Costa Rica Adventure, Day 3: Call of the Wild

Our day started with breakfast at the hotel.  Breakfast was included daily on our adventure.  Our group had two large tables reserved in the back of the restaurant.  We had a great view of the surrounding trees.  Breakfast was, yet another, amazing buffet.  It didn’t have as many offerings as the Marriott San Jose, but all the food was equally good.  Every morning we had rice and beans, eggs (prepared differently daily), a breakfast meat (the selection changed daily), plantain (a weakness of mine), an omelet station, fresh breads and pastries, and an assortment of tropical fruit.  There was also cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal.  Coffee service was by the wait staff.

Our group could dine anytime within breakfast hours, but on this morning, we had to be at the bus at 7:30 a.m., so we wanted to be early.  I am so glad we arrived early.  Someone noticed some movement in the trees, so we stepped out on the balcony to investigate and heard this.

After breakfast, we loaded on the bus for the two…

Costa Rica Adventure, Day 2: Make a Splash

Day 2 of our adventure started at the Marriott San Jose.After a long day of travel the day before, which I covered here, we were ready to truly kick off our adventure.Our bags had to be outside the door for pick up by 6:30 a.m.Chris and I woke up early to make sure we were dressed and had the kids’ clothes ready to go before our deadline.This is where my OCD packing methods paid off.We traveled with a Chris/Easton suitcase, an Amanda/Clara suitcase, and a shoe/miscellaneous duffle bag.We packed everything inside the suitcases in packing cubes designated for each activity.Thankfully, I had the foresight to label each cube.We simply popped open the suitcases and grabbed the cubes labeled “whitewater.”We changed into the clothes we would be rafting in and packed a dry change of clothes inside the waterproof drawstring Adventures by Disney bag that came with our trip documents.
We then headed off to breakfast.Breakfast exceeded my expectations in every way.As a family, we typically stay …

Costa Rica Adventure, Day 1: Tico Rhythm

In this post, I’ll cover Day 1 of our Costa Rica Adventure with Adventures by Disney.Day 1 is arrival day.In a perfect world, we would have arrived around 1pm, been whisked away to our hotel, and spent the afternoon lazing about the pool at the Marriott San Jose.This post would have a thorough hotel review and a review of our amazing Costa Rican dinner.Due to a last minute flight cancellation and a comical amount of flight delays, we missed our connecting flight in Atlanta and eventually made the last flight of the day to San Jose, which was also delayed.We didn’t arrive at our hotel until close to 10pm and checked out early the next morning, so I didn’t have a chance to tour the property and take pictures.We ate dinner at the TGIF in the Atlanta airport and you really don’t need a review of that.
If there is any silver lining to having a delay, it is that I got to see firsthand how Disney handles these mishaps.As soon as I knew we were going to miss our flight from ATL to SJO, I cal…

Why You Should Consider a Guided Tour

Last month, our family of four traveled to Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney.Adventures by Disney provides premium guided group vacations tailored for families.Truthfully, I never thought I’d ever take a fully guided vacation.I’ve always prided myself in being an independent traveler, so I entered into it with some reservations.I’m here to tell you that there are no reservations to be had.It was absolutely, positively the best vacation we’ve taken as a family.
In this post I’ll tell you why we chose Costa Rica and why we decided to travel with Adventures by Disney.In the following posts, I’ll do a more traditional trip report so you can see what a trip to Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney looks like and all the little extras that made the trip so special.
So…why Costa Rica?Our youngest, Clara, turned five this past summer and our oldest, Easton, is seven.  Chris and I figured it was time to get their first passport stamp.  We discussed several destinations and ultimately landed…

International Travel Check List

Traveling abroad can be fun and rewarding. While everyone hopes for a safe and uneventful trip, emergencies can happen and there are a few things you should do a ahead of time to prepare in the event of an emergency.

First, identify someone you trust back home and make sure they have your itinerary so they know where you will be traveling.  Leave them the contact information for your cruise line, tour operator, or the hotels where you will be staying so they can contact you in the event of an emergency back home.  Leave a picture or photocopy of your passport with your emergency contact person back home.

The next few steps involve documents that you should take with you.  Print out hard copies and put them in a folder or document holder.  Do not rely on storing the information on your phone or laptop.  Make sure your folder or document folder has:

- The address and emergency contact phone numbers for the U.S. Embassy closest to where you will be traveling

- A photocopy of your passpo…

Strategies for Family Travel: Booking Early, Part 2

In Part 1, I covered how booking a vacation early can save a family thousands of dollars.  In this post, I’ll discuss when to book and how booking early can help you manage your cash flow.  The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the trip, the farther in advance you should book.  
For the most savings, you should book as soon as the booking dates release.So when does this happen?It can vary by the type of trip and the supplier (tour operator, cruise line, etc…), but below I’ve outlined some general guidelines.
In a nutshell, if you are planning on cruising, going to Alaska, or taking a big bucket list trip in 2020, now is the time to book.Here are a few pointers: Almost all the ocean cruise lines have released schedules into 2020.You can book most of them through fall 2020, but some have opened booking through the entire year.Whether you want a 3-night Bahamian itinerary or an around the world cruise, you should book it as soon as possible.  If you feel certain you'll have t…

Strategies for Family Travel: Booking Early, Part 1

It’s time to start planning your summer vacation.No, not this summer, next summer.Yes, that’s right. As a travel planner with a focus on family adventure travel, I get asked all the time how to save money on family vacations.As any parent knows, kids are expensive.Depending on how many you have, they can double easily double or triple the cost of your vacation.So how can you afford to go amazing places as a family?My answer: Book Early.I booked our family’s July 2019 summer vacation in June of 2018.Perhaps that seems a little over the top.I’m a hyper planner and like having our calendar planned out far in advance, but even if this isn’t your personal style, planning early can save you thousands of dollars on your vacation.
But first, let me say a word about last minute travel.This seems to be a popular strategy.There are a lot of misconceptions out there about last-minute deals, especially when it comes to plane tickets and cruises.I’ll be brief here because myth busting last-minute …