Booking Our Second Annual Family Vacation

Ocean View from Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach

September 2021 was our time to take our second annual family vacation. Before I share all the fun details about this trip I’d like to give you a mini back story. I know many of you are shocked that this is the 2nd vacation my family has taken. And to be honest last year was our very first family vacation. As a single mother finances have always been tight. For 17 years I was living on survival mode; trying to keep up with living expenses and daycare. After 13 years at the same company and my children are grown up now I have some wiggle room. Of course my kids have travelled more then I have. I have a great family support system and with that my children were invited on vacations with extended family. My sister and my parents are the biggest blessings in my life and have treated my children like their own. They would take my lil humans to NC, TN, GA, and to enjoy the sites in our home state. I stayed home and would live my daily life like usual…work and housesitting/petsitting. Don’t get me wrong I was content. One day, A- my oldest asked why we never go anywhere together and I went on a mental excursion remembering how much family vacations meant to me when I was growing up. I never had the funds and I had to sacrifice my ownself for the greater good. As parents we always want to give our kids the absolute best. Travelling without me at that time was the best- they made some core memories (an extreme amount of core memories- I have a fun family.) Last year I surprised my kids with our first annual family vacation to Saint Augustine. I never did have time to write about our visit- perhaps one day soon I will. It was refreshing to take a break and just enjoy life. After that trip I decided I could not wait another 20 years til my next vacation. I wanted to go on some sort of trip every year. So with that said in the beginning of 2021 I logged into my Hilton Honors app and booked the closest beach- Cocoa Beach. Right now I am limited with how far I can travel- car issues. It’s a long story but in short- Ugly Betty (my car) just about died after our first road trip. Well, no…she actualy died. I pushed her to far. BUT she was revived by another amazing human in my life. He has become my superhero- if you are reading this YOU know who you are! I will definitley have to write the post on last year’s vacation just so I can share what happened to Ugly Betty. But for now we are going back to the some what present. I have warm memories of Cocoa Beach. When I was a young girl my family would visit this beach just about every summer for a week or so. I knew my children would love it too! Booking my hotel stay through the Hilton Honors App was very easy. Simply search for your destination, choose your travel dates, select your room prefrences, and search special rates like AAA, AARP, Senior Rate, Travel Agent, and/or Gov/Military Rate.

When I booked my trip my rate was a bit high, but as you know rates change- they can go up and they can go down. To get the best rate I checked the app for new rates weekly and just about daily a week before our trip. If I found a cheaper rate I locked it in by updating my reservation. I did manage to lower my rate a bit and it ended up being a little more afforadable. Not only can you book your trip on the app, but you can do early check in, utilize digital key, and check out. Anyone who is not tech savy can easily navigate the app. These additional options help keep travelers safe during COVID- allowing less face to face interaction with hotel staff. And this is what I found to be really cool…we checked into our room 24 hours prior to our arrival. I selected my room using the available room chart all from the comfort of my own home- the day before.

On the day of check-in I received a notification that my room was ready (I was still driving to the hotel- I was somewhere between Kissimmee and Cocoa. Locals you know that long road in Saint Cloud; Nova Road?) and I was able to go straight to my room using the digital key in the app. Hilton makes travel easy! I think I am addicted to this App. I log in just about every day since to plan my next stay at a Hilton Family Hotel. Where will my app take me next?

In my next post I will share details about the hotel we stayed at and more. I just wanted to share how easy it is to use the Hilton Honors App. As a new traveler I was very impressed. If you haven’t already you should sign up for Hilton Honors and start earning free stays! http://www.Hilton.com

Disney on a Budget

It is no secret that I live the single momma life.  Which means one income pays all the bills.  Life can be a little tight around here.  BUT we always find that extra bit of money to get our Disney fix on.  It isn’t easy but it is possible.  So how do I do it?  How do I do Disney on a budget?  I ask myself this all the time….here is what I came up with.  I mean,  this is how I do it:

  1. Annual-Pass We are Annual Passholders.  My first year I purchased our Disney passes through AAA.  There is a slight discount that saved me about $25 per ticket.  However, you must be a AAA member to qualify for the discount and tickets must be paid in full.  Renewing I opt to pay Disney direct and I utilize the flex pay.  Paying for Gold status a little each month.  This really helps stretch that dolla!
  2. We eat before we go to the parks.  Let’s face it Disney food can be quite costly for a single momma with two very hungry kiddos.  Our favorite place to stop for a quick bite is Chick-Fil-A.  We get a great meal for a fraction of the Disney price AND leave with a full belly.  Definitely can make it to lunch without hearing those three money eating words, “Mom, I’m hungry.”
  3. fruitWe bring snacks.  Yes!  Disney will allow you to bring a few munchies into the parks.  Now, don’t pack your whole fridge.  Bring a few apples, grapes, carrot sticks, maybe even a Gogurt. Anything that will fit in a small lunch bag.  Then put this bag in your back pack.  You may even want to freeze a bottle of water to keep the snacks cold.  It is Florida and we are known for those warm summer temperatures all year round.  Well, for the most part.  We aren’t called the Sunshine state for nothing.
  4. disney waterWe get ice cold water from Disney for FREE!  That’s right ya’ll!  Free water at Disney.  The magic words are, “May I have a cup of ice water, please?”  Just say this magical phrase at any F & B stand or restaurant where they serve fountain drinks and you will get it for free.  You will thank me for this one later.
  5. We buy souvenirs only for special occasions.  We only visit WDW EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND.  So, I limit purchases.  It is ok to say no most of the time.  Then when you purchase a goodie the lil one’s cherish it more.

 

So now you know, how I do Disney on a Budget.  Don’t get me wrong it is so fun to spend that money in the parks, but to feel that squeeze in my bank account later is not so fun.   And for anyone worried that we are missing out on Disney Treats and Dining.  We definitely are not.  Occasionally I do  purchase treats in the park and make reservations for  Disney Dining,  BUT only for special occasions.  It is ok to limit these purchases.

I truly believe, magic is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Helping Kids and Families Succeed with back to school supplies and I need your help!

imageHard to think about school when summer has just begun. As a single mother
of two children I know first hand how hard it is to make ends meet. I have
been very blessed with a wonderful job and support system and have always
been able to provide for my children with more than they truly need. God is
so good! I know this is not the story for all single mothers. I would like
to do a school supply drive for single mothers that are in need of help for
the next school year. I will be taking applications for mother’s in need in
a few short weeks. I would like to start with seeing how many vendors and
fans are willing to stand with me and donate either school supplies or gift
cards for store’s like Target, Walmart, Staples, and Office Depot or Office
Max. Please message me if you are able to donate. You will receive free
advertising this summer from me and acknowledgment on my blog in return for
your patronage. I would like to help as many families as I can in the new
school year. Please share on your personal and business pages to spread the
word. Thank you!