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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Playing Catch Up

Long time, no post. That's my usual M.O.   So don't take it personally! I'm just trying to get my life back in track.
I moved back to the Midwest, Orlando wasn't cutting it for me! It's a real shame because since then I have discovered some amazing deals for international travel that depart from there... Oh well!
Since I last posted I've moved back to Kansas City, become a manager of locally owned Salon & Spa, starting taking cooking classes for fun, and taken a few trips! 2 of those trips were just return visit to Orlando to see friends and enjoy EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival. The most recent one was #DISNEMAW3 and this year we went to Disneyland! It was amazing. Check out the next post to learn more about how to do Disneyland on a Dime!
My next big adventure is up in the air. I'm considering a couple of options. I have 7more countries to reach in the next 2 years if I'm going to hit my goal of "30 countries in 30 years". My thought was one more crazy backpacker's trip through Europe where I would hit Switzerland, Belguim, Wales, and Norway. Or I can take a cruise an try to visit the Bahamas, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico or Jamacia.
I already know that I'll be taking a cruise for my 30th birthday that will leave Venice and visit Croatia, Greece, and Turkey! I think its all doable... I just need to start planning.
Any way, it's good to be back! Expect several posts in the next few weeks. I've got tons to talk about. I've also started planning trips for friends at request, so lots of fun itineraries to post! Chat at you soon.
~Greet


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let the kids help!

Picture this: beautiful countryside, breathtaking adventures around every corner and just off to the side- there's you 12year old playing Fruit Ninja on their tablet!
Sounds frustrating, but that's the reality of our high tech world. It takes more than natural beauty and wonder to get our kids hyped up for your vacation.
However, there is hope! There's a lot of ways to get your children more involved in your next trip. Planning for a family vacation should be a whole-family process. Not only will it excite them for the coming adventure, it's a great life skill for when their out wandering on their own. So bring on the lil' vagabonds and let's get to it!

Step 1. Create the itinerary
I know this might be harder with the young ones, but it's important to be fair. You need to hit something for everyone and while you might know all there is to see in Washington D.C., the kids don't. So rent some travel DVDs or look up a few episodes of your favorite travel show. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Samantha Brown and she's done it all- Weekends in  your favorite US locales, European hotspots, even trips to central and South America!
Once the kids know what there is to see, have them create a list of their top 5 ( less if you're only going for a few days). Build your itineraries around these Must Do's. This way, everyone feels there's something for them.
Tip: If you find overlap: everyone wrote down "Go to the zoo"- add it to the itinerary, but still find a unique item on each kids list. It's says to that child "hey, this moment on the trip is all about you!" That's an awesome feeling for kids.
Tip: So you've got a teenager. - sigh- It happens to the best of them... Actually, it happens to all of them, sadly! And you've watched to videos, read the travel books, looked up all the Must Sees and they still don't have an item for the list? Get creative! Online research some bizarre or high tech tourist options. Maybe find the hottest, most hip restaurant in town- where their favorite actor eats"like all the time!" In short, con them! ;)

Step 2. Start a Countdown. This works great with younger kids. Create something visual that you can make a big ceremony of by ripping of each day. With the older ones, you might want to go high tech again. I use an app with built-in reminders for my trips. This might not be the exact thing your teen needs, but there are several count down apps to choose from.
This could be any iconic shape: Big Ben, The Space Needle, St. Louis Arch... Be creative!

Step 3. Save for Souvenirs. With little ones this might be harder or if you have an allowance set up. But if you create "piggy bank" type saving options for the kids that let them know all that money is money they can spend on the trip! For whatever they want!! It's a lot of freedom and a great way to build your trip up.
Tip: beware the teenager! Let them know that this fund is for fun on the trip. Just because they saved $40 in their fund does not mean that they can spend it on iTunes or apps. This is for something to remember the trip by!

Step 4. Make travel kits. Again, more for the little ones here; but if you're road trippin' it's a must! I suggest a combination of old and new. Make sure you take the security blanket or Mr. Stuffington, but also include new coloring books or trip specific bingo. If you're driving along Route 66, there are going to be things that you can only see there!
Tip: Target has $1 spot and there are some great options for creating an awesome Travel Kit!

Also: http://thefrugalgirls.com/2012/05/free-printable-travel-bingo-pages.html


Step 5. Relatable Vacation Reading. Some school assign summer reading lists -and you're welcome to go off of that when helping your kids find something for your trip. However, if you don't have a book picked out I suggest finding something that matches your destination! Actually, I do this for myself pretty often. I read Dan Brown's DaVinci Code right before going to Paris and it really added a cool layer to the sights I was seeing!

Step 6. Limit the technology. I'm not saying they can't keep their iPod or cell phone, but there's no reason they need their Laptop, SD, cell phone, iPod, tablet, Ereader, and portable DVD player... I say 1. And don't let me trick you! If one is taking their laptop and another wants the portable DVD player, but they each NEED their phones... They are playing you!

Step 7. Packing. Again, this is a bigger deal for the little kids... Then again, if you remind your teenager that these will be the pictures you're tagging them in on Facebook or Twitter- I bet that will get them REALLY involved! Just make sure you're monitoring, last thing you want is little Bobby packing all his awesome Dino tees and no undies.

Step 8. Prep the pets. If you're taking them with you, great! Let the kids help you pack their things. If they are getting a sitter, let the kids help you outline a schedule for them. If they are going to a Pet hotel, let the kids know what Fido is going to do on his own vacation!
Tip: make it fun, if you can! Maybe work out a doggy photo shoot where he spends a day at the spa or something equally funny. The kids will love to see that the dog was enjoying himself while all those pesky humans were away!

Step 9. Talk to the Teachers. If you are pulling them out for a day or two, it's not the end of the world. But by letting the teachers know, they might be able to assign something more interesting than the regular homework! Teachers are the most creative people I know, so give them a chance and they'll probably make your life a little easier.

Step 10. This is the last one: Give each person a job. Something to be responsible for throughout the trip! Maybe someone loads the suitcases every time. Or someone is in charge of the gps. Growing up, I like to be in charge of picking the lunch location! I'd spend at least an hour looking for every rest stop I thought would work. It was fun.

My final tip: research, Research, RESEARCH! You know your family better than anyone. Find the things you know are your style and be ready to make these the trips they talk about with their kids some day! 
Good luck and watch out for the teenagers... They're everywhere!!!!!

MIA in MCI

Sorry readers, I haven't meant to leave you alone for so long. Back in mid May I moved back to the Kansas City area and threw myself into the job hunt. It took longer than I though with my background but I've finally found a great position with Par Exsalonce Salon and Spa as a Guest Relations Lead. Basically I oversee training and operations of all non-service provider roles within the Main office (1 of 3). It's my hope to move up to all 3 locations by this time next year!
Currently I'm living with a roommate in Merriam, which is everything Orlando wasn't! Tons of local businesses (seriously, I eat way too much), awesome shops just minutes away, and I live in an actual house!! In a neighborhood!!!! It's awesome and I'm loving it. My roommate is somewhat of a challenge, personality wise but we're trying and the rent is too good to move.
So this big move definitely changes my travel plans! Sadly, my big trip this fall is off the table. I'm now going to a friend's wedding in mid October in Florida, so I'm turning that into a 5day-4nt excursion. It will include Disney, Universal, and Jacksonville.
Also, the annual Campout is back on! Now that I'm close enough to organize it, I can't wait. And my parents have offered to let me use their pop-up camper... For a fee. I have to clean and reorganize their storage issue! I don't mind. In fact, I've already started. So look forward to more camping posts this summer!
Finally, next year's annual DISNEMAW trip is going to California! Ryan and I are already scheming away, so be prepared for travel ralate tips on bookings as they happen... I just want to clear this up: while I no longer work for Disney, I do not plan to release any information they may allow you to cheap their systems. So if you're looking for that, take a hike! I have loyalties, and many of my good friends are still under the powers of their brainwash... I MEAN, they still work for the mouse. I wouldn't want to give away their secrets. Also, this blog is about travel- to all destinations. I don't want to just talk all Disney, all the time. That's what I do with Ryan! It's exhausting. ;)
Ok. That's all the announcements I have for now. More to come soon, I promise!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Updates

Many of you will remember my friend Holly from our trip to Italy last summer! She's a fellow vagabond and has recently returned from an amazing journey: 28 days, 11 flights, 4 countries, and more memories than you can shake a fist at. Over the next few days we'll be seeing some updates on her adventure. For now though I'd just like to share a few things.
1. Here's all the cool stuff Holly got me: 
2. I'm moving back to Kansas City in 1 week. The move is mostly to be closer to family, but I'm also hoping it will result in a better job which will allow for more travel.
And 3. For the move I will be road tripping all the way from Florida to Kansas, so that should make for a great post!
Look for more here real soon, because the month of silence was too long. I gotta catch up.
Happy Travels,
~Greet

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking forward to it ALL year!

The week has come to a close and I can honestly say that #DISNEMAW2 surpassed all my travel expectations. But I'm sure you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Well, #DISNEMAW2 is my 2nd annual trip where friends from K-State come to Walt Disney World for a visit. It's not always the same people and it's actually, unofficially the 3rd year; but it's always a good time.
So how does a good annual trip get started? Well it begins with people and places- shared interests, essentially! I live here in Orlando and one of my best friends, Ryan still attends K-State. We both share a love for all things Disney, so it makes sense that he would want to come for a visit. However, traveling alone is always more expensive then traveling in a group so he convinced some of his buddie to join him.
Now there's a formula to how many people you can take on an annual trip. I personally believe that any more than 8 people is just too many. That being said, it really depends on the type of travel you are doing. The number should correlate to the number of beds you have. If your room only sleeps 4 people, bringing 5 would be a bad choice! However, bringing 8 would still be wise since you can simply book 2 rooms.
Also, having an odd number isn't always a bad thing. You just need to know your travel partners enough to know who will want to be part of the group and who will need that "alone time".
Finally, you need to figure out tasks and events that will be the stable of the trip. Out example, we shared at least 1 sit-down meal a day. We made our reservations and made certain that everyone knew the when and where of ot all. If you wanted to go off and do your own thing- great! Go for it! Just make sure you're back here for "family time".
Oh and this might now seem like such an important thing- or maybe you think you're too cool for it- but create a matching tshirt! It really gives a sense of unity and team to you trip. We waited until the last day to wear ours but we got a lot of compliments on them and it was fun to explain the meaning of DISNEMAW- Disney+EMAW (every man a wildcat)
Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to next year! We're decide a Disney Cruise is where it's at. The title is going to be #DISNEMAW3 "A Pirate's Life for Me"!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Disneyland!

So the question on everyone's mind: How did I enjoy my first trip to Disneyland?! Answer: It was AMAZING!
What an experience?! And that right there is the difference between WDW and Dland. WDW is a destination, but Dland is an experience. That's why over 50% of guests at Dland are Annual Passholders. They are local and coming here is something they like to do as often as possible!
So you want to know my ratings? Well I'm not a Disney Blogger, but I will give you my top 5.
#5. The Monorail:
Due to a tragic accident in 2009, guests are no longer allowed to ride in the front cabin of WDW monorails. However, since Dland only has 1 track and no more than 2 trains at one time they still allow guests to the front. WHAT A VIEW?! The loop takes you from Tomorrowland over through California Adventure and The Grand Californian Resort to Downtown Disney and back again. Plus in the front you can have an amazing chat with the pilot.

#4. California Screamin':
This is not your average Disney coaster! Loops and barrel rolls have it living up to it's name and the soundtrack is killer too. We road it about half a dozen times and never waited more than 20minutes. It was a holiday weekend, so I found that to be amazing as well!

#3. FOOD!!!!:
All the food! It was so good. I didn't have a bad bite the whole trip. I wish WDW would get some of these restaurants over here. For Table Service we dined at Golden Vine Winery and Carnation Cafe. For quick service... Well I ate a lot, but my 2 favorites were Pizza Port (huge portions!) and The Cozy Cone Motel (everything is served in a cone!).
My chili CONE queso
My "not bad" face when trying a PB&J drink at Carnation Cafe.

#2. Street-mospher:
This is all the extra-magical shows you sometimes stumble upon at a Disney park. I've always loved these, but they can be hard to find at WDW. But not in Disneyland! We saw so many and I just loved them. In Fantasyland we saw The Pearl Button Band. At New Orlean's Square we stumbled upon The Bootstrap Band. On Main Street there was a Fire House band, and tons more we didn't get to see. Entertainment quality is high in these parks. I really recommend seeing as many shows as you can!

And finally-
#1. World of Color:
Wow, just wow. I cried, not even going to try and cover that up. The first time we saw it we got fast passes... Kinda a huge waste. I couldn't see anything behind these 6foot guys. The 2nd time we spent the best $30 of my life for a dining package. We bought lunch at Golden Vine Winery and it came with reserved viewing area. Guys, I was on the railing! By the time the show was over my hair looked like I'd just come out of the shower! My world was rocked. I can't say enough good things, but go and see it! It will change your life.

So did I have a good time? It's Disney, how could I not?! But it was an exceptional trip. I can't wait to go back again and experience the magic.
Honorable mentions to my list:
Disneyland Cast Members! They were phenomenal. Every interaction was one of the best I've had with a cast member to date. WDW could take some pointers from them!
Trader Sam's- it's a bar at The Disneyland Hotel. Something happens every time you order a signature drink from the menu. Go and enjoy the show!

Until next time, fellow travelers!
~Greet


Friday, January 24, 2014

Deals, DEALS, DEALS!!!!!

Ladies and Gents,
I got a little bored at work today and started hunting through my favorite travel sites. You need to know about some of these deals!!!!

MCO to DUB: fly to Dublin for just $590! Delta is selling a 4 night trip on 2/20-02/24. I know that's soon, but if you can do it- GO!! As found on Google Flights.

MCO to LIM: fly to Peru for only $495 the whole month of May... Basically! For a 5 night stay. Really great deal, found on Google Flights.

Athens: Groupon is running a10day trip with Airfare for just $1,999! They have lots of fine print so read it through. But that is an amazing rate on that trip!

Vietnam: Again, Grouping has an airfare and lodging package for 12days! Only $1,699. Great, SAFE opportunity to see this part of the world.

Cruising: From New Orleans you can hop a 7night cruise through the Bahamas for less than $69 a night! Royal Caribbean is offering this for $479 per person and for two separate sailing dates in Feb. Check it out!

More Cruising: From Miami to Barcelona Norwegian Cruise line is offering 11nights for only $509!!! Sure you have to buy a one way ticket back, but for only $47 a night I'm sure you can afford it!

Well that's all for now. It's the prefect season for vacationing. Around the world February is the least expensive month to travel. Keep it in mind and get out of town!
Happy Travels,
~Greet