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.
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.
Did you ever wonder what you can bring in your checked luggage? I know the liquids rule and don’t bring knives and weapons, however on my last flight I was stuck behind someone in security for quite a while. They were emptying their carry on and it was amazing what all was in there. I don’t know if you remember the Mary Poppins movie where she kept bringing things out of her bag, like a lamp, but that’s how this felt. They literally had everything to make a four course meal in this bag. That made me start to wonder what can I really bring in my carry-on?
It really amazed me what you can and can not bring on. The one that made me chuckle the most was bread machine. Don’t ask me why, but it just did. I guess that I don’t think of taking a flight and making bread. But there are all kinds of things that I know I wouldn’t of thought that would have made it through security. Like knitting needles, sewing needles, crochet hooks, and even small scissors.
Having kids, and if you’ve ever traveled with young children you know that a balloon can be fun for them. It’s nice to know that a balloon that is deflated can go through security as well as a small bottle of bubbles under 3.4 fl ounces. Think of the entertainment in the airport you will get so you can save the electronics, etc for the plane. Another great item to bring for them to play with are glow sticks and as long as they are under 3.4 fl ounces they are approved. However, leave that foam toy sword in the checked luggage or the TSA will be taking that for the garbage.
If you want to look beautiful when you get off the plane you can bring your hair clippers and your hair dryer, flat iron and your bobby pins in your carry on.
Now if you want to bring your Harry Potter Wands, those are okay as well, and so are your headphones, hookahs, and handcuffs. The shock collars are allowed and so are Segways, but I’m not sure what your airlines policies are.
As you can see the TSA has a VERY LONG list for you to go through if you are wondering if it’s allowed or not. It’s always important to go through it. They keep it updated and they tell you if you can bring it in your carry-on, or checked luggage. And as you can see with the Segway, they don’t know what the airlines policies are with some of the items - so if you have a question on it you are best to double check on that item before bringing it.
For a complete list of what is allowed, go to the TSA’s website CLICK HERE
And until next time, don’t forget that 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.
I have a deep dark confession to make. Mark and I haven’t been on a weekend getaway ALONE in a long time. We were busy with the kids activities, scouts, work, and just about anything that you could think of.
Then it happened, I said enough is ENOUGH!! We need to get away. Grandma took the boys, Mark took a half day on a Friday and we just bummed, I always wanted to go to a local festival, then we came home, packed a bag, I booked a hotel and we left.
Why am I telling you this? Because I feel like travel is like another muscle, if we don’t use it we lose it. There is a sense of adventure in all of us that we like to fulfill. There is a reason that most of us look at others vacation photos on social media, or watch shows on destinations. We love the idea of going somewhere new and having new experiences. Whether it’s a weekend road trip or a week’s or longer vacation to an exotic destination, we all have a need to explore.
The “EXCUSE” factor. Just like we have an excuse factor of going to the gym, we have an excuse factor of why we don’t want to go on that vacation or that getaway. When I don’t feel like going to the gym, the first day I’ll give myself an excuse and the next day the excuses just get easier to handle. It’s the same with travel. These are my favorite excuses, and the reasons why I really can’t use them:
“We can’t get away, what if the kids have an event that comes up?” It’s not like they don’t have fifty more, and I have someone who can fill in for us at that event. I have a close friend who misses an event once a while and as she puts it, “ I go to almost all of their events, they know that I love them, and if I miss a game or an event it’s okay.” I totally agree, in their entire life they are not going to remember if you missed one or two games or scouting events or band practices. Plus when we get back we will parent better and that will be better for our kids.
“Well, I can’t get away because of work.” That one is my favorite, especially in today’s day and age. We have internet, wifi, and data hotspots. If there is an emergency we can be reached. Don’t get me wrong there are weekends or weeks that we definitely can’t go, but for the most part, we can. Did you realize that 25 percent of Americans took ZERO vacation days last year?? Wow!! For a society where we can connect from anywhere, it seems like we never leave to even try out that theory. And when we get away we come back refreshed and inspired with new ideas, what employer doesn’t want you at a higher working level?
“Well, I don’t have the money for it.” That excuse is there too, I always tell Mark, let’s save for it, a vacation\getaway fund is something that we have always had in the background. It’s something that is a necessary to save for. I know that I’ve said it before, but when we travel alone we spend time together and we get back into alignment with each other. When we get home, we get along better - we communicate more, and we parent better. I tell him all the time even when the kids are gone, I want to still be on the go, exploring. It’s the journey that life is about, not just the destination.
I remember a commercial on TV that said, “A body in motion stays in motion.” The same can be said about travel, “A soul that explores stays exploring.”