Refreshed and Rested and Ready to Go

Vacation

There is nothing like an actual vacation where you get to have a nice balance between doing things and doing nothing. Our vacations are often filled with activities – family, adventures, traveling – and do not often leave time for relaxing or chilling. We had one of those early in the summer and it was fun, albeit exhausting in it’s own way. I wrote about the Tools I use for travel planning and how they helped me get my head around a 12 day vacation. I haven’t had a trip of longer than 8 days with my husband since our honeymoon. I have traveled for longer solo, but that is a different beast.

Vacating

We chose a cruise to Alaska with a few days before to explore the Pacific Northwest. We were originally going to spend a night in Port Angeles, Washington (for the lavender), two nights in Victoria, BC (for the tea and gardens), and one night in Seattle (for the coffee.) Family requirements, however, surfaced that caused us to change our plans and head to Portland before the cruise. No worries, we rented a car and drove from Seattle to Portland as it was much too expensive to change our flight, not to mention we’d have to fly to Seattle in order to fly to Portland on our airline anyway. The family portion went well – rose garden, Japanese garden, birthday party..until the day after we left when they lost their beloved dog. He led a good life, was a sweet soul and will be terribly missed.

Vacated

By the time we got back to Seattle, we were ready for some chill time. Enter the Starbucks Roastery. On Sunday morning, before we boarded the Ruby Princess, we went to the Roastery. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory for coffee and tea lovers! They roast the reserve batches right there…best coffee I’ve had in a long time. That started off a lovely trip that just ended two days ago. It’s bizarre to be on board a vessel so near to the United States yet have no cell service and to have to pay for internet (hence the hiatus for two weeks.) Also, I enjoyed not having requirements on my except what to wear to dinner and the few shore excursions. We read, watched lots of The Love Boat…it was a Princess cruise after all, ate amazing food and truly, really and truly relaxed. So much so it’s taken me two days to get back into the swing of the real world.

Observations

The world goes on. For us, it paused while we were on board. But, no, it didn’t really…it went on. Blogs were posted, comments made, lunches consumed, lives changed, and so on…all while I rested. And now, I’m back. I’m ready to go and ready to make some sweet strides in the name of growing a business and welcoming in opportunity and abundance.

PS

Just got word that the performance space for the Wildflower Ensemble has been approved! It’s happening! I’ll keep you posted.

When was your last vacation where you really got to do what you wanted, when you wanted and could take a nap if you felt like it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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Tools for Travel Planning

Want to take a trip

I am not a professional travel agent (nor am I sponsored by any of the sites listed below), but sometimes I think I should have been. When it comes to travel planning, I love it! I may not use my time as efficiently when planning as I should but I get it all done and I enjoy the process. But I am also always on the look out for tools to help keep it simple and/or make it easier to book extensive plans without a professional travel agent.

Where to start

I start with the destination. Between Google maps and Trip Advisor, I get a feel for the location. I’ve also used Facebook to ask the locals where to stay, what to do and how to get around. They are the best source of information. Next, I approach how to get there. If it is by car, I review my vehicle and it’s capability. I rely on my husband to map the route as it is a passion of his. If it is to be by plane, I start with SkyScanner. This handy little app and website gives me an idea of ticket prices if my days are flexible. As they often are flexible within 2-3 days, this helps me narrow my travel dates. Once this part is done, however, I switch over to Kayak to search fares. Most of time, I find the lowest fares then go over to that airlines website. 95% of the time the fare is very similar, and sometimes lower. I have frequent flier accounts at a couple of airlines – Southwest, American and Delta – which covers most places that I can get points due to partnerships.

Once I get the flight booked, next stop is lodging. As a time-share owner (Disney Vacation Club and Wyndham), that is my next stop. If I cannot book through them, I use Booking.com to find hotels. I also use Google Maps and their “find nearby” feature, especially if I know that I want to stay in a particular area of the city. I just did this for Seattle and found a gem that wasn’t coming up on the booking sites.

Next is transportation. I have used Kayak and CarRentals.com for cars, but usually just go to the sites directly (Alamo, Enterprise, Avis.)

My favorite itinerary tool

My favorite itinerary tool

I think the best thing that I’ve found to help me keep organized is TripIt. This is a travel itinerary application and website that automatically imports my email confirmation into travel plans. It helps me keep all my confirmation numbers in one place and shows me the daily itinerary for anything we’ve booked. I just reviewed my intinerary for that upcoming trip to Seattle and it’s a busy one! But there is peace of mind knowing it’s all in one place. I have also had to use TripCase because of a travel agent connection. It does a similar thing but I like TripIt better.

What do you use?

Do you have any suggestions on a ways to streamline this process? I imagine many people use only Kayak or Booking.com, which I always consider. Are there any brilliant tools you’ve discovered? Thank you for sharing.