My husband and I have always been huge Disney fans which means we absolutely love to vacation at Walt Disney World. My entire pregnancy people told me "you know you have to wait years before you go back to Disney World?" because people knew I would be dying to go back there and to most people it sounds like a miserable idea to take a baby to Disney. Well, when I announced I was planning to take my baby to Walt Disney World I got tons of push back! Of course I was a little nervous, but guess what - taking my 10-month-old to Disney was the best decision I ever made and I can't wait to go back with him! I will say it definitely was a different type of Disney vacation than what I've been used to, but it was completely worth it and here are some of my tips for taking your baby to Disney:
1. Be on your baby's schedule
On previous Disney vacations my husband and I would be the first ones in the park and the last to leave each day. We had to ride every ride, see every show and close out the night with fireworks. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't work too well with a baby. Nap time, feedings and bedtime all have to be taken into consideration. But this doesn't mean you can't still have fun! Be sure to have a stroller that you can recline back so baby can nap during the day and you can walk around the Park or get a yummy snack. Also, slowing down your pace will actually allow you to enjoy more of the Parks than constantly being on the go, which we definitely learned on this trip. Don't expect your baby will be awake for every photo opportunity. You have to learn to just go with the flow.
2. Ship baby necessities to your resort
If you plan to fly to Walt Disney World it's not practical to pack diapers, formula and food in your suitcase. You'll lose valuable space and you'll probably get stuck paying for heavy luggage fees at the airport. Instead, go on Amazon before your trip and select the items that your baby needs the most and have them shipped to the resort you're staying at. This was a lifesaver for us! I chose everything I needed and changed the shipping address to the resort. Be sure to include "Guest" with your name and check-in date on the shipping label so they can easily find the package when you check in.
3. Pack a change of clothes each day
Accidents and babies go hand in hand. You just never know when something will happen to a baby's clothes. Be sure that before you head out to the Parks each day that you have a spare change of clothes in your diaper bag. To quickly locate everything I recommend putting the change of clothes in a Ziplock bag, and this will also help keep the soiled clothes separate from everything else in your bag. Trust me, accidents WILL happen.
4. Mark your stroller
Any time you want to hop on a ride you have to leave your stroller in the sea of stroller parking. It can be difficult to quickly identify which stroller is yours, so to help out be sure to have a sign that you can attach to the back of your stroller. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, you could use a brightly colored ribbon. However I like to be a little extra and full of Disney flair, so I had a custom sign made that I found here on Etsy. Remember, don't leave valuables in your stroller!
5. Get a stroller fan
I can't emphasize this enough, you have to get a fan to clip on your stroller! There is almost nothing hotter than the Florida sun and you have to have something to keep your baby cool. I purchased this rechargeable fan on Amazon and it worked wonders. We clipped it to the top of the stroller so our son couldn't mess with it but it was securely aimed on him at all times.
6. Utilize Fastpasses for baby-friendly rides
Fastpasses are free with your park admission and they're a great way to make your ride-planning much easier. You get three Fastpasses that you can book in advance, and once you've used all your Fastpasses at one park you can request additional passes. To avoid waiting in lines and causing our son to get restless, we only went on rides if we had a Fastpass (or if there wasn't a long wait time). They made our day so laid back and our son thoroughly enjoyed every ride he went on! Our son got to experience The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Frozen Ever After, "it's a small world", Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, The Voyage of The Little Mermaid, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and Kilimanjaro Safari. I loved how his face would light up with curiosity, he would let out happy squeals and clap his hands to songs!
7. Book Character Dining experiences
My son is obsessed with watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I knew I wanted him to have the chance to meet all of the characters. The best place to do this is at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. I booked this during breakfast when I knew it wouldn't interfere with nap time and he would be in good spirits. It was the best way for us to have one-on-one time with each character without having to wait in long lines to meet them. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy all came to meet our son and he just couldn't get enough of them! It even brought a few tears to this Disney momma's eye.
8. Document as much as you can
Since Disney is so dear to my heart I wanted to document as many moments as I could with my son. Before the trip I made "first" signs for different experiences I knew my son would have throughout Walt Disney World. It made us pause during the day to appreciate little moments and take in different experiences in a new way. Not to mention I have so many more pictures for our photo album because I captured the moment!
Bottom line, just go with the flow and you'll have a fantastic time! To book your Walt Disney World vacation, contact Brentwood Travel at 314-439-5700 or send us an email!
Nothing is more classic than an annual family vacation to Florida, at least that's what Marketing Associate Brenna Shea thinks. Her family has traveled to Fort Myers, Florida, almost every year since she was little and they have found some of the best spots around. Aside from the relaxing beaches, Fort Myers is full of great restaurants, beautiful nature, and fun activities for all ages. Here are Brenna's Top 5 places to visit in Fort Myers, FL!
#5 Everglades Tour
If you want an up-close tour of Florida's natural life, an airboat tour of the Everglades is a must! Expect to see alligators and native birds in their natural habitat. It is such a cool experience for any age. You should definitely plan on taking a day tour during your stay in Fort Myers!
#4 Sunset Beach Tropical Grill
The perfect beach vacation should always include fresh seafood with an ocean view. There is a lot of great seafood in Fort Myers, but I think Sunset Beach Tropical Grill is one of the best spots in town! With the beach being a couple steps away, it can't get much more perfect than that!
#3 Fort Myers Brewing Co.
Live music, food trucks, and craft beer, SAY NO MORE! Fort Myers Brewing Company was the first microbrewery in Fort Myers and has been around since 2011. They have over 20 beers on tap, as well as brewery tours and events every night of the week! They recently announced their plans to expand to a 40,000 square-foot facility with a tasting hall, event space, an outdoor beer garden and more. I can't wait to see the renovations next time I am there.
#2 Heavenly Biscuits
Heavenly Biscuits is a local breakfast gem. We discovered this little restaurant on our most recent trip to Fort Myers, and we wish we discovered it sooner! Their claim to fame is their heavenly over-sized cinnamon rolls and biscuit sandwiches. It is the perfect way to start your vacation mornings. If you are searching for the best breakfast in Fort Myers, look no further!
#1 Sunset Dolphin Cruises
Looking for the most picturesque way to spend your evening in Fort Myers? Take a Sunset Dolphin Cruise with Good Time Charters. Relax and soak in the beautiful Floridian wildlife as you cruise around the Gulf of Mexico. Even not being the biggest fan of boats, this is still one of my favorite things to do in Fort Myers. Have your camera ready when you spot the dolphins and bird rookeries as you watch the sun set!
Call Brentwood Travel at (314) 439-5700 or email us to start planning your next vacation!
Just because you're pregnant this doesn't mean you have to sit at home for the next 9 months waiting for your child to be born. Now is a great time for you to get out there and travel because once that baby comes, traveling will be put on hold for a while (still trying to figure out how I'm going to cope with this reality!). With that being said, there are some challenges and joys while traveling that I experienced first-hand and here are some tips that I put together to help you as you make your travel arrangements.
#1 - Get Maternity Leggings ASAP
Whether you choose to fly, drive, walk, run, or lay down you will want to be comfortable at all times, or as much as your growing baby will allow you. The best possible thing to wear is maternity leggings, and I bought about five pairs from Motherhood Maternity before starting my travels. Depending on the color and design they cost anywhere from $15 - $20 a piece (gotta love the cost of maternity clothes!). They have definitely been a lifesaver and I take them everywhere!
#2 - Combat Swollen Feet
If your feet don't swell while you travel then consider yourself VERY lucky. This is probably the most difficult thing I've had to deal with while traveling. If you're in a car or plane for long hours without moving those little piggies just get bigger and bigger and it can become extremely uncomfortable. Try elevating your feet as much as possible and be sure to get a pair of compression socks (aka the most attractive things you will ever wear). I purchased mine at Walgreens for about $7. If your spouse or a very considerate friend is traveling with you and they are willing to rub your feet, definitely take advantage of that as well!
#3 - Ask for Non-Alcoholic Equivalent Drinks
One of my favorite things about traveling is tasting that area's local craft beers and cocktails. In the pregnancy world, you're often left to try that region's finest Coca-Cola or aqua products instead. However, any time I found myself at a brewery or restaurant I always asked if they had any NA (non-alchoholic) beers/root beers or if they could make a virgin Piña Coloda or Strawberry Daiquiri. Just because you're pregnant that doesn't mean you can't still have something similar to the alcohol you're used to drinking. It also helps to make you not feel so left out when you're with a group of people who get to enjoy the real thing.
#4 - Take Your Maternity Pillow
First off, if you don't have a maternity pillow go out and get one now! Unfortunately they are not cheap though, I got mine for $100 at Destination Maternity but it was $100 well spent. Sleep is so important during pregnancy so why sacrifice your quality of sleep while traveling just because it's a bulky item? Obviously if you're flying this probably isn't the most user-friendly carry-on item, but on a road trip, cram that sucker in the trunk and get a good night's sleep when you check in to your hotel. You, and your growing belly, will thank you for it.
#5 - Go on a Babymoon
Babymoon? What's that? Essentially it's your last vacation before the baby is born. This is your time to be with your spouse or partner while traveling before you have to lug around Pack n Play's, strollers and diaper bags. Take the time to reflect on this exciting time in your life as a couple and enjoy the wonders of traveling before you have a new travel partner with you. My husband and I went to Gulf Shores to relax on the beach for a few days and I would highly recommend it. Pregnancy is exhausting at all hours of the day, so getting to just sit on the beach and float in the water to relieve belly weight and back pain was the perfect thing.
#6 - Talk With Your Doctor
One final piece of advice, always talk with your doctor before making your travel arrangements. Depending on how your pregnancy has been going, they may give you a cut off at how many weeks you're allowed to travel, how far you can travel, or they may give you specific restrictions. For example, my doctor has advised me not to swim at Lake of the Ozarks. Although I've swam in this lake my entire life, it is filled with bacteria that can be dangerous to the baby, so until I give birth I just have to hang out on the dock and stare at the water. I have been told other lakes, pools and the ocean are safe to swim in, however had I not said anything to my doctor I never would've realized I could've put my baby at risk.
Your consultant at Brentwood Travel will be up to date on all of the latest regulations and amenities the airlines, tour operators, hotels and cruise lines may have for pregnant women, plus the areas that could be infected with Zika. No need to go in on your own without being fully informed!
To book your Babymoon, contact the Brentwood Travel team today at
314-439-5700 or send us an email!
This past July, my family and I traveled to one of my favorite places…Negril, Jamaica! This is the 3rd visit for me (check out my review of Couples Swept Away) and the 15th time for my boyfriend Scott. The biggest change for this trip was that we brought our three kiddos along for an adventure to this magical island. During these seven days, our blended family had a chance to come together to form stronger bonds and create amazing memories.
When beginning to plan, we really wanted to find a resort that would cater to a wide range of ages and interests between the five of us. My 7-year old daughter Grace lives to swim. Scott’s 16-year son Simon was interested in doing some water sports. Scott’s other son Oliver was going to celebrate turning 10 and wanted a unique experience to mark the occasion. And Scott and I wanted a place where we could have some time together but knew that the kiddos would be safe. Luckily we had stayed at the all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay in the past and it was the perfect choice for our diverse needs.
We booked our trip through Apple Vacations which included a charter flight from St. Louis to Montego Bay. Early on Saturday, July 7th we boarded our plan for a direct flight and landed around 12:30pm. We also made the very smart choice of selecting Club Mobay. This is a fast track service and is something we highly recommend whether traveling with your family or just as a couple. We were greeted by a representative with a warm smile and began out next steps through immigration and customs. At one point a very important customs form was torn and luckily for us, our representative caught it in advance. She completed a new one for us before we even got in line. If not for her, our form would not have been accepted and it could have caused a great delay.
Our next step was to board a bus and begin our journey to Negril which is located about 1.5 hours away from the airport. Along the way, I enjoyed watching Grace get her first taste of the scenery as it passed by our window. I could tell each time she saw the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, her eyes would light up. She was ready to experience all that Jamaica had to offer!
At our resort, we were upgraded to a Junior Suite Oceanfront Connection room. This gave us the option of two rooms that shared a hall way which was a perfect option for us. It gave Scott and I a place to ourselves while our kiddos had their own room with a seperate bathroom (a MUST for a beach vacation). Once we unpacked and got settled in, the ocean was calling our name for an evening of playing in the waves.
The next few days we were able to check off a lot of To Do items from our list. For Grace, that included getting her daily fruit punch from the swim up bar which made her feel very VIP! She also enjoyed all the extra attention she received from the staff, especially an afternoon of making beaded bracelets under the shade of a palm tree.
Simon enjoyed a morning of snorkling along the reef. This optional excursion included a ride on a beautiful catamaran and the opporutnity of diving in two different areas. One spot even had a anchor and cannon from a pirate ship to explore! And for more adventure on the water Scott, Simon, and Grace took out kayaks which were complimentary at the resort for some sightseeing along the bay.
Oliver got his wish of something truly unique with a glass bottom boat ride. We were instructed in advance to bring along bread and bananas to feed the fish which quickly became a food frenzy! He also enjoyed living the life with loungers located directly in the pool. These were the perfect spot to watch the daily pool activities which included everything from games, to dance competitions, and even an amazing synchronize swimming performance!
For Scott and I, it was all about being with the kiddos and having time to relax and really enjoy the moments. Food options were plentiful and easy with the buffets that were available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the kiddos had a full meal and safely in their room, Scott and I took time to enjoy the specialty restaurants located at the resort. The Italian themed restaurant was cute and served delicious lasagna while the Steak House had a beautiful view and my filet was cooked perfectly! After dinner, we would usually find ourselves in the martini bar to try some new cocktails or take in one of the evening shows such as the beach party complete with fire dancers.
The Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay is truly a beautiful property. The decor is bright and colorful and I love the view out the open air lobby straight towards the ocean. Beach access is easy and we always found plenty of lounge chairs and tables for our gear. The resort is centrally located along Bloody Bay (named after a particularly fierce pirate battle) and offers amazing vantage points to soak in the views, especially the picturesque sunsets!
Ready to take a great beach vacation with your family?
Contact one of our experienced Travel Consultants to get started!
One of the biggest destination's on my grandmother's bucket list has always been to see Mount Rushmore in person, so this year we decided to let her check this off her list (and mine!) and finally make a trip up to South Dakota. I also wanted to see this destination however I was not prepared for how gorgeous the surrounding area would be. I expected it to be similar to the Midwest - flat farmlands with just one random mountain for the monument. As we started the 14-hour drive my perception quickly changed because it was absolutely breathtaking! On our itinerary we visited Badlands National Park, Devils Tower in Wyoming, Spearfish Canyon, Black Hills National Forest and Mount Rushmore.
Once we finished our drive through the National Park we headed up to Wyoming to see the first ever National monument Devils Tower (as seen in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). It was such a unique thing to see in person. The surrounding landscapes were large rolling hills with a few small mountains and then all of a sudden there's this tall figure! We took the drive up to the top and then walked around the base of the Tower. Experienced rock climbers are able to climb up to the top but that was a hard pass for me!
On our second day we drove through several areas before making our way to Mount Rushmore. We took the scenic route to Keystone (where Mount Rushmore is located) and we started north and made our way south thru Spearfish Canyon and Black Hills National Forest. Even though it adds about an hour and a half on to your commute it's absolutely worth it! While driving through this area I felt like I was in Colorado with the winding roads, tall pine trees and rapid rivers off to the side of the road. One of the most breathtaking parts was seeing Bridal Veil Falls just right off the side of the road. We pulled over for a quick photo op and to take in its beauty.
When we finally reached the small tourist town of Keystone we decided to go for a unique lunch opportunity instead of just dining in a regular restaurant. Instead we went to Rushmore Tramway Adventures and took a chairlift to Mountaintop Grill for a scenic view of Mount Rushmore! I was terrified to be on the chairlift on the way up and down, but it was totally worth it to have a view of Mount Rushmore for a simple lunch of burgers, fries and sodas.
With a full belly and being very thankful to be on flat land we finally made our way to our final destination - Mount Rushmore! It seemed so surreal to stand at the base and look up and this incredible piece of artwork. I couldn't help but just stare at it and think "wow!". It also was a great feeling to know my grandmother was finally able to check this off her list and to share the moment with my family.
Clients of Sue Deibel just returned from the Now Onyx Resort and Spa in Punta Cana and shared a rave review of their experience. Located on a remote beach along the Atlantic Ocean, this sprawling all-inclusive resort features balconies or terraces with hot tubs for an ultra luxurious escape.
“I just wanted to let you know how amazing the Now Onyx resort was last week. From the minute we checked in, to the day we left, the staff, the accommodations and the food were impeccable. We had our room cleaned daily and also in the evening if we preferred. The staff greeted us at every turn and the restaurants were first class! This by far was the best resort I have ever stayed and I've been traveling to Mexico, Punta Cana and Jamaica for years. We will definitely return.
If you want to travel to the Dominican and want to stay at a topnotch resort Now Onyx is the place to be! We cannot wait to book again very soon!”
Most of the time when people mention they're traveling to Iowa people question "why?". No, it's not the most popular state, but hidden in each state of our county is a gem and Iowa's is the small Dutch town of Pella.
Pella is located right outside of Des Moines, IA that Hollanders claimed as their new home in 1847. They named it Pella, otherwise meaning "city of refuge". This Dutch community has grown since it was first founded and it still holds on to its founding roots of traditions, food, customs and more. One of the most popular traditions that they celebrate like their European ancestors is the famed Tulip Time Festival. When I heard about the Festival (and it only being 4 hours away from St. Louis) I knew I had to go and I'm so glad I did!
As we walked around this city we couldn't believe how much it actually felt like we could be in Europe. All of the buildings in the city had similar architecture to that of the Netherlands with bricks, towers, colorful shutters and of course, windmills! Pella actually has an authentic windmill that was built in Hoogmade, the Netherlands, and was de-assembled and then re-assembled in Pella in 2002. Visitors are able to take a tour and go up the windmill however we were unable to during our visit (we'll save it for next time!).
The streets were alive with dancing in wooden shoes, Dutch food trucks, beautiful Dutch clothing, presentations and parades. I honestly didn't anticipate for there to be as many people at this small festival, but it turns out Pella usually has around 150,000 visitors for the Tulip Time Festival each year. It made it fun and exciting to be around so many people who were interested in learning about and celebrating a different culture.
Pella is a destination I fully plan to visit again with my family. It offers something fun and unique to a large audience and it's great for a quick weekend getaway. This town also has local wineries and a lake for even more activities outside of the Festival. If you're interested in visiting the next Tulip Time Festival in Pella then mark your calendar for the first weekend of May in 2019 - we'll see you there!
To book your Tulip Time Festival vacation contact the staff at Brentwood Travel today! Call us at 314-439-5700!
We loved our week in Cabo with daughter Tammy and son-in-law Kent. We stayed at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos in a swim out room. Everything was perfect including the accommodations, service, food, weather and traveling companions. Cabo is like Palm Springs with an ocean. And the non-stop charter with Apple Vacations was a huge bonus.
My husband (who does not swim) loved having the private pool area. Only 6-7 rooms share each swim out pool. We were in preferred club and the service by Ada and her team was amazing. Our room and bathroom were spacious and well appointed.
Each night we ate in a different restaurant. They were all wonderful in their own way, but our favorite was Himatsu, the Japanese restaurant and Miguel, our waiter, was amazing. Food here was superior and we loved the Marketplace. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fresh, tasty and offered great service from the wait staff.
If you like golf, swimming, yoga, a quiet pool or a busy fun pool, this property has so much to offer. This is the place where you can golf, fish, snorkel, workout, bike, shop or do absolutely nothing.
You can also participate in so many activities off the property. One night the hotel arranged for those who wanted a shuttle into the town of San Jose del Cabo. There was a nominal charge per person for the transportation. It was a just nice excursion to do.
I have traveled the world and stayed in many hotels of all types and styles. I highly recommend this lovely property for adults only. It was a relaxing escape.
Brentwood Travel clients Bob and Mary Jo worked with travel consultant Ashley Curry and traveled with Globus Tours to explore several National Parks by coach, raft, and even by helicopter. We asked them to share their amazing pictures to inspire fellow travelers to plan their own journey to these treasured places.
My wife and I have been fortunate to travel extensively worldwide for the past 50 years, but we never visited a group of National Parks. We were referred by our friends after they took the 14-day "Parks & Canyons Spectacular" through Globus Tours. They booked their trip through Brentwood Travel and Ashley and highly recommended all three.
We and a couple we have traveled with for years were delighted with all aspects of the tour. It satisfied several bucket list items: Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful and Grand Canyon.
The wildlife in Yellowstone was fantastic. We even saw a black bear mother and her cubs, one of which climbed a tree. The Grand Tetons were the most spectacular range. We toured the Grand Canyon by helicopter and took a float trip down the Snake River.
But the surprising highlight of the tour was a walk through Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. The views and vistas created by the light seeping into the canyon were spectacular.
Our accommodations, food and coach were first class, as were our guide Daryl and driver John.
We highly recommend Globus, Brentwood Travel, and Ashley.
Start your National Parks adventure by emailing Ashley or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 127.
The Robbins family recently sailed on Celebrity Equinox to celebrate their son's college graduation, after booking their trip at the 27th Annual Cruise Expo. Their itinerary included stops in Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and Grand Cayman. Each island had incredible crystal clear waters, powder-like sand and oh-so flavorful frozen cocktails! Sailing on Celebrity Equinox did not disappoint. "The ship was lovely. It was in perfect condition and had great customer service. Not to mention the food was on a 5-star level" stated Pam Robbins.
Robbins also noted "the last minute follow thru from Stacey was perfect. I loved the extra touches she put into our vacation that I know we'd only get when booking with a travel agent."
The Caribbean is waiting for you!
Contact Stacey via email or call her at 314-439-5700 ext. 128
to book your stateroom.
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 62 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.