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!
Let's face it, after you’ve been together for awhile, perhaps you have a couple of kids, the career, and everything else, you want to feel like newlyweds. Especially in the bedroom - that’s the biggest reason why we take the romantic vacation away. Here’s a few tips to set the mood for the two of you to enjoy each other’s company….
Most of us love to go the beach. Find us a beach resort, or a cruise and we are happy. However, that may not the setting for everyone. What setting made the two of you feel sexy. Is it a night out in the city? Is it exploring a new land? What makes you feel sexy?
When picking out your room, splurge a bit on the accommodations so that you WANT to stay in your room. Get the king size bed, or the in room jacuzzi. And when picking a resort, stay away from the family resorts, choose one that has more of an adult feel. You left the kids at home, you don’t want to see everyone else’s kids. It’s harder to “get in the mood” when the kid at the table next to you is throwing his spaghetti on the floor.
When planning activities and excursions or day trips, don’t over book yourself on your romantic vacation. Remember that you will want to rest up and get some downtime to enjoy each other’s company. You need to reconnect on all levels when you are away. You don’t need to go from sun up to sun down on excursions and activities. Pick something to do for the day for a few hours and then relax a bit. If you are a couple who feels sexier in the morning, pick afternoon activities. If you are a couple who feels sexier in the afternoon pick a morning activity. And if you really enjoy this romantic getaway and the location makes you feel sexy most likely you will want to return and you can then go see something else in that location so you don’t have to do it all in one vacation.
Most importantly, disconnect from the outside world. Yes, put down the smartphone, email, and everything else. If you must check email and take calls, talk ahead of time and setup a mutually agreed upon time to do that. And if you are going to check in on the kids, make sure that you have a window of time that you have setup with their caretaker. Check in, let them know that you are good and get back to being newlyweds.
Things might not always go as planned, from getting there to the weather, to activities. Sometimes you need to go with the flow. And that’s okay. Enjoy the moment - who knows how the romance will flow.
And until next time remember, Love is the Journey.
I have a little secret, I love to read People Magazine. Yes, it has all the juicy gossip plus it has great mysteries stories as well. This week while reading, there was an article about one of my favorite comedic actresses, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and her cancer recovery. She was stating how much she has to be thankful for. Including her friends, boys, and husband, Brad Hall. As I was looking at the pictures of her and her family the one thing that struck me was a caption under a picture of her and her husband that stated that she still refers to her husband of 30 years her boyfriend. How cool is that?
Then I started to think about marriage. I think that sometimes, and I know that I can even be guilty of this, we start to get into that “slump”. We start to go into automatic mode. You know, get up, get going for work, get the kids off to school, wait what’s for dinner? Then when you get home, there’s homework, a load of laundry, dinner, dishes and the list can go on and on. Throw in a work project or two and then the next thing you know your exhausted and falling asleep on the couch.
I know that I’m guilty of this, and I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is not afraid to voice his opinion that he wants his wife back. But after thinking more closely at it, and thinking about our life in general, sometimes I like having him as my boyfriend. I’m lucky enough that my parents gave me a great example of how important it was for them to spend time together in their relationship, and now I do that with my own husband.
When our kids were younger, we would ship them off to grandma’s for date night, or for a weekend away as much as possible. Sometimes a weekend away was a weekend away for the kids and we would stay home. Here’s the most important key to that, turn off the phone. I know it’s evil to say, but do you remember when you were dating and you didn’t pick up the phone on a date? Pretend for a few hours that you are dating. It’s fun!
To this day, there are certain songs that go on and we dance in the living room. When the boys were little they would want to dance with us, now they are still at the point where they are like, really? It’s almost fun to watch them cringe.
And now that they are old enough for us to have a date night and they can stay home alone if we don’t take at least one night out a week, they let us know. They are like, “Mom and Dad, aren’t you going out together this week?” And it’s not an all-nighter either. It’s sometimes just for a quick dinner, or maybe out for a drink. It’s funny how they realize how important that time is for us as well. I think that it’s something that we are teaching them, that our relationship is very important and if we nurture it we are able to be better parents and a better family.
So here’s to my boyfriend! I’m lucky enough to have married him and I’m lucky enough to enjoy this journey with him!
Because 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.
This is not a “cookie cutter” romance! I’m going to be honest with you - I’m not a “Bachelor or Bachelorette” fan. I know, I’m romance travel specialist, however, I’m honest Romance doesn’t come in a rose.
Yes, they make the dates look fabulous, and I would love to go to all those locals, however my idea of romance doesn’t look quite like that. For Mark and I it looks somewhat different.
When we were first married, one of the most romantic things that he did was tell me pack your bags for the weekend. Pack a swimsuit, and a couple changes of clothes. Now it was early December in Wisconsin, and we were both in the holiday spirit. He booked two airplane tickets to Minneapolis and took me to the Mall of America for the weekend.
Another time, we went to Las Vegas, and he drove me down to Oatman, Arizona. What’s in Oatman you may ask? Well, it’s a very cool old town filled with tons of history, which includes the Oatman Hotel where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned back in the day. I love and geek out about history. Plus I geek out over feeding the wild burros in the streets. My parents use to take us there as kids and I have to admit it’s still one of my favorite places to visit. He knows that and when we go to Vegas he still rents a car and takes me there.
Mark likes to visit distilleries, and has turned me into a huge fan as well. We visit them whenever we go somewhere new. When we were in the Grand Cayman, we took a distillery tour. Seven Fathom Rum was one of our favorite stops. We also visit local breweries, and make a weekend away of them.
Mark also loves bowling. It’s one of true loves. When we are somewhere out of town, we go check out the bowling alleys. Last year when we were with the kids in Philadelphia, we were on a trolley and he saw a bowling alley. The next afternoon we all stopped and checked it out. On our cruise - the last afternoon they had stick bowling and Mark and I had a fun game together.
So as you can see the romance is where you make it together. Don’t get me wrong, the beaches, mountain tops, and exotic locations are great but they aren’t the true romance. It’s where you find it together, bowling, drinking, exploring history or just feeding the wild asses!
Don’t forget Love is the Journey.
When you are married and especially when the children are little it’s really easy to spoil the kids and not your sweetheart. However you should think about leaving the spoiling of the kids to their grandparents and spoil your sweetheart instead. In the end, you’ll be giving your kids a bigger gift. You want your children to grow up in a home that is happy, secure, and loving, that’s what will make them most happy and “spoiled”.
When you “spoil” your sweetheart and your relationship by putting them first it shows your children what a great relationship is made of. Signs of PDA are a good thing for them to see. It’s good for them to see you holding hands, cuddling on the couch, kissing. It’s good for them to see what a positive good loving relationship looks like. I remember when my Dad came home every night my Mom gave him a hug and a kiss and asked him how his day was, and I’m an adult. These are lessons your child will take their entire life.
Make time for each other. At the end of the day, when the kids go to bed, take that hour to watch a TV show, or play a game or do something together that you enjoy. Don’t forget that you are a couple and not PARENTS during that time.
Sometimes when you are a couple and parents you start feeling like you are not coming first that you are last, and if you start giving of yourself selfishly to your spouse, you will see that they will give back to you and it will strengthen those bonds. It doesn’t take tons of money, just little acts of kindness, like when you were dating. Leave little notes for your sweetheart, give them little compliments, sneak a little kiss. It’s amazing how those little things can add up. Don’t nag for what you want, give what you want and see what you get in return.
As my kids are getting older, I’m realizing that it will once again be just Mark and I in a few short years. I’m thankful that I have a sweetheart that wants to be with me and take the time to work on our relationship. We make the time for date night, we still sit on the couch together. Don’t get me wrong we still have our disagreements, and as we tell the boys, “Our marriage may not be perfect, but it works because we keep working on it.”
And until next time remember Love is the Journey.
I think just about everyone has heard of the show, “The Bachelor”. It puts a guy and one of many women in a perfect local for a perfect date. And of course they fall “in love”. And yes, while watching it and folding laundry, or washing dishes you can say, “Well yeah, you can have a perfect romance if you just have that perfect situation and not have to deal with everyday life, it’s like having instant gratification.”
Sometimes I think our everyday romances need that as well. Sometimes we need to take time out from that laundry, dishes, job and kids to make time for that “instant gratification”. Sometimes we need that getaway, that hidden kisses, or that “rose ceremony” that gives us that smile and reminds us of that feeling that we had when we first fell in love. Because what we are looking for really isn’t instant gratification, but the feeling of what we felt like when we first fell in love with our sweetheart. And let’s face it if it feels good, we’ll do it again and again.
Yes, I say it all the time “Love is a journey.” And although it is a journey, the journey is made up many moments good and bad put together. I know that when I look back on the years with Mark, it’s not all the “rose ceremony” moments, I also look at the times that we went through like staying up all night feeding newborn twin boys. It’s learning how to grow with each other as we change and grow as individuals. It’s also Mark sneaking me out for a date night for martini’s and a comedy show because he knows I LOVE a good laugh. It’s the entire journey, not just the vacations together (although I do love sitting on a beach…) or the wedding day, or the day our kids were born, it’s all the mundane days in between. That’s what truly makes up the journey.
So if you need and want and are looking for the “instant gratification” moments with your sweetheart, don’t feel bad. It’s not that you don’t love your journey, it’s just sometimes we need that feeling again. It’s not a bad thing, and we shouldn’t feel bad about it. It feels good, and we should enjoy that part of the journey.
And until next time - don’t forget - 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.