat, but we started with lunch at “a Fish called Coogee”. It’s like a fresh fish market where you pick out the fresh seafood that you want and they cook it to order. I had the Barramundi fish (an Aboriginal favorite) and it was so good! By the time we finished our walk that night, we settled for pizza at dominos, but wait!! This dominos had a menu full of vegan pizza options with vegan cheese that was actually good.

There are also several fresh markets where you can get salads, cold press juices and desserts to take back to your hotel room.

Day 7: The Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk. A cliff top coastal walk, the Bondi to Coogee walk extends for six km in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The Bondi to Coogee walk features stunning views, beaches, parks, cliffs, bays and rock pools. The beaches and parks offer a place to rest, swim or a chance to eat at one of the cafes, hotels, restaurants or takeaways. Most beaches offer picnic shelters, play areas, kiosks, toilets and change-rooms, Tamarama, Bronte, Coogee and Maroubra have free electric barbecues. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a medium grade urban walk but there are some steep gradient paths and several staircases along the track. There are rest stops with great views and seating along the Bondi to Coogee walk. It takes about two hours to complete the Bondi to Coogee Beach section of the walk and another hour and a half if you choose to continue to Maroubra. Although an urban walk the Bondi to Coogee walk is open to the elements, please make sure you wear comfy shoes, bring a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, water and in colder weather wear appropriate clothing.

What to do: Bondi Beach Icebergs Club. The famous Bondi Baths have been an historical landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years and are open to the public all year round. Featuring both a larger lap pool and smaller kid’s pool, qualified lifeguards are on patrol during opening hours all year round.

Wheelchair access is also available from street level down to the pool upon prior arrangement.

What to eat: The Bucket listThe Bucket List is the ultimate casual chic beachside venue where guests can wine and dine mere metres from Bondi Beach.

Day 8: The return home.
We had a good brunch at the Coogee Cafe. On Sunday’s each cafe and restaurant gives a 10% surcharge for brunch, since places are really crowded. It is also not customary to tip on service in Australia. Don’t feel bad, the bartenders make $28 per hour as their minimum wage. If you have time on a Sunday in Bondi Beach, visit the Bondi Markets for handmade crafts and clothing.

My trip to Sydney was amazing, everything that I hoped it would be, plus more. I never had a bad meal, the people were nice for the most part and the weather was good. I can’t wait to go back and explore more cities along the Gold Coast and inland where the Aboriginals are.

I hope that this helps you plan your stay on one of the most beautiful Continents in the world

Click here to check out my video recap of the trip on Youtube!!

25 Plant Based and Vegan Friendly places to eat in Sydney and Melbourne…

25 Plant Based and Vegan Friendly places to eat in Sydney and Melbourne…

Sticking to a plant based or vegan diet while dining out here in the South can be a challenge. I have noticed that certain northern cities and and the whole West coast, cater to a healthier lifestyle. Vegan and plant based restaurants are plentiful, and that makes it so much easier to dine out.

Every restaurant that we went to in Australia, had plant based options on the menu. Domino’s pizza even had a portion of their menu dedicated to vegan pizzas with the best vegan cheese I have had.

I have compiled a list of 25 plant based and vegan friendly places to eat in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Happy healthy eating abroad!

Sydney restaurants:


Gelato Blue

Doughnut Time

Green Gourmet

Golden Lotus Vegan

Shenkin Kitchen


The Green Lion

Two Chaps

Bentley Restaurant and Bar

Lentil as anything Newtown

The Gantry Restaurant

Gigi Pizzeria

Bad Hombres


Melbourne restaurants:

Three one 2 one

A fan’s note


Smith and Daughters

Smith and Deli

Laneway Greens

Trippy Taco

Good Days

Mama Rumaan

Red Sparrow Pizza





How to prepare for a long haul flight with kids

Traveling with the kids has become second nature to us. We have taken them on short flights with us together and solo since they were infants. Nothing that we had done up to this point, could have prepared us mentally for the 10 hour long haul flight that we took with them from Atlanta to Hawaii.

As you could imagine, I had a lot of anxiety going on leading up to this trip. Besides worrying about how I would keep our 2 and 8 year olds quiet and entertained on a plane for 10 hours, I had a list of 98 items to pack for a family of 4, for 10 days. Argh!!!!!!

Lets back it up and break it down to what helped me survive the planning and packing process and what got us through the flight comfortably with no tears.

1). Get organized. I love to use an app called “Any List“. It is an app that allows you to quickly create organized lists and share them with your family members or friends. I created a shopping list of snacks and quiet toys for my husband to get for the kids. I was able to share the list with him and see which items he crossed off of the list while he was shopping. I also created a travel list of things that I needed to pack for each person. This list can be shared with anyone going on the trip as a way to remind them to bring their passport, travel documents, and other important items for the trip as well.

2). We wanted to limit the amount of checked bags for the flight, not just for economical reasons, but we were traveling with a party of 9. If everyone has two checked bags plus a carryon, our luggage would need its on car. We did not have time for that! I shared a suitcase with my 2 year old, my husband checked one bag, my son checked one bag, we all had book bags and we had one roll on suitcase that we put pillows, extra snacks, electronics and a snap on potty seat in (more on that later). I tried packing cubes for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. When I got them in the mail I had my doubts. I got a 7 Piece set for $19 on amazon that included 2 large cubes, 1 medium cube, 1 small cube, a laundry bag, shoe bag and a toiletry bag. By the time I got done packing, I had 10 days worth of clothes, swimsuits, coverups, undergarments, toiletries and shoes packed and put away in those cubes for me and my 2 year old. *The clothes were thin and for warm weather. You will not be able to fit that many cold weather garments into the cubes.

3). We are packed and ready to go! So we flew Delta out of Atlanta and we normally just park at the airport’s park and ride lot and take the shuttle over to the terminal. Here is a huge tip that will make your life so much easier when flying with kids and a lot of luggage. Use the “Park and Fly Plus” airport parking service on Camp Creek Parkway. If you are flying Delta, you can park your car there and also check your luggage in at the same time! It is so awesome. Just drive your car right up to their customer service door, unload your bags, check them in, park your car, get on the shuttle and they drive you to the Delta terminal. If you have AAA, you receive a discount and it is $10 per day to park. We hopped off of the shuttle and walked right up to the “Clear” line to walk through security.

4). I am enrolled in TSA Pre- Check as well as Clear. “Clear” speeds you through the check in process once you get to the airport and allows you to bypass standing in the security line. Clear scans your eyes or your fingerprint to identify you and move you through the line. Kids under the age of 17 are always granted access through the line with you and you may add up to two family members to your service for $50 per year. Delta sky miles members may enroll for $99 per year. I am in the airport an average of 10 months out of the year, so the cost is worth it for me. We all made it through airport security on a Friday morning, during the Thanksgiving travel week in under 10 minutes.

5). We travel with a booster seat for Rian if we are not renting a car, and we use our lightweight travel stroller so that we can get around the airport and other attractions a little quicker. Whenever you gate check these items, it is best to have them covered from the elements under the plane. This process was explained to me once by a ticketing agent. She described how rats often ran through the bottom of planes, our luggage is dragged through dirt and water and we should cover all items. I got a gate check bag for Rian’s stroller and car seat for under $10 on amazon. Both were delivered within one day.

6). So we are on the plane… I made sure that we used the potty before we got on. Even though Rian is fully potty trained, I still put a pull up on her for the long flight. She is particular about the bathrooms that she uses and I wanted to be prepared. The bathrooms on the planes are tight and kinda gross, so I brought our soft potty seat and plenty of clorox wipes. The seat fit easily into our carryon and I was able to pull it out with no problem when she had to go to the bathroom. There were a lot of kids movies to choose from on the plane, but you don’t ever want to depend on that. If your toddler is like mine, she has a favorite movie that she can watch over and over again. Rian’s movie is “Trolls”. I downloaded the Trolls movie, along with a few more onto her iPad from netflix so that she could watch it in airplane mode. I also got her some plush trolls headphones to go with the theme.

7). You cannot depend on the plane snacks. I had each child’s backpack loaded with their favorite snacks, activity pads, coloring books and crayons. Each child also had a small blanket and a travel neck pillow. My husband and son sat together in a different area of the plane and my mom sat on the row behind us. This arrangement worked out great because just like any other siblings, these two fuss and fight. Out of sight out of mind and we had peace for 10 hours. We were all so excited that we hardly slept. Rian napped for about two hours, but she was comfortable. I used the Air Good Travel Pillow for kids and she was able to lay flat in the seat like she would have if she were in bed.

We survived the flight and it was not nearly as bad as we thought it would be, especially since we flew during the day. I hope that my travel hacks have helped and have given you the courage to drag your kids across the globe to experience the beauty of God’s green earth!

Here are a few photos from our first day in Hawaii.

I am looking forward to tagging along with my husband on his work trip this weekend and having some “adults only” time with him. It has been a while since I have written blog post about my travels and I have a lot to catch up on. I promise to talk about my experience on all of the different islands in Hawaii, family friendly excursions, cruising versus staying on the island and my trips to Peru and the Blue Lagoon for my birthday.

Five restaurants in Savannah that will keep you coming back for more.

Five restaurants in Savannah that will keep you coming back for more.
Savannah is “foodie” town with heavy creole influence. If you are visiting Savannah for leisure, food will play a huge part in your trip. You can’t come to this city without having lunch at Mrs. Wilkes boarding house, but your food adventure should not stop there.
I have listed my top 5 places to eat in Savannah that will keep you coming back for more. We have been to the first three restaurants multiple times and frequent them several times during each trip. The last two on the list are new for us and we can’t wait to go back!
1). The Crab Shack: 40 Estill Hammock Rd, Tybee, Ga.
The seafood sampler, key lime pie and key lime margarita are favorite’s. The crab shack also serves BBQ.
2). Vinny Van Go Go’s: 317 West Bryant Street, Savannah.
New York Style Pizzeria with outside seating or take out available. This place is cash only and they will also deliver to your hotel room.
3). Huey’s on the River: 115 East River Street, Savannah.
This place has better beignets that any you have ever had in New Orleans. Get them with the caramel praline sauce. My favorite dish here is the shrimp and Parmesan grits.
They don’t accept reservations, but you can put your name on the list to be seated with the “no wait” app.
4). Belford’s of Savannah: 315 West St. Julian Street, Savannah.
The fried green tomatoes and bacon infused bourbon are favorites.
5). Rise Savannah Bakery: 10 W. Broughton Street, Savannah.
Be prepared for the line that extends down the sidewalk, but I promise you, it will be worth the wait. The maple bacon bars and fried chicken sandwich with a fried egg and cheese on a potato roll are favorites.

A weekend guide to Savannah, Ga

I have visited Savannah on a regular basis since 2009 and it never gets old. There is so much to do and there are a few things that I still have not gotten around to doing. If you have never been to Savannah, this blog post will serve as your guide.

*See my previous post on where to take some amazing photos.

1). Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House: Mrs. Wilkes is the best place to get Southern Soul Food in Savannah. The restaurant is open Monday – Friday from 11am until 2pm and closed for the month of January. It is best to get in line for the restaurant by 9am and they only accept cash. Visit Mrs. Wilkes to see what is on the menu!

2). Savannah Slow Ride: 15 person bicycle tour that is 100% pedal powered. Choose from 6 tours that include a pub crawl, ghost tour and church crawl. For more information, visit: Savannah Slow Ride

3). Savannah Trolly Tour: Old Town Trolley Tours provides a hop on, hop off service that guides you through all of the historical sites in downtown Savannah. The trolley pass is good for 24 hours and comes with a gps service that lets you know how far away each bus is from every stop. Visit: Old Town Trolley

4). Forsyth Park: The fountain in Forsyth Park is a popular tourist destination. Forsyth Park is the largest park in the historic district of Savannah Georgia. The Park covers 30 acres of land just south of Gaston Street and north of Park Avenue. The east border of Forsyth Park is Drayton Street and on the west is Whitaker. Visit Forsyth Park for more information.

5). Bonaventure Cemetery: Bonaventure is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. The cemetery has been around since 1846. The cemetery became famous when it was featured in the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, and in the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, based on the book. Visit: Bonaventure Cemetery for more information.

6). River Street: River Street is home to a number of pubs, restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife. River Street

I have enjoyed each place on this list, but I still have not done the popular Savannah “ghost tour” or taken a ride on the Georgia Queen down the river. This gives me an excuse to go back!

8 most “instagramable” places in Savannah, Ga

8 most “instagramable” places in Savannah, Ga
Savannah is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in the South. It is also a travel bloggers dream. My family and I recently spent about 5 days in Savannah for a family reunion. We got in town a few days early, put on our waking shoes and enjoyed the scenery.
I have compiled a list of the 8 most “instagramable” places in Savannah for your enjoyment. Head out to each location before noon. It will be much cooler if you are visiting during the Summer and you won’t have a crowd of people in the background of your photos.
1). Rainbow Row on Washington Square: Historic Row Home, built in 1892 in Savannah.
Located at the intersection of Price and E. Bryant Street.
2). The Olde Pink House: 23 Abercorn Street.
Adjacent to the Planters Inn, a historic Savannah hotel is The Olde Pink House, one of Savannah’s most popular restaurants. The Olde Pink House was built in the 18th century.
3). The Gardens at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum: 41 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum housed in the William Scarbrough House is home to the largest private gardens within the historic district of Savannah. The garden is free to enter.
4). The Owens- Thomas House: 124 Abercorn Street.
The house was designed by the young English architect William Jay (1792-1837), one of the first professionally-trained architects practicing in the United States. The elegant residence was built from 1816-1819  for cotton merchant and banker Richard Richardson and his wife Frances Bolton. The garden is open to the public and free to walk through and take photos.
5). Forsyth Park: Between Drayton and Whitaker Streets (east and west) and Gaston and Park Streets (north and south).
Forsyth Park was laid out in the 1840’s. It is the largest park in the historic district of Savannah Georgia. The Park covers 30 acres of land.
6). Wormsloe Plantation: 7601 Skidaway Road

Savannah, GA 31406 (you will need a car to get there). Wormsloe Plantation is the colonial estate of Noble Jones (1702–1775). Jones was a carpenter who arrived in Georgia in 1733 with James Oglethorpe and the first group of settlers from England. Wormsloe’s tabby ruin is the oldest standing structure in Savannah.

7). Historic Jones Street
Jones Street is known as the most beautiful Street in Savannah. Street parking is available. Don’t forget to have change for the meters.
8). Tybee Island: 20 minute drive from Historic Savannah.
The island is the easternmost point in Georgia. Fun fact, Tybee Island is home to the first of what would eventually become the Days Inn chain of hotels.
This list is just the start. Savannah has so much to offer. Beauty is on every corner and in each square. I would love to see your photos from my list when you visit Savannah!

States that will require a passport for travel

In 2017, there is millions of Americans that still do not have a passport. Starting in January 2018, 9 states will require a passport for travel, according to Travel and Leisure Magazine.

If you are a resident of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington, you will need a passport to fly domestically. If you don’t have a passport, you may travel with a permanent resident card, green card or with a military ID.

“Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with identification that does not meet the REAL ID Act requirements and whose state does not have an extension must present an alternative form of identification in order to board a domestic flight. Examples of acceptable forms of identification include U.S. military or dependent ID, DHS trusted traveler cards, airline or airport-issued ID, passport book or passport card, or federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID.

We encourage you to check the REAL ID compliance status of your state on the DHS website and review TSA’s list of acceptable forms of identification. You should also check with your state’s licensing agency about how to acquire a REAL ID-compliant identification card.”

To everyone that does not already have a passport, the time is now. Avoid the rush and possible delay in getting yours in before the new year.

What are your thoughts on this new policy?



Dining with a Disney Princess

What to expect when dining with a Disney Princess…

If there is a two year old in your party, expect the worst and hope for the best! The experience is definitely worth it and we all had a great time at the end of the day, but here is a quick planning guide to help make your experience everything that you want it to be and more.

1). Plan your dining experience at least 2-3 months in advance. This will help you to get your first choice of dates and desired dining times.

2). Travel with a small party. Party’s of 4 and under have a better chance of grabbing the best seats and desired times.

3). Set your budget and be prepared to pay for the experience in advance. Payment for your dining experience is due in full when you book your reservation. The cost is $59.99 for adults and $35.99 for kids.

4). Give yourself 1.5 hours to get from the parking lot to Cinderella’s castle. Our reservation was at 9:05 am and we were staying off property. We left our resort at 7:00 am and arrived at the castle at 8:30 am. This gave us time for a little traffic, time to park, make it through the gates, rent a stroller and walk to the castle without being in a rush.

5). Buy an autograph book for all of the Princesses to sign. Breakfast is not just with Cinderella. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Princess Jazmine are all at the breakfast. They take their time, visit each table and take photos with each guest. They will also sign your photo/ autograph book.

6). Come hungry. The service is excellent and there is something for everyone on the menu. The kids had Mickey Mouse pancakes, bacon and eggs. We had steak and eggs, shrimp and grits, an assortment of pastries and juice.


7). Take plenty of pictures! The Disney photographers are on hand, but if you are not able to afford the digital downloads, they will allow you to take photo and video with your cell phone.

8).Traveling to Disney World in the low season will also help save on ticket prices. Make sure that you get your tickets to the park in advance and have them in hand. The box office does not open until after 9am but you can get into the park early for your dining reservations.

9). If you plan to dress your princess like a princess, please bring a change of clothes! I was so excited to dress Rian like her favorite princess, Cinderella. The day started off great and the outfit was cute. We got so many compliments! But at about 1:30pm, Rian began to cry, and rub her face, and scream, and cry! There was glitter all over the place and the tulle from the dress was itching her like crazy. To make matters worse, she refused to take the dress off. This led to us sitting on a bench trying to pry the dress off. We finally got it off and left it behind. We were able to get a shirt on and that was it. That pineapple dole whip saved our day after the meltdown!

We hope that your time at the park is as eventful and magical as our was!

A guide to beating the Disney Fast Pass System

Beating the Disney Fast Pass System…

Disney World Has a Fast Pass System in place for guests that purchase their park passes weeks in advance. Many amusement parks have fast pass packages available, that will help riders to get through the lines with little to no wait. I knew that Disney World had fast passes, but I didn’t know that they were free!

The key to getting a fast pass is to order your tickets to the park, a few weeks ahead of time. Download the Disney World App to your smart phone and purchase your park passes from there. After you complete your purchase, you will have the option to sign up for a fast pass. When you buy your tickets, have them mailed to you so that the fast pass logo shows up on your card. This will make it easier to get through the fast pass line when you get to the park.

You can sign each ticket holder up for 3 fast passes for the day. Get your fast passes for the most popular rides such as space mountain. We got fast passes for the tea cups, the dumbo ride and Aladdin’s magic carpet.

Here is where beating the fast pass system comes in. Your Disney World app shows you the wait times for each ride. Check to see what the wait time is for your fast pass ride, 30 minutes prior to your scheduled time. If your ride has less than a 20 minute wait, cancel the fast passes for everyone in your party, get in line and find another ride to use your fast pass on while you wait. We did this with our fast passes for the teacups and only waited 5 minutes to get on. While we waited, I scored 3 fast passes for “It’s a small world”.

Here is another trick that people don’t know about. Once you scan in to a ride using your fast pass, quickly go to your app and cancel the pass. At this point, you have made it in the fast lane and have freed up space before the system has time to know it. We did this once we got in the line for “It’s a small world” and got 2 fast passes for the “Cars” ride. The system caught my pass, but not my husband and son’s.

We did this the whole day, along with jumping on rides with short wait times and we didn’t stand in any line longer than 15 minutes. This method worked for us on a Saturday at the park during peak season in the middle of June.


1). This works best if you stay on one side of the park. We kept the rides that we got on, confined to Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and the edge of Tomorrowland. We also had a fast pass in Town Square to see Mickey. This was not a bad walk.

2). Once your fast pass starts, you have the whole hour to use it. If there is a short ride line that is available near your fast pass ride, get on that one first, then head to your fast pass line appointment.

So, here is how we made out. The system gives you 3 fast passes. We ended up with fast passes for: It’s a small world, cars, Princess Tiana, Rapunzel, Mickey’s Town Hall, Aladdin’s magic carpet ride and the Barnstormer. We also rode the tea cups, dumbo, met Minnie Mouse, Daisy, Donald Duck and Goofy without the pass.

One more tip, Daisy and Minnie Mouse have separate lines and wait time from Goofy and Donald. Hop in the shortest line with the kids while another adult in your party stands in the longer line. When you get done in the short line, join your other party in the long line to reduce your wait time. We did this and we were able to see all 4 characters and take pictures within 30 minutes.

I hope this helps you in planning your trip!