Monday, October 28, 2013

Where to spend those extra $$$$ on a cruise!

With my cruise on the calendar next fall I've been thinking on that oh-so important concept: BUDGET. Usually I find cruises to be an amazing deal and this one will be no different. However, once I add in airfare I'm getting very close to being outside my comfort level. Still, that's why I'm looking into it now. It will require savings and I need to start today.
So where will I cut back?
Probably in airfare (monitor for te best deal)
Where will I splurge?
I ran across this article online that suggested the following as the best options for areas to splurge on your next cruise:
1. Specialty Dining- Each ship has at least one signature dining experience on board. A survey of experienced cruisers (10 or more sailings) showed that budgeting for one meal out was well worth the cost.
2. Early Boarding- This option allows you on the boat prior to your cabin's availability. You'll still have to kill time, but on the ship that is much easier that in the harbor port. Some cruise companies offer unique experiences during this time. For example, Royal Caribbean usually offers free lessons on table games in their casinos during Early boarding hours.
3. Group Photos- If you are traveling with several different cabins or your cruise has more that 3 ports, this is a great deal! By paying a flat rate you receive all the pictures you're included in for the whole cruise.
4. Beverage Packages- From sodas to wine pairings, there are usually several types of beverage packages. The ship usually has a vast selection of wine, so the quality is guaranteed.
5. Laundry Service- Believe me, well worth the cost and the space it will save you in your suitcase! If you're cruising for more than 4nights, pay the fee!

Now I think for my trip I will be choosing laundry and a beverage package. If my flight works out to arriving EARLY, then maybe the boarding as well. We'll have to wait and see how this works into the budget.
More to come!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Decision Made

Well thanks for all the feed back! I loved some of the private messages. The votes were pretty much all for Manchu Pichu, completely understandable! I really considered it for a while. Then I received a message from my good friend, the Kiwi (bird, not fruit). She let me know that she was going to be in the SoCal region in late February for a wedding. This lead to some chatting amongst my friends who also work for the Mouse-- We're going to Disneyland!
I've never been, so I find this very exciting! But not to worry, this means I'll get to take a few other trips throughout the year. No way is my best friend Daniel going to let me get out of diving that easily! So here are my thoughts on 2014 so far:

February 16th-20th: California
  • Disneyland for atleast 2 days.
  • Maybe rent a car and visit Yosemite or Wine Country.
  • Maybe cross the boarder into Mexico.
Early June: The Florida Keys
  • Diving/Snorkling with Daniel
  • Chillin' with my friend Lexi on her dad's boat.
  • Enjoying the local food.
September or October: Cruise through the Caribbean
  • Possible locations: Belize, Honduras,  Eastern Caribbean
  • Definitely Royal Caribbean- NO CARNIVAL or Disney(which location-wise is limiting).
  • Going to hit at least 2 new countries on this cruise.--- can't forget to work towards my 30 by 30 goal!
Unknown: Kansas
  • I have to get home some time this year!
So that's how things stand. You'll be seeing a lot of planning going on soon. Especially for the California trip! I'm not sure who all will be going with me, but as it currently stands: Holly, Kristen, and Bret (Kristen and Bret are my roommates). It should be a good time, but I'm nervous- See next post to understand why ;)
Safe Travels!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10 Signs that you're not the perfect match for your travel partner.

I have done a lot of solo travel in my adulthood (note that I use that term lightly since I often still consider myself a child at the approaching age of 27), so when friends started to suggest and plan trips with me I was EXTREMELY nervous. I'm not an easy person to travel with. It was one of my biggest fears that I would come across as a "know-it-all" because I love to research my locations, or that my "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" attitude would be hard for people to handle.
For the most part, my fears were unjustified. My friends are well aware of my personality and while that may be amplied in high-stress situations, they seemed to be fine with me for the most part. However this list below is something that I have experienced first hand while traveling. Check it out:
1. Budgets Don't Match-
      Easiest solution is to just have the frank discussion. Set limits and decide what you would be willing to splurge on and what you'd like to hold back on.
2. Your Planning Styles Don't Match-
      Let everyone be as much a part of it as they want to! The solution I've finally worked out for my crew is for everyone to write out a top 5 musts and then build an itinery from that.
3. Dining Tastes Don't Match-
      Basically it comes to which would you rather have: complaining and multiple bathroom breaks OR a balance to unique and safe. With food you can't push people, they systems might not handle the change well. That being said, there is no reason to live of MacDonald and KFC the whole trip!
4. Conflicting Sleeping Habits-
      Schedules help to force this lazybones out of bed and keep those early risers from complaining about having to wait.
5. Opposite Activity Levels-
      Again a top 5 list will help you balance these.
6. Extroverts vs. Introverts-
      Be respectful to your introverts, but don't let a great connect slip by!
7. You're Not Both Road-Warriors-
       Have this discussion when making the itinery, as well as the sleep schedule discussion. They go hand in hand.
8. Dissimilar Interests-
      That top 5 list will sort all of that!
9. Your views on tourist attractions vary-
       Balance. Also, some things can't be missed! I hate the Eiffle tower, but I definitely have a photo of me "climbing" it through corny forced perspective! Some cheesy is a good thing ;)
10. One of you loves the nightlife the other prefers a quiet night at the resort-
      Agree that this will not be a nightly event. There's a balancing act and if you're dealing with opposite personalities you have probably had this discussion before on a Friday night a home! Use those interactions as a good base for your planning.

So even though I have experience almost every one of these and they were very challenging, I want to STRESS to you that nothing is more important than experiencing something completely new with your friends! Just go into your tip knowing that things might be rough, but they'll definitely be worth it.
Safe Travels,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Planning for 2014

As the new year is on quick approach my company is calling for our vacation day bids. This means I need to start planning!!! I hadn't really give much thought to when and where before joining the Real World's workforce. My lifestyle is more a live life as it comes type. Never the less, I LOVE to plan and you all get the joys of my decision making process.


1. A very large trip towards the end of the year, after saving as much as possible!
         Possible Locations-
Manchu Pichu, Peru
Melody Cave, Scotland

2. Two more affordable trips to closer, yet still exotic destinations!
         Possible Locations-
Wreck Diving, Bonaire
Turks and Caicos

3. Disneyland for a few days in February and then weekend trips every other month to places within 10hrs of central Florida.
          Possible Locations-
Atlanta, GA
Savannah, GA
The Keys, FL
St. Augustine, FL

Ok, I'm going to need some feed back. Help me out here. I have to make my decision before the 22nd of this month... which is really flippin' soon!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

There be Pirates in these Waters!

As my time has been spent recently focusing on my work, I know I can not stray too far from home. Luckily for me, I live in Florida and paradise is never too far away. Personally, I have not had the pleasure of visiting any of the breathtaking islands just a few hours from my home. Until recently I have been caught up in the history and elegance of Europe, the wild and ancient ruins of Central America, and the utterly uniqueness of the U.S.
I have started to research the tropical land and seascapes of the Caribbean and what I've found is more than just honeymooners and boozecruises... although there are plenty of those! Here are some of my tips:

Prices vary considerably in the Caribbean depending on the season. To get the best rates, travel during off-season (from July 1 through September 30), which coincides with hurricane season. Many hotels, restaurants and airlines lower their rates (some, up to 50%!) during this period. Don't be crippled with worry about storms: some Caribbean islands fall south of the "hurricane belt" and are rarely affected by the rains. High season is generally from mid December through early January, so it's best to avoid it!

Keep a close watch on travel sites that offer frequent fare sales. Be flexible with your dates and try to travel outside high season to get the very best rates on air fares. Many low-cost carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran have entered the Caribbean market, so there are deals to be found if you're vigilant.

Entertain the advantages of renting a villa or condo versus staying at a luxury resort. Some condos or villas can hold between two and twelve people. If you're traveling with several family members or friends, you can easily find a home that can accommodate your entire party in separate rooms.
A beautiful 3 bedroom villa with a private pool and maid service may only run $2000 for a week. With 6 people traveling, this winds up costing only $47 per night per person -- far cheaper than any island resort. There are also small guest houses on many islands that cater to couples and honeymooners. Look into these as they are normally family run, may include some meals, and the prices can be highly affordable. You all know my 1st choice!

Some of the very best dining in the islands is the local fare being served from small shanties on the beach grilling fresh seafood or corner stands with scrumptious and budget priced dahls, rotis and johnny cakes. You can gorge yourself on fresh local food cooked by islanders on less than $10 per person.

The natural beauty of the islands allows for a variety of activities such as sailing, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, river rafting, zip-lining, golfing, or touring historical sites. I've recently become a fan of diving, but just be care that you're going with a legitimate operation- Safety first!
Coupled with the array of beach activities available, it can be fairly inexpensive to find engaging sports for everyone to enjoy. Of course, most islands also have cultural centers where you can see how life was in the past, as well as museums and other public events.

Hope these help you. I'm excited to plan a trip soon. Keep an eye out for it ;)


Lost but not forgotten

My title says it all today. I have been very lost lately, in work and career advancement. I have not taken the time to focus on my passion for travel and for sharing my passion with you, my readers. I'm hoping to change that. I'm trying my hardest to find a balance of work and personal time. This is a challenge everyone must face at some point in their careers, I'm just lucky enough that my passion for travel bridges my work and my personal loves.

But as I said, you are not forgotten! I recently was able to touch base with one of my great travel companions who will be visiting my this November and she reminded me of something I've been meaning to share with you all. She is my ticket to affordable travel!

Now how is that possible? Ever heard of a Buddy Pass?

A buddy pass is a coupon that is exchanged for an open seat on an airplane. When using a buddy pass, one doesn't pay for the actual flight, but pays for taxes and fees. Passengers using buddy passes are non-revenue, standby passengers who get the last open seats on flights after revenue passengers and airlines allocate buddy passes to employees that they can give to friends and relatives.

If you ever have the opportunity to travel this way, TAKE IT!!!! Often times these open seats are in first class! That's how I got to experience the luxury of Delta's First Class. It's been hard to go back to coach, but I really have NO money so I simple must.

This is why I have founded my new goal in life: Marry A Pilot!
Just kidding, but if he's dreamy then maybe I'm not ;)

Safe Travels, Friends!