Vacations Unpacked: Cruises

 Today, Erika and I are sharing part two of our three part series where we chat about what we pack and how we operate when we head to certain destinations with our families.  Once a month, I’ll share a destination and she will too and we’ll just let you in on any tips, tricks, dos and don’ts we’ve learned.  Erika and I talk to people all day, every day at our travel agency, and one of the most popular questions we receive is about packing and just day to day “how do we…” for their trip.  So, we’ll share our tips and then PLEASE SHARE YOURS TOO!  This can be a great resource for all of us!  Because isn’t the worst feeling ever arriving at your destination and realizing you packed all wrong and planned incorrectly?

Last month, I shared about packing for/planning City Trips and Erika shared about Ski Trips.

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips/strategies for cruises and Erika is sharing all about Walt Disney World!

These are just a few of our favorite suggestions and ideas, but please, please, please comment and share yours too!!

Here we go, packing/navigating cruises with your family…

Norway, Holland America Line

Now, I’ve been cruising my whole life, but I never considered myself a “cruise person” until last year.  To me, cruise people were in their 70s with big visors on their heads, fanny packs and lived in a retirement village in Florida.  I don’t know why, but that is the image that always came to mind even though I’d been on many, many cruises and never saw such people.  #callmecrazy

But last summer, I realized once and for all that we love, love, love land vacations, but we do also see the value in cruising especially with a large family because IT’S SO AFFORDABLE!  Cruising provides all the food and entertainment in one confined location while moving from port to port exploring the world.  To do that with a family of six on land will cost you so much more.  It’s also so much EASIER because moving your family from place to place and switching hotel rooms, hopping on planes/trains to get from one spot to another is just so complicated (and expensive) with a lot of people.  So, to board a ship, unpack once, never have to worry about loading up and moving and yet, actually going from place to place, is SO NICE.  Do I love land vacations the most?  Yes.  Do I see the value cruising with my family thought?  ABSOLUTELY.

So, my name is Shay and I’m a cruise person.  Someone hand me a fanny pack.  Stat.

Bahamas, Disney Cruise Line

So, now that I’ve confessed that I am a cruise person, let me share my favorite packing tip when cruising with your family…pack your suitcases by days on the ship.

Allow me to explain:

Let’s say you’re going on a four night cruise with your family of four and you decide to take two suitcases for the four nights.  I would pack half of everyone’s stuff in one suitcase and then the other half in the other suitcase.  You and I both know, cabins on ships tend to be small, so the last thing you need is suitcases lying around and stuff everywhere…so, in this scenario, when we arrive, I would immediately, put suitcase number two away (probably under the bed to get it out of sight) and only unpack or open suitcase number one which has everything everyone needs for the first two days.  Then after two days, I put all of the dirty clothes back in suitcase number one and shove that under the bed while at the same time removing suitcase number two and opening it for days three and four.  Make sense?

I love this method for several reasons:

1. If your luggage gets lost, at least all of you have one suitcase with half of your things in it.  (My parents went on a cruise just this past September with their best friends and the wife’s suitcase was lost for 5 days of the 10 day trip!  Speaking as a travel agent, let me assure you, suitcases do get lost.)

2. You’re not cross-contaminating dirty clothes with clean clothes.

3. You save room in those small cabins.

Spain, Holland America Line

When we went to Norway this past summer, we were on a seven night cruise (plus 3 days on land) with five people, so we had four suitcases divided between 10 days.  So, one fourth of everyone’s stuff was in each bag and it worked out beautifully.  Just make sure to include your necessities like toiletries/curling iron in bag number one and then I put miscellaneous things you may or may not need at all in suitcase number four (like umbrellas).  I also spread out my books (because you know how much I love to read on a ship!) by placing one in each suitcase (it also helps spread the weight between the luggage too).

Scandinavia, Norwegian Cruise Line

So, that’s how I pack for a cruise.

Now, here are some other cruising tidbits I have:

1. Make sure you have your passport.  Almost all cruises require a passport, so double check that well before you depart.  Also, make sure it does not expire within 6 months of departure.  (So, if you’re leaving in July, make sure your passport doesn’t expire that October.)

2. Research your ports and the ship excursions before you leave.  So many excursions book up before you even leave embark, so it’s always so wise to book those things in advance.

3. Bring a travel cup.  One of my favorite tips is to bring your Yeti 😉 .  Coffee, tea and water flows freely on board ships and you’ll notice that all of your veteran cruisers bring their own coffee cups/water bottles so that the can take drinks back to their rooms without always having to use Styrofoam cups and such.  I know this tip sounds silly…but when you’re all cozy in your cabin with a good book and hot coffee in your Yeti, you’ll thank me 🙂 .

4. For most cruise lines, you need two cabins with more than four people (you can put five people in most Disney cabins), so if you’re a family of five or more, you need two cabins.  There are a lot of creative ways to do this.  Cabins (like hotel rooms) can come adjoining, so you can get two side by side.  If you’re thinking “gee, I want a nice veranda but my two teens could care less”, then you can put them in an interior cabin directly across the hall from you (and pay one veranda price and one interior price).  We also have families that take turns.  Some nights, mom and daughters will sleep in the veranda room and then they’ll flip flop and for a few nights, dad and son will.  At first, I was bummed when we had to get two cabins…but it is so nice having the extra space.

5. Most cruise lines offer complimentary identification bracelets for kiddos (not all, but many).  There is a GPS device attached to these bracelets, so in the event that you cannot locate your kiddo on board, they can track them down.  Make sure you ask about this!

6. You do not need a voltage adapter on almost all lines.

Now, here are things I pack every vacation:
1. Baggies (both large and small).  They corral items, they hold stinky items, they keep things organized, they’re good for trash…the list goes on and on.
2. Trash bags.  For dirty laundry.  It keeps your dirty stuff away from your clean stuff.
3. A lint roller.
4. A portable charger for iPhones (because sometimes, you just cannot find an outlet to charge your phone and you need it charged.)
5. Band-Aids, Band-Aids, Band-Aids.
6. Fingernail clippers and tweezers (because sometimes, you just need these things!)

Now, it’s your turn!  Tell us your secrets for a cruising.  I know you have tips!!  Share please!!!  (And don’t forget to read Erika’s post on Walt Disney World too!)

If you’re a new client and are interested in a vacation by Mix and Match Travel Agency, we are offering our services to Walt Disney World, Mexican all-inclusives, and cruises sailing to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. Email us at mixandmatchtravelagency@yahoo.com with any questions!

 Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!!

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog April 17, 2017 at 4:47 am

    THAT MEME… SO TRUE, haha! Anyway, reading your tips makes me really want to go on a cruise. I’ve only been on one when I was young and I’ve basically forgotten what a cruise feels like!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Erika Slaughter April 17, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Great, great tips!! This post has me wanting to book a cruise ASAP!

    • Melissa Lane April 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      The same thing I was thinking Erika!

      I loved the packing for the entire family by days. It made our Disney and Disney cruise SO much easier. Why did I never think of that before?!?!

  • Christi April 17, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Goodness I’ve got a whole list of items to pack as I just took my 3 kids on their first cruise.
    1. Lanyards for your sign and sail cards
    2. Bandaids/neosporin/after sun lotion/ pain medicine like Advil, etc because it’s all super expensive there as well as motion sickness pills. I bought an inexpensive bag at target to use as my travel medicine bag in the travel section for about $16…it was useful!
    3. Over the door shoe holder for each cabin…my husband really thanked me for this. Put personal hygiene, hair, etc stuff while on the cruise. It didn’t take up space and kept the cabin clean.
    4. A waterproof camera. I have the Fuji one that was about $100 and we use it regularly
    5. If you play bingo bring Dabbers
    6. Pens, post it etc to leave notes etc
    7. Disinfect wipes/small Lysol spray can if you like to clean germs
    8. Put fabric softener sheets in each of your suitcases because they’ll repeal bed bugs if suitcases are put under your bed. Our cabins were roomy so we had plenty of room in a closet for them
    9. Pack a carry on bag to carry on cruise with sunscreen, swim suits etc to use on cruise when you get on because it could be hours before you get your suitcase delivered. Mine got lost for many hours so my light carry on really helped. Be sure to attach your tags to cruise suitcases very well as they rip them off easily.
    10. A non surge protector extra outlet plug because most cruise ships have only one outlet!
    11. Lastly go to the dollar tree and purchase a fold up hamper for $1 per each room and when you have dirty clothes put them in there until you transfer to a suitcase as it’ll keep your cabin tidy. I left mine on the cruise when we were done but they were so useful on the cruise.

  • Stephanie April 17, 2017 at 5:13 am

    Do you have a favorite toiletry bag that you recommend for traveling? Thanks for these tips!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 5:28 am

      I don’t. I use three small little bags that I throw inside my one big tote (one for bath stuff, one for makeup and one for hair stuff).

    • Chrystianne April 17, 2017 at 9:01 am

      I have two Ricardo Beverly Hills toiletry bags that have lasted me for YEARS. In fact, I was hoping they would rip or something so I could get a new one. I travel 3-4 times a year and they have been all over Europe and they’re AMAZING. Bed, Bath, & Beyond sells them.

  • Sheaffer Sims April 17, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Lots of great tips here! Love the one to bring your Yeti!

  • ELizabeth April 17, 2017 at 5:23 am

    Great tips!! I always love cruising!
    Xo, Elizabeth
    http://stripesandsolitaires.com

  • Sarah April 17, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Fabulous tips!! I’ve never been on a cruise, but we are hoping to go on one soon!! I’m slightly afraid of getting sea sick though, as I almost always get carsick if I even glance at my phone while riding in the passenger seat.

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 6:04 am

      You know that’s how I am too, Sarah!! I will say that out of all the cruising I’ve done, I’ve only been sick on one trip and that is just because the weather was horrible. I really think you’ll be okay!

    • Kristin S April 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Sarah, my mom gets SUPER major motion sickness. It’s miserable. But she loves to take cruises. She used to take medicine and it helped some but not much. This last trip she wore those magnet wrist bands. I have no clue how they work but it’s something about pressure points. The only time she felt a tinge of nausea was when she removed the band! They have them at most pharmacies and they are not expensive.

      • Kate April 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm

        I get horrible motion sickness too and I have been fine on the two cruises I have done (including one that was three weeks). The three week cruise the water was very calm (Mediterranean) and we were on a huge ship. I only felt movement one night I think. I packed Dramamine but didn’t use it. My other cruise (Mexico) I knew the water would be rougher so I bought the pressure point bracelets Kristin mentioned above. No motion sickness at all. I wore them the whole time but did take them off occasionally and I was still fine.

        My mom also gets horrible motion sickness. She swears by the prescription patches you wear (I think behind your ear). She’s been on at least 10 cruises at this point.

  • Sharon April 17, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Bring any and all medication that you or your family may take at home. You cannot always find the same thing in port or foreign countries. That is one of my tips for any travel really… I learned from experience.

  • Janette @ The 2 Seasons April 17, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I now take those rubber sink stoppers in three different sizes. I like to pack light and wash out clothes in the hotel/ship sink. Sometimes the stopper is missing which means I can’t fill the sink with hot, sudsy water. So, having the sink stoppers is so helpful. I pack three because if the sink stopper has been designed based on metrics rather than inches, I have a better chance that one will fit.

  • Kendra April 17, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Thanks for the tips! Why does it matter if your passport expires within six months of departure?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 6:45 am

      That’s a government issue. They do not want your passport to be within six months of expiring when leaving the country.

      • Andrea H April 17, 2017 at 8:58 pm

        Is that a hard and fast rule? Or a recommendation?

        • Mix and Match Mama April 18, 2017 at 4:49 am

          Hard and fast rule!

  • Narci Dreffs April 17, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Great tips!! We are ready for our next cruise–thanks to your help, we had an amazing time on the first one! You and Erika are the best at travel planning! 🙂

  • Catherine April 17, 2017 at 6:38 am

    We cruise a lot and are about to head to Alaska this summer with our trio (for their 4th, 3rd and 2nd cruises!) and here are some of my favorite packing tips.
    *wooden clothes pins- we clip swimsuits to the chairs if we have a balcony (don’t want things flying everywhere!) clip them to the line in the shower to dry better, and weve even clipped a sheet up as a blockade when our 1 year old refused to sleep with seeing everyone.
    *a collapsable closet storage (the ikea one is fantastic!) we use that to shelve our kids clothes/shoes. It takes up hardly any room and all thier items are easy to access but still out of the way.
    *cheap pop up hamper- the kids use a hamper at home, they understand right away that’s where the dirty clothes go on the ship. (every other day or so I would just pull out our suitcases from under the bed and quickly fold and put away the dirty clothes (fold clothes pack better) then push the suitcase back away.
    *an extra tote bag- sometimes it’s just to give us an extra bag to carry off. sometimes it’s to hold all of our souvenirs. and sometimes it’s becuase a bag broke. but we’ve used our extra on almsot all of our cruises. (nothing fancy and the last cruise it was a big shopping tote I got at JoAnns for $1, cheap but big and packed easily)

  • Amy April 17, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Our family loves to cruise also. Our most recent cruise we used packing cubes for the first time. Game changer!!!! I’m so bummed I’ve never used them before. It helped to organize our clothes (even put kids shoes in a cube). They made unpacking and repackaging so easy. Truly a game changer for traveling for us.

    • Catherine April 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Oh yes, packing cubes! We just tried them for a quick but busy trip to Paris and thanks to the cubes I was able to pack for myself and my husband in just a carryon and a duffle bag. And our itnerary included a concert, a half marathon, mass and a nice dinner out.

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams April 17, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Great tips Shay! It’s funny with all my traveling I haven’t done a cruise yet. I may have to start small. I cannot live with out my Vera Bradley Over the Door bag. It keeps all my toiletries together and out of the way when I’m traveling (easy pack up too!).
    xo
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Megan April 17, 2017 at 6:54 am

    We also swear by the “pack by day and not by person” method. It makes things SO much less chaotic. You and Erika were fantastic to work with for our Disney trip in the fall! I shared a bit about my packing must-haves here:
    http://www.lettinginthelightblog.com/disney-packing-must-haves-to-add-to-your-christmas-list/

  • Andrea April 17, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Hi Shay! I’m wondering how you decide to pack for your trips. Do you make a mini capsule wardrobe with items that you can mix and match? ? Or do you bring ALL.THE.CLOTHES??? We are going on a 9 day Baltic cruise this summer (plus 3 extra days in Copenhagen) and I’m stressed about how to keep it down to one suitcase each.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      I really try and keep things simple. I pack basic bottoms (jeans/shorts) and tops that I can layer differently. I really try and keep the color scheme the same too because that makes everything easier when mixing and matching.

  • Jennifer April 17, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I buy one of those collapsible storage tubs from the $ tree. I put all of our bathroom things in it. Since there is never enough storage space in those bathrooms. It fits nicely under the sink. Then since it was a $ I just leave it there when we leave.

  • Meghann April 17, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Totally going to try the pack by day for our 7 day Disney cruise this summer! We bring a hanging shoe bag to keep necessities out but off the floor on the ship, collapsible hampers, and lanyards for the kiddos room key…also pack an extra bag for when you first get on the ship to carry on since your room won’t have it’s luggage right away. Totally agree on bringing your own refillable bottles for drinks!

  • Angie April 17, 2017 at 7:48 am

    We take a beach bag, which makes it easier for shore excursions. Throw in swim goggles, sunscreen, wipes, towels from the ship and you don’t have to worry about carrying it all around. Also, meds are a must! I always take a bag full of children’s ibuprofen, benadryl, tylenol, tums, whatever you think you might need. You may not find them on the ship and it is peace of mind if you need them. My daughter had an allergic reaction to something once and trying to find children’s benadryl was a pain.

  • Nicole F April 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Soon….now I need to take a cruise 🙂 I’ve got the fanny pack (no shame).

  • Jenny April 17, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I loved reading all these tips. Packing is quite the chore, and it changes with every trip. Whether we bring the kids or not, or whether we are headed to the beach or not… it’s always different and a bit challenging. Good thing, I also find it kind of fun. 🙂

  • Marti April 17, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Bring a lanyard for your room key card. It’s an easy way to keep track of your card. You can buy a souvenir lanyard on the ship if you want, but it’s much cheaper to buy one before you go (dollar stores have them for, get this, a dollar! Ha!).

  • Mary W. April 17, 2017 at 8:22 am

    My parents are going on their first cruise this year. I’m so excited for them! I will be sharing this with my mama 🙂

  • Kristy April 17, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Hi Shay! Just wondering about money when you travel. For international countries how much cash do you bring in terms if what you would pay on your credit card? Do you plan for 20% cash and 80% purchases on your c.c.? Thanks for your input!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      We put almost everything on our credit card (so that the credit card statement is clear and already translated into dollars). It keeps things much more organized!

  • Angela Ellingson April 17, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Packing by day is such a good idea! Love these posts!!!

  • Renee April 17, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Great tips. We also divide everyone clothes up between the suitcases, but we unpack all of our clothes as soon as possible and throw the dirty clothes into an empty suitcase. We also take a camping clothes line to hang wet swim suits on.

  • Whitney Pegram April 17, 2017 at 8:59 am

    You know I couldn’t wait for this post!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Eeeek! We are SO excited!

  • Amy Heinl April 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

    We are frequent cruisers and swear by the dollar tree pop up hampers (we also leave those behind when we finish the cruise) and always bring a surge protector plug bar because there is never enough outlets. One other thing we try to do with any vacation (whether on sea or land) is save 2 hours on the day before trip ends and do wash on board or at vacation place. There is nothing better than coming home and putting away clean clothes and not have to face a mountain of dirty laundry upon your return. Its something little but it makes a huge difference. We just through some laundry pods and dryer sheets in Ziploc when we are packing and use them on board.

  • Chrystianne April 17, 2017 at 9:11 am

    After many, many land vacations, I have decided that cruising speaks to my soul. Something about being in the middle of the ocean is completely soothing, waking up in a different location every day is thrilling, and not having to worry about doing absolutely anything on vacation is amazing. That being said, I also still really enjoy land vacations. Bringing some sort of water bottle is one of your best tips. We just fill our bottles up before exploring a port and never have to spend money on bottled water.
    This past trip I tried your method of packing our clothes by days, but then I realized that my husband and I only need one luggage and one carry-on, so we couldn’t really do it. How do you and Andrew pack when it is just the two of you vacationing? Thanks for always having such great tips for us Shay! 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      It depends on how long we’re gone. If we can, we pack only one suitcase for the both of us. (And cross our fingers that it doesn’t get lost!)

  • Laura @ Laura Likes Design April 17, 2017 at 9:21 am

    The idea of bringing a fingernail clipper is brilliant! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I had one on me while having a broken nail on vacation! Definitely adding this to my future packing list!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick April 17, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I’m still sooooo scared to cruise because of getting seasick. I know we have commiserated over this before but I’m just terrified of being miserable!! I need to suck it up and do it at least once though. We are definitely going to need yalls help for Disney World though!!

    That Inspired Chick

    • Kate April 17, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Amanda, I left a comment above but definitely try the suggestions others have had. My mom and I both get horrible motion sickness but we haven’t had issues on cruises. Try the pressure point bracelets or the prescription ear patches. For your first cruise, try something where the water will be calmer. My Mexico cruise was rough waters the whole time but the mediterranean was much calmer.

  • Brianne April 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

    About room capacity- we recently sailed royal caribbean with our 7 month old. They told us that they have family cabins for a couple hindred dollars more, but you need 4 people! Way more spacious and they have bunks and curtains for room dividing so parents can stay up and keep the lights on! Sounds awesome! We look up our room category on YouTube! Therefore we know the general amount of room/amenities (e.g. Oasis of the Seas does NOT have electrical outlets in the bathroom!!!)

  • Michele April 17, 2017 at 9:52 am

    “Pack by day” = Game Changer!

  • Melissa April 17, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I have a question… When you are off the ship in foreign countries, how do you handle cell phone usage? Do you switch to an international plan for your trip or …???

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      We do not use our cell phones internationally. When our iPhones are connected to Wifi, we can Facetime family/friends/etc but other than that, we turn our cellular off and do not use our phones out of the country.

    • Karen April 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Melissa ~ my daughter is a world traveler and she uses an app called “Line”. We talked and sometimes videoed with her from many different countries! It was awesome! All free! Sometimes the signal was a little spotty, but for the most part it worked great! Anyone you want to call needs to download the app.

  • Jen W. April 17, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Fun tip: The walls of the cabin are made of metal so I always throw in a small metal clip magnet to hang all of the daily newsletters. Keeps the papers organized and off the counters (since counter space is also limited).

    • Kraleen Smith April 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I take several magnets and use one by the door to hang my lanyard with the sign and sail card. Makes it easy to keep track of and it is right there by the door so you don’t forget it.

  • Therese April 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

    My family just returned from a 10 day trip (6 days at Disney World, 3 days on Disney Cruise). I used your “pack suitcases by the day” method and it was so helpful. I have to admit there was a moment in the packing process when I hated it and felt a bit overwhelmed. However, I breathed through that moment and once we were all packed and on the trip it was AWESOME! I opened one bag at a time, clothes were in order and organized (down to socks and undergarments). Everyone had what they needed the entire time and all the “extra” was put up.

    This was especially helpful when we left Disney World and went to the cruise ship. We had 3 bags of dirty clothes/just stuff from Disney World that just got shoved under the bed/in the closet and only needed 1 bag that had clothes for the cruise ship.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on how much to pack, especially for children. It seems that no matter how much I plan I always end up with at least 1/2 suitcase full of “extra” clothes that we didn’t need. How do I stop overpacking?

  • Christyn April 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

    We always bring a non surge protected outlet extension. Traveling with teens and only one outlet? No way! We plug it in right on the desk and everyone can charge phones, iPads, kindles etc without taking turns!
    We also plan ahead and just bring ONE of what we might need- 1 shampoo and conditioner for the whole cabin, instead of everyone packing their own, 1 toothpaste etc.
    We also like to bring a small magnetic note pad/pen to put on our door (they are metal) when traveling with a group- we can leave quick notes for each other.
    We also brought magnetic bullfrog clips and hooks to hang stuff within the cabin- key cards always hang in one place inside the door- daily schedules hang by the TV- just keeps the flat surfaces from getting crazy!

  • Patty Anderson April 17, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Timely since we just booked a cruise over the weekend. I’ve only cruised once before and can’t remember some things. Other than formal nights, what is acceptable dinner attire? Are nice jeans a no-no? Also, I like to pack outfits in ziplocs so I know I have everything I need to complete an outfit, and then I pack the ziplocs in cubes. LOVE some of your tips. Our cruise isn’t until next Feb but the list-making begins NOW!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Most lines aren’t too fussy with dress codes in the main dining area. Some specific restaurants on board (not main dining) have more strict dress codes.

  • Priscilla April 17, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Which Yeti do you have? Also, if you don’t use your cell phone oversees, how do you navigate unfamiliar cities? I am looking for a good, free app?? For Europe.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      We use maps!! We also use maps on our phones when we’re connected to Wifi (lots of places have free wifi overseas! hotels, starbucks, etc).

  • cassie {hi sugarplum} April 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Ohmygosh, so many great tips!! I don’t consider us ‘cruise people’ either, yet here we are, about to go on our third cruise in 3 years. I think it’s time to admit the obvious! 😉

  • Deb April 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Shay! This has nothing to do with today’s post but I just wanted to tell you that I bought the kids cookbook for my 12 year old Granddaughter for Easter. I gave it to her a few day before and she absolutely loves it. She made the macaroons immediately. She said the cookbook is so easy to follow and can’t wait to experiment with the next recipe. Thank you for making such an awesome cookbook that is sparking interest in kids to be creative and have fun.

  • Shelia Maxwell April 17, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Never cruised, but this makes me want to book a Disney Cruise for me & my granddaughters.
    Any suggestions for first time cruisers? My grands are 8 & 12, easy travelers!
    Love reading all your bloggs❤

  • Mary April 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I have to agree with you about nail clippers!! something you don’t think about but need. I just got back from 11 days in London and Paris and the entire time I kept thinking I wish I had nail clippers. I needed to clip my nails and on 2 occasions I ended up at the hotel front desk asking for scissors, which I could’ve used my nail clippers in those situations if I had them!!

    Also in regards to the question someone had about navigating without a cell phone. Yes I agree Maps work well. I did find an APP worth mentioning call “CityMaps2Go” which you can download and use without data on your phone 🙂

  • Kelly Stokowski April 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I just got home from a cruise yesterday! Definitely agree with packing a surge protector, we only had 2 outlets and it got tough when we were trying to charge phones/straighten our hair at the same time. Lanyards are also a must. Also since I’m not always one for sneakers, make sure you bring some sort of closed toe/closed heeled shoe because there are so many activities on board that require these (rock climbing, scavenger hunts, obstacle courses)!

  • Karen April 17, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    No tips here as I haven’t cruised yet…..Shay, you’ve mentioned before you get sea sick ~ do you not have any problems at all on the big cruise ships? Thx

  • Kate April 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Wow, there are so many great tips on this post!! I will be bookmarking this!

  • Alyssa April 17, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    We always buy excursions once we get off the ship! The locals are always standing outside of the gate with books about all the excursions. We end up with people from the ship but pay nearly half the price the ship charges!

  • Kristen April 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I am really surprised that no one is discussing the lack of irons/ironing boards on cruise ships! This was an especially big issue for my husband, who irons everything!! We brought a bottle of Frebreeze Wrinkle Release on our cruise. It wasn’t as good as ironing, but it definitely did help!

  • Hilary April 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    What is your favorite cruise line??

    • Mix and Match Mama April 18, 2017 at 4:49 am

      I have three favorites (Disney, Norwegian and Holland America). I think they’re all reasonably priced, but very high quality.

  • Megan Butler April 17, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    This is such a great post! Your packing by day tip is life changing!! So smart! And I love taking my own cup when I travel! I have to have it!!

  • Bethany April 18, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Love these tips! I am a huge list maker before every vacation. I will start a list in my notes on my phone and add to it as I think of things.

  • Eileen April 18, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Having been on a few cruises, these are such great tips!!! Makes me want to book another cruise ASAP. I would add a few things:
    * a small clutch or crossbody bag to hold your phone (for photos) and cruise card, or just a lanyard for your cruise card
    * an old key card, old cruise card, or an old rewards card to use for the light switch slot
    * small bills (singles or fives) to use for tipping for luggage, at the airport, on excursions, etc.

    • Alice H April 18, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Eileen – going on our first cruise in July… what is a light switch slot?

      * an old key card, old cruise card, or an old rewards card to use for the light switch slot

  • Megan April 18, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Love these tips – especially the two shared suitcases! I’d love some tip in traveling to Europe… We are going to Zurich in September for my husband to run in the Tour de Mont Blanc (yep – he’s one of those crazy ultra marathoners). I try to pack light but I’m always wishing I had something else. While it should be nice, we will still warmer clothes for the Alps. Any suggestions?

  • Carrie April 18, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Wondering if you have a recommended umbrella stroller for your kiddos? Especially one that will fit a “big” kid such as a 4 year old, notice that you travel with two and love that recommendation, need to get a new one for my older one considering an upcoming trip will be lots of walking!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 18, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Both of mine are Chicco. They hold up really well and are not that expensive!

  • Jamie Wright April 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Which cruise line do you typically recommend for an Alaskan cruise?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 19, 2017 at 4:52 am

      Disney, Norwegian or Holland America 🙂

  • Jaren April 18, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    This post is right on time for me! We leave for our first Disney cruise in a little over a month! Thanks for the tips!!

  • Melanee Warren April 19, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    These are such great tips. I’m not a cruise person, but you make some good arguments toward in favor of cruising. I do have a packing question that always gets us even with land travel….shoes. How do you pack all of the shoes and do you just leave certain shoes at home?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

      I try and not pack that many shoes. When we went to China this last time, I only packed two pairs.

  • Sarah Smith April 20, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Hi! I have a question. I noticed you stated make sure your passport doesn’t expire 6 months from departure. May I ask why you say that? My husband and I are taking a trip in the middle of June and his passport expires end of Jan 2018. I read your post and now I wonder if we should be required to renew his passport now or if that is just a preference thing. Thank you so much!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Yes, you need to get it renewed. Passports might not be accepted entering a new country with an expiration date of less than six months.