Our family as we are leaving the Magic Kingdom on our last day of vacation on May 17, 2013. This was my husband’s 8th trip, my 6th trip, my 11 year old son’s 5th trip, and the girls’ (6 and 8) 3rd trip.
So, we all know that going on a vacation is a “benefit.” Not everyone has the time, money, or even the desire to go on a trip! Growing up, the furthest my family ever went was about 30 miles from home to visit my grandparents. We NEVER EVER went on a family vacation. I think that may be part of the reason why I am so “hooked” on travel today. I can remember the very first time I traveled past that 30 mile mark…I went with my church youth group to Six Flags in St. Louis. I was so overcome with emotion when we crossed from Illinois into Missouri that I cried…and I was only 12 years old at the time! This adventure turned into MANY adventures. I went on every youth group or church trip I could. And every. single. trip. was equally as exciting as I crossed over each new state border and experienced the different landscapes, cultures, sites, and sounds.
As a travel agent, my #1 goal is to help my clients have those same feelings while they are on their trip. For some, going on vacation is driving an hour away to a local water park…and this may be the ONLY trip they take in a year. To others, it’s a flight across country to visit family, or maybe it’s *gasp* the trip to a Disney Theme Park or a Disney Cruise. No matter how much the cost of the trip or the length of the trip, each getaway should be treated the same – it should be well planned out, researched, and executed. When you invest money into a trip, you are investing that money into YOU. You will make memories for yourself and/or your family that will, undoubtedly, last a lifetime.
I remember almost every single trip I have ever taken. I can remember what people said on the trip, what sites I saw, which rides or slides I did…and remembering these things absolutely puts my mind in that “happy place.” Part of the reason for this is because “most” trips went flawlessly. I researched the hotels to make sure they had good reviews. I price-shopped to make sure I was getting the best prices for my/our needs. I spent many hours (sometimes DAYS) researching rides and slides, height requirements, crowd levels, maps, and more to make sure I was armed with as much information as possible to make my/our trips perfect.
Yes, there were times when bad things happened. Some things CAN’T be perfect. Weather is definitely a factor. I learned to “go with the flow” and figure out something else to do when weather ruined plans. Sometimes a ride I really wanted to ride was shut down. Yes, this is absolutely disappointing! Other times, there was so much road construction, we arrived very late and had to miss some plans. Or we get to a hotel that is rated great only to be disappointed in the rooms or service.
However…I have learned to look at life optimistically! Yes, bad things happen. We have to counteract those bad things by thinking of what we can do to change that! And other times, we just have to realize it was a bad deal and move on.
Funny story…my husband and I were supposed to leave on our honeymoon flight to Florida around 10:00 am. We were on our way to the airport and realized that we were very much out of gas. I actually forgot, at the age of 22, to fill the car with gas amidst all the wedding festivities in the days prior. It happens. We arrived at the airport about 30 minutes early only to discover that they had sold our seats on the plane, and that the next flight wouldn’t leave until about 4 pm that afternoon. Yes, we were disappointed…but we decided to go shopping! We opened all of our cards from the wedding and just enjoyed being a married couple walking around the mall. We boarded our flight that afternoon and arrived at the next airport where our “short” layover turned into a very very LONG layover. We didn’t arrive in Orlando until around midnight. Oddly enough, we were still pretty happy…until we got through the rental car process. We were given a car that, upon driving it off the lot, was squealing and sounded like it was going to fall apart. I snapped. I drove right back to the check out counter and, in all my exhaustion, demanded a different car. I think I must have scared the poor check out clerk…which is hard to believe because I am a very calm and even keeled person…because he promptly gave me the keys to a BRAND NEW Buick Park Avenue with only 2 miles on it. I LOVED the car, and we drove the 20 miles from the airport to the vacation home we had reserved. Our first full day of our honeymoon was not at all what we had planned. We spent much of the day in airports and rental car places, and didn’t get to the house until 2:00 a.m. And you know what? I REMEMBER that.
Memories can be good and bad. I prefer to have more good than bad. 🙂
Make good memories for yourself. You only live once…enjoy all that God has to offer us…the sights, the sounds, the beauty! Take time to invest money into YOU…not your house, not your car, not your hobbies…put some money and time aside to make memories on a trip! You’ll thank me for it. 🙂
Sheila Nowell, Travel Consultant
That seems like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. I know. (I really know…right now, the countdown on my phone says 397 days until our next Disney vacation…I’d be thrilled if it said 180 days, but still frustrated…because I want to be there NOW.)
Disney is notorious for having all sorts of timelines for everything. 45 days when the final payment is due on your reservation. 2 days prior to make changes without full loss of payment. 60 days to do your on-line check in. 180 days…this one is a pretty important one.
Lots of people say they don’t go to Disney for the food…they go for the fun and the experiences! But take it from me…a seasoned traveler to the Dis…Dining IS an experience to be had at Disney. I promise.
Our first 3 trips as a family, we didn’t plan dining at all. We just went on a whim…we “winged” it. Not a big deal. But I can’t remember much about those times. We just ate and moved on, without a plan.
The last 3 times…well…we have started to challenge ourselves! We have read so much about the restaurants and seen so many specials on tv about them. So, we decided to become Disney “foodies” ourselves.
Disney is full of various experiences! Character dining – the kids LOVE getting a hug from Mickey and his friends, or a princess! And best yet…you don’t have to stand in line in the heat (or rain) to wait to see them…they come to your table while you are eating!!!
Meeting Belle at Storybook Princess Breakfast at Akershus at Epcot.
Or how about the Dinner Shows? There are 3 “official” ones – we have made it to 2 of them. Unofficially, though, there is entertainment and MANY of the restaurants…from an awesome piano entertainer, belly dancers, Oktoberfest, and comical waitstaff. There are also some great “secrets” – such as great restaurants to eat at for a great view of the fireworks at various parks.
The pretzel bread at Le Cellier Restaurant!
This is the Wisconsin Cheese Soup at Le Cellier Restaurant…mmmmm
The dining options at Disney are becoming more and more widely known…so that’s why it’s so important to PLAN! Book your trip at least 181 days prior to going – all you need is $200 down (or a percentage if it’s a cruise or adventure). Then, we can plan and book your dining reservations! (I get up at 5 am to get this accomplished for you while you sleep snug as a bug in a rug…)
There are obviously MANY more reasons to PLAN…if you are going to spend this much money on a trip, you need to do everything possible to make it a memorable one! Let me help you!
I am so excited, it’s beyond crazy.
Since May 29, I have been working my tooshie off in training, preparing, planning, and dreaming about my new career. I wanted everything to perfect for my new customers and clients.
Sometimes, my perfection gets in the way, though. Even though everything isn’t as awesome as I’d like it to be, I needed to launch my business off the ground. Because, frankly, it wouldn’t ever happen if I didn’t just go for it! So, as of Tuesday, we are LIVE!!!
My awesome friends and family have been liking and sharing my facebook page, and I’ve already received 6 requests for vacation quotes. Bring it on!
I have BIG plans…I’m collecting lots of fun prizes, gift cards, and more and will be smothering my followers and clients with incentives and giveaways. So, if you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, what are you waiting for?
Here we go!
(Oh, and if you haven’t noticed…I added a snazzy “request your vacation quote” tab to my page, too. Fill it out…you know you want to!)