The past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about gifting an experience instead of just things for the holidays. This week I wanted to talk about an experience that we gave the kids a few years ago. I knew that we wanted to have them go somewhere warm, and we wanted to wait until after the holiday season. But we didn’t know where exactly to go. After some research, we looked into visiting another city. We chose Houston, Texas. You see my little guy, Zach, is a huge space fan and loves astronauts. I wanted to take him to see NASA.
And what started out as a trip to NASA in Houston, turned out to be a wonderful vacation to the Houston-Galveston area. We had a blast taking the boys not only to NASA but to Houston’s Zoo, Aquarium, the Museum and to the Kemah Boardwalk. The best part is that we took Grandma with. This was not only an experience that the boys were able to enjoy but one that we all cherish because it was with their Grandmother as well.
For all of us, we had some once in a lifetime moments together. To see my mom’s face light up when she stepped into the Houston Control Room where they launched the first ship to the moon and she remembered seeing that as a child. And then hearing her explain that to Zach and seeing his excitement was simply priceless! And just watching the boys get excited about doing new things with their Grandma and the memories that they shared, down to just swimming in the swimming pool at the hotel are things that we still talk about to this day.
I guess that is why I’m so passionate about giving the gift of travel and the gift of experiences. I was blessed with parents who gave me and my sisters' experiences even more than things. We were very blessed to have had that time together to share and to bond and when we lost my Dad several years ago, during that time of solace, some of our fondest memories are of the experiences and the travel experiences that we shared.
So no matter where you are going if it is to Disney World, Houston Texas, the Caribean or to a local waterpark, give an experience - it’s the gift that will keep on giving. If the thought of putting together that experience is overwhelming, send me an email, I would love to plan it for you so that all you have to sit back and enjoy each other’s company!
Because - Love is the journey!
Have you ever heard, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” I know that I’ve said that before and I’ve heard that many times before. Your vacation should be fun and not wearing you down.
Sometimes we like to either plan everything for the moment to try to get it in just in case we never make it back there again. Or we have to see just one more thing. I know I’m guilty of that. I call it the over-achiever vacation syndrome. I’ve learned over the years to let it go, or I’ll go insane. I’m learning to make myself a well-balanced vacation.
You can do so much research on the internet on how to make your vacation less stressful and more relaxing that you will be stressed by trying to be less stressed! It’s CRAZY! From someone who has vacationed before the invention of social media, being attached via the internet 24\7, let me give you a few things that I’ve learned, ignored, and re-learned over the years.
DETACH - We all need to detach and live in the moment. When the kids were little I wanted to video and photograph every little moment of their lives when we were on vacation. Mark was the smarter one he always told me - “Let’s live in the moment instead of behind the camera.” It took me a while, however, I did learn to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I still have those pictures and if it were up to Mark and the boys there are too many still. However, I’ve lightened up the load over the years and lived in the moment. They don’t need to have every moment of their lives videotaped to relive. Every moment doesn’t have to be on social media for the world to see - sometimes it’s nicer to have things just between us. When we were kids we didn’t have a device to live on and when we went on vacation we all reconnected. Sometimes I think we all need to do that as well.
RELAXATION - Yes, build in that time. We are in a world today that everything is at warp speed and every moment has to be filled with something to do. When on vacation take some time off of and do something crazy, like read a book, take a nap, go swimming or try something new. Keep activities at a low tension - let’s slow it down….
When we do these things we start to relax and feel more recharged and in control again of life. That’s when the magic of the journey happens. Your favorite destination maybe a beach, or maybe a ski hill, or a European Countryside, it doesn’t matter as long as you detach and relax - the rest will come to you.
And until next time don’t forget that love is the journey!
You want that once in a lifetime vacation, that special honeymoon, or that special anniversary trip. You may want to go to a beach, or on a cruise, but you don’t want it to feel like just any other vacation. How can you put your own personality on it? Let’s take a look at a few options…
Before you leave home, purchase a small gift and pack it away. You can then give it to your sweetheart at a special moment. What a great way to surprise them with a special piece of jewelry or momento that will remind them of this special vacation.
How about a special dinner either on a beach or at a romantic location for just the two of you? Candlelight, or at sunset with torches of lights around you?
How about having rose petals on the bed when you arrive? Or on a certain day? Better yet, what about a bubble bath for two with rose petals?
You can also to the spa and have a massage for two. A lot of resorts have outdoor massages that you can have on the beach, or in a garden.
Perhaps you would like to have a special momento of this once in a lifetime vacation and would like to have a photographer take a session of the two of you. You can have this set up ahead of time.
Something that I like is taking a piece of resort stationery and write a love letter to your sweetheart. Write about how you are feeling right now at this moment. Then after you return home, I always say wait six months or so and give it to them to remind them that this wonderful time.
When I work with a couple I like to make sure that they have any little surprises or special touches. I can help them put together all the extras that take a vacation from ordinary to extraordinary. Helping create a romantic moment that you won’t forget, or surprising your sweetheart with a day trip to that one place that crosses off his or her bucket list is one the best parts of my business.
And until next time….
Love is the journey!
Do you ever hear yourself say, “One day I’ll take that vacation, but right now I just can’t.” Did you know that 53% of American employees have unused vacation time? Did you know there are 705 million total unused vacation days per year? That’s a lot of vacation time that went unused and wasted away, and more stress on more Americans.
When you have kids you are setting an example to them of what life is all about. And it’s great that you are showing them hard work, but shouldn’t you show them that life is also about fun? You are setting an example. Let’s take a look at most excuses. Money? We can all make more. Time - the clock is ticking the same amount every day. And the kids are growing up so fast, plus you never know what tomorrow may hold. I know so many people who say, “I’m waiting till I retire then I’m going on that trip….” and unfortunately something happens to them and they can’t. You are living today, enjoy the day! Life is a journey, love is a journey - enjoy the journey! We all have commitments, but can you get some help or cut back on some? If you want to take that trip or vacation, I’m sure that family, or a family friend can take the kids to that weekend activity. But I have work commitments. Isn’t it good once once is a while to show the kids that your career doesn’t own your life and that your life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. That’s a great example to show your kids, a great work and life balance. Plus when you get back and you are refreshed you are refreshed and are ready to live more in the moment.
Everyone talks about budgeting for vacations, I have a tip that I’ve found to help me over the years that I would love to share with you. Do you remember the days of the “Christmas Club”? I have a “Vacation Club” account at the bank. It’s a little savings account that is my go to. I put away a little here and a little there and it adds up so quickly! Before I know it I have enough for a vacation or a getaway and it didn’t hurt the pocketbook at all. For the same as a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Last but not least, come see a professional. You would be amazed with what we can do. We think of your vacation as our vacation. I know when working on a client’s vacation I put as much time and effort into it as if it was my own. Don’t get me wrong you can spend hours and hours on the internet looking at those sites and finding a “great deal” however you are just data to those sites. When you work with a travel professional, you are more than just data, you are a person who has spent time saving, wanting and dreaming about that special vacation just like we have and we realize it and want to make it as special as you do. I just love when someone comes to me and I make their vacation or honeymoon special. My favorite comment is, “All I had to do is pack, you truly did all the work for me.” Because my friends, love is the journey.
So summertime is almost over and so is that once in a lifetime vacation or getaway. There are a few ways that you can remember your once in a lifetime vacation long after you have unpacked your suitcases.
Don’t just leave those pictures stuck in your phone! My new favorite app is FreePrints. You get upto the first 85 free prints per month plus shipping and handling. You can order more prints after that to be shipped with them. They also have Freeprints photobooks as well to keep your memories in a book if you want. Then you can either scrapbook those memories, or put them in an album so you remember your vacation long after you arrive back home.
When I was a child, my Mom had the traveling blanket. She picked up a blanket at a local store and everywhere that we went she would purchase a patch and sew it on, underneath it she would sew the year. That blanket sure had the patches! If you are not a sewer, my next favorite thing is to pick up a postcard from every stop along the way and create an album with it. There are albums that have two spots for 4x6 pictures on the top put in the post card when you get home and on the bottom use an index card to write down your favorite memory from that place along with a date.
Music, if there was music that you loved on your vacation, create a playlist of your favorites. The last time that we went to Jamaica we found a new love of Reggae, and our favorites have become a playlist that we listen to. It takes us right back to Jamaica.
I’m a t-shirt kind of girl. I like to get a t-shirt to remember where I’ve been. We took our honeymoon back in 1999 and I still have my t-shirts from then. Yes, I still wear them it reminds me of that wonderful time. For every romantic vacation and place that I just NEED to remember I get a t-shirt, baseball cap, or even a sweatshirt to remember it. Sometimes it’s wonderful to just put it on and remember those moments, while listening to the music of that vacation.
Long after the vacation is over, you sometimes need to remember the journey. The journey is not always just the place that you arrived at, but the memories that you made along the way. That’s where the music, t-shirts, pictures, postcards and memories all come into play to remember the journey not just the destination. Because at the end of the day, Love is the journey.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry…. Here are some of my top travel safety tips.
1:) Plan your travel with a travel professional who is knowledgeable in the area that you are planning on going to.
2:) Leave a copy of your itinerary along with a copy of your passport with a family or friend who is trustworthy.
3:) Make an extra copy of your passport and id’s incase they are stolen. Leave them in your suitcase.
4:) Once you are at your hotel or resort, lock your passport in your room safe.
5:) If you leave the resort or hotel, only take enough cash for the day. Leave the rest locked in your room safe.
6:) Lock all jewelry in your room safe. Any really expensive pieces, better yet just leave them at home.
7:) If you decide to venture out on your own, check with the hotel concierge for a reputable driver or taxi service.
8:) Once you decide to go out on your own make sure that you let either the front desk or concierge know where you are going, when you are returning and your cell phone number in case of emergencies.
9:) If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it on vacation. In other words, go with your gut! Use your common sense, if it feels sketchy, walk away.
10:) Don’t be afraid to say NO! If you don’t feel comfortable with having someone help you with your bags, or you don’t want that next drink, just say no. Again, go with your inner gut feels, you know best!
And until next time…
Love is the Journey
This past Tuesday I had a Facebook travel tip about using vacation time. I have to admit that when I looked at the startling statistics about how many hours are left “on the table” by Americans each and every year I started to wonder why. And as they say, curiosity got the best of me so I had to research it more.
As Americans we are a country of vacation time hoarders. We love to hoard our vacation time! Our favorite thing to do is to use them around a holiday weekend to extend it. Let’s face it, how many employers now have a policy that you don’t get paid for the holiday if you take a vacation day before or after the holiday? It’s starting to become a trend. I hear it from many of my friends. We end up hoarding our time and then end up losing it because we are too “busy” to use it. According to Project: Time Off Study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 206 Million of these days were lost in 2016. That means that these days were not paid out, or rolled over in 2016. Basically, the average employee donated $604 back to their employer. But why didn’t we take them?
FEAR! According to the study most Americans don’t take the time off because they are afraid of the extra work when they come back, or even worse being replaced when they do.
However the study shows just the opposite. That just perhaps the relationship with you and your employer needs a break to “make the heart grow fonder”. Employees with 10 or less days of vacation taken a year are less likely to receive a raise or bonus in the next three years than someone who takes 11 or more days of vacation.
Vacation time helps both the employee and the employer. In the study 82 percent of managers agged that it improved employees morale, health and wellbeing. 81 percent said that it alleviate burnout. Your employer wants and NEEDS you to be focused. 78 percent of manager said that vacation improves that upon return, 70 percent also agreed that the employees’ job commitment improved, Here’s the amazing statistic 64 percent managers feel that it makes employees more willing to put in long work hours when needed.
That last statistic doesn’t surprise me, when you get away you get refocused and reenergized. Your personal life gets back in realignment and you are able to make that commitment to yourself and your relationships. When you are able to do that you are refreshed and ready to go in your professional life.
My parents had always saved their entire lives for a fifth wheel motorhome that they were going to drive cross country when they retire. They were going to come up to Wisconsin for the summer months and go to Arizona and to the southern states in the winter months. My Dad was retired, and my Mom was still working when my oldest, Ryan was born. About three months later my Dad was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. He lived for about three years after that. They were talking about taking a cruise to Alaska just before he passed.
After my Dad passed, my Mom ended up taking many journeys with my sister to Europe and Egypt. They also took that cruise to Alaska. Now, as much as she enjoyed those vacations with my sister, I know how much she missed my Dad on those vacations and experiencing them with him.
Why am I bringing this up? Because life is short. You need to take time out to take care of yourself and your relationships. Experience life, whether it be that once in a lifetime vacation, or that dinner date that you’ve been putting off. You don’t know what life has instore for you next.
Although we have taken many vacations with our kids and we have done many fun activities together as a family, our oldest is getting to that age where he has his own activities and his own schedule and can’t go like he use to with us. I always thought I had at least 18 summers to plan that awesome once in a lifetime vacation. Well, I was wrong I didn’t, it turns out I had about 14. Now, it’s hard to get him to go away with us. Between friends, and now he has a part time job, yeah, it’s not as easy as it once was.
When the kids were little, we took them to Disney World. Everyone said, wait till they are older to remember it. I’m so glad I didn’t listen and took them when I did. My younger boys may not remember as much as I wish they did, however I do. And let’s admit it, as parents when we take our kids to Disney World, as much as it’s for them it’s for us to see Disney through their eyes as well. If I would have “waited till they would have remembered” for the big visit to Disney World, we never would have gone. My oldest probably wouldn’t have been able to go with us, and the younger two are not into Disney as much, not like they were when they were four. I’ll never forget their faces when they saw their favorite characters for the first time.
No matter if you are a couple, or if you are parents with kids, don’t wait for a long time to take that vacation. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, make the memories today.
Because Love is the Journey.
This past week while walking around the back of my van, I tripped and fell. Normally I would catch myself, however this time I did not. And I ended up “kissing” the pavement. To be truthful I would rather kiss Mark, it’s a lot better, but I did fall on my face. My knees, and my face had road rash. But the worst part was chipping and fracturing my front tooth. Thank goodness Mark was there to help me back up. I was foggy, and had a headache for days. Plus I’ve been in and out of the dentist’s chair. Now why am I bringing this up in a travel article? Well because one of the things Mark said was “At least we aren’t on vacation.” He does have a point what would we do if we were on vacation? It started me thinking about why I get travel protection.
Yes, if I were on one of my vacations out of the country, and my health insurance doesn’t cover me abroad, or if it does, would it be at a lower limit? What if the injury was bad enough, would I have enough money to cover myself for an emergency evacuation?
If it happened before my vacation and my fall would have been bad enough that I couldn’t travel, or what about a sickness, severe weather, or even a terrorist attacks?
There are other ways that it would help me, what if my baggage and passport are stolen? My credit card has some travel benefits built in, but doesn’t have many of the benefits of a third party plan. A third party plan can even help you with a lost prescription, assistance with finding lost baggage, and if your passport is lost while traveling abroad help you find the nearest U.S. Embassy to replace that lost passport. And if I needed medical attention they would be able to help me find the closest medical facility up to U.S. standards.
Travel Protection isn’t the most glamorous part of planning a vacation, however it is something that you do have to think about.
And until next time…
Love is the Journey.