In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘vacation’

Moderating Family Vacations

 

cruiseIf you are like me, you love the idea of family vacations. Then you realize all the work you have to do as the mom and primary planner/packer/ organizer of said vacation. As I am writing this, I’m getting ready to head off on vacation and have a mountain of laundry, packing and cleaning to do before we leave. However, I take comfort in knowing  this time,  I can actually get to relax and be on vacation!

The only vacation where Mom’s get pampered

This vacation we are going on a cruise!  I have found cruises to be truly restful and restorative. Unlike other vacations where meal planning, itinerary and accommodations are still mom’s domain. With a cruise, once you set foot on the ship, you are received of your typical mom duties. There is an entire staff of people who will cook, clean, and do your laundry. For a few days you are relieved of meal planning, activity itinerary, and chauffeur responsibilities. All you have to do is step out of your room and well…nothing, you are already there. Go get dinner, see a show or sit in the sun.

I you are like me and have difficulty getting a babysitter. The child care services for most cruises are available for no additional fee. Trust me, the kids don’t want to leave their “Kid’s Club.” Everything in these areas are designed to cater to and occupy your children, giving you some needed free time. Not in a guilty stealing five minutes to run to the store without the kids sort of way. You are free to do absolutely nothing.

Once this concept hits, you it is life changing. Yes, some cruises, like Disney, can be pricy. However, you are almost guaranteed a great, restful experience and some quality family time with limited distractions. To me these days are worth their weight in gold.wp-1451440231899.jpg

There are a few things to keep in mind when cruising to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Don’t be bothered by the motion of the ocean

If you are prone to motion sickness, (like I am when my husband drives) you will want to pack some medication like Dramamine or Bonine. I like Bonine, you only need a half or a quarter of a pill to work effectively and it doesn’t make you as drowsy as Dramamine. Most large ships have powerful stabilizers that will prevent severe rocking. Also your body adjusts after about a day, so you might only need medication for day 1 of your cruise.

Research shore excursions

Depending on your itinerary, there are several shore exclusions to choose from. In some travel destinations going it alone can leave you victim to locals looking to pray on tourists. The cruise approved trips might cost more but they are backed by the cruise line. This also relieves you from the responsibility of having to find a way to get back to the ship after the excursion, which may be a problem if you go it alone.

That being said there are some good options for non-cruise shore excursions. Based of reviews some of these are offered at a lower price and can offer more than those from a cruise line. However, I would caution you to thoroughly research these offerings before booking anything. Likewise, keep in mind the political and economic state of the location where the excursion is offered.

Participate in theme or formal night

I know this adds a lot of extra items to pack but how often do you get the opportunity to dress like a pirate?  If your cruise has a formal night this is a great opportunity to get professional formal pictures. Let’s be honest, who has time to get this done at home? Not only are you creating  a special memory but you get a chance to get all dolled up and maybe even visit the ship spa in preparation!

Disney cruises have a pirate-themed night, and other lines offer Black & White nights or Tropical theme nights. These will vary depending on length, itinerary and cruise line.  If your cruise has a theme night have fun with it. It might seem strange at first to dress up as an adult, but it is a great way to make memories and have some awesome pictures to boot. Take the chance to channel your inner pirate and have fun with it. You won’t be sorry.

Don’t have to stay stuck in your cabin

There are plenty of activities throughout the ship. Plus, you can use it as a learning opportunity for your children. Ask about scheduling a ship tour. Some cruises will offer “a meet the captain” or “tour the bridge” event. It is amazing experience to see what a coordinated effort it takes to make the ship run efficiently.

Don’t feel guilty about the Kids Club

On our first cruise we felt guilty about putting our daughter in the nursery so we can have one dinner as a couple. Don’t. You need a vacation too and on board their babysitter at your disposable. They are specifically trained to care for your children and even if you are at dinner or the spa you are never more then a few decks away. If you have older kids they are in for a treat. There are fun activities and events every hour to keep your kids have a blast. Just don’t be hurt when they ask to go back to the Kids Club the next night.

Remember you don’t have to do anything

This is the only vacation that I know of where you don’t have to do anything if you choose and no one will be disappointed in you. No driving to visit remote relatives, trying to work around other peoples schedule and getting the guilty phone call when you didn’t visit your cousin Jim your last visit.

Take the pressure off yourself, don’t worry about pleasing everyone or seeing everything and just chill. On one of our cruises after having our son I was in such a mommy mode that I kept doing everything for everyone. That was until the wait staff stepped in and cut food up FOR ME! That was my cue to relax and let them handle it.

 

 

 

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7 Ways to Save While Planning Your Vacation

7 ways to save on your next vacationSo you went on summer vacation.

Had a fantastic time and made a ton of wonderful memories. You arrive home unpack your suitcase and there it is. Staring at you like a dog waiting for dinner( Which mine are doing as I write this)…The credit card bill. You know you need to open it but really don’t want to face the damage you have done.

In your head you run a quick tally of what you think you might have spent on vacation. That souvenir T-shirt, drinks at dinner, the novelty tote bag…did I really spend that much? It is all adding up in your brain and it comes to more then you expected. While we are away it is so easy to lose track of spending. We tell ourselves “I’m on vacation I can spend fast and free.” We live it up and pretend that there is no bill to come home to. It’s fun and freeing for the moment. Then the moment ends and the bill comes.

I’m not saying this to be Debbie Downer, only that I have done this myself. Have spent more on vacation then I should have and had to dig myself out of debt upon returning home. It puts a damper on your happy memories and makes you wary of relaxing the purse strings on your next trip away.

But life shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to enjoy out vacation without the fear of getting in debt hanging over our head. With a little planning this could be the case and believe me you will enjoy your vacation a whole lot more knowing there is no ballooning credit card bill waiting in your mailbox.

Here are 7 ways to plan out your vacation and save a little money in the process.

  1. Book your vacation as far in advance as possible – This give you ample time to save for the trip. You will be completely aware of the true cost of your vacation and can make adjustments in your household spending to put aside for the cost of your travels.
  2. Be as flexible as possible with your travel dates – This will save you money in airfare, car rental and hotel bookings. You can shop around for the lowest prices based on the date.
  3. Monitor your travel bookings to see if the fare goes down in price -With many travel sites and companies if you see that the price is cheaper, they will allow you to rebook the fare at the lower price. If the price drops in the first 24 hours many airlines will allow you to rebook at a lower price and refund the difference without change fees.
  4. Prepay your vacation – This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked. Even if you pay a small amount per month towards your vacation, that small amount overtime adds up! It can take the sting out of the full vacation bill.
  5. Investigate before buying dining, photo, or beverage packages – For some families this may be a savings. However, in most cases there are many stipulations to these programs that prevent them from really saving you anything. Find out before you go and don’t sign up for these programs on a whim or under pressure.
  6. Look for no/low cost souvenirs – Do you really need another fridge magnet or coffee mug? Look for souvenirs that cost little or no money but will hold all the memory of your vacation, like a coaster from your favorite restaurant or postcard of your most beloved attraction.
  7. Have a Staycation – During 2008 when there was massive job loss, and financial uncertainty, the Staycation became the new vacation. Look around your town, your city or your state even. Are there local spots that want to see but never got a chance? Is there a great attraction within a days drive from your home? Explore the world right outside your front yard. Forgo the hotel stay and save yourself a bundle.

Mini Moments of Spring

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Joy! Cheer! Spring is here! Do you feel the new life growing around you? Is the warmer weather a welcomed change? Or is the reopening of farmer’s markets your heart song? Whatever piece of spring speaks to you, it doesn’t take long for us to build grand plans and then months from now find ourselves miserably surrounded by unmet expectations.

How do we enter spring with intention and enjoy our moments with family, friends and nature?

First, identify your TOP priority for this spring season. Working out? Spending time with family outside? Refreshing a room in your home? Gardening? Going on vacation? Then center your choices around the priority.

Why? Because spring will be over in 45 days, at least for me June marks summer. Therefore, you must stay focused or you’ll accomplish nothing.

How? If working out is a priority then ensure you block time 3-6 times a week to accomplish your routines. One neat part of being focused on a priority is your other interests will naturally feed into it without you feeling frazzled or pulled into a million directions. Take the workout example, spending time outside with family will naturally occur because your body will crave the outdoors as your fitness increases. If vacation and working out are both priorities, then make vacation your top priority. There are a lot of details that go into planning vacations and it’d be a nice change to not be worn out the week leading up to departure time! You can still workout three times a week for 30 minutes and move your fitness in a healthy direction without overwhelming your schedule.

Spring does not last long. Rather than over packing your schedule, focus and actually stop to smell the roses 😊.

New $$$ Poll! Which things are worth spending money on?

Sometimes it is true that you get what you pay for. What items or services do you feel this is the case? Here in this new poll we find out what most of you think is worth spending money on. We can all learn from each other so please expand on there answer in the comments. You can see mine below.

Clothes, Candy and Grand Central

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Spent our final day in NYC and the kids were fantastic! I mean their little feet walked 20 city block in the pursuit of candy.

We started our last day at the iconic Macys were I actually found some deals on summer clothes. Following that we  walked through Bryant Park and took in the amazing architecture of the New York Library. (All I could think of was Ghostbusters. )

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From there we went to Grand Central Station. More breathtaking architecture. You can stand in the middle of all the busyness and image what it was like ages ago.

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My kids wanted to see Dylans Candy Bar so bad and we didn’t get to do it Sunday or Monday so we trucked it 20 blocks. But I gotta admit it was so oooooh worth it. It was 3 floors of candy yall! Yes healthy eating went out the window this trip.

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Finally we took the kids to the LEGO store so we could catch a glimpse of the flatiron building. The building was amazing to see up close. The lego store was underwhelming. Orlando was better but it was worth seeing the flatiron.

Today we head out for a scary drive to the airport the a late flight home. Thanks for traveling with me.

The Magic of Magic Bands for Moms

waltI have to say since my daughter was born, about 8 years ago, I have made it a priority to travel to Disney dozens of times. I love it and feel like it is the perfect place for me to escape. It amazes me to see the progression of our experiences in the park.

Since I am the primary Disney addict and activity planner, I would pour over the map of each park, plan out routes and list the itinerary for the day. My goal being to get the most done in our times at the park. It was fun and we have made some fantastic memories, but we also have a lot of memories of standing in line waiting for attractions. This past trip all of that changed.

As technology has played a greater influence on our lives, Disney has integrated new technology and forms of media into the park experience. I first noticed the change about two years ago when the “Magic Band” concept was being tested at some of the resorts. I also noticed it in use on the Disney Cruise line. It was great in keeping track of my children in the kids club. Quick, convenient and easy to use.

During our park visits, I had downloaded the “My Disney Experience” app on my phone. I previously used something similar  but this app was much more streamline and offered my information about the parks magic hours, attractions and wait times. Where I found it most helpful was in dining reservations. For this purpose, the app was a goldmine. We would casually walk past others waiting to be seated since we had made our restaurant reservations via the app. No muss, no fuss, and most of all, no wait.wpid-20150718_210304-1.jpg

Fast forward to today. During my most recent trips in 2015, the Magic Bands were fully in use at the resorts and what I thought would be a hassle, turned into a pleasure. For me part of the fun of Disney is the anticipation of the trip, so planning out our itinerary using the My Disney Experience was a real joy for me. Having our attractions and dining reservations set up months in advance took much of the pressure off the activities director, aka mom. It made the park visit so much more relaxing and pleasant. I found we enjoyed the park at a more leisurely pace, since it was our ride times and dining were already reserved for us.

In addition, the fast pass lines were never too long. This freed up time for us to enjoy other attractions we would have missed out on in the past. This time not being stuck in line for hours made the whole park visit so much better. We also did all our dining reservations via the “My Disney Experience” app. The one downside to this plan was that we ended up eating in a lot more sit-down restaurants, which in turn caused us to spend a lot more money on food. Before we would have been forced to go to some counter service spots. Going forward we will have to be more selective about which sit-down restaurants we go to and plan to bring more snacks with us.

In my opinion the “Magic Bands” and the “My Disney Experience” has transformed my time at Disney. I have a new appreciation for the parks since I can pick my head up from the park map, get away from my self imposed itinerary and deal with more reasonable lines. I can’t wait to see what lengths this new technology will go to in creating a better Disney vacations.

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