Holiday Travel Tips and Tricks

We are staying in California this Christmas to celebrate my daughters second birthday and do Christmas festivities in our home (I think I am more excited about it than she is!). If you are traveling this holiday season, here are some tips to maximize your travel budget and hopefully save a few bucks! Head on over to USAA’s Member Community to read the whole post:

Holiday travel tips

If you will be traveling for Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years and haven’t already purchased your plane ticket, check out these tips to help secure the best price!

Where do you start?

1. Try not to buy your tickets over the weekend. Airline companies know this is when you have the most time to buy, so the prices will be higher. The best time to buy tickets is on Tuesday afternoons* (after 3pm Eastern). This is when the airlines lower their prices from the weekend, and match each others sale prices.

2. When you search for a departure date, you will find that the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday (this is because most people do not prefer to travel in the middle of the week- but note this is NOT the case the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), the second two cheapest days are Tuesday and Saturday. The most expensive days to travel are Friday and Sunday.

Continued here on the USAA Community Page:

USAA Digital MilEx Conference

USAA Community Managers at #USAADigiMilEx
USAA Community Managers at #USAADigiMilEx

I had the privilege of spending last week in San Antonio at a two-day (plus a bonus day at USAA headquarters) conference hosted by USAA. The lovely people I am pictured above with are:

Wendy Poling
Angela Caban
Chad Storlie

I work with them as contractors for USAA writing for their Member Community and moderating a member forum. It is the BEST job. I can work from home with my little one and the hours are flexible.

Back to the conference: The energy and inspiration coming off a conference is a pretty wonderful feeling. I took notes during many of the presentations to remember their enlightening tidbits and made an attempt to meet everyone in attendance. I am still in awe of some of the inspirational people I was fortunate to listen to present and meet. I am looking forward to writing a more in-depth summary, but until then, I encourage you to consider attending a conference in your area. What conference you ask? Anything that you are passionate about! A blogger conference, a parenting conference, a candle making conference; you will be invigorated by your fellow attendees success and drive!

In addition, it may give you a chance to be photographed mid-speech and enables you to examine your awkward speaking faces and hand gestures! At least they didn’t catch me mid shimmy! (I have a tendency to use large and flamboyant hand movements)

USAA Community Manager Speaking at USAA DigiMilEx
Speaking tip: don’t roll up your notes. It makes them harder to read…

Can’t wait to highlight many of the other bloggers and entrepreneurs I met! I am going to spend today following up with all the wonderful people i met, a must do after a conference! Twitter is full of fun tidbits and photos from the conference, search #USAADigiMilEx if you are interested to see who was there and some candid photos!

Visiting Sea World San Diego with a One Year Old

Tips for a Successful trip to SeaWorld San Diego with a One year old (plus tips to get free tickets for military families)

My family of three took a trip to Sea World San Diego Saturday February 21, 2015. Here is my advice to enjoying the park (for free if you are an active duty military family- Thank you Sea World!) and with a one year old.

Military FREE tickets
Option 1: Get tickets at the park
We did not get tickets in advance, we waited in an hour line (YIKES) and received our free tickets at the ticket counter. (Our 1 year old daughter was free anyway- all children under 3 receive free admittance). DO NOT WAIT IN A KIOSK LINE, you cannot get military tickets using the self serve kiosk.

Option 2: Print or email tickets using TroopID verification on the Sea World Site. We should have done this, as it would have saved us an hour in line. (Their website states that in order to get free tickets you MUST do it online, this is not true, as we were able to walk up and get tickets at the ticket counter)

Parking: $16 (you can pay $21 to get “closer  parking” but we felt the normal parking was not too far-even with a stroller and giant diaper bag in tow.

My Advice:

1. This is covered above, but I must state again: purchase your tickets in advance. We were there on a Saturday (arguably one of the busiest days) and the ticket line took one hour. Save yourself!

2. Skip the shows for your one year old’s sake. Your little one is too small and too wiggly to get anything out of the shows. There were long lines and often standing room only available (which we all now would NOT work with a wiggly toddler). Alternative- visit the Dolphin Point and Shamu’s Underwater viewing. Your toddler will enjoy seeing the animals and watching them interact (and when they get tired of it , it is a lot easier to walk away from the display than leaving one of the shows!)

3. Bring your own food and stroller (you can rent a stroller, prices start at $18). You can save money (and calories) by bringing your own snacks, lunch and drinks. (I notoriously travel with too much but was thankful for the changing pad and extra clothes I brought when there was a diaper leak and the changing table in the bathroom had a line three babies deep…changed Reagan’s diaper and pants on a bench and voila, on the the next adventure)

4. Hit up all of the aquariums.

– Aquaria: World of Fishes: We started our visit here and spent 30 minutes watching the fish in the tanks. The large indoor fish tanks have a perfect ledge for your toddler to sit or stand on to get a close up look of the fish. There are three large tanks in there. One with piranhas (that they feed at 1:30 – save a spot on the left side of the tank to watch this…we were on the right and could see none of the action), the second was filled with colorful fish and tea turtles, the last with leopard sharks.

-Aquarium Del la Mer: This was under construction at the time of our visit- the temporary displays held no interest to our toddler- skip this until it is fully functional again.

-Freshwater Aquarium: The tanks here were less accessible for a tiny viewer, Reagan had to be lifted up to see the fish and she was more interested in walking… so, we did not spend much time in here.

-Shark Encounter: Our favorite exhibit. This was the most enjoyable for the adults and Reagan. You cannot bring the stroller into this exhibit and we did not feel comfortable leaving it unattended outside (they have stroller parking areas), so we took turns walking through this exhibit. It is a great balance of small pools to view sharks and the beautiful and impressive underwater viewing tunnel. (Don’t make the same mistake we did and take NO pictures in the tunnel!) Reagan went through this exhibit twice and was captivated both times.

-Penguin Encounter: Another enjoyable exhibit they have some warmer weather penguins swimming outside (great to sit and watch) and the colder climate penguins inside. WARNING you have to walk through the gift shop filled with adorable stuffed penguins to exit. We managed to make it out without a purchase, but Regan did stop to hug a few of the stuffed penguins (I will be honest, I would have bought one had my husband not been the voice of reason).

By the time we had visited all of the aquariums, it was nearing nap time and we wanted to make it back to the hotel so Regan could get a solid nap so that we could have a nice dinner out! We had a wonderful time at the park and you cannot beat the price!

Total Money Spent: $16 (for parking)
Total time at the park: 4 Hours (1 hour spent in line waiting for tickets)

I hope this information helps you have a fun and successful visit to Sea World!

Turtle Cove SeaWorld, Military Family visits SeaWorld San diego