Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

As 2015 comes to a close, I am so grateful. It's been an incredible year of travel, learning, and helping people plan vacations. 

In 2015, I helped 181 families plan a vacation. That's just incredible. 

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, likes and comments on the Trips with Angie Facebook page, and reads my email newsletters. 

In 2015, I launched my Disney Workbook. It's a 20 page step by step guide to planning a Disney vacation.  I also designed a t-shirt that I am selling here.  It's only available until January 19th. 

I'm switching up my social media a little in 2016. 

All the Disney content on Instagram and Twitter is now under the handle @tips4WDW  

Travel tips, all-inclusive resorts and cruises will remain on Instagram and Twitter under @tripswithangie

Cheers to 2015 and I can't wait to see what adventures 2016 has in store! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Packing List

Three things to consider when packing for a Caribbean Cruise are the weather, your activities, and the dress codes on the ship.  

Highs will range between 80s - 90s with lows in the 70s - 80s. Rain will be likely in the summer and fall. I bring a poncho for rain. I find it covers more and is easier to carry around. 

  • Sandals/Water resistant shoes  - If you will be climbing waterfalls or exploring a rocky beach, you may want to bring water shoes.  
  • A bag to carry around in port - A collapsible bag will be helpful - especially if you need to take off some layers or to carry water. 
  • Polarized sunglasses - The glare from the water may make it difficult to see. 
  • Sunscreen - Bring more than you think you will need as it’s expensive to purchase on the ship. 
  • A waterproof case or Ziploc bag for your camera for water excursions 
  • Extra memory card for your camera 
  • Insect Repellent - Be sure to bring the pump version, not the aerosol. 
  • Refillable Water Bottle

General Items

  • Alarm Clock - Cruise cabins do not have alarm clocks. 
  • Over the Counter Medications - Bring any over the counter medications you may need. Also include Seasickness cures if you think you’ll be impacted by the ship’s movement. 
  • Hat 
  • All your toiletries - Cruise cabins do not have the same amenities as hotels. 
  • Laundry Soap - Many ships and hotels have self-service laundromats. 


  • Dining Dress Codes -  Check your cruise line’s dress code to ensure you have proper attire. For men, slacks, dress shoes, and a collared formal shirt should suffice. For women, a dress or nice pants outfit should work. For a seven night cruise, I usually bring 4 dresses - one that qualifies as elegant. Two dresses I wear twice. My husband brings 3 pairs of khakis and six collared shirts - mix of polo and those button down linen ones with one long sleeved for elegant night. 
  • Swimsuits - Bring at least two. You have to assume that most days will be spent in a swimsuit with some type of cover up. 
  • Casual Clothes -  For a seven night cruise, I bring two swimsuit cover-ups, 2 -3 pairs of shorts, 3 t-shirts. I find that gives me enough variety because I don't mind wearing the same pair of shorts for a few days.  Shorts with pockets are good because you'll need to carry your sail and sign card with you. My husband brings 3 -4 pairs or shorts with 3 -5 quick dry shirts. 
  • Workout Clothes - If you plan to workout daily- bring two sets of workout clothes so you can hand wash and then leave drying in the bathroom. Since it's so humid - it usually take more than a day to drive. Remember socks. 
  • A sweater or light jacket - Pack a sweater in case the air conditioning is aggressive. 
  • Pajamas
What items am I missing? What else do you usually take on a cruise? 

Disney World - Tours, Sports and Recreation

Disney World offers a lot of special tours and events to join while you are visiting the Parks. 

It's transformation time! 

At Disney World, you can become a pirate or a princess at one of the special boutique experiences. 
Pirates League in Magic Kingdom transforms kids into pirates or mermaids. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance by calling (407) 939-2739. 

Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs transforms kids aged 3 - 12 years old into princesses. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance by calling (407) 939-7895. 

Events and Tours

You can go behind the scenes of Disney World on several different tours. 

See how the Land in Epcot grows food without soil in the Behind the Seeds tour. 
Set your little pirate off on their own adventure on a Pirate Adventure cruises - no parents allowed.  (This has seasonal availability). 
Scuba dive in the Aquarium through the DiveQuest program. 
Enjoy the Magic Kingdom Fireworks as you sail the Seven Seas Lagoon on the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. 
Venture out onto the savannas at Animal Kingdom through the Wild Africa Trek. 

Disney's Recreation department also offers fishing, golfing, archery, water skiing, horse back riding, and boat rentals.  One idea I love is renting a pontoon boat to watch the fireworks from the Seven Seas Lagoon outside Magic Kingdom or the lagoon inside Epcot.

Reservations can be made 180 days in advance. 

If you are thinking about planning a Disney vacation, be sure to get my guide to Escaping the Crowds at Disney World. Click here to request your copy. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

25% off Disney World Resorts this Spring

You can save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights April 14-June 11, 2016 when you book by March 31, 2016. Ask about other great rates for stays most nights Feb. 22-April 13, 2016.  Plus, you can receive 1 more ticket day FREE when they upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Magic Your Way® Ticket. 

Additional savings are available at Deluxe resorts for Disney Visa Cardholders, but you have to book by February 28th for stays April 3rd - June 30th. 

It's a perfect time for your family to discover all-new Star Wars™ adventures at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Garden Rocks™ Concert Series at Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival, the new nighttime experiences at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park and so much more.

If you already booked your Disney vacation through me - I've checked your package to make sure you are still getting the best value. If you qualified for additional savings, I've sent you a new confirmation showing the additional savings. 

Email me with your preferred dates and we can have your Disney vacation booked before New Year's Eve. 

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. 25% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available for other Resorts. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2016 Disney World Special Events

Heading to Disney World in 2016? 
Check out these great events: 
This weekend includes a marathon, half marathon, 10K and a Family Fun 5K. 
February 8th - 12th:  Princess Half Marathon Weekend 
This weekend includes a half marathon, 10K, Princess 5K and Kids' races. 
A great time of year to visit. The weather is great. The topiary displays are impressive. Plus there's a special concert series. 
April 14th - 17th - Star Wars Half Marathon 
This race weekend features a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K and kids' races. 
September 11th - 12th: Night of Joy at Magic Kingdom 
A contemporary Christian music festival that takes place in the Magic Kingdom and, in 2016, expands to the ESPN complex. 
September - November: Epcot Food and Wine Festival 

The World Showcase fills with food and beverage kiosks representing over 20 different countries. You can "Eat to the Beat" at a special concert series or enjoy cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs. 

This special ticket event has a fantastic parade and fireworks show. You get up close with the villians and trick or treat around the Magic Kindgom. 
This event features a half marathon, Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K, and kids' races. 
Interested in visiting Disney World?  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Planning a Group Trip in 2016?

The holidays tend to bring people together so it's a great time to start thinking about family or friend vacations in 2016. 
A few things to keep in mind: 
  • For Disney World vacations, you'll want to finalize your reservation at least 6 months in advance, if possible. This is because dining reservations open for booking 6 months in advance. This gives you the best chance of getting a large table at your preferred restaurants. 
  • Some all-inclusive resorts offer special savings for groups for as few as 5 rooms depending on the time of year of your travel. 
  • Cruises offer special group benefits for groups of at least 8 cabins. They have to be booked pretty far in advance to lock in the lower group rates and benefits. 

How can a travel agent like me help?  
- We can work with the resorts and cruise lines to confirm your group benefits. 
- We handle all the payments and all the questions. 
- Based on a few questions, we can help narrow to a location that will have something for everyone. 

If you are considering a group trip in 2016 or 2017, click here to schedule a free 20 minute chat about your options. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Packing Tips for Holiday Travel

Hitting the road or the air for the holidays this year? 
Here's a few things to keep in mind when packing: 

Checked baggage weight limits - Be sure to check and weight that bag before you leave home. The easiest way I've found to weigh a bag is to weigh yourself, weigh yourself holding the bag and the then subtract. I also use a handheld luggage scale that you attach to the handle and then hold the bag off the floor. 

Consider how you are getting any presents home - I  typically take a large suitcase that is checked, a smaller suitcase for a carry on and then pack in the large suitcase a collapsible duffle bag that lies flat. This way I can check the smaller bag on the way home and use the duffle as the carry on. 
The Liquids - Be sure to follow the 3-1-1 rule and have your quart size baggie easily accessible at the top of your luggage. Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag.You should put those liquids in a separate bag for inspection. 
You can bring a ice pack - as long as it is still frozen solid - to keep your formula, breast milk or juice cold. For more resources on going through airline security with children - check TAS's blog:
 What about the presents?  

The wrapping - The best strategy I've found is to go to the dollar store and stock up on bags and tissue paper. I pack the bags and tissue paper in the middle of my suitcase where they are less likely to get wrinkled. Then we I get to parent's house - all I have to do is unpack the bags and place the presents in them. 

The presents - I fit as many presents as I can into the carry-on. This way I don't have to worry about it. I try to pack any of the presents that clothes or books into the checked bags as they are less likely to trigger additional security screening. Do not pack toys with the batteries inside them. Be sure to TAPE any on/off switches to the OFF position before packing.  Some toys have a demonstration mode that is on when you buy them. Double check. 
The batteries - TSA has a good blog on what to do with batteries.
What am I missing? What are your go-to holiday travel packing tips? 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Disney Cruises for Grown Ups

What's there for an adult to do on a Disney cruise? 


Let's take a closer look at the Disney Dream:

Satellite Falls is an adult only sun deck pictured above, This was recently renovated. It's located a deck above the Adults Only pool and hot tubs. 

The Rainforest Room in the Spa is a fantastic thermal suite. Two person hot tubs with a great view offer a great place to relax. It's my favorite place on the ship to watch sail away. Heated loungers are a nice quiet location to read. Plus there's fun showers that provide a "rain forest" experience. You can buy a pass for the day or for the week. 

Skyline Bar 

The Disco 

687 Sports Bar
The Bar District offers the nightly entertainment. This area turns into adults only at night. A lounge with live music, champagne bar, skyline bar, disco and sports bar offer lots of options for you to enjoy a cocktail. The Sport Bar has its own specially brewed IPA. The Skyline bar backdrop changes every 12 minutes to a different city with cocktails to match. 

I'm sure you'll find plenty of adult fun on the Disney Dream. 

If you are interested in planning a Disney cruise - email me or set up a time to chat.

Disney Dream: Be Sure To Try

Are you sailing on the Disney Dream?  

Be sure to check out: 

Aqua Duck - A fun water ride in a clear tube that goes around the ship. 

Midship Detective Agency - An interactive game around the ship that uses paintings that come to life to help you solve a mystery. 

Dine and Play  - If you have the late dinner seating, your family can take advantage of dine and play. Your kids will get their full meal when you get your appetizer. About 45 minutes into dinner, counselors will walk around the dining room. Your kids aged 4 -12 can join them and head off to the Kids' club while you finish your entree and dessert. 
Remember - this is only available for the late dinner seating and they won't make an announcement. When you see the counselors, your kids should join them. 

 Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet - This is a special event that requires tickets. Tickets are free. You get them at the Guest Services desk. Be sure to head them right when you get on board as availability is limited. 

Wave Phones - Your room with come with a wave phone you can use on board. This is a great way to call or text from room to room to help coordinate plans. 

Kids' Spa - Kids as young as 3 years old can get manicures or pedicures when accompanied by an adult. Massage start at age 13. Every one under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. This is a recent change so if you've sailed before - take note. 

If you are interested in sailing on the Disney Dream - please let me know

Disney Dream: New Additions to Oceaneer's Club

I had the chance to check out the new additions to the Disney Dream's Oceaneer's Club.  

One of the major enhancements was to the kids' club: Oceaneer Club. 

A new Star Wars Millennium Falcon area was added. The timing was very smart with new movie coming out. It was fun to see all the parents ooh and aah on the first day when they were allowed into the Club. 

The Star Wars Millennium Falcon area houses the Jedi Training: Experience the Force experience and a mock cockpit where the kids can fly the Millenium Falcon through different scenes including some scenes from the Star Tours ride at Disney World. 

The other addition to the Oceaneer's Club is the Disney Infinity play area which includes a kid-sized version of the game console. 

For more information on booking a vacation on the Disney Dream for your family, please email me - Angie<at>

Disney Dream: Did You Notice?

The Disney Dream is a great cruise ship for families. It offers great entertainment, kids' activities and deck parties.

For those of you who have sailed her before, did you notice...

The display behind the guest services desk shows the current location of the four Disney Cruise ships?

The carpeting on the floor in the hallways orients to the front of the ship?

The chandeliers in Remy and the Royal Table have glass sculptures that match their theme?
Remy has a glass Remy and the Royal Table has glass slippers. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

What You Need to Know if you are visiting Disney World in January or February 2016

What's New? 

Skipper's Canteen in Magic Kingdom - Located steps from the legendary Jungle Cruise attraction, this new 222-seat table-service restaurant is staffed by the wisecracking crew of the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd.  Diners are seated in one of three dining destinations inside the company’s headquarters-turned-restaurant: the mess hall; the jungle-inspired parlor once used by the company’s founder, Dr. Albert Falls and his family; or the former meeting room of the mysterious Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The adventurous menu features bold and flavorful tastes inspired by the exotic flavors of the rivers traveled on the Jungle Cruise. You can try Trader Sam’s head-on shrimp, Dr. Falls’ signature grilled steak or the house-made arepas with slow-cooked beef, black beans, tostones and queso fresco. Little ones can enjoy items such as Junior Skip’s special mac and cheese. And for dessert, there is a Kungaloosh! – an African-inspired chocolate cake served with caramelized bananas and cashew-caramel ice cream. Refreshing non-alcoholic specialty beverages, Punch Line punch and Schweitzer Slush, will also be offered. The Disney Dining Plan will be accepted at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. Reservations are not currently being offered. 

Club Disney at Hollywood Studios - This new area offers a place to escape the rain or the sun and charge you devices. During the day, it's a dance party for kids.  

Club Disney expands to Club Villain on January 16th. Club Villain is  special ticket event with dinner, cocktails, and meet and greets with some of Disney's favorite villains. Tickets to Club Villain can be purchased for $99 per person, tax and gratuity included. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 90 days in advance. For villains fans, this is a great change so they don't have to wait for the Not So Scary Halloween party each year to interact with the villains. 

New Star Wars Experiences at Hollywood Studios 
“Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” Fireworks 
 Star Wars Launch Bay featuring a character meet and greet experience with the Darkside or the Rebel Base 
A Reimagined Jedi Academy - Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple 

Construction Updates 

Magic Kingdom 

  • Splash Mountain closed Jan. 10 - 14, 2016
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin closed Jan. 18 - Feb. 11, 2016
  • Liberty Square Riverboat closed Jan. 18 - Jan. 22, 2016
  • Mad Tea Party closed Feb. 22 - 26, 2016


  • Soarin - Jan 4, 2016 - Summer 2016 as Disney installs the new movie 
Animal Kingdom 

  • Maharajah Jungle Trek closed Jan. 4 - 21, 2016
  • Kali River Rapids closed Jan. 4 - Feb. 11, 2016

Typhoon Lagoon is closed for yearly maintenance. 

Flying Fish restaurant is closed Feb 1 - Sep 30, 2016 

Cub's Den Children's Activity Center at Wilderness Lodge will be closed from Jan 3, 2016 - 2017 

Construction and yearly maintenance will close pools at the following resorts: 

  • Bay Lake Tower - Bay Cove Pool is closed Feb 1 - March 18, 2016 
  • All Star Sports - Surfboard Bay Pool is closed Jan 25 - 28, 2016 
  • Boardwalk Inn - Luna Park Pool is closed Jan 11 - Feb 2, 2016 
  • Caribbean Beach - All pools will be closed on a rotating basis for 3 - 4 days each between January 6th thru February 5th. 
  • Grand Floridian - Courtyard Pool Jan 16 - 19, 2016 
  • Old Key West - Sandcastle Pool Jan 4 - 6, 2016
  • Port Orleans Riverside - Ol' Man Island Pool Jan 11 - Feb 29, 2016
  • Saratoga Springs - Grandstand Pool Jan 20 - 22, 2016

This list does not include all the construction happening at Disney World - just the highlights. 

Likely Weather 

The average highs are in the low 70s and the average lows are in the low 50s. 

January and February offer some of the best values for visiting Disney World. Ready to Plan a Trip? 

Let me help! My vacation planning services are free if you book your package through me. Disney has some limited promotions available for Early 2016 if you book by December 23rd. Email me to starting planning today. 

If you aren't quite ready to start planning, click here to request a free copy of my guide to Escaping the Crowd. 

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or you can find me on Facebook. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Finest Playa Mujeres All-inclusive resort

Finest Playa Mujeres is a luxury all-inclusive resort for all ages in the exclusive Playa Mujeres area about 30 minutes south of the Cancun airport. Finest was developed from the Excellence brand. Couples would go to Excellence for their honeymoon and anniversary trips. They wanted to continue that experience after they had kids, but Excellence is adults only.

Click to check out all the Excellence resorts and pricing from your city. 

This resort has the best lobby I have ever seen. 

Isn’t this gorgeous?

The resort is split into three general areas:  the regular suites, Excellence Club and Finest Club.
The regular suites are located near the back of the property. They have great swim up suites and infinity pool suites plus a quiet pool. This area is also close to the kids’ clubs.  The family suite room category is a regular suite with king size bed and a small attached room with two twin beds. 

The Excellence Club and Finest Club are preferred club suites with additional amenities like a private a la carte restaurant and lounge. The Excellence Club is for adults only. The Finest Club is for everyone. 

The resort has 8 a la carte restaurants and 1 buffet plus 17 bars or lounges. One of my favorite bars or lounges is the Legends Sparts Bar. It’s a fun feeling to walk into a sports bar in the middle of the Mayan Riviera. 

Pool and Beach bar service is available.  Swim Up bars are available in both the adults only section and section for everyone. 

 The resort has three kids’ club: Ages 3 -6, Ages 7 - 12, Ages 12 - 15. Each of the clubs has its own clubhouse and activities. The two younger kids’ club areas have splash zones. 

The resort includes non-motorized water sports lke stand up paddleboards and kayaks. Activities take place at the main pools daily. Vibe -a  theater - offers a nightly show. 

Overall, this is a luxury resort that happens to allow kids. The kids’ club are well-designed and if you didn’t happen upon them, you wouldn’t guess this was a family resort.  If you are a family that frequently vacations at Disney World, you likely won't think this resort is kid-friendly enough. If you regularly stay at higher end hotels, then this may be a good fit for you.

I love planning all-inclusive vacations. Click here to request my Top 10 Considerations when choosing an all-inclusive resort for free.  

If I can help you plan an all-inclusive vacation,  please let me know. 

Remember - my services are free to you!  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Blue Diamond - Boutique All Inclusive Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Blue Diamond is a small, luxury, all-inclusive resort on a lush, tropical property. The rooms overlook a river, a cenote or the ocean. 

The property sits on a protected are a mangroves so it is very spread out. Golf carts are available to take you from place to place or you can use a bike during your stay. From the lobby to the beach, it’s about a 15 minute walk. 

The vibe is very quiet and zen.  Because the landscape is natural, you’ll see leaves on the ground as fall approaches. The dense vegetation does mean there are mosquitoes. Rooms come with insect repellent. 

Rooms do not have bathtubs. The patios have an unheated plunge pool.
WIFI is only in the rooms. Room service has a separate charge. 

The resort offers three a la carte restaurants. 

No buffet. No reservations are needed. A concierge at the beach and pool will bring you food and drink. The beach is very narrow so this would not be a good choice if you are looking for wide, white sandy beaches. It's a little rocky with some seaweed.

Pool overlooking the beach

 The resort is very quiet so nighttime activities are limited to live music with dinner or in the Cigar Lounge. 

A Chef’s Table experience is available for an additional charge. 

The pool and beach have day beds and cabanas available first come, first serve. The Spa is open to any guest and includes Jacuzzi, a steam room for women, and a sauna and steam room for men.   
Inside the Spa

The spa has a beautiful couples treatment room with in-suite treatment beds for both massage and wet treatments like wraps or scrubs. 

Overall, this is quiet, luxury resort in the jungle. The perfect place for a honeymoon or anniversary trip for travelers who would rather be in a natural setting with no distractions. 

I love planning all-inclusive vacations. Click here to request my Top 10 Considerations when choosing an all-inclusive resort for free.  

If I can help you plan an all-inclusive vacation, email me: 

Remember - my services are free to you!