Tips from an Avid Cruiser – Visiting St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – Visiting St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

St. Thomas will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I will always want to keep going back. It is my favorite Caribbean Island, and not just because I was married there. The island, I believe, is one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. DSC_0206 (2)I have yet to find beaches, on other Caribbean Islands I have visited, that top beaches I have been to on St. Thomas. The best part about St. Thomas is it’s a US Territory and, if you are an American Citizen, you do not need a passport to travel there. (If you are cruising then you will want to get a passport card for all of your itinerary stops.) Below are just some of the beaches and activities you should check out when traveling to St. Thomas.

Brewers Bay Beach: If you are looking for a beach where you can sun bath or discover some local old sugar factories than Brewers Bay is your place to go. DSC_0113There is not a lot of shade or other amenities around, but the waters are calm and crystal clear. (Because there is not much shade please make sure to wear the proper attire and sunscreen.) The beach is located near the Cyril E. King Airport, and a little way away from the cruise ship port. If you are looking to get married in St. Thomas I highly recommend Brewers Bay Beach as a destination wedding location.

Magens Bay: If you are traveling to St. Thomas then visiting Magens Bay is a must. Like Brewers Bay Beach, the waters of Magens bay are calm and crystal clear. 20170310_102528There are a lot more amenities available to those visiting Magens Bay. There is food, water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling, and you can also do a little bit of shopping. Since it is a public park there is a small fee to enter, but if you are visiting the beach via a cruise excursion the fee is usually included in your excursion cost. I promise you will enjoy relaxing on the beach cocktail in hand, and then taking a dip in the cool waters.

Other places to visit: If you are looking for more interactive activities then make sure to check out Coral World Ocean Park, take an ecotour where you get to hike, kayak, and snorkel, or go shopping. You have the ability to visit other close islands, such as Tortola, via ferry rides. just make sure you bring your passport.

Things to prepare yourself for: If you are cruising to St. Thomas with children I want to make you aware of how driving in taxis with children works. Taxi drivers in the Caribbean are some of the best drivers I have seen and had the pleasure of driving with. Taxis in St. Thomas, like many other Caribbean islands, are a mix of small cars, vans, and open-air taxis. In my experience, traveling with a child, none of the taxis I have taken or come across have had car seats. On St. Thomas, they drive on the left hand side of the road and the roads can get very steep. While it is like a roller coaster ride for adults it can be slightly scary for smaller kids or parents. While I have no problem hopping into an open-air taxi on St. Thomas I urge you to use your own discretion. If you are uncomfortable driving in taxis with no car seats then renting a car is an option for you as long as you are comfortable driving on the steep hills and the opposite side of the road. When renting a car, you should be able to rent car seats, or I recommend bringing your own, but if you are cruising that is a lot to carry/store. As always, I recommend doing some research on the locations you will be visiting, and map out your vacation/needs. I also suggest researching cost of taxis to make sure you have enough cash on hand.

Above all clear out your photos on your camera to make room for more, and pack a lot of sunscreen! Happy Cruising!


Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Cruising

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Cruising

One of the major perks of cruising is the majority of the amenities are all-inclusive. That means food for days! Everywhere you go on a cruise ship there is delicious food, and you can get food pretty much at any time. 20170317_124850(Think the biggest apple pies on the high seas and late night nachos.) If you are trying to keep your healthy diet and exercise routine while cruising this can be a happy problem. So below are some tips on how to try to eat healthy and stay fit while on your cruise vacation. 🙂

Eating: The last cruise my husband and I went on was for 2 weeks so that meant there was a different food experience every night. (All of them delicious.) 20170309_172930.jpgThe one constant though was the majority of the food was carbs and sweets. Fries, bread, pasta, rice, and multiple dessert bars out number the salad and fruit bar. So try to eat in moderation, substitute one carb per meal for salad or fruit, limit desserts or choose better options, drink lots of water, and take a probiotic. 20170309_172936While cruising you will need to practice making good food choices. (I know it’s hard, but worth it when you get back home and haven’t gained weight.) Oh, and watch out for all of those calories lurking in your adult beverages. 😉

 

 

Exercise: The companion of eating healthy/making good food choices while cruising is exercising. Cruise ships offer a great variety of options for those to continue their workout routine while on the high seas. The easiest things you can do is to take the stairs as much as possible. Elevators can fill up quickly so taking the stairs most of the time will help you get where you are going faster. Use the running deck. 20170311_160713Most cruise ships have a running deck and you will be able to take in the beautiful scenery while getting your run in. In the past some cruises also offered 5k’s to help save the waves, but if your cruise doesn’t then you could organize a running group while on the cruise. (Make sure to bring your activity tracker to track your steps while cruising. You might be surprised how many you actually get in during the day.) Visit the ships gym and take a work out class to get your work out in. Cruise ships have great gyms with workout classes available. Some of the classes are free, but a few you may have to pay for. Another great way to get some exercise in is my daughters favorite. Dancing! So don’t be shy, take a dance class or two if offered and dance the night away.

Off ship get your exercise in by taking excursions that are more physically demanding. Excursions that require hiking, a lot of walking, or kayaking are great ways to keep in motion when off ship.

My biggest tip is to just keep moving. 🙂 Your diet and workout goals don’t need to be put on hold just because you are on vacation. Bon Appetite!

 

Tips from An Avid Cruiser: Tips for Cruising with Children

Tips from An Avid Cruiser: Tips for Cruising with Children

It’s vacation time! Spring break is happening or starting soon for a lot of families, and that means fun family vacations. In our house, we just got back from an AMAZING 2-week Caribbean cruise. We are avid cruisers and our LO is already moving on up in our favorite cruise lines loyalty program. Vacationing and cruising with a child is definitely different, but I am glad we took the steps to prepare ourselves. Below are some tips for having an amazing vacation while cruising with Children.20170313_094505

Research the cruise line/ship before you book: Your first step is to make sure your child is old enough to cruise. From our experience, children must be 6 months or older to cruise. Your next step is to make sure the cruise ship you want to travel on has programs/activities for your children’s age range. The last thing you want is to book a cruise on a ship that has no activities for your children. This can be organized activities in the cruise lines kid’s programs or even just activities to do on the ship. (Example: bumper cars, ice skating, swimming pools/splash parks/water slides, etc.) Most cruise lines have age based activity programs for kids. (We sailed on Royal Caribbean and they have their Royal Babies and Tots program, and then their Adventure Ocean for old children.)

Research Excursions: If you are planning on participating in excursions while cruising call your selected cruise line and talk to them about age requirements for excursions. Some excursions have age requirements so if you have younger children they may not be old enough to participate. For our cruise our daughter was not old enough to participate in the majority of the excursions available. This meant we had to either forego some excursions or go on our own adventures.

Talk with your child’s Pediatrician before Sailing: Make sure you talk with your pediatrician before sailing to make sure you don’t need to take any extra precautions. For us our LO had not received her Hep A vaccine yet so we were advised to not let her eat the food on the islands we were visiting. (As a precaution.) So, we packed her favorite Happy Baby/Tot squeeze pouch food, and some snacks we could take off ship with us.

Budget for child care: While the majority of the older kid activity programs are free the younger kid’s programs may not be. For Royal Caribbean, their Royal Babies and Tots program has open free play times where parents can use the facilities to play with their children, but other times it is only open to those paying for child care. The cost is not huge, think under $10 an hour, and they have trained and certified staff who take care of and play with your child. My husband and I recently used the Royal Caribbean Royal Babies and Tots program on our vacation and LOVED it. It gave us time to go on a couple of date nights where we went to dinner, saw a show, spent time in the casino, or did an on-board excursion. The plus was our daughter also loved it, and kept asking to go play. So, if you are planning on using any of the kid’s programs make sure there are no fees involved, or if there are make sure to budget for them.

Pack Activities: If you haven’t noticed by now activities for kids is super important. Haha! Packing activities is also a great way to entertain your children while cruising. Coloring books, books, iPad if you use them and will be purchasing internet, and any other activities your children like. (Or you can go our route and also play in the arcade winning duckies. I think the final total we took home was 20. Haha!)20170306_154634.jpg

Plan your meals/dining: Children get bored, tired, and hungry a lot faster than adults do so make sure you have plans in place for meal time. If you plan on eating in the main dining room, make sure you select a time you will be dining. The last thing you want is to not have selected a time and be told the dining room is currently full when you walk up. If you are going to the buffet we found going right as it opens, or after it has been open for a little while are the times to go. It can get really crowded in the buffet and if you get there during the meal rush you could be walking around trying to find a table for a while.

Help the little ones to sanitize those hands: Children put their hands everywhere. So, when cruising it is very important to have them sanitize their hands. (You do not want to be cruising and get the Norovirus.) Keep some in your stateroom, and also carry some around with you. There will also be hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship, and staff reminding you to sanitize your hands as well. On our cruise our daughter was the life of the party. She wanted to wave and high-five EVERYONE, which is cute, but also meant she was coming in contact with EVERYONE. As one of my daughter’s favorite crew members said, “Washie, Washie!” 🙂

Clear room on your camera: Make sure you have enough room on your camera for LOTS of pictures. My husband and I combined took a total of over 1,000 pictures on our cruise. This would not have been possible if we had not cleaned out our camera’s before we set sail. You will want to capture those adorable moments, and not be receiving error messages that your camera is full.

Some items to look into bringing just in case: Below are some item’s my husband and I found very useful while cruising with our daughter, and the bonus is most are also very useful for adults as well.

Nauzene or Psi bands: Children can/do get seasick, and if they are small they really don’t understand, so try to bring items that can help settle their stomachs if they do end up getting seasick. (They also help if you do end up on a cruise where there is an outbreak of Norovirus.)

Pedialyte: This is a good item to have just in case. If your LO does get seasick or there is an outbreak of the Norovirus onboard you will want something to help replenish their electrolytes. Great thing about Pedialyte is they have powder packs that are easy to take along.

Tylenol/Motrin: It’s never fun when kids get sick on vacation, but it is also not fun if they get sick with a fever and you left the Tylenol/Motrin at home. While cruise ships do have Tylenol and Motrin available for purchase you will pay almost double what you normally pay at home. So, make sure you pack some just in case.

Probiotic’s: Cruise food is yummy, but it can wreak havoc on stomachs. Make sure your LO eats’ yogurt or bring a probiotic to help keep them regular. Culturelle and Goodbelly both provide probiotic supplements you can take with you on the go.

Bottle cleaning tablets or soap: If you have a child who uses bottles you will want to bring bottle cleaning tablets or soap with you.

Walkie Talkies: These are great to have on hand for both children and adults. If one parent goes to lay a child down for a nap or an older child goes off on their own you can use the walkie talkies to find your family on the ship.

Baby carrier: 20170310_131458Most cruise staterooms are smaller than hotel rooms so space is limited, and you must use it wisely. If you have younger children you would normally use a stroller for you might want to look into using a baby carrier instead.
(At first my husband and I were going to take our daughter’s stroller with us on our cruise, but decided we might not have enough room and that we should bring our Ergo Baby carrier instead. Good thing too! We would not have had room to store the stroller, and it would have been one more large piece we would have had to lug around.)

With the above tips, you and your children can look forward to an awesome cruise vacation time and time again. Do you have any tips for cruising with children? I would love to hear it. Submit your tips in the comments section. Happy cruising!

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to pick the Right Stateroom When Cruising

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to pick the Right Stateroom When Cruising

You did it, you have decided to take a cruise vacation. The cruise line is selected, and you know where you will be sailing to and from where. Excitement is running through your veins and your heart is pumping and you ask yourself, “What’s next? What stateroom should we pick?”. Do you go all out and get a suite or because of funds do you settle for an inside stateroom? While the actual room type matters it also matters where on the ship your room is located. Here are my thoughts on what you should be thinking about when picking the right stateroom for your cruise vacation.dsc_0084

 

Stateroom type/category: There are many stateroom types/categories. You have your interior stateroom, ocean view stateroom, balcony, and suite. Then you have different categories of each. These categories are based on size and location. (Usually labeled by letters in the alphabet.) How to pick the right one for your vacation though?

Interior Stateroom: Well if you are cruising on a budget interior staterooms are usually cheaper. In these staterooms, there is no window. If you get claustrophobic an interior stateroom may not be best. From experience, you will need to keep an alarm set for wake ups because there is no light. (It will become hard for your body to tell what time it is. There are newer cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas, that offer large flat screen TV’s in interior staterooms that act as a window. These TV’s will broadcast sunrise and sunset.) Interior staterooms are usually made for up to 4 guests and can range in sq. ft. size. (Some cruise lines have interior state rooms specifically for the lone cruiser, and these will be on the much smaller size and price.)

Ocean view Stateroom: Ocean view Staterooms are good if you want to get some natural light into your cabin. You will feel less claustrophobic in an ocean view stateroom. The only downside is that some ocean view staterooms have smaller port holes and obstructed views. The rooms are slightly larger than the interior staterooms, but are still usually sized to fit up to 4 guests. (Personally, I do not prefer ocean view staterooms. The main reason for this is due to the fact that you cannot open the window and depending on what deck you are on your window might be at sea level. Which if you get sea-sick or are afraid of water to any point it may not be a big help. Yes, people who are afraid of water do cruise. Haha!)

Balcony Stateroom: If you want more room to move around in then a balcony stateroom is a nice choice. (Of all the staterooms I have stayed in I much prefer a balcony stateroom.) A balcony stateroom, to me, adds a little more vacation to your cruise vacation. Don’t want to be bothered by other cruise guests when you are working on your tan or eating? Then sit out on your balcony. They are larger in sq. ft. but still most are designed for only up to 4 guests per stateroom. Balcony rooms can also sometimes be double the cost of an interior stateroom, but I do recommend you cruise at least once in a balcony stateroom.

Suite Stateroom: If you would like to cruise at the height of luxury than a suite is for you. Suites are the largest in sq. ft. and also come with a private balcony. You may also get many other perks for staying in a suite such as, concierge service, priority boarding, priority tendering, and a bathtub just to name a few. Occupancy is still up to 4 guest in most suites, but some are only up to 3 guests. The price of a suite can be twice the cost of a balcony room.

Location, Location, Location: Now that you know a little more about the types of different staterooms you will want to watch out for where your stateroom is located on the ship. If you get sea sick you might want to consider choosing a cabin on the lower decks. (The lower you are in the ship the less rocking you will feel.) If you get claustrophobic you might want to consider a higher deck. Don’t want to have to go far to get off the ship at your ports? Check to see from what deck the ship you are on usually tenders from. (On all of the cruises I have been on we would leave the ship from the lower decks.) Beware of booking a stateroom directly right next to an elevator, or right under a restaurant. While it is nice to be right next to an elevator, especially if you have children, the noise can sometimes get loud, and if you are under a restaurant you may hear the staff working through the night. Compromise and book near, but not right next to, any large areas where people gather. Also, consider your view. If you want to have a better view of your destination when you are arriving book more towards the bow of the ship. If you want a chance to wave goodbye and take in the scenery one last time when you are leaving, then the stern of the ship is for you.

Upgrades: While upgrades can be amazing especially if you weren’t expecting it sometimes they are not for the better. If you are offered an upgrade, make sure to look at the type of room and its location compared to your current stateroom. You might find that your upgrade is not in the best location compared to your current stateroom. Or you booked a balcony stateroom and get upgraded to a larger balcony stateroom, but the new upgraded stateroom has an obstructed view balcony.

So, research and choose wisely my cruising friends, Happy Cruising!

Tips from an Avid Disney World Mom – Breastfeeding/Pumping Resources at Disney World Parks

Tips from an Avid Disney World Mom – Breastfeeding/Pumping Resources at Disney World Parks

My family and I love Disney World in Florida. Before having my daughter I personally had been to the parks multiple times, but after having my daughter I got to see a side of the parks I hadn’t seen before.  A calmer, slower paced side that I never knew existed at Disney World. I was a new mom with a 3 month old. I was an exclusive pumper so feeding my daughter was a little more cumbersome than just sitting down and breastfeeding her. If you are a pumper you know that you need some space, time to set up, and then time to pump. Where the hell was I going to find that at the Disney World parks?! I for sure was not going to sit in a bathroom stall to pump and there was no way that I could wait till we got back to the hotel. In this situation is when I felt the other side of Disney magic.20151203_170122

Not the lights and technology side, but the customer service side. If you didn’t know Disney offers what they call Baby Care centers in every park. This is a place where you can find a plethora of baby care essentials. From diapers, wipes, pacifiers, pacifier clips, formula, snacks, and yes quiet. The staff is very welcoming and will try to accommodate any of your baby care needs. Did you need ice for your milk cooler? No problem! Need to feed your child in a high chair? No Problem they have some for you to use. (Lost your child? Well problem, but Disney staff will take them to the Baby Care center.) Below you will find a little information about the Baby Care centers. I have also listed them in order from my favorite to my least favorite. (I personally prefer one larger room to a smaller cramped individual room.)20151206_175549

Epcot – Epcot’s Baby Care center can be found between Test Track and Mexico. It also shares the same building as First Aid. This Baby Care center was huge. It has an area for parents to sit and watch TV, changing station, feeding station with high chairs, and then it had a large nursing/quiet room with several rocking chairs, tables, and outlets. This room is not just perfect for nursing/pumping but also if you child is fussy and needs to take a nap.

Magic Kingdom – The Baby center here is located on Main Street U.S.A between The Crystal Palace Buffet and Casey’s Corner. (If you have hit the Castle you have gone to far.) This baby center is also right next to the first aid center and is a little bit smaller than Epcot’s Baby center. You have to sign in to go back to the nursing/quiet room, it has an area for parents to sit and watch TV, changing station, feeding station with high chairs, and the nursing/pumping room is L shaped with several rocking chairs facing the wall. While it is much smaller the room is quiet and if you have an older child that is in need of a nap this is an awesome place to go to catch one real fast.

Animal Kingdom – This Baby Care center is located to the left near the Tree of Life between Creature Comforts and Terra Treats. This center has areas for parents to sit and watch TV, changing station, feeding station with high chairs, and individual rooms where you can close the door and quietly nurse or pump. Again this Baby center is located next to a first aid station

Hollywood Studios – This park holds my least favorite Baby center. It is directly to the left when you enter the park. It shares a building with Guest Relations and a First Aid station. This Baby Center is the smallest. The nursing/pumping rooms, or cubicles because they are so small, are little spaces big enough for a rocking chair and small bench. There are no doors only a curtain for these nursing/pumping cubicles. It still has some of the other amenities such as a room to sit and watch TV, changing station, and feeding station.

For more information regarding these Baby Centers you can visit Disney Worlds website here. I personally wish the parks had multiple Baby Care centers per park. If you are on the other side of the park and want/need to go to the Baby Care center you have to hike to the front of the park. Maybe one day Disney? ; )

Cheers to a less stressful and magical family vacation!

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Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to Select and Book a Cruise Vacation

Tips from an Avid Cruiser – How to Select and Book a Cruise Vacation

Cruising is my favorite way to vacation. I love watching my phone signal slowly fade as we sail away until there are no bars or service. My husband and I have been on 3 cruises, and will be going on our 4th this year. Other reasons I love cruising is because it is cost-effective and family friendly. Where else would you be able to get an almost all-inclusive 2 week vacation for 2 adults and 2 kids for $2,500.00 or under? On a cruise you get lodging, meals, entertainment, and adventure all-inclusive. (If you would like alcohol, drink packages, or to gamble and go on excursions associated with the ship it will cost you a little extra, but not everyone needs those amenities.) Here are my best tips for selecting and booking the right cruise vacation for you and your family. 🙂

(St. Thomas U.S.V.I and Princess Cruise Line Ship)

Selecting the right cruise line and ship: There are a lot of cruise lines out there, but they are not all made equally. The same thing goes for their ships. In my experience if you are looking for a cruise line with a younger crowd then Carnival Cruise Line is the way to go. A lot of their ships are outfitted with water slides and activities for all ages. Another great cruise line where you might find a younger crowd as well is the Disney Cruise Line. Princess Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian I have found will have an older crowd. Your ship also makes a difference. If you book a cruise on one of the newest and biggest cruise ships on the market, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas comes to mind, you might find a mixed crowd due to all of the activities offered on the ship. (It has a huge shopping section, bumper cars, roller rink, flowrider simulator, etc.)  If you book on one of the older ships like Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas you may find yourself in an older crowd. ( It does not have a roller rink, bumper car’s, or a flowrider. It is a much smaller ship.) When booking make sure you also look at a cruise line’s customer service rating, and if you can find out how the cruise line responded to its passengers when they had issues. (For example, if cruise passengers encountered issues with the cruise that were the fault of the cruise line or sickness broke out how did the cruise line respond? Did they just apologize or did they go above and beyond to make sure their guests were compensated and happy?) You will also want to know where you would like to cruise to. Many cruise lines have their own islands that they sail to that others don’t. Also, your departure port matters as well. Your local port might not cruise or have a cruise line that leaves from your local port to where you want to go. Thus leaving you to spend extra money-getting to another port that does.

Booking your cruise: When and with whom you book your cruise matters. Cruise lines like to run deals all the time. Sometimes when you book you think you have gotten the best deal only to learn that a couple of weeks later they have changed up their sale to something better, or a different travel website was offering a better deal when you booked. You will need to do some research when booking your cruise. When I book my cruise I always call the actual cruise line first, get their pricing and perks, and then I look up the pricing of the same cruise on websites such as Priceline and give them a call. These company’s want your money. More often than not, especially Priceline, will give you a better price with better onboard credit, or they will match the price of the Cruise line but offer you more onboard credit and reduced deposit. When booking make sure you get confirmation that if a better deal comes out after you book that you will be able to change your reservation to that deal. (Priceline does this, but YOU must keep track of the deals out there and if you see a better one you must call to get your reservation changed.)

(Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda)

The month you book and your sail date also matter. Booking a cruise during hurricane season may be cheaper than booking outside of hurricane season. You will just need to be prepared to be flexible. (If you book during hurricane season your ship destinations can be affected. My husband and I booked a Southern Caribbean cruise but ended up on a Western Caribbean cruise due to a hurricane during one of our cruises)

Your ship will matter as well in regards to pricing. Booking a cruise on a newer ship will cost you more. Things to look for are deals such as every 3rd night free, kids sail free, reduced or no deposit, free extra on board credit, military/firefighter/police discount, resident discount if you are leaving out of your home port, and cruise line specific membership clubs.

You don’t need to be a travel agent to get the best cruise vacation deal for your family. You just need to be educated, smart and vigilant about with whom, from where, and when you want to cruise. That way when you get on that ship and your phone signal starts fading away you will be able to enjoy your amazing vacation instead of worrying if you got the best deal or not. Happy cruising!

Money Saving Tips on How to Get to The Next MommyCon!

Money Saving Tips on How to Get to The Next MommyCon!

I heard of MommyCon only a couple of months ago, and it sounded awesome. I told my husband I really wanted to go but we couldn’t afford the ticket. So he looked at me and said, “That has never stopped you before. You always find a way or coupon.”. (Insert him rolling his eyes when he says coupon. haha) I thought about my husbands comment and told myself he is right. I also thought about all the other families that can’t afford to go but would greatly benefit from the experience. So I set out on a mission to try to find out ways to save money on a trip to MommyCon so that families with budgets stretched thin can go.

Below is how you can save money on MommyCon if you cannot afford to go, and what you could walk away with.

Tickets: A general admission ticket to MommyCon D.C. 2016 cost $45.00 plus tax. If you wanted to add a VIP ticket on top of your general admission it was more. I figured since it was my first MommyCon and since it was in D.C. I would go with just a general admission ticket that got me in on the main day. I started off by seeing if anyone was doing any Facebook or Instagram ticket giveaways. (Entering contests is my secret passion) I entered SO MANY contests. haha! My perseverance paid off though and I won a free ticket from Innobaby on Instagram. 20160723_114231(They are an awesome company that sells tons of baby food prep items, food storage and everyday use, and general kid items. You can check them out here Innobaby.com) Thank you so much to Innobaby for the chance to attend MommyCon, and to the wonderful ladies who were working their booth!

After I got my ticket I joined the MommyCon Facebook Discussion group and discovered more ways to save on admission. In the group page you will find individuals buying/selling tickets to the event. I also saw an individual who was giving away free tickets the day before. I found though the best way to get a free ticket is to volunteer. The day before the event MommyCon was looking for volunteers to help with putting together gift bags and such. If you were willing to get to the location really early the day of the event they would pay for your admission ticket or if you already had a ticket pay you $10.00 an hour to help. This is awesome. I commend MommyCon for this.  Volunteering is the best way to get free admission to MommyCon because it is two-fold. You save money, but you help out the organization putting on the event. I have already decided that I will try to Volunteer next year if I am able.

Another way to get a free ticket is to ask for it on your baby registry. Some people might not agree with this but now that I have gone to MommyCon I think a ticket to go would be an amazing gift for an expectant mom or dad. The freebies and knowledge you get are well worth the price, and if the guest who buys your ticket goes with you even better!

Parking: Parking can get expensive so make sure you shop around at garages. Also make sure to check out the MommyCon discussion for individuals who have discount codes or referrals. Some very nice Momma had a discount code and website that made it so I only had to pay $4.00 for all day parking one block from the convention center.

Gift Bags/Vendor Freebies/Session giveaways: The contents of the gift bags were awesome. I am sure it changes every year based on the vendors, but for something that you get for free you can’t beat it. Also, every vendor pretty much had a little freebie for those who visited their booth. I visited ever vendor booth, but timing is key. You need to get to the event as close to the start time as possible because some of the vendors were out of their little freebies by the time I got there at 11am.

Make sure you go to a couple of the sessions. Not just for free stuff, but for the knowledge. The number one free item you will walk away with from MommyCon is something new you learned. Sometimes there will be giveaways in the session, but not always. I attended the Cloth Diapering 101 session and did end up winning some cloth diapering essentials, but I learned far more than what my freebies were worth.

Food: Best option is to bring your own food. while food vendors are on site you will want to save your money for the actual MommyCon vendors. Trust me.

Giveaways at the end: This was banana’s! So many things were given away. Strollers, car seats, nursing pillows, breast pumps, etc. If you are in need of any of these items as a parent then definitely stay for the giveaways at the end.  (Side note. You must be present to win during the giveaways, and not everyone wins.)

Below is all of the goodies I walked away with from MommyCon D.C. 2016. I know it might sound crazy from some one who loves free stuff, but I am donating the majority of the below to my Mother-in-laws church for their Mother’s in need and their Baby drive.

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All together MommyCon cost me $36.00. $4.00 to park, and $32.00 on new Grovia cloth diapers for my little one.

Side note! I did not include tips for saving on travel since I lived within driving distance. Feel free to share your tips and tricks for saving on travel to MommyCon in the comment section! 🙂

Thanks for reading!