Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ten Tips on Traveling with Diabetes!

Let us face it. Diabetes is a huge epidemic in America and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. As someone who works for an endocrinologist (a fancy name for a doctor who works with diabetic patients specifically), I witness first hand the struggles of daily living for a lot of people. Whether you are diagnosed later in life with Type 2 diabetes, or diagnosed at a young age with Type 1, every person’s body is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others. It can be a challenge just learning the ropes on how to help yourself at home, work, or school. But when traveling, that is a whole other ball game and can be stressful when you’re unsure of things.
So, here are MY ten tips to help make your trips a little easier.

#1 – Enough Medication and Supplies
This may sound like an absolute no brainer, but you’d be surprised. Especially if you are on insulin. Insulin injections can vary based on units so it’s better to slightly over estimate, than run out. If you’re not quite due for a refill on the medication, contact your physician. Chances are they may have samples of the medication that they can give you, to help you get through the trip or as a backup in case you start to run low. Make sure you also consider the possibility of a flight being cancelled and you may have to stay an extra day somewhere. Diabetics can NOT go without their medication or you run the risk of a high blood sugar, which can ultimately land you in the hospital. This also applies to any supplies you will need. Including your test strips, lancets, and glucometer. If you are on an insulin pump, be sure to have extra reservoirs and tubing.

#2 – Medication and Allergy List
Always keep a medication and allergy list on hand. Write them down and keep them together somewhere in a wallet or purse that can be easily found. This will help EMT services pinpoint what they can possibly give you in case you are unable to speak for yourself and determine if it could be a reaction to a medication you are taking. When making your list, make sure that you include the name of the medications, dose, and how often you are supposed to take it. For allergies, include the type of reaction you had when taking the medication, if you can remember. This is actually a great tip for anyone, especially older individuals who may not remember their medications all the time.

#3 – Medical Alert Identifier
Wear an identifier. There are so many creative and fashionable bracelets these days, that honestly, no one will probably even realize it is one unless they’re looking for it. Which, EMT services and/or people who are trained, will look for these. Some even have the option of putting emergency contact information as well.

#4 – Candy/Glucose Tablets
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. “Candy? Shouldn’t diabetics stay away from that?”. You are absolutely correct when it comes to helping control your sugars, however when/if a diabetic patient is experiencing an extreme drop in the sugar count, this can lead to diabetic shock and possible death. It is important, especially for those on insulin, to always have hard candies or fast dissolving glucose tablets on hand. You can purchase the tablets are any local pharmacy, and remember to over prepare. You never know if a situation will arise and you run out. Make sure you ask your physician ahead of time regarding how many you should take until you reach a safe blood sugar number.

#5 – Letter from your Physician
This is extremely important for airlines. All airlines will require a letter from your current physician stating that it is medically necessary to carry all of your diabetic supplies. Ask them to be specific, and include all diabetic medications, syringes, pen needles, test strips, glucometers, lancets, and any supplies that you would need for an insulin pump if you wear one. Be aware, that during the security screening process, you will most likely be asked to remove the insulin pump while you go through the metal detectors. There has been a new product on the market called a CGM, which is a 14-day implant on your arm that monitors your sugars at any given time. If you are wearing this or intend to wear one on your trip, IT MUST be included on your letter of medical necessity, as it will alert security.
#6 – Carry-on Luggage
Most airlines allow you to have at least one carry one item that you can put in the overhead bins. However, it would be a good idea to contact the airline ahead of time, and ask about being allowed to also carry on a personal item, this way it is a guarantee that you’ll be able to reach your medication at all times. Include all of your medications and diabetic supplies into this bag. If you are carrying insulin, this must be kept cool, in which you will need to also have a small soft sided lunch box. The last thing you want is to land and have your luggage with all your medication, lost. Not good! Airlines are very accommodating, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them if there’s anything you need.

#7 – Sharps Containers
Be aware that most hotels and resorts do not have a sharps container for you to dispose of your used syringes and pen needles. You can purchase a small one at a local pharmacy for you to have on hand. NEVER dispose of them in a trash can. If you are traveling to Walt Disney World, DisneyLand, Universal studios, SeaWorld or Busch Gardens, they have ones located in the restrooms that you can use, so there is no need to travel back and forth to a hotel room just to take your medication. I am also aware that the majority of the airports also have them, but be sure to ask where they are located at. For example, on a recent trip to Colorado, I noticed that one restroom had one but another didn’t. Just ask guest services to point you in the right direction.

#8 – Insurance Cards
Another one that seems silly, but it’s important. In case of an emergency or maybe you develop a cold, you’ll want to have your insurance cards. This should be a general rule regardless if you are diabetic or not. While some insurances are not transferable state to state, most are. It’s better to have them then to get hit with a huge bill later on. If you are at a loss of where to go, contact your insurance company and ask what physician you can see in that local area. Member services will be listed on the back with a phone number.

#9 – Eating out, Dieting, and Hydrating
It’s hard, I know. No one wants to think about a diet when they’re on vacation, but it’s important to at least stick as close to a diabetic diet as you can. It’s okay to indulge sometimes but refrain from over eating. If you’re on an insulin pump, be sure to account for all the extra carbs you may be intaking and plug them into your pump so that you are getting the correct amount of insulin. This also includes alcoholic beverages, as those have carbs as well. Water is your best friend!
If you’re anything like me, I am a planner so I am always checking out menus ahead of time. Try and find places that have low carb options. Disney is great about accommodating all types of special requests when it comes to their restaurants. If your traveling there, be sure to let your waiter know and they can provide many sugar free options particularly for desserts and for the buffets, as well.

#10 – Pharmacy
Before traveling, find out if your local pharmacy is also a national franchise. Walmart, for example has locations all over the United States, which can transfer prescriptions between their stores. If yours doesn’t have locations near where you are traveling, find one that excepts your insurance near your hotel or resort. Obtain their contact information so that if you find yourself in need of a medication called in, your physician’s office can easily call in or electronically send a prescription over.  If you realize that you have forgotten anything, call them right away so that you’re not going without your medication. Most pharmacies have your prescription ready within an hour.

Preparedness and knowledge are your biggest allies when it comes to tackling diabetes. It doesn’t have to be something debilitating that holds you back from being adventurous. Hopefully, these tips help ensure that you don’t run into any trouble while you’re out exploring and creating amazing memories!

By: Brooke Greene

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – A Hidden Gem on the Treasure Coast

When most people think of a Disney vacation, they imagine visiting the theme parks, or maybe taking a cruise.  They picture a trip full of activities, characters and attractions, with very little time left for rest and relaxation.  While amazing and magical, these trips can also be exhausting, and I often arrive home needing a vacation from my vacation!

But did you know that Disney also owns two beach resorts?  That’s right, you can get Disney’s world-class customer service and amazing attention to detail in a quiet, relaxing setting.  With an abundance of recreation options for the entire family and plenty of dining options (including Dole Whips!), all you’ll be missing are the crowds! Sound about perfect?  It is!
Disney's Vero Beach
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is located just 2 hours south of Walt Disney World, on the Atlantic Treasure Coast, sharing space with the nesting grounds of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. And five hours north of Walt Disney World, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort can be found on the picturesque coast of South Carolina, fashioned after a 1940s hunting and fishing lodge, and featuring 12 miles of heavenly beaches.  Though both resorts are Disney Vacation Club properties, both can be booked directly with Disney by non-DVC members.  Both resorts are very small, however, with Hilton Head having less than 150 units (ranging from studio to 3 bedroom layouts) and Vero Beach just under 250 (including 132 DVC layouts and 112 rooms in the main building, or “inn”), so advance planning remains a must, just like with any other Disney vacation!

Welcome Home Sign for DVC Members
My family got the opportunity to visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort this past June.  We did use our DVC points to book this trip, and when we wanted to tweak our dates we struggled to find the availability we needed, and had to move our room type in order to accommodate the change in plans.  And by the time we travelled, there wasn’t a single available room in any room category for our trip dates. Having never had a problem booking the resort I wanted at Walt Disney World, even for last minute trips or during holidays, I was a bit surprised by how quickly this resort filled up, even given its small size.  But now that I’ve experienced it for myself, it’s very easy to understand why this resort is in such high demand!

Resort Property

Beach at Resort

Let me begin by saying that while beautiful, this resort does not “scream” Disney.  There are several subtle (and some not-so-subtle) touches throughout the resort that let you know you are on a Disney-owned property, but you won’t see characters roaming the grounds or hear Disney music being pumped throughout the common areas.  You will, however, get the same level of care and customer service that you have come to expect from Disney Cast Members.  And just like other Disney resorts, you have all the amenities you need right at your fingertips, with no need to leave the resort if you don’t want to!

Resort pictures
The resort itself is situated right on the beach (unlike Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, where you must take a shuttle to the beach) with beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas available for rent (you can also bring your own).  They also offer body boards, kayaks and surf lessons on the beach, all for an additional charge. 

Body Boarding
Fishin' Time!
Back up at the resort there is also a large pool with a water slide, and plenty of pool games going on throughout the day.  A 9-hole miniature golf course surrounds the pool, and there is also a ping pong table and activities center right outside the pool gates.  The activities center houses different crafts and programs throughout the day, some free of charge and some for a nominal fee.  My kids made shark tooth necklaces one day and did a fishing excursion another (the best part about this activity was that the price included their own rod and reel that we got to bring home!). Needless to say, for those kids who don’t know how to RELAX (like mine!) and need some extra stimulation, they won’t be bored!
Miniature Golf

And during sea turtle nesting season, you can reserve your spot on a guided sea turtle night walk.  This event is currently offered select nights in June and July to those ages 8 and up.  The walk begins at 9 p.m. and lasts 2-4 hours, depending on how quickly a nesting turtle can be found.  Scouts will search for sea turtles while you enjoy a presentation on the nesting process, and once a nest is located you’ll be provided with night vision goggles to watch the turtle lay her eggs, cover the nest and return to the sea.

Destination Signs

There are several dining options at the resort.  The Wind & Waves Market is a quick service location, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also carries some groceries and to-go items.  Also, if you purchased the refillable mug (yes, they have those here, too!), this is where the drink station is located.  (Pro Tip: If your trip to Vero Beach follows a resort stay in Walt Disney World, the mug you purchased at WDW will still work in Vero.)  This is also where you will find the Dole Whip station!! Wind & Waves Market is situated right outside the pool gates, next to the Wind & Waves Bar.

The Wind & Waves Grill is a sit down restaurant, open for breakfast and dinner.  Located just off the lobby and steps away from the pool and beach, the Wind & Waves Grill has a small, hearty menu, with dinner specials that change daily.

The Green Cabin Room can be found on the second floor of the resort, with sweeping views of the ocean from its patio.  The Green Cabin Room serves a full selection of beer and wine in addition to specialty cocktails.  There is also a small menu of appetizers available.  It’s a great place to unwind with a drink before heading to dinner.  The Green Cabin Room is also host to several after-dinner activities for the over 21-crowd, like trivia contests (Disney-themed, of course!) and karaoke.

Lastly, in true Disney fashion, the resort does offer two character meals – Goofy’s Beach side Breakfast (offered seasonally on Saturday mornings) and Pirate Night Dinner (offered seasonally on Monday nights).  This is the ONLY place to see characters at the resort, and both meals include appearances by Goofy and Donald.
Goody's Beach Side Breakfast

Guest Services
One gift shop is located off the lobby of the inn, Island Grove Packing Company.  This shop sells a variety of Disney themed apparel and souvenirs, in addition to groceries and sundries, and even provides DVD rentals.

Parking is available in an underground garage, adjacent to the parking lot.  There is no overnight parking fee for resort guests, but you will be required to display a pass on your dashboard for the duration of your stay.

The resort also has a spa, onsite laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center, tennis courts, bike rentals, outdoor grills and childcare options.

Offsite Activities
While you certainly don’t have to leave Disney’s Vero Beach property for a single minute during your vacation, there are a variety of things to do in Vero Beach and the surrounding area if you choose to venture out.  Delicious restaurants line the coastline, offering every type of cruise – from seafood to steakhouses, Italian and American.  For the golfers, there are several courses in the area.  You can also schedule airboat rides or take a private boat tour.  My family did a personal tour of the Sebastian Inlet with Capt. Christy Lenz Casual Cruisin’ and it was a definite highlight of our trip.  We got the chance to view dolphins, manatees, stingray and a variety of other fish and birds up close and personal during our 2-hour tour.  It was truly amazing!
Dolphin sighting
Manatee Sighting
So for those of you that are looking for a relaxing vacation, without all the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, but with the legendary customer service you’ve come to appreciate from Disney – look no further than Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  After just one stay, my family has decided this needs to be an annual trip for us.  We paired our days in Vero with a few days in Walt Disney World prior, and it was the perfect mix of theme park fun followed by pure relaxation.  And I actually came home from this trip refreshed, which was definitely a Disney first! This resort is truly a hidden gem, just waiting for you to discover all it has to offer.  Call your travel agent today to book your stay at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – I promise you won’t regret it!
Family Cruisin'

By: Alyssa Gates Schreiber

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pandora, the World of Avatar: Dining Review

Pandora, the world of Avatar, is located within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It features breathtaking floating mountains, two technologically advanced new rides, and a unique menu unlike any other within the Disney theme parks.
The new world of Avatar area brings with it two innovative and very distinctive dining options; Pongu Pongu, a drink stand, and Satu'li Canteen, a dining hall with an extensive menu. 

Floating Mountains of Pandora

Beautiful View from Pandora

Pongu Pongo

The Night Blossom is the most popular drink in Pandora and can only be found at Pongu Pongo.  It’s also good to know that this frozen specialty is the only nonalcoholic beverage available at the stand. The Night Blossom blends the very punchy flavors of limeade, apple, and desert pear and is then topped with passion fruit Boba Balls, a common thread throughout Pandora.
Snack Credit Night Blossom

I loved this drink; I put it up there on my list with the Gaston’s Tavern’s La Fou’s brew located within the Magic Kingdom. The Night Blossom is very vibrant, tangy and a bit sweet. The colors of this frosty beverage are extremely eye-catching with bright hues of fuchsia and lime, topped with an orange garnish of Boba Balls. 
Night Blossom in collector cup with glowing seed ice cube
The Night Blossom can be purchased currently for $4.99 or the use of a single Snack credit on the Disney Dining plans; if you forgo the famous Disney souvenir mug and glowing cube (or seed as is referred to in Pandora.) The cup with the glowing cube seed is only $19.99. You not only receive a tasty drink but also a unique souvenir from your Avatar adventure.

Satu'li Canteen

Satu'li Canteen
 Satu'li Canteen offers a spectacular environment complete with hand woven d├ęcor and art work that reinforces the natural feel of being on this Pandorian adventure.
The menu offers a wide variety of items which includes some of Disney’s healthier options as these two Pandora only favorites; a Vegetable Curry and a Cheeseburger pod.

Vegetable Curry Pods

Cheeseburger Pods

The Cheeseburger Steamed Pod is what I sampled this trip; it is filled with ground beef, ketchup, mustard, pickle, and cheddar cheese. I was most excited to try this menu item, and I am looking forward to going back in October to enjoy it again. The ground beef is tasty, and the blend of condiments really made this a “cheeseburger “in my book.

Yum, Cheeseburger!

  Both pods also come with Root Vegetable Chips and Crunchy Vegetable Slaw. The Root Vegetable Chips were nice, lightly salted and cooked to a crisp texture. I also appreciated tang of the slaw with its Pandorian Boba Ball yogurt salad topping.

Vegetable Chips and Slaw
In my opinion, the true highlight of Pandora’s dining is the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse This unique and Instagram worthy dessert includes whipped blueberry cream cheese mousse, passion fruit curd, whipped cream, and a sliver of white chocolate. When combined, all of the fruity flavors are simply magical. It truly tastes as good as it looks. The blueberry mousse is creamy and sweet while you get that punch of acidity from the passion fruit to create a harmonious bite of epic proportions. I could go on all day about this dessert! 

Blueberry Cheesecake Mousse

It's even pretty on the inside
The World of Avatar surpassed my expectations in sights, sounds, and tastes. I highly recommend Flight of Passage; the floating mountains are beautiful and enjoyable to view from every imaginable angle, and the food is out of this world! Yes, pun intended.
Newest member of Pandora
 If you are looking for something fun to try, eat, or Instagram while at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, look no further than Pandora! There is something for everyone!
By: Kris Floyd

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!