The Road to Disneyland: Spending Smartly

Our road trip to Anaheim–the Magical Kingdom on this side of the Mississippi–was filled with tons of excitement. The kids are the perfect ages for Disneyland and knew enough about what to expect to be filled with anticipation for weeks leading up to our extra special weekend. We were also excited, although a little anxious, making sure to take care of all details before, during and after our family vacation.

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Generally speaking, I’m not much of a planner. As I get older and the longer I parent, I’ve learned that scheduling and organization are key players in a successfully run home, and I’ve definitely gotten better at it. Still, I rarely pack for a trip much longer in advance than the very morning I’m set to leave. I work better under pressure, I tell myself.

Our Disneyland Vacation was put together in a matter of weeks. I started creating a list of things that we needed to have for our 8-hour drive with all three kids. I was surprised at how many separate trips I needed to make in order to get exactly what I needed for three very different children.

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While I could have probably found most if not everything I needed at our local Target, things kept popping up on that list that had me driving all over town. In the end, everyone, including our two pets, had exactly what they needed for this weekend away.

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Even though there was a considerable amount of money spent and even more errands to run, I was reassured that I would definitely be meeting the quota on my new American Express Everyday Credit Card which helps you get more from your everyday expenditures. If you use it 20 times in a month (billing cycle) you get a 20% bonus on all the points you earned that month.

There’s something addictive and exciting about knowing that I’m actually getting a reward for shopping at various times and places during the month, rather than what would normally feel like a penalty in the amount of gas and dollars spent. Double points at my local supermarket? I’ll take it. Especially with the amount of money I drop there on a weekly basis.

For our trip, I sorted the list of necessities down to several different stores:

Natural Foods Market

-GoGoSqueeZ Apple Sauce packs
-ProBars for me. I keep a stash in my purse at all times.
-Dry Cereal and Raisins
-Cheese sticks
-Trail Mix

Pacific Wave Surf Shop

-Three pairs of Vans to replace current old shoes
-Matching tank tops for husband and boys

Flip Flop Shop Santa Cruz

-four pairs of flip flops. A pair for all of us except Justin.
-SunBum Sunscreen and UV protective lip balm


-Natural Hand Sanitizing wipes for car and on the go
-two new DVDs for the kids (Despicable Me 2 and Bugs Bunny) for the road trip
-Car Trash Bags
-All natural Shower and Shampoo products for kids
-Sunglasses for all three


-New food and treats for both Theo and Charlie


-Refill on Jack’s asthma medication and my prenatal vitamins
-Case of bottled water

Disney Store

Treats for the kids in order to save cash in Disneyland itself.


Gas, Gas, and more Gas.

With these transactions, the many stops for gas and food on the way to Anaheim, and the umpteen other purchases within the Magical Kingdom itself, I’m confident I’ll be racking up those points. That feeling of overwhelming spender’s guilt when you go on a trip like this is tempered knowing that I’m also accumulating points which can also be used as currency for more than a few specific things-like paying for taxis when I visit the Big Apple or going towards my JetBlue TrueBlue account.

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Disneyland itself was much easier to manage over three days than I had expected. The park is tailored nicely by age, rides and attractions, and I never found us waiting in line longer than was appropriate. I was a little concerned about the rides for Beau, but overall the three of them could easily ride most of them together (with us), while Jack rode the coasters with Justin. It’s a Small World continues to be the family favorite, and coincidentally the only ride Justin and I really remember from our own childhoods. Neither of us had been since we were little, so revisiting Disneyland was so much more of an experience with our children in tow. It was incredibly special, even more so than I had even hoped.

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It turns out that while I may have over prepared a little, I was so happy to have all of the provisions that we could have and did end up needing.

Our road trip was smooth and well stocked, and our three days in Disneyland were really wonderful. I was feeling triumphant that I actually planned our trip and packed accordingly despite shopping in my standard last-minute fashion.

I am an American Express card member and an Amex EveryDay Moms Ambassador.

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1 Comment

  • Don’t you just love how family road trips require so much more preparation?!? And the STUFF! Glad you had a great trip, and I’m a religious AMEX user–I buy everything on that sucker and then pay it off at the end of the month. Love those reward points!

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