So to me, the most stressful time of the year is the holidays! Why? It’s the decorating, having to be here and there, and to be honest all of the prepping and cooking. Sometimes as much as I LOVE all of the traditions it’s so overwhelming that I want to put my head under the covers.
Plus, I have to admit being in Wisconsin in the winter - well it’s not my favorite. My idea of a “White Christmas” would not be with snow, but with a white sandy beach. So, why would celebrating the holidays on a Caribbean vacation or cruise be a great alternative? Well, let me explain:
Having to get all of the house decorated - many hours and multiple stressors. Don’t get me wrong everyone LOVES putting the tree up, the ornaments on. They love putting up the manger scene, and all of the decorations around the house. However, come King’s Day in January, it’s me begging everyone to take everything down and back to the basement. Oh, let’s not forget the Tetra maze in the basement corner that I take apart, put together twice during that time of year.
Next, let’s talk about all the gatherings, and figuring out the “schedule”. You know what I mean figuring out what house and when you have to be where. Although we are totally blessed to have all of our family members with us to celebrate it’s hard to figure out the schedule to make everyone happy.
Lastly, all of the cooking between the baking, and the prepping of the big meals - not to mention all of the clean-up. The clean-up is the worst part!
Now let’s talk about celebrating in the Caribbean, first of all - out of the snow and in the sand. My personal favorite! That’s a gift right there. You are with your family at a resort that is decorated by someone else. They put up and take down the decorations. (YAY!) You will actually get to focus on your family and spending that special time together. You don’t have to worry about who’s going to clean up the table after you, or who’s going to clean up the house. You can actually spend time together talking, or doing something special like swimming with dolphins, or a sunset catamaran cruise. The memories of that holiday will live on for years to come. Much longer than that video game will.
You have someone cooking that holiday meal for you, and the best part - you don’t have to clean up the kitchen afterward. You just get to go create more family memories together, the true meaning of the holidays.
Each Island has its own holiday traditions. How wonderful would it be to watch how other cultures celebrate the holiday? What a great gift to share with your children and loved ones. Like seeing the Junkanoo Festival in Jamaica or attending the “Candles by Candelight” Celebration in Barbados. Surely a way for the family to talk about this holiday for years to come. And isn’t that what the holidays and Christmas is truly about, the memories.
Yes, that’s a question that I get all of the time. What can I bring through security at the airport? Here’s a quick list of things that are approved to go through security…
Makeup - any liquid makeup that follows the 3 oz rule including foundation, mascara, and eyeshadows. Power makeup can be brought as well, and any powder-like substances greater than 12 oz (350 mL) must be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening. Don’t be alarmed if the the containers are opened and you are required to have extra screenings.
Nail Polish - yes, if it follows the 3 oz rule.
Nail Polish Remover - yes if follows the 3 oz rule
Perfume - yes if it follows the 3 oz rule
Shampoo\Conditioners\Body Soaps Yes if it follows the 3 oz rule.
Disposable Razor - yes
Nail Clippers - yes
Safety Pins - yes
Scissors - if packed in the carry on they must be four (4) inches from the pivot point
Tweezers - yes
Blood Sugar Test Kit - yes just let the TSA know that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin, and insulin in any form or dispenser MUST be clearly identified.
Inhalers - yes the TSA recommends but does not require that inhalers be labeled to facilitate the security process.
These are just some of the basic items that I get questions on. Sometimes there are items that you may have questions on that aren’t on this list. You can check for them on the TSA’s website here:
And for those of you wondering, what is the liquid’s rule for the TSA:
“You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.
Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.”
Hopefully, this will help answer some of your questions on what you can and can not bring the next time you are flying.
And until next time - happy travels!
I always heard that I’ll have 18 summers to do things with my kids. Well, I have to say, even being a travel adviser that’s not always the case. This past Spring Break, my 15-year-old didn’t come with us on that family vacation. There were a couple of reasons. First, he didn’t want to go on a cruise ship, (yes he is my child) and second, he already has his “things” to do. Now could I have forced him to go and have him sit and pout and ruin the vacation for the rest of us, yes, but I didn’t think that it was fair to my other two and to my husband, me and to the oldest.
This made me realize something, we always said that we were going to put off that big vacation until they were older for them to enjoy it more, or to remember a part of it. Or we were going to save for that big thing first and then take the big vacation. As I’m getting closer and closer to letting one child go on his own I’m realizing that the memories that I wanted to create weren’t always just for him, but for me.
When the boys were 4 and 8 we took them to Walt Disney World. Some people told me that they were too young and that they won’t remember it. True, they only remember tidbits here and there, but I’m so glad that I took the time to go. I have the memories that last, and I can recall them to my kids and someday my grandkids. If I would have waited until now, my oldest would definitely not go - he hates large crowds. And my younger two, well they are out of the “magical” stage - they don’t get into the characters like they did when they were younger. So, yes, I spent that time and money for a vacation memory more for me, but I’m glad I did that. They will watch the home movies, look at the pictures, hear the story of how they marched at the end of the parade with the characters and how we had a wonderful time.
This summer we are taking another family vacation, and this time he is going with us. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to having all of my boys with me. There will be the “Mom… Mommmm” and as much as at the moment I might be “Uggh” it’s well worth every moment. As I tell Mark now, I want to take all of these last vacations as our boys are getting into those teenage years. Once the jobs, girlfriends, and responsibilities start coming we can’t just take off on our two schedules, we will have more to accommodate. I want to show them the world and see it through their eyes still. I know that time is a very precious thing and something that money can’t buy. I need to spend that time with them while I have it.
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.